Utada Hikaru (宇多田 ヒカル), who is also known as Hikaru Utada and the mononym Utada, is a Japanese-American singer-songwriter and producer. Born in the United States to Japanese parents, record producer Utada Teruzane and enka singer Keiko Fuji, Utada began to write music and lyrics at an early age and often traveled to Tokyo as a result of her father's job. Eventually, a recording contract with Toshiba-EMI was signed and, under the stage name Cubic U, Utada released her English-language debut album Precious in early 1998, but it was a commercial failure. In the following year, heavily influenced by R&B and dance-pop, her Japanese-language debut First Love was released and became an instant success. Backed by the massive success of singles "Automatic", "Time Will Tell", and "Movin' On Without You", the album sold two million copies in its first week in Japan, topped the Oricon charts for six non-consecutive weeks and went on to sell six million more throughout the rest of 1999. First Love eventually became the country's best-selling album of all time.
Her following album Distance was released in early 2001 and spawned Utada's biggest hit singles—"Addicted to You", "Wait & See (Risk)" and "Can You Keep a Secret?"—which became million-sellers. The album was commercially successful and broke several sales records after three million copies were sold in its first week of availability in Japan, instantly becoming the country's fastest-selling album. In 2002, backed by chart-topping singles such as "Traveling", "Hikari" and "Sakura Drops", Deep River, which incorporates elements of pop folk, was released and went on to become one of Japan's top-selling records of all-time. Subsequent full-length releases—Exodus, Ultra Blue and Heart Station—achieved million-selling status certified by the Recording Industry Association of Japan. After a prolonged hiatus, Utada released acoustic-driven Fantôme and Hatsukoi, which reached number-one on the Oricon album charts.
By the end of the 2000s, Utada was deemed "the most influential artist of the decade" in the Japanese music landscape by The Japan Times. Utada's commercial success has made her one of Japan's top-selling recording artists of all time with over 37 million records sold since launching her career in the late 1990s. Twelve of her singles have reached number-one on the Oricon Singles Chart, while ten of her albums have become chart-toppers. Six of her full-length releases are among the country's highest-selling albums of all time, including First Love, Distance and Deep River, which are among the top ten best-selling records of Japan's music history. Additionally, Utada is best known by international audiences for writing and producing four theme-song contributions to Square Enix and Disney's collaborative video game series Kingdom Hearts: "Simple and Clean", "Sanctuary", "Don't Think Twice" and "Face My Fears".
On November 1, 2019, it was released a Utada collaboration with singer-songwriter Sheena Ringo, called "Roman to Soroban LDN ver." ("The Sun and the Moon", in English). It was featured in Sheena's best of album Apple of Universal Gravity. An alternative version of the song, called "Roman to Soroban TYO ver.", was available on November 25. On November 27, 2019, Utada released her first single in over a year with "Shonen Jidai". It appears as track #5 on the Inoue Yosue Tribute album. Utada also did a live rendition of the song on her 2003 live DVD UH Live Streaming 20 Dai wa Ikeike!
On 3 December 2020 was announced that Takeru Sato & Hikari Mitsushima will star a Netflix drama based on Hikaru Utada’s songs “First Love” & “Hatsukoi”, “First Love Hatsukoi” is scheduled to be released sometime in 2022.
On August 22, 2013, Utada's mother, Keiko Fuji, died by apparent suicide by jumping from the thirteenth floor of a 28-floor condominium building in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Hikaru has been open about her mother's struggles with mental health and encourages the education on the topic, as well as for people to seek assistance for their illnesses. She has been most notably quoted as stating “She is finally freed from her agony,” She also said that she’s “beyond sad” because of her mother’s death. “I am suffering from a sense of remorse.” Despite her mother’s condition, Utada said that she’s only left with memories of her mother laughing. She also described her late mother as someone who is “impulsive like a child but with an innocent charm that attracted everyone’s attention.”
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