entertainment

Singer Hikaru Utada to return to showbiz in April with theme song for NHK drama

32 Comments

Popular Japanese singer Hikaru Utada will make a comeback to the entertainment world after nearly six years in hiatus from the spotlight with the release of a new song this spring.

Utada, 33, will perform the theme song for a NHK TV drama series “Toto Neechan” which is set to begin in early April, the national public broadcaster said. Utada confirmed the rumors on her official website and Twitter account, writing that she is “just about to finish up the last line of the song’s lyrics.”

Utada, who rose to massive popularity in Japan and abroad with her debut album “First Love” in 1999, featuring major hits such as “Automatic” and “First Love,” announced her withdrawal from the music world in 2010 “to return to her personal life” for an unspecified amount of time. Since then, she married an Italian man and gave birth to her first son in 2015. Utada also suffered a tragedy when her mother, Keiko Fuji, a former enka singer and actress, jumped to her death from her apartment building in August 2013.

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32 Comments
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Oh I remember her. She made one major hit "Automatic" about 15 yrs ago and disappeared. The odds are against her.

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

Utada, who rose to massive popularity in Japan and abroad with her debut album “First Love” in 1999

While there is no doubt she was very popular in Japan, adding the & abroad bit is seriously pushing it too much

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Oh I remember her. She made one major hit "Automatic" about 15 yrs ago and disappeared.

What? She is one of the most successful artists in Japanese history. She had way more than one hit, with multiple albums, and she didn't disappear, she was regularly in the Japanese media, on TV, and releasing albums until she decided to leave the business a few years back. Ask most any Japanese person and they will know who she is.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

adding the & abroad bit is seriously pushing it too much

Exactly. People in NY or LA wouldn't know her. Even in the golden age of her fame.

The odds will be against her. She's 33. Young Japanese think that is too old. Koda Kumi is about 33 too, but much more talented and hotter than hikaru.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Just one hit?? ahem... http://en.j1fm.tokyo/database?what=show&how=artist&who=UH1

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Exactly. People in NY or LA wouldn't know her. Even in the golden age of her fame.

Kind of true, kind of not. She had an English album, Exodus, which sold 55,000 albums in the US. But from that album, the song "Devil Inside" peaked at number one on the US Hot Dance Club Songs.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I know lots of Asian people, who are not from Japan, that are quite familiar with Utada Hikaru.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I know lots of Asian people, who are not from Japan, that are quite familiar with Utada Hikaru.

You don't say. Thats cause Japanese groups dominate the music scene "in" Asia. Go to LA or NY, not many are familiar with SMAP, Nishino Kana, Sekai no Owari or Exile.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

So Asia doesn't count as 'abroad'?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

So Asia doesn't count as 'abroad'?

Yeah it does. But the impact of Japanese groups / artists have little, if any, influence and popularity abroad in places like North America and Europe.

Babymetal has made some breakthroughs on those continents. But of course the metal scene is way different than the typical j-pop scene.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Hikaru certainly is one of the most critically acclaimed musicians of our times, her artistry going further than appearance, without even having the aim to succeed in a field she dominates very well.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I fear fans will just be afforded just a fleeting glimpse of songstress Hikaru Utada, truly one of Japans hidden treasures, whose overseas debut was appallingly betrayed and managed by former Island Def Jam Music Group president/CEO Lyor Cohen.

In Japan U3, carefully steered by Father Teruzane brought unprecedented wealth and success without the undue negative influence of talent agencies jimusho system. Hikaru shuns the limelight, finger crossed fans will one day enjoy a TV special.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hikaru certainly is one of the most gifted and critically acclaimed musicians of our times, her artistry going further than appearance, without even having the aim to succeed in a field she has demonstrated to dominate very well indeed.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

She did the music for both major titles in the Kingdom Hearts Video games and most of the people I knew knew of her. (under 20 years old at the time) More than any other Japanese artist I have ever heard of.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Wc626

Oh I remember her. She made one major hit "Automatic" about 15 yrs ago and disappeared. The odds are against her.

What are you talking about? If you're a westerner that knows just one Japanese artist it's probably Utada. She's arguably the most famous Japanese musical artist ever outside of Japan. Most people I know have at least heard of her. C'mon now.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

She didn't lose any popularity from being away. Several of my friends still sing her songs in Karaoke, and I think First Love is an excellent song.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Simple and clean and my sanctuary I guarantee people in LA and NY know who utada is

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wc626: "Automatic" was indeed about 15 years ago (sixteen, I think), and that was her first album (First Love -- the most sold out album of all time in Japan at that time, and still near the top if not the top), but she had several MASSIVE hits after that on six more regular albums, and also released an album in the US (all English). Also well known and loved in Taiwan and South Korea. She is one of the rare talents Japan has had to offer -- writes her own stuff, makes the music, can actually sing, and is intelligent.

That said, I really wish that Japanese artists would drop the whole "retirement" thing and then come back a few years later as a big promotional campaign for a new album. This beats SMAP "quitting" and reuniting in the same week just in time for major tours, but still.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

There are enough people here defending Utada Hikaru, so I won't jump on the bandwagon too much.

But, to be clear, she is no "one-hit wonder".

Let's put this in perspective. With credit to Wiki.

She has sold 36 million records in Japan (more on this in a minute). That's more than SMAP. She is the 11th highest selling Japanese artist. The 3rd highest selling Japanese solo artist.

She has also had three of her Japanese studio albums in the list of Top 10 best-selling albums ever in Japan (number 1, 4, 8). She has had twelve number-one singles on the Oricon Singles chart, with two notable record achievements for a female solo or group artist: five million-sellers and four in the Top 100 All-Time Best-selling Singles.

Oh, and it is estimated that Utada has sold more than 52 million records worldwide, which means that if she sold 36 million records in Japan, then 16 million were sold overseas. That may or may not be correct, but, regardless, it is a decent number.

Make no mistake, this is no flash-in-the-pan J-pop artist. She may never reach the heights she reached at her peak, but who can?! And, at age 33, why shouldn't she give it another go?!

Regardless, I wish her success and happiness.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I actually know her first love. She never game him the ring back he gave her.

Good luck though as she can Jazz pretty well.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If 1/4 of the entire Japanese population or basically 1 out of every 2 households has/had her album than it's safe to assume she was pretty successful. She could write, compose and sing so that already beats most of the crowd.

If she had wanted to be ranked in the same pop genre of Carly Ray Jepson, Ellie Goulding, Kate Perry or similar of today I'm sure she could have pulled some strings back in the day. Not sure she would even want to, but it all comes down to networking with the right people in the industry and pumping oodles of money in marketing. Its like producing a movie and hype is important. Using youtube to go viral like Gangnam Style is more of a fluke and not sustainable. You can of course be talentless and still sell.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You know the management companies / labels pay NHK for the right to do this.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

She is one of Japans better Singers, has a good overseas following , was as household name back in 2000, if she kept going back then the world was her oyster . have no doubt she could easily pump out a number one at the blink of an eye lid

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@gogogo,

You know the management companies / labels pay NHK for the right to do this.

Regardless of what is done as a general matter, I would well imagine that NHK would welcome Utada penning and singing the song... without demanding anything. I have a feeling this is one of those ones that is mutually beneficial. I mean, its Hikki for goodness sakes. Who has been absent for 5~6 years. Do you think they don't know how to use this?! Undoubtedly some promo spots on Asaichi with Utada. To promote the song and the drama. And to "relaunch" Utada. Which obviously benefits Utada in relaunching her career!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You don't say. Thats cause Japanese groups dominate the music scene "in" Asia.

NEWS FLASH...there are actual Asian people that have been born, and live outside Asia.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

have no doubt she could easily pump out a number one at the blink of an eye lid

That's not what true musicianship is all about though. Only the corporate executives in the industry care about "pumping out" a #1 Hit. How about some integrity, loyalty and constant dedication to your own music / Fans??

Her hubby (bartender) must NOT be making the big "tips" these days.

Then when she's "washed-up" for the second time, they'll throw her under the bus.

Utada, Hikaru never should've stopped if she was so great. Look @Namie Amuro, Hamasaki Ayumi, Kyari, etc. -they just fell off the map.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Wc626: Thats cause Japanese groups dominate the music scene "in" Asia.

Didn't see any Japanese groups in this Korean Top 100 list or this HK Top 30 list, so I'll stop there.

http://www.shazam.com/charts/top-100/south-korea

http://musicweekly.asia/charts/top-30-singles-hong-kong

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Never heard of her. . . .

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

How about some integrity, loyalty and constant dedication to your own music / Fans??

How is releasing a new single damaging any of that?

Utada, Hikaru never should've stopped if she was so great.

Why not? Stars are people too, and she wanted to take a break. She was in entertainment since she was a teenager, so some time off is fair enough.

Look @Namie Amuro, Hamasaki Ayumi, Kyari, etc. -they just fell off the map.

Not really, Amuro had a new album in the past year or two, and Hamasaki was busy up until the past couple of years. I don't know who Kyari is.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I like her songs.They express well painful girls' mind.Cannot wait to hear new song!!!!!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You just have to look at the album charts to see how popular she still is. Her singles collection vol 1 is currently at number 29. 12 years after its launch. A true superstar

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So happy she's making a comeback!

I had the great opportunity to see her when she performed in London in a tiny O2 academy venue several years ago.

I knew she married an Italian but didn't realise she's become a mother!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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