ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Utada Hikaru

People often call her ‘the Britney Spears of Japan’ because of her age and record sales, but that’s where the similarities end. Utada Hikaru could easily be called the most successful Japanese female artist of her generation. Her debut album, ‘First Love‘, released in 1999 when she was just 16-years-old, went on to quickly become the best selling album of ALL time in Japan.

But this girl is more than just record sales and sold out shows – for example, she wrote all the songs on her debut at 16, and continues to write and produce most of her own music. Born in New York City, raised in Tokyo – Utada is virtually unknown to the mainstream here in the U.S., despite releasing an English (her first language ironically) album, ‘Exodus‘, in the States in 2004 under Island-DefJam. She’s no stranger to the American music scene though, just look at the laundry list of artists and producers she’s worked with and considers friends and fans; Rodney Jerkins, Timbaland, Neptunes, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Aaliyah, TLC, Lenny Kravitz, Ne-Yo, and more. Industry insiders are saying her next English album for Island-DefJam will be released within the next year. Listen to some of her songs below.

Utada ft. Foxy Brown – “Blow My Whistle”

produced by The Neptunes

Utada – “Kremlin Dusk” (LIVE)

featuring John Theodore, drummer of indie band The Mars Volta

Utada – “Addicted to You”

produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis

Utada – “Distance – M.Flo remix”

remix to the title track of her sophomore Japanese album

Utada – “Simple & Clean”

theme song from the American release of video game Kingdom Hearts

Utada – “Prisoner of Love”

Her latest single from her most recent album in Japan, ‘Heart Station’

Utada – “Loving You”

Live cover of Minnie Riperton’s classic

Utada – “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

Live cover of Green Day’s hit song

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