Utada Hikaru, my personal spirit animal, has been away for a minute on hiatus — or rather, about two years since the release of “Sakura Nagashi” for Evangelion — and the world’s been a little less beautiful without her around.
Luckily, the music industry seems intent on celebrating her catalogue regardless.
To mark the 15th anniversary of her debut, her label released a gorgeous repackaging of her record-breaking debut First Love at the beginning of 2014. (It’s now currently sitting pretty on my bookshelf.)
And, as it turns out, they had another surprise waiting for the end of the year: Thirteen massive superstar acts are coming together on an upcoming compilation album called Utada Hikaru no Uta (宇多田ヒカルのうた), a tribute to Utada’s music due out on December 9. And this week, the album roster was revealed — and it’s honestly like a J-dream within a dream.
Shiina Ringo. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. AI. BONNIE PINK.
And, yes, even the J-Queen herself…Ayumi Hamasaki.
COULD IT REALLY BE?! Ayu and Hikki together in one song? The 15-year-old closet case J-Pop nerd in me just died, came back to life and died all over again. WE ARE SO UTTERLY UNWORTHY.
To make the news even more exciting, AramaJapan reports that Ayu selected “a really well known Hikki song that had a separate single cut,” and will “be using her voice in a way that she doesn’t normally do on her own songs.” Like. What? (Fair warning: If it’s “Passion,” I won’t survive. Or “COLORS.” Or “First Love.” Or anything, actually. I’m a guaranteed goner.)
In addition to all that goodness, illustrators, photographers and choreographers are also being called upon to create original works to celebrate Utada. Aside from the striking nature-based album artwork by Caroline Robert (above), Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy designer Tetsuya Nomura has revealed his own creation, which is essentially Kingdom Hearts meets Kuma-chan, with a bit of the album artwork from “You Make Me Want To Be A Man.”
We are so unbelievably #blessed, it’s not even funny.
Full artist roster (songs still TBD):
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis feat. Peabo Bryson
tofubeats with BONNIE PINK
‘Utada Hikaru no Uta’ will be released on December 9. (HMV)