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The Asian Aperture10 Year Look Back at Utada's Distance
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, June 12, 2011    Share

Way back in 2001, when I was a bored English teacher working in Osaka, Japan, a CD came out that lifted me up from my slump and shot me up into orbit. It is so hard for me to believe that 10 long years have passed since Utada Hikaru unleashed Distance in Japan. Distance covered many diverse musical styles from R & B, to rock, to ballads, and jazz. 4 singles peaked at number 1 and Utada proved that she was no one hit wonder with First Love.

I remember back in 2000, when I was still a college student on a exchange program from USF and going to Kansai Gaidai, seeing Utada's video for Wait & See: Risk. The video was really cool back then because of how realistic the three different Utadas looked using CGI. The song is an extremely addicting pop single that have a good dance beat and stays in your mind long after the end.

I also recall the mega hit Can You Keep a Secret? I heard that song everywhere from Mr. Donuts to First Kitchen and just about every fast food chain that piped in Jpop. It also helped that the J-drama, Hero used Can You Keep a Secret? for its theme song. Hero was a popular drama about a young prosecutor set in Tokyo. Utada has a brief role as a waitress in it.

Among the many hits, Addicted to You sticks out as pure pop pleasure. The great Sony used it for their commercials for Media & Battery Red Hot Campaign. I remember shopping in Den Den Town, Osaka's electronic district, and seeing the limited edition Utada mini discs that came out at that time. I have to buy those mini discs.

If you were anywhere in Japan at all during 2001, you heard one or all four of the singles from Distance. A quick glance at MTV Japan would be showing Utada's videos. Music stores and street vendors were selling merchandise as Utada mania hit. Distance was up against Ayumi Hamasaki's A Best, a greatest hits collection and Distance won out. It was a close race but Distance is the 4th best selling album in Japan and A Best finished at 6th. 2001 was a great year in the history of Jpop, mainly because of the huge impact Utada had with Distance. There were many great albums that came out, however Distance is the only one that I still listen to and enjoy, 10-years later.

If you have any interest in Japanese pop at all, check out Distance and just let it play from start to finish and don't get up unless its to start dancing.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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