This is the One

Posted in Uncategorized by nanshi on March 14, 2009

I really think it is.

Before you wonder what the cryptic post-title means, it’s the title to Utada Hikaru’s 2nd English album!!! note: in the US she is going to go by just “Utada.”

This is the One

pre-order at Amazon for $8.99 (which isn’t that bad).

yay! She’s baaaack. The US release isn’t slated until May 15, but I’ve had the privilege to sample the Japanese release which came out … today? haha. Awesome coincidences, let me tell you. The only difference (as far as I can tell) from the Japanese and the US versions are that the Japanese comes with two remixed versions of her newly released single “Come Back to Me” (MV here!!).

I’m still going through the album right now, but so far — I’m very very very impressed. It’s clear that Utada put her full effort into this; not to say “Exodus” (Utada’s first all-English album) didn’t get her full attention, but I heard a rumor that DefJam only gave her three days to compose the album, so the songs have a bit of a desperate and awkward twinge to them. Plus, “Exodus” was a few years ago, and Utada has matured considerably in taste and style since as well. [[edit: score, I am so psychic and awesome. Utada herself says, “On that album, I was so insecure,” she says. “I was trying too hard, it wasn’t natural. But on This Is The One, there’s a maturity, a more free-flowing and natural confidence.”]] The album is soothing and mellow, but features some strong up-tempo songs (Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, aka, FYI; Automatic Part II) and has Utada’s characteristic emotionally-laden lyrics.

Very very strong undertones of R&B, and take note: Utada’s voice is crystal clear in this. She’s NYC, baby — there is no accent. And it is extremely different from her Japanese choices. It’s clear that they were very careful and picked songs that they felt would suit the audience, as opposed to making her create a bunch of songs and throw them on an album and hope it would work just because she was “talented” (I thought “Exodus” was great because it was so crazy, but Americans don’t like crazy, lol). Talent will only get you so far in America. “Exodus” was more like Jpop, only sung in English (complete with awkward lyrics and funky tones). This album is actually tailored for a wider non-Jpop-listening audience. I think Jpop is great, but you have to admit that it generally does have its weird moments.

Utada’s voice is faintly reminiscent of Dido in this album, but the tone of her songs and the beat are extremely RnB (DefJam). It makes for a very unique mix. You feel that her voice should be up-beat and poppish, but it’s more somewhere in the middle, but not quite RnB/pop crossover. I think Utada’s unique voice should do very strongly with the more indie-music artists and probably quite well in Europe where voices like this are more widely accepted. Still, the songs are really well written and are memorable (but not necessary catchy). I think it’s a strong album from Utada, Japanese or English languages.

All in all, I say give it a listen. If I see this in stores, I’m definitely picking it up.

((I’ll give a more detailed review after I listen to the album again.
It’ll be under a cut when that time comes.))

1. On and On :: Nice upbeat uptempo song. I can see it be a upbeat mellow type of song. Nothing really distinguishable of it. It’s just.. a good song? lol. Intoxicated, emancipated… lol. It’s just nice and soothing. Plus the recurrent On & On is… trance-inducing.

2. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence — aka — FYI . I think everyone’s heard this song. And loved it. lol. It’s a GREAT song. It’s somewhat of an upbeat ballad, type of song. Utada does some fun things with her voice and dropping it. I love the undercurrent piano that runs through the whole song. The pleasant echoing sensation is pretty cool. FYI, we’re gonna be up all night. Listening to this song.

3. Apple and Cinnamon: I think this might be my favorite song on this album? It’s just… nice. Upbeat ballad. Playful. Fun. Let’s not get started with the that’s what he said she said (lol!!!). Chemistry like Apple and Cinnamon. I can’t believe that you and mean are falling out of love, and everybody used to be so envious of us. Such a nice song.

4. Taking My Money Back. Starts off with a strong electronica tempo and synthesizer undertone, BUT Utada’s voice isn’t synthesized (nice). note: I love how Utada always tries to keep a very strong piano melody throughout her songs. I like this song; it’s sultry and again… hypnotic. It’s just an RnB song that you can just imagine listening to and sipping wine. Sorry, I’m really blanking on my creativity today.

This album is pretty hard to review. It’s just.. a very good and solid RnB album. I read another account somewhere that — disappointingly — the poster felt that her songs all sounded too strongly RnB and the same. The beats and the feel and the vibe were all the same. While I won’t argue with that, I believe that it lends a nice element of cohesion to the album. Plus, it has a nice share of upbeat ballads, rather than straight up RnB melodies. Moving on…

5. This One (Crying Like a Child) : How could I ever love another, How could you say you don’t remember?. This is a ballad. It’s hard to describe; it’s intensely emotionally-laden but it doesn’t sound contrived or try too hard to be… hardcore and intense. It’s just… lovely and soothing.

6. Automatic Part II: If anything, I feel this song sounds out of place on the album. It sings of strong hip-hop roots. Not my favorite song.

7. Dirty Desire

8. Poppin’: This is a funny song. Sounds like… an intro to a James-Bond movie, lol.

9. Come Back to Me: need I say more? Go watch the MV and come to your own conclusions about it. For the record, I love this song.

10. Me Muero: note, this is actually Utada’s favorite song on this album, cute. Has a slight Spanish/salsa flair to it (I think I hear wooden castanets in the background?). Upbeat and funky.


Sorry, guys. That was a pretty pathetic “detailed” review. I was going through the songs, and words just… don’t really do them justice. I mean, they’re hard to describe. Yes, they all sound vaguely similar in the sense that they are all mid-tempo and upbeat and share a semblance of lyrics, but that’s where it ends. Because Utada’s voice and composition skills makes every song stand out in its own way; even if that way is rather indescribable to my ears. I’m a bit stumped for words when it comes to really describing songs because Utada’s a very talented producer with her own technical skills and preferences. Any fan of hers will instantly realize that she likes to utilize lots of different styles, techniques, and (essentially) layers that put complex spins on her songs. So while superficially they sound similar because they share the same composer and the same singer, something about the actually presentation puts a different twist on the song. Every time.

I have a feeling that I’ll feel something different every time I hear Utada’s songs because every time I hear them is a different time and different from the last time I heard that song.

So go figure it out for yourself!


3 Responses to 'This is the One'

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  1. beckery said,

    Love the girl, she’s got immense talent. I’d probably get shot for saying this but I think she’s got more talent than Boa. Her english songs are better aswell lol.

    I listened to “Come Back To Me” when it came out and I REALLY LIKED IT! Its not exactly unique but it definitely appeals to the mass, myself included. Had it on repeat for yonks lol. I love the melody of “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence”, its actually my ringtone. Im curious on how she’s gonna make it work with lyrics. XDD

    Will try the album out and I might do a review for it on Imop if I’m not lazy hahhaha. Can’t wait for your review though!

  2. nanshi said,

    lol. Thanks beckery. I was going to comment on imop, but I got lazy, I think? I know I told spazzes, lol.

    Oh, and don’t feel bad. I never thought that BoA was the most vocally talented, ever. I actually can’t stand her voice — I generally tend to like BoA’s songs though, but I think it’s more because the songs are catchy and attractive. They would generally sound much better sung by a more talented singer =D

    Utada’s also just more… original, ne?

  3. Steph said,

    I agree, this album is good. Not amazing, but good.
    Come Back To Me, On & On, Dirty Desire, and Apple & Cinnamon could definitely be hits if Utada was popular here. Possibly FYI too, but the lyrics make me go “WTF?!” haha
    This One and Me Muero are deep songs. Poppin’, Automatic Part II, and TMMB are on the border.
    I love Utada’s deep voice, but her high notes sound shrill (especially live) and weak sometimes. IMO, she’s not strong enough as a vocalist to make it here as JUST a vocalist when America has the likes of Leona Lewis, Carrie Underwood, and other A+ singers (Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, etc) who can also put on great shows.

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