J-POP OVERVIEW

ARTISTS

Ayumi Hamasaki

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.

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Utada Hikaru

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.

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SMAP

SMAP (Sports Music Assemble People) are a kind of Japanese version of the Monkees. Besides being the country's most popular boy-band (and J-Pop's best selling group ever), they also present their own variety shows, make commercials and frequently appear in trendy TV dramas. As members of the ubiquitous Johnny's Jimusho (Johnny & Associates) talent agency, they have a lot of clout behind them but still have lasted longer than most people expected. Even rumours of systematic rapes of his young charges by guru Johnny Kitagawa couldn't dent the group's marketability.

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Kumi Koda

Born on November 13th 1982, Koda was the eldest daughter in her family. At an early age of 3, Koda Kumi starting singing on stage. She started doing auditions at elementary school, and wrote that she wanted to become a singer in her elementary year book.

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Gackt

Gackt was once part of Malice Mizer, a well-known J-rock band but later went solo. Although he is no longer part of the group, he says he still loves all members of the band in their own special ways. He composes his own music and originally wanted to be a conductor. He reads all his fanmail and even occasionally responds to lucky fans. Gackt says that he became psychic after a near-death experience during his childhood. He also says he used to be possessed by spirits. Gackt's parents were very strict and only allowed him to watch educational TV programs and listen to Classical music.

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