She’s often referred to as the next Utada Hikaru, but not much else is known about her. The nationwide media has shown barely a glimpse of young singer Jasmine (20), but her single “Sad to Say” has already topped the digital download charts. It’s being reported as the first time an artist has reached No.1 on the charts before making their official debut, which Jasmine did a week later on June 24. The song hasn’t even benefited from a TV commercial tie up, and its success has been mostly through online viral marketing and the comparisons with Utada. She also wrote her own songs from the start and did all her pre-debut promotions only on the radio. Jasmine says she considers Utada a big influence but was first inspired to become a singer at the age of 13 after seeing a gospel choir perform at the US military base in Yokota. She dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and passed an audition with Sony Music a year later. She has since performed in clubs and appears every Thursday on the J-Wave radio station. No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more from this young singer.
Former pinup idol Komukai Minako (24) finished her controversial run at the Rock-za strip theater last night. She gave a tearful press conference on the stage where she removed her clothes four times a day over the last few weeks. She told the audience of about 300, “There were many problems, but thanks to everyone’s support I made it to the last day. It’s given me a lot of confidence.” Arrested last year for drug possession, the invitation to appear as part of the theater’s anniversary came as a welcome chance to revive her career. But her former management agency filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop her appearing, saying it was in breach of an agreement not to pose nude or move to the porn industry. There was a lot of “will she, won’t she” on June 5, the opening day, and she missed two of the four scheduled shows. As the run came to a close yesterday, some less enthusiastic fans complained that Komukai had put on weight and hadn’t developed any finesse as an exotic dancer.