Ai (singer)

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Ai at the 49th G7 summit in 2023
Ai Carina Uemura

(1981-11-02) November 2, 1981 (age 42)[1]
Los Angeles, California, United States
NationalityAmerican (jus soli, expatriate)
Japanese (jus sanguinis)
  • Singer-songwriter
  • rapper
  • record producer
  • spokeswoman
  • actress
Years active1998–present
Hiro (m. 2014)
Musical career
OriginTokyo, Japan

Ai Carina Uemura (植村 愛 カリーナ, Uemura Ai Karīna, born November 2, 1981), known mononymously as Ai (Japanese pronunciation: [ai], stylized as AI or A.I. //), is a Japanese-American singer-songwriter, record producer, spokeswoman, and actress. She is best known in Japan for her 2005 single "Story", which became one of the biggest singles of the 2000s in Japan, peaking at number 8 on the Japanese Oricon singles chart, and was the sixth single in history to receive a triple million digital certification by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ).

Career[change | change source]

2000–2001: My Name Is Ai[change | change source]

Ai released her debut single "Cry, Just Cry" in 2000 shortly after graduating high school. She released two additional singles from the album before it was released on her birthday in 2001.

2003–2004: Original Ai and 2004 Ai[change | change source]

In 2003, Ai signed to Def Jam Japan after her previous album was a commercial failure. With the release of Original Ai in 2003, she began to rise in popularity in Japan. Her third album, 2004 Ai, became her first album to receive a certification from the RIAJ.[2]

2005–2007: "Story", Mic-a-holic Ai, What's Goin' on Ai and Don't Stop Ai[change | change source]

In 2005, Ai moved to Island Records. Later that year, she released her best-selling single in her career, "Story".[3][4][5] Her fourth album, Mic-a-holic Ai, was released later that year. She released her fifth album, What's Goin' On Ai in 2006 and her sixth, Don't Stop Ai in 2007.

2008–2010: Viva Ai, Best Ai and The Last Ai[change | change source]

In March 2009, Ai released her seventh studio album, Viva Ai. Later that year, her first greatest hits album, Best Ai was released. Best Ai became Ai's first number one album on the Japan Oricon Albums chart. In December 2010, she released her eighth album, The Last Ai.

2011–2013: Independent and Moriagaro[change | change source]

In 2011, Ai left Universal Music Group and signed a global music publishing deal with EMI to release her music worldwide. She signed a record deal with EMI Music Japan . Her first single with the label, "Letter in the Sky" featured The Jacksons and was released in October 2011. It was the groups first single in 22 years. Her second single "Happiness" became one of her best selling singles since "Story". Her ninth album, Independent was released in 2012. In 2013, following the purchase of EMI by Universal, Ai was moved to EMI Records Japan. She released one album under the label, Moriagaro in 2013 before the label was divided into two separate sublabels.

2015–2016: The Best[change | change source]

In November 2015, Ai released a compilation album, The Best, to celebrate fifteen years in the music industry. It marked her first album release under EMI Records. The compilation album was reissued in mid-2016.[6] A third compilation release of tracks with featured artists titled The Feat. Best was issued in November 2016.[7]

2017: Wa to Yo[change | change source]

In 2017, Ai teased her eleventh studio album, Wa to Yo. It was released in June 2017. A deluxe version of the album was released in October 2017.

2019–2022: Twenty-year anniversary and Dream[change | change source]

In early 2019, Ai traveled to her hometown, Los Angeles, California, to record new material to celebrate twenty years in the music industry and for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Her fourth compilation album, Kansha!!!!! - Thank You for 20 Years New and Best, was released in November 2019, serving as her first international compilation release.[8] Ai's extended play, It's All Me, Vol. 1 was planned to be released on the start of the 2020 Olympics, but instead was delayed to July after the event was postponed to summer 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lead single of It's All Me, Vol. 1, "Summer Magic" was her first single to be released internationally in May 2019.[9] Its Japanese version was included in an advertisement for the Amazon Echo.[9]

In February 2021, she released It's All Me, Vol. 2 and a digital compilation extended play, Self Selection Hip Hop. In June 2021, most of her early discography was made available to stream and purchase digitally outside of Asia. Before, only Independent, Wa to Yo and releases after January 2019 were available. Additionally in June, Ai released "The Moment", a single featuring Japanese rapper Yellow Bucks.[10] In August, she released a collaboration single with Daichi Miura titled "In the Middle". In September, EMI issued her second compilation EP, Self Selection "Piano Ballad". In September 2021, Ai announced her next single, "Aldebaran". The song serves as the theme song for the NHK television drama, Come Come Everbody.[11] Upon its release in November, it became her first charting single on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 since her 2017 single, "Kira Kira". The song debuted and peaked at number 37 on the chart.[12] On the Oricon charts, "Aldebaran" peaked at number 4 on the Daily Digital Singles Chart and number 6 on the weekly Digital Singles Chart.[13][14] In December 2021, Ai announced her twelfth studio album, Dream would be released in February 2022.

2023: Respect All, Respect All Tour, upcoming global tour[change | change source]

In April 2023, Ai announced her fourteenth headlining concert tour, the Respect All Tour.[15] A single titled after the tour was released on May 22.[15] In May, Ai performed live in Hiroshima on the same day the 49th G7 summit took place.[16] Ai performed and gave a speech to the spouses of world leaders, including First Lady Jill Biden and Akshata Murty.[17] Within that same month, a global tour additionally was announced by her management company where Ai will raise donations for UNICEF Japan.[16]

In June 2023, Ai announced her thirteenth studio album, Respect All. Released in August, the album featured Nestlé Japan's Kit Kat campaign song, "Start Again", as well as "Life Goes On", the image song for the Japanese film Haru ni Chiru.[18]

Personal life[change | change source]

When Ai was four, she moved from Los Angeles to Kagoshima.[19] She had a difficult time learning Japanese and making friends. She was only able to talk to her mother, Barbara, who was born and raised in the United States and only knew English.[19]

After graduating junior high school, Ai and her family moved back to Los Angeles. She was uninterested in enrolling in high school because she wanted to sing.[19] She registered at Glendale High School and struggled to communicate in English. She later auditioned for Los Angeles County High School for Arts. She took ballet while enrolled.[19]

In 2014, Ai became engaged to Hiro, the leader and vocalist of the rock band Kaikigesshoku. The pair had been dating for 10 years, and wed in January 2014.[20][21] On August 28, 2015, Ai gave birth to her first child, a baby girl.[22] On July 24, 2018, it was revealed Ai was pregnant with her second child.[23] Her second child, a boy, was born on December 29, 2018.[24]

In 2019, Ai revealed her annoyance of when searching her name online, the results only show for artificial intelligence. An outdoor advertisement at Shinjuku Station that was promoting her 2019 single "Summer Magic" included an image of a search engine with the top results displaying images of artificial intelligence, with a photo of Ai herself cut off at the bottom of the image.[25]

Discography[change | change source]

Studio albums[change | change source]

Year Album Japan Japan


2001 My Name Is Ai 86
2003 Original Ai 15
2004 2004 Ai 3
2005 Mic-a-holic Ai 4 11
2006 What's Goin' On Ai 2 18
2007 Don't Stop Ai 4 16
2009 Viva Ai 10
2010 The Last Ai 14
2012 Independent 2
2013 Moriagaro 5
2017 Wa to Yo 11 19
2022 Dream 12 11
2023 Respect All 17 30

Compilation albums[change | change source]

Year Album Japan Japan

HOT Albums

Taiwan South Korea


2004 Flashback to Ai 55
Feat. Ai 33
2009 Best Ai 1 18 46
2015 The Best 3 2
2016 The Feat. Best 28 33
2018 Side By Side
2019 Kansha!!!!! - Thank You for 20 Years New and Best 29 28

Extended plays[change | change source]

Year Album Japan Japan

HOT 100

2020 It's All Me, Vol. 1 18 18
2021 It's All Me, Vol. 2 52 47

Compilation extended plays[change | change source]

Year Album
2021 Self Selection "Hip Hop"
Self Selection "Piano Ballad"

Singles[change | change source]

Year Song Japan Japan

HOT 100

2000 "Cry Just Cry" My Name Is Ai
2001 "U Can Do"
"Shining Star" 98
2003 "Last Words" (最終宣告, Saishū Senkoku) 27 Original Ai
"Thank U" 37
"My Friend" (マイフレンド, Mai Furendo) 35
"Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" (戦場のメリークリスマス, Senjō no Merry Christmas, "Battlefield Merry Christmas")
2004 "After the Rain" 32 2004 Ai
"EO" 23
"Watch Out!"
(featuring Afra, Tucker)
2005 "365"
(featuring Deli)
20 Mic-a-holic Ai
"Crayon Beats" 40 Non-album single
"Story" 8 7 Mic-a-holic Ai
2006 "Believe" 2 What's Goin' On Ai
"I Wanna Know" 9
2007 "Brand New Day" 13 Don't Stop Ai
"I'll Remember You"
"One" 18
2008 "Taisetsu na Mono" (大切なもの, "Important Things") 22 9
"So Special"
(with Exile Atsushi)
15 14 Viva Ai
"Okuribito" (おくりびと, "Senders") 58
2009 "You Are My Star" 36 11
2010 "Fake"
(featuring Namie Amuro)
8 5 The Last Ai
(featuring AK-69)
15 27
"Nemurenai Machi" (眠れない街, "Sleepless Town") 60 53
(featuring Miliyah Kato)
26 30
2011 "Letter in the Sky"

(featuring The Jacksons)

14 36 Independent
"Happiness" 2
2012 "Beautiful Life"[26] 65
2013 "Voice" 13 2 Moriagaro
"Dear Mama" (ママへ, "Mama e")[27] 6
2014 "Let It Be"
(with Tee)
84 47 Non-album single
"Story (English Version)" Big Hero 6 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2015 "Be Brave"
(with Exile Atsushi)
7 12 40
2016 "Minna ga Minna ga Eiyū" 4 The Best
"No More"
(with Exile Atsushi)
"I'm the Champion" Wa to Yo
"Happy Christmas" 55
"Miracle" 84
2017 "Justice Will Prevail at Last" 74
"Kira Kira" (キラキラ, "Glitter")
(featuring Naomi Watanabe)
2019 "Summer Magic" It's All Me, Vol. 1
"You Never Know"
"Baby You Can Cry" Kansha!!!!! - Thank You for 20 Years New and Best
2020 I'm Coming Home (僕らを待つ場所) It's All Me, Vol. 1
"Good as Gold"[28]
"Gift " (ギフト, "Gifuto")[29]
"Not So Different"
(Solo or featuring Awich)
It's All Me, Vol. 2
2021 "The Moment"[30]
(featuring Yellow Bucks)
"In the Middle"[31]
(featuring Daichi Miura)
"Aldebaran" [A] 37
2022 "Start Again" Respect All
2023 "Respect All"
"Life Goes On"

Notes[change | change source]

  1. "Aldebaran" did not enter Oricon Singles chart, but peaked at number 6 on Oricon Digital Singles chart.[14]

References[change | change source]

  1. "AIアーティスト・プロフィール" [Ai Artist Profile] (in Japanese). CDJournal. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  2. "AIのリリース一覧" [A Look at Ai's Releases]. Oricon. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  3. レコード協会調べ 2月度有料音楽配信認定 [Record Association Investigation: February Digital Music Download Certifications]. RIAJ (in Japanese). March 25, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  4. レコード協会調べ 4月度有料音楽配信認定 [Record Association Investigation: April Digital Music Download Certifications]. RIAJ (in Japanese). May 20, 2011. Archived from the original on September 15, 2013. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  5. "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" [Oricon Ranking Information Service 'You Big Tree']. Oricon. Retrieved August 10, 2012. (subscription only)
  6. The Best (Deluxe Edition) by AI, retrieved May 1, 2021
  7. The Feat. Best by AI, retrieved May 1, 2021
  8. Inc, Natasha. "AI「IT'S ALL ME - Vol.2」インタビュー|今この世界で掲げる、ずっと歌い続けてきた"ラブ&ピース" - 音楽ナタリー 特集・インタビュー". 音楽ナタリー (in Japanese). Retrieved April 11, 2021. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  9. 9.0 9.1 "J-Pop Singer AI Shares New 'Summer Magic' Single in English & Japanese: Listen". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  10. Inc, Natasha. "AIが¥ellow Bucksとコラボした新曲配信、「CDTVライブ!ライブ!」で披露(コメントあり / 動画あり)". 音楽ナタリー (in Japanese). Retrieved June 28, 2021. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  11. "11月スタート新朝ドラ「カムカムエヴリバディ」主題歌にAI 28日「うたコン」で初披露(スポーツ報知)". Yahoo!ニュース (in Japanese). Archived from the original on September 27, 2021. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  12. "Japan Hot 100 - 11/10/2021". Billboard Japan. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021.
  13. "オリコンデイリー デジタルシングル(単曲)ランキング 2021年11月11日付". ORICON NEWS. Archived from the original on November 11, 2021. Retrieved November 16, 2021. {{cite web}}: |archive-date= / |archive-url= timestamp mismatch; November 12, 2021 suggested (help)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "オリコン週間 デジタルシングル(単曲)ランキング 2021年11月08日~2021年11月14日". ORICON NEWS. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "AI、約30公演80000人動員の全国ツアーを10月より開催+2023年第一弾シングルリリース決定" [AI to hold 30 performances in a nationwide tour with 80,000 people from October + first single release in 2023]. BARKS (in Japanese). April 28, 2023. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Japanese Artist Takes Message of Peace to G7 Gathering: Award-winning singer-song writer and Japan's first ever advocate artist launches peace education project". WSAZ News. May 11, 2023. Archived from the original on May 13, 2023. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  17. "AI、G7広島サミット期間中の広島から<Lasting Peace LIVE>配信". BARKS (in Japanese). May 21, 2023. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  18. "AI、ニューアルバム『RESPECT ALL』8月リリース" [AI to release new album "RESPECT ALL" in August]. Billboard Japan. June 9, 2023. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Poole, Robert Michael (September 12, 2008). "She, herself and AI". The Japan Times. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  20. "AI、カイキゲッショクHIROと年内に結婚" [Ai and Kaikigesshoku's Hiro to marry in this year]. Natalie. March 6, 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
  21. "AIが妊娠報告「世界中にハピネス!!!」". Natalie. April 1, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  22. "AI、第1子を出産「自分が産んだこと信じられない」". Natalie. September 4, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  23. "AI 第2子妊娠、大みそか出産予定 夫HIROは"孝行"願う - スポニチ Sponichi Annex 芸能". Retrieved May 1, 2021.
  24. "歌手AI、第2子男児出産「感謝!感謝!感謝!!」|最新ニュース|eltha(エルザ)". eltha (in Japanese). Retrieved May 1, 2021.
  25. 株式会社インプレス. "「AI(エーアイ)の登場で一番迷惑しているのは、AI(アイ)です。」 AIさんが切実!?なメッセージを新宿駅で公開". ネタとぴ (in Japanese). Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  26. "AI、配信シングル「Beautiful Life」 (LEXUS New RX コラボレーションソング) iTunesにて先行配信スタート! はやくもR&Bランキングで1位獲得!" (in Japanese). The Live Music Magazine. April 12, 2012. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  27. "AI、愛する母に贈る新曲「ママへ」配信&母の日ライブも" (in Japanese). Natalie. April 17, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  28. "AI、愛する母に贈る新曲「ママへ」配信&母の日ライブも" (in Japanese). Natalie. March 23, 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  29. "AI、愛する母に贈る新曲「ママへ」配信&母の日ライブも" (in Japanese). Natalie. April 24, 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  30. Inc, Natasha. "AIが¥ellow Bucksとコラボした新曲配信、「CDTVライブ!ライブ!」で披露(コメントあり / 動画あり)". 音楽ナタリー (in Japanese). Retrieved June 28, 2021. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  31. Inc, Natasha. "AI、三浦大知との初コラボ曲配信リリース(動画あり)". 音楽ナタリー (in Japanese). Retrieved August 9, 2021. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)