Review : Utada - This Is the One
BillboardHikaru Utada has been the reigning pop princess in Japan since she was 15. With her follow-up to 2004's "Exodus," the 26-year-old is ready to take on the United States. Her new Island album, "This Is the One," was released digitally March 24 with a physical release set for May 12. It features production from Stargate (Ne-Yo, Rihanna) and Tricky Stewart (Britney Spears, Mariah Carey) that combines Utada's Japanese pop roots with a hip-hop twist and lyrics that were written by the singer. The songs range from unassuming and naïve tracks like "Apple and Cinnamon" ("What we had/ Was just too good to last") to assertive club anthems like "Poppin," which has her wearing "sexy stiletto pumps/tight jeans" and not much more than that. In "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence —FYI," Utada makes references to the 1983 film of the same title and infuses it with shout-outs to her hometowns of New York and Tokyo. This globally aware album ends with the Latin-inspired "Me Muero," a song about the aftermath of a breakup.—Keir Bristol...full text
Muumuse.In case you weren’t aware, Utada is a single lady again. Yet ever since the dissolution of her marriage with acclaimed Japanese director Kazuaki Kiriya in 2007, the singer has not made even a single peep regarding the fact in any of her recent Japanese songs.
Maybe the words simply failed her in her native tongue. “Intoxicated, emancipated, unapologetic,” the singer proudly gushes in the chorus of “On And On,” the lead track of her second major English album, This Is The One. “Make the night go on and on,” she continues along a squeaky dance groove, ushering in a wave of frequent substance references and sexual come-ons.
Unquestionably, the album’s overtly sexual ‘tude and frequent references to marijuana may prove just a bit jarring to the ears of some fans of Utada, the same soft-spoken, teddy bear-toting artist that only three years ago released a children’s song called “I’m A Bear.” “During my 9 to 5’s, I’m thinking 6 and 9’s,” she coos along the bridge of “Dirty Desire,” a throbbing session of moans and groans not to far from the realm of another nasty songstress—Miss Jackson....full text
ThearmoredstereoPopping the dent the failure of Exodus left in her ego, Utada, with the aid of some powerful producers (Stargate, Tricky Stewart, The-Dream) , picks up the pieces with This Is The One and proves that she is serious about releasing quality music for the English-speaking crowd. The tracks are radio friendly for the most part, and still manage to retain their ‘Utadaness,’ the unique quality that has made her a staple in the Japanese music industry for years now.
There’s something to be admired about an artist who experiences complete failure, and is then brave enough to try again. However, there is also something to be wary of over an artist who just doesn’t know when to give up. Thankfully, Utada is not the latter. Where Exodus came off as self-indulgent, shallow, and somewhat embarrassing, This Is The One shines and positions Utada for success.
Well aware of who she is musically, Utada sticks mainly to mid-tempos and does them well. Tracks like “This One (Crying Like A Child)“, “Apple And Cinnamon“, and “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence - FYI” mark Utada’s territory. She doesn’t stray far from the formula that made her notable overseas, but she still manages to dress her songs appropriately for American ears; the tunes are catchy without being overly-complex, the lyrics are worth recognizing without being cryptic, and the luster of the songs does not wear off after repeated listens....full text
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