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Utada Hikaru

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AboutHikaru Utada is one of Japan's most popular singers and songwriters, with multiple albums achieving number 1 status and awards. Outside of Japan, she is best known for writing and singing the theme songs "Simple and Clean" in Kingdom Hearts, and "Sanctuary / Passion" in Kingdom Hearts II. Those console games were a collaboration of two popular franchises: Disney and Final Fantasy, but it was her songs that helped contribute to its success.

Hikaru Utada was born in New York City, but had strong ties to Japan as her father, Utada Teruzane, was a musician and producer, and her mother, Keiko Fuji, was a Japanese enka (ballad) singer. Her family would reside between New York City and Tokyo with different projects. She considers her early influences on her music style to range from classic rock of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin to hip hop of Dr. Dre. At 12 years old, she recorded an English LP which didn't get much recognition in the US but got the attention of some Japanese record companies who helped her on an album called Precious where she went under the name Cubic U. This led to some soundtrack songs.

By the time she was graduating from high school, she had signed onto a major record label, Toshiba EMI, and released her first Japanese album, "First Love," a mix of R&B and pop songs that soon went platinum and is now one of Japan's best-selling albums of all time. She followed up with "Distance" and "Deep River" which also rocketed to multi-platinum status and contains some of her most memorable pop songs, two of which were combined into a theme song for the first Kingdom Hearts game.

While she enjoyed much success worldwide, she had yet to penetrate America's music scene. She had one song that was part of the Rush Hour 2 movie, and in 2004, at age 21, she worked with Island Def Jam Records on her English album Exodus, which was featured on a You Heard It First segment on MTV News. But the US market was hardly receptive to Asian singers, and she ended up returning to Japan to do some more soundtrack songs. In 2006 she released her fourth Japanese album, Ultra Blue, which also featured her single "Colors", and continued her streak of #1 albums. In 2008 she is planning the release of her fifth Japanese album, "Heart Station" and her third English album.

Japanese studio albums
First Love - released March 10, 1999.
Distance - released March 28, 2001.
Deep River - released June 19, 2002.
Ultra Blue - released June 14, 2006.
Heart Station - release March 19, 2008.

English studio albums
Precious - released January 28, 1998 under the name Cubic U.
Exodus - released September 9, 2004 (JP), October 5, 2004 (US).
(Unnamed third album project announced for 2008)

Compilation Albums
Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol. 1 - released March 31, 2004

Concert videos
Bohemian Summer 2000 - released December 19, 2000
Utada Hikaru Unplugged - released November 11, 2001
Utada Hikaru in Boudokan 2004 - released July 28, 2004
Utada United 2006 - released December 20, 2006

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