Utada Hikaru "Fantome" (Universal Music Japan)

Earlier this month, my colleague Ryotaro Aoki wrote that he hoped pop star Hikaru Utada's highly anticipated return to the music scene via her album "Fantome" would "save" the Japanese music scene. But did it really need saving?

Sure, record executives must miss the days of enormous profits and can't seem to see beyond whatever tops the Oricon charts, but if the suits would just dig a little deeper they'd find that the music scene is actually quite robust. Utada knows this, she drafted three fantastic artists to help on "Fantome" (two of whom are relative newcomers). In fact — and I know fans will hate me for the suggestion — the trio of guests might just outshine her on her own album.