Kurayami Monogatari

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Utada Hikaru (U3) – Kyuusai no Omoide August 28, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 6:21 pm

kyuusainoomoide

Track Listing

  1. THANK YOU
  2. THANK YOU (Instrumental)
  3. Kodomotachi no Uta ga Kikoeru
  4. Kodomotachi no Uta ga Kikoeru (Instrumental)

1. THANK YOU

Well, I guess what it is is that U3 is Hikki’s family and such.  I’m surprised that the label decided to rerelease this.  Now since these are really old tracks, it’s surprising Hikki sounded so odd when compared to her solo releases.  The arrangement is quite interesting since it’s like a mix of pop and rock and Hikki is being rather monotone throughout, but I don’t think it’s too bad, just a little uninteresting, but the fact that there’s hard guitar solo’s make me happy.  It makes me wonder, Hikki knows English, so why was she failing hard here?

2. Kodomotachi no Uta ga Kikoeru

However, the other track on this single, Kodomotachi no Uta ga Kikoeru sounds a lot more like something that would be released by Cubic U (Hikki’s first persona as a soloist).  The vocals are done by Hikki and I’m guessing her father (her mother might be here, but w/e).  You can tell this was made in the 90’s and I sometimes thinl the song has a slight reggae feel to it…Don’t forget that this track is doubled the amount of time “THANK YOU”.  It’s quite interesting.  After all that, I thought the 6 minute time was just too long for this track.

 

 

I’m not exactly sure why the company released this as it’s so ancient in Hikki’s discography.  It does show that Hikki wasn’t exactly a good singer then (age probably was the reason).  I was expecting her to actually have resung them, but it’s the original versions.  I”ll say THANK YOU is very interesting while Kodomotachi was more boring.  Strange release if you ask me.

 

Utada – Easy Breezy June 8, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 4:20 am
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CD

Track Listing

  1. Easy Breezy (Radio Edit)
  2. Easy Breezy (Call Out Hook)

1. Easy Breezy (Radio Edit)

Starting the “EXODUS” era off on a strange note, Easy Breezy is definitly different from what she’s been doing previous….maybe a little similar to something off of “DEEP RIVER” right?  Y’know the R&B style.  I got to say though, this song is damn catchy and quite cute for a Hikki song.  If you pay attention, this song is kind of like “Forget you, I’m totally over it”.  I also have to mention the way she rhymes ~Japanesey~ to ~Breezy~….this is just amazingly lulzy.  Now being an edit, it’s a minute shorter because it doesn’t have the ad-libbing at the end.  Yes, the microphone thing is just a bit strange as she says it a lot as well as ~She doesn’t need you anymore~.  Makes you really question Hikki and her lyrics here cuz Megs from Lost Wing thinks a microphone is a metaphor for a penis…..makes sense though, right?

2. Easy Breezy (Call Out Hook)

I really didn’t see a point including this as something for the single.  All it is is the 2nd part of the chorus and that’s just it….very random and quite unneeded.  Let’s just forget this ever existed and call it obsolete.

 

 

Hikki’s first for the “EXODUS” era was definitely an odd choice for being the first single.  It’s nothing like the songs on the album which is quite difficult because Americans would’ve never thought the other songs are a bit more lyrically deeper.  Still it’s cute and supposed to taken as a joke track as Hikki said and it still makes me giggle.  The Call Out Hook….yeah nuthin to offer here.

 

Utada Hikaru – Prisoner Of Love April 24, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 8:16 am
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prisoneroflove

Track Listing

  1. Prisoner Of Love
  2. Prisoner Of Love -Quiet Version-
  3. Prisoner Of Love (Original Karaoke)
  4. Prisoner Of Love -Quiet Version- (Original Karaoke)

1. Prisoner Of Love

Initially, I was skeptical of seeing this track in particular being re-cut for a single, but somehow she needed to really have another huge song to end the “HEART STATION” era on a big note and in most cases it did just that.  On the album, PoL was/is considered the track was the most R&B influences which I’ll agree to.  Anyways, the song has a very melancholic right from when she says ~I’m a prisoner of love~.  I still kind of wish she chose a different track to have been re-cut but this was an alright choice.

2. Prisoner Of Love -Quiet Version-

Strip the R&B beats and replace it with just piano & string and have Hikki resing the song and you basically get this new version of the track.  I love how powerful the piano is being played and the strings give a more appropriate sound to the track.  Am I the only one who’s noticing when she changes them to a ballad form, the song is a lot better? 

 

 

Prisoner Of Love was an alright recut single.  I mean she could’ve put out another B-side to coincide, but a new version of the track will do.  I would’ve like if she hadn’t done this, but meh I’ll live. 

 

Utada – This Is The One March 13, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 5:37 am
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Track Listing

  1. On and On
  2. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI
  3. Apple and Cinnamon
  4. Taking My Money Back
  5. This One (Crying Like A Child)
  6. Automatic Part II
  7. Dirty Desire
  8. Poppin’
  9. Come Back To Me
  10. Me Muero
  11. Come Back To Me (Seamus Haji and Paul Emanuel Radio Edit) (JPN Only)
  12. Come Back To Me (Quentin Harris Radio Edit) (JPN Only)
  13. Simple and Clean (US Only)
  14. Sanctuary (Opening) (US Only)
  15. Sanctuary (Closing) (US Only)

1. On and On

I know Hikki has a past history of R&B so it’s nice to see her return to her roots at the start of the song.  The lyrics are a bit kinky because it almost seems to be a rehash of “The Workout” but with a different sound.  I really hate the guy in the background sounding like he’s banging some chick or something. 

2. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI

Ok, so Hikki took a melody from a classic JPN tune and twisted it in her ways.  I kind of like the beat and the whole recycling of the classic tune, but seriously your gonna use FYI in the song?  It kind of sounds a bit cliche and maybe cheesy, but the lyrics beyond that is pretty cool and just sexy in a way.

3. Apple and Cinnamon

Apple and Cinnamon was the first known track from the album, and yet I feel a little perturbed at the fact that the song is basically piano and beats.  Third track and it’s getting very old.  I do love this track though because of the new usage of synths and the whole comparing a relationship to a combination of ~apples and cinnamon~.  Maybe she could’ve said Peanut Butter and Jelly….then again that’s a bit weirder.

4. Taking My Money Back

Hikki is mad because of all of the false proclaimations by her man, so just like the title is implying.  She’s taking her money back.  I’m still mad that she’s still using the whole piano/beat work so it’s really starting to irk me.  I really love how she’s getting all angsty and the low synths sound pretty cool.  Sadly, the song seems really short…I mean really short.

5. This One (Crying Like A Child)

At first I was really happy to not see piano, that is until the chorus which pissed me off.  I can really see this as a Rihanna song, because it reminds me of “Umbrella” just without the repititions and punch.  It’s softly sung and shows off her skills at singing in a fast pace.  Good track.

6. Automatic Part II

This definitly does not remind me of Automatic at all.  Anyway it’s definitly heavy on the urban sound so it’s basically different.  It’s also the shortest track on the album so it doesn’t give out as much as an impact.  Maybe a little too repetitive at some parts but this is ok for right now.

7. Dirty Desire

I love how Dirty Desire sounds and finally ditches piano altogether and left in clapping beats.  LOL ~I love you long time~  Way to represent Asian stereotypes bb.  Anyways, this is a dirty song, but Hikki doesn’t obviously set herself to actually say because she mention her fantasies and thoughts.  Nifty idea and it worked so much for her. The middle of the song with the synths was cool too.  The ending was so edgy though and she sampled Janet Jackson at the end?  WOW!

8. Poppin’

What is up with the mysterious 007 music opening Poppin’?  It’s definitly original in her discography, but her voice just bothers me here.  She’s like using falsetto and it’s quite bothersome, but the verses were even better and she’s like ~girls, we have it so much better than boys~  That was a jab at the guys for sure. 

9. Come Back To Me

The track to precede the album, I think she chose a good track to promote the album.  It’s laidback and is something everyone can relate to in one way or another.  Her vocals have gotten stronger since “HEART STATION”.  I actually like the piano/beats here because it isn’t in all over the place and the chorus was catchy.  I still think the lyrics are a bit cheesy, but this song has redeemed itself since the single.

10. Me Muero

Ending off the album, I initially thought Me Muero was going to be a heartfelt ballad.  Was I wrong…It’s another R&B track but it has an odd mood to it.  It’s like hearing it in a Starbucks or something.  It’s so laidback and there’s flutes and ad-libbing.  Not that it’s strange or anything, but it wasn’t something I was expecting.  She even says the title very nicely.  As the song goes on it gets really good!

11. Come Back To Me (Seamus Haji and Paul Emanuel Radio Edit)

For the Japanese fans they get two remixes of the promotional track.  First off is this one and they gave it a club sound and Hikki’s vocals are lightly filtered.  Other than that the remix seemed really dry and empty especially when it’s two guys working on it.  They could’ve added a lot more to it.

12. Come Back To Me (Quentin Harris Radio Edit)

Quentin Harris’s take on the track is also club related and I’m also disappointed in it.  The beat is a little faster, but it’s just as cold and empty as the previous.  I actually liked the one before moreso than this.  That’s pretty bad

13. Simple and Clean

Now with the US Edition of the album, the fans get the Kingdom Hearts songs instead of the craptacular remixes.  I still think Simple and Clean should’ve been on “EXODUS” but y’know seeing it on her works too even if it does break the flow of the album down.  Anyways from the “COLORS” single, the song still doesn’t show much of aging with it’s slow-moving beat and Hikki’s nice vocals.  It’s still one of her most well-known tunes, so I’ll be if people knew this has the KH songs yeah, they are in for a surprise xD.

14. Sanctuary (Opening)

Reason Sanctuary was not bolded is because it’s never been officially released on anything, not even the KH2 soundtrack (Passion was on that).  Now what has been known is that Hikki wrote this song before “Passion” and it kind of shows because there’s a few things that were missing.  Mostly the background vocals and the lack of an ending verse that “Passion” had.  It does have the ~My heart’s a battleground~ part which is cool.  This still doesn’t fit with the album at all because it’s all ethereal and such so it easily stands out from this album. 

14. Sanctuary (Closing)

To put it more clearly, it’s just like “Passion ~after the battle~”, so don’t think it’s anything amazingly special.  The song is still ethereal with the ahhh-ing in the background, but it’s more of a ballad this time around and I love Hikki’s performance especially in English.  It’s kind of weird that at the end the electric guitar that started off the main track comes after Hikki finishes singing the song and then the instrumental pops in to close things off.  Two ideas stuck together, but good.

Tracks Recommended

  •  Apple and Cinnamon
  • Me Muero
  • Dirty Desire
  • Poppin’
  • Come Back To Me

Song of Avoidance

  • Automatic Part II

Was this the one?  Hell no!  “EXODUS” was far more of a better experience than this album.  I do think Hikki’s vocals were more pleasant than “HEART STATION”.  The album does harken back to her R&B days but damn a good portion of the song had the same beats and the lyrics were more lovey-dovey than what was happening on her last English album.  Wow I haven’t been this disappointed in an album in a while…The US Edition luckily took off the bad remixes and put on the songs Hikki is well known for around here.  Still I would’nt call it better than “HEART STATION” or “EXODUS”

 

Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION March 10, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 2:38 pm
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heart1

Track Listing

  1. Fight The Blues
  2. HEART STATION
  3. Beautiful World
  4. Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version-
  5. Stay Gold
  6. Kiss & Cry
  7. Gentle Beast Interlude
  8. Celebrate
  9. Prisoner Of Love
  10. Take 5
  11. Boku wa Kuma
  12. Niji-iro Basu
  13. Flavor Of Life (First Press Bonus)

1. Fight The Blues

Yep….we have struck gold.  Fight The Blues has to be one of Hikki’s best tracks for sure.  Not only does it have the ethereal sound that we’ve come to known, the song just takes me to a happy place for sure and it’s not because of the meaning of the lyrics.  Everytime this song pops up I think of Hikki doing a PV of this in a rainforest because of the tribal beats and the elephant string wail in the chorus.  I especially love the bridge with it’s darker tone and beats.  This already wins best song.

2. HEART STATION

After “Fight The Blues” we begin a long list of old tracks starting with our last A-side released and title track, HEART STATION.  After the powerhouse of the first track this does seem vocally more weaker because Hikki’s vocals are very airy weak for some off reason.  I hear some of the R&B returning as well so it’s a nice track and I still love her English line after the first chorus.  So cool.

3. Beautiful World

Once again, I found myself wondering why Hikki’s vocals were so weak and putting BW with HS was not the smartest of choices because they both seemed to have that problem.  I do still like this track as well, maybe not as much as “HEART STATION” but it’s definitly one of those songs that represent her very well.

4. Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version-

Her biggest track in her career since her debut, When your track gets featured on a dorama (Hana Yori Dango).  You know this song is epic and it still shows.  I love the whole orchestration combined with Hikki singing along was just so nice, but it was my first time hearing Hikki’s weakened vocals so I partly blame this for causing the last two tracks their minor problem.

5. Stay Gold

Stay Gold to me was the last track off the album for me to really connect with personally, but I do like nowadays.  I love the twinkly piano melody and other sounds put with a R&B styled beat.  Even though the arrangement doesn’t exactly move anywhere, Hikki’s weak vocals sounded a lot more better here than in “HEART STATION” but I connected more with the latter just because of the meaning of it.

6. Kiss & Cry

That fanfare opening to me still sounds so random for K&C.  I do have to say the song was/is a bit strange on the album because of it’s happy outlook and music arrangement.  It’s funny that this song she sounds so good and not weak unlike the other older tracks.  I still loved the usage of “Hotel Lobby” in the song, shows that she has maneuverability with her songs, so I hope to see more of songs that cleanly does the same thing.

7. Gentle Beast Interlude

Interesting to see the only interlude being in the middle because she usually stores these right before the final track.  Anyways, the interlude has a very ghastly view of it and you hear snippets of “HEART STATION” more importantly the ~Ai~ parts.  Hikki also adlibs here before it seemingly moves into…

8. Celebrate

Our 2nd track, Celebrate.  Now just like “Kiss & Cry” it’s a very happy sounding track with a nice lite dance beat.  I love this one line of the song ~Just enjoy the art of life~ I thought (that right there, is the most important line of the entire album).  Continuing on, Hikki proves to be so much more better in the new tracks singing because of the lighter needed notes.  The chorus was so cool and made her sounded pimpin for sure.  Sweet song!

9. Prisoner Of Love

Prisoner Of Love is definitly a powerful R&B ballad.  It was so good that she even made the song into a re-cut single (which I’ll review in due time).  It’s so interesting to hear how she proclaims she is a prisoner of love which took the song to a new level, especially how the arrangement of the song was working.  However, I do think it’s way overhyped because of bunch of other tracks are just better IMO.

10. Take 5

Take 5, a song about death was especially surprising to see on this album.  Hikki sounds so strong in this song this time around.  I love when she enters the bridge and her lower tones take over and it’s a quite a beautiful song.  Now I know everyone was like WTF at the sudden cutout of the song, but like people have said before.  Take 5 is about death and it can happen anytime, so having the song cutout so suddenly is honestly the smartest thing Hikki did with the track and our next one.

11. Boku wa Kuma

Who knew Boku wa Kuma would actually have a purpose on the album.  After the sudden cutout, our children’s song begins which can signify that it’s the rebirth song.  Now the meaning of the song would be that theory’s wrench because the song is about a bear….so who knows but this song is oddly cute on the album and Hikki’s French skills is so odd and yet cool to know.  It’s just one of those tracks that couldn’t have been put anywhere else without issues, so kudos to Hikki for putting it after “Take 5”

12. Niji-iro Basu

Our last track is one of the catchiest tunes Hikki has on the album.  She says it has an analog sound, but honestly I don’t hear it nor what it would sound like in the first place.  I just call it a very fun pop track with ethereal undertones and R&B beats.  I used to theorize that Niji-iro Basu continues the rebirth mode because it’s like the song is so bouncy and kiddy-like, but when the song enters the slower part of the song it’s like the song is maturing into an adult.  I might be overlooking it, but it’s such a cool track to end the album with.

13. Flavor Of Life

I’m surprised that there was a bonus track.  It’s so not Hikki.  Even then the choice of putting the original version of Hikki’s biggest single.  Like I said before, Flavor Of Life is like a mimic of Distance because they both are forgotten by their ballad secondaries.  I know both are odd because they are upbeat with sad lyrics, but I like FOL’s original better than the ballad version.  It’s so catchy and the much needed BKGD vocals helped Hikki out  a lot.

Tracks Recommended

  • Fight The Blues
  • Niji-iro Basu
  • HEART STATION
  • Kiss & Cry
  • Celebrate

Song of Avoidance

  • Stay Gold

My favorite album of 2008, HEART STATION was full of meaningful songs that really dug deep into Hikki.  The new songs were all amazing, but not enough of them because the singles filled the rest.  Which by the way a few of them had some vocal problems, but still every track is so wonderful or catchy you can’t go wrong with this…*RECOMENDDED*

 

Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION/Stay Gold February 23, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 9:30 pm
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Track Listing

  1. HEART STATION
  2. Stay Gold
  3. HEART STATION -Original Karaoke-
  4. Stay Gold -Original Karaoke-

1. HEART STATION

Damn, Hikki’s hitting all the right spots this era.  HEART STATION is once again a very ethereal A-side pops up and it’s sadly more evident that Hikki’s vocals are very weak and not supported when it’s just her singing alot.  Even with that problem lurking about, it’s very smooth and her English lines are just sexii.  She even goes far enough to mention God of all things.  The PV for HS though was just a bit weird and left us with questions about what the hell it meant.  It’s a great song though.

2. Stay Gold

Before the release, Stay Gold was well-known, practically when “Beautiful World/Kiss & Cry” came out.  It starts with a sad piano melody that resonates for most of the song.  Stay Gold brought back the R&B sound Hikki was well-known early in her career, but given a little bit of that new sound.  When the single first came out, I wasn’t liking this track much, but by the time the album was released it became very catchy and stood out for me.

 

 

Even though it was released like a few weeks before the album, we get a single and both songs are powerful in their lyrical content and brought the best of Hikki’s sounds together.  I’m a little surprised that Stay Gold didn’t get a PV, but it’s prolly for the better because all of the PV’s in this era were pretty bad. 

 

Utada Hikaru – Beautiful World/Kiss & Cry February 4, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 7:57 pm
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beautifulworld

Track Listing

  1. Beautiful World
  2. Kiss & Cry
  3. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) -2007 Mix-
  4. Beautiful World (Original Karaoke)
  5. Kiss & Cry (Original Karaoke)
  6. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) -2007 Mix- (Original Karaoke)

1. Beautiful World

People definitly said that this was the epitome of her ethereal J-pop style that she’s heavily been under since “DEEP RIVER”.  Honestly, I can agree to it since it isn’t so slow, but more like a dance-like vibe.  The lyrics are a little more on the sad side of things which throws people off because of how dancey it is.  I’m starting to notice though that Hikki is getting weaker with the higher notes for some reason.  Another fault was the long ending…You didn’t need to ad-lib for that long Hikki…Still I love this song.

2. Kiss & Cry

Well, obviously you’ll notice the mood change pretty quickly with the brass fanfare that opens up this lively track.  We do seem to go back into the early days of Hikki with it’s R&B styling.  What people will immediatly figure out though is that the bridge is a sample of Hikki’s English track, “Hotel Lobby”.  I for one do think the transition from verse to bridge is a bit wonky…but it isn’t the worst I’ve heard.  Once again though Hikki, your taking too damn long to finish the song up.  I mean it’s bad you ad-libbed in “Beautiful World”, but it’s worse here…Another great track, but bad ending choice.

3. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) -2007 Mix-

I guess it’s alright to feature a cover track that you already covered before Hikki.  Anyways Hikki fine-tuned a track that was originally found on her “Wait & See ~Risk~” single.  There wasn’t much difference between the two minus a few sound changes, but they were so minor you might as well miss it.  Still, you gotta wonder why she chose such an odd track, other than the movie tie-in.

 

 

Even though this single wasn’t phenomenal like “Flavor Of Life”, This was a pretty strong single for being a double A-side.  Beautiful World is a great song and probably the most memorable of the era, or maybe it’s the others….yea it was that hard picking a favorite of the era.  Kiss & Cry was a nice nod to the past and the resampling of a previous track was genius.  Once again the cover track doesn’t appear on “HEART STATION” which is just well….stupid and it still remains the only track in her JPN discography to not appear on any album.