Discover the Soulful Sounds of Mika Nakashima: A Must-listen for Jazz & R&B Lovers

If you like singers like Mariah Carey or Sade and like genres of R&B or New Orleans jazz, then you’ll love Japanese singer Mika Nakashima (中島美嘉).

Who is Mika Nakashima?

Mika Nakashima is a singer, actor, lyricist and model from Kagoshima, Japan, revered as a J-pop star.

Nakashima began her career as an artist in 2001, choosing not to attend high school to pursue a music career. She would see instant success with her debut single, “STARS”. TV drama Kizudarake No Love Song would boost her career by using STARS as part of the soundtrack and featuring Nakashima for her acting debut.

“STARS” would lead Nakashima to win several awards that praised her as the year’s best new artist in Japan in 2002. 

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In 2004, Nakashima won over the hearts of manga fans when she was cast as Nana Osaki in the movie adaptation of NANA. The movie’s soundtrack would also feature Nakashima’s “Glamorous Sky” and would be another critical milestone in her career. She was named Rookie of the Year four years later at the 29th Japan Academy Prize for NANA.

Nakashima has peaked at number one on the Japanese Oricon charts nine times for releases like “Glamorous Sky” and “TRUE.”

Mika Nakashima’s Unique Style and Genre of Music

Nakashima’s primary artistic focus is on soul-jazz and alternative rock sounds; she makes the influence of jazz evident in songs like “FAKE.” She often incorporates elements of genres like J-reggae and Electro to keep competitive in the J-pop industry. 

Nakashima’s smooth voice over complimentary funky jazz music with emotional lyrics distinguishes her among J-pop artists

Songs like Boku Ga Shinou To Omottanowa feature powerful lyrics like 

“Today feels exactly like yesterday; if you want to change your tomorrow, you must change your today.
I know that, I know it but…”

“I thought of dying because my heart became empty,
I guess I cry over being unfulfilled because I want to be fulfilled.”

Even in their messy translations, the lyrics are beautifully articulated.

Where is Mika Nakashima Now?

In 2011 Nakashima took a brief break due to Patulous Eustachian tube dysfunction, an ear condition causing her to hear her bodily noises. After half a year, she returned to music and has since remained active, releasing new music nearly every year.

She is 40 years old as of 2023, having released her latest album, “I,” in 2022, dedicated to herself.

Nakashima would appear in an interview with Billboard Japan for its Women in Music interview to talk about being a woman in the music industry this February. She would reference her mother as her role model, describe her growth and maturity as a woman and speak about her path in the music industry.

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