Debut single from Ayumi Hamasaki released on 8 April 1998. The singer had previously released a CD under the name Ayumi called NOTHING FROM NOTHING. This is her release under her full name. Released by Avex Trax, this single introduced the world to the brilliant lyricist and began a pop culture phenomenon. This was the first attempt by Ayumi to write the lyrics of a song. Her producer Max Matsuura asked her to try her hand at writing and the results speak for themselves.
Hamasaki describes the process of writing as a difficult one. Her beginning as a lyricist wasn't easy. But she's never been the quitting type. She rewrote the song again and again until the girl in the song was a mirror of her own wish--to make an honest attempt to smile even when it is easier to cry. And so this song, which is reminiscent of 80s music with its synthesized sound, was born.
Coupled with the song poker face is a song called simply FRIEND. This song has an extremely nostalgic and heart wrenching one. Though it appears cheerful, when one closely examines the lyrics, they are full of hardships that we all face. Though we wish to be near our friends, they often leave though it is painful. And we have to move on. That is one of the main messages. This theme of heartbreak is often conveyed in Hamasaki's music.
The single was released on one of the smaller discs popular in Japan during the 90s. It contains 17:50 minutes of music--quite generous for a single. The two songs have karaoke versions presented on the CD.
This single was on the Oricon Chart for six weeks and reached position twenty in its time there. From these beginnings, a true pop star was born. With such wonderful and heartfelt lyrics, she deserves her success.
Oh yes, and the title poker face is not just something she thought up during the time she was writing the single. The term is actually the same in Japanese (said pohkah fehsoo) and conveys the same meaning. Probably, she was talking about how she didn't want to break down and show her weakness even when things were difficult. She wanted to keep a poker face. Perhaps this song and the trends it began in her music are her legacy. Truth in her lyrics even when things are dark. That is what Hamasaki Ayumi stands for. She won't live a lie. Her motto is: I want to be true to myself no matter what.