Despite the fact that Ayumi Hamasaki is a petite 5′1″ singer, she’s a huge legend all over Asia. Apart from being a singer, Hamasaki is a fashion leader, an actress, a model, a spokeswoman, a composer and songwriter. She is the ultimate icon of fashion and music in Japan, is known as the “Empress of J-Pop” and is considered the Asian equivalent of Madonna. Consequently she is one of the most popular and influential artists ever to appear in Asia. However, till the present day, Ayumi remains an enigma and is frequently misunderstood by many.
|Name: Ayumi Hamasaki (浜崎あゆみ)
Birthdate: 2nd October 1978
Birthplace: Fukuoka Prefecture
Blood Type: A
Record Label: avex trax
Ayumi was born on the 2nd October in 1978 in Fukuoka Prefecture. Her father left when Ayumi was still a toddler, and since then she hasn’t seen him. Thus Ayumi was left in the care of her grandmother, while her mother worked for the family. Because of her mother’s job, Ayumi grew up in a different environment than most kids of her age did. Her mother couldn’t pick her up from school and she had a rather liberal discipline system. Her mother left her to distinguish what was right and what was wrong and let her walk on her own rules. For these reasons, Hamasaki was an introverted, mature child who preferred to stay on her own. However due to spending so much time with her grandmother, both formed a close bond together.
During this period of isolation her sole interest was fashion. Hamasaki started modelling merely at the age of seven for a bank, to help to earn money for her family. During high school she started dyeing her hair and wearing short skirts, which gave her the reputation of being a delinquent. Before making her debut with avex, Hamasaki attempted to enter the entertainment industry in many ways. She moved to Tokyo alone at the age of 14 and took up modelling with the talent agency SOS, but she was considered to be too short to a professional model. She took the entrance exams to Horikishi Gakuen, an entertainment school along with her friends and she ended up to be the only one to fail. Later on she retook the exams and passed. However she ended up quitting this school, after a short period, along with her modelling career. She would mention how she disliked the attitude of the other female models, which was so selfish and devious to gain more influence in their career.
She initiated her acting career, in 1993 with Sun Music. She took up the acting name “Kurumi Hamasaki” and had a few minor roles in some second-rate movies and dramas. Later on Ayumi mentioned how she felt more pressured to do things the correct, rather than helping to build her self-confidence. In 1995, she managed to co-star in two movies with Maki Mochida. She also starred in various commercials. However her acting career was also short-lived. In 1996, Ayumi Hamasaki decided to move away from acting. However she didn’t exactly leave empty handed. She got to know Nagase Tomoya, who was also a newcomer to the entertainment industry and they started dating.
At the same time, Ayumi started to attend a television program “Idol on Stage” and performed various covers. She made her debut with the record label “Nippon Columbia” and released a single and an album. Both were titled “Nothing from Nothing“, where she would claim she was the first Japanese female rapper. Both these releases failed to chart due to virtually no promotion and eventually this lead to her being dropped out of her record label. Ironically enough at this present date, this album is highly sought amongst her fans nowadays and is sold at ridiculously high prices.
avex trax and her debut
After her failure to establish herself anywhere, Ayumi simply wasted away her days in the boutiques in Shibuya and her nights in the Velfarre nightclub in Roppongi. It seemed that her fate was set to become just another school drop-out who tried to become popular and failed. However, unaware that Velfarre was owned by the music giant avex trax, Ayumi was introduced to Max Matsuura by a friend who worked there. Ayumi had no clue what avex trax was and when Matsuura claimed he was a producer, she was suspicious and sceptic. He asked her to attempt a singing career again, but Ayumi had lost all her confidence in singing. However Max wasn’t a man who was discouraged by obstacles and he spent the following year trying to convince Ayumi to take up a musical career.
Since Ayumi was literally doing nothing productive in her life, she decided to take vocal training. However she realised that her choice was a huge mistake since she felt as if she went back to school. She hated the idea of following rigid rules and so she started skipping classes. When she confessed this to Matsuura, she expected he’d write her off, but he suggested sending her to New York for some real training. Ayumi was stunned at this proposition, but she reluctantly decided to go for three months. She stayed at a midtown hotel and was surprised to see that the lessons were so less strict. She corresponded with Matsuura through letters. This made him realise that Ayumi had the potential to become a songwriter.
This was a major turning point in Hamasaki’s life. In her past Ayumi was never seriously considered to become “anyone”. Ayumi herself had a low self-esteem in herself and this task gave her a whole new direction in her life. She wasn’t just another pretty face any longer, but she was also giving in something “hers” in what she was release. Hamasaki has never had any formal instruction in lyric writing, but is able to draw on her emotions to write her lyrics.
“No one had ever asked anything of me before, or expected anything of me. Part of me was flattered; part of me was terrified but didn’t want to admit I couldn’t do it. Plenty of people had patted my head and said, ‘Aren’t you cute.’ Senmu gets mad, but when he praises me, I know I’ve won it. He’s the one who found me and drew me out.”
In 1998, at the age of 20 she started recording her first single “Poker Face“. For the first time in her life, Ayumi decided to give all of her in this debut and worked extremely hard. However just before her debut, her grandmother was hospitalized for a serious illness. Despite the fact that her grandmother was in hospital, they still had a close relationship. Ayumi frequently travelled to Fukuoka to remain next to her grandmother and stayed there overnight. During this time, Ayumi spent her idle time visiting the park in front of the hospital and sat idle on a bench. Before the recording, Ayumi was at her bedside, telling her that she would return as soon as she finished recording. At that moment her grandmother started crying, even though she was barely conscious. Just as Ayumi was recording, her grandmother died. Max asked her to stop recording and return to Fukuoka but Ayumi decided to continue recording anyway. This single ended up reaching #20 on the Oricon Charts and it sold over 43,000 copies.
“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.”
This tragic event led Ayumi’s future releases to be full of loneliness, despair and hopelessness. Ayumi sang her lyrics to remain alive and it became the reason of her own existence. However she barely felt the joy of her music. Despite of her mental state, Hamasaki decided to work hard for herself so that if she failed, she would have only herself to blame. At first, her singles were moderately successful but Matsuura kept supporting her and her singles slowly started ranking higher in the charts. Her first true break was be her fifth single, “Depend on You“, which had a tie-in with the game “Thousand Arms“. At this point, many Japanese started noticing her poignant lyrics and relating to them. Her debut album, “A Song for XX” became instantly popular and sold over 1,451,199 copies. Hamasaki won two awards at the Japan Gold Disc Awards as “Best New Artist” and “Pop Album of the Year”. This newfound popularity led her to be invited to perform at the prestigious NHK Kouhaku Utagassen.
Rising to success
After the surprising success, avex focused all their energies on their new promising star. In 1999, Ayumi worked non-stop by releasing 8 singles and finally managed to achieve her first #1 single, “Love ~Destiny~“. This single was particularly special because Hamasaki would discover that she genuinely started to enjoy being an artist. Afterwards all her singles would be featured in a 12cm format. Her 9th single “Boys & Girls” became her first maxi single and it was an instant hit, selling over a million copies. The following single “A” was yet even more successful and sold over 1,670,000 copies. Oricon announced to the public that it was the 6th highest selling single from a female artist during the last 10 years and is recorded to be her highest selling single to date. Hamasaki’s management initiated a trend of including several remixes in her singles to keep up with the arising competition, namely Ami Suzuki.
After a string of successes, Ayumi finally released her second album “Loveppears” and single “Appears” on the same day, which raised a lot of controversy because the cover features her posing topless. This album focused mainly on techno, trance and pop genres. There are several themes relating to her lack of self esteem and the emotions she holds back. It would also mark the first time where Hamasaki dyed her hair blonde. This colour has become her trademark and also started a trend towards many Japanese teens dyeing their hair blonde. Unsurprisingly enough, this album was even more successful than the first and sold 2,562,130 copies. With all the spotlights over Hamasaki, she received several contracts with HONDA, Lycos Japan, AUBE and Tu-Ka. It has been mentioned that Hamasaki has saved Tu-Ka from bankruptcy. She also won her first fashion award, the Nail Queen award.
“I have trouble voicing my thoughts… I can’t communicate very well that way.“
The following year, ended up to be yet another one with massive success. She became a spokeswoman for Kose, a popular cosmetics company in Japan. It has been recorded that when she appeared in commercials to promote Kose’s lipsticks, a record 500,000 lipsticks were sold in only two days. She rapidly became a fashion icon and started to be featured in more prominent magazines. She also won the Best Jewellery Wearing Teenager award for the first time. In April she started working on her infamous trilogy, where she released a single per month up till June. These singles were purposely connected in various ways. Out of these three, “Seasons” became a major hit, by selling over 1,367,400 copies and getting the #1 position for two weeks. To date, the lyrics are still appreciated and it remains a very popular song within Japan.
In September, Hamasaki released her third album “Duty“, which is hailed by many to be her best album with many tracks shrouded with symbolism, powerful imagery, and psychological indecision. In any way this album is her best selling one to date with 2,904,420 copies sold. (As in terms of an original album) The catsuit outfit and the dark hair attracted a lot of attention amongst the Japanese. The promotional video of “SURREAL” featured two versions of Hamasaki. One of them wearing this particular suit. It was released on the same date as the single “SURREAL” and the DVD “ayumi hamasaki concert tour 2000 A Part I“. All these releases managed to hit #1, making her the first person to hold the top position on all three charts. She proceeded on winning several other awards at the Japan Gold Disc Awards and The Japan Record Awards. Despite all this success, Hamasaki’s persona was still shrouded with indecision and a low self-esteem. At that time she realized she was looked up to by so many teenagers and that she had become a role model for them. This year was highlighted with the birth of “Ayupan“, a figurine doll designed by Hamasaki herself and rumour has it that they are named like that because Ayumi thinks they look like a panda. They are small plastic figurines that are ‘cartoon’ version of Ayumi. To date these are the hottest merchandise items being released by Hamasaki.
From idol to diva
Her success slowly started leading Ayumi to grow more self-confident in herself and in control over her creative choices. She discovered her passion in music and she grew more powerful within avex due to the massive sales. She took over in the creative process of her music and moved away from the typical idol persona and became a diva. In 2001, Ayumi was no longer a simple singer, but also the one who decided which direction her music took. Nothing was released without her approval, not even the font type of a release. And just because she was so powerful, avex could not control her as much as they wished.
In December 2000, Hamasaki released her legendary single “M“, which was be her first composition with the pseudonym “CREA“. This single sold over a million copies and became one of her signature songs. It was one of her first songs with a rock genre and Christian influences. In March 2001, her first best compilation was released where Hamasaki opposed to this decision strongly. Hamasaki re-sung certain songs and posed with a tear on her eye, which became a symbol of her protest. This album was released in direct competition with Utada’s “Distance” and as a result, this was the start of the media-created rivalry between these two music giants. The promotional campaign was massive and Hamasaki posed in 40 magazines. This album sold 4,235,887 copies and became the 6th highest-selling album of all time in Japan. After this massive success, it was clear that Hamasaki had become the ultimate diva of Japan.
“Beginnings come at random but endings always have a reason”
In September 2001, her second eurobeat remix album became the second remix album in Japanese history to top the charts. avex also re-released her 8cm singles and 9 remix singles. Unsurprisingly enough this extremely busy lifestyle was taking its’ toll. While practicing for the concert Dome Tour 2001 she fainted because of all the stress and got injured. She also noticed that she was becoming deaf in her left ear. Her doctor suggested she had to take time to rest but she realized that she could not let down all of her fans and Dome Tour 2001 is frequently referred to as one of her greatest concerts. Since then Hamasaki frequently wears ear plugs.
Finally Ayumi was able to walk on her own rules and the result was a massive success. Her fashion trends led to many people purchase whatever she wore. She won the Barbie Award due to her golden locks and her attractive fashion sense. Her “evolution” fox tail (shippo) is commonly known as one of her trademark accessories. Ayumi became an influential figure not only in Japan, but throughout all Asia. When her 4th album’s release was delayed, stock prices for avex trax began to decrease, showing the amount of influence she wielded. It was estimated around that time that she was responsible for 40% of the avex’s profit.
Hope and freedom
The singles prior to her 4th album were highly successful and the promotional videos recorded for her started to have even higher budgets. However the tragic event in September, led Hamasaki to reconsider everything she believed in and decided to change the whole concept of her album. Therefore Ayu and her team scrapped the whole photoshoot for the album and re-shot a simplistic one, based on symbolising peace, faith freedom and hope in a difficult time for the world.
Hamasaki also released her second duet single with KEIKO. “a song is born“, which was part of avex trax’s SongNation nonprofit project to raise funds for the attacks on the World Trade Center. The song was rather simplistic, highlighted with sincerity while asking the audience to listen and to remain hoping in peace. Also another single of hers, “Connected” was released as a single in Germany by the popular trance artist System F. It peaked at #18 on Germany’s MTV Dance Charts. The singles “Dearest” and “Daybreak” would focus more into finding inner-peace and cherishing love. Both songs would become classics.
“It would be nice if we could throw away everything but what is most important; Reality is just cruel”
After a year full of struggles and difficulties “I am…” was finally released and proved to be a turning-point in Hamasaki’s lyrical career. Hamasaki would grow up from the insecure teenager and become a woman seeking for peace in the world and within herself. Instead of singing about loneliness and confusion, Hamasaki sang about love, freedom and peace. This direction proved to inspire countless Japanese and sold 2,308,112 copies. This album has a lot of compositions by herself and the infamous DAI, which is probably why it would become a firm favourite with many fans.
“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”
At this point, Hamasaki’s influence was big enough to be listed as the highest earning entertainer in Japan. In 2002, she won Best Female Artist Award at MTV Asia Awards for the first time and was given a special award as the Most Influential Japanese Artist In Asia. She was also featured on TIME Magazine and Vogue for the very first time. Another interesting activity happened to be Uraayu photobook, which would be set in Hong Kong and expand her horizons in Asia. Hamasaki also received her biggest commercial endorsement with Panasonic, which would lead her future singles to have a set tie-in beforehand. Her fashion persona would be emphasized by the initiation of for her designs within the label MATERIAL GIRL, where Hamasaki also become a frequent model of their outfits. Finally Hamasaki started to host a television program titled “AYUREADY?” where several artists were invited as guests to perform.
“No matter how far apart we are, we’re still under the same sky. Don’t forget that we’re both travelling to the place we once dreamed of.”
Becoming the J-Pop Empress
After the soaring success of 2002, Hamasaki became extremely powerful and more relaxed in her release schedule. She released three singles only in that year. “H” became her highlight single since it became another million seller and achieved top selling status in 2002. This triple A side single contained her final tie-in with Tu-Ka, and yet another tie-in with Kose. To commemorate hitting the million mark in sales, this single was re-released Special Limited Edition on November 7, 2002. In September, Hamasaki resumed her acting career with the short movie Tsuki ni Shizumu. The single “Voyage” was released to promote this movie and managed to set a new record for Hamasaki as it topped the Oricon Chart for a total of 3 weeks.
With the release of her 5th album, Hamasaki tackled another image and theme. She managed to recreate herself as a sexy, sophisticated and independent individual. The song “Real Me” was her first to reflect a feminist approach and contain a set choreography. Chiharu and Etsu from TRF would feature for the first time in her promotional video. A lot of fantasy-inspired compositions blended with the pop were released. “RAINBOW” marked Hamasaki’s happiest year as she would sing about love, happiness and confidence. This album received a lot of attention because of several factors. Most of the songs had a tie-in with either Panasonic or Kose. Also this album is predominantly composed by CREA and DAI and was the first to include English phrases. Finally this cover had an attractive artistic theme and was be photographed by the international talent Leslie Kee. Overall it sold 1,856,919 copies. A few months later, Hamasaki released a ballad collection, titled “A BALLADS“. This album contained a fair amount of tracks which were remixed, rearranged and re-sung. Most of her most successful ballads were included along to the full version of the song “RAINBOW“. She also sang a cover of “Sotsugyō Shashin“, originally recorded by Yumi Matsutoya. The whole theme of this album was to depict the past insecure Ayu being healed by her confident present self. This album would sell over 924,902 copies.
“You come up next to me and talk about nonsense. You’re trying, despite your clumsiness, to encourage me.”
Confidence and Power
Hamasaki would continue to enjoy strong popularity in 2003. A nineteen-episode cartoon series of Ayupan were aired on TV. Her summer maxi single “&” attracted a lot of attention, with the release of three songs and three promotional videos. The result was that this single sold around 600,000 copies. In order to celebrate the release of her 30th single a tour titled “A Museum ~30th collection live~” was organized, which was yet another excellent concert. Due to her hectic schedule, Hamasaki decided to release a mini album and to make up for it, almost all the songs had a promotional video included. For this reason, the album contained an alternate DVD Version. Despite the fact that it was only a mini-album, “Memorial Address” became a huge success. It sold 1,220,000 copies and is recorded to be the best-selling mini-album by a solo female in Japan.
In 2004, Hamasaki’s contract with Kose ended abruptly, with “Moments” being her final song to be featured in their commercials. Later on in July, a feud between Max Matsuura and Yoda, an executive at avex trax, caused chaos and scandal. Hamasaki clearly stated that she was set to follow Matsuura and the stock prices in avex plunged. Yoda ended up resigning, effectively ending the feud. However, because of this, she also announced she would not participate in the major music awards anymore. She also announced that she felt she was receiving the same awards every year, and by forfeiting her right to claim awards she was giving opportunity to new singers. This decision threw a fairly bad light over Hamasaki, considering Japan is a country where scandal is considered a taboo. However this also clearly displayed that she was a very powerful artist within avex and she also showed how she was not willing to be a submissive artist, allowing herself to be manipulated by her record label.
In August Hamasaki returned to USA, to film her exotic promotional video “INSPIRE” and travelling overseas to record a summer promotional video became a trend. This single became the second single to contain a DVD Edition and ended up being her highest selling single in 2004. Later on in fall, Hamasaki promoted the “Bvlgari” jewellery line in the prestigious Vogue. Hamasaki also got the honour to have her own wax statue designed in the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Hong Kong. In winter, Hamasaki recorded a predominantly rock album “MY STORY“, which focused on powerful vocals and more mature themes. This album received mixed feelings from her fans, due to focusing on one genre, but it also managed to attract new facts. Eventually this album has sold over 1,131,776 copies.
Almost five months after the release of her 6th album, Hamasaki returned with yet another rock single, “STEP you / is this LOVE?“. This single became her highest selling one in 2005 and also started a string of double a-side singles, which was probably done in an attempt to make up for the increasing illegal downloads and online piracy. Apart from containing two promotional videos, an extra video from her previous album was filmed, “my name’s WOMAN”. This video was second one to have Chiharu and Etsu featured alongside Hamasaki, due to having a more complex choreography. All of these videos were on a high budget and are firm favourites with several fans. Three months later, Hamasaki went to Hawaii to film the promotional video of “fairyland“. This video clip is fairly well known for being Japan’s most expensive video ever recorded and it is also the 8th most expensive music video worldwide. In fall, Hamasaki released a tie-in with a movie, Shinobi. The song “HEAVEN” was a big project for Hamasaki, where she focused on creating an epic power ballad with a strong emotional theme. Her final single for that year was yet another experiment where Hamasaki would travel to New York to film both music videos for the single.
“I can’t write a lie; the world of imagination is no good. I objectively capture my own experiences and those of my friends. I want to put true feelings into words. If I make a song when I’m sad, it’s a dark one, but I think that’s good. No matter when I want to be true to myself.”
However the surprises weren’t over. It was announced that Hamasaki received permission by GEO of Sweetbox to release his compositions in her new album “(miss)understood“. For this reason, “(miss)understood” became a rather experimental album, with a wide variety of genres and a completely different feel from her typical albums. Hamasaki dyed her hair dark brown and sported this new look on her album photoshoot. Unfortunately the album covers are about the ugliest ones she has ever released. This album was fairly successful, but it would fail to sell over a million copies. This would mark the first album to fail to get the million mark. To date it has sold around 877,000 copies.
Asia is One
The following year proved to be a fairly relaxing one to Hamasaki. Surprisingly she released only two singles and an album. The first single, had two important tie-ins with the Winter Olympics and a Capcom game. In summer she went on holiday to Miami to attend a concert of Madonna. Later on she filmed her promotional video of the song “BLUE BIRD” in Guam. This single was marked with a new tie-in with Zespri Gold Kiwi beverage. Since the sales for this beverage were boosted, Hamasaki and Yuri Ebihara were given a gift as a sign of gratitude. The other two songs, included in the single received a tie-in with Panasonic. “BLUE BIRD” was fairly popular in Japan, resulting in her best online-selling single with over 730,000 downloads. With the release of her 40th single Hamasaki’s single sales have passed the 20 million mark, making her the first solo singer to do so. In fall, a single was rumoured to be released, but Hamasaki ended up with an eye infection, leading to yet another period of inactivity. Despite this, Hamasaki received a new contract with Weider and was featured in Leslie Kee’s prestigious project “Super Stars“.
In November, her 8th album, “Secret” was released. Hamasaki reunited with Leslie Kee and release a photoshoot which was outstanding, even for her standards. Hamasaki was featured with a spectacular tattoo, where it is rumoured that the “A” motif is actually a permanent tattoo. This album contained a variety of orchestral, rock and trance hybrids. This album received a lot of attention, especially due to “JEWEL” being one of the most expensive videos ever filmed. Although this album was less successful than her previous albums in Japan, “Secret” has managed to become extremely popular over Asia. This album topped the charts in China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. The song “Secret” was chosen to be the theme song of the movie “Confession of Pain“. In December, Hamasaki attended the premiere of this movie in Hong Kong.
Ayumi Hamasaki also appeared on CNN International, as a part of Talk Asia’s “Japan Now” series which featured the most influential people in the Japanese entertainment industry. Ayu was interviewed by Atika Shubert and surprisingly Ayumi answered some questions in English. During the interview, Hamasaki talked about her feelings towards her own success, her life as a pop icon and her plans for future. She showed interest in performing overseas and also confirmed that she would extend her yearly tour in Asia too.
“Now I’m just thinking about Asia, because I have Asia tour next year from March to end of June. Of course Japan too. This show, it’s going to be real cool, no doubt! I think so or I hope so! So.. but if people will listen, I will go anywhere in the world!”
After the release of “Secret“, avex announced the release of her second best compilation. The compilation was packaged in two albums. Hamasaki released the song “part of Me” to promote this album and it also received a tie-in with Panasonic. All her songs were remastered. Her concert “Best of Countdown Live 2006-2007 A” was included along with the compilations. A special site “abest2.com” was set up on February 15, 2007 to promote and celebrate the release of the album. Both albums combined sold over 1,400,000 copies and ended breaking yet another record. It was the first time in 36.5 years that a female artist has occupied #1 and #2 in the album charts and it is the 1st time in the United World Chart’s history that a solo female artist could top the chart with 2 albums landing at #1 and #2 at the same time.
In the following months, Hamasaki embarked in her first international concert tour, “Tour of Secret” which was successfully completed in June. Hamasaki also merged her Ayupan character with Hello Kitty, which was sold as merchandise with her tour. avex announced that if this product would prove popular, more mergers are planned to be released. Despite of Hamasaki travelling in Asia, a commercial for Weider was released in April. In May, Hamasaki promoted Dior Addict in the prestigious fashion magazine Vogue. The concept of the Asian tour was a huge success. Hamasaki based the whole concept over Leslie Kee’s famous quote “Asia is One”. In this tour, Hamasaki definitely tried to create a connection with her foreign fans. To connect with her fans, Hamasaki learnt some native phrases and also spoke in English. Her fans were also instructed to sing “Poker Face” in Japanese on her 9th anniversary, which was a joyful surprise to the tearful Hamasaki.
“I don’t want to think about that but.. um, because basically, my love is music. Music is my life. If without music, or I can’t sing anymore, it’s like, I die! I’m nothing! Because music is everything, you know? That’s why.”
The following year would prove to be rather difficult for Hamasaki. Soon after the completion of her tour, Hamasaki visited Hong Kong in order to shoot a short film for her summer single titled “glitter/fated“. At the same time, both Hamasaki and Nagase would announce that they decided to break up after their seven-year-long relationship. Both would avoid to explain the reason of their break up and would simply state that now they are on friendly terms.
In September, Hamasaki would release “talkin’ to myself“, where she’d voice her internal philosophical thoughts about her life at that moment. By the end of the year, a close friend of Hamasaki died. In January 2008, Hamasaki would announce to the world that she had an inoperable condition, which caused complete deafness in her left ear. Despite of having lost her hearing, Hamasaki assured her fans in her Team Ayu blog that she still wished to continue her professional career.
“I’ll remember once more that I shouldn’t take for granted the things which I think I’ll always have. You taught me that. It’s miraculous.”
It is therefore not surprising at all that her ninth album, “GUILTY” would contain a dark mood and she would claim that the production of her album was an emotionally draining experience. The album was focused on the feelings she had about her break up, suggesting that there wasn’t a sense of closure in their relationship. Thus it is no surprise that the lyrics are riddled with regret, guilt and loneliness. “GUILTY” would be re-released as a digital album in twenty-six countries.
Present and Future
2008 marked Hamasaki’s 10th anniversary, which was celebrated with style by avex. Coinciding with her debut single release in April, avex would schedule a plethora of releases, including two remix albums, her Asian “Tour of Secret”, a set of vinyls and a single titled “Mirrorcle World“. Furthermore two classic songs, “YOU” and “Depend on You” were re-recorded to commemorate her debut.
Hamasaki flew to Venice to shoot an advertisement for Panasonic. This would mark her first time in Europe. Apparently Hamasaki enjoyed her stay in Europe to much that she would return back to shoot her promotional video “Mirrorcle World”, in Paris. This anniversary single proved to be yet another No.1 hit single for Hamasaki. With the release of this single, Hamasaki reached the record of the only female solo artist to have a number-one single every year for ten consecutive years. Soon after the release of this single, Hamasaki would celebrate her anniversary by touring in Asia for eight months.
During her touring activities, Hamasaki would still remain active with her endorsements with Panasonic and Weider. In summer, Wacoal would announce that Hamasaki was chosen to become their new spokesmodel. In December, Hamasaki landed yet another tie-in, this time with the movie Dragonball: Evolution. This marks Hamasaki’s first global venture.
Although it is doubtful that Hamasaki can return to her musical peak, sales wise, she still remains the most successful entertainer in Japan, in many aspects. The constant breaking of records is a reflection of her continuous success. I am certainly confident enough to believe that her successful days are not over and Hamasaki shall continue her singing career, because she loves the spotlight and her music with a passion.
Ayumi Hamasaki is avex’s most polished and successful product. However I feel that none of this would have become a reality if it was another person other than Hamasaki herself. Ayumi is one of a kind and she has proven it for over her musical career. She has become a legend simply because she is extremely versatile, is passionate about her career and has an eye for spectacular fashion trends. Rather than being another sheep, Hamasaki manages to recreate herself over and over again and walks on her own rules.