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Utada Hikaru

Utada Hikaru promoting SCIENCE FICTION (2024)

Utada Hikaru (宇多田ヒカル) is a Japanese pop singer-songwriter under the EPIC Records label. Her debut album First Love is the #1 best selling album in Asian music history, with over 7.65 million copies sold in Japan alone. In total she has sold over 38,000,000 million records in Japan, and 3 of her albums are in the Top 10 best-selling albums of all time in Japan (#1, #4, #8), making her one of the most successful and popular singers in J-pop history. Utada is bilingual, as she was raised in both New York and Tokyo. She is also known in the West under her English language project name 'Utada', and most famous for singing the Kingdom Hearts theme song, "Hikari / Simple And Clean", the Kingdom Hearts II theme song, "Passion / Sanctuary" and the Kingdom Hearts III theme song, "Chikai" / "Don't Think Twice". Initially, Utada's music had a heavy R&B style, but later her music progressed to a more mature, experimental pop tone. Her distinct R&B sound presented in her debut single brought her much attention in Japan, "Automatic / time will tell". Utada was married to director Kiriya Kazuaki, who directed the movie CASSHERN, but in March 2007 the couple split.

On August 9, 2010, Utada announced plans to go on indefinite hiatus following the release of Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2, her second compilation album. On November 24, 2010, Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2 was released. It debuted atop the Oricon charts once again. It has also been anounced that Utada has severed ties with Island Def Jam, who releases her English language works. She secured a global contract with EMI Music, which was eventually merged with Universal Music. Upon returning from her hiatus, all her future releases will be under her full name, regardless of territory. In 2017, she changed her label to Sony Music Japan.

Utada Hikaru has been deemed the "Most Influential Japanese Artist" of the past decade (2000-2009) by The Japan Times.



Early Life

Utada Hikaru as a child with parents

Utada Hikaru was born in Manhattan, New York on January 19, 1983, and is the only child of Utada Teruzane and Abe Junko. Utada's parents both worked in the music industry - her father, Utada Teruzane (or Skingg U) is a music producer, and her mother was an extremely famous Enka singer in the 1970's, who went under the alias of Fuji Keiko. Utada was raised in both New York and Tokyo, and felt as if both Tokyo and New York were her hometown.

Utada did not originally like the idea of having music as a career, as she saw her parents leading a hectic life and sacrificing so much for music. She was immersed in the music business, and frequently had to sleep on the couch in her parents' recording studio.

When she was 10 years old, her parents asked her if she was able to write a song. She reluctantly tried, and wrote the song "I'll Be Stronger", which appeared on vinyl. At the same age, she also did small vocal parts in her parents' music project, U3. On the album "Star", Utada is able to be heard singing backup in two songs: "THANK YOU" and "Kodomotachi no Uta ga Kikoeru".

While in school in New York, other students had trouble pronouncing her name 'Hikaru', and eventually shortened it to 'Hikki'. At the time she did not realize what 'Hickey' (a kiss mark) meant, but only found out later on. The nickname became widely used by both Utada and her fans (both English and Japanese). Utada moved to Tokyo in 1998, studying at Seisen International School and later at The American School in Japan from which she graduated in 2000.

Utada Hikaru promoting "Precious" (1997)

Cubic U

While she was still in high school, Utada was told that she was going to be 'making a record' by an EMI-USA representative. She was thirteen at the time and treated the songs as if they were homework. The songs had a very heavy R&B style to them, not unlike the later mainstream R&B/pop hybrid style. She wrote all save for one of the songs herself; the exception was "Close To You", which was a cover of The Carpenters song of the same name. The song even had a music video shot for it, filled with varying scenes showing Utada and views of New York. The album was finished in late 1996. It was set to be released into the American market in 1997, however due to restructuring problems in EMI USA the album was only released in Japan. The album itself was praised by artists such as Lenny Kravitz.

Utada had only wanted the single "Close To You" to be sold in Japan, and the album, "Precious" to be released the same day in Japan as in the United States. Japanese producer Miyake Akira heard the album and managed to convince Utada to try to start a career in Japan and signed her under Toshiba EMI.

On October 20, 1998 at the 'Music Talks' convention in Akazaka Blitz, Utada debuted in front of an audience of press, producers and other people by singing the English version of Sakamoto Kyu's international hit, "Ue wo Muite Arukou" (known as "Sukiyaki" in the West). Following this, she introduced herself in English and followed with a Japanese translation of her introduction. Interestingly, another artist who was featured at this concert was Shiina Ringo.

On January 28, 1997, "Precious" was released. Despite the lack of immediate success, the album would later peak at #2 on the Oricon charts, selling 702,060 copies in 1998 when Utada's popularity skyrocketed.

First Love Era

Utada Hikaru (1998)

On December 9 of 1998, Utada debuted in Japan as 'Utada Hikaru', with the single, "Automatic / time will tell". She, in the words of a classmate, "became famous overnight". This was, in part, due to her distinct R&B/Pop style, which had never been seen in Japan before. The two versions of the single, the 8cm and the 12cm, sold an amazing total of approximately 2,063,000 copies (but because they were different products, she only reached #4 and #2 on the charts). Two months later, her follow-up single "Movin' on without you" also broke the 1,000,000-copies-sold mark and reached #1 on Oricon charts.

A month later, Utada's much anticipated debut album "First Love" was released, debuting at #1, (staying atop the Oricon weekly charts for a consecutive four weeks) and eventually selling an excess of 10 million copies, making it the most sold album in Japanese music history. Soon after this, two "Luv Live" concerts were staged; one at Umeda Heat Beat, Osaka on April 1, 1999 and the other at Zepp Tokyo, Tokyo on April 2, 1999.

A post-album single for the song "First Love" was released a month after the album, due to its popularity. Sales totaled over 800,000 units sold on the single, impressive for a re-cut single.

For that year's "Music Talks" concert, Utada famously sang a duet with fellow star Shiina Ringo; a cover of The Carpenters' well-known hit "I Won't Last a Day Without You". This was subsequently recorded in 2002 for Shiina's "Utaite Myouri ~Vol. I~" album. Utada also held a concert entitled "Sokenbicha Natural Breeze Concert" on August 24, 1999 at the Nippon Budokan that was later broadcast on TV.

Utada Hikaru promoting Distance (2001)

Distance Era

Following the success of "First Love", Utada's next single, "Addicted To You" was released in late 1999. This became Utada's second #1 hit, with 1,784,000 units sold. She followed up this release with a similar chart topping hit in April of 2000 entitled "Wait & See ~Risk~". Both these singles were produced by the famed American Hip-Hop/R&B producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. In July-August of the same year, Utada decided to hold a massive tour called "BOHEMIAN SUMMER Circuit Live 2000", to be later released on DVD. It was held during her school holidays. The tour originally had 16 dates, but a further three were added due to public demand. The next single of the era was a double A-side, "For You / Time Limit", which was released just prior to the Bohemian tour, which continued on the #1 trend.

After these recent releases, Utada decided to take a break from the music business to study biology at Columbia University in New York. However, she dropped out after half a semester because " wasn't as difficult as [she] was hoping it would be."

In early 2001, Utada released the single "Can You Keep A Secret?", which not only won the Golden Disc Award for "Song of The Year" and a "JASRAC Silver Award", but became the #1 single of the year. Directly following this single was Utada's much anticipated sophomore album, "Distance". "Distance" sold over 5 Million copies and became the most sold album in 2001 worldwide. It won the Golden Disc Award for "Pop Album of The Year". Due to "Distance" and "Can You Keep A Secret?", Utada became one of the few artists in who held both the #1 single for the year and the #1 album for the year.


Utada Hikaru (2002)

Much like how the title track of her first album "First Love" was released as a re-cut single after the album, Utada planned to release the song "Distance" in this manner. However, Utada heard of a school shooting/rampage in which schoolgirl Yamashita Rena (山下玲奈) had been killed. Rena had previously won an essay competition; writing about how she wanted to become a singer just like Utada. Utada decided to rearrange the song entirely, creating the single "FINAL DISTANCE". The song used the lyrics from "Distance", but it was sung in a sweeping orchestral ballad form. Utada said herself that ""FINAL DISTANCE" was really difficult to sing" because of the technical difficulty she had put into the song. At this point, Utada's PVs reached a whole new level of quality as it was the period in which she started working with her (later ex)husband, Kiriya Kazuaki. At that era, most of Utada's PVs were filled with amazing aesthetics, hidden symbolism and deep meanings.

By contrast to "FINAL DISTANCE" , Utada's next single was the upbeat and extremely popular hit, "traveling". This PV could be said to continue the storyline set down in "FINAL DISTANCE", and everything was done in a post-modern futuristic style. "traveling" won an amazing array of awards, including SSTV's Best Art Direction Video, Best Female Video, Best Video of The Year and Best Music Video. From the Golden Disc awards, "traveling" won Song of The Year and Music Video of The Year. It also won the 2003 JASRAC Silver Award.

Utada's first single for 2002, "Hikari", was very well known in the west because it was the Japanese theme song for the PlayStation 2 game Kingdom Hearts (the English version was later released as a B-side on her "COLORS" single). "Hikari" won the Golden Disc award for Song of The Year and the JASRAC Silver Award (for Foreign Production). "Hikari / Simple And Clean" would be Utada's most famous songs in the western market. The final "DEEP RIVER" single release was "SAKURA Drops / Letters", which finished the "Kiriya Trilogy" of music. Strangely for a double A-Side single, the second track "Letters" did not have a PV to go with it. Utada herself said that this was due to the fact that it was being used as the CM song for DoCoMo ads at the time (in which she herself featured). "SAKURA Drops" won the SSTV and MTV JAPAN awards for the Best Female Video, as well as the Golden Disc Award for Song of the Year.

The following album, "DEEP RIVER", was the most critically acclaimed to date, selling over 4 million copies and winning the Golden Disc award for "Rock & Pop Album of The Year". It also became the highest selling album in 2002 (much like "Distance") as well as the #8 best selling album in Japanese music history.

On September 6th, 2002, Utada shocked the Japanese press by marrying her music video director Kiriya Kazuaki (real name Iwashita Kazuhiro) who was 15 years her senior. In her defense, Utada said that it does not matter at what age that someone gets married at, as they are equally inexperienced (it would always be the first time).

Utada Hikaru promoting "COLORS" (2003)


After the release of DEEP RIVER, Utada's life became a lot busier as she began preparing for her US debut (See EXODUS below) and singles were few and far between. However, a major single entitled "COLORS" was released in 2003, and was written on her honeymoon in France. "COLORS" was her only music release for 2003 (however, there was a 20th birthday celebration DVD called "UH Live Streaming 20 Dai wa Ikeike!"), yet it still won the Golden Disc award for Song of The Year.

In March of 2004, Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.1 was released. Despite there being no new material or photos, the album sold 2.5 million copies, making it the highest selling album in 2004. This was also Utada's third consecutive album to win the Golden Disc award title of 'Rock & Pop Album of The Year'. At this time, Utada was also making a new single entitled "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro", which was inspired from reading the plot manuscript of her husband's movie CASSHERN. The song was a dark power ballad, which won the Golden Disc "Song of The Year" award. Also later on in this year, Utada's second major tour commenced. It was called "Hikaru no 5" to symbolize the five years that Utada had been in the music industry. Unlike her massive BOHEMIAN SUMMER 2000, this time around there were only five dates set at a single venue.


In early 2001, Utada had signed a temporary contract for one song ("Blow My Whistle" on the "Rush Hour 2 Soundtrack") under Island Def Jam as a trial run. However, Utada decided to take up Def Jam's full-time offer for a whole album, and announced it in 2002. For her western releases, she had planned to release under the name "Hikaru Utada" (as she is listed on the soundtrack) though she later decided to shorten her name to "Utada" for her western releases as it was easier to remember.

Utada Hikaru promoting EXODUS (2004)

Utada worked on EXODUS, creating new sounds that she had previously thought she was not able to do. She realized that the production of songs in English were completely different from in Japanese, and hence had to alter her style into something more mature and different from her previous works. Most of the album was recorded in New York; though bits and pieces of it were recorded in Tokyo. Utada had made the first song "Animato" while bedridden in hospital because of a benign ovarian tumor in 2002. The second song that Utada wrote, "Tippy Toe", seemed like an ordinary song to her, and the next song she wrote would become her first 'Utada' single, "Easy Breezy".

Near the end of the album production, she was able to get the help of Timbaland, who remixed the already finished "Wonder 'Bout", then helped in writing "Let Me Give You My Love" and finally "Exodus '04".

Utada felt that in the translation process of EXODUS (the bonus booklet in the Japanese version had song translations), so many details were lost, so that the true sense of the song would no longer be there. To stop people thinking that the bonus booklet lyrics were just the 'Japanese lyrics', Utada translated one song herself, "Animato". She later said that this was because the song was so 'her' that someone else would have trouble translating it.

On July 3, 2004, the first promo of "Easy Breezy" was released. Utada said that this single was the first because it shows her humor. The music video style was completely Americanized (it was directed by Jake Nava) and it shocked Utada's Japanese fans with the new style. Soon after on September 8, 2004, the album EXODUS was released in Japan. 550,000 copies of EXODUS were sold in four days, breaking the record for an English-language album in Japan. Total Japanese sales were over 1 million copies, and it is estimated that 30,000 copies were sold in the US when it was released later in October.

The second single from EXODUS (now in western format where the album precedes the singles) was the dance hit "Devil Inside", which reached #1 on Billboard Hot Dance/Club Airplay in the US. The Richard Vission Experience Mix of the song was also featured in the first episode of the final season of the American television show Queer As Folk.

Showcase / 2005 Releases

In New York City at Skylight Studios on February 23, 2005, Utada held a live showcase to American press, in which she performed six songs: "Devil Inside", "Hotel Lobby", "Exodus '04", "Animato", "You Make Me Want To Be a Man" and finally "Kremlin Dusk" as an encore. Though footage of this concert was recorded (bootleg as well as official) a DVD of this performance was never released.

A third single from EXODUS, "Exodus '04" was released in June 2005. This maxi single had 10 mixes on it, remixed by various DJ's. It only reached #24 on Billboard Hot Dance/Club Airplay in the US, despite former success with "Devil Inside". No other promotion was done for this single at all.

Utada Hikaru promoting "Passion" (2005)

A fourth single was been released into the UK and European Union, entitled "You Make Me Want To Be a Man". This was coupled with a re-release of the EXODUS album a week later. To compliment the release of this album, animated Utada movie clips by anime artist Morimoto Koji were accessible through a cell-phone service called "Flux" in Japan (called "MTV Digital Discovery" in the UK). The single did poorly, only reaching #227 in the UK Singles Chart. This is credited to a lack of singles pressed as well as the fact that the single was extremely expensive. A fifth single from EXODUS, "Hotel Lobby", may have been planned, as a remix for this song had been commissioned, though due to the former single's dismal sales may have been shelved.


Utada eased back into the Japanese public spotlight after a string of new singles, comprised of "Be My Last" (the theme song to the Japanese film Haru no Yuki), "Passion" (the Kingdom Hearts II theme song), and another single, "Keep Tryin'".

"Be My Last", her first single in 17 months, was seen as a new era of Utada's music by both fans and critics alike. The song contained Utada's trademark vocals and lyrics, but it was sung in a more emotionally charged style, unlike her previous work. While not as commercially successful as her previous singles, "Be My Last" signaled a more mature and confident era in Utada's musical career.

Utada Hikaru promoting ULTRA BLUE (2006)

"Passion" showed yet another style change for Utada, as the song featured a surreal ambiance and atmosphere. Strong beats along with soaring vocals produced one of her most unique singles of the time. When asked to describe the song, Utada referred to "Passion" as the "22 year old version of "B&C"; a song from her debut album, "First Love", which she had written when she was merely 15 years of age. When heard back to back, these two songs show how much Utada has grown since the birth of her career. As "Passion" was used as the theme song to Kingdom Hearts II in Japan, an English version of the song, titled "Sanctuary", was also created to be used for the international release of the game. The lyrics for "Sanctuary" were written before "Passion", and Utada found it difficult to write Japanese lyrics for the melody.

In February of 2006, Utada released her 16th Japanese language single, titled "Keep Tryin'". The track, featured as the "au Listen Mobile Service" tie-up song, was a strong pop song with Utada's trademark vocals and intricate arrangement. With wryly humorous lyrics, "Keep Tryin'" was another evolution in Utada's songwriting skills.

In early April, Utada's fourth Japanese album was announced, entitled ULTRA BLUE. It was followed up by Utada's second nationwide tour of Japan (after "BOHEMIAN SUMMER LIVE 2000") titled "UTADA UNITED 2006". The album contained all the singles since "DEEP RIVER"'s release, totaling 13 tracks. Both the tour and the album release date were set for June 2006. Notably, the tour's set list included songs from Utada's English career as well as her Japanese career. ULTRA BLUE reached #1 on the Oricon charts, sold over 900,000 copies, and became the #7 album of 2006.

Utada Hikaru promoting "Flavor Of Life" (2007)


On November 22, 2006, Utada released her 17th Japanese single, "Boku wa Kuma"; it was used in the television commercial break special show Minna no Uta for October and November 2006. The single was much more successful than expected, outselling her two most recent singles despite there being no television performances.

Utada's Official Japanese website announced that she would be releasing a new single in February, called "Flavor Of Life", used as the dorama series "Hana Yori Dango 2"'s insert song. Photo shooting was taken on and around Christmas day. Sunday, December 10, 2006 was also her 9 year mark for her time in the Japanese music industry, to when she hinted towards a "new project" the single. The single debuted at the #1 position on Oricon charts, and was set to be her most successful single in recent times by large sales, and broke many records in the process. It charted #1 on the Oricon Weekly Singles Charts for 3 weeks, became the most downloaded ring tone on the Chaku-Uta chart for the months of January 2007, February 2007, and of all time in Japan with over 5 million downloads sold; it would be the highest debut for an Asian artist on the United World Singles Chart in more than 8 years, with a #11 peak. The single also ranked in at #2 on the Oricon Half-Year Singles Chart, and was the only female artist single in the top 10, and has amassed in excess of 650,000 units in sales to date. Utada's single sales surpassed the elusive 15 million mark by the seventh week of "Flavor Of Life"'s sale trajectory, and placed her only behind Amuro Namie and Hamasaki Ayumi in terms of such sales for a female or any solo artist in Japan.

On the third of March it was announced on Utada's personal blog that the previous day she had split with her husband, Kiriya Kazuaki, after four and a half years of marriage. It was a mutual split due to the fact that the pair had been gradually growing apart from each other.

Following "Flavor Of Life", Utada had plans for another new single set to be released that August. The single would be a double-A side featuring the tracks "Beautiful World" (which would be the Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone theme song), "Kiss & Cry", as well as a new mix of "Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)". "Kiss & Cry" followed "This Is Love" as the FREEDOM cup noodle commercial song and the anime theme song. Quite quickly after the "Beautiful World / Kiss & Cry" single, in early October rumors of a new Utada song being used as the Asience hair products commercial song flew across the Internet. On October 3, 2007, it was revealed by Kao (the company that owns Asience hair products) that the song was indeed a new Utada song entitled "Stay Gold".

Utada Hikaru promoting HEART STATION (2008)

Later on December 7th, the same day "Stay Gold" was available for Chaku-Uta download, it was revealed that the new single would be another double A-side; "HEART STATION / Stay Gold" would be released on February 20, 2008. "HEART STATION" being the Recochoku commercial theme song.

To commemorate her entering her tenth year in the Japanese music industry, complimentary download of a ring tone of her first song, "Automatic", was offered to the general public; it was downloaded over 500,000 times. Utada was ranked #3 on Recochoku most downloaded artists of 2007 chart. On January 26, 2008, her official Japanese site launched a special "HEART STATION" website with the single's information as well as blog parts to place the "PON PON Kumachan" video on fan's blogs. There are also links to several radio stations across Japan, presumably some promotional agreement between "HEART STATION" and various FM channels, with some boasting individual "HEART STATION" stickers, indicating each as a "special" Heart Station. An official "HEART STATION" promotional video was announced as being in development by a news article that same day. The "HEART STATION" PV debuted on TV stations in Japan on February 4th, 2008. "HEART STATION" would go on to be the most played song on Japanese radio in the month of February with a total of 1,064 plays. Between March 10 and 13, Utada made her hit 1999 single "First Love" available for free as a ring tone in Japan. In those four days, it was downloaded more than 700,000 times 1. Her fifth original Japanese-language album, also titled "HEART STATION", was released on March 19, 2008. "HEART STATION" sold over 1,000,000 copies, reached #1 on the Oricon charts, and became the #5 album of 2008. With over 15,000,000 downloads, it also became the most downloaded full album of 2008.

The ninth track off HEART STATION, "Prisoner Of Love", was used as the theme to the drama Last Friends. A limited CD+DVD edition of "Prisoner Of Love" was released on May 21st, 2008.

This Is The One Era

According to Utada's blog, on September 25, 2007, Utada began speaking to Island Def Jam about her second English-language album. Her tone suggested that she was in no rush. On October 23, 2007, Utada said that she had already made several demo tracks for not only the upcoming English album, but also her fifth Japanese album and was scheduled to record some of the songs on that afternoon.

In March 2008, Utada said in an SSTV V.I.P. interview that she was working on the second English album when asked about the possibility of a concert tour to further promote HEART STATION. She also noted that she might have another concert tour after completing the second English album. In May 2008, the working title of "Apple and Cinnamon" was found, showing a collaboration between Utada and the Norwegian production team Stargate.

Utada Hikaru promoting This Is The One (2009)

In January 2009, her official website revealed the lead single from her 2nd English album, "Come Back To Me", written and produced by her and Stargate. The song was sent to the radios and released on digital stores officially on February 10.

In March 14, 2009 the album This Is the One was released on Japan, and it reached the #3 on Oricon ranking, but it was able to spend 5 weeks in a roll on the top of Oricon International charts. "This Is the One" was released digitally in the U.S on Match 24th, and physically on May 12, 2009. The album reached the #69 on Billboard Top 200 albums ranking, #2 in the iTunes Pop Albums and #18 in the iTunes General Albums ranking (making Utada the first Japanese artist to ever do this).

In June 27, 2009, Emi Music Japan released a new remix of the song "Beautiful World", called "Beautiful World -PLANiTb Acoustica Mix-", theme song from the movie Evangelion 2.0: You Cant (Not) Advance.

In November 2009, it was announced her first international tour called "Utada: In The Flesh", that started in January 15, 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii, which included more 7 dates in the US and 2 dates in London, and finished in February 12, 2010. The tracklist of the concert included songs from her last English album This Is the One, EXODUS and some of her Japanese hits.


Utada Hikaru on her In The Flesh Tour (2010)

On October 14 2009, Utada mentioned that she was writing lyrics that were due on October 15. She also added that some "German magic" would be added to the music. Goetz B, who has worked with Utada on her album ULTRA BLUE is currently mixing tracks for her. Most notable is a track called "Show Me Love", which was reported to be released as a Japanese single at a yet-unspecified date. Later it was announced that the track was retitlted to "Show Me Love (Not A Dream)", and is gonna be released as part of Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2 second disc.

On August 9, 2010, Utada announced that she plans to go on indefinite hiatus ranging from anywhere for 2-5 years. She decided to "go out with a bang" and released her second compilation album, Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2, in November 24, 2010. On the same day, it was released a compilation album containing her English songs from EXODUS and This Is the One, called Utada The Best. Utada has publicly denounced Universal Japan's decision to release Utada The Best through her official Twitter, saying that she does not want her fans to pay for something her heart's not in.

On November 8th, it was announced that Utada left Island Def Jam in order to sign a global contract with EMI Music, giving her freedom to release tracks in any language and expecting more support with her overseas activities.

On November 24, 2010, Utada Hikaru released Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2. To promote the album, Utada had two concerts at the famed Yokohama Arena on December 8th and 9th. The concert, titled WILD LIFE, was be simultaneously broadcasted live in 64 theaters across Japan, making it the largest broadcast of its kind. The concert held in in the 8th was streamed live for free on, making it possible for all her fans around the world to watch the concert in real time. The stream was accessed a total of over 900,000 times (two separate channels were set up to stream the concert). This set a worldwide record for most accessed stream ever. The previous record stood at only 100,000.

In November 17, 2012, it was announced that Utada would be providing the theme song for Evangelion Shin Gekijouban Q movie, titled "Sakura Nagashi". The song was released as a digital single, and despite her still being in hiatus and not promoting the song, it was able to reach 350,000 downloads.

In March 21, 2013, Utada made an announcement in her twitter account that she would be coming back as a radio DJ, having her first regular show in a radio since 2000, called "KUMA POWER HOUR", to be aired via INTER FM, the first broadcast is scheduled to be on April 16. The show ended in March 2014, with 9 episodes aired.

It was announced on August 22nd, 2013 that Utada Hikaru's mother, enka singer Fuji Keiko (real name Abe Junko) had apparently committed suicide, she was 62. She was found on the ground facing upward in front of an apartment in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. She was transported to the hospital, where she soon passed away. The identity of the body was confirmed by her ex-husband.

In May 24, 2014, she married the Italian bartender Francesco Calliano, and in July 3rd, 2015, she announced the birth of her first son in her personal blog.

Utada Hikaru promoting "Hanataba wo Kimi ni" (2016)

Fantôme Era

With the news of her son's birth, Utada announced that she was in the midst of recording a new album. On January 20, 2016, her website confirmed a new song for the NHK Asadora Toto Nee-chan, titled "Hanataba wo Kimi ni", going on air on April 4th. Another song was confirmed by her staff on March 4, called Manatsu no Tooriame, to be the theme of NTV's NEWS ZERO, starting from the same day as the drama. Both songs are being released as digital singles in April 15, along their music videos. Utada's team then announced the celebration of her comeback through a webpage entitled the "NEW-TURN Project" which features a cherry blossom tree that blooms whenever someone buys her music and "#おかえりHIKKI" is used via twitter. Proceeds from the project will fund the planting of cherry blossom trees in areas affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

On August 8, 2016, Utada unveiled the name of her sixth Japanese studio album, Fantôme, as well as the track list and album cover. The album consisted of 11 tracks including 8 new tracks and her 3 previous singles. A few days later, Utada revealed her longtime friend and pop-rock artist Shiina Ringo, hip-hop artist KOHH, and Obukuro Nariaki from the group N.O.R.K, as featured artists on the album. Following the unveiling of Fantôme, she began doing several TV and magazine appearances to promote the album. On September 16, 2016, "Michi" and "Nijikan Dake no Vacance" began radio airplay and were made available digitally. That following week, she unveiled the music videos for "Nijikan Dake no Vacance" and a new version of "Hanataba wo Kimi ni".

Utada Hikaru promoting Fantôme (2016)

On September 28, Fantôme was released. It sold 87,000 copies the first day, easily debuting at #1 on Oricon daily chart. Despite heavy competition from mega-popular boyband EXILE’s best album, EXTREME BEST, the album debuted at #1 on the Oricon weekly chart and sold over 250,000 copies its first week. It would maintain the #1 position for the next four weeks which is a rare feat. It also did extremely well internationally. It charted in over 30 countries, including the US where she peaked at #2 on the iTunes album chart, selling 3,500 digital copies. On November 5, Oricon unveiled their new digital tracking chart which lead to Fantôme becoming the first #1 album of the chart’s debut, selling over 6,500 copies its first week.

As Utada continued to promote Fantôme, she commemorated her eighteenth anniversary in the Japanese music industry. To celebrate, she held a special live streaming event titled, 30 Dai wa Hodohodo!, where she answered fans questions, introduced DJ PUNPEE, and performed alongside KOHH. At the end of the event, she was gifted with a cake and flowers by KOHH and her team.

Utada rounded off the year with her debut appearance at the “67th NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen”, where she performed her Asadora hit, "Hanataba wo Kimi ni". She achieved a 41.6% viewership in the Kanto region and a 42.4% viewership in the Kansai region for her performance which made her the 3rd highest viewed artist of the night. By the end of the year, Fantôme became the #3 album of the year, selling 570,000 copies domestically. According to the United World Charts, it also sold over 663,000 copies, making it the 40th best-selling album worldwide for 2016.

Utada also saw her most awarded season to date. At the 58th Japan Record Awards, "Hanataba wo Kimi ni" was nominated for Song of the Year and Fantôme was the winner of Best Album of the Year. Manatsu no Tooriame won MTV JAPAN awards for the Best Female Video and Video of the Year. She was nominated for SPACE SHOWER MUSIC AWARDS’ Best Female Artist, Best New Vision, and Best Collaboration for "Nijikan Dake no Vacance" feat. Shiina Ringo but ultimately won for Best Female Artist and Best New Vision.

Utada Hikaru promoting "Anata" (2017)

New Label / Hatsukoi Era

On February 9, 2017, it was announced that she would make the label switch to Sony's EPIC Records on March 1st, ending her 18-year run with Universal Music. In addition to the announcement, it was stated that she was slated to release new music within 2017. The first and second digital singles under the new label, "Oozora de Dakishimete" and "Forevermore", were released in July 2017. Her third digital single "Anata" was released December 8th. That same day, her entire discography under Universal Music was available via streaming services. It was announced a new Japanese album and domestic tour were coming in 2018.

On February 10, 2018, at the D23 Expo Japan, Utada's new songs "Chikai" and "Don't Think Twice" were revealed alongside new trailers for Kingdom Hearts III. A new song revealed on April 17th, "Hatsukoi", is the theme song for the Hana Yori Dango drama spin-off Hana Nochi Hare ~Hanadan Next Season~. Another single was released April 25, Play A Love Song. A new album was announced, Hatsukoi, to celebrate her 20th Anniversary in the musical industry.

Utada's personal life also had changes at time. In April 6, 2018, she divorced from Francesco Calliano. Also, she worked in a studio cover of Marunouchi Sadistic with Obukuro Nariaki. The original song is by her friend Shiina Ringo.

Besides her work as a singer, Hikaru is acting also as a musical producer for others artists. She worked on Obukuro Nariaki's debut album, called Bunriha no Natsu, and is featured on his first single "Lonely One". She also produced the THE BACK HORN's single "Anata ga Matteru", a song which she co-produced, co-wrote, and features in backing vocals and piano. From November 2018 until December 2018, Utada made her first tour in Japan in about 12 years, called Hikaru Utada Laughter in the Dark Tour 2018. It's also her first concert live since 2010's WILD LIFE. The tour was released in June 2019 as a 3 disc Blu-Ray + DVD set, as well on Netflix for streaming.

Utada Hikaru promoting "Time" (2020)

Face My Fears / One Last Kiss Era

In January 2019, Utada released a new physical single, called "Face My Fears". The song has both English and Japanese versions. For this release, Utada teamed up with famed American producers Skrillex and Poo Bear. The song became her biggest international hit to-date, charting at #98 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also charted in the top 40 in other countries such as France, the UK, Scotland and New Zealand.

In November 2019, Utada released a new collaboration with Shiina Ringo called "Roman to Soroban" for Shiina's first best album. That same month, she released another digital single for Yusui Inoue's tribute album, a rerecorded cover of "Shounen Jidai".

In 2020, Utada made a comeback with two new singles in May. The first one, "Time", is written by her and co-arranged by her frequent collaborator Obukuro Nariaki. The second, "Dare ni mo Iwanai", was used as a theme song for another Suntory mineral water campaign starring Utada herself.

On January 27, 2021, Utada's first Japanese EP, One Last Kiss, was scheduled to be released with the title track used as the theme of the last Evangelion Shin Gekijouban movie, however it was delayed until March 9th due COVID-19 restrictions in Japan that caused the movie's delay in the cinemas. Another song titled "PINK BLOOD" was announced to be theme of the anime Fumetsu no Anata e set to debut on April 12, 2021. It's the first time Utada will provide a song for an anime TV series.

Utada Hikaru promoting "PINK BLOOD" (2021)

In June 2021, in an Instagram live held in her personal account @kuma_power, Utada announced that she identifies herself as a non-binary person. During the same live, she had a conversation with Evangelion director Hideaki Anno regarding her views about the songs she wrote for the movie series. On July 1st, it was announced that Utada became the new global ambassador for cosmetic brand Shiseido, alongside Spanish actress Úrsula Corberó. The brand released a new commercial using the song "Find Love", a new English song by Hikaru. On November 26th, another single called "Kimi ni Muchuu" was released and was used as the theme for TBS drama Saiai.

On January 19, 2022, Utada's 39th birthday, her eighth Japanese album and first bilingual album, Bad Mode, was released digitally. It was praised by international media, such as Pitchfork, Billboard and other important musical critics. The physical CD was released a month later on February 23rd, and the vinyl releases in April.

In April 16, 2022, Utada did her first concert at a festival in the United States, performing at Coachella's main stage, invited by North American label 88Rising. She sung Simple and Clean, First Love, Face My Fears, Automatic and a new song for the first time, called T, a collaboration with 88rising and rapper Warren Hue.

Other Facts

  • As non binary person, she goes by the pronouns she or they, according to her Instagram account.
  • When Utada is creatively blocked, she takes baths or tries yoga or Pilates at home. In the song "Find Love", she states she trains 3 to 5 days a week.
  • Utada liked the book Emily the Strange so much that she translated it herself into Japanese.
  • Utada loves music that sounds genuine.
  • Utada had a brand of merchandise, which featured a self-drawn cat called "Chuichi", in the early 2000s.
  • In 2001, Utada had both the #1 selling album of the Year as well as the #1 selling single of the year.
  • In 2005, Utada was listed as the person who pays the most tax in Japan. This is the equivalent in Japan of the "rich list" (as the amount of tax payed is roughly equivalent to the amount of money made). Stars' actual incomes are kept secret, which is why the amount of taxes paid is used.
  • Utada albums ranked at numbers 1, 4 and 8 for total album sales in the 2004 Oricon Top 100 Albums.
  • In 2006, Utada's ULTRA BLUE was the 2nd best selling original album of the year only behind Def Tech. Overall it was the 7th best selling album of the year, but the 5 other albums were all best-of collections (besides Def Tech's Catch the Wave).
  • In 2006, Utada was ranked the #1 Japanese artist for most consecutive #1 albums (5 consecutive, not counting EXODUS) on Oricon; selling over 500,000 copies on its debut week sales.
  • She likes vinegar and sometimes just drinks it straight from the bottle with a straw
  • She is a Tetris genius and once went up against 'Tetris assassins', people specially chosen by Nintendo to play against her.
  • She is the only solo artist that has had four of her singles in the top 10 at the same time.
  • She is well known for having very few appearances on television (almost none when promoting something).
  • In 2010, according to Oricon, Utada ranked #4 in the top of best selling female artists of all time in Japan and #9 overall with more than 35 million albums and singles sold in Japan.
  • She's been named the Most Influential Artist of the '00s in Japan.
  • She is the only artist who has the best selling debut single, "Automatic / time will tell" with 2,062,780 sales (both versions sales combined) and best selling album, First Love which is Japan's best selling album ever selling over 7.65 million copies.
  • Her album First Love is the best selling Asian album with over 10,056,000 copies sold worldwide.
  • She is currently the 8th Best-Selling Artist on Recochoku.
  • She spent more than five years in hiatus, coming back with her sixth Japanese album Fantôme. During this time, she only released one song, "Sakura Nagashi", the theme song for Evangelion 3.0.

Japanese Discography

Utada Hikaru promoting "Gold ~Mata Au Hi Made~" (2023)

Studio Albums

Best Albums

Compilation Albums

Live Albums

Tribute Albums



Digital Singles

Download Exclusives

Video Releases


Compilations / Other

US Discography

Studio Albums

Best Albums


Digital Singles


Video Releases

Compilations / Other



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Band Scores

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Obukuro Nariaki


  • [1999] (Yusen Awards) Top Award "Special Prize"
  • [1999] (Yusen Awards) Top Award "Best New Artist"
  • [1999] (Record Awards) Best Album (First Love)
  • [1999] (Record Awards) Best Song (Automatic)
  • [2000] (Golden Disc) The Triple Crown
  • [2000] (Golden Disc) Artist of the Year
  • [2000] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (Automatic, Movin' on without you, Addicted To You)
  • [2000] (Golden Disc) Pop Album of the Year (First Love)
  • [2000] (Golden Disc) Music Video of the Year (SINGLE CLIP COLLECTION VOL.1)
  • [2000] (World Music Awards) Best-Selling Japanese Artist
  • [2000] (JASRAC) Gold Award (Automatic)
  • [2000] (JASRAC) Silver Award (time will tell)
  • [2001] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (Wait & See ~Risk~, For You / Time Limit)
  • [2001] MTV Japan Viewer's Choice Video (Can You Keep A Secret?)
  • [2002] SSTV Best Art Direction Video (traveling)
  • [2002] SSTV Best Female Video (traveling)
  • [2002] SSTV Best Video of the Year (traveling)
  • [2002] SSTV Best Music Video (traveling)
  • [2002] MTV Japan Best R&B Artist
  • [2002] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (Can You Keep A Secret?)
  • [2002] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (traveling)
  • [2002] (Golden Disc) Pop Album of the Year (Distance)
  • [2002] (JASRAC) Silver Award (Can You Keep A Secret?)
  • [2003] (World Music Awards) Best-Selling Japanese Artist
  • [2003] J-WAVE Best Female Artist
  • [2003] SSTV Best Female Video (SAKURA Drops)
  • [2003] MTV JAPAN Best Female Video (SAKURA Drops)
  • [2003] (Golden Disc) The Triple Crown
  • [2003] (Golden Disc) Artist of the Year
  • [2003] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (Hikari)
  • [2003] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (SAKURA Drops)
  • [2003] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (COLORS)
  • [2003] (Golden Disc) Rock & Pop Album of the Year (Deep River)
  • [2003] (Golden Disc) Music Video of the Year (traveling)
  • [2003] JASRAC Silver Award (traveling)
  • [2003] JASRAC Silver Award (Foreign Production) (Hikari)
  • [2004] AMD Award for Best Music Composer (UH LIVE STREAMING 20 Dai wa Ikeike!)
  • [2004] (World Music Awards) Best-Selling Japanese Artist
  • [2004] Ranked #1 on Oricon's annual poll for Favorite Artists.
  • [2005] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro)
  • [2005] (Golden Disc) Rock & Pop Album of the Year (Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.1)
  • [2005] (Golden Disc) International Rock & Pop Album of the Year (EXODUS)
  • [2005] (Golden Disc) Music Video of the Year (Utada Hikaru in Budokan 2004 Hikaru no 5)
  • [2006] (Golden Disc) Song of the Year (Be My Last)
  • [2007] (Golden Disc) Rock & Pop Album of the Year (ULTRA BLUE)
  • [2007] (Golden Disc) 10 Best Albums (ULTRA BLUE)
  • [2007] (Golden Disc) Million Sales Album Artist Card (ULTRA BLUE)
  • [2007] Ranked #1 on Oricon's annual poll for Favorite Artists.
  • [2008] (Golden Disc) Single of the Year (Flavor Of Life)
  • [2008] (Golden Disc) PC Download Song of the Year (Flavor Of Life)
  • [2008] (Golden Disc) Best 10 Singles (Flavor of Life)
  • [2008] (Golden Disc) Best 5 Chaku-Uta Songs (Flavor of Life -Ballad Version)
  • [2008] (Golden Disc) Best 5 Chaku-Uta Full Songs (Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version-)
  • [2008] (Golden Disc) Best 5 Chaku-Uta Full Songs (Flavor Of Life)
  • [2008] (Golden Disc) Best 5 PC Download Songs (Beautiful World)
  • [2008] (Golden Disc) Best 5 PC Download Songs (Flavor Of Life)
  • [2008] Best Monthly Airplay Record at Japanese Radio (HEART STATION)
  • [2008] Radio Television Hong Kong 19th International Pop Poll Awards - Top Japanese Gold Song (Beautiful World)
  • [2008] Radio Television Hong Kong 19th International Pop Poll Awads - Torp Japanese Artist
  • [2008] MTV Japan Best Video from a Film (Beautiful World, from Neon Genesis Evangelion)
  • [2008] Ranked #1 on Oricon's annual poll for Favorite Artists.
  • [2009] (Golden Disc) Best 5 Chaku-Uta Songs (Prisoner Of Love)
  • [2009] (Golden Disc) Best 5 Chaku-Uta Full Songs (Prisoner Of Love)
  • [2009] (Golden Disc) Best 5 PC Download Songs (Prisoner Of Love)
  • [2009] (Golden Disc) Best 5 Albums (HEART STATION)
  • [2009] The 1st CD Shop First Prize Award Best CD Album (HEART STATION)
  • [2009] Jasrac Award 2009 10 Best Interactive Songs (Prisoner Of Love)
  • [2009] Named the most influential artist of the decade by Japan Times
  • [2010] Ranked #7 on Oricon's annual poll for Favorite Artists.
  • [2011] (Space Shower MVA) Special Award (Goodbye Happiness)
  • [2011] (Space Shower MVA) Best Conceptual Video (Goodbye Happiness)
  • [2016] Ranked #5 on Oricon's annual poll for Favorite Artists.
  • [2016] MTV JAPAN Best Female Video (Manatsu no Tooriame)
  • [2016] MTV Video of the Year (Manatsu no Tooriame)
  • [2016] Japan Record Awards Best Album of the Year (Fantôme)
  • [2017] (Golden Disc) Best 5 Songs by Download (Hanataba wo Kimi ni)
  • [2017] (Golden Disc) Best 5 Albums (Fantôme)
  • [2017] (Space Shower MVA) Best Female Artist
  • [2017] (Space Shower MVA) Best New Vision
  • [2017] CD Shop Awards Grand Prize (Fantôme)
  • [2022.03.14] 36th Japan Gold Disc Awards: Best 5 Songs by Download (Japan) – "One Last Kiss"

External Links