In 1996, she started her first solo project. ‘I’ll Be Stronger’ was the first song written by her. The song was released under the artist name ‘Cubic U’.
In 1997, she started her next project. She released her debut single ‘Close To You’ which was a cover of The Carpenter’s Song. This was followed by the release of her debut album, Precious.
In 1997, she moved to Japan where she attended the Seisen International School. Thereafter, she attended the American School in Japan.
Completing her studies, she decided to a make a career out of singing and songwriting. As such, she started working towards it and came up with her debut album, ‘First Love’, which included two successful million selling singles, ‘Automatic/Time Will Tell’ and ‘Movin’ On Without You’.
‘First Love’ went on to sell a total of ten million copies, with seven million copies in Japan and 3 million overseas, thus becoming the highest selling album in Japan’s history. The single ‘First Love’ peaked at number 2 on the charts and number 5 on Japanese radio station.
Two years later, she released her second album, ‘Distance’ which was as big a hit as her first album. Its single, ‘Addicted To You’, ‘Wait & See (Risk)’, ‘For You/Time Limit’ and ‘Can You Keep A Secret’ made it one of the best-selling albums with more than 4.469 million copies sold.
In 2001, she recorded the song, ‘Blow My Whistle’ for action-comedy film, ‘Rush Hour 2’. The song was written by her and included portions of rap by Foxy Brown. The song peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200 Charts, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Soundtracks.
She then released her next album, ‘Deep River’ which included the songs, ‘Travelling’, ‘Hikari’ and ‘Sakura Drops/Letters’, all of which topped the charts. The album went on sell more than 2.35 million copies and gained the top spot at the Oricon Yearly Album charts. It went on to become the eighth best-selling album of all time in Japan.
In 2003, she released the single, ‘Colors’. Unlike her earlier released songs, she changed her genre to heavy ethereal and experimented with tones for this. The venture, however, proved successful as the song went on to become the longest charting single, selling more than 881,000 copies and emerging number 3 on Yearly Singles chart.
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In 2004, she released her first compilation album which became the best-selling album of 2004. It peaked at the number 1 status selling more than 2.575 million copies. The same year, she moved back to New York and released her North American English-language debut album, ‘Exodus’. The album debuted at number 1, selling 500,000 copies in its first week itself.
She followed this up with the release of the album ‘Exodus 04’ which contained the songs ‘You Make Me Want To Become A Man’ and ‘Devil Inside’. Following her international success, she returned to Japan in 2005 and released her album ‘Ultra Blue’ which sold more than one million copies.
She followed this up with ‘Heart Station’ which included the number 1 hit single, ‘Flavor of Life’. The album became the best-selling digital album of Japan, reaching the number 1 status on the charts.
In 2009, she released a new English album titled, ‘This is the One’. The album peaked at number 1 status in Japan. She then sang the theme song of the Evangelion film, ‘Evangelion: 2.0 You can (Not) Advance’. Towards the end of the year, she released Dirty Desire remixes. The song was released on Amazon.com, Zune Marketplace, and the U.S. iTunes Store.
In 2010, she undertook her first international concert tour, ‘Utada: In the Flesh 2010’. It was her first concert tour outside Japan and included eight cities of the US and two dates in London, UK.
In 2010, she announced to go on an indefinite hiatus. However, before the same, she came up with the album, ‘UtadaHikaru Single Collection Vol 2’. The album contained all her Japanese singles
Before her hiatus, she organized a short two-day concert tour, titled Wild Life. The concert was broadcast in 64 cinemas and recorded a total of 925,000 access, with 345,000 unique viewers, which was the highest number of simultaneous accesses of any video.
Soon, Japanese TV made a documentary on her career, which included studio performances by her as well as clips from Wild Life concert performances. It also included an interview of her and her future assignments.
She continued writing music even during her hiatus. In 2012, her newest single, ‘Sakura Nagashi’ was released on Youtube. The single was written by Paul Carter and was taken over as the theme song for the animation movie, ‘Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo’.
In December 2013, to celebrate her 15th anniversary, EMI Records released ‘Utada: In The Flesh 2010’ tour footage and re-released her debut album ‘First Love’. Furthermore, it also released a special limited edition that contained the original album remastered, instrumentals from the original tracks, unreleased tracks and live footage from her first live, ‘Luv Live’