Does Shiina Ringo Want to Step Out of the Spotlight?

On May 27, 1998, Shiina Ringo debuted on the scene with the single “Koufukuron.” She debuted that year as part of a wave of female soloists that included Utada Hikaru, Ayumi Hamasaki, MISIA, and aiko. All of these women have had great success, but is Ringo ready to take a page from Namie Amuro’s playbook, and step away from the scene?

Since her debut, Ringo has been active on the front line of the music industry, whether it be as a soloist or as part of her now defunct band, Tokyo Jihen. However, her behind the scenes work has gained attention as well.

In 2017, Ringo garnered attention as the the creative force behind “Otona no Okite”, the theme song for the TBS drama “Quartet.” The song was performed by Doughnuts Hole, a temporary unit composed of Matsu Takako, Mitsushima Hikari, Takahashi Issei, and Matsuda Ryuhei. According to a music magazine writer, that collaboration came about due to Ringo’s love of Takako and Hikari’s singing voices. When the ofter for the theme song came, she took it.

Last year also saw Ringo create a song for Hayashibara Megumi, “Imawa no Shinigami.” Not only did she write, compose, and arrange the song, but she also partook in the single’s overall production, down to the design of its cover.

Compared to previous years, the number of solo releases by Ringo has declined, while the amount of collaborations and behind the scenes work has increased. These two worlds came together late last year with the release of the self-cover album “Gyakuyunyuu ~Koukuukyoku~.” She is set to begin her first tour in three years soon in support of the album.

This may be the last we see of Shiina Ringo as a solo artist though. “I don’t want to sing for myself anymore” is what she’s said to have revealed to close friend, says a music industry official. Instead, Ringo is said to be more interested in giving songs away and looking for promising artists.

Ringo has been creating songs for other acts during her entire 20 years in the industry, but in recent years, there have been more and more requests for her talent behind the scenes. The biggest of these projects was the Closing Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics. After the success of that event, Ringo was chosen to be part of the team in charge of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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  • Comments

    • It was noted by some that her new tour ends on the same day as her debut, so they are expecting an announcement of some sort, like a retirement from performing.

    • shiryukun

      If it’s true, it could be better if she goes in an indefinte hiatus than retiring off the scene.

    • It’s still pretty awesome that she wants to write music for others. We’ll have good music from others then. (?)

    • 773

      Kinda prefer Sheena keeping her songs for herself. Her style doesn`t suit everyone (to Johnnies for example)

    • Robert Morris

      I’m absolutely heartbroken about this. By themselves, her melodies are beautiful and her voice is exquisite, but the two together are transcendent. Her retirement from performing would be such a loss to the world.

    • Even though I’ll be upset when she retires, I completely understand why she’d want to and why she should. Why do something that makes you unhappy when you have the luxury to stop and move on?

      • hasawa

        I quite don’t understand that people can’t grasp the idea that their favorite artist would retire from the scene one day- like “I want her to take a break then come back”. The music industry seems to be quite a hard world and I guess living as a celebrity/influence artist is not an easy life path. Expecting them to live like that for their entire life just because they sill want to hear their music comes off a bit selfish to me. Like you said, it’s completely normal for people to moe on from a situation they’re not comfortable with, so why would singers not be allowed to that?
        Most singers retire one day of another, this is how life goes. Sis been there for 20 years already, s a good job on providing people with what she can do has the right to move on whether she decides to.

        • Zeroryouko

          Nobody’s saying she doesn’t have the right to do this, or that they do not wish her well in the future. It’s just that, if this rumor turns out to be true, she’s going to be deeply missed.

        • For people like that it’s being selfish in a way I like to equate people hooked on drug. Music makes you feel different ways and music you like releases dopamine (or something like that) into your brain and makes you feel happy. Everyone has a favorite song. Most people have a playlist for a rainy day. These things make you feel good. When an artist releases new material it makes you feel even better than before (unless the material sucks). And then the artist decides to cut of that supply. That hole in that person’s life that was once filled by that artist is empty again.

    • ChaiChai

      Koda Kumi = Fail
      Ayumi Hamasaki = Tragic
      Namie Amuro = Retiring
      Shiina Ringo = Future Unkown

      All I have to say now is…

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d75097315b70eee2971d894f070a9c8500842eae8413c488c62441b0af7d30f6.jpg

      ;___;

      • Roze

        If you ask me I think kuu-chan is doing great. For her lack of promo still being to remain in a few 10k range is great. Especially in this age where everything is iTunes and Spotify.

        While there are ppl who don’t really like her latest music, I actually really like it. If I were to compare with namie, for the 6 new songs in her finally album, I only liked one of them. Whereas I’m really liking most of kuu-chan’s songs though her style has changed it’s still very representative of the strong and sexy women feel that I really like abt her. So I Guess difference in taste. Not sth to make a big deal abt, it’s not as though she’s making awful music.

        And most imptly I think she appeared in a variety Programme near the end of last year giving a run down on her life, she seems to be doing well balancing work and family life and I think that’s what’s most impt. Makes me happy as a fan as well.

        • ChaiChai

          Maybe you’re right but she doesn’t do it for me anymore. I used to love her but I really skip most of her newer songs these days an I just can’t with the Gangsta Bitch style she’s doing recently. But this is just my opinion :/

          • Her W Face albums were just terrible, but her songs since that aren’t that bad actually, so I kinda have some hope for her upcoming albums. If those gonna be as bad as the W Face ones, then she probably really is over.

        • This doesn’t refute the fact that she is a flop now.

    • girlymatsu

      I gonna miss her music so much 😭

    • maguro part deux

      Well, if this is it for her…she was amazing.
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lzNXoIJHBqo

    • Guest

      Awesome news! Hopefully Utada is next! Long overdue.

      • camonegics

        gb2 jps

    • yamakita

      Having to sit through the last Kohaku did it for her.

    • WorldGN18

      I’m actually glad that she isn’t retiring from the industry and just from performing, because her talent behind the scenes is the real deal, plus she has been doing this for so long, I can understand her, I think that if she doesn’t enjoy singing that much anymore she should totally go for it!

    • 林檎

      I saw a SWITCH interview where she mentioned that she hates being a household name (which is still a very Shiina Ringo move). Hence, her desire to write songs for other artists. <3 And, Shiina Ringo is an act with planned gestures (concerts) because in reality Yumiko is a shy person.

    • Shem

      So Sheena Ringo’s singing career is going to come to an end four months from now at the 2,000 seat Kagoshima Citizen’s Cultural Hall?
      Is such a scenario really likely?
      The May 27th ending date for her upcoming tour is a bit ominous, but if this really is the saigo no saigo it would be taking place in Tokyo or Fukuoka, n’est pas?
      It is good to see though that she wants to concentrate on writing: she is incontestably the best popular songwriter of the century. After the Olympics she should challenge herself and try to write something for the musical theater, something lasting which expands her audience and speaks to the recurrent themes in her music. I can’t imagine she doesn’t have aspirations in this area—almost all of her work these past few years has been tending in such a direction. Bowie (her only real counterpart over the last half century) died wishing he had put his full energies into such a project. She should not let the same happen to her.

    • Matt

      I feel like this “announcement” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – Shiina’s been focusing her energies behind-the-scenes virtually since Jihen broke up 6 years ago. Sure we get the requisite album every few years with some intermittent, but you can tell she’s been resting on her laurels for a while now with larger projects like the Olympics piquing her interest. I mean, her 20th anniversary album is a self-covers album, and half of SUNNY was previously released singles going back to 2009. She obviously deserves to take a hiatus or even retire if she truly wants to, but I doubt this means the end of her performing career.

      • Matt

        intermittent singles*