Akina Nakamori

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Akina Nakamori
Nakamori Akina in 1985.jpg
Background information
Born (1965-07-13) July 13, 1965 (age 51)
Origin Kiyose, Tokyo, Japan
Years active 1982–present
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.

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 molded 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 mold.


1982–1984: Beginning[edit]

After Akina Nakamori passed the test of Star Tanjō!, 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 – 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.

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 it predecessor, at 318,000 copies. Again, it debut 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 Stateside. 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.


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. Ironically, 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]



Year Title Details Peak chart position
1982 "Slow Motion" (スローモーション?)
  • Released: May 1, 1982 (EP)
  • B-side: "Jouken hansha" (条件反射?)
"Shoujo A" (少女A?)
  • Released: July 28, 1982 (EP)
  • B-side: "Yume handan" (夢判断?)
"Second Love" (セカンド・ラブ?)
  • Released: November 10, 1982 (EP)
  • B-side: "Kagami no naka no J" (鏡の中のJ?)
1983 "1/2 no shinwa" (1/2の神話?)
  • Released: February 23, 1983 (EP)
  • B-side: "Nukumori" (温り?)
"Twilight (Yuugure dayori)" (トワイライト-夕暮れ便り-?)
  • Released: June 1, 1983 (EP)
  • B-side: "Drive" (ドライブ?)
"Kinku" (禁区?)
  • Released: September 7, 1983 (EP)
  • B-side: "Ame no Requiem" (雨のレクイエム?)
1984 "Kita Wing" (北ウイング?)
  • Released: January 1, 1984 (EP)
  • B-side: "Namida no katachi no Earring" (涙の形のイヤリング?)
"Southern Wind" (サザン・ウインド?)
  • Released: April 11, 1984 (EP)
  • B-side: "Yume haruka" (夢遥か?)
"Jikkai (1984)" (十戒 (1984)?)
  • Released: July 25, 1984 (EP)
  • B-side: "Kore kara Naturally" (これからNaturally?)
"Kazari ja nai no yo namida wa" (飾りじゃないのよ涙は?)
  • Released: November 11, 1984 (EP)
  • B-side: "Moonlight Letter" (ムーンライト・レター?)
1985 "Meu amor é..." (ミ・アモーレ (Meu amor é...)?)
  • Released: March 8, 1985 (EP)
  • B-side: "Lonely Journey" (ロンリー・ジャーニー?)
"Akai tori nigeta" (赤い鳥逃げた?)
  • Released: May 1, 1985 (12-inch single)
  • Alternate version of "Meu amor é..."
  • B-side: "Babylon"
"SAND BEIGE (Sabaku e)" (SAND BEIGE -砂漠へ-?)
  • Released: June 6, 1985 (EP)
  • B-side: "Tsubakihime Giuliana" (椿姫ジュリアーナ?)
  • Released: October 9, 1985 (EP)
  • B-side: "AGAIN"
1986 "DESIRE" (DESIRE -情熱-?)
  • Released: February 3, 1986 (EP)
  • B-side: "LA BOHÈME"
"Gypsy Queen" (ジプシー・クイーン?)
  • Released: May 1, 1986 (EP)
  • B-side: "Saigo no Carmen" (最後のカルメン?)
  • Released: September 25, 1986 (EP)
  • B-side: "Abunai MON AMOUR" (危ないMON AMOUR?)
  • Released: February 2, 1987 (EP)
  • B-side: "MILONGUITA"
  • Released: June 3, 1987 (EP)
  • B-side: "Amish" (清教徒アーミッシュ?)
"Nanpasen" (難破船?)
  • Released: September 30, 1987 (EP)
  • B-side: "Koiji" (恋路?)
1988 "AL-MAUJ"
  • Released: January 1, 1988 (EP)
  • B-side: "Bara hitoyo" (薔薇一夜?)
  • Released: May 18, 1988 (EP, mini CD)
  • B-side: "Le Poison" (小悪魔ル・プアゾン?)
  • Released: November 1, 1988 (EP, mini CD)
  • B-side: "BILITIS"
1989 "LIAR"
  • Released: April 25, 1989 (EP, mini CD, cassette)
  • B-side: "Blue on Pink"
1990 "Dear Friend"
  • Released: July 17, 1990 (mini CD, cassette)
  • B-side: "CARIBBEAN"
"Mizu ni sashita hana" (水に挿した花?)
  • Released: November 6, 1990 (mini CD, cassette)
  • B-side: "Angel Eyes"
1991 "Futari shizuka" (二人静?)
  • Released: March 25, 1991 (mini CD, cassette)
  • B-side: "Wasurete..." (忘れて…?)
1993 "Everlasting Love"/"NOT CRAZY TO ME"
  • Released: May 21, 1993 (mini CD, cassette)
  • Double A-side single
1994 "Kataomoi" (片想い?)/"Aibu" (愛撫?)
  • Released: March 24, 1994 (mini CD)
  • Double A-side single
"Yoru no doko ka de (night shift)" (夜のどこかで~night shift~?)
  • Released: September 2, 1994 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "Rose Bud"
"Gekka" (月華?)
  • Released: November 5, 1994 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "BLUE LACE"
1995 "Genshi, onna wa taiyou datta" (原始、女は太陽だった?)
  • Released: June 21, 1995 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "Kirei" (綺麗?)
"Tokyo Rose"
  • Released: November 1, 1995 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "Yasashii kankei" (優しい関係?)
1996 "MOONLIGHT SHADOW (Tsuki ni hoero)" (MOONLIGHT SHADOW -月に吠えろ-?)
  • Released: August 7, 1996 (mini CD)
  • Released: February 21, 1997 (mini CD)
1998 "Kisei (Never Forget)" (帰省~Never Forget~?)
  • Released: February 11, 1998 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "Tsuki wa aoku ('98 re-mastered version)" (月は青く ('98 re-mastered version)?)
"Kon'ya, nagareboshi" (今夜、流れ星?)
  • Released: May 21, 1998 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "Arashi no naka de" (嵐の中で?)
"Tomadoi" (とまどい?)
  • Released: September 23, 1998 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "Good-bye My Tears"
1999 "Ophelia" (オフェリア?)
  • Released: January 21, 1999 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "TO BE"
"Trust Me"
  • Released: December 1, 1999 (mini CD)
  • B-side: "Yuki no hana (White X'mas) (chamber music version)" (雪の花~White X'mas~ (chamber music version)?)
2001 "It's brand new day"
  • Released: May 31, 2001 (digital download)
  • B-side: "Stay in Love"
2002 "The Heat (musica fiesta)"
  • Released: May 2, 2002 (digital download)
  • B-side: "Siesta (Koi no mama de)" (Siesta ~恋のままで~?)

Original albums[edit]

Cover albums[edit]

  1. Utahime (24 March 1994)
  2. ZEROalbum- Utahime 2 (20 March 2002)
  3. Utahime Special Edition (4 December 2002)
  4. Utahime 3 ~Shuumaku (3 December 2003)
  5. Enka (27 June 2003)
  6. Folk Song ~Utahime Jojouka (24 December 2008)
  7. Mood Kayou ~Utahime Showa Meikyoku Shuu~ (24 June 2009)
  8. Folk Song 2 ~Utahime Aishouka (29 July 2009)
  9. Utahime 4 -My Eggs Benedict- (28 January 2015)


  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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eremenko, Alexey. "Biography: Akina Nakamori". Allmusic. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  2. ^ "INAX サウンド オブ マイスター : 永遠のメロディー" (in Japanese). Nippon Cultural Broadcasting. April 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 

External links[edit]