I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, February 18, 2013


While I'll always be a 80s JPop music fan at heart, I do listen to current stuff as well and one of my favorite artists now is singer BENI. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, she is also a great singer with a powerful voice. It also helps that she is bilingual and can speak both English and Japanese fluently.

Born Beni Daniels on March 30, 1986 in Okinawa, BENI is the daughter of a Caucasian American father and a Okinawan born Japanese/Caucasian ハーフ mother. BENI's parents where both music lovers and exposed Beni to a wide variety of both American and Japanese music as she was growing up (BENI cites Amuro Namie, Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson as indluences). BENI also learned to play the piano as a child.

When Beni was in the 6th grade, her family moved from Okinawa to Yokosuka City in Kanagawa Prefecture where she went to school at the アメリカンスクール・イン・ジャパン there. One of her fellow classmates was Crystal Kay, who herself would go on to become an accomplished Japanese R & B star.

During her Middle and High School years, BENI moved between Japan and America, even residing for a short time in San Diego, California. BENI was very athletic and played soccer during Intermediate and High School.

In 2002 at the age of 16, BENI entered the オスカープロモーション/Oscar Promotion Company sponsored talent contest - 全日本国民的美少女コンテスト/Kokuminteki Bishojo Contest where she made it all the way to the finals which was quite a feat considering she had no formal music or vocal training.

After graduating from Nile C. Kinnick High School in Yokosuka, Beni attended college at 上智大学/Sophia University where she majored in Sociology but decided to leave her studies to pursue her dream of

BENI got her big break when one of her demo tapes was seen by agents with Avex Trax. Impressed by her clear voice, natural beauty and bilingual ability, they soon decided to sign her up to the label.

BENI was first introduced as a part of Avex Trax's teen idol group 美少女クラブ31/Bishoujo Club 31. It wasn't long before Beni quickly graduated from the group and went solo with her first single 『Harmony』 in 2004. At this time she used the name 安良城紅/Arashiro Beni, using her mother's maiden last name. From 2005-2008 she would release three albums but in 2008, BENI left Avex Trax to go with Universal. In the process BENI dropped her last name just by her first name. These changes seemed to work for the better as she began to get more notice with songs such as 「Kiss Kiss Kiss」, 「KIRA☆KIRA☆」 and the above song 「BYE BYE」. 「BYE BYE」 wasn't a major hit (it only placed #57 on the Oricon charts) but it got a lot of airplay owing to its selection as the outro theme for ダウンタウン's フジテレビ music program show 『HEY!HEY!HEY! MUSIC CHAMP』 ヘイ!ヘイ!ヘイ! ミュージック・チャンプ. With its fusion blend of traditional Japanese koto music mixed with a catchy R & B hook, it seemed to reflect perfectly BENI's diverse cultural/ethnic mix.

BENI would release other singles throughout the next couple years including 「ギミギミ♥」, 「Heaven's Door」 and 「Darlin'」.

In 2012, BENI released two albums of various song covers appropriately named 『COVERS』 & 『COVERS2』 where she sang English-version cover variations of various Japanese pop songs like EXILE's 「Ti Amo」, スピッツ's 「ロビンソン」, サザンオールスターズ's 「いとしのエリー」, 尾崎豊's 「I LOVE YOU」 and ASKA's 「はじまりはいつも雨」. 『COVERS2』 in fact debuted on the Oricon weekly chart at #5 selling over 50,000 copies, making it BENI's best debut sales ever.

At only 26, it's only a matter of time before BENI finds her way to the top spot on the Oricon charts and I for one will be there routing for her.

Here's a live performance of her song 「Kiss Kiss Kiss」

And here's a live performance of her song 「Darlin'」
(April 10 2014: Unfortunately the live performance video was taken down but the above is the originally recorded version.)

Courtesy of kndynt2099 from Flickr

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, JTM, for the comprehensive article on Beni. I remembered seeing her co-host the NHK English-conversation lesson show a few years back but never really got a chance to know her musically.

    "Bye-Bye" definitely has that feel of an Alicia Keys song with her quick delivery and brassy voice.


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