Meet two of Japan’s leading ladies (Utada Hikaru & Hamasaki Ayumi) who are considered one of the most influential female figures in Japanese pop music. They have both sold over 50 million records and are the only two female artists in Japanese music history to sell over 50 million records domestically and worldwide.
Since their debut in the late 90’s both singers have achieved phenomenal success.
Utada has the best selling Japanese album (entitled First Love) selling over 8 million copies in Japan alone. Worldwide, figures for the album are at 11 million. It’s been listed on Rolling Stone’s ‘100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums Of All Time’ and still seen as one of the 90’s most influential albums.
Inspired by artist such as Freddie Mercury, Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, etc, Utada Hikaru easily put an english twist into her lyrics to fit the Japanese demographic perfectly and it worked well in her favor. Through the 2000’s decade she continued to pull off million weekly album sellers (Distance, Deep River).
Her most popular western work would have to be her contribution to the popular video game Kingdom Hearts with song ‘Hikari’, otherwise known to outside audiences as ‘Simple & Clean’. Overall critics today view the song as “one of the best video game songs in recent history”.
Hamasaki Ayumi, along with her long string of hits (‘Boys & Girls’, ‘A’, ‘Seasons’), is widely known for her endless amount of commercials, product endorsements and TV shows, but don’t let that all fool you. This woman has been an unstoppable force (alongside Utada) in the Japanese music world.
She’s known in Japan and throughout Asia as the “Empress of J-Pop” due to her music and fashion trends. Her constant changing image has allowed many favorable comparisons to Madonna and her self-penned lyricism is taken note throughout her discography.
Her greatest hits album, A Best, has sold seven million copies worldwide and remains her best selling album to date. Overall while she has been labeled as a polar opposite to Utada Hikaru, their separate identities has allowed diversity in pop music to be more achievable than before.
To see two women dominating in music is absolutely wonderful and they will forever be named in history as one of musics (and not just Japanese pop music) most successful artists leading the way for women and men everywhere!
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