Known as Hikki back home, 21-year-old J-pop superstar Utada Hikaru has opted to go the one-name route for her highly auspicious U.S.

Known as Hikki back home, 21-year-old J-pop superstar Utada Hikaru has opted to go the one-name route for her highly auspicious U.S. debut album, "Exodus." But the all-English entry is a far cry from her four huge hit Japanese albums—not to mention attempts by other Japanese artists to break domestically: She was born in New York and attended Columbia, so her English is atypically flawless. Same with her mastery of high-tech club music like the Madonna-evoking title track, one of two Timbaland co-writes. (The rest are solely Utada's.) Obvious musical comparisons with Britney Spears, then, don't do her justice, especially in light of lofty lyrics that speak of born-again Christians and the tomb of Tutankhamen ("The Workout") and the BBC sessions of Led Zeppelin ("Animato").—JB