Utada Hikaru (Utada) – This Is The One [3rd English Album]

March 14, 2009 at 5:11 pm (Utada Hikaru) (, )

thisistheone2

Utada Hikaru’s (Utada’s) third English album, entitled This Is The One, was released on 03.14.09 in Japan. Originally it was to be released on the 24th in the United States but for unknown reasons, it will be released physically in May. It will still be released digitally on March 24th. Come Back To Me was released as a single before the album.

The album opens up with upbeat dance number, On and On. The song starts off with a hot dance beat that has a very American feel with Hikki doing a few vocazliations here and there. Then comes the first verse and she gives some good vocals, managing to stay at the same pace as the music. She does sound a just a little high at some points and a lower vocal tone might have suited the song better. It sounds great when she says “make the night go on and on” because there’s kind of a level of sexuality that Hikki sounds completely comfortable with. One other line that stands out is “honeys if you’re gay, burn it up like a gay parade.” The chorus is very simple, focusing around the repeating of the title of the song. On and On truly has an American feel to it; it actually sounds like a Ciara song from the instrumentation to even the vocal stylings. It’s kind of repetitive but overall it’s a nice song and a nice way to open up This Is The One.

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – F.Y.I., the next track, samples Ryuichi Sakamoto’s song of the same name. Opening the song is a pretty instrumental that is filled with emotion and suddenly the beat is clear and the tempo picks up, pleasantly surprisingly the listener. Then Hikki sings the first verse and her vocals are great here, staying closer to the lower tone while still being very smooth. It’s kind of strange to hear Hikki sing things like “holla at me” and “work it out hustlters.” The chorus is great and those vocalizations are somewhat haunting but they add to the mystery of the song. This song is a much better song than On and On; it’s actually one of the strongest songs on the entire album and just has a very Hikki-feel.

Apple & Cinammon, which was the first announced track, is the third song on the album. The song starts off with the piano and a clear beat before the first verse. Her vocals are good and she sings with true emotion here and her vocals really suit the music. On the chorus, the instrumentation becomes more diverse as the backing becomes stronger and more engaging. The lyrics are pretty nice too as she sings “started out so simple and innocent” and “chemistry like apple and cinammon.” That pure instrumental section is gold though with that sort of dark element coming through strongly. One problem with the song is that it does come to be kind of repetitive so that it ends up dragging on a little bit. Overall, not a bad song but just not one of the better ones.

Up next is Taking My Money Back. The song starts off with a cool instrumentation with the same musical technique of bringing together the piano and a more aggressive background accompaniment. When Hikki sings comes on the first verse, her vocals are nice but they could have been stronger. There’s something very familiar about the song but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where that similarity. Lyrically, the song is about a man who just didn’t appreciate Hikki so she’s done and she’s taking her money back. On her previous English album, Hikki explored various new lyrical themes and managed to sound completely in her element. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Taking My Money Back. There’s something about it that just doesn’t come across as truly believable.

The fifth song is This One (Crying Like a Child). Opening the song is a soft instrumental highlighted by the sounds of the guitar. She carries so much emotion in her voice and it sounds great when she holds those notes (such as when she sings the title of the song). The chorus stands out because the instrumentation becomes more diverse and more capturing and Hikki’s vocals are still great. This song is actually pretty good although it does drag on a little near the end.

Hikki throws a curveball, sampling herself with Automatic Part II. Well when the song starts, it doesn’t really sound anything like the original with some hip-hop influences thrown in to spice it up. It actually sounds pretty interesting and quickly catches the listener’s ear. Then the vocals come in and it’s a bit strange. She sings “hello my name is Utada” and the way that she says her name just sounds awkward. Even with the vocals, it still doesn’t really sound like the Japanese Automatic. On the second verse, she tells the listener that they can look up her on myspace or her newsletter. She’ll be glad to you but you won’t be getting her number. Basically this song is about how she is drawn to music and so it’s kind of cool but it’s really not her best effort when it comes to the actual lyrical execution. The song sounds nothing like the original song so I don’t really get the connection she was trying to make because although the sampling is there, it seems very distant.

Hikki shows her sexy side with the next song, Dirty Desire. She starts the song saying the title of the song and instantly the sexuality comes out strongly. Then she moves onto the first verse and she generally stays in the higher register but it works in the context of the song. The chorus is very simple, just featuring Hikki repeating the title of the song and after the chorus she repeats it four more times. On the second verse, she really brings it as she sounds like she’s doing a kind of talking-rapping thing and it suits the song much better. The song should have just been done like this with the exception of the chorus because it would have sounded much better. The pure instrumental section sounds great as it has a very interesting and creative dance feel to it that entrances the listener. Dirty Desire is a nice track although a little repetitive.

Up next is Poppin’. The song begins with a very mysterious instrumental a la Pink Panther, which takes the listener’s attention strongly and then Hikki comes in. Her vocals are too high and it’s kind of hard to understand her, so the first impression isn’t very strong. But then she sings in the lower register and that sexuality comes oozing out as she holds her notes strongly. She says “girls…you know we have it better than the boys” and there’s something so great about that one line. But then she continues back in the high register and it takes away from that coolness although the line “oops, did I turn you on?” is fantastic. On the second verse, there is the sound of a wolf crying which adds to the mystery of the song. The talking does get a little annoying after a while but Poppin’ is without a doubt, one of the best songs on the album and worth checking out.

The album’s preceding single, Come Back To Me, is the semifinale. The song begins beautifully with the sounds of the piano before moving into the song’s actual sound. Hikki’s vocals are nice throughout the song and much like Taking My Money Back, there is just something about it that doesn’t particularly Hikki. Probably the most stand-out part of the song is before the final chorus when she sings “baby come back to me.” The combination of the music at that point and Hikki’s vocals just works. It definitely carries a more mainstream sound, which can be considered a good or bad thing.

The album closes with the Spanish influenced, Me Muero. The song begins with a cool and relaxing Spanish pushed instrumental that catches the listener’s ear and then comes the first verse. She picks the wise decision in staying in the lower register and her vocals go perfectly with the music. She kind of has an accent on the chorus and it doesn’t really make sense because she doesn’t usually have one. Nonetheless, she sounds great when she sings “me meuro” and there is a lot of emotion in her voice. It’s a great way to close the album with a very interesting sound.

Album Ranking: B –

Honestly, what makes this album disappointing for me is that I know Hikki can do a lot better than this. Exodus was a masterpiece, featuring such diversity in lyrics, sounds and styles. This Is The One’s biggest problem is the repetitiveness. There are so many slow numbers with similar sounds, that it begins to get a little old. Luckily, there are some standout tracks here like Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – F.Y.I., Poppin’ and Me Muero. What I can say is that the album is much more mainstream than Exodus but I would have taken a unmainstream diverse album over this anyday.

Advertisements

3 Comments

  1. musicmuse_q said,

    Ah, thank you for reveiwing Hikki’s latest. Honestly, you could have said this release was complete crap and I would still buy it (LOL). I’m hoping this isn’t too mainstream and Americanized though. That tends to be a major turn off for me, which is why I think I enjoyed Exodus so much. From your review, I think I’ll like the album, but I don’t expect to be blown away. And I think I’ll just skip Automatic Part II in order to save myself the disappointment.

  2. amaiyume said,

    Yeah I’m exactly the same way. I thought Exodus was amazing and it was the reason I was so looking forward to another English album…it was just so creative and I thought that she really took risks that I had never seen from her before

    This Is The One isn’t a bad album…but it just lacks that Hikki element. It’s definitely more mainstream but I think the quality took a hit in order to have a more American sound…there are some good songs on here though so I hope you enjoy it 🙂

  3. Jasmine said,

    I actuall LOVE the album. I mean yea there are songs on there that i couldnt care less for but there are four that i absolutely LOVE!! like: Apple and cinnamon, This one(crying like a child), Come back to me, and Taking my money back. I’m a 16yr old african american girl and I have great taste in music by the way. SO i would absolutely give this album a thumbs up 🙂 YOU GO GIRL UTADA U CAN SANGGGGG!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: