Updated July.19,2006 19:39 KST

Ayumi's Hit Solo Debut Divides Online Critics

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Ayumi's debut as a solo artist after leaving the saccharine combo Sugar has divided amateur critics on the Internet.

Ayumi's recent appearance on SBS singing her title track "Cutie Honey" did not meet with universal approval from web users. "I thought a Japanese singer had taken the stage," one patriot complained. But others were more positive: "That fiery dance was just too sexy."

"Cutie Honey" is Ayumi's adaptation of the J-pop star Koda Kumi's hit of the same title.



The main bone of contention is that the Korean-Japanese singer’s outfit was as unambiguously Japanese as her name. She took the stage in a light blue shirt and white miniskirt that allowed her waistline to show clearly, a getup reminiscent of Sailor Moon.

Her agency says the outfit was chosen because the original piece was a Manga theme song. But it hotly denies imitating Koda Kumi, saying the aim was “to emphasize Ayumi’s sexy beauty in an original fashion."

The singer’s less than perfect pronunciation of the Korean lyrics has also upset patriots. Despite countless repetitions in the studio to ensure that the pronunciation came through clearly, viewers complained they couldn’t understand the lyrics.

But the politics of race has done "Cutie Honey" no harm, the catchy tune having already ridden all the way to the top of online charts. Additionally, the decision to shake off her cute and precocious image and emphasize her feminine appeal has also earned praise.

In the midst of the contradictory reviews by fans, it looks like Ayumi's solo walk through the Pop music world will become a closely watched issue for the summer.

(englishnews@chosun.com )