2004-Winter - "Jpopping: its Way to a CD Near You" - UCLA Asian Pacific American Newsmagazine (USA)

"Jpopping: its Way to a CD Near You"

By: Kyle Hanano
UCLA Asian Pacific American Newsmagazine (USA) / Volume 27, Issue 2, Winter 2004

(Ken Hirai section is omitted. He is also coming to the US)

Utada Hikaru was the first Jpop artist chosen for MTV Unplugged and is Japan's first attempt for a crossover to the American market. Born in United States and fluent in English, Utada Hikaru knows American culture and language. However she took her talent to Japan first and her first album became the best-selling album of all-time in Japan; the title song "First Love" is considered the most popular song [in] Japanese pop history. The popularity of her second album and its single "Can You Keep a Secret?" convinced Island DefJam that Utada Hikaru could see success in the United States. On hiatus from Jpop, Utada Hikaru has been working [with Island DefJam] on an English album ... to be released later on this year.

Known for her creativity, Utada Hikaru's music videos have grabbed the attention of critics worldwide for their creativity and exploration of myth ("Sakura Drops"), science fiction fantasy ("Traveling" and "Final Distance") and the natural beauty of the world ("Deep River"). Utada Hikaru refuses to fall in line with the other female pop acts in Japan; her deeper voice and riskier musical style make her a critic's favorite in Japan.

Utada Hikaru released songs in English, albeit prior to her popularity in Japan. Under the name of Cubic U, she released the album "Precious" in 1998, featuring pop cover songs by The Carpenters and Frank Sinatra. After her sucess in Japan, she released a song with Foxy Brown called "Blow My Whistle" on the Rush Hour 2 Soundtrack and an English remake of her hit song "Hikari," entitled "Simple and Clean," was featured on the popular video game "Kingdom Hearts."

With artists such as Hirai Ken and Utada Hikaru around the corner, it seems as if the next wave of foreign music could come from Japan. Hirai Ken has taken gospel and soul to new levels overseas and could soon be making waves in the United States. Utada Hikaru has the creativity and vocal talent to impress American listeners. These two artists have the potential to help break down the cultural barrier and expose America to Japanese pop entertainment.

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