Can’t wait for Utada Hikaru’s new music? Reminisce with these 5 songs


Audrey Magazine/Team-Yellow:

Let’s hear it for our former boss, J-Pop singer Utada Hikaru! Unlike most J-Pop idols, Utada Hikaru is well-known for writing and producing all her music, a feat that has paid off with the 52 million albums she’s sold. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jpop, you may recognize Utada Hikaru for her Kingdom Hearts songs “Simple and Clean” and “Sanctuary.”

Although she was considered one of the most influential Japanese artists of the 2000s, Utada Hikaru announced she was going on hiatus in 2010 for personal reasons. She added that the hiatus shouldn’t last more than five years.

Now it’s 2015. Although she stepped out of the limelight, rumblings from her personal life have made it’s way to the public. Some of the news, such as her marriage, were good. Other news, such as her mother’s death, were tragic. All the while, fans made it clear that they missed her. A tribute album was released in Japan featuring artists such as Sheena Ringo and Ayumi Hamasaki.

But recent news has hinted that the wait may finally be over. Utada Hikaru has announced via twitter that she is working on a new song with the working title “Sasshire Cappucino.” Is it the end of her hiatus? No one is sure yet. But new music from Utada Hikaru is welcome and we here at Audrey thought it would be great to reminisce on five of her greatest songs while waiting for “Sasshire Cappucino.” Ranked in no particular order, here they are:

1. First Love

Released as her third single in 1999, “First Love” was written and composed by Utada Hikaru at the tender age of sixteen. This is especially surprising considering the first lines of the song translate to “our last kiss, taste like a cigarette.” Despite this edgy opener, “First Love” is primarily a song of heartbreak, with a chorus that is both wistful and devastated. Who wouldn’t cry when she sings “I’ll remember to love, you taught me how.”


2. Passion

Primarily known as the Japanese version to the second Kingdom Hearts opening theme, “Passion” is a beast on it’s own. The closest English equivalent would be an Enya song, but that doesn’t even fully capture this ethereal rock-ballad with the soaring background vocals. There’s also quite a few english lyrics sung backwards in the chorus. Can you find them?



A ballad re-arrangement of her song “Distance,” Utada Hikaru reworked the song after she heard that the 6-year-old victim of a school stabbing, Rena Yamashita, was a fan of hers. It’s hard to do a slow, mostly-piano driven ballad without boring the listener, but “FINAL DISTANCE” always seems to evoke tears.


4. Kiss & Cry

Speaking of working song titles, Utada Hikaru once revealed the working title of “Kiss & Cry” was called “Dancing Leah” after the Filipina American model Leah Dizon. While “Kiss & Cry” certainly has a danceable beat, it’s not exactly club material. But then again, as long as “Kiss & Cry” is playing, we are down for anything.



5. Flavor of Life (Ballad Version)

Lastly there is “Flavor of Life (Ballad Version),” which many know as the theme song to Hana Yori Dango 2 (Boys over Flowers 2). Equally heartbreaking and catchy, “Flavor of Life” is undeniably one of Utada Hikaru’s biggest hits. In Japan alone, it sold 700,000 physical copies and 7.7 digital downloads in the year of 2007. Yeah, it’s huge and we can understand why.




BONUS: Sakura Nagashi

We’re cheating with this one, but this song, which was released in 2011 (after the the hiatus) for the Neon Genesis Evangelion movie, is simply exquisite. Bring on your new material when you are ready, Hikki-chan!


Ariana Grande is learning hiragana and Japan can’t stop talking about it

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RocketNews 24:

Ariana Grande is a rising star that many are calling a “mini-Mariah Carey.”

Launching onto the world stage after an incredibly successful run on the Nickelodeon show, Victorious, she is quickly gaining fans around the world with her solo music career. She has quite the following in Japan too, with her most recent album, My Everything, peaking at #3 on the weekly Oricon Music charts. And while Japan can’t get enough of her songs and her extremely long hair (extensions), there is something else that her Japanese fans are talking about these days: Ariana Grande is learning hiragana.

Though she has a reputation of being a diva, there is only one word that Japanese fans use to describe her: KAWAIIIIIIIIIII (CUUUUUUTE)

And having been to Japan many times herself, Ariana Grande is very familiar with the concept of “kawaii.” In fact she’s quite fond of Japan, proudly claiming on Japanese TV that she loves edamame, tofu and the eclectic Japanese singer, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. And Ariana Grande is making sure her fans know that her love of Japan extends beyond her screaming Arianators. Her recent Instagram post conclusively separates her from all the other young female singers from America.

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ARIANA IS STUDYING JAPANESE!!! Countless news outlets and fans have written about how she is studying Japanese since that pictured was posted. She seems dedicated to her studies as well, having downloaded a Japanese keyboard on her phone.

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But, whether she is seriously studying Japanese during her busy schedule or just taking a swing at learning hiragana, her Japanese fans can’t get enough of it.

Ariana Grande has definitely captured the hearts of her Japanese fans, and she assures them that she will be back in Japan soon.

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Who knows how far Ariana’s foray into the Japanese language will go. Perhaps she will surprise her fans with a homemade handwritten sign professing her love for Japan at her next concert.

▼”I love Japan!”

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Taiwan music icon Jody Jiang Hui announces retirement

Channel News Asia:

Veteran Taiwanese singer Jody Jiang Hui announced Friday (Jan 2) at a media conference for her upcoming Taiwan concert tour that she has decided to retire from singing, reported Taiwan media.

I have been singing my whole life since I was 10. I thank heaven for blessing me with this gift and thank everyone for liking my singing. I can’t bear to go, but today, I want to announce that this concert tour will be my last,” said the 53-year-old singer tearfully.

After this, I’ll bid farewell to the stage and return to what life was like when I was 10, a time when there were no stage lights. Although I will not be a singer anymore, I still care for everyone and will do my bit to help the many who need help in society.”

Jiang is a music icon in Taiwan, and has released over 60 albums. She is best known for her songs like Wife and The Sound of Falling Rain.

The singer did not take any questions from reporters, but her manager re-iterated that Jiang decided to stop because she wanted to retire on a high note, and not because she is in ill health.

She is in very good health. That is why she decided to announce her retirement at this time. She wants to leave everyone with a beautiful impression of her,” said her manager. “She has been under enormous pressure preparing for her concert and has been losing sleep over it every day. Even I feel bad for her.”


Justin Bieber’s Yasukuni Shrine visit draws scorn from Asian fans


RocketNews 24:


Being an international pop star like Canada’s Justin Bieber is certain to have its share of pitfalls. Scandals such as unfortunate comments at the Anne Frank house and more recently charges of drunk driving and egging a house have continued to dog him.

So this Easter weekend, the award-winning performer made a trip to Japan to get away from it all. After all, what could possibly go wrong here?

While being driven through the streets of Tokyo, Bieber spotted a large traditional looking Shinto shrine. He asked the driver to pull over while he took a picture of it. He then uploaded it to his Instagram account along with the wholesome and possibly Easter inspired message, “Thank you for your blessings.”

Soon after comments poured in razing the pop star saying, “What are you doing motherfucker?”“Are you crazy???!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me???!!!!!! Go to hell!!! Fuck you!!!”; and “Say sorry to Chinese.”



It turns out that of all the shrines in all Japan, Justin Bieber just happened to stumble upon Yasukuni Shrine. This shrine has long stood as a lightning rod for tensions between Japan and other Asian countries namely China and Korea. Yasukuni is said to enshrine the souls of dead soldiers among others. As such it houses the spirits of various war criminals responsible for atrocities against other Asian countries.

Probably anyone could assume that Justin Bieber wasn’t all that up on the complexities of Asian international relations or Shinto theology. On the other hand, it’s also understandable how a Chinese person might interpret the image in the context of Bieber’s reallyunfortunately worded comment.

Nevertheless, after the scores of scathing comments were noticed, the pictures of Yasukuni Shrine were promptly taken down. It was too late though as word spread and media outlets picked up on the mistake.

On 24 April, Bieber’s Instagram site posted an apology:

“While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine. I was mislead [sic] to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer. To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan”

Although the apology led to comments of support for the perpetually beleaguered Bieber there were still some angry comments in English and Chinese to the tune of “stupid gay idiot” and “What a load of crap and go fuck yourself and please never come back to China to make mone[y].”

And there you have the price of fame. While enjoying the love from legions of Beliebers and all the money that comes with it, this young man and many like him must live in constant fear that whatever he says or does will put him in the headlines or get him called a “stupid gay idiot” several times over.

Source: Instagram – justinbieberTHAT’S (English)
Top Image: Twitter – sanverde



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Justin Bieber’s Yasukuni Shrine visit draws scorn from Asian fans