Utada [This Is The One] (Third English Album)

March 16, 2009

On And On
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence -FYI
Apple And Cinnamon
Taking My Money Back
This One (Crying Like A Child)
Automatic Part II
Dirty Desire
Poppin’
Come Back To Me
Me Muero
Come Back To Me (Seamus Haji & Paul Emanuel Radio Edit)
Come Back To Me (Quentin Harris Radio Edit)

Note: I normally review my albums and singles in alphabetical order, so this as well as BoA’s English album will be the only exception to this rule. I just wanted to get this out the way. I tried not to be too bias in my review of this, but I kind a guess I was, it could also stem from the fact that I went into this review thinking I was going to straight trash this album, only to find it a somewhat good listen. Imagine that?🙂

The album starts off with the mildly infectious On And On. This was certainly a good song to start the album off on. It doesn’t do much, but what it should and that’s OK. The beat is rather sensual, and well suited for a club or intimate like atmosphere. Utada’s vocals went well with it, I like how she sounded sexy, but not overly so, it didn’t sound like she was overdoing it at all and that was a plus. I found myself enjoying the verses more than the chorus, the chorus to me seemed very lame, I just didn’t like the ‘on and on and on’ parts, they just seemed so cliche and long-winded.

The next track on the album dims the lights with Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence -FYI. Oooh, I actually like this song, a lot. I mean after reading the title and then ogling the ‘fyi’ for a moment, I deduced that I was going to hate it, the end. Hikki really incorporated the for your information part well into the song, and it didn’t come across as corny at all, in fact the song is pretty pass, despite the somewhat lameness and cliche-ness of the lyrics. I liked the piano and the sexy sound effects in the background, it in a sense does put you in a mood, and after hearing this I’m quite sure Mr. Lawrence is going to have a VERY merry Christmas.

The next track on the album is the surprisingly good Apple And Cinnamon. I had the same problem with this song that I had with the previous, ‘apple and cinnamon’ what? I like this song because I can relate to it so bad at the moment, relationship wise, and that’s when you know an artist is doing something right, when you listen to their songs and can say: ‘that’s exactly how i feel’ I kind a wish she would have chosen a better example or allegory than apple and cinnamon, because I don’t honestly see how they go together, but I get the drift. I thought it was nice how the song was lead by the piano and the light play of synth, gave the song a rather somber air. Hikki’s vocals were appropriately wistful and I definitely liked the breathless way in which she chose to sing this.

The next track on the album keeps the somewhat down-tempo tracks coming with Taking My Money Back. I could kiss Hikki on the lips for this track, actually I want to… and I’m straight. The stop and go beat is so cliche and familiar but I love it, it just brings such personality to songs and definitely keeps your attention. The piano is prominent again and I had no problem with that because it went well with the whole flow of the track. I liked Hikki’s vocals as well, very appropriate. This song is pretty average but it stands out because its self-empowering, Hikki is saying, ‘i don’t need or want you, so give me my shit back, i’m gone’ and I love songs like that.

The next track on the album is the sob-fest This One (Crying Like A Child). I mean that in a good way though. I don’t like the arrangement, it sounds way too cluttered, stiff and clashes with Hikki’s vocals, I thought it was best to just ignore it. Hikki’s vocals are decent, but she sounds rather strange and so far this is the weakest vocal performance from her. I like this track though, mostly because I can relate to it, halfway. This reminds me of Mariah’s ‘don’t forget about us’ and ‘we belong together’ intertwined. I love when Hikki says, ‘how could i ever love another?’

The next track on the album is the dull Automatic Part II. I knew I wasn’t going to like this song, despite ‘automatic’ off First Love being one of my favorite songs ever. This is as far from the original as you can possible get and so underwhelming its not even funny. How lame and cliche is the arrangement? I just felt so annoyed and exasperated listening to the typical-ness of it. Hikki’s vocals were also fail, despite being rather strong. It just seemed like she was trying too hard and I just wasn’t buying it. The song is also entirely too short and ends too abruptly; I was left quite confused and disappointed.

The next track on the album is the lukewarm Dirty Desire. This song is quite lame and I like sexual songs such as this. Hikki is someone who you wouldn’t really think can pull off the whole sexy persona, but she’s pretty good at it, especially considering she has a voice that just oozes of it when used in that way. I just didn’t care for this. The beat is catchy, but synth does not equal sexy and it got old fast. I liked Hikki’s vocals… during the chorus. I could have gotten into this track, because the chorus is neat, but that ‘bring the beat back!’ just ruins this song for me on so many levels.

The next track on the album is the utterly forgettable Poppin’. Wow… if the last track was lame this is just ridiculous. Hikki is trying entirely too hard in this song and it just makes me shake my head in exasperation, she has way too much talent to be recording tacky, cliche, generic club knock-off’s such as this. The beat makes me feel drunk and is your typical snap and clap beat. I did not care for Hikki’s winded and tired vocal performance and I’m trying to figure out the: ‘i want to see the/some bodies poppin’ part, because that is just way corny, seriously.

The next track on the album is its only single Come Back To Me. This was my jam when it first came out. I must admit now that the novelty has worn off, but since I can relate so bad like to this song right now I think I’ll be listening to it everyday again, because: ‘you’re one in a million’ I also want to say that a few weeks back this song came on on 93.7, I was actually quite shocked to hear it and even more shocked when my friends sisters baby’s father/boyfriend didn’t change the station.

The last track on the album is Me Muero. This song is very rnb and has a Spanish flavor to it that is very subtle. Hikki sounded like she was singing in Spanish, I mean she wasn’t, but it just sounded like that, or that could be because I listened to this with the volume low and I kept getting distracted. I’m pretty half and half with this song, but I think its going to grow on me. The arrangement is pretty slick in an underwhelming way. Hikki’s vocals were a bit good though, I was into the chorus. I think its mostly because I can relate.

My darling Hikki decided to take on two of the most pointless and wasteful remixes I have ever heard (Come Back To Me (Seamus Haji & Paul Emanuel Radio Edit) and  Come Back To Me (Quentin Harris Radio Edit) and I usually like Hikki remixes. Sad.

-GRADE: B-
Rating: ** stars

Utada Hikaru’s third English album This Is The One is a pretty decent album and because I’m bias I’ll readily admit I like this a lot more than Exodus and this is my favorite English album from her so far. Personally, I don’t think Hikki was selling out at all she was just giving the public what they wanted and at the moment its rnb music. Hikki is at her element when it comes to experimental pop rock and rnb, but she is also good at just plain rnb and I don’t really see what the problem is; so what if the album is predominately rnb with a couple of club and sexy tracks thrown in for good measure, would it have been better if she had come out with a pop, rock or techno album? I honestly don’t see why people have such a problem with rnb music, but I don’t like rock or pop or techno so I guess its an even split. I’m an rnb fan so I look at it from that perspective, I know a good rhythm and blues track when I hear one and you’d have to be a fan of the genre to even grasp half of what Hikki is saying and in the way in which she is saying it. Of course people who don’t like rnb are going to say its trash, but me being the bias person that I am I’m going to say this was a pretty decent album and Hikki finally got her English releases halfway right, in my opinion. I went into this album with absolutely no expectations and came out somewhat pleased. Hikki is good at rnb and she proved that. Yeah, the songs were a bit average, generic, cliche, typical; Hikki’s vocals weren’t always on point (they were at there weakest on this album) and maybe the album could have used a bit of variety, but honestly all artists in every genre falls into the same category at some point in their careers its all a matter of taste. I know some will like this album such as myself and some will not. Hikki’s Japanese music is way better and I’d rather her have put out a single than this, but I’m glad she did, because she gave me some pretty nice songs to listen to every once in a while. I say cut Hikki some slack and stop expecting so much from her at the end of the day she’s only human you can’t expect gold every single time. I’ll appreciate this album for what it is: simple. I’ve heard worse.

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