During high school Koda Kumi auditioned in Avex’s “Dream Audition”, where she came 2nd out of 120,000 participants. Avex’s sub-label Rhythm Zone then signed Kumi and she released her semi-biographical book, Koda-shiki (Koda Style) which was described as a “story about a girl who was filled with inferiority complex pursuing her way”.
She debuted in 2000 on December 6th with the single Take Back. Her debut single was followed by Trust Your Love and Color of Soul (both released in 2001) and So Into You (released in 2002). Furthermore, Koda went on to release and record Take Back and Trust Your Love in English under Orpheus Records in the United States. After the September 11th 2001 attacks, Koda Kumi recorded the charity single, The Meaning of Peace with Korean singer BoA to raise the funds for charity. In March 2002, Koda released her debut album Affection under Rhythm Zone and it peaked at no.12 on the Oricon album chart.
Koda Kumi then went on to cover the theme song of the anime series Cutie Honey, originally by Yoko Maekawa, for the 2004 live-action film and animation Re: Cutie Honey. The song, which shared the same name as the show, was included as a bonus track on the album and became the title track for her eleventh single, Love & Honey (2004). Chase and Kiseki were further released at the end of the year and Kiseki marked the start of Kumi’s sexy image into her music videos. During her image change, Koda Kumi did express her concern about what her parents would think about her. When they approved and further supported her, she chose to keep with the style that would become infamous with her name: ‘ero-kakkoi’ (erotic-cute).
Koda Kumi’s first release of 2005 was her 4th single Hands, released on January 19th and less than a month later her 4th album, Secret was released. Secret went onto debut at no.3 and became Kumi’s first album to debut in the Top Five. Secret went on to be certified double platinum by the RIAJ for selling 521,000 copies in total. Hot Stuff, her 15th single and 5th single from the Secret album was then released in 2005. Koda Kumi’s first DVD was released soon after and in 2006, Oricon reported that Secret: First Class Limited Live had set a new record on the music DVD charts by remaining at the top of the Oricon DVD charts for seven weeks in total.
Best: First Things, Koda Kumi’s first greatest hits album, was released in September 2005. The album went on to debut at no.2 and then rose to no.1 the week after to give Kumi her first no.1 album. Best: First Things sold over a million copies and was certified million by the Recording Industry Association of Japan. In December 2005, Kumi began the “12 Singles Project” in which for 12 consecutive weeks she would release one single a week (nine limited edition singles). Her first single, You, became a no.1 instantly and Birthday Eve, D.D.D and Shake It Up were released all before the end of the year. The remaining 8 singles were released at the start of 2006 with Lies followed by Feel, Candy, No Regret, Ima Sugu Hoshii, Kamen, Wind and Someday/Boys & Girls.
Best: Second Session, certified million by the RIAJ and Kumi’s 2nd greatest hits album, debuted at the top of the chart with 983,000 copies sold within the 1st week, making Koda Kumi the first female artist with the highest greatest hits debut sales since Hikaru Utada. At the end of 2006, Oricon named Koda Kumi the best-selling artist of 2006 with approximately $136,465,304 worth of profit. Oricon again named Koda Kumi the best-selling artist of 2007, having sold more than 7.3 billion yen worth of CDs and DVDs.
In October 2008, Kumi released her 41st single, Taboo, which went on to debut at no.1 and became the 5th single to reach the top, selling 66,000 copies within a week. Stay With Me, her 42nd single and Trick, her 7th studio album both gave Kumi top spots respectively. Alive/Physical Thing, Kumi’s 45th single, also took top spot on the single charts. On December 2010, Koda held a concert , celebrating her 10th anniversary, named Fantastia where she performed a selection of songs from all over her career.
Koda’s 50th single, 4 Times, was released in August 2011 and in November she became the only Japanese star to perform at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. In 2011 it was announced that Kumi was engaged to Kenji03 from Back-On and on July 17th 2012 she gave birth to the couple’s first child, a son. In January 2012, Japonesque, Kumi’s 10th album was released. Koda Kumi then announced that she would complete a nationwide tour of Japan in 2014 to promote Japonesque. Go to the Top was then promoted in August 2012 and was her 53rd single as well as another no.1 single, her first in 3 years.
I hope that you continue to support Koda Kumi on her tour of Japan and enjoy all of the music she has released/will be released. We hope to see her across America and Europe.
Kirsty H. – August 2014