Anyone who has lived in Japan in the past 10 years knows Ayumi Hamasaki and has heard her music or seen her many music videos. In the rest of Asia as well, Ayumi Hamasaki is a powerful force in music. However, here in the USA, Ayumi is not well known at all. As I was watching her videos a few days ago I was impressed with her ever changing looks and attention to visual detail. I would go so far as to say that she is the Madonna of Japan, with her ever changing style and artistic control over her image, as well as her musical popularity.
In the Time Asia cover story, we see a day in the life of Ayu (as her fans call her) and how involved she is in the artistic decisions surrounding her music and her look. This creative control is what I believe makes the difference and sets her apart from stars of generic pop.