Legal name: 濱崎 歩, 濱崎歩
Also performs as: CREA (浜崎あゆみ pen name)
Ayumi Hamasaki (浜崎あゆみ, Hamasaki Ayumi, born October 2, 1978) is a Japanese recording artist, lyricist, model, and actress. Hamasaki has achieved popularity in Japan and Asia by enforcing her position as an artist and not trying to be forced as a "product", which was a common factor within the Japanese music culture and Avex Trax. Through her entire career, she has written all her lyrical content, produced her own music and has sometimes co-composed her music, which is evident in her albums Duty, I Am... and Rainbow.
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, Hamasaki released her debut single "Poker Face" and released her million-selling record A Song for XX.The album debuted at the top of the Oricon charts and remained there for four weeks, establishing her popularity in Japan. Her next five albums accomplished over one million shipments in Japan, with her third effort Duty selling near three million units, becoming her best selling studio album. A Best, her first compilation album, is her best selling album, with more than four million copies sold in Japan. In 2008, after her album Next Level was released, album and single sales declined due to ongoing competition with new upcoming artists. Throughout her career, Hamasaki has had all her albums within the top five position in Japan and has four million-selling singles, including "Boys & Girls", "A", "Seasons" and "H".
Also called "Ayu" by her fans, Hamasaki has been dubbed the "Empress of J-Pop" because of her popularity and widespread influence in Japan and throughout Asia. Hamasaki's constantly changing image and tight control over her artistry has helped her popularity extend across Asia; music and fashion trends she has started have spread regionally to China, Singapore and other countries across Southeast Asia. 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".
Hamasaki has sold over 53 million records in Japan, making her one of the best-selling artists in Japan. As a female vocalist, Hamasaki has several domestic record achievements for her singles, such as the most number-one hits by a female artist; the most consecutive number-one hits by a solo artist, and the most million-sellers. From 1999 to 2010, Hamasaki had at least one single each year topping the charts. Hamasaki is the first female recording artist to have eight studio albums since her debut to top the Oricon and the first artist to have a number-one album for 13 consecutive years since her debut. Hamasaki's second remix album, Super Eurobeat Presents Ayu-ro Mix, is recognized as one of the best selling remix albums of all time and remains her only album to be recognized in a worldwide accreditation.