Koda Kumi is a Japanese solo R&B and pop female singer and also the older sister of J-pop star misono, of the former J-pop band day after tomorrow. Although Koda Kumi debuted in 2000 with her debut single "TAKE BACK," massive success didn't come until 2003 with the release of her seventh single, titled "real Emotion/1000 no Kotoba", which became a hit mainly because the songs of the single were theme songs of popular PlayStation 2 videogame Final Fantasy X-2 and since then, Koda's career has taken off.
In 2005, she was one of the best-selling artists because of her compilation of singles album titled "BEST ~first things~," and she reached the top of the Oricon singles charts with the first single of the "~12 Single~ Collection," the single titled "you."
Kouda Kumiko was the first girl born to the Koda family in a number of generations. It was the strong support of her grandfather (who taught her Japanese bamboo flute) and her mother (who taught Japanese harp) that helped Koda become a success. Young Koda started practicing classical Japanese dance at the age of three which inspired her interest in performing, and singing in particular.
She used to watch her mother singing at family meetings and parties held after Koda's dance performances. According to Koda, her mother had the ability to captivate an entire audience while she was singing, and she wanted to be like that when she was older. Nevertheless, she did not want to be just an icon or celebrity, but wanted to rise to fame because of her talent. In her primary school yearbook, she wrote "I want to be a singer when I grow up."
The first time she went for an audition was when she was in 3rd grade of primary school. While attending Kyoto Seika High School for young women, Koda auditioned alongside Maki Goto for the so-called 3rd generation of the Japanese group of entertainers known as Morning Musume, but she wasn't selected. Her pursuit of a singing career would have to be held off for a number of years.
Discovery and affection Era
It was not until 2000 until she was able to pursue a singing career. Koda Kumi won the "Avex Dream 2000" audition held by Avex Trax and was signed to Rhythm Zone, an urban-minded sublabel at Avex.
Finally Kumi Koda made her debut as a professional singer on December 6, 2000 with her debut single titled "TAKE BACK," but the single had poor sales and failed to chart. The single was also released in the U.S. in March 2001 and debuted #20 at the Billboard Hot Dance Music Sales, which can be considered a general flop. Instead of focusing on a possibly lucrative American career, Koda wanted to put emphasis on reaching the top in the local charts back then (Japan).
The follow-up single of Koda's was "Trust Your Love" ― also released in the U.S. ― which held the 19th position in Billboard's Hot 100 singles sales chart and went to number one in Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart. Two more singles were released, "COLOR OF SOUL" and "So Into You." Koda did not release any more singles in America.
After releasing her first four singles, Koda released a collaboration with Korean pop singer BoA. The song was created to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and used for the charity album SONGNATION. BoA and Kumi contributed the single "the meaning of peace", which was produced by Tetsuya Komuro.
With four solo singles under her belt, Koda released her debut studio album, "affection", on March 27, 2002, which also became a flop. She stated that she did not contribute to this album other than singing, because she "didn't care which songs she could sing as long as she was able to sing".
grow into one
Koda remained active despite commercial failures of her previous works. In the summer of 2002, she released her 5th single "love across the ocean". While she was very much satisfied with the single, the single, again, failed to bring her success. It debuted at number 19 at Oricon and quickly disappeared charts.
Unfortunately for Koda, her 6th single, "m·a·z·e" fared worse on the charts than "love across the ocean", peaking at # 25 and garnering ten thousand less sales.
Koda enjoyed the first-ever success in her career with the release of "real Emotion/1000 no Kotoba". Both songs were the main vocal themes for the videogame, Final Fantasy X-2, in which voiced Lenne in the Japanese version of the game. The single peaked at #3 at the Oricon chart, becoming a huge success. This single is one of the most successful single in her career to this date, and outsold all her previous singles and albums combined.
With the success of the single, Koda realized that she had to adjust her attitude as an artist and the way she presented herself to the public to achieve success she has wanted. As a result, she began to care more about her looks, and especially her weight.
As for the tie-in to a video game, Koda has been widely known for her effort to gain popularity as the singer for the Japanese version of Final Fantasy X-2, singing "1000 no Kotoba" and the main theme of the game "real Emotion". Although she recorded English versions of both songs, Square Enix believed that it sounded low-quality or lackluster, and many English-speaking fans have commented on the versions' Engrish lyrics and pronunciation. Consequently, Square Enix opted to have Jade of Sweetbox to perform the English versions of the Final Fantasy X-2 vocal songs. However, Kumi's versions were later released as b-sides on her single, "COME WITH ME", from her third album.
After the release of the single, the release of her second studio album, titled "grow into one", was announced. This time, she grew more determined to assert her musical style and personal feelings into the album. In the end, the album became a modest-sized success as a top ten album and went on to sell close to selling 200,000 copies.