Hamasaki Ayumi (then and now)
It’s hard to believe that all 5’1 of a rebellious teenager raised by a single mother could become Japan’s “Queen of Pop”.
That, however, is exactly what Hamasaki Ayumi did.Called “Ayu” by her fans, her name is one that resonates throughout Asia as the Japanese music phenomenon whose sound, fashion, and image is drawn from, scrutinized, and followed as the newest fad although at 31 years of age it can only be expected that her time as a pop sensation under Avex Trax is slowly coming to a close. And by slowly, I mean after nearly 12 years as a high-profile singer, songwriter, and lyricist who has had a number-one album every year for 11 years in a row (the first artist in the world to ever do so). She’s a warrior pathmaker who destroyed the cookie-cutter ideal of female Asian singers (think unassuming, cute, and boppy) and has the scars to prove it too, having been medically diagnosed as deaf in her left year as of 2006.
Now, we can drone on and on about her many accomplishments, but let it be noted that her art is the crux of the matter here. Her songs range from melancholy and introspective to catchy dance beats, and are all poetry set to music. Despite the many changes to her image that she has made throughout the years as she can be adorable just as easily as she can be edgy, one thing about Ayu is that her down-to-earth honesty just never seems to change. Even with the many eastern and western influences evident in her music videos and her style, there’s something impossibly artless (in terms of being unpracticed) about her.
Enjoy the two videos below!