Hikaru Utada to return to entertainment industry after 3-year-hiatus


Hikaru Utada, the best-selling pop artist born in New York City and raised in both Japan and the United States, is to return to entertainment after a three-year hiatus.

Utada, 30, has announced that she is to return not as a singer but as a radio DJ, Sankei Shimbun reported Saturday. Utada will host a monthly radio program called "Kuma Power Hour with Utada Hikaru" on InterFM station. Hikaru's show will be broadcast on the third Tuesday of every month in the Kanto region, beginning April 16.

Utada, who announced the hiatus on her blog in August 2010, has not hosted a regular radio show for 13 years. Although she did contribute the song "Sakura Nagashi" as the ending theme for last year's "Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo," her management insisted that the song did not represent a return to her musical career.

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2 ( +6 / -4 )

I think the getting married then divorced at a young age kind of killed her popularity as a singer. Also the fact that Japanese fans rarely support singers when they get to their late 20s.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

She is the best singer -- male or female -- Japan has ever produced.

1 ( +11 / -9 )

Quite a career come-down. A "monthly" program...on InterFM!?!? That gig won't even pay her keitai bill.

"The third Tuesday of every month"?!?! Gotta love the quality and professionalism of Japan's radio industry. No wonder nobody listens.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Ill be interested to hear more of her personality. I always got the impression she was a bit too faced, pretending to be the perfect Japanese pop idol in Japan while having a kind of American rich kid bitchiness in real life (having been raised by two very ambitious industry insiders in New York). That said, I really didnt have a lot to go on, I dont know her at all, so Ill keep an open mind, either way she could have changed and matured a lot in 10 years.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )


that's exactly what i thought and felt!

i think she just kinda gave up after having not cracked the US market. that was probably her biggest goal and no matter how hard she tried, she could never produce a single that played well in america. it's unfortunate because she has such a great voice.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

She is one of the few musicians whose songs had a beat and rhythm. Maybe getting married at such a young age to such an older guy threw her career off course. Good luck to her.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I am a big fan, ever since my girlfriend intro'd me... "beautiful world" ..

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I'm a fan of Hikki but I disagree that she's a great singer. She doesn't have a particularly great voice that can stand on its own and she's not the best live performer for this reason if you've ever heard her live on stage. That said, she's a great artist that produces some great music, for which her voice is perfectly suited. I really hope she comes out with something as good as Deep River...

0 ( +4 / -4 )

She has talent, for sure. A great singer? not really -- I'm with USNinJapan on that one. I respect her for writing her own music (some of it anyway), which nearly 100% of Japanese 'artists' do not. I hope this radio show is but an introduction to a true comeback to the biz. Either way, the airwaves have been blessed.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Damn wish I cud survive working one day a month!!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I sincerely hope she sticks to singing and stays off the talk show circuit. She has a great voice for performing but when she opens her mouth to talk, actually she doesn't open it more that a fraction, her personality leaves a lot to be desired.

Stay with the singing.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

She is the best singer -- male or female -- Japan has ever produced.

I used to think her mother Fuji Keiko was the best! Have a listen to "Shinjuku no Onna" or "Keiko no Yume ha Yoru Hiraku" or "Onna no Blues." Fuji Keiko's ex - Maekawa Kiyoshi is not a bad singer either!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

i think she just kinda gave up after having not cracked the US market. that was probably her biggest goal and no matter how hard she tried, she could never produce a single that played well in america.

Well it doesn't help either that she toured in America for all of five minutes and didn't appear on any live talk shows except one at the wee hours of the morning when absolutely nobody saw her except when it was on youtube a year later. I love Utada with all my heart and think she's a terrific artist and singer, but come on...if you want to make it America, you can't expect to do it with a mini-tour and no publicity push in our country. I mean, even the stupid one hit wonders of America know this all too well. Look at Psy from S. Korea...he was literally EVERYWHERE when that song of his came to America...I mean, there wasn't a station I didn't see the guy on. I can't help but think that helped him, because Lord knows the song sure didn't lol. I do think Utada needs to come back and not worry about breaking into American markets or any market for that matter. The girl is probably a gabillionaire anyways, so she should just write music and be herself in whatever language she prefers. Although I hope it's Japanese, since I listen to Heart Station more than any of her other albums. I loved her Evangelion song and kept thinking, "why doesn't she just write?" The girl is SOOOOO gifted! Instead, you are going to be a DJ and play other people's music? Geez. Utada...that is what Karaoke is for!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's great to hear that she's stepping back out of obscurity, event if it is for only one day a month.

Back in my college days, I listened to an MD of First Love on an endless loop while doing my homework. It was some of the best Japanese listening and pronunciation I ever had. I always tell people that Utada Hikaru was one of my Japanese teachers on my road to fluency.

Sadly, I was never fond of her English language attempts. They all sound extremely awkward and soulless. The only English track I liked was her collaboration with Foxy Brown called "Blow My Whistle" which was on the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack. Ah, memories.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

YubaruMar. 25, 2013 - 12:46PM JST

I sincerely hope she sticks to singing and stays off the talk show circuit. She has a great voice for performing but when she opens her mouth to talk, actually she doesn't open it more that a fraction, her personality leaves a lot to be desired.

Totally agree and the same with her tweeting. Complaining about Chinese buying property in Japan, while she has 2 houses in NY........

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I always felt she was goofy in a cute way. Exodus (first English album) was almost pure crap -and was a horrible career misdirection.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfpX8lkaSdk (very cute -and a brilliant concept) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFkvLN9pt-k (live)

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Wow, she's 30 !? Time sure flys by ! Hikaru-san, okaeri !

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oh please come back and sing! Please!! Love her since her debut and that entire CD is a reminder of my first year in Japan.

I don't think she's had an easy life. Back and forth between the US and Japan, the older Japanese did NOT like her at the beginning (often commented on her lack of keigo in interviews and the like). Don't forget her mom was arrested a few years back for being drunk and having something like 100,000 US cash on her. Lots of pressure and had to be very mature at a young age. Add in the young marriage, cancer, divorce... I wish her all the best. She is indeed the best singer J pop has ever produced. Think I'm one of the only one who liked her English CD.

She was also know as Cubic U in the US for a while.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

While I am happy to see Utada's return. I can't help but wonder what she must be thinking now. To go from one of the most talented, gifted and successful Japanese artists in the world. To hosting a one hour DJ show once a month is disheartening. It appears that a falling out with her previous label may have done more damage then I previously had thought. Just after her being dropped from Universal Japan. EMI from what I understand had renewed her contract and was taking over both her Japanese and worldwide distribution. EMI's president seem happy to see Utada refocus her efforts and has stated quote.

We are very happy that EMI global network, expertise and passion will continue to contribute to and support the musical and creative vision of the superbly talented Hikaru Utada.

I wonder what happened between then and now as it seems she has all but given up on her music career? This is the problem when you are signed under two major labels with conflicting interests. From what I know of how this all came down. Utada had made it quite clear that she was unhappy with her record labels plans to release two of her hit albums on the same day. EMI had previously announced that it would be releasing a "Single Collection 2" of which Universal Japan choose to release "Utada The Best" at the same time. This was an album of which material was previously available overseas. Utada was quick to slam that decision. According to her Twitter blog she has stated.

I am not against the release of a hits album but from a music industry point of view. Isn't this just senseless and rude! As an artist I wasn't prepared to just stay quiet and accept it.

"Utada The Best" was previously released in the U.S. Under Def Jam Records. Of which she said of the Japanese release. The new Best Of didn't contain any new material and not an album she put her heart into. She then told fans not to buy the album. I have mad respect for Utada as it took guts to say what she did. Yet in the end that may have been a career ending move. I won't argue that the music industry especially in Japan has far to much control over it's artists.

Some like my friend Yoshi which managed to escape their labels stranglehold and is doing quite well without them now. He is selling more records through I-Tunes then he ever did under the industry's iron grip. Yet I hope this isn't the last time we see Utada as we all remember her. While she may have not seen the success she was hoping for in the U.S. I say if anytime was a good time to return it's now. A lot has changed in the last three years. Artists of which I would have never previously though of doing much have gained considerable ground.

Namie winning at the World Music Awards which was the first for an Japanese artist. Yoshiki writing the theme song to last year's Golden Globes. Boa with her Hollywood movie debut just around the corner. Far East Movement becoming the first ever Asian-American group to top the Billboard charts in the U.S. K-Pop making inroads in ways I never thought even remotely possible. It would be a crime to see one of Japan's best artists sitting on the sidelines. Especially at a time when we are seeing so much growth among the Asian artist community.

Seeing Utada as a DJ just seems like a huge step down for someone of her talent and ability. Furthermore who needs record labels these days lol. The Japanese music industry is a dying breed which needs to go the way of the 8 track disk. There are so many talented Asian artists out there which would be better served if they didn't have a chain strapped to their neck. DJ's are for people who wished they were artists and people like Utada have no business being there. I hope this is just a temporary setback as Utada deserves to be at the forefront of this movement and not in it's shadows.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

She is the best singer -- male or female -- Japan has ever almost produced.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Has anyone stopped to think that maybe she wants to be a DJ and work on radio? If she wanted to sing, she's easily get a contract - her work for movies proves this. She swore off music for a while and perhaps she doesn't want to sing right now? Which is true, saddens me as I would kill for her to make a few more CDs.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

all her english songs suck, period...crossover is not possible for her

advice to her, stick to jp songs

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I think that the theme of Utada's songs are all LOVE. Those are painful, suffocating and lonely love of the springtime of life. Consequently Utada's world is beautiful.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I think that the theme of Utada's Life is all about LOVE. Those are painful, suffocating and lonely love of the springtime of life. Consequently Utada's world is beautiful.

-I changed your quote somewhat. She married at 19 because she believed in love and closeness (Nature of a true Woman which is a rarity these days). She is a true artist (in the true spirit of art) that has the power/money/fame to choose her own direction. =True Love/True Life= A life honesty most people do not have or could never understand.

Obviously this will upset the people that make a living leeching/squatting on/over people --> Why even try to make these type of people happy?

=People that do not understand love/nature will stay at home and never experience the cherry blossoms. Why be miserable and not accept love/nature that is 100% perfect. Logically nature is the strongest argument there is (Why deny nature?)

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

NYC: True Art/Love


NY Dolls -Looking for a Kiss-

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"She is the best singer -- male or female -- Japan has ever produced."

What an insult to Japan. She should stick to japanese songs. She is not the best in Japan.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

awesome!!! another pop starlet to sing vapid, formulaic trite!!!!! yay! peace sign! cute face for picture!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

thanks utada for coming back!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Reikizen.... that you would take time to write so much about pop singer speaks volumes....

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

What the heck is that supped to mean Jaymann? Just as someone else might write about Jazz music or Rock and Roll as music is subjective is it not. Good post Reiki as some people just feel the need to be Jholes on JT. Utada record sales alone in Japan speak volumes to her success as an artist here. So people who criticize her really just need to get lost. Furthermore what is even more embarrassing is that so many here seem to associate all J-Pop with AKB48 lol. Throwing everyone else into the mix as though they all fit that demographic. That is insulting and clearly not representative of all the other great artists Japan has to offer. If you can't find any you clearly aren't looking very hard or you are racist whichever comes first. Many artists of which have reached the top of their field look for new challenges. So the fact Utada put so much importance on US is not all that surprising. She is American after all so isn't it normal she would want to have success there.

There is only so far the Japanese music industry will take you and as Reiki and other have said. Being an artist in Japan has it's disadvantages when you factor in record labels which are only focused on Japan. Even if some show the desire to expand outside that confined space. Some artists like Ayumi Hamasaki have a little more control as she has a large commercial aspect to her image. This means major endorsements for products of which anything she is associated with usually sells out in quick order. So the label usually gives her what she wants. Yet that is more the exception then the rule. I also have a serious problem when people tell artists they should just sing in one language or the other. As though they know what's best for them and their future. Since she is Japanese she should sing in Japanese! So I guess that goes for everyone else as well right?

People need to keep race & politics out of music as we already have enough propaganda to fuel people's already xenophobic tendencies. The fact she is Japanese should have nothing to do with what language she sings in. Just like saying anyone other then someone born in Japan has no talent. Do we really want to get into this conversation as it doesn't accomplish anything. With that said clearly some people in here are bios towards their own music which is fine. Yet how many pop artists do you know actually write & compose their own music? The fact she didn't make it in the US doesn't make her a failure either. There are plenty of crappy US artists which are far less talented which gets contracts all the time. In addition to some Japanese ones which I need not mention again. In closing Utada is an amazing talent and I just hope she doesn't give up on singing. The world is changing and the acceptance of Asian artists is only going to be a matter of time. We need more like her not less. :)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

by your 'reasoning' Cherry, sales of McDonald's hamburgers must 'speak volumes' of their worth as food? There was nothing racist in my chiding of Utada fans.. I merely write as a musician and music teacher. I see little worth in her music. It is formulaic and irrelevant. Whether or not someone likes music is relevant only to them not the body of academic and artistic knowledge that is music.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

which nearly 100% of Japanese 'artists' do not.

That's right, Smithinjapan. Only, top Japanese artists like Yuzu, Ken Hirai, Keisuke Kuwata of Southern All-Stars, Noriaki Makihara, Mr. Children, B'Z, Dreams Come True, Yumi Matsutoya, Tatsuro Yamashita, Every Little Thing, Funky Monkey Babys, Misia, etc. write their own music. Good to see Utada come back. She has talent. I loved her music Heart Station and the theme from the Evangelion movie called "Beautiful World".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Very nice. Like the name and wish the best.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Jaymann Mar. 27, 2013 - 07:43AM JST I merely write as a musician and music teacher. I see little worth in her music. It is formulaic and irrelevant. Whether or not someone likes music is relevant only to them not the body of academic and artistic knowledge that is music.

It doesn't matter if you know music like yourself who failed. Most people that know music are starving. In todays pop music, it's the producer that decides the direction of the artist. It's all about economics and packaging a product. Utada happened to be very marketable, and she has the charm and succeeded in popularity where other 99.999 percent failed. It's a tough business and she made it by making tons of money. Good for her.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@sfjp330 - and how do you define failure? or success for that matter? Your comments are not terribly unlike those of the HS Juniors I instruct.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I see little worth in her music. It is formulaic and irrelevant.

Jaymann: You're pretty much describing 99% of the music in the world. Nowadays (at least for the past century) pretty much all music in the world can be considered "formulaic and irrelavant". It just depends on how you look at it. You could say that there just isn't anything original anymore, whether it be classical, rock, jazz, pop, reggae, country, etc. IMO, the most redeeming quality of music nowadays is serving as a type of landmark in our lives; reminding us of our good times and bad.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I merely write as a musician and music teacher. I see little worth in her music. It is formulaic and irrelevant. Whether or not someone likes music is relevant only to them not the body of academic and artistic knowledge that is music. Wow aren't you an arrogant one lol. Furthermore just because you are a musician/music teacher doesn't make you an expert on the subject.

At least Utada is selling herself on her musical merits!! If pop stars do not respect themselves or their craft than why should anyone else. I don't think this is the last we will see of Utada though. The musical landscape is changing and artists no longer need to be tired to their labels to be successful. This is something of which the RIAA would like us to not believe of coarse. Nearly every musician who has made a living recording music first had to sign over their entitled rights to be exploited by a third party. When you see that copyright protects corporate interests much like other questionable government subsidies that were originally meant to protect the average Joe, you see copyright needs to go, along with the RIAA. We can either face the truth and change for the better.

Or we can repeat the past and risk damaging the musical, cultural, social and personal significance even further. While the RIAA and others like it are betting their gatekeeper position is sustainable. I think they have another thing coming. There is no reason Utada needs to stay on-board a sinking ship though. The record industry has lost respect among many musicians and fans alike. There are plenty which would have loved to have said what she did but didn't have the guts to. As a musician yourself one would think you would understand that. That alone makes her not just any Japanese pop artist but one which has earned my respect and admiration. So no matter what your definition on what is relevant to the body of academic and artistic knowledge. I know of many other musicians which would be more then happy to call you out on that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Jaymann, sure, the pop music from the past Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, etc is tough to play. Lots of chord changes, modulations, occasional changes in time signatures, etc. Some of it is as demanding as classical music. And the dynamics are key. Question to you is how much of that what you feel in your gut emotional experience is what people really need and how much of that is what we’ve been taught to expect? As much as I admire those folks from the 40s and 50s, I’d throw them over for Dire Straits or Journey any day at any time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We love her in Hawaii..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

From Jacksonville, Florida i know tons of people who know about Hikaru and her unique voice, she is certainly an inspirational person for me and her singing blows me away. I've known about her for a long time now and she never gets old its just really hard to match anyone to her singing and what he has sung. In any case I'm only and amateur artist in a variety of arts such as photography, film, and art. Also because I'm still in school in stead of a role model I choose inspirational people for who I should look up to i look for successful and original artist/ professionals such as Hikaru Utada. Yes though shes been through ups and downs she still has an extreme and undefeated voice that i hope to hear more from in the future. Though its not like ill get tired of her old songs i still can get enough of "crying like a child".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Only recently discovered her music only to find that she had sadly taken a hiatus. Soulful lyrics of "Making Love" resonated with me. Being able to compose music is such a gift. To not use this gift will be a loss

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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