Hamasaki Ayumi recently appeared on a well-known talk show, Shabekuri 007, hosted by 7 popular comedians—her first talk show in 7 years.
This appearance resulted in a lot of criticism as Ayu had a tone and demeanor very much different than her past self, which made people wonder why she is pretending to be pure and innocent. Further, she made a number of statements that were said to be lies in a futile attempt to create a down-to-earth image. Some of which were, “I don’t know how to use smartphones,” “My phone is very plain, I don’t decorate it,” “I have no clue about apps.”
But the tech savvy audience would not take her word for it. They scoured her Instagram account and see her photos very much edited and suggested they were done with apps. In 2013, during a Line Bubble game battle with fans, she commented that she is always very noisy when she is playing, suggesting the frequency at which she does it and that she is lying about having no clue about apps. Further, Instagram photos also show her having her smartphone well-protected in a Louis Vuitton case uncovering her lie about having an un-decorated phone. Her conservative cringing look when a nude comedian came out to do his performance also drew criticisms in that the old Ayu (old not as in age) wouldn’t be like that. Why is she pretending to be someone she is not?
But all that aside, I think all these are irrelevant. If you are familiar with Shabekuri, you would have sensed that someone of Ayu’s status wouldn’t and shouldn’t be appearing on that show. Sure, there have been big stars on it, but it’s mainly been comedians, athletes, models, actors who are promoting their upcoming shows, idols, dancers, newscasters, and people in trend. A singer of Ayu’s level would never appear on such a show. A comparative singer would be someone like Amuro Namie, who has never appeared on the show. Ask anyone about it, I’m pretty confident most people would think that it is not a program she would appear on. Amuro has even been invited to the show for guest appearance multiple times as a person the main guest wants to meet, but has never turned up. Her reason is always she is busy preparing for her concert. But Ayu isn’t free either. She is having a tour now which began in May and will last till next February. Choosing to appear on Shabekuri can only suggest one thing: It’s a sign of her decline as a performer; her desperate attempt at holding on to what is left. And she is appearing on yet another variety show of the same kind as Shabekuri this week (Konya kurabete mimashita) doing things only comedians and talents (with no talents) do.
The former songstress’ voice has become coarse and she frequently goes off tune, likely a result of her almost deaf left ear and weakening right ear. Despite being asked to stop performing to prevent her right ear from going deaf as well, Ayu said that the stage is the place she has known all her life, and if she’s not performing, she would be at a loss of what to do.
Such is the cruel life of a superstar past her prime.