Archive for jPop

hitomi takahashi

Hitomi Takahashi (高橋 瞳 Takahashi Hitomi?, born April 8, 1989) is a J-Rock/J-pop singer from Miyagi Prefecture in Japan. After being selected as finalist in the Sony Music SD audition, which contained about 20,000 applicants, Hitomi entered the music scene in 2005 with her single “Bokutachi no Yukue“. The single was an instant hit for her, and entered the weekly Oricon charts at #1, making her the third solo debut singer to achieve this.

+ Profile +

  • Height:147cm – 4′ 7
  • Favorite Artists:Shiina Ringo, Avril Lavigne, Ellegarden, LOST IN TIME, Jack’s Mannequin, Shaka Labbits, and We Are Scientists
  • Doesn’t like spring onions or sweets
  • Favorite manga: Gin Tama
  • Favorite things: Dancing, collecting hats, film festivals
  • + Biography +

    Pre-Debut

    Hitomi Takahashi was born on April 8, 1989 in the Miyagi prefecture of Japan. Because of her abnormally large eyes, her parents named her “Hitomi”, meaning “pupil/eye” in Japanese. By the influence of her father, she grew up listening to his favorite music, which was classic rock such as Eric Clapton and the Beatles.

    In 2002, she entered junior-high/middle school. Upon entrance, Hitomi joined the school softball team and joined Kendo, where she obtained the level of sho-dan. It was during these years that she expressed an interest in becoming an artist’s backup dancer, and began dancing with her friends.

    During a karaoke singing event in 2003, Hitomi’s friends encouraged her to sing live. Though she expressed a disliking for singing karaoke in front of a large crowd, she eventually sang because of her friend’s encouragement, and from that time on the desire to become a singer awoke in her. During her second year in junior-high school, in the middle of the summer of 2003, Hitomi applied for the Sony Music Auditions. Because of a change in interest, Hitomi moved from singing dance music to singing rock music.

    In 2004, Hitomi was selected as the finalist for the Sony Music SD audition (Vo-che3); 20,000 others had auditioned. She had been worried that because of her height (147 cm), she would be overlooked, but her powerful voice attracted the attention of people while she sang live. The end of 2004 found her being chosen to sing the theme song for “Gundam SEED DESTINY“. Recording of her song “Bokutachi no Yukue” began at the end of the year.

    sympathy era

    In 2005, she was in the middle of high school entrance exams as the title for her 1st single “Bokutachi no Yukue” was announced. The single was released on April 2005, and debuted at #1 on the Oricon charts. This was a huge success, making Hitomi the second female singer to have a debut single in the #1 spot, and the third solo artist to have a debut single reach #1. The single ended up selling well over 100,000 copies.

    Hitomi soon entered Shiogama Girls High School, and started her first radio personality on Date fm (FM Sendai) called “Takahashi Hitomi ~Sound D・N・A~”.

    The second single from Hitomi, “evergreen“, was released on August 12, 2005. The song was used as the theme song for the Japanese TV drama “New Kids War”. The single sales were much lower than her previous single, with the single debuting at #22 on the Japanese Oricon Charts, and selling a little less than 30,000 copies.

    Hitomi’s third single, “Aozora no NAMIDA“, was soon released on November 30, 2005, and it was used as the 1st opening theme song for the anime BLOOD+. (It had originally been planned for an October 12, 2005 released, but was pushed back to the later date.) Its first week on the charts found it at #8 on the Oricon charts with 44,629 copies sold, and it eventually sold over 80,000 copies. This was a huge leap from her past single “evergreen“.

    On February 22, Hitomi’s Official Fan Club was revealed, the title being a play on the first letter of her name and her height, “H147.” Hitomi also won an award at the 20th Japanese Gold Disc Awards for New Artist of the Year, and sang live at the event.

    The first studio album from the singer, “sympathy“, was released on March 1, 2006. The album came in two formats, CD only and CD+DVD (limited edition), and contained 12 tracks in total, with 7 of them being previously unreleased songs. The album debuted at #10 for its first week on the Oricon Charts, and sold over 30,000 copies.

    2006 and Beyond

    For the release of her first album “sympathy”, Hitomi held her first live concert on April 1, 2006. Commenting on how much she enjoyed the concert, Hitomi soon decided to hold more concerts for her “sympathy” album. The concerts were named the Hitomi Takahashi Live “Sympathy” ~BOXX Series~, and became a way for her to promote new songs. In total, the Hitomi Takahashi Live “Sympathy” ~BOXX Series~ had six lives.

    Hitomi released her 4th single “Communication” on July 12, 2006. The song was the ending theme song for “MUSIC FIGHTER” during the month of July 2006. Once finally released, this single failed to make it in the Top 20 Daily Charts. It also failed to make it in the Weekly Top 30, and was revealed to debut at #60 on the charts, selling a little more than 2,000 copies in its first week.

    It was during the eighth month of 2006 that news of a new single surfaced. This single, titled “Ko·mo·re·bi“, was officially announced to be Hitomi’s 5th single at the end of August, and was used as the theme song for the movie “Tegami”, which features actors Takayuki Yamada, Tetsuji Tamayama, and Erika Sawajiri.Similar to her past single, “Ko·mo·re·bi” failed to chart in the Top 30 Weekly Charts, and debuted at #50 for its first week on the charts, only selling about 300 more copies than “Communication”. In spite of this, Hitomi was chosen to be one of many artists to take part in the new tribute album for the new Death Note movie.

    Hitomi’s 6th single “Candy Line,” which was announced on Christmas Day, was used as the 4th ending theme for the anime series, Gintama. The single became her biggest hit since “evergreen”, and reached #14 during its first week on the Oricon charts.

    Most recently, Takahashi’s song “Tsuyoku Nare” will be used as the ending theme song of the movie “Hōtai Club”. As her past three singles, this song was produced by Takuya, and the lyrics were personally written by Takahashi herself.

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    utada hikaru

    + Artist Profile +

     English name: Hikaru Utada
    Date of birth:
    January 19, 1983
    Height: 5′ 2 ” / 158cm
    Weight: Frequently changing =)
    Blood Type: A

    Birth Place:
    New York City
    Hobbies: Painting, Eating, E-mailing

    + Artist Bio +

    Utada Hikaru, born in New York in 1983, grew up immersed in music. Recently she’s earned much praise for her musical sense and for her talent as singer-songwriter. Everything started with the single “time will tell,” which registered on numerous FM charts more than a month before her official debut “Automatic.” That release also did well on the charts, and since then, she’s followed it up with more and more songs, many of them entering the charts at the same time! Utada won the “PowerPlay” on dozens of nationwide FM stations. It is still freshly remembered that on the week of its release, her single set the record of ranking No.1 in frequency of airplay on FM and AM stations in both the Kanto and Kansai regions (203 times per week a 1998 record). And it’s a well-known fact that “Automatic/time will tell” (released Dec. 9, 1998 as both 12cm and 8cm discs) amazed everybody, achieving the extraordinary distinction of being ranked highly on various sales charts for both 12cm disc and 8cm discs, including the Original Confidence (Ori-Con) chart. Her following second single “Movin’ on without you” (released February 17, 1999 ), a commercial song for Nissan Terrano, earned the top position as it appeared in the Original Confidence chart. And her debut album, “First Love” (March 10, 1999 release), sold out at record stores prior to its official release date. In addition to instantly ranking No.1 on the Ori-Con chart, it also set new records for “Highest Initial Points for a Debut Album,” and “Highest Initial Points for an Original Album.” In the May 10 issue of Ori-Con, it became No.1 on the All Albums Chart. In the space of a mere five months after her debut, Utada climbed to the top of the Japanese pop music scene. After the title track of “First Love” (released April 28, 1999) became the main theme for TBS network’s weekly drama “Majo no Joken” (To Be a Witch), it was released as a single. Together with the drama the song continues to give heart-throbbing excitement to all viewers. The first live performances as “Utada Hikaru” were held on April 1 (at Umeda Heat Beat, Osaka) and April 2 (at Zepp Tokyo, Tokyo) with a full invitation system. Each host radio station was swarmed by applications from fans. Each stage was one consolidated groove when everybody and everything in the hall became as one amid the highest excitement, as Utada voiced, “Live is great and fun…!”

    morning musume

    + Group Bio +Morning Musume is currently the most popular group act in Japan. The group originally started out with five original members: Aya Isiguro, Natsumi Abe, Asuka Fukuda, Kaori Iida, and Yuko Nakazawa. Morning Musume was the brainchild of SharanQ’s vocalist, Tsunku, on the television program “Asayan.” In order to debut, Morning Musume had to sell 50,000 CDs over a span of five days. The girls of Morning Musume met the challenge, selling out all the CDs in four days.

    Morning Musume’s debut SingleCD, “Morning Coffee” quickly made it onto the JPOP charts at number 6. After this debut single, three new members joined Morning Musume: Sayaka Ichii, Mari Yaguchi, Kei Yasuda. This brought the total count of Morning Musume members up to eight, quite a high number. I remember them coming out onto the stage during a Hey! Hey! Hey! episode, and wondering when the stream of members would end. Their second single, Summer Night Town, edged up to number 4 on the JPOP charts. Then, Morning Musume hit the number 1 spot on the JPOP rankings with their third single, Daite Hold on Me. I saw them perform this song on Kouhaku and they looked pretty stiff with their dance routines. They’ve since improved on their performances, jumping around and acting all crazy. And doing things that you’d think would be embarassing, but somehow it all comes together.

    Ever since their first chart-topping single, Morning Musume has been taking the JPOP world by storm. Anything associated with Morning Musume becomes an instant hit. I gotta admit, their songs are quite catchy. To make things even more interesting (or confusing), the members of Morning Musume started forming sub-groups, with names such as Puchimoni, Minimoni, Tanpopo, and Country Musume.

    To top it off, the number of members in Morning Musume has now risen to a staggering 13! Are you kidding me??? After the producers realized that Japan absolutely loved seeing a bunch of youngsters acting their age with singing talent not much of a factor, they must’ve figured…more is better! Why have only 8 youngsters acting all crazy when they can have 13! Being that members seem to come and go every now and then, who knows what the number will be in the future. What’s for sure is that Morning Musume will remain popular in Japan for quite some time.

    kuraki mai

    + Artist Bio +

    Kuraki Mai, whose nickname is Mai-K, released her first single at the age of 16 in October 1999. Titled “Baby I Like,” the song was recorded in Boston and was an instant hit in Japan. Two months later, Kuraki Mai released her first Japanese single, “Love, Day after Tomorrow.” It was a huge success, rocketing up to number one on the Oricon music chart. Mai-K continued her streak by releasing a string of singles which all held a presence on the Oricon chart. In the relatively short time, she has become well-known in Japan even though she hasn’t made any appearances in public nor on TV due to her concentration on her studies. As the college entrance exams in Japan are notoriously difficult, Mai-K devoted her time between studying for those exams and creating new recordings and music videos. In October 2000, she passed the entrance exams to one of the best universities in Japan, Richimeikan. Her category entry was for students with cultural or artistic talent–requiring an essay and interview. She will be a University student come next spring. In the meantime, Kuraki Mai now has some more time to her singing activities. Beginning 12/3/00, she will appear on “Sky Perfect TV” as a regular. She had limited her TV appearance until now because she had to study for her entrance exam, but now she can interact with fans. Kuraki will give her answers to fax and mail on the show, which will be aired on Saturdays.

    I am personally a big fan of Kuraki Mai. She’s my favorite JPOP singer right now. The first song I heard from her was “Stay by my side,” and I liked her voice and the tune. The music video, though, was kinda ghetto, like Utada Hikaru’s Automatic video. =) Everyone has to start somewhere! Her subsequent videos after she gained more popularity, however, were higher budget and higher quality as well. Although I feel she is very talented, she also appears to be humble about her abilities, a trait that is very appealing in talented musicians. Also, she just looks like a nice girl. =) It’s a nice change from the style of flashy singers such as Hamasaki Ayumi and Amuro Namie.

    ayumi hamasaki

    + Artist Profile +

    Name: Hamasaki Ayumi
    Birthday: October 2, 1978
    Birthplace: Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
    Height/Weight: 156 cm, 88 lbs
    Record Label: Avex Trax
    Favorite Foods: Sweets, including cake and chocolate, and kimchi
    Favorite Musicians: Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Babyface, En Vogue, Keiko (Globe), Matsu Takako
    Hobbies: Playing the piano, flower arranging, and drawing
    Favorite Actors: Rie Miyazawa and Nicolas Cage
    Likes to Read: Fashion magazines, modern day translations of ancient Japanese poems
    Favorite Movies: “The Bodyguard”, “Betty Blue”, and “Leaving Las Vegas”
    Studies: Piano, calligraphy, abacus, flower arrangement

    + Artist Bio +

    Take a look at the Japanese pop music charts almost any day of the year and you’re guaranteed to find at least one if not more Hamasaki Ayumi singles and/or albums in the Top 20. She’s one of a handful of young female superstars dominating the world of J-Pop with a string of smash hits. Fans snap up copies of every release as soon as it hits store shelves–from her debut single “Poker Face” to her most recent video release “Vogue Far away Seasons” everything she touches is gold.
    Like other Japanese divas, Hamasaki achieved success as an entertainer at a young age. Though still not 22 years old yet, she has already released 16 best-selling singles and 7 smash hit albums, as well as accompanying posters, photo albums, and videos. Capitalizing on the growing popularity of Japanese pop culture throughout Asia and around the world, Hamasaki has made her name a familiar one to non-Japanese as well.

    Though insisting that she was shy and insecure as a girl, Hamasaki loves the spotlight these days, appearing frequently on music programs like Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ to perform her latest hits and banter with the hosts and other performers. Every time she takes the stage sporting a new haircut and fashion style, the young girls and women in the audience shriek Kawaii! (cute!) as they take mental notes on how to spruce up their wardrobe with trademark Hamasaki items, like her cowboy hat.

    Hamasaki is often compared with Suzuki Ami, one of Japan’s other current pop darlings. Both women came to the forefront of the J-Pop scene at about the time, are roughly the same age, and sing the same type of songs. The Japanese media has made much of the similarities, hinting that there is a rivalry between the two women, but Hamasaki brushes aside such speculation, saying that the two of them are, in fact, friends.

    Hamasaki’s star is still rising so we can expect to see more singles, albums, and videos from her in the years to come. We may even see her flex her acting muscles in future TV dramas and movies. Stay tuned as the best is yet to come!

    amuro namie

    + Artist Profile +

    English name: Namie Amuro
    Date of birth:
    September 20, 1977
    Height: 5′ 2 ” / 158cm
    Weight: 88lbs / 40 kg.
    Blood Type: O
    Measurements:
    30″:23″:33.5″ / 75cm:59cm:85cm
    Birth Place:
    Okinawa, Japan
    Ethnicity: 75% Japanese, 25% Italian

    + Artist Bio +

    Amuro Namie was one of the most popular pop singers in Japan during the 90s and perhaps the most successful of all time. Namie’s musical talent and dance abilities combined with her charisma and uncanny stage presence has won the hearts of fans all around the world. Beginning her singing career performing in a little Okinawan supermarket when she was 12, Amuro could only dream of ony day being like one of the singers she saw on TV. Little did she know in a few years time she would become the rage of the Japanese pop music industry. In 1992, Namie paired with four classmates from her acting school to form the group called the “Supermonkeys.” A few of their Eurobeat songs produced by the Hinocky Team gained the attention of not only the public, but of the prominent producer Tetsuya Komuro. Komuro soon took Namie under his wing and the first song he produced for her, Body Feels Exit, became an instant megahit. From then on, every single TK-produced song for Amuro was quick to hit the top of the charts as she became perhaps the first Japanese worldwide sensation. Being in Japan during the release of her first album, I can attest to the wave of excitement that Amuro bestowed on the younger generation. Now her consideration on breaking up relations with TK will give her an uncertain future, a lot of us hope for the old dance beat amuro, but amuro’s relations with US producer Dallas Austin gives us nice R&B music and hip hop remixes. I can live with that!