A fan creates a mashup album for Hikaru Utada’s 41st birthday. And I realise that all of us Hikaru fans connected, whether we like it or not.

A photo of Hikaru Utada’s stuffed bear ‘Kuma’ at a mixing console in a studio

19 January 2024. Hikaru Utada’s 41st birthday. And a fan who goes by ‘booboosnack’ for their musical endeavours created a mashup album to honour the day.

booboosnack slammed their foot down on the pedal of the niji-iro bus and mushroom boosted the bitch, because their mashup album is very much up the alley of LGBTUTADA+. Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Lee Hyori, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and Ringo Sheena? Gxrl.

As great, creative and immersive as the album is, the story behind how and why the whole thing came together is just as interesting to me; providing a greater context beyond it just being a bunch of mashups. And it also speaks to something I have always found to be quite common with Hikaru Utada fans, but we gon’ get to that.

Here’s what booboosnack posted along with the album.
This is an album that I mostly made with a turntable and a cold. But at the heart of it all lies a voice unlike any other - one whose genius continues to unearth the multiplicity that they continue to search for within themselves. They left music to find answers, only to realize that they had to return to it to find them, even if they are who they know themselves to be. And so few artists stand the test of time, but such is the legend of a life's work that treads and defies the dualities of happiness and loneliness, of pleasure and disillusionment, of innocence and experience, and everything in between.

I initially questioned the prospect of having this album partially revolve around a demo that is now old enough to rent a car (and, as of this year, old enough to stop receiving healthcare in the United States). Overtime, this conflict dissolved to reveal the most crucial thing about that earnest voice nestled beneath the analog fuzz of backing tracks and magnetic tapes. Because while one can understand how much they have changed as an artist, one realizes that so much about them remains the same, and beautifully so. Random J’s words, not mine.

Although the basis of this work isn’t entirely my own, it has made me feel like less of a failure in a life that still has plenty to offer. I am at least grateful to myself for creating an opportunity to rekindle what I’ve grown to love about music itself. It gives us a story to tell, and a chance to make it our own. This album is not just a celebration of Utada's career, but a documentation of what I have learned about them, and what I will end up appreciating about them later in life. I didn't set out to make a bible of what a mashup album should be for this specific artist. I just wanted to share what I've learned and what I've come to love about them. With time, it will also reflect what I will end up loving about them in the years to come.

The Hikaru Utada fandom has always seemed quite unique to me. A common sentiment I see amongst fans is people having found something in Hikaru Utada’s music and being they didn’t know they were even looking for. And that acting as a gateway to something else. And I think the same can be said for Hikaru Utada, who has always been somewhat melancholic and felt everything. And that sense of being lost and not knowing what’s what is what spurred them to go on hiatus, just for them to return with Fantôme and still feel lost in navigating the passing of their mother.

I myself have very frequently felt lost. And Hikaru Utada expressing that same sense of not always knowing and being lost themselves made me feel that it was okay to be. It never felts great to be lost. But it can be comforting to know that you’re not the only one. And it meant some that this artist whom I admire occasionally struggles with what their place in life is and navigating it. I think this feeling on some level, however micro it may be, is what draws people into Hikaru Utada once they discover them. And I truly do feel that it’s what draw some of their fans together.

Hikaru Utada was my gateway to Japanese music, which resulted in my music tastes becoming even broader. And this is what made me start this blog. In the hopes that it would make somebody else out there with a similar taste to mine go ‘OH SHIT. It’s not just me?!’. And I think that’s what Hikaru Utada’s music and career has done for many of us. It’s made us feel seen. And it’s pulled us into this space which has made us feel a little less alone.

booboosnack had tweeted that this blog made them understand Hikaru’s career a bit more and that they wouldn’t be as into J-pop as they are were it not for this raggedy blog. And some of the folk who have been following me the longest time on here are Hikaru Utada fans that probably found me via something I’d posted on their music.

The honesty of Hikaru Utada’s artistry has managed to bring once (and maybe still) lonely souls together and find something. So of course their fandom would feature a whole bunch of sensitive bitches who are in touch with their feelings and happen to be creative. And course one of those fans would put together something as cool as a mashup album which in and of itself is also self-referential (i.e a mashup of a Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced Janet Jackson song mashed up with a Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced Hikaru Utada song ) and connected.

Madame Web could never.

🔊 Listen to ‘Vinegar Bear’ (because they ain’t try’na get copyright struck): YouTube | Bandcamp