Hang on there, Harvey! Her new cd is really really good. Even though it's a cover album. She has really given all the song her own twist. And the fact that the songs are very diverse makes it truly brilliant.
I'm a big fan of Utada Hikaru, her hit single, Hikari was the first j-pop song i ever listened too. She's hugely popular in Japan. Don't know who she would compare to in the US though. She kind of has a style all of her own. Check her out. She just released a brand new album which I bought myself, called Deep River.
Twisted probably can better sound up their differences but for the easier side: They both target different audiences and their sound is a bit different so it depends a lot on the song today.
Though, Hiki bucked the system and tried to cut out many of the middlemen who were taking a cut of her revenue. Actually, her father is her producer and her mother was once a popular singer.
I'd put Hiki with Kuraki Mai who was created by Sony? or what ever record company after Hiki split from the industry. The record company was p_ssed off so they put a new act, Kuraki Mai, who instantly hit the top of the charts.
Personally i hate comparing artists. Just listen to it and come to your own conclusions. I'll give it a try though.
Basicly, Hikaru started out with R&B, (but she's now more pop-oriented) whereas Ayumi started out with more dance-flavoured popmusic.
Vocally they're very distinguisable. The voice of Hikaru is quite low, while Ayumi sounds kinda like a typical idol with a more high-pitched voice. They both don't have an incredibly impressive vocal-range though. Especially live, Hikaru often goes too low and Ayumi often misses the high notes.
Hikaru is in the past produced by Jimmy Jam and Teri Lewis. I don't think Ayumi was ever produced by non-Japanese producers but she has been remixed by every big name in the business.
On Mai Kuraki: She's on Giza records and she has also released an album in the US under the name of Mai K. Neither Hikaru Utada or Ayumi Hamasaki have been able to do that yet, although Hikaru is getting there very soon.
Well, if you're still looking for a good rockband, check out the new single from Dir en Grey. It's called Child Prey and it's not for the faint hearted.
I'm going deaf right now, but it's so damn good. It is a bit of a Mad Capsule Markets imitation though.
don't know if it interests you, but B'z is a good rockband. actually, a good rock duo, since it consists of two guys, tak matsumoto and koshi inaba.
there's also SPITZ, which is not exactly a rock band, but something like the wallflowers (a bit of ballad?). but as everybody else has said, it's not easy to compare bands/singers... so, all you gotta do is listen!
Gackt's song, "fragrance", was the first one by him I heard. I'm doing what I can to sift through and appreciate some of his other works now.
Hikaru Utada was my first J-Pop obsession. Probably always will be. And for a good reason. She looks like a really sweet girl, with a warm and inviting smile. And her music's rarely anything but upbeat or emotional. I have at least 20 of her songs, maybe more.
Namie Amuro is good if you like the raw sexuality more. She's into club-bangers and sex-jams. Still haven't explored her works in detail yet.
Ayumi Hamasaki is more of a J-Rocker. I got into her through watching Inuyasha.
But the way I see it, Hikki is the Queen of J-Pop. Everybody loves her, and she can sing English just as well as she can sing japanese. Which does a lot for an American like me.