In an age where anyone and (it often seems) everyone can be an idol, it takes something special to be an icon.

An icon should stand apart from their peers and embody the spirit of their generation. They should be distinct to a particular time and place while at the same time transcending it.

Hikaru Utada is perhaps the only contemporary Japanese pop figure who fully inhabits this role, but by looking at her predecessors we can find some revealing reflections of both Utada herself and the eras they helped define.