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Utada Hikaru Debuts ‘Tomodachi’ (‘Friend’), a Subtle Nod to LGBT Community About Unrequited Love

Utada Hikaru NHK Songs Tomodachi Friend Live Performance OBKR
NHK

Not long to go now: Utada Hikaru‘s sixth Japanese studio album, Fantôme — her first in eight years, is less than a week away from its September 28 release date.

And today (Sept. 22), during a NHK Songs special dedicated to the singer, the First Love pop icon just debuted a brand new track live for the first time: “Tomodachi” (“Friend”), a collaboration with 25-year-old singer, producer and CEO of indie record label Tokyo Recordings, Nariaki Obukuro (also known as OBKR).

The collabo, which drifts along soft electronic beats and light acoustic guitar work (plus some joyous horn sections in the chorus), is a broadly relatable song about unrequited love. But, according to UBlog, Utada confirmed in an interview during the show that “Tomodachi” was actually penned “from the perspective of a gay individual towards a straight friend.” (!!!)

I want to kiss you, I don’t need things like hugs / Let me have one kiss,” she pleads on the friend-zoning smooth jam at one point.

Oh, we’ll never be able to be friends, never be friends, oh
Oh, because I can’t help myself and I just want to touch you right now, oh
Oh, we’ll never be able to be friends, never be friends, oh
Because if you end up hating me, I won’t be able to live, oh

These embarrassing fantasies and unfulfilled dreams
I’ll have to take them with me
To the graveyard…

Read the full English translation, courtesy of UBlog.

This isn’t the first time Utada’s forged a relationship with the LGBT community: back in 2010, she “outed” her beloved Kuma-chan, a teddy bear she playfully brought along with her for years, in order to show support for legalizing same-sex marriage. (She even threw baseballs with drawings of Kuma holding a sign that said “Legalize Gay M” out to the crowd during her In The Flesh Tour in America.) Years back, her song “Devil Inside” was included in an episode of Queer As Folk. There’s also her shout-out to her gay honeys on This Is The One‘s “On and On.”

And then, there’s this:

The premiere of “Tomodachi” follows the debut of self-empowering dance floor anthem “Michi” (“Road”) and her ode to escapism “Nijikan Dake No Vacance” with Shiina Ringo (“2 Hour Vacation”) off of Fantôme, as well as her performance of “Sakura Nagashi” on Music Station.

And that’s not all: Hikki also performed “Michi” live for the first time, as well as “Hanataba Wo Kimi Ni.”

Watch her performance of “Tomodachi” up top, and “Michi” and “Hanataba Wo Kimi Ni” below:

Meet the Reigning Queens of J-Pop:

Next: Utada and Shiina Ringo Escape in '2 Hour Vacation' Video

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