Kurayami Monogatari

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Utada Hikaru – Face My Fears January 18, 2019

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 6:00 am

facemyfears

Track Listing

  1. Face My Fears (Japanese Version)
  2. Chikai
  3. Face My Fears (English Version)
  4. Don’t Think Twice

1. Face My Fears (Japanese Version)

Opening the single up is of course the song used as the intro for Kingdom Hearts III and boy does seem like it steps outside of what “Hikari” and “Passion” did previously.  I really do love how the song starts off slowly and kind of in a somber light before it builds itself into this dubsteppy breakdown that kind of makes the mood feel uncomfortable and off the wall and I kind of enjoy that switch of moods.  Then again it’s no surprise that the song was produced by Skrillex of American fame here.  It feels like such an odd pairing, but I kind of dug the track even if it doesn’t quite live up to the dynasty that the previous Kingdom Hearts themes had.

2. Chikai

Which seems to kind of how I feel about Chikai despite this being an actual separate song used as the ending theme of the game (kind of weird we won’t be getting an orchestral version of “Face My Fears” right)?  With the time I’ve had with this song since her album, “Hatsukoi” last year, Chikai is still kind of an odd song, mostly because of the rhythm here, but the moodiness and sentimentality of the track kind of stuck out to me and I thought Hikki sounded very nice here.  Fitting song for the franchise!

3. Face My Fears (English Version)

No surprise that the single would also include English takes on both themes and great to have prior to the game’s release.  Really not much to say here but I mean it’s still sung pretty well from Hikki and at least I can understand this lyrically.  There’s just something mysterious about this song and I just love it!

4. Don’t Think Twice

Yeah, this is the US title for “Chikai” and its just until now that we finally get its English variant and I’m pretty happy to see this as I feel like the emotions carry better here.  I think Hikki also had a bit more time to really get the lyrics right for the game.  It’s just a pretty song and it’s another ballad that ended up sticking to me.

 

 

Wow has it been over 10 years since Hikki released an actual physical single (not counting that odd U3 single).  Of course, this is a pretty big deal because this is the single to promote the theme songs for Kingdom Hearts III and that was more than enough to warrant a single!  I have to say that both Face My Fears and Don’t Think Twice are pretty appropriate and decent songs to serve the game and the Japanese cuts are on equal ground as well versus the US/JP differences between the KH1 & KH2 themes.  I just hope this puts a fire into Hikki and she can return to releasing singles!

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Utada Hikaru – Hatsukoi July 21, 2018

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 7:08 am

hatsukoi

Track Listing

  1. Play A Love Song
  2. Anata
  3. Hatsukoi
  4. Chikai
  5. Forevermore
  6. Too Proud with Jevon
  7. Good Night
  8. Pakuchii no Uta
  9. Nokoriga
  10. Oozora de Dakishimete
  11. Yuunagi
  12. Shittosarerubeki Jinsei

1. Play A Love Song

Opening the album, Play A Love Song starts off with such an ethereal kind of glow and positive outlook like “Fight the Blues” did but this song is a lot more chill and laidback in comparison as well.  With the simple piano melody and light strings, percussion and synths, the song is definitely reminiscent to stuff from “HEART STATION” for myself.  There’s something relaxing about the track and it just starts the album off on a nice note.

2. Anata

So the bolded tracks are digital releases she dropped in the last two years prior to the release of the album!  With a piano intro, Hikki brings it in quite nicely and softly, but it does kind of come off a little similar to “Play A Love Song” in the arrangement and same instrumentation as well (minus synths though).  Though I was happy to hear brass in the song though to kind of spice things up, but it’s a middle-of-the-road kind of track for me.

3. Hatsukoi

As the title track of the album (and released a couple weeks before the album was released), Hatsukoi marks as the first ballad on the album and it really pops out especially since Hikki is singing in a slightly higher register.  Though the ~I need youu-hoo~ lines sound so alien to me for some reason like it’s not Hikki but yet it is.  As the song moves forward, strings are added to the arrangement.  It’s a dramatic track and she sounds good in this one!

4. Chikai

So to be honest, I was pretty hyped for the album just to listen to this song in full and if you didn’t know this is the song chosen to be the theme song for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III.  Though unlike “Hikari” & “Passion” before it, Chikai is more of a ballad with strings and piano at the forefront.  Though it does take some interesting turns with the beats because it kind of throws me off a bit since it’s not a simple beat to follow.  It might not quite live up to its hype, but I suppose it works for the series (especially with the English lines she throws in this).  Makes me wonder when we’ll get its US version, “Don’t Think Twice” released.

5. Forevermore

Moving on, Forevermore was another digital single released and this one has a little more oomph than all the previous songs that came before it.  I do like the songs more bright nature and the lowkey jazz vibes I get is also a nice twist to the song.  It does feel like it’s building up the entire way, but never totally feels like it makes it there?  Still, I’m pretty impressed by her vocals here!

6. Too Proud with Jevon

Hmmm?  Something odd from Hikki once again?  It seems like it’s the case with Too Proud with the kind of upbeat, but also somewhat playful atmosphere I get with the synths and harp?  It’s a mellow track it feels like and Hikki sounds relaxed and then hearing the tune kind of going into an R&B sound is just unique!  Could’ve lived without Jevon though, he kind of takes me outta the song…but otherwise, quirky little track.

7. Good Night

I thought our next track Good Night was going to be another piano ballad, but it’s quickly dashed as it’s more like a rock ballad, but still has strong pop elements!  I have to say, the song’s more lowbrow sound is nice and really was there to set Hikki’s vocals up front and she sounds pleasant if not maybe a little weak?  I don’t know, but there’s just something mysterious yet refreshing about the song.  I mean she does say ~gooooooooood~ a LOT in the track, but it’s still one of the standout tracks here.

8. Pakuchii no Uta

If I thought “Too Proud” was a bit strange on the album, Pakuchii no Uta is basically the “Boku wa Kuma” for this album as the sound of the intro is kind of cheesy and kid-like, but afterwards the song kind of goes into this somber-like state that sounds more depressing than “Good Night” did.  It does go back to the kiddy-like sounding lyrics, but otherwise…just not quite that good.

9. Nokoriga

Pipe organ to open up the next track?  I guess, but it just suddenly drops when Hikki begins to sing the first verse.  I don’t know why, but this song just doesn’t do much for me for some reason.  Maybe it’s the simplistic arrangement or the boring pipe organ chords that plays, but this song just doesn’t go anywhere for me and I almost fell asleep to it.

10. Oozora de Dakishimete

The last of the digital singles released, Oozora de Dakishimete kind of makes up for the boredom from “Nokoriga” with a more lighter sound but happier arrangement as well.  I like the arrangement and Hikki’s vocals are a lot more mesmerizing to listen to going in and through the song.  There is a couple of odd parts in its choruses where the arrangement gets bass synth and acoustic guitar?  Still, the song is a much needed improvement.

11. Yuunagi

Something dark comes this way in our penultimate track to the album, Yuunagi with some dark chords played by the piano.  At the minute mark is when Hikki begins singing and boy does this song sound fantastic and sends you to a different place.  It’s such a haunting ballad and my thoughts take me through an Autumn forest for this one even if lyrically it’s about loss.  It’s one of the best tracks off the album hands down!

12. Shittosarerubeki Jinsei

As the album’s closer, Shittosarerubeki Jinsei is definitely the one track that got something different going on from the other tracks on the album from the unique beats and cool bass and other things like the strings that give it a somewhat Arabesque groove.  Why it was chosen to close the album instead of “Yuunagi” is interesting though.  I kind of dug it!

Tracks Recommended

  • Yuunagi
  • Good Night
  • Shittosarerubeki Jinsei
  • Play A Love Song
  • Hatsukoi

Song of Avoidance

  • Nokoriga

Wow, it feels like forever since her last album doesn’t it?  Hatsukoi as a whole left me both fulfilled and somewhat bored by it at the same time?  I don’t know why but it feels like none of the songs were terrible persay, but many of them felt a bit too mellow for me, I’m kind of missing the truly upbeat stuff like the stuff she released back in “ULTRA BLUE” and “HEART STATION”.  Still, this is a pretty decent album and Yuunagi is a hidden gem to the album!

 

Utada Hikaru – Hikari (Ray Of Hope MIX) January 12, 2017

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 6:47 am

simpleandclean

Track Listing

  1. Hikari (Ray Of Hope MIX)
  2. Simple and Clean (Ray Of Hope MIX)
  3. Hikari (P’s CLUB MIX)
  4. Simple and Clean (P’s CLUB MIX)

1. Hikari (Ray Of Hope MIX)

Seeing a new remix for Hikki’s Hikari single (which is due to a new Kingdom Hearts compilation) was an interesting move for Hikki and I was wishing it was a new song (or maybe a remix for “Passion” would’ve been better).  Anyway, the new remix is pretty different from the original going for this very unique arrangement that sounds like a mix of ethereal vibes and underwater/tropical undertones.  While I do prefer the “Simple and Clean” version, it’s a cool arrangement and something that’ll stick out in Hikki’s repertoire.

2. Simple and Clean (Ray Of Hope MIX)

Since the two songs are actually different from one another, I wasn’t surprise that the remix would be a smidge different from another.  Having an English version of the song really helps Westerners get used to the track by understanding the lyrics more.  I do enjoy the verses a lot as the deeper synth tones give a much darker feel.  Though the chorus is a little out of place, but I mean there’s not too much you could do.

3. Hikari (P’s CLUB MIX)

It feels like they slowed the remix down a lot and replaced some of the more synthy stuff with beats and a different set of synths.  I do like that the beginning of the song had some lyrics from another Hikki song, “traveling” thrown into it (it’s also in the Ray Of Hope MIX as well).  As a remix itself, I’m a bit in the middle of the road because it just sounds a bit too slow for my liking.

4. Simple and Clean (P’s CLUB MIX)

Same thing can be said about Simple and Clean’s version of the remix.  I will say that the remix itself works better with the vocal melody of this track more than “Hikari’s” just for the cadence to the beat and her lyrical flow.  Overall, this is the preferred version of the two, but I still like the first two tracks more.

I was a bit surprised that Hikki would release this as a single (although digitally at the moment).  As the Ray Of Hope MIX was used as promo for Kingdom Hearts 2.8, dabbling back into Hikari and Simple and Clean seems like beating a dead horse at this point, but I enjoyed the effort that remixing the songs would give a fresh twist to these old songs.  I will say, the tropical EDM feels of the Ray Of Hope MIX is cool and puts a totally different spin on things, the P’s CLUB MIX didn’t really do much (well maybe it did for S&C).  Overall it’s OK, but I hope by the time KH3 releases, we’ll have a new song to love!

 

Utada Hikaru – Fantôme October 1, 2016

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 5:50 am

fantome

Track Listing

  1. Michi
  2. Ore no Kanojo
  3. Hanataba wo Kimi ni
  4. Nijikan Dake no Vacance feat. Shiina Ringo
  5. Ningyo
  6. Tomodachi with Kobukuro Nariaki
  7. Manatsu no Toori Ame
  8. Kouya no Ookami
  9. Boukyaku feat. KOHH
  10. Jinsei Saikou no Hi
  11. Sakura Nagashi

1. Michi

Opening up Hikki’s album, we have Michi which many people did say was an upbeat song and I can tell that with the arrangement right from the start.  I really like the beat and hearing Hikki again after so long is really nice and it feels like her voice did recover a bit from the thin sounds she had back in “HEART STATION”.  She’s never really let us down with opening tracks and this is no different, a really bright and light-hearted song!

2. Ore no Kanojo

Unlike the happy “Michi”, Ore no Kanojo opens with some string bass to some kind of jazzy track.  I’ve always thought Hikki’s lower spectrum in her voice suited songs with this kind of lower and darker feel and while Ore no Kanojo doesn’t seem to be as sullen as should, I really like her timber for this one.  I also really like that it builds up to this conclusion and softly finds itself quiet (with synths of course) and then ends with a final verse.  It’s different and I quite like it!

3. Hanataba wo Kimi ni

While it has been quite a while for us Hikki fans to get this album due to her going on that 6 year hiatus, back in April she released two digital singles for fans to get excited for as she returned.  As the two digital singles were tie-ins for different things, I still was just happy to see Hikki releasing new songs.  Hanataba wo Kimi ni is the first ballad of the album and she stuck to the simple piano/strings style of work and while I say overall it’s OK, it really doesn’t compare to past songs like “FINAL DISTANCE”, “COLORS”, or even “Dareka Negai ga Kanau Koro”.  It’s just a vanilla ballad, but a sign that she was still around.

4. Nijikan Dake no Vacance feat. Shiina Ringo

Who knew that Hikki would collaborate with Shiina for song?  Either way, it’s exciting news as they are legends in the genre!  Also, it’s pretty great that this was chosen as the main song to promote the album!  Once again, Hikki’s lower vocals sounds so good with the simplistic arrangement of guitars before more instrumentation is presented.  At first, I was wondering where Shiina was but she enters the song in the 2nd verse.  While I normally can’t stand her vocals, she calmed it for this one and she gelled nicely with Hikki for the most part.  This was just a great song and one of the standouts here!

5. Ningyo

Opening with some pretty harp, Ningyo is another ballad for the album and once again sticks to the simpler routes.  While I feel like this would make a good pairing with “Kairo” for some reason, Ningyo has this mesmerizing arrangement that’s only slightly thrown off by the drums (which was a bit brash against the harp, especially towards the end).  Still, the song is nice, but it’s just there for me.

6. Tomodachi with Kobukuro Nariaki

Moving into our next track, Tomodachi picks things up with a cool beat and nice acoustic glow.  I do know just from reading around that this is kind of about crushing on someone of the same gender but the reciprocation is one-sided.  I really like when Hikki talks about these kind of things but fits them to a happier beat, something strange but whimsical about that.  While I’m not entirely sure where Nariaki is pertaining to the song (maybe guitar or trumpet?).  Cool song and a pretty catchy one at that too!

7. Manatsu no Toori Ame

The other digital single released back in April, surprise, surprise though that it’s another ballad.  Like my problem I had with “Hanataba wo Kimi ni”, the easy to go to arrangement is pretty basic as things go, but I feel like Hikki did a lot better with emoting and making the song her own and giving off this cold and sad atmosphere (even with the beats, it added some colors throughout).  It gets better in the 2nd half with strings and a push of volume and grandeur. It’s a good ballad that really can stand with the best of Hikki’s ballads!

8. Kouya no Ookami

After such a nice ballad, I wasn’t expecting some sexy breathing to pop up next.  Kouya no Ookami brings back up more of Hikki’s funk style and I approve of the notion since a lot of this album so far has been slow sailing.  I was kind of expecting more from the sog, but I’m not sure why because I love the horns and bass lines and then the break into the pre-chorus with added piano was interesting, but it led to an anticlimatic chorus IMO.  It’s OK, but there could’ve been a little more to it than what we ended up with.

9. Boukyaku feat. KOHH

It felt like a heartbeat starts off on Boukyaku and there’s just something radiant and soothing about this intro that caught my attention after “Kouya no Ookami”.  Maybe that it reminds me of something from Final Fantasy X.  Though this intro goes on for a while (about a minute and 35 seconds) before KOHH does a sort-of rap/spoken dialogue for another minute before Hikki finally makes her presence known.  Though at that point the song just kind of phases out of mind as the arrangement doesn’t excite me as much and KOHH for the same reason.  It just feels like an extended interlude to me.

10. Jinsei Saikou no Hi

As we near the end, we have the last new track of the album and Jinsei Saikou no Hi feels like a throwback to her earlier days with that tinge of R&B, but a mix of what she was throwing out in “HEART STATION” with the ethereal synths and lightheartedness.  While I’m surprised it’s the album’s shortest track, I felt like this had some nice character about it.  Weird that it reminds me of “Niji-iro Bus”?  Nice short track!

11. Sakura Nagashi

Ending the album, I was a little perplexed by the choice of including Sakura Nagashi (as it’s the oldest track on the album, released as a digital single back in 2012.  I still think it’s a really beautiful, thought-proving ballad she has here no doubt, it’s just the choice of including it as all the other tracks were done in 2016.  Beyond that, it’s a great emotional ending to the album that fans have been heavily waiting for.

Tracks Recommended

  • Sakura Nagashi
  • Michi
  • Manatsu no Toori Ame
  • Tomodachi with Kobukuro Nariaki
  • Nijikan Dake no Vacance feat. Shiina Ringo

Song of Avoidance

  • Boukyaku feat. KOHH

Wow has it really been almost 8 years since “HEART STATION”, her last studio album that wasn’t a best (or a tribute album)?  I feel like it hasn’t been too long since Hikki did throw out some songs during her hiatus.  Then it culminated into Fantôme and while I don’t think it’s her best album to date, it’s nice to see her return.  I feel like there’s something missing to the album that made her last couple such pieces of art that I’m maybe a little worried?  I mean her voice does sound better, but the songs just mostly didn’t resonate with me as much as her last 3 albums had.  I’m sure I’ll get used to it though with more listens!

 

Utada Hikaru – Sakura Nagashi November 20, 2012

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 9:42 pm

Track Listing

  1. Sakura Nagashi
  2. Sakura Nagashi (Instrumental)

1. Sakura Nagashi

It’s been so long since we’ve heard Hikki last and out of the blue she releases Sakura Nagashi (which is tied to Evangelion of course).  This song was definitely worth the wait for Hikki to throw in because it’s definitely one of her best ballads IF NOT one of the best!  There’s something so profound and beautiful with this ballad that I feel like it was some sort stroke of genius.  It’s pretty, Hikki sounds amazing and while the PV is a tad touchy in places, it fit so nicely together.  Great song, but she’s not gonna get out of hiatus-land?  Damnit….

 

 

I’m not sure why but Hikki just surprised and blown everyone away with Sakura Nagashi.  Like I said, one of her best songs to date and really made me feel like this hiatus is essentially restoring her flow and lyrical content (even though she was pretty good before the hiatus),  I’m sure this’ll get more popular as the days come and maybe perhaps beat “Flavor Of Life” in some of the records that it created. *RECOMMENDED*

 

Utada Hikaru – Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2 December 8, 2010

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 1:31 am

CD 1 Track Listing

  1. Beautiful World -PLANiTb Acoustica Mix-

CD 2 Track Listing

  1. Arashi no Megami
  2. Show Me Love (Not A Dream)
  3. Goodbye Happiness
  4. Hymne à l’amour ~Ai no Anthem~
  5. Can’t Wait ‘Til Christmas

1. Beautiful World -PLANiTb Acoustica Mix-

I should get the song that hasn’t been released physically on Hikki’s discography, the end of the first disc contains an acoustic version of Beautiful World.  I was a little turned off at the fact that PLANiTb decided to make this one acoustic because we all know that their past works have made the songs more electronic and edgy.  There’s a little bit going on, but natural instruments all over the song basically.  I don’t think Hikki resang for the version which is a bit meh, and it shows since some of the parts don’t sound right together…but it could just be me.  I still prefer the original version though.

CD 2

1. Arashi no Megami

Beginning the second disc of all new material, Arashi no Megami is kind of a slow start for the disc because it’s rather a simple song for Hikki to put out, but I’d say it’s a bit like “Be My Last” and how the song is very melancholic and mostly stays at the slow rhythm.  To me it doesn’t do much since I’m not usually the one that likes the simple Hikki ballad…it just doesn’t do anything for me.

2. Show Me Love (Not A Dream)

We’ve known about this song for quite a long time (actually knew the title right around the release of “This Is The One”.  I was creeped out at first because of the gloomy atmosphere of the song in the verses, but she sounded so right with the song, but then the chorus comes in and the mood just turns into a rockin’ one.  It’s kind of like “Kremlin Dusk” in where there’s just so much angst going on and “Drama” with personal lyrics.  It’s a great mixture and I was hoping she’d have another rock song someday and this worked out very well.

3. Goodbye Happiness

Being the song with the most promotion for the album (only one of the five that got an actual PV), Goodbye Happiness is definitely catering to the people that love songs like “This Is Love”, “Celebrate” and the original version of “Flavor Of Life”, it’s upbeat, fun, and yet the lyrics are the opposite.  I have to say, I really enjoyed the song since it’s just cute and Hikki sounds great being herself.  I think I love the ~oo oo, oo oo~ parts of the song since it just caught my attention.  It’s just a song that I needed to hear from her this year lol

4. Hymne à l’amour ~Ai no Anthem~

Though to be honest, Ai no Anthem was actually the first promotional song for the album and being a cover of a French song, I was wondering what Hikki had up her sleeves for this one.  Well, it’s definitely one of her WTF songs since she sings some of the song in French and the music arrangement is not of her normal which was a loungy/bossa nova/jazz style.  I did like the fact it was so different from what she really did and adding that flute solo was pretty damn cool for me.  She does go back to Japanese for the rest though.  The only problem was though that the song was way too long for such a style since it changed so little and kept the same pattern.  If it wasn’t 6 min+, it’d be prolly a whole lot better.

5. Can’t Wait ‘Til Christmas

Giving the release date, I guess Hikki wanted to end the second disc with a Christmas tune.  Though, I didn’t really want another piano led ballad like “Arashi no Megami”, but I guess we just got stuck with it.  Like said song, it’s not very exciting for me, but it’s passable…just not the kind of song I’d see myself listening to much…”Nichiyou no Asa” did a much better job representing Christmas.

 

 

Yeah, it’s very sad to see that Hikki is going on an hiatus over a hiatus but at least she gave us a good present to keep playing and playing.  I don’t know why, but half was pretty good and half was kind of meh.  The good ones though were more than strong enough to be released as A-sides which would be Show Me Love, Goodbye Happiness, and Ai no Anthem.  The other three kind of seem underwhelming compared to the multitude of amazing songs on this best-of…eh can’t wait to see her back!

 

Utada – Dirty Desire December 27, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 8:12 am

Track Listing

  1. Dirty Desire (Mike Rizzo Radio Edit)
  2. Dirty Desire (Digital Dog Radio Edit)
  3. Dirty Desire (Razor N’ Guido Radio Edit)
  4. Dirty Desire (Mike Rizzo Club Mix)
  5. Dirty Desire (Digital Dog Club Mix)
  6. Dirty Desire (Razor N’ Guido Main Mix)
  7. Dirty Desire (Mike Rizzo Dub Mix)
  8. Dirty Desire (Digital Dog Dub)
  9. Dirty Desire (Razor N’ Guido DUHB)

1. Dirty Desire (Mike Rizzo Radio Edit)

He’s definitely no stranger to American releases, but Mike Rizzo gets his remixes right and of course Hikki’s Dirty Desire is a part of that list.  Changing to already danceish original, the remix gives it a harder electronica vibe and Hikki’s vocals are a little bit filtered, but honestly it kind of fits. 

2. Dirty Desire (Digital Dog Radio Edit)

Ok, the start of this remix is already different enough to make it seperate from the last song, but sadly the melody of the remix feels rather empty and rather plain.  I did like how they incorporated the talking parts of the song to seperate the verses.  It is however, the shortest radio edit off the single.

3. Dirty Desire (Razor n’ Guido Radio Edit)

The 3rd main remix off the single, Razor N’ Guido instead begins the remix with a short snippet of the talking part before leading into the first verse.  If it wasn’t for the radio edit telling me, I thought this would be the club mix since it feels so much like one.

American singles never really impress me and even here on Dirty Desire nothing really pops out at me.  Nice remixes, yes, but might as well be forgotton, since usually most J-pop fans don’t go to these kind of singles.