Ayumi Hamasaki (浜崎 あゆみ, Hamasaki Ayumi?, also 浜崎 歩) (born October 2, 1978) is a Japanese singer-songwriter and former actress. Also called Ayu by her fans, Hamasaki has been dubbed the "Empress of Pop" due to her popularity and widespread influence in Japan. Born and raised in Fukuoka, she moved to Tokyo at fourteen to pursue a career in entertainment. In 1998, under the tutelage of Avex CEO Max Matsuura, she released a string of modestly selling singles that concluded with her 1999 debut album A Song for XX. The album debuted atop the Oricon charts and stayed there for four weeks, establishing her popularity in Japan.
Because of her constantly changing image and tight control over her artistry, Hamasaki's popularity extends across Asia; music and fashion trends she has started have spread to countries such as China, Singapore, and Taiwan. She has appeared in or lent her songs to many advertisements and television commercials. Though she originally supported the exploitation of her popularity for commercial purposes, she later reconsidered and eventually opposed her status as an Avex "product".
Since her 1998 debut with the single "Poker Face", Hamasaki has sold over 50 million records in Japan, ranking her among the best-selling singers in the country. As a female singer, Hamasaki holds several domestic records for her singles, such as the most number-one hits, the highest sales, and the most million-sellers. From 1999 to 2009, Hamasaki had at least one single each year top the charts. Hamasaki is the first female singer to have eight studio albums since her debut to top the Oricon and the first artist to have a number-one album for 11 consecutive years since her debut.
"Connected" was Ayumi Hamasaki's European debut single. It was released in Germany, Spain and Belgium in 2003.
"Surreal" is the seventeenth single by Ayumi Hamasaki, released on September 27, 2000.
"M" is a song written by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki from her album I Am... (2002). The lead single from the album and Hamasaki's nineteenth overall, "M" marked Hamasaki's increased creative control over her music, as it was the first song she composed, under the pseudonym "CREA".
"Fly High" is the thirteenth single released by Ayumi Hamasaki, released on February 9, 2000, making it her first single of 2000.
"Endless sorrow" is the 22nd single released by Ayumi Hamasaki on May 16, 2001. It is also found on her I am... album.
"Dearest" is the 24th single released by Ayumi Hamasaki. It was released September 27, 2001. It is featured on the Best of InuYasha Soundtrack. It was the 3rd ending theme of the anime series InuYasha.
"Free & Easy" is a song written by Ayumi Hamasaki and Dai Nagao for Hamasaki's album Rainbow. The song, the first single from Rainbow and Hamasaki's 26th total, was released in Japan on April 24, 2002.
"Forgiveness" is the 30th single released by Ayumi Hamasaki, and her 17th number one.