Kaela Kimura is a Japanese TV presenter-turned-music star, with a multitasking approach typical in Japanese show biz and prone to stylistic shifts: she started out a punk-pop/pop/rock performer inspired by No Doubt and then moved to a more danceable electronic sound, enjoying success all the while. Tokyo born and half-British (though no Anglophone), Kimura began modeling at the tender age of six and played in a melodic punk band "Animo" in high school. Her first big show biz success came in 2002, when she became a model for Seventeen, a popular teen magazine; the next year, she scored even bigger, becoming the host of the popular morning TV show Saku Saku, where she shared the spotlight with the delightfully demented muppet named Zigorow. She didn't stop there, however, and began her musical solo career with the indie single "Level 42" (2004), which garnered her a gig with Columbia, where she debuted with Happiness!!! (2004). It charted at number 11, and her debut full-length, Kaela, entered the Top Ten the same year, but the real breakthrough came with the single "Real Life Real Heart" (2005): propelled by a Vodafone commercial which featured both the tune and Kimura herself, it scored number three on on the charts and went gold, in addition to spawning the B-side, "Twinkle," which was used in the Love for Nana Only 1 Tribute compilation inspired by a popular manga franchise. Riding the wave of success, Kimura also starred in the movie, Custom Made 10:30 (2005), together with the J-rock star Okuda Tamio, who wrote the single "Beat" for her (like all of her singles since "Real Life Real Heart," it cracked the Top Ten).
Kimura began 2006 with another album, Circle, which only lost to Koda Kumi's best-of in charts. After a tour that included a Budokan stint, she waved goodbye to Zigorow to concentrate on her musical career, and went on a collaboration rampage: she recorded with Sadistic Mika Band, who changed their name to Sadistic Mikaela Band for the occasion, covered Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" for the TV series Attention Please, did the grunge song "Cloudy" with Foe for the tribute to Kurt Cobain, played with the synth-punk stars Beat Crusaders on her "Snowdome" single, and that's not to mention numerous TV show & commercial tie-ins. The toil paid off: her third album, Scratch (2007), topped the charts, selling 360,000, and its follow-up +1 (2008) went on to score number three and sell another 160,000 in spite of a drastic change in style as Kimura moved towards electronica. The single Jasper (2008) was written by Takkyu Ishino of Denki Groove and ended up as the theme song of the Japanese release of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, and Kagami yo Kagami made it to the local credits of The OC TV show. Kimura's fifth album, Hocus Pocus (2009), confirmed her popularity, charting at number three and outselling its predecessor. ~ Alexey Eremenko, Rovi