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Utada Hikaru

Utada Hikaru Date of Birth: January 19, 1983 (New York)
Active From: 1998
Related Projects: Kingdom Hearts I & II
Official Web Site: Hikki's Official Website


Note: This biography was written exclusively for Square Enix Music Online by Nick. The act of copying it without advance written permission is regarded as a copyright infringement. It was last updated on September 1, 2006.

Utada Hikaru was born on the January 19, 1983 in New York. Utada Hikaru was born into a family with a solid background in the musical industry. Her father Teruzane Hikaru was a music producer while her mother Junko Hikaru was a singer by the stage name Keiko Fuji. When she was 12, an American publishing company discovered her magical voice and she recorded her debut single "Close to You" under the name Cubic U. Her intended debut album Precious failed to release in the United States and, after Japanese record company Toshiba EMI heard her single, they contracted her and released the album to Japan in March 1999. Despite her upbringing in America, she was to become one of the most popular and successful artists in Japan. She moved to Japan to continue her education at an American School while maintaining her contract. She then released her first Japanese singles, "Automatic / Time Will Tell" and "Movin' on Without You", both of which were highly successful. They were followed by the album First Love, which was an overnight hit and sold five million copies in the span of a month, automatically making Hikaru one of the 100 wealthiest people in Japan. In the months after First Love, Hikaru released four more number one singles — "First Love", "Addicted to You", "Wait & See ~Risk~", and "For You / Time Limit" — as well as a rendition of "Fly Me to the Moon".

At the end of 2000, Utada returned to New York to enter Columbia University; however, she decided to only spend a year there convinced that she had made a sufficient name for herself in the music industry. In March 2001, Utada released her second album, Distance. Despite continuing to break Japanese records, there was fierce competition for the top spot with Ayumi Hamasaki's A Best being released on the same day. After the release of "Distance", she released the singles "Final Distance", "Traveling", and "Sakura Drops / Letters" in preparation for her third album. Another single, "Hikari", became the theme song of Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts and also subject to a fast remix for the opening credits and an orchestration for the trailer. After using these singles formed another hit album, June 2002's Deep River, Hikaru discovered she had an ovarian tumour and put on hold all future concerts and appearances. In September, she married film director and photographer Kazuaki Kiriya, whom had directed many of her music videos. For the American release of Kingdom Hearts, Utada performed an English interpretation of "Hikari" called "Simple and Clean". The single was released with January 2003's "Colors". She was otherwise inactive that year, partly due to health reasons. In 2004, she released her first single collection and created a track for her husband's directional debut.

She finally released her fourth album, Exodus, In October 2004. This album also represented Utada's American debut but it's experimental nature and lack of promotion meant it didn't fare as well as it did in Japan. Back in full swing in apan, she subsequently released "Easy Breezy", "Exodus '04", "You Make Me Want to be a Man", "Devil Inside", and "Be My Last", some of which even became US Billboard hits. Following "Be My Last", Utada created the main theme for Kingdom Hearts II, "Passion". The single was more downbeat than "Hikari" to represent the conclusion of the characters' journeys; Utada herself described "Hikari" as representing dawn, "Hikari" dusk. While not as successful commercially, "Passion" and its English version "Sanctuary" endeared many gamers. Following "Keep Tryin'" and "This Is Love", Hikaru released her fifth album, Ultra Blue, in June 2006 on both CD and iTunes. She has since focused on her untitled fourth album and released the singles ""Boku wa Kuma", "Flavor Of Life", and "Beautiful World / Kiss & Cry" for it. While she still lacks popular exposure in America, her work on Kingdom Hearts was extremely popular and she has increased her profile there since exodus. In Japan, with numerous albums, singles, and awards under her names, she is a superstar.

List of Songs for Related Projects

Song Title Game Featured In
Hikari Kingdom Hearts (Japanese Version)
Simple and Clean Kingdom Hearts (English Version)
Passion Kingdom Hearts II (Japanese Version)
Sanctuary Kingdom Hearts II (English Version)
Colors Kingdom Hearts Related Single

List of Covered Albums

Album Title Catalog No.
Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack (Japan) TOCT-24768/9
Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack (Europe) 7243-5-80453-21
Kingdom Hearts: Hikari - Utada Hikaru TOCT-4361
Kingdom Hearts II Original Soundtrack TOCT-25871/2
Kingdom Hearts II: Passion - Utada Hikaru TOCT-5003
PLAY! A Video Game Symphony Live! PLAY-CD
Utada Hikaru - Colors TOCT-4455
Video Games Live Volume One 50999 5081362 9