Ayumi Hamasaki


Ayumi Hamasaki

Infobox musical artist |
Name = Ayumi Hamasaki
nihongo2|浜崎あゆみ



Img_capt = Ayumi Hamasaki in Taiwan, March 2007
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = nihongo2|浜崎 あゆみ, nihongo2|浜崎歩 (Hamasaki, Ayumi)
Alias = Ayu, CREA
Born = birth date and age|1978|10|2
Origin = Fukuoka, Japan
Genre = Pop, electronic dance, rock, classical, R&B
Occupation = Singer, songwriter, producer, composer, actress, model, spokesperson
Years_active = 1994–1995, 1998–present
Label = Columbia Japan (1995)
Avex Trax (1998–present)
Drizzly (2002–2004)
Associated_acts =
URL = [http://www.avexnet.or.jp/ayu/ www.avexnet.or.jp/ayu]

nihongo|Ayumi Hamasaki|浜崎 あゆみ|"Hamasaki Ayumi"|also 浜崎歩, born October 2, 1978 is a Japanese singer-songwriter and former actress. Also called "Ayu" by her fans, Hamasaki has been dubbed the "Empress of Pop" due to her popularity and widespread influence in Japan. [cite web | first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/ | title=Empress of Pop | publisher="Time" | accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008 | pages=Splash] cite web | url=http://www.cnnasiapacific.com/programs/en/program/15/ | title=Talk Asia - Program Descriptions|publisher=Turner International Asia Pacific|accessmonthday=February 19 | accessyear=2008] Born and raised in Fukuoka, she moved to Tokyo at fourteen to pursue a career in entertainment. In 1998, under the tutelage of Avex CEO Max Matsuura, she released a string of modestly selling singles that concluded with her 1999 debut album "A Song for XX", which debuted atop the Oricon charts and stayed there for four weeks in a row, establishing her popularity in Japan.

Because of her constantly changing image and tight control over her artistry, Hamasaki has become a "trendsetter" and an "icon of fashion" in Asia; [cite web | url=http://archive.japantoday.com/jp/feature/881 | title=Japan's wacky world of celebrities | first=Chris | last=Betros | date=April 3, 2005 | publisher=Japan Today | accessmonthday=August 5 | accessyear=2008] her popularity and influence in music and fashion extend to China, Singapore and Taiwan. She has appeared in or lent her songs to many advertisements and television commercials. Though she originally supported this, a 2001 event in which Avex forced her to put her greatest hits album in direct competition with Hikaru Utada's "Distance" made Hamasaki reconsider and eventually oppose her status as an Avex "product".

Since her 1998 debut with the single "Poker Face", Hamasaki has sold around 50 million records in Japan, making her one of Japan's best-selling singers. Her singles have set records: she is the Japanese female artist with the highest singles sales, most number-one singles, and most million-seller singles.This last record is shared with Pink Lady, Namie Amuro, and Hikaru Utada.] She is also the only Japanese artist to have a number-one single every year for ten years straight and the first to have her first eight studio albums top the Oricon.Oricon does not count "Nothing from Nothing", released under the Nippon Columbia label, among Hamasaki's albums.] [ja icon cite news|url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/rankmusic/46603/ | title=A Great Achievement — Hamasaki Ayumi Ties with Akina Nakamori for the Achievement of Five Crowns|publisher=Oricon| date=July 24, 2007|access=2008-03-22] [ja icon cite news |url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/music/special/061206_03.html | title=Ayumi Hamasaki Special Section|publisher= "Oricon Style"|date=December 6, 2006|accessmonthday=January 28|accessyear=2008]

Life and music career

Childhood and early endeavors

Hamasaki was born in Fukuoka Prefecture and raised by her mother and grandmother, as her father had left the family when she was three and never again came into contact with her.ja icon cite journal | first=Atsushi | last=Shikano | title=Interview with Ayumi Hamasaki| journal=rockin'on japan| year=2001 | date=February 20, 2001] cite web | last=Takeuchi Cullen| first=Lisa| url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/cover3.html |title=Empress of Pop| publisher= "Time"|accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008 | pages=p. 3] Because her mother worked to support the family, Hamasaki's grandmother became her primary caretaker.

Hamasaki began her modeling career at seven, working locally for institutions such as banks to earn money for the family. At fourteen, she moved from Fukuoka to Tokyo to take modeling jobs under SOS, a talent agency. Although she got good grades at first, she decided that the subjects she was taking were of no use to her; her grades then dropped drastically. Her modeling career did not last long; SOS deemed her too short and transferred her to Sun Music, a musicians' agency. Using the name "Ayumi", Hamasaki released a rap album, "Nothing from Nothing", on the Nippon Columbia label. When the album failed to chart on the Oricon, Sun dropped Hamasaki.

With no agency representation, Hamasaki had no place to live; she had previously resided in dormitories provided by the talent agencies. Needing somewhere to live, Hamasaki began acting. She appeared in several B-movies, including "Gakko II" and "Ladys Ladys!! Soucho Saigo no Hi", and the television "dorama" "Miseinen". None of her projects were well-received by the public. At this time, she entered Horikoshi Gakuen, a high school for the arts; however, she left shortly afterward. Dissatisfied with her job, Hamasaki soon quit her acting career as well. When her mother moved to Tokyo, Hamasaki moved in with her. As she "thought of nothing [to do] " and was neither employed nor in school, Hamasaki spent much of her time shopping at Shibuya boutiques and dancing at Velfarre, an Avex-owned disco club.

At Velfarre, Hamasaki was introduced to her future producer, Max Matsuura, through a friend. After hearing Hamasaki sing karaoke, Matsuura offered her a recording deal, but Hamasaki suspected ulterior motives and turned the offer down. He persisted until the following year, when she finally signed on to the Avex label and began vocal training. [cite web | url=http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608003868/Ayumi-Hamasaki.html | title=Ayumi Hamasaki Biography | accessmonthday=June 5 | accessyear=2008| publisher=Musicianguide.com] Finding the instructors too rigid and the classes too dull, however, she skipped most of her classes. When she confessed this to Matsuura, he sent her to New York for training. The writing in her messages to him from New York impressed him, and he suggested she try writing her own lyrics.

1998–1999: Rising popularity

Listen
filename=Ayumi_Hamasaki_-_Boys_&_Girls.ogg
title="Boys & Girls" (1999)
description="Loveppears" was characterized by dance tracks such as "Boys & Girls".
Hamasaki's first singles under Avex—"Poker Face", "You", "Trust", "Depend on You", and "For My Dear..."—were not major hits, although the last three reached the top ten of the Oricon weekly charts. However, her debut album, "A Song for XX" (January 1999), made her a success: it topped the Oricon charts for five weeks straight and sold over a million copies.cite web | url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wzfwxq9kldke~T1 | title=Ayumi Hamasaki | publisher=Allmusicguide | accessmonthday=April 17 | accessyear=2008 | first=David | last=Hickey] cite news | title = Seige Mentality | pages = p. 1 | publisher ="South China Morning Post"| date=May 13, 2002 | accessmonthday=July 14|accessyear=2008] Lyrically, the album was introspective. Hamasaki drew from her personal observations about her feelings and experiences and focused on themes of loneliness and individualism.ja icon cite journal | title=A Song for XX | journal=Beatfreak | date=January 1999 | volume=132] The tracks, composed by Yasuhiko Hoshino, Akio Togashi (of Da Pump), and Mitsuru Igarashi (of Every Little Thing), were "cautious" and "unassuming" pop-rock songs. For her achievements, Hamasaki earned a Japan Gold Disc Award for "Best New Artist of the Year". [cite web | url=http://www.riaj.or.jp/e/data/gdisc/1999.html | title=The 14th Japan Gold Disc Award 1999 | accessmonthday=April 17 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=RIAJ]

With the release of "ayu-mi-x" (March 1999), the first of a series of remix albums, Hamasaki began moving beyond the pop-rock of "A Song for XX" and began to incorporate different styles including trance, dance, and orchestra.cite news | last= Walters| first =Barry | title =Turning (Japanese) Point | publisher ="The Village Voice" | date =March 5, 2002 | url = http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0209,168697,32804,22.html| accessmonthday=April 19|accessyear= 2008] Composed by Yasuhiko Hoshino and Dai Nagao (of Do as Infinity), the singles released later that year contained dance tunes; this proved shrewd, because Hamasaki earned her first number-one single and her first million-selling single. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/million_list/1999.html | title=Million-Selling Singles of 1999 | publisher=RIAJ | accessmonthday=April 19 | accessyear=2008] Owing to the success of its singles, Hamasaki's second studio album, "Loveppears" (November 1999), was a greater commercial success than the first: not only did it top the Oricon charts, it sold nearly 3 million copies.Cite news| title =You Can't Top This | publisher = "The Straits Times" | date =November 25, 1999] Hamasaki's lyrics changed as well as her musical style. Though the lyrics of "Loveppears" still dealt with loneliness, Hamasaki focused on other people and wrote as "a third party" in some of the songs.ja icon cite journal | title=Loveppears | journal=Beatfreak | date=November 1999 | volume=142] In support of "Loveppears", Hamasaki launched her first tour, "Ayumi Hamasaki Concert Tour 2000 A".

2000–2002: Commercial peak

Listen
filename=Ayumi_Hamasaki_-_M.ogg
title="M" (2000)
description="M", the first song composed by Hamasaki under the pseudonym Crea, shifts to a relative key, as do most of her self-composed songs."Ayumi Hamasaki - Piano Solo - New Piano Sounds Top 25". Volume 7. ISBN 978-4-89638-944-9]

From April to June 2000, Hamasaki released the "Trilogy", a series of singles consisting of "Vogue", "Far Away", and "Seasons". At the time, Hamasaki felt ashamed of her public image; she also felt that she had not expressed herself thoroughly in any of her previous lyrics. As a result, the lyrics of the "Trilogy" were about hopelessness.ja icon cite journal | title=Review of Ayu's Year 2000 & M| journal=J-Point|date= December 22, 2000| volume=75] Likewise, the writing of the subsequent studio album, "Duty" (September 2000), was not happy for the artist: she described her feelings after the writing as "unnatural", "nervous", and "heart-pounding".ja iconcite journal | title=Ayu 10th Year Career Anniversary | journal=Cawaii (International Chinese Version)|date=March 17, 2008|pages=pgs. 15, 18] The themes of the album were "loneliness", "chaos", "confusion" and the burden of Hamasaki's responsibilities. The musical style was darker as well; in contrast with "Loveppears", "Duty" was a rock-influenced album with "Audience" the only "upbeat dance song".zh icon cite journal | title=Hamasaki Ayumi's Profile Story | journal=Cawaii (International Taiwan Edition) | date=December 2007] "Duty" resonated with fans: the "Trilogy" were "hit singles" ("Seasons" was an RIAJ million-seller); the album itself became Hamasaki's best-selling studio album. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/million_list/2000.html | title=Million-Selling Singles of 2000 | accessmonthday=April 19 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=RIAJ] At the end of 2000, Hamasaki held her first New Year countdown concert at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

In 2001, Avex forced Hamasaki to release her first compilation album, "A Best", on March 28, putting the album in "competition" with Hikaru Utada's second studio album, "Distance". The "competition" between the two singers (which both claimed was merely a creation of their record companies and the media) was supposedly the reason for the success of the albums; both sold over 5 million copies. ["J-pop Divas Fight It Out". "The Straits Times". April 20, 2001.] In support of "Duty" and "A Best", Hamasaki held a tour of Japan's domes, making her one of few "top-drawer" Japanese artists to hold a concert at the Tokyo Dome. [cite web | url=http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200704/200704190012.html|title=Rain to Perform at Prestigious Tokyo Dome | date=April 19, 2007|accessmonthday=October 7|accessyear=2008|publisher=Digital Chosunilbo] Hamasaki's personal life underwent changes: she and Tomoya Nagase, her boyfriend since her acting days, [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.webcitation.org/5WILIWJft | title=The Ayu-Nagase Catastrophe: No Longer Living Together | date=July 14, 2007 | accessmonthday=April 17 | accessyear=2008 | publisher="Sponichi Annex"] went public with their relationship in the fall.

"I am..." (January 2002) brought a number of milestones for Hamasaki. "M", the lead single, marked the beginning of her increased control over her music, as it was the first of the many tracks from the album that she composed herself, under the pseudonym "Crea".cite web | first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen |url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/int_ayumi2.html | title=I have very clear ideas of what I want|publisher= "Time"|accessmonthday=January 2 | accessyear=2008 | pages=p. 2] In fact, Hamasaki composed all of the songs on "I am..." except for "Connected" and "A Song Is Born". "I am..." also showed evolution in Hamasaki's lyrical style: it was a retreat from the themes of "loneliness and confusion" of some of her earlier songs.cite web | first=Lisa|last=Takeuchi Cullen|url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/cover5.html| title=Empress of Pop|publisher= "Time"|accessmonthday=February 2 | accessyear=2008|pages=p. 5] Moved by the September 11 attacks, Hamasaki revised her vision of "I am...", focusing on issues such as faith and world peace. "A Song Is Born", in particular, was directly influenced by the events;cite web| first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/int_ayumi.html|title=I have very clear ideas of what I want|publisher= "Time"|accessmonthday=February 16 | accessyear=2008 | pages=p. 1] the single, a duet with Keiko Yamada, was released in December 2001 as part of Avex's non-profit Song+Nation project, which raised money for victims of the attacks. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.avexnet.or.jp/songnation/index.htm | title=Song+Nation|publisher= Avex Trax|accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008] Hamasaki also dropped the planned cover and opted instead to be portrayed as a "peace muse", explaining,

I had a completely different idea for the cover at first. We'd already reserved the space, decided the hair and makeup and everything. But after the incident, as is typical of me, I suddenly changed my mind. I knew it wasn't the time for gaudiness, for elaborate sets and costumes. It sounds odd coming from me, but I realize what I say and how I look has a great impact.

The outlook inspired by the September 11 attacks extended beyond "I am...". In 2002, Hamasaki held her first concert outside Japan, at the MTV Asia music awards in Singapore,cite web| first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/photoessay/7.html | title=The Many Faces of Ayu | accessmonthday=April 17 | accessyear=2008 | publisher="Time" | pages=p. 7] a move interpreted by some as the beginning of a campaign prompted by a sluggish Japanese market. [cite web| first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/photoessay/4.html | title=The Many Faces of Ayu | accessmonthday=April 17 | accessyear=2008 | pages=p. 4 | publisher="Time"] zh icon "Ayumi's Legend and Leadership of the Young". "Sin Chew Jit Poh". Singapore: May 21, 2002. 2nd section.] But it was clear that Hamasaki's status as a trendsetter extended outside Japan as well: at the MTV Asia music awards, she received the award for "Most Influential Japanese Singer in Asia". In support of "I am...", Hamasaki held two tours, "Ayumi Hamasaki Arena Tour 2002 A" and "Ayumi Hamasaki Stadium Tour 2002 A"; the latter was her first tour held in outdoor venues. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.famitsu.com/entertainment/news/2002/02/25/n08.html|title=Ayumi Hamasaki Stadium Tour 2002 A | publisher=Famitsu | date=February 25, 2002 | accessmonthday=October 7 | accessyear=2008]

Hamasaki's next studio album, "Rainbow" (December 2002), was her first to include English lyrics. Though she did not compose as much as on "I am..." (she only composed nine of the album's fifteen songs), she was still heavily involved in the production. The album contained a potpourri of musical styles and influences, with rock- and trip-hop-influenced tracks as well as "summery", "up-tempo" songs and "grand gothic" arrangements. Hamasaki experimented with new techniques, using gospel choruses, strings, and even the yells of an audience. The lyrics were also varied: themes in the album included freedom, the struggles of women, and "a summer that ends in sadness".cite web | url=http://avexnet.or.jp/ayu/en/special/rainbow/index2.html | title=Ayumi Hamasaki's director's notes on Rainbow | publisher= Avex Marketing Inc.|accessmonthday=April 9 | accessyear=2008] The album had three singles—“Free & Easy”, “Voyage”, and “H”; the last became the best-selling single of 2002.All sales and charting positions in this article apply only to Japan or Japan's Oricon charts unless otherwise stated.] ja icon cite web | url=http://www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/million_list/2002.html | title=Million-Selling Singles of 2002 | publisher=RIAJ | accessmonthday=January 28 | accessyear=2008] A short movie starring Hamasaki, "Tsuki ni Shizumu", was created to be the video for "Voyage". As part of the promotion for "Rainbow", those who bought the album online could access a password-protected website that had a part of the instrumental version of the title track, which did not appear on the album. (It later appeared on Hamasaki's ballad compilation/remix album "A Ballads," released in March 2003.)cite web | url=http://avexnet.or.jp/ayu/en/special/aballads/i.html | title=Ayumi Hamasaki director's notes (for A Ballads)| publisher=Avex Marketing Inc.|accessmonthday=April 9 | accessyear=2008]

2003–2006: Decline in sales

In November 2002, as "Ayu", Hamasaki released her first European single, "Connected", a trance song composed by DJ Ferry Corsten that had previously appeared on her album "I am...". It was released in Germany on the Drizzly label.ja icon cite web | url=http://toronto143.server4free.de/~andreas/drizzly//2004/content/artists/ayu/index.htm# | title=Ayu Artist Information | publisher=Drizzly Records | accessmonthday=July 24 | accessyear=2008] Hamasaki continued to release singles (all of them remixes of previously released songs) in Germany on Drizzly until 2004.

In 2003, Hamasaki released three singles, "&", "Forgiveness", and "No Way to Say". To celebrate the release of her thirtieth single ("Forgiveness"), Hamasaki held the "A Museum" concert at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. [ja icon cite journal|title=Interview With Ayumi Hamasaki|Journal=Casa Brutus|date=September 2004|volume=54|pages=24-28] Her mini-album "Memorial Address" (December 2003) was her first album to be released in CD+DVD format in addition to the regular CD-only format, a decision that came from her wish to “relay the atmosphere” of the "A Museum" concert. [ja iconcite journal | title=浜崎あゆみ | journal=Beat Freak (Avex)| issue=192|date=January 5, 2004] "Memorial Address", like her previous albums, topped the Oricon chart and became a million-seller. [cite web | url=http://www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/million_list/2003.html | title=Million-Selling Albums of 2003|publisher=RIAJ|accessmonthday=January 25 | accessyear=2008] The sales of Hamasaki's singles began to wane, however: though all three of the album's singles topped the Oricon charts, "&" was Hamasaki's last single to sell over 500,000 copies. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/ranking/22658/ | title=Ayumi Hamasaki: Newly-Released Details of Her Singles| accessmonthday=April 23 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=Oricon Style]

By the end of her "Arena Tour 2003–2004", Hamasaki had become dissatisfied with her position in Avex: she felt that the company was treating her as a product instead of a person.ja icon cite journal | title=The First-Time Stench of Being a Human|journal=Oricon Style|date=December 27, 2004|issue=no. 49-1275|pages=pgs. 17–19] Along with her dissatisfaction with her last two studio albums (which she thought had been rushed), this led her to begin work on "My Story" (December 2004) early. In contrast with her previous albums, "My Story" had no set theme, nor did Hamasaki attempt to write “something good” or even “something that would give people hope”; rather, she “simply wrote honestly.” As a result, the album contained mostly autobiographical lyrics about her emotions and “reminiscences” of her career. She was so pleased with the result that she declared "My Story" "the first album [she] felt OK and excited about". She approached the composition of the music with the same “honesty and freedom” that she kept in mind while writing the lyrics. As she liked rock music, the album had notable rock overtones.ja icon cite journal | title=Ayumi Hamasaki: Always our Princess| journal=Cawaii|date=January 1, 2005|pages=pgs. 10–15] "My Story" and its singles, “Moments”, “Inspire”, and “Carols”, all topped the weekly Oricon charts; moreover, "My Story" became another million-seller. [ja icon cite web |url=http://www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/million_list/2004.html|title=Million-Selling Albums of 2004|publisher=RIAJ|accessmonthday=April 9 | accessyear=2008] From January to April of the following year, Hamasaki held the nationwide "Ayumi Hamasaki Arena Tour 2005", her first tour based on an album.

Listen
filename=Ayumi_Hamasaki_-_Bold_&_Delicious.ogg‎
title="Bold & Delicious" (2005)
description=Hamasaki took new directions on "(Miss)understood", as epitomized by the single "Bold & Delicious", a funk-influenced song that used a gospel-style chorus.

"(Miss)understood" (January 2006), Hamasaki's seventh studio album, showed new musical directions. Wanting to sing "a song like Sweetbox's", Hamasaki obtained the permission of Sweetbox composer Roberto "Geo" Rosan to use demo songs he had intended to use in Sweetbox's upcoming album. She edited the songs to fit her personal vision, rewriting the lyrics and rearranging some of the songs.ja icon cite journal | last=Fuji| first=Miho (藤井美保) | title=Ayumi Hamasaki: Bold & Delicious/Pride | journal=Girlpop | date=January 5, 2006|volume=76|pages=pgs. 16–18|issue=no.462] [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.avexnet.or.jp/sweetbox/history/ | title=History of Sweetbox | accessmonthday=February 12 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=Avex Trax] The album offered a spectrum of musical styles encompassing pop, R&B, and rock. "Bold & Delicious", a cover of the eponymous Sweetbox song, was a funk-infused dance track with a gospel chorus; the preceding single, "Heaven", was an "ethereal" ballad with prominent piano; and "Criminal" was a "dark rock song".cite news| last=Garcia|first=Cathy A|title=Ayumi Hamasaki '(miss)understood' |publisher="The Korea Times" | date=February 7, 2006] All of "(Miss)understood"'s singles reached the top of the Oricon; "Bold & Delicious" became Hamasaki's twenty-fifth number-one single, tying her with Seiko Matsuda for the record of most number-one singles by a solo female artist. [ja iconcite news | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/ranking/3920/ | title=Ayumi Hamasaki, the First Female Artist in Generations to Acquire a Twenty-Fifth Number-One Single!|newspaper=Oricon Style|date=December 6, 2005| accessmonthday=February 22|accessyear=2008] Though "(Miss)understood" also reached the top of the Oricon, it became Hamasaki's first studio album not to sell a million copies.It is not clear whether "(Miss)understood" or "My Story" is Hamasaki's last million-selling album, as the RIAJ lists "(Miss)understood" as a million-seller, while the Oricon claims that "(Miss)understood" sold just under 900,000 copies.(ja icon cite news | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/music/special/061221_03.html | title=Yearly Album Rankings for 2006 | publisher="Oricon Style" |date=December 21, 2006
accessmonthday=March 28|accessyear=2008
) (The RIAJ's certification is based on the number of albums shipped to stores, while the Oricon gathers its tallies from the retailers themselves.)] In support of the album, Hamasaki embarked on the "(Miss)Understood" arena tour which spanned three months with thirty concerts, from Saitama on March 11, 2006 to Yoyogi on June 11, 2006. [ja icon cite web | url=http://web.archive.org/web/20060313141823/www.avexnet.or.jp/ayu/news/060217.html | title= Ayumi Hamasaki Arena Tour 2006 A~(miss)understood~追加公演決定| publisher= Avex Marketing Inc.| accessmonthday=February 20 | accessyear=2008]

"Secrets" was, appropriately, the theme of Hamasaki's eighth studio album, "Secret" (November 2006). [ [http://avexnet.or.jp/ayu/en/special/secret/index.html "Secret" special section] . Avex Marketing Inc.. Retrieved April 9, 2008.] As well as secrets, the album also explored strong female figures, love, and sadness; songs depicted the artist's struggles and "cheered on girls".ja icon cite journal | last=Nabeshima | first= Himiko | title=Ayu's 14 Secrets| journal= Vivi|date=January 2007|pages=pgs. 24–29|volume=76] To complement the rock and ballad styles of the album, Hamasaki experimented with new vocal techniques.ja icon cite web| url=http://avexnet.or.jp/ayu/jp/special/secret/ |title=Secret Special Interview| publisher=Avex Trax|accessmonthday=October 8 | accessyear=2008] Although "Secret" was originally intended to be a mini-album, one day, during production, Hamasaki "began brimming with things to say" and wrote five more songs. Both of the album's singles, "Startin'" and "Blue Bird", continued her streak of number-one singles: "Startin'" became her twenty-sixth, setting a new record for most number-one singles held by a solo female artist. [ja icon cite news | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/ranking/15339/ | title= Additional Announcement of Chart Positions | publisher=Oricon Style | date= March 13, 2006 | accessmonthday=February 22|accessyear=2008] The album also topped the Oricon weekly charts, making Hamasaki the only artist to have her first eight studio albums do this. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/confidence/52540/full/ | title=BoA Independently Achieves the Number-Two Rank; The Jackson Siblings Enter the Top 10 Chart | accessmonthday=April 22 | accessyear=2008 | date=March 5, 2008 | publisher=Oricon] Her sales, however, continued to flag: "Secret" became her first original studio album not to become an RIAJ-certified million-seller. [cite web | url=http://www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/gold/200611.html | title=Gold-Certified Records of November 2006| publisher=RIAJ| accessmonthday=January 26 | accessyear=2008]

2007–present: Foray into Asia

On February 28, 2007, Hamasaki released "A Best 2", a pair of compilation albums containing songs from "I am..." to "(Miss)understood". The two versions, "White" and "Black", debuted at the first and second positions on the Oricon weekly charts, making Hamasaki the first female artist in thirty-six years to hold the top two positions on any Oricon album chart. [ja icon cite news| url=http://web.archive.org/web/20070312021145/http://www.sponichi.co.jp/entertainment/news/2007/03/06/03.html |title=Ayu Holds the Top Two Ranks! A Feat Unaccomplished in 36 Years! | newspaper="Sponichi Annex"| date=March 6, 2007|accessmonthday=January 7|accessyear=2008] By the end of 2007, the pair became Japan's fifth and seventh best-selling albums of the year respectively. [ja icon cite news | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/music/special/071218_01_02.html | title=Annual Ranking Special Edition: 2007 Annual Album Ranking!|newspaper=Oricon Style| date=December 18, 2007 |accessmonthday=January 24|accessyear=2008]

Following the release of "A Best 2", Hamasaki held the four-month-long "Tour of Secret" from March to the end of June, and performed not only in Japan but also in Taipei, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, making "Tour of Secret" her first tour extending beyond Japan. [ja icon cite web | url=http://web.archive.org/web/20070103122323/http://www.avexnet.or.jp/ayu/news/070101.html |title=Ayumi Hamasaki Asia Tour 2007 A ~Tour of Secret~| publisher=Avex | accessmonthday=January 7 | accessyear=2008] As a result, the concerts became highly anticipated, and tickets for the one in Taipei sold out in two hours; [zh icon cite news | url=http://www.ettoday.com/2007/02/13/340-2054709.htm | title=Amazing Charm! Nine Thousand Seats at Hamasaki Ayumi's Taipei Concert Sold out in Less Than Two Hours| newspaper=ETtoday| date= February 13, 2007|accessmonthday=February 12 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=NOWnews] tickets for her Hong Kong concert sold out in three hours. [zh icon cite news | url=http://enjoy.eastday.com/e/20070209/u1a2619858.html | title= Tickets to Hamasaki Ayumi's Show at the Red Hall Sold Out in Three Hours | newspaper=EastDay|date=February 9, 2007|accessmonthday=February 22 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=Eastday]

Rumors of a future marriage for Hamasaki and Nagase began to be circulated by the Japanese media by July 2007, nearly six years after the couple had gone public with their relationship.cite news | title=Egos, abortion or mutts—what caused the Ayu-Nagase split?|publisher="Mainichi Daily News"|date=July 20, 2007|accessmonthday=January 20|accessyear=2008] On July 13, 2007, however, Hamasaki announced that they had broken up, after seven years. [ja icon cite news | url=http://ameblo.jp/maxmatsuura/entry-10039745104.html | title=Ayu's Empty Message| publisher=Avex Group Holdings| date=July 13, 2008| accessmonthday=February 12|accessyear=2008] [ cite news | url=http://www.japannewsreview.com/entertainment/celebrities/20070714page_id=676 | title=Ayumi Hamasaki and Tokio's Tomoya Nagase break up|publisher=Japan News Review|date= July 14, 2007|accessmonthday=January 24|accessyear=2008] Shortly thereafter, Hamasaki revealed that she and Nagase were no longer living together. [ja icon cite news |url=http://www.sponichi.co.jp/entertainment/special//2007hakyoku/KFullNormal20070715141.html | title=Hamasaki and Nagase: Living Apart? | publisher= "Sponichi Annex"| date= July 15, 2008|accessmonthday=March 13|accessyear=2008] News of the split came as a surprise and prompted various rumors among Japanese media about the cause. However, Hamasaki has not explained.

Unlike its predecessors, the writing of Hamasaki's ninth studio album, "Guilty" (January 2008), was not an emotional experience for her, nor did it have a set theme. However, she would later say that its tracks appeared to "tell a story". Most of the tracks were dark; the album had a notable rock tinge. It contained some upbeat dance tracks and ballads, though the latter also had rock overtones. [cite news | last=Bang | first=Wei-Tin | title=Review of GUILTY | publisher="Teenage" (Singapore) | date=April 2008 ] cite news| last=Toh | first=Christopher | title=Review - "Guilty" | publisher="Today" | date=January 24, 2008] With first-week sales of around 432,000 copies, "Guilty" peaked at the number-two position on the weekly Oricon charts, making it Hamasaki's first studio album not to reach the top.Hamasaki's first-week sales were the highest for that week (the first week of January). However, Oricon's year only has fifty-one "weeks"—the first two of the year are combined. Kobukuro's sales for the combined two weeks were slightly higher than Hamasaki's, giving them the number-one position. (ja icon cite web | url=http://www.sponichi.co.jp/entertainment/news/2008/01/07/02.html | title=Ayu Reveals That She Has Gone Deaf in Her Left Ear | date=January 7, 2008 | accessmonthday=June 24 | accessyear=2008| publisher="Sponichi Annex")] [cite news | url=http://www.tokyograph.com/news/id-2365 |title=Charts: The Kohaku Effect|publisher= Tokyograph| date=January 7, 2008
accessmonthday=February 22|accessyear=2008
] cite news|last=Connell|first=Ryan|title=Pushing 30, rivals circling, and now deaf in one ear: it's tough at the top for Ayu|publisher="Sunday Mainichi" | date=January 27, 2008] The album's singles, however—"Glitter/Fated", "Talkin' 2 Myself", and Hamasaki's first digital-only single, "Together When..."—all reached the top of their respective weekly charts;cite news| url=http://www.tokyograph.com/news/id-1787 | title=Charts: women on top, Hamasaki extends streak to 17|publisher= Tokyograph| date= September 26, 2007| accessmonthday=February 22|accessyear=2008] [ja icon cite news | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/rankmusic/48305/ | title=Chart Ranking for This Week!| publisher="Oricon Style" | date=September 25, 2007| accessmonthday=February 12|accessyear=2008] with around 720,000 downloads sold, [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.avex.co.jp/j_site/press/2009/080516_2.pdf | title=Avex Group Financial Summary | date=March 2008 | accessmonthday=June 2 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=Avex Trax|] "Together When..." also climbed to the top of the monthly download charts, a first for Hamasaki. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/chart/w080120_1.html | title= Record Association Monthly Download Charts for December| publisher= RIAJ| accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008] A short film, "Distance Love", was used as the music video for "Glitter" and "Fated". The film, shot in Hong Kong, co-starred Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue as Hamasaki's romantic interest.ja icon cite web | url=http://contents.oricon.co.jp/news/music/46117/ | title=Ayumi Hamasaki's First Kiss!| publisher=Oricon
accessmonthday=July 22 | accessyear=2008
] Finally, "Guilty" was later re-released as a digital album in twenty-six countries outside Japan, nineteen of them Western nations. That, along with Hamasaki's decision to employ western DJs such as Armand van Helden for her 2008 remix albums "ayu-mi-x 6 -Gold-" and "ayu-mi-x 6 -Silver-", has been interpreted as her first step into a global market.ja icon cite news | url=http://www.sponichi.co.jp/entertainment/news/2008/03/07/04.html | title=Ayu: Global Sales of Her Remix Albums| publisher="Sponichi Annex"| date=March 7, 2008|accessmonthday=March 12|accessyear=2008]

In a January 8, 2008 entry on her TeamAyu blog, Hamasaki revealed that an inoperable condition, possibly tinnituscite news | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7174893.stm | title=Japanese pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki deaf in left ear | publisher=BBC News Agency|date= January 7, 2008
accessmonthday=January 7|accessyear=2008
] or Ménière's disease, had caused complete deafness in her left ear. She disclosed that she had been diagnosed with deafness in 2006 and that the problem dated back to 2000. Supposedly as a result of her hearing loss, Avex shares went down by thirteen yen. [zh icon cite news| url=http://udn.com/NEWS/ENTERTAINMENT/ENT5/4172452.shtml | title=Hamasaki Ayumi Loses Hearing, Harms Avex's Stock Prices|newspaper=United Daily News|date=January 9, 2008| accessmonthday=April 19|accessyear=2008] Despite the setbacks, Hamasaki stated that she wished to continue singing, and that she would "not give up" on her fans and that "as a professional", she wanted to "deliver the best performance for everyone".cite news| url=http://webcitation.org/5YqztWqHX | title=Singer Ayumi Hamasaki says she has lost hearing in her left ear| publisher="Japan Today"|date=January 8, 2008
accessmonthday=January 8|accessyear=2008
(Archived version)] [cite news | url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hNw4Md-JdCu6y2e8xsEGld1O41xg | title=Japan's pop princess 'Ayu' goes half deaf|publisher="AFP"|date=January 6, 2008|accessmonthday=February 2|accessyear=2008] Hamasaki's forty-third single, "Mirrorcle World", was released on April 8, 2008. To commemorate her tenth anniversary in the music industry, the single was released in two versions, the second B-side containing a remix of either "You" or "Depend on You"; both versions contain "Life" as a B-side. [cite web | url=http://avexnet.or.jp/ayu/jp/news/080301.html | title=Ayumi Hamasaki News and Information | publisher= Avex Marketing Inc. | accessmonthday=April 9 | accessyear=2008] "Mirrorcle World" became yet another number-one single for Hamasaki, making her the only Japanese female solo artist to have a number-one single every year for ten consecutive years. [ja icon cite news | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/confidence/53725/full/ | title=Ayu, Controlling a Fierce Battle, Is the First Female Singer to Have a Number-One Single for Ten Consecutive Years|publisher="Oricon Style"|date=April 15, 2008|accessmonthday=April 15|accessyear=2008]

On September 10, 2008, Hamasaki released "A Complete ~All Singles~", a compilation album that includes the A-sides of all her singles along with previously unreleased footage from her a-nation concerts. [cite web | url=http://avexnet.or.jp/ayu/jp/news/080722.html | title=Ayumi Hamasaki news | accessmonthday=July 26 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=Avex]

Image and artistry

multi-listen item
filename = Ayumi_Hamasaki_-_Evolution.ogg
title = "Evolution" (2001)
description = "Evolution", composed by Hamasaki, is a dance/rock song that makes prominent use of the electric guitar.|
multi-listen item
filename = Ayumi_Hamasaki_-_Voyage.ogg
title = "Voyage" (2002)
description = "Voyage", a track from "Rainbow", was co-composed by Hamasaki and DAI of the band Do As Infinity. It is a classical-influenced song that uses piano, strings, and a gospel chorus.|

The influence of Hamasaki's music, sometimes considered one of the major forces in shaping Japan's current music trends, has been attributed to her constantly changing image as well as her self-penned lyrics; critics, however, credit clever marketing strategies. The popularity of her music extends beyond Japan; [cite web | url=http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-20827647_ITM | title=Viacom's MTV Networks Announces Landmark Content and Advertising Alliance with China's #1 Search Engine Baidu. | date=October 17, 2006 | publisher=PR Newswire] she has a "sizable [following] across Asia" [cite news
first=Brian
last=Bremner
publisher = BusinessWeek
url=http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/may2007/gb20070507_535989.htm
title=Raising Japan's Cool Quotient
date=May 7, 2007
] and is one of the few Japanese singers whose albums have sold over 10,000 copies in Singapore. [cite news
publisher = The Star
url=http://www.star-ecentral.com/news/story.asp?file=/2006/1/9/music/13031077&sec=music
title=Discovering Fujita
date=January 9, 2006
] Additionally, her album "A Best 2 -White-" became the best-selling Japanese or Korean album of the year in Taiwan. [zh icon cite web | url=http://www.5music.com.tw/CDTop-YEAR.asp?top=2 | title=Five Music Charts (Year-end)| publisher=Five Music Charts | accessmonthday=May 3 | accessyear=2008] Though her first tour with stops outside Japan did not take place until 2007, Hamasaki has been moving towards an Asian market since 2002: in addition to performing at the MTV Asia awards, she performed at South Korea's first joint performance among Asian singers and at a concert celebrating Sino-Japanese relations. [cite web | url=http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-5231327_ITM | title=Asian Stars to Shine in Seoul. | date=November 26, 2004 | publisher=Yonhap | accessmonthday=August 5 | accessyear=2008 (Registration needed to view article)] [cite web | url=http://archive.japantoday.com/jp/news/233912 | title=Japan, China celebrate 30 years with gala concert | first=Sachie | last=Kanda | date=October 10, 2002 | publisher=Japan Today | accessmonthday=August 5 | accessyear=2008]

Musical style and influence

Because of the widespread influence of her music, Hamasaki has often been compared to Madonna, [cite news| last=Hickey | first= David| url=http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fm20060622a1.html | title= The D.I.Y. route to stardom| publisher="Japan Times"| date=June 22, 2006] "cite web| first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/photoessay/6.html | title=The Many Faces of Ayu| publisher= "Time"
accessmonthday=February 2 | accessyear=2008|pages=p. 6
] whom Hamasaki cites as one of her influences, along with soul musicians Babyface and En Vogue and rock bands Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. She also admires Michelle Branch, Kid Rock, and Joan Osborne and Japanese artists Seiko Matsuda, Rie Miyazawa, and Keiko Yamada; these diverse influences have led to the variety of her own music.

Hamasaki began commissioning remixes of her songs early in her career; this also influenced the diversity of her music. Her remixes, found on many of her records, span different genres of electronic dance music including Eurobeat, house, and trance, as well as acoustic genres such as classical and traditional Chinese music. She has employed Western as well as Japanese musicians; among those she has worked with are DJs Armin van Buuren, Jonathan Peters, Junior Vasquez, Above & Beyond, and Ferry Corsten; the Lamoureux Orchestra of France;For a comprehensive list of Hamasaki's Avex-sanctioned remixes released in Japan, see Hamasaki's discography at [http://mu-mo.net/id/ayu/discography/ mu-mo.net] .] and traditional Chinese music ensemble Princess China Music Orchestra. [zh icon cite web | url=http://www.avex.com.tw/4th/artist/artist.asp?aid=306871&aname=pcmo&main=1&cateid=2 | title=Artist profile of Princess China Music Orchestra | accessmonthday=May 2 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=Avex Taiwan]

Having released over 100 songs (not including remixes), Hamasaki's musical style has changed over time: her music contains aspects of rock and R&B and spans styles including dance, metal, progressive rock, pop, and classical. She also uses different instruments and techniques including piano, orchestra, gospel choirs, guitars, traditional Japanese strings, music boxes, and even effects such as yells, claps, and scratching. She frequently employs others to compose; as she has explained, "I'm not a professional; I lack even basic knowledge about writing music." However, when writing "M", none of the melodies composed by her staff appealed to her, and she decided to compose herself. Thinking that this let her get closer to what she had in mind, Hamasaki continued, most notably in her album "I am...", mostly her own work; furthermore, she took control of nearly every aspect of her artistry for the same reasons. Later on in her career, however, she began delegating many of the tasks she had previously handled, including composition, to her staff.cite video| people=Shubert, Atika (Interviewer) | medium=TV-series | publisher=CNN | location=Japan | title=Talk Asia | year2=2006]

Lyrics and themes

In the beginning, I was searching for myself in my music. My music was for me. I didn't have the mental room to be conscious of the listener; I wrote to save myself. I didn't understand what it was to write songs. But over time I began to see many things, my influence, the responsibilities that gave me.

— Hamasaki on the new lyrical directions in "I am...".

Hamasaki's lyrics, all her own,Two of Hamasaki's songs released prior to "Rainbow", "Love ~since 1999~" and "Audience" used English. However, the lyrics of "Love ~since 1999~" were not written by Hamasaki, and the only English in "Audience" is the word "yes"; therefore these songs are usually not counted among her songs using English. (cite web | last=Takeuchi Cullen |first=Lisa | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/cover4.html | title=Empress of Pop | publisher="Time"
accessmonthday=March 31 | accessyear=2008|pages=p. 4
)] have resonated among her fans, who praise them for expressing "independence, rebellion, and conflict juxtaposed with [...] innocence" and for being "like the contents of [...] a diary" and "reflecting [their own] changing emotions". Because she has "trouble voicing her thoughts", Hamasaki uses her lyrics as an outlet; she "draws from her own experiences and emotions" and tries to put them "honestly into words". She has stated that honesty is essential to her lyrics, saying, "If I write when I'm low, it will be a dark song, but I don't care. I want to be honest with myself at all times."cite web | url=http://web.archive.org/web/20051217103237/http://www.avexnet.or.jp/english/ayu/#profile | title=Ayumi Hamasaki's Profile (Avex)| publisher=Avex Network
accessmonthday=March 23 | accessyear=2008
] Because of this, she did not use English lyrics until her album "Rainbow", as she had felt that she could best express herself in Japanese. As with her musical style, the themes of her lyrics have varied: although "loneliness and confusion" were frequent in her earlier albums, she has branched out to wider themes such as faith and peace; themes in her later albums included love and the struggles of women.ja icon cite journal| title=Ayumi Hamasaki | journal=Sweet | date=January 2006|pages=pgs. 18–20] Hamasaki draws inspiration for her lyrics from various sources. A story told to her by her friend about a saint named Mary (possibly the Virgin Mary) served as the basis for "M", while the September 11 attacks inspired "a song is born"."J-Point". December 22, 2000. Volume 75.] Hamasaki is often involved in the the artistic direction of her live performances; as a result, they are often lavish productions that use a variety of props, extravagant costumes, and choreographed dances. She has used large video screens, fireworks, simulated rain drops, trick stage floors, and suspended devices.ja icon cite journal | author=釣高子 | title = Relaxed Smile| journal = Cawaii| pages = pgs. 15–16| date = August 2006] [cite video| people = Ayumi Hamasaki| title = ayumi hamasaki Asia Tour A 2007 ~Tour of Secret~ "Live + Documentary"| medium = DVD| publisher = Avex Trax| year2 = 2008 ] As with her live performances, Hamasaki is involved in the artistic direction of her promotional videos and tries to convey the videos the meanings or feelings of their respective songs. Some of the videos are lavish affairs as well: those of three songs, "Fairyland", "My Name's Women", and "Jewel" are among the top twenty or so most expensive music videos,de icon cite web | last=Gotthartsleitner | first=Manuela| url=http://unterhaltung.de.msn.com/musik/galerie.aspx?cp-documentid=6890897 | title=Die 20 teuersten Musikvideos aller Zeiten| publisher=MSN
accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008
] [cite web | last=Hurley | first= James| url=http://entertainment.uk.msn.com/music/features/gallery.aspx?cp-documentid=3917826&imageindex=7 | title=Ayumi Hamasaki - "fairyland"| publisher= "MSN"
accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008
] making Hamasaki the only non-anglophone to hold such a distinction. [cite web | last=Hurley | first= James | url=http://entertainment.uk.msn.com/music/features/gallery.aspx?cp-documentid=3917826 | title= The Most Expensive Music Videos Ever Made| publisher=MSN
accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008
]


=Public

Hamasaki's influence extends into other aspects of pop culture, including fashion, and she is often considered an icon and trend-setter in fashion [cite web | url=http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/archives/cool/00-10-12/hamasaki.html | title=What's Cool in Japan - Ayumi Hamasaki | accessmonthday=April 22 |accessyear=2008 | publisher=Web Japan] a status attributed to her tight control over her image.cite web | first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/cover.html | title=Empress of Pop| publisher="Time"
accessmonthday=January 18 | accessyear=2008 | pages= p. 1
] cite web | url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article1120745.ece | first=Leo | last=Lewis | title=Pop star bails out troubled bank | date=March 18, 2003 | publisher=Times Online | accessmonthday=July 14| accessyear=2008] As well as appearing in fashion magazines such as "ViVi", "Popteen", and "Cawaii", Hamasaki repeatedly wins awards such as "Best Jeanist", "Nail Queen"ja icon cite news | url=http://www.sponichi.co.jp/entertainment/meikan/ha/hamasakiayumi.html | title=Talent Directory: Hamasaki Ayumi| publisher="Sponichi Annex"
accessmonthday=June 24|accessyear=2008
] and Oricon's "Most Fashionable Female Artist". [ja icon cite news | url=http://www.oricon.co.jp/music/special/060419_01.html | title=Readers Choose the Most Fashionable Artist!| publisher= "Oricon Style" | date= April 19, 2006| accessmonthday=January 26|accessyear=2008] This status has led to Hamasaki's shaping of Japan's fashion scene; [cite web | url=http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-23852546_ITM | title=POPCETERA? / A-nation under a groove | date=July 17, 2003 | publisher=Financial Times (originally from the "Daily Yomiuri") | accessmonthday=August 5 | accessyear=2008 | first=Rori | last=Caffrey] many aspects of Japan's fashions—including clothing, hair, nails, and accessories—have in some way been influenced by her. [cite news
last = Magnier
first = Mark
publisher = "Los Angeles Times"
title=Tokyo Robe
date=August 25, 2000
accessmonthday=May 3
accessyear=2008
] As with her music, Hamasaki's influence in fashion extends outside Japan; the trends she has started have spread to Asian countries as Taiwan, China, and Singapore. [cite web| first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/photoessay/2.html | title=The Many Faces of Ayu|publisher="Time"|accessmonthday=May 3 | accessyear=2008 | pages=pg. 2] [cite web | first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/photoessay/3.html | title=The Many Faces of Ayu|publisher="Time"|accessmonthday=May 3 | accessyear=2008 | pages=pg. 3] [cite news| last = Pan| first = Philip P.| publisher = "The Washington Post"| title=Taiwan's Teens Take Style Cues From Tokyo| date=November 27, 2000| accessmonthday=January 21|acessyear=2008]

Because of her "trendy image", Hamasaki has been sought by numerous brands to endorse their products.cite web | url=http://us.yesasia.com/en/mc/-/47S016957W/Emagazine/ArticlePage.aspx/articleId-163/ | title=Hamasaki Ayumi against the Music | author=Kitazawa | date=April 8, 2008 | accessmonthday=May 13 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=YesAsia] Throughout her career under Avex, she has promoted products ranging from electronics (Tu-Ka cell phones and Panasonic)cite web | last=Wilce |first= Matt| url=http://metropolis.co.jp/biginjapan/379/biginjapaninc.htm | title=Big in Japan: Ayumi Hamasaki| publisher= "Metropolis Magazine" |accessmonthday=March 23|accessyear=2008] to various snack foods. Among the products she has advertised on television are the Honda Crea, [Ayumi Hamasaki. (1999). Commercial for the Honda Crea [Television advertisement] . Honda.] Kosé cosmetics,cite web | first=Lisa | last=Takeuchi Cullen | url=http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/ayumi_hamasaki/cover2.html | title=Empress of Pop| publisher="Time" | accessmonthday=January 26 | accessyear=2008 | pages=p. 2] Mister Donut donuts,cite journal | last=Lytle| first= J. Mark | url=http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.05/play.html?pg=9 | title=Ayumi Inc.| journal=Wired | date= May 2003 |issue="Issue 11.05"] and Boss coffee. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.suntory.co.jp/enjoy/cm/log/sd132.html|title= Boss CM| publisher=Suntory Limited
accessmonthday=February 23 | accessyear=2008
] Although Hamasaki initially supported the exploitation of her popularity for commercial purposes, saying that it was "necessary that [she is] viewed as a product", after the 2001 incident in which Avex forced her to release "A Best", she protested Avex's decision to market her as a "product rather than a person".cite video
people = Ayumi Hamasaki (interviewee)
title = Hamasaki Ayumi: The Heartbreak and Decision in Light and Shadow
medium = Television
publisher = NTV
location = Japan
year2 = 2004
]

Other activities

As well as serving as background music for television advertisements, some of Hamasaki's songs have been used as themes for video games, television shows and motion pictures.For a complete list of the commercial tie-ins of Hamasaki's songs, see her discography.] "Depend on You" and its B-side "Two of Us" were the opening and ending theme respectively of the video game "Thousand Arms";"Thousand Arms Soundtrack & Multimedia CD" (October 14, 1999). Atlus.] the video game "" used "Startin'" and "rainy day" as its opening and ending theme respectively.cite web | last=Gantayat | first=Anoop | url=http://ps2.ign.com/articles/665/665728p1.html | title=Big Star Talent for Onimusha| publisher=IGN| accessmonthday=February 12 | accessyear=2008] The dorama "My Little Chef" featured "Voyage"; [cite web | url=http://www.irmnet.com/usn/chef.html | title=My Little Chef | publisher=USN (U.S. Nippon Communications Network)| accessmonthday=February 23 | accessyear=2008] the anime "InuYasha" featured "Dearest". [cite web | url=http://www.amazon.com/Best-Inuyasha-Original-Soundtrack/dp/B00008KKZC | title="Inuyasha" Original Soundtrack| publisher=Amazon
accessmonthday=February 16 | accessyear=2008
] "Heaven", "Secret", and "fated" were the themes for the movies "", "Confession of Pain" and "Kaidan" respectively. [Funimation. [http://www.shinobithemovie.com/ "The Official Shinobi: Heart Under Blade Website from FUNimation"] . Retrieved March 31, 2008. (View the trailer)] [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.kaidan-movie.jp/news.xml | title="Kaidan" News| accessmonthday=March 31 | accessyear=2008] [cite web | url=http://mainichi.jp/enta/geinou/graph/200707/05/ | title=Ayumi Hamasaki: Worldwide Casting for Performance? "Confession of Pain" Premieres | publisher=Mainichi
accessmonthday=July 5 | accessyear=2007
]

On October 12, 2002, Fuji Television began airing "Ayuready?", a talk show, on Saturday nights from 11:30 to midnight, hosted by Hamasaki and often featuring her performing songs with guests, among whom were Goto Maki, Puffy, and Akina Nakamori. After less than two years, the last episode aired in March 2004. [ja icon cite web | url=http://webcitation.org/5XIYYil9t | title=ayu ready? | accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008 | publisher=Fuji TV] Also in 2002, Hamasaki began releasing Ayupan, a line of merchandise (mainly figurines) featuring stylized versions of herself. In 2007, she and Sanrio created a line of merchandise called Ayumi HamasakixHello Kitty; the products, featuring Ayupan and Hello Kitty together, were sold at Hamasaki's 2007 tour "Ayumi Hamasaki Asia Tour 2007 ~Tour of Secret~" and also online at mu-mo.net. [ja iconcite web | url=http://www.sanrio.co.jp/corporate/release/2007/190309.html | title=Ayumi Hamasaki x Hello Kitty | publisher=Sanrio | accessmonthday=February 19 | accessyear=2008] The merchandise consisted of cell phone straps and Complete".] the former product was a result of a collaboration with Sanrio and Japanese fashion brand Ash & Diamonds, the latter a collaboration with Sanrio and Panasonic. [ja icon cite web | url=http://www.barks.jp/news/?id=1000031701 | title=Ayumi Hamasaki Collaboration is a Dream! | publisher= Barks.jp| accessmonthday=July 23 | accessyear=2008]

Discography

tudio Albums

* 1995: "Nothing from Nothing" (pre-Avex mini-album)
* 1999: "A Song for XX"
* 1999: "Loveppears"
* 2000: "Duty"
* 2002: "I am..."
* 2002: "Rainbow"
* 2003: "Memorial Address" (mini-album)
* 2004: "My Story"
* 2006: "(Miss)understood"
* 2006: "Secret"
* 2008: "Guilty"

Compilation Albums

*2001: "A Best"
*2003: "A Ballads"
*2007: "A Best 2" ("White"/"Black")
*2008: "A Complete ~All Singles~"

Concerts

Filmography

* "Twins Teacher" (1993)
* "Battle spirits ryûko no ken" (1993)
* "Sumomo mo momo" (1995)
* "Miseinen" (1995)
* "Like Grains of Sand" (1995)
* "Gakko II" (1996)

Footnotes

ee also

*Ayumi Hamasaki awards and records
*List of best-selling music artists
*List of J-pop artists

Citations

Further reading

*cite book | author=あゆ報道班| title=浜崎あゆみの秘密 (Secrets of Ayumi Hamasaki)| publisher=データハウス| year=2005 | id=ISBN 978-4887188518
*cite book | author=富坂 剛| title=浜崎あゆみPure Stories (Ayumi Hamasaki Pure Stories)| publisher=アールズ出版| year=2005 | id=ISBN 978-4901226998
*cite book | author=本郷陽二| title=今輝く歌姫たち 浜崎あゆみ物語| publisher=汐文社| year=2003 | id=ISBN 978-4811376233

External links

* [http://www.ayu10th.com/ The official online collection of all of Hamasaki's music videos (also includes making-of videos and commercials)]
* [http://avexnet.or.jp/ayu/en/index.html Ayumi Hamasaki's official English-language website]
* [http://www.teamayu.com/ TeamAyu (official fansite)]

Persondata
NAME = Hamasaki, Ayumi
ALTERNATIVE NAMES =
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Japanese singer
DATE OF BIRTH = October 2, 1978
PLACE OF BIRTH = Fukuoka, Japan
DATE OF DEATH =
PLACE OF DEATH =


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