Two years after her highly successful debut First Love, Japan's new pop queen Utada Hikaru releases her much-anticipated second album. Sales figures in her homeland show she has retained her popularity: Distance has not just beaten her rival Ayumi Hamasaki by staying at the top of the Oricon album chart (Japan's national chart), but has also become the country's fastest-selling album (2.6 million copies sold in the first week).
Utada grew up in New York and is heavily influenced by American R&B, giving her music a different edge to traditional J-pop stars. Nor is Utada's success simply down to the fact she has a pretty face and is young (she was only 16 when she released First Love). Utada is a talented singer-songwriter who eschews high-pitched girlie vocals for a sexy and soulful sound.
The new record is a collection of the chart-topping singles already released. The album kicks off with the melodic song Wait & See -Risk, followed by the latest hit Can You Keep A Secret?, a catchy theme to the popular TV series Hero. Addicted To You, the first single released after First Love, also features. Other than the pop tunes to sell, Utada experiments with different styles from soul to J-rock.
Utada may consider taking time off from her studies at Columbia University to bring her R&B/J-pop on tour around Asia.