Kumiko Koda (神田 來未子, Koda Kumiko?) (born November 13, 1982), better known by her stage name Kumi Koda (倖田 來未, Koda Kumi?), is a Japanese singer and songwriter from Kyoto, known for her Urban and R&B songs. Having debuted in 2000 with the single "Take Back", Koda gained fame for her seventh single, "Real Emotion / 1000 no Kotoba", the songs of which were used as themes for the video
Final Fantasy X-2. Her popularity grew with the release of her fourth studio album Secret (2005), her sixteenth single "Butterfly" (2005), and her first greatest hits album Best: First Things (2005), reaching the number-three, number-two and number-one spot respectively.
Though her early releases presented a conservative, quiet image, since as early as 2003 Koda has adopted a sexier and more provocative style. Because of this image, she has become a fashion leader among young women, setting trends such as the ero-kakkoii style. She has also won many fashion awards such as, the "Best Jeanist Award" and the title of "Nail Queen" three times since 2006. Since the rise in her popularity, Koda has lent her face and songs to many advertisements. In 2006 and 2007, Oricon awarded with Koda the title of best-selling artist.[fn 1]
On January 31, 2008, a day after the release of her sixth studio album, Kingdom, Koda became the center of controversy when she made a comment on Japanese radio show, All Night Nippon.
Koda's musical style is mainly Japanese Urban and R&B; however, it was only after Koda signed to Rhythm Zone that Japanese Urban and R&B became her main musical styles. But throughout her career her musical style has spanned additional styles such as rock, hip-hop, electropop and dance
In August 2007, it was rumored that Koda was dating SMAP leader Masahiro Nakai. The media questioned the artists' agencies on the matter, neither agency had confirmed or denied the rumors. In September, during a variety show that Nakai was a semi-regular on, socialite Dewi Sukarno was discussing her ideal boyfriend mentioned that Nakai and Koda were dating. It was also rumored that the two would get married before Koda's 25th birthday. In the December issue of Josei Seven, it was "confirmed" that the two were dating.
The couple has been dubbed as the "national couple", which was last used in the early 1960s when actor Akira Kobayashi married enka singer Hibari Misora. However, some have denied that the relationship is real, citing reason that Johnny Kitagawa orchestrated the relationship in order to move SMAP to the Avex label. Websites have claimed that Koda is just a cover up for Nakai's real girlfriend