Akina Nakamori

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Akina Nakamori
中森明菜
Nakamori Akina in 1985.jpg
Background information
Born (1965-07-13) July 13, 1965 (age 53)
Origin Kiyose, Tokyo, Japan
Genres
Occupation(s)
Years active 1982–present
Labels
Website Official Website

Akina Nakamori (中森明菜, Nakamori Akina, born July 13, 1965) is a Japanese pop singer and actress. She was one of the most popular singers of the 1980s in Japan.[1] She is known for her deep, power-house voice. In 2011, one of the most famous Japanese music program “Music Station” held a special programme where they counted down the Top 50 Idols of All-Time (list spans over 4 decades) based on their sales total - Akina Nakamori was in the 3rd position, with total sales of 25,340,000 copies.

Within two years of her debut, she set herself apart from all the singers of her generation by singing provocative songs, with a chameleon-like image change with the release of each new single. Her mature and rebellious image was to be the direct opposite of the other pop rival, Seiko Matsuda, who projected a girl next door, sweet-natured charm. The media competed them against each other throughout the 1980s, scrutinizing every details of their lives and supposed rivalry. During that period, Nakamori always expressed admiration for Matsuda, even humming her songs when both happened to be on the same shows.

Her hair style and dress sense was widely copied by teens in the 80s. Music wise, her recording company moulded her to be a successor to the mature and sophisticated Momoe Yamaguchi, a singer who retired at age 21 to get married. Her songs were always of heartbreaks, or rebellion, never straying far from the mould.

Career[edit]

1982–1984: Beginning[edit]

After Akina Nakamori passed the test of Star Tanjō! on her 3rd attempt, she made her debut in 1982 with the single "Slow Motion."[2] Her first single "Slow Motion", was recorded in Los Angeles. This was released on 1 May 1982 and sold 174,000 copies, reaching number 30 in the Oricon charts. The 2nd single, "Shōjo A" was nearly banned for its risque lyrics. This single fared better, most likely due to the controversy, and peaked at #5, selling 396,000 copies. Her next single, a ballad titled "Second Love" proved to be her best-selling single. This sentimental piece debuted at #2 but reached No. 1 the following week, staying at the number one spot for 9 weeks. It sold 766,000 copies back then (to date, almost one million). In addition to the single releases, Nakamori also released two albums titled Prologue and Variation that year, which sold 453,000 and 743,000 copies respectively.

The following year Nakamori released three singles, two studio albums and her first best-of album. The singles were "Nibunnoichi no Shinwa", which sold 573,000 copies and debuted at #1, making it her best-selling single of that year. "Twilight & dash; Yūguretayori", released in May, sold 430,000 copies and debuted at #2. But "Kinku", her last single of that year, fared better, debuting at #1 and selling 511,000 copies. All three albums, Fantasy, New Akina Etranger and Best Akina Memoir hit No. 1. Nakamori made the first appearance of her 7 official performance at the ever-popular annual show, the 34th edition of the NKH Red and White Song festival on 31 December 1983. She made a special guest appearance of the 65th (2014) edition performing live from the U.S recording studio while recording for her upcoming new album.

In 1984, Nakamori released "Kita Wing", which sold 614,000 copies, a bit better than her singles from the previous year, but surprisingly it did not become a number 1 hit. It instead debuted at number 2 and remained at that position for 6 weeks. "Kita Wing" is also rumored to be Momoe Yamaguchi's favorite Nakamori Song (Yamaguchi being Nakamori's idol). Her next single "Southern Wind" brought her back to the number 1 spot, though it sold less than its predecessor at 544,000 copies. "Jūkai (1984)" proved to be another number 1 for her, selling 611,000 copies. The 9th single, "Kazari jya naino yo namida wa" proved to be a turning point in Akina Nakamori's career; as the song is considered difficult to sing with super fast lyrics. It debuted at number 1 and sold 625,000 copies. Many in Japan cite this song and her 1986 single, "Desire – Jōnetsu", as Nakamori's signature songs. Her two album releases of that year, Anniversary and Possibility both fared well and hit No. 1.

1985–1986: Commercial peak[edit]

Nakamori kicked off 1985 with "Meu Amore," another great success for her, debuting #1 with 631,000 copies sold ultimately and also winning Nakamori the Grand Prix award at the 27th Japan Record Awards. She became the youngest person at the time (20) to be awarded such an honor. Originally, the single was to be titled "Akaitori Nigeta fly away" (The red bird flies away), but the producers felt that the lyrics were not Samba-ish enough. "Meu Amore" was the result of the newly penned lyrics. "Akaiatori Nigeta fly away" was released as a 12-inch single instead, making the No.1 spot as well. Despite the superb b-side song of Babylon which was remixed, it sold a dismal 354,000 overall. She then released "Sand Beige – Sabaku e" which sold 461,000 copies and debuted at number 1. Her next single, "Solitude" also debuted at number 1, but sold merely 336,000 copies.

She also released two albums in 1985. Firstly, Bitter and Sweet, which contained the album version of the earlier hit of "Kazari Janai No Yo Namida Wa" and "BABYLON." It sold 556,000 copies and debuted at number 1 again. Her next album, D404ME, only had a remix version of the hit single "Meu Amore" included. Yet this album sold an impressive 651,000 copies and debuted at number 1.

In 1986, at 21, Nakamori matured in her singing style and choice of songs. The first single of that year, "Desire – jōnetsu," proved to be one of the highlights in Nakamori's career. This was also the theme song of PIONEER PRIVATE commercial, and was awarded the Grand Prix at the 28th Japan Record Awards in 1986. She became the youngest winner for two consecutive years. It sold 516,000 copies and debuted at number 1. Her next single "Gypsy Queen" was a calmer song than "Desire – jōnetsu" and sold a mere 358,000 copies, but still debuted at number 1. The single "Fin" followed, and sold less than its predecessor, at 318,000 copies. Again, it debuted at number 1.

To commemorate her first 4 years in the business, Nakamori released her first "BEST" album. It sold impressively, 766,000 copies and a comfortable number 1 debut spot. Then Nakamori released Fushigi, a concept album with echoing singing and obscure musical arrangement. It caused quite a stir amongst the mainly conservative Japanese public and thus sold 464,000 copies, nearly 200,000 less than Crimson, an entire album composed by only women, which sold 601,000 copies. But both managed to debut at number 1, Fushigi stayed number 1 for only 3 weeks, while Crimson stayed number 1 for 4.

1987–1989: Decline[edit]

In 1987, she released "Tango Noir," which sold 348,000 copies and debuted at number 1. (Even though sales of singles were declining, Tango Noir still made it to be the 2nd best selling single in 1987). Her next single was a cover of an American song, but she called her version "Blonde." It sold 301,000 copies and added to her No.1 singles. Her most critically acclaimed single of that year was a heartfelt ballad called "Nanpasen," an emotionally draining song which many people attributed to her rocky relationship with then boyfriend, Masahiko Kondō and the death of her mother. It sold 431,000 copies and debuted at number 1.

She released only one album in 1987, an unsuccessful English debut album called "Cross My Palm." It mainly faltered in the United States music industry because of Nakamori's heavily accented English and lack of promotion in the US. Nonetheless, it was a hit in Japan, selling 343,000 copies and debuting at number 1.

On March 3, 1988, Nakamori released album Stock. Three singles were released in 1988, "Al Mauj", "Tattoo" and "I missed the shock." The first two debuted at No. 1.

In 1989, a year fans will remember as very dark for Nakamori, only one single was released due to what was almost a tragedy. "Liar" became her 19th No. 1 single. The single was rumored to reflect her feelings about her then-boyfriend Masahiko Kondō. It came as a shock when news of her attempted suicide in Kondō's apartment broke in July 1989, after he called off their engagement. Luckily, she was found and hospitalized. However, she retreated from the public eye for a while.

1990–present[edit]

Her return to the music scene in 1990 was met with skepticism and curiosity, propelling the single "Dear Friend" to No. 1. Nakamori once claimed that "Dear Friend' is perhaps her only happy song. Nevertheless, she reverted to melancholic, jilted love songs that ultimately did not go well with the public's taste. Her next single "Mizu ni Sashita Hana" became her 21st Oricon #1 single, but she could not reach the top position again after that. The whole decade proved to be a hit or miss musical era for Nakamori, who somewhat lost her definitive direction in her style of music.

Nakamori ventured into acting in the 1990s, with varying success. Kome Kome Club's 1992 single "Kimi ga Iru Dake de," which sold over 2.89 million copies, was the theme song of Japanese television drama Sugao no Mamade in which she played a role.

Her live performances continue to be of very high standard, showcasing her vocals. Her 2000, 2002 and 2003 concerts were huge successes. 2006 marked her 25th anniversary in show business. According to the Oricon Charts, she is one of a handful of singers who manage to have albums in the Top 10 in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s; proving her resilience to the taste changing music industry.

Regardless of her lack of prolific songs in recent years, Nakamori was honored by the Japanese Music critics as the 5th best voice in the country's recording history, even ahead of her rival, Seiko Matsuda, at 7th place.[citation needed]

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

As lead artist[edit]

List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Sales Certifications Album
JPN
Oricon
[3]
"Slow Motion" 1982 30 174,500 Prologue
"Shoujo A" 5 395,500 Variation
"Second Love" 1 765,600 Fantasy
"1/2 no Shinwa" 1983 1 573,100 Best Akina Memoir
"Twilight -Yuugure Dayori-" 2 429,600
"Kinku" 1 511,000
"Kita Wing" 1984 2 614,200 Anniversary
"Southern Wind" 1 543,900 Possibility
"Jikkai (1984)" 1 611,500
"Kazari ja Nai noyo Namida wa" 1 624,800 Bitter and Sweet
"Meu Amor é..." 1985 1 630,700 D404ME
"Akai Tori Nigeta" 1 353,700 Non-album single
"Sand Beige -Sabaku he-" 1 460,700 Best
"Solitude" 1 335,800
"Desire -Jounetsu-" 1986 1 516,000 CD'87
"Gypsy Queen" 1 357,600
"Fin" 1 318,300
"Non-Fiction Ecstacy" 1 61,700 Best II
"Tango Noir" 1987 1 38,100 CD'87
"Blonde" 1 301,400 Best II
"Nampasen" 1 413,000
"Al-Mauj" 1988 1 296,600
"Tattoo" 1 296,800
"I Missed "the Shock"" 3 311,200
"Liar" 1989 1 274,700 Cruise
"Dear Friend" 1990 1 547,900 Best III
"Mizu ni Sashita Hana" 1 339,800
"Futari Shizuka -"Tenkawa Densetsu Satsujin" Jiken yori-" 3 483,700
"Everlasting Love" 1993 10 129,300 Non-album single
"Not Crazy to Me" Unbalance + Balance
"Kataomoi" 1994 17 133,900 Utahime
"Aibu" Unbalance + Balance
"Yoru no Dokokade -Night Shift-" 14 118,000 Non-album single
"Gekka" 8 137,400
"Genshi, Onna wa Taiyou datta" 1995 15 100,200 La Alteración
"Tokyo Rose" 32 35,700 True Album Akina 95 Best
"Moonlight Shadow -Taiyou ni Hoero-" 1996 14 112,500 Shaker
"Appetite" 1997 46 29,400
"Kisei -Never Forget-" 1998 19 94,900 Spoon
"Konnya, Nagareboshi" 66 12,000
"Tomadoi" 40 10,400 Will
"Ophelia" 1999 29 38,500
"Trust Me" 57 4,600
"It's Brand New Day" 2001 - - Resonancia
"The Heat -Musica Fiesta-" 2002 20 14,700
"Days" 2003 30 10,100 I Hope So
"Akai Hana" 2004 40 5,100 Non-album single
"Hajimete Deatta Hi no You ni" 50 6,200
"Rakka Ryusui" 2005 43 5,000 Best Finger 25th Anniversary Selection
"Hana yo Odore" 2006 23 10,400 Destination
"Diva"
(Single Version)
2009 50 1,600 Diva
"Crazy Love" 2010 - - Non-album single
"Rojo -Tierra-" 2014 8 25,400 Fixer
"Unfixable" 2015 20 8,500
"Fixer -While the Women are Sleeping-" 2016 32 4,300

Albums[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak positions Sales
(JPN)
Certifications
JPN
Oricon

[4]
Prologue 5 453,100
Variation
  • Released: October 27, 1982
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 742,900
Fantasy
  • Released: March 23, 1983
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 615,700
New Akina Étranger
  • Released: August 10, 1983
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 482,100
Anniversary
  • Released: May 8, 1984
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 483,400
Possibility
  • Released: October 10, 1984
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 629,200
Bitter and Sweet
  • Released: April 3, 1985
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 573,700
D404ME
  • Released: August 10, 1985
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 651,100
Fushigi
  • Released: August 11, 1986
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 463,100
Crimson
  • Released: December 24, 1986
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 600,800
Cross My Palm
  • Released: August 25, 1987
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 347,700
Stock
  • Released: March 3, 1988
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
2 395,800
Femme Fatale
  • Released: August 3, 1988
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 268,800
Cruise
  • Released: July 25, 1989
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • LP
    • cassette
    • CD
    • digital download
1 327,000
Unbalance + Balance
  • Released: September 22, 1993
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • cassette
    • digital download
4 186,600
  • RIAJ: Gold
La Alteración
  • Released: July 21, 1995
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
7 149,100
Shaker
  • Released: March 21, 1997
  • Label:
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
14 43,600
Spoon
  • Released: June 17, 1998
  • Label:
    • This One
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
17 22,800
Will
  • Released: December 1, 1999
  • Label:
    • This One
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
52 4,900
Resonacia
  • Released: May 22, 2002
  • Label:
    • Universal
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
15 31,000
I Hope So
  • Released: May 14, 2003
  • Label:
    • Universal
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
15 18,000
Destination
  • Released: June 21, 2006
  • Label:
    • Universal
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
20 10,300
Diva
  • Released: August 26, 2009
  • Label:
    • Universal
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
29 6,900
Fixer
  • Released: December 30, 2015
  • Label:
    • Universal
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
7 14,000
Akina
  • Released: November 8, 2017
  • Label:
    • Universal
  • Formats:
    • CD
    • digital download
9 10,500
"—" denotes items which did not chart.

Live albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak positions Sales
(JPN)
Certifications
JPN
Oricon

[4]
Akina East Live Index-XXIII 6 131,300
Listen to Me 5 183,000
"—" denotes items which did not chart.

Cover albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak positions Sales
(JPN)
Certifications
JPN
Oricon

[4]
Utahime 5 140,500
Zero Album: Utahime 2 10 229,700
  • RIAJ: Gold
Utahime 3: Shumaku 25 31,700
Utahime Best: 25th Anniversary Selection 9 43,500
Enka 10 61,400
  • RIAJ: Gold
Folk Song: Utahime Jojoka 30 18,000
Mood Kayo: Utahime Showa Meikyokyu Shu 30 6,400
Folk Song 2: Utahime Aishoka 33 8,100
All Time Best: Utahime Cover 7 56,500
Utahime 4: My Egg Benedict 5 26,500
Belie 8 22,800
Cage 8 11,700
"—" denotes items which did not chart.

Compilations[edit]

  1. Best Akina Memoir 21 December 1983
  2. Best 1 April 1986
  3. Best II 24 December 1988
  4. Best III 10 November 1992
  5. Your Selection – The Very Best of Akina 25 April 1993
  6. Lyriscism – Ballad Collection 10 July 1993
  7. Akina 10 November 1993
  8. Mouhitori no Akina 10 December 1993
  9. Namida no Kawarini... – Ballad Collection II 25 March 1994
  10. Play With The Danger – Rock Collection 25 March 1994
  11. Only Woman – Best of Love Songs 18 May 1994
  12. Akina Nakamori Singles 27 1982-1991 30 November 1994
  13. True Album – Akina 95 Best 6 December 1995
  14. Akina Nakamori – Collection 1982-1991 1 May 1996
  15. Akina Nakamori Super Best 4 March 1998
  16. Recollection – Akina Nakamori Super Best 25 May 1998
  17. Regeneration – Nakamori Akina Remix 25 June 1998
  18. Regeneration – Nakamori Akina Remix II 25 September 1998
  19. Akina Nakamori – Best Collection 21 October 1998
  20. Akina Nakamori Special Best 20 10 1999
  21. The Century of Akina – Warner 30th Anniversary Box 22 November 2000
  22. Akina Nakamori 20th Anniversary Best 14 November 2001
  23. For Dear Friends – Akina Nakamori Single Collection Box 21 August 2002
  24. Akina Nakamori – Utahime Double Decade 4 December 2002
  25. Unbalance+Balance + 6 4 December 2002
  26. Utahime Special Edition 4 December 2002
  27. La Alteracion + 4 4 December 2002
  28. Shaker + 3 4 December 2002
  29. Akina Nakamori Singles 27 1982-1991 26 February 2003
  30. Utahime Complete Box Empress Akina Nakamori 1994–2004 1 December 2004
  31. Best Finger 25th Anniversary Selection 11 January 2006
  32. Akina Box Akina Nakamori 1982 - 1989 – 25th Anniversary Special Box 21 June 2006
  33. Utahime Best 25th Anniversary Selection 27 February 2007
  34. Ballad Best 25th Anniversary Selection 28 March 2007
  35. Diva Legend '90s BEST 27 February 2008
  36. Best Collection Love Songs & Pop Songs 11 July 2012
  37. BURNING LOVE ~Jounetsu no Natsu BEST 6 June 2014
  38. ALL TIME BEST -Original- 6 August 2014
  39. ALL TIME BEST -Utahime (Cover)- 6 August 2014

Special releases[edit]

  1. Silent Love 21 December 1984
  2. My Best Thanks 21 December 1985
  3. Non-Fiction Ecstasy 10 November 1986
  4. Wonder 1 June 1988
  5. Vamp 18 December 1996

Extended plays[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak positions Sales
(JPN)
Certifications
JPN
Oricon

[4]
Seventeen 1 142,100
Silent Love 2 282,000
My Best Thanks 1 294,700
CD'87 1 159,900
Wonder 2 117,600
Vamp 30 31,800
"—" denotes items which did not chart.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]