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 56)
OriginKiyose, Tokyo, Japan
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • actress
  • producer
Years active1982–present
Labels
Websitenakamoriakina.com

Akina Nakamori (中森明菜, Nakamori Akina, born July 13, 1965) is a Japanese singer and actress. She is one of the most popular and top selling artists in Japan.[1] Akina achieved national recognition when she won the 1981 season of the talent show Star Tanjō!. Her debut single "Slow Motion" was released to moderate success, peaking at number thirty on the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart. However, Nakamori's popularity increased with the release of her follow-up single, "Shōjo A", which peaked at number five on the Oricon charts and sold over 390,000 copies. Her second album Variation became her first number-one on the Oricon Weekly Albums Chart, staying in that position for three weeks. She made her acting debut in 1985 with an appearance in the Japanese romance movie Ai, Tabidachi. After an extended hiatus from 2010 to 2014, Akina released two compilation album, All Time Best: Original and All Time Best: Utahime Cover, both of which were commercially successful. As of 2011, Akina has sold over 25.3 million records and was named the third best-selling female Japanese idol singer of all-time.[2]

Within two years of her debut, Nakamori set herself apart from other singers of her generation with her mature songs and ability to change her image with the release of each new single, much like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. This provocative and rebellious image was to be the direct opposite of her pop rival, Seiko Matsuda, who projected more of a girl next door, sweet-natured charm.

Career[edit]

1982–1984[edit]

After Akina Nakamori passed the test of Star Tanjō! on her third attempt, she made her debut in 1982 with the single "Slow Motion."[3] Recorded in Los Angeles, the single was released on 1 May 1982 and sold 174,000 copies, reaching No. 30 on the Oricon charts. The second single, "Shōjo A" was nearly banned for its risque lyrics. This single fared better, most likely due to the controversy, and peaked at No. 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 No. 2 but reached No. 1 the following week, staying at the top for nine 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 (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 Memoires 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. "Jukkai (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[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" (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. "Akaitori Nigeta" 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 the 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 four 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 at number 1 for only three weeks, while Crimson topped the charts for four.[4]

1987–1989[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 Kondō's mother. It sold 431,000 copies and debuted at number 1.

She released only one album in 1987, an unsuccessful English debut album titled 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 U.S. 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 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. She was found and hospitalized. However, she retreated from the public eye for a while.[4][5]

1990–1997[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. In autumn 1990 she was slated to release a new studio album Gaze, which would include singles Mizu ni Sashita Hana and ten more songs written by writer Eikyo Kyo.[6][7] Due to issues with the record label, soon after her two-day live concert Yume, Nakamori left Warner Pioneer and the album remained unreleased.

In 1991 and 1992, Nakamori ventured into acting 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.

In 1993, she transferred to the record company MCA Records and signed under the label MCA Victor.[8] On 21 May 1993, she released her 27th single Everlasting Love, written and produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Two years had passed since the release of her previous single Futari Shizuka. According to the recording producer, Nakamori distanced herself from her casual style, and, along with her new music production staff, aimed more for a contemporary style with this release.[9] The single debuted at number 10 on the Oricon Weekly Single charts and charted for 5 weeks.

On 24 March 1994, Nakamori had a double release for her 28th single: her first cover single Kataomoi, originally performed by Mie Nakao and her first cover album Utahime. The B-side track Aibu was written by Komuro Tetsuya. This track is widely popular among fans, and Nakamori has performed it very often during live tours.[10] Plans were made to release Aibu as a single, however, it was decided that the start-up single would be Everlasting Love. The single debuted at number 17 on the Oricon Weekly Single charts and charted for 8 weeks. The main producer of cover album Utahime was Nakamori herself, and the main arranger was Akira Senju. The album debuted at number 5 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and chart for 9 weeks. In 2002, a re-mastered version of the album was released through Universal Music.

On 13 April 1994, Nakamori played a role as the first suspect on the TV Series Furuhata Ninzaburō in the episode titled The Shoujo Manga Murderer.

On 2 September 1994, Nakamori released her 29th single Yoru no Dokokade: Night Shift, written by Tsugutoshi Gotō. The single was promoted as the ending theme for Nippon Television Network System news program NNN Kyou Dekigoto and the B-side track Rose Bud was promoted as the ending theme for Fuji TV talk program Shingo to Shinsuke no Abunai Hanashi. The single debuted at number 14 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for 7 weeks.

On 22 September 1993, Nakamori released her 15th studio album Unbalance+Balance. Four years had passed since the release of her previous studio album Cruise. The production of the album started in spring 1992 in the United States, before Nakamori moved to her new recording company. The album consists of two previously released singles' B-side tracks, Not Crazy To Me and Aibu. Not Crazy To Me had a renewed arrangement. Two of the album tracks were written by Nakamori herself. The album tracks Eien no Tobira and Kagerou are melodically the same, however, they have completely different lyrics and themes. The idea was realized thanks to Nakamori's proposal to change the arrangement.[11] The album debuted at number 4 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for 9 weeks. In 2002, through Universal Music, Nakamori released a re-mastered album with the renewed title Unbalance+Balance +6. This version of the album included six more additional tracks, singles and their b-side tracks released between 1993 and 1994.

On 5 October 1994, she released her 30th single Gekka, written by Shuugou Kajiwara. The single was promoted as a commercial song for Miki Corporation's Boutique Joy. In this single Nakamori returned to a more traditional melody, similar to her previous single Futari Shizuka, albeit with a more dramatical melody and difficult vibrato. The single debuted at number 8 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for 7 weeks.

Between 1 and 5 December 1994, she held a special live titled Utahime Parco Theatre Live in the Parco Theatre. It was her first live show in two years. The set-list consists of songs from two previously released albums, Utahime and Unbalance+Balance with a small number of previously released hits. DVD footage of the performance was released on 24 March 1995.

On 21 June 1995, she released her 31st single Genshi, Taiyou wa Onna datta, written by Osamu Masaki. Akina stated she wanted to record a summery, uptempo song due to the fact that previous singles were quiet ballads.[12] The single debuted at number 15 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for 5 weeks.

On 21 July 1995, Nakamori released her 16th studio album La Alteración which included previously released singles with new arrangements. In the Spanish, alteracion means change. As in her previous studio album, Nakamori was in charge of the main production of the album. The album jacket was shot in Morocco. The album debuted at number 7 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for 8 weeks. In 2002, through Universal Music label Nakamori released a re-mastered album with the renewed title La Alteración +4. This version of the album included four more additional tracks, two singles and their b-side tracks released during 1995.

On 1 November 1995, Nakamori released her 32nd single Tokyo Rose, produced by Brian Setzer who was played guitar on the recording. It was her first single in the Rockabilly genre. The single debuted at number 32 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for 4 weeks.

On 6 December 1995, Nakamori released a compilation album True Album Akina 95 Best. It was her first compilation album released under the label MCA Victor. The compilation album was divided intoa 3-CD set: World Disc, Wild Disc, and Whisper Disc, with 7 tracks included in each CD. Nakamori was the main producer of the album. The album consisted of re-arranged hits released in the '80s and various singles and album tracks released during the first half of the '90s. Wild Disc included the new unreleased song Shangrilla, exclusively recorded for that album. The album debuted at number 16 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for 7 weeks.

Between 12 and 16 December 1995, Nakamori held a special concert titled Nakamori Akina True Live in Hyogo's Kobe International House and Kanagawa's Pacifico Yokohama. She performed songs from her albums La Alteración and True Album Akina 95 Best. The live footage was never released as a regular DVD, however, it was included in the limited edition of her compilation album Utahime Densetsu: 90s Best.

In 1996, she celebrated the 15th anniversary of her debut.

In April 1996, she appeared on the first broadcast of the Japanese variety program SMAP×SMAP, performing Kazarijanai yo Namida wa, Tattoo, Ganbarimashou and Desire with the band Smap.

Between 12 and 20 May 1996, Nakamori held her first Dinner Show Tour, 1996 Dinner Show.[13]

On 7 August 1996, Nakamori released her 33rd single Moonlight Shadow. Tsuki ni Moero, written and produced by Tetsuya Komuro. It was their second collaboration since the single Aibu. Komuro finished the composition around May and the recording in June.[14] The B-side did not include new songs, instead including a remixed version of the lead track. The single debuted at number 14 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for 7 weeks.

On 18 December 1996, Nakamori released the mini album Vamp, her first mini-album since the release of mini-album Wonder in 1988. Nakamori was once again the album producer. The mini-album consisted of four songs which weren't included in any studio album and appeared only once before, in the first press edition of the compilation album Utahime Densetsu: 90s Best. Before the album release, she performed all four songs in her second dinner tour show 1996 Xmas Dinner Show (held between 5 and 26 December). The album debuted at number 30 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for 5 weeks.

On 21 February 1997, she released 34th single Appetite, written by Uki. It was released as the lead single to her upcoming studio album. For Nakamori it was one of the most difficult melodies to practice.[15] The single debuted at number 46 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for 4 weeks.

On 21 March 1997, Nakamori released her 17th studio album Shaker. Nakamori was once again the album producer. The album consisted of two previously released singles with new arrangements. In the newspaper Asahi Shinbun, Nakamori explained that the album's melody crosses from digital into acoustic sounds, and that she carefully choose songs which she could sing in her own key.[16] The album debuted at number 14 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for 5 weeks. It was her final release under the MCA Victor label. In 2002, a re-mastered album with the renewed title Shaker +3 was released under Universal Music. This version of the album included three additional tracks, singles with original arrangement and one b-side track. Between 3 May and 21 June 1997, she held a live tour titled Felicidad, her first tour in almost 9 years. The DVD footage was released on 22 September 1997 through Universal Music. After the tour, she officially left MCA Records.

1998–1999[edit]

In 1998, Nakamori moved to the Gauss Entertainment record label. In January, she played a main role in the Japanese television drama Tsumetai Tsuki.[17] It was her first main role since Sugao no Mama de. She also performed the theme song Kisei: Never Forget written by Yasuhiro Suzu. The single was released on 11 February. Nakamori stated that the balance between low and high pitches were difficult for her to sing. The single debuted at 19 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and sold 94k copies. The B-side track was a remastered version of previous album track Tsuki ga Aoku, which was released on the studio album Shaker.[18]

On 21 May 1998, Nakamori released her thirty-sixth single Konya Nagare Hoshi written by Keiko Utsumi. The single debuted at number 66 on the Oricon Single Weekly Charts. The B-side track Arashi no Nakade was written by the Russian singer Origa. It was one of her worst-selling singles throughout her two decade career.

On 17 June 1998, Nakamori released her eighteenth studio album Spoon. The album included two previously released promotional singles. Five out of eleven songs were arranged by Ikurou Fujiwara. In the album booklet, Nakamori is credited as a main producer of the album.[19] The album debuted at number 17 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for three weeks. Between 21 June and 17 July, Akina held the national live tour Spoon Tour.[20][21] The video footage was never released on DVD as of 2019.

On 23 September 1998, she released her 37th single Tomadoi written by Juni. Tomadoi was selected as theme theme song for the Japanese television drama 39Sai no Aki. B-side track Good-bye tears was also chosen as the theme song for a Japanese television drama, Nananin no OL Sommelier, in which Akina played a minor role. The single debuted at number forty on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts.

On 3 and 4 November 1998, she held a special live show Symphonic Concert '98 with Symphonic A Orchestra.

In January 1999, Nakamori played a main role in the television drama Border—Hanzai Shinri Sōsa File. She also performed the theme song Ofelia, written by Shimano Satoshi, which was released as a single on 21 January 1999. the title "Ofelia" comes from Shakespeares's famous play Hamlet. In this single, Nakamori tried to interpret the character Ofelia's sadness in lyrics, however, she also wanted to sing to all people who were suffering with pain and sadness.[22] The B-Side track was an alternative version of Ofelia under the title To be, which was sung in English. The single debuted at number 29 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for 8 weeks.

The chief of the Gauss Entertainment recording label, Kazuhiro Chiba, caused issues throughout Nakamori's stay with the label: in late 1998, it was announced that a special birthday event would be held in July 1999, however this was cancelled without warning and the 8000 yen refund took about one year. In early December, at a special press conference, Chiba stated that Nakamori was a "troublemaker, who shouldn't exist in the music industry." The cancellation of her contract was announced at the end of the press conference. The cancellation was to take place in December.[23][24][25]

On 21 December 1999, Nakamori's final single with Gauss Entertainment, Trust me (written by Kazuhiro Hara) and her 19th studio album, Will, were released. Trust me debuted at number 57 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts. It is Akina's worst-selling single as of 2019. The B-side track Yuki no Hana, subtitled White X'mas, was a rearranged version of a previously released studio album track. Some fans regard the studio album Will as a compilation album from the Gauss label. It included two previously released singles and remixes of previously released album tracks and Gauss singles. The album track Tsuki no Hohoemi was chosen as a theme song for the video game series Wizardry. The original soundtrack of Wizardry Digmuil included the acoustic and orchestral version of this song, both written by Ikurou Fujiwara. The album had only three new songs. On Nakamori's official website, the album is not even listed in the list of original studio albums. The album was produced by Gauss's director, Kazuhiro Chiba. The album debuted at number 52 on the Oricon Weekly Album charts and charted for one week.

2000–2010[edit]

In 2000, Nakamori signed a temporary contract with the music production company Koubouraku and established a private office called Faith (nowadays known as a Nakamori's fanclub, Faithway).[26] Between 18 May and 27 June 2000, she held a national acoustic tour Akina Nakamori 2000: 21 Seiki he. It was her first national tour in two years. Video footage of the tour was included in the limited edition version of her compilation album All Time Best: Original, released in 2014.

On 31 May 2001, Nakamori released the single It's brand new day, written by Aya. It was her first time to release a single in two years, and her first R&B song.[27] The single was released under the indies label @ease. The single was released at first as a digital single via the music stream website Music@nifty, then three months later it was released as a standard CD.[28]

Between 6 June and 13 July, she held a national tour titled All About Akina 20th Anniversary It's Brand New Day. It was her national tour in a year. On 27 September, the whole show was released on DVD under the Tokuma Japan Communications record label. The live footage was recorded on 22 June at Tokyo International Forum.

2002 marked 20 years since Nakamori debuted. Nakamori switched management from Koubouroku to the private office Faith, and transferred to her current record label, Universal Music.[29] To celebrate her first release under her new recording company, she released a cover album titled Zero Album: Utahime 2 on 20 March 2002. In the album booklet, she was credited as the album's main producer.[30] The album debuted at number 10 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts. It was her first album to debut in the top 10 on the Oricon Charts since her 1995 studio album La Alteración.[31][32]

On 2 May 2002, Nakamori released her forty-first single The Heat: Musica Fiesta, written by Adya. It was also her first release under Universal Music. The B-side track were included in her studio album as instrumental recordings. In the media the single was selected as the May ending theme for the Tokyo Broadcasting System Television program Wonderful. The single debuted on number 20 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts.

Three weeks later on 22 May 2002, Nakamori released her 20th studio album Resonancia. It was her first album released under Universal Music, and her first album in three years. In Spanish, "Resonancia" means "Sound."[33] The main instrumental concept of the album was an R&B and Latin rhythm feeling.[34] Uru is credited as the main producer of the album in the album booklet. The album included a re-arranged version of previous singles It's brand new day and The Heat: Musica Fiesta. The main writer of the album was Adya. Japanese singer Ken Hirai provided back-up vocals for one of the album tracks. The album debuted at number 15 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for four weeks. Between 27 May and 13 July she held a live tour, Musica Fiesta Tour 2002.[35]

On 4 December 2002,Nakamori released DVD footage of the Musica Fiesta Live Tour and a self-cover compilation album Akina Nakamori: Utahime Double Decade. The album included self-covers with renewed arrangements and a lowered key to fit her current voice. The album debuted at number 8 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts. She performed the re-arranged version of Kazarajanai no yo Namida wa at NHK's 53rd Kōhaku Uta Gassen.[36] It was Akina's first appearance in Kōhaku Uta Gassen after 14 years.[37]

On 30 April 2003, Nakamori released her forty-second single Days, written by Tetsuro Oda. The song was chosen as the ending theme for TV Tokyo's television drama Onnna to Ai to Mystery. The B-side track Ruriiro no Chikyuu was the commercial song for Au and Hana was the theme song for NHK-BS1 television program Chikyuu Walker. The single debuted at number 30 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for four weeks.

On 14 May 2003, Nakamori released her 21st studio album I hope so. The title of the album, I hope so, came from a conversation which she had with her home-stay family regarding her English skills, when she studied abroad in the United States for a month.[38] In the album booklet, Satoshi Takebe is credited as the main producer and arranger of the album. Four album tracks were written by Nakamori herself. The album contains one previously released single. The album track I hope so was chosen as a commercial song for Japan Railways Group. This track later appeared as a b-side on the special single Diva. The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included the music video for Days. The album debuted at number 15 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts.

Starting one day after the album release, between 15 May and 13 July 2003, Nakamori held the live tour Akina Nakamori Live Tour 2003 - I hope so -.[39][40] On 17 December 2003, live footage of the tour was released as a DVD. The footage consisted of footage from the 11th July show, held at the Tokyo International Forum.

On 12 May and 7 July 2004, she collaborated with Korean music producer Kim Hyung Seok on singles Akai Hana and Hajimete Deatta Hi no You ni.[41] Hajimete Deatta Hi no You ni is a cover of a Korean's singer Park Yong-ha performed in Japanese. This was her first time in 19 years to release a single with the same melody but different lyrics (Mi Amore/Akai Tori ga Nigeta). Akai Hana debuted at number 40 and Hajimete Deatta Hi no You ni debuted at number 50 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts.

Between 15 May and 13 July, she held the live tour Akina Nakamori A-1 tour 2004 across 17 cities. As of 2019, there is no video footage.

On 3 December 2004, Nakamori released her third cover album Utahime 3: Finale.[42] All album tracks were arranged by Akira Senju. The producer of the album was Nakamori herself. The album debuted at number 25 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts.

Between 7 and 17 July 2005, Nakamori held a special live tour Akina Nakamori Special Live 2005 Empress at Club Ex. The live tour was divided into a mix of cover songs previously released on the Utahime cover album, and original tracks. DVD footage of this live tour was released on 11 January 2006 under the avex trax label.

On 7 December 2005, Nakamori released her forty-fifth single Rakka Ryuusei, written by Kenji Hayashida. The B-side included a rock version of Desire. In the media the single was chosen as the theme song for the Japanese television drama Tenka Souran. The single debuted at number 43 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for four weeks.

2006 marked 25 years since her debut.

In January 2006, Nakamori released her second self-cover compilation album, Best Finger 25th Anniversary Selection. The album included re-recorded songs and singles released between 2004 and 2005. In April 2006, she played a minor role in the television drama Primadame. It was her first acting role in 7 years.[43][44] She also performed the drama's theme song Hana yo Odore, which was released on 17 May, written by Hitoshi Haba. The single cover jacket was an illustration done by Nakamori herself when she attended ballet lessons during her early childhood.[45] The single charted at number 23 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for six weeks.

On 21 June 2006, Nakamori released her twenty-second studio album Destination. It was her first studio album released in three years. In this album, she returned to the R&B music style for the first time since the Renesancia album, released in 2002. During fan meets, Nakamori herself stated that she doesn't dislike any of the songs in the album and recommends for everyone to listen it.[46] The album Destination consisted of two previously released singles with new album arrangements. Eight out of eleven songs were arranged by Yousuke Suzuki. Two track were written by Nakamori herself under the pen-name Miran:Miran. The album cover jacket was originally from the pamphlet of the Femme Fatale live tour from 1988.[47] The album debuted at number 20 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for four weeks. Between 24 June and 8 August, she held the live tour Akina Nakamori Live Tour 2006: The Last destination.

On 17 January 2007, Nakamori put out multiple releases: footage from her live tour The Last Destination, and her first cover compilation album Utahime Best: 25th Anniversary. This compilation album consisted of cover songs which were released in the compilation album series Utahime and three new cover songs which were previously unreleased.[48] The producer of the album was once again Nakamori herself. Fourteen of the sixteen songs were re-arranged by Akira Senju. For album jacket, she wore a light dandelion fluff wig.[49] The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included a DVD with video footage from several of Nakamori's recording sessions. The album debuted at number 10 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts. It was her first album in four years to debut in the Top 10.[50]

On 28 March 2007, Nakamori released the ballad compilation album Ballad Best: 25th Anniversary Selection. The album was released as the part of the celebration for her 25th debut anniversary. Album tracks consisted of previously released songs from past compilation albums along with one new song Ano Natsu no Hi. However the tracks Solitude, Nanpasen and Kisei: Never Forget received completely new arrangements. The producer of the album was Nakamori herself. The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included a DVD digest of footage from her first live tour Akina Milkyway '83 Haru no Kaze wo Kanjite.[51] The album debuted at number 13 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for seven weeks.

On 27 June 2007, she released her first enka cover album Enka.[52] The album track selection was based on a fan survey held between 12 April and 15 May, in total more than 23k fans responded.[53][54] The results were later announced on her page on the Universal Music site. Nine out of thirteen tracks were arranged by Akira Senju, who is credited along with Nakamori as a main producer of the album.[55] The album was released in regular edition, cassette tape and two limited editions: the first limited edition included DVD footage with music video clips from 2002 to 2007 and footage of Nakamori recording the album; the second limited edition included a bonus track in the first CD, and the second CD consisted of instrumental versions of Enka covers. There were two types of album jackets: first and second limited edition had a bust-up photo of Nakamori with special makeup with a Japanese umbrella in the upper part of jacket. The regular and cassette editions featured similar makeup, however the hairstyle was different.[56] The album turned out to be a big success: it debuted at number 10 on the Oricon Weekly Album chart and charted for twelve weeks. Later it was rewarded with the RIAJ Gold Disc[57] and Japan Record Awards.[58]

On 27 February 2008, Nkaamori released her first compilation album of her songs from the 90s, Utahime Densetsu: 90s Best. The album consisted of songs released between 1991 and 1999. The album was released in regular and limited editions: while the regular edition had one disc with 13 tracks (a mix of singles and b-sides), the limited edition included four discs which consisted of three CDs with various album tracks and DVD footage of her special live show Akina Nakamori True Live, filmed in 1995. The third disc included a previously unrecorded duet Second Love, with the writer of the song, Takao Kisugi.[59] The album debuted at number 33 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for three weeks.

On 19 November 2008, Nakamori performed a duet titled Dramatic Airport with Junichi Inagaki. The song was included in Inagaki's cover album Otoko to Onna: Two hearts Two voices.[60]

On 24 December 2008, she released a new cover album titled Folk Song: Utahime Jojouka. The album contains covers of folk songs released during the '70s.[61] Among 200 songs which Nakamori considered, she chose eleven to record.[62] The producer of the album was Yuuji Toriyama. The album was released in one regular edition and five limited editions with a different color jacket of an image of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol. The limited-edition A includes DVD footage of Nakamori recording the album. The album debuted at number 30 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for seven weeks.

On 24 June 2009, Nakamori released another cover album,Mood KayōkyokuMood Kayō: Utahime Shōwa Meikyoku Shū. The album consisted of Mood Kayōkyoku songs released between the 1960s and 1970s.[63] Youichi Murata reprise his role as a sound arranger for the first time since her self-cover compilation album Utahime Double Decade. The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included a DVD of recording footage of three of the album tracks. The album debuted at number 30 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for three weeks.

On 29 July 2009, Nakamori released a music video clip DVD (Clip 2002-2007 & more) and a second album in her folk song cover series, Folk Song 2: Utahime Aishouka. Toriyama reprised his role as sound producer and main arranger. The album cover jacket was a caricature by Japanese caricaturist Kage.[64] The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included DVD footage of Nakamori recording the album. The album debuted at number 33 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts.

Between 18 and 28 August 2009, Nakamori held another special live tour, titled Akina Nakamori Special Live 2009 “Empress at Yokohama”. The live tour consisted of cover tracks which she released through her various cover albums. DVD footage of the live tour was released on 18 August 2010. As of 2019, it is her last tour.

On 26 August 2009, Nakamori released her twenty-third studio album, Diva. It was her first studio album in three years since Destination. The album had ten newly recorded songs. In this album, she collaborated with various producers from overseas such as Rodney Alejandro, Matt Tishler and Jeniffer Karr. One of the album tracks was written by Nakamori under her pseudonym Miran:Miran. The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included a bonus disc with remixes of the tracks Diva and Heartache. The album debuted at number 29 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and charted for three weeks.

On 23 September 2009, Nakamori released a special single titled Diva: Single version with a new intro arrangement with two B-side tracks, the original version of Heartache, which was previously released only as a single and a re-recorded album track, I hope so, from the album of the same name. The single debuted at number 50 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts.

On 13 July 2010, Nakamori wrote and released a digital single, Crazy Love. The single was released via the streaming services Chaku-Uta and Recochoku. It was used as background music for pachinko slot parlors. For players who won the full combination of points, a short music video clip of Crazy Love was shown.[65]

On 28 October 2010, Nakamori's staff announced her indefinite hiatus from music activities due to fatigue and health problems.[66][5]

On 22 December 2010, a 6-DVD set box Nakamori Akina in Hit Studio[67] and on 15 December 2011, a 5-DVD set box The Best Ten Nakamori Akina Premium Box were released.[68]

2014–2017[edit]

On 4 August 2014, Universal Music released two best albums on the same day: All Time Best: Original and All Time Best: Utahime (Cover).[69][70][71] All Time Best: Original consisted of Nakamori's biggest hits from between 1982 and 2009, her previously released digital single, and a new song Sweet Rain. The All Time Best: Original album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included live footage from Akina Nakamori 2000: 21 Seiki he. The album debuted at number 3 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts. It was recognized by RIAJ. All Time Best: Utahime (Cover) consisted of cover songs which Nakamori released between 1994 and 2009. The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included live footage from Songs: Nakamori Akina Utahime Special. The album debuted at number 7 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts.

On 31 December 2014, Nakamori made a stage appearance for the first time in several years, appearing in that year's Kouhaku Utagassen, broadcast from her recording studio in New York. In the broadcast she performed her new song Rojo: Tierra. With this comeback she also announced her complete return to the music industry.[72][73][74]

On 20 January 2015, Nakamori released a new cover album, Utahime 4: My Eggs Benedict. It was her first cover album in 6 years and the first new addition to the Utahime album series in 11 years. Unlike the previous cover album, this album featured J-pop songs released during the '90s–'00s.[75][76]

On 21 January 2015, Nakamori wrote and released her 49th single Rojo-Tierra.[77][78] It was her first single released in five years. The single was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included a making-of video clip of Rojo-Tierra. The single debuted at number 8 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and charted for eight weeks. The single was awarded by the Japan Gold Disc Award as the Best Enka/Kayokuyoku Artist.[79]

On 30 September 2015, Nakamori released her 50th single Unfixable, written by Hilde Wahl, Anita Lipsky, Tommy Berre and Marietta Constantinou.[80][81][82][83] For the first time in 28 years, Nakamori put out an original song in English. The single was released in regular and limited editions: limited edition included image footage of unfixable. The single debuted at number 20 on the Oricon Single Weekly Charts and debuted at number 3 on the Recochoku Single Weekly Charts.

On 30 December 2015, Nakamori released her twenty-fourth studio album, Fixer. It was her first studio album since her hiatus.[84][85] The album consists of two previously released singles from 2015, both in original and album re-arranged versions, which are listed as bonus tracks. The album version of Fixer: While the Women are Sleeping was chosen as a movie theme song for the movie Onna ga Nemuru Toki. It was her first movie theme song in 24 years.[86] The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included a DVD music video clip of Fixer: While the Women are Sleeping. The album debuted at number 7 on the Oricon Weekly Album Charts and debuted at number 8 on the Recochoku Weekly Album Charts.

2016 marked 35 years since her debut.

On 24 February 2016, Nakamori released the single Fixer: While the Women are Sleeping, written by Nakamori herself. The CD doesn't start with the lead song, but instead the B-side track, Hirari: Sakura, written by Kouhei Munemoto and a member of the band Porno Graffitti, Haruichi Shindō. It was her first original song about Sakura', Japanese cherry blossoms.'[87][88] The single debuted at number 32 on the Oricon Weekly Single Chart.

On 30 November 2016, Nakamori released a jazz cover album titled Belie. The album consists of songs from various periods with jazz arrangements and a rhythmic feeling.[89][90] The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition includes a DVD of music video clips of all the cover songs. The album debuted at number 8 on the Oricon Weekly Album Chart and debuted at number 5 on the Recochoku Weekly Album Chart. On 21 December 2016, a renewed version of the cover album titled Belie+Vampire was released. Vampire consists of 6 cover tracks as part of the upcoming celebration of her 35th debut anniversary.

On 8 November 2017, Nakamori released both a Eurobeat cover album Cage and her twenty-fifth original studio album, Akina.[91][92] Cage featured Eurobeat and disco songs, which were first recorded in the '80s. Expect one track, the rest of the album's songs were performed in English. The main album arranger was Kengo Sasaki. The album was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition consists of six minutes of footage from Nakamori's 35th anniversary celebration. The album debuted at number 8 on the Oricon Weekly Chart. Akina was released in regular and limited editions: the limited edition included a booklet-sized 2018 calendar. The album debuted at number 9 on Oricon and debuted at number 10 on Recochoku.

Regardless of her lack of hit 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, Matsuda Seiko, who was honored at 7th place.[citation needed] According to the Oricon Charts, she is one of a handful of singers who managed to have albums in the Top 10 in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s; proving her resilience in the face of the changing music industry.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

Tours[edit]

  • Akina Milkyway '83: Haru no Kaze wo Kanjite
  • Rainbow Shower (1983)
  • Aitai Na Aeruka Na: Akina Nakamori Ongaku Kanshō Kai (1984)
  • Bitter and Sweet (1985)
  • Light and Shade (1986)
  • A Hundred Days (1987)
  • Femme Fatale (1988)
  • True Live (1995)
  • Felicidad (1997)
  • Spoon (1998)
  • Akina Nakamori 2000: 21 Seiki e no Tabidachi
  • All About Akina 20th Anniversary: It's Brand New Day (2001)
  • Musica Fiesta Tour (2002)
  • Akina Nakamori Live Tour 2003: I Hope So
  • Akina Nakamori A-1 Tour (2004)
  • Akina Nakamori Live Tour 2006: The Last Destination

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1985 Ai Tabidachi Yuki Koizumi Protagonic
1987 Best Friend: Ningen Kousaten Yori Aya Kashima Protagonic
1992 Hashire Melos! Raisa Voice role

Television[edit]

Aired Title Role Chapters
04-13-1992 to 06-29-1992 Sugao No Mama De Kanna Tsukishima 12
01-12-1998 to 03-16-1998 Tsumetai Tsuki Shiina Kiyoka 10
01-11-1999 to 03-08-1999 Border: Hanzai Shinri Sosa File Kirie Tsugishima 9
05-12-2006 to 06-21-2006 Primadam Kana Manda 11

Kōhaku Uta Gassen appearances[edit]

Year / Broadcast Appearance Song Appearance order Opponent
1983 (Shōwa 58) / 34th Debut "Kinku" 11/21 Masahiko Kondō
1984 (Shōwa 59) / 35th 2 "Jukkai (1984)" 7/20
1985 (Shōwa 60) / 36th 3 "Meu amor é..." 7/20 Toshihiko Tahara
1986 (Shōwa 61) / 37th 4 "Desire (Jōnetsu)" 6/20 Kenji Sawada
1987 (Shōwa 62) / 38th 5 "Nanpasen" 4/20 The Checkers
1988 (Shōwa 63) / 39th 6 "I Missed the Shock" 4/21 Masahiko Kondō
2002 (Heisei 14) / 53rd 7 "Kazari Ja Nai no yo Namida wa" 20/27 Kenichi Mikawa

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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