Utada Hikaru – Beautiful World / Kiss & Cry

Release Date: August 29, 2007

beautiful_world_-_kiss__cryTracklist:

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)
5. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) -2007 Mix- (Original Karaoke)

Beautiful World is a tie-in for the movie Rebuild of Evangelion. The lycis depicts the inner struggle of the characters in the movie, even though the melody might seems cheerful. I must admit that the melody is my favourite part of the song. This song uses synth-like background music; it sounds like something that could be out of Ultra Blue. Utada’s voice seems to have almost recovered from the strain she got from her Utada United tour in 2006. It’s still a bit strained on the higher notes, but it is less obvious as it was in Flavor of Life. The ending is pretty awesome to its own right too, even it’s just repeating the same lyrics over and over again.

The second A-side, Kiss & Cry, starts off with a flashly marching-band styled opening, before the beat of the drums takes over. This song is quite dry compared to Hikki’s usual works; in the verses, it’s usually just her and the beat of the drums, and some brass at the end of the phrases. Kiss & Cry also recylces a part of the melody of Hotel Lobby (off of Hikki’s English debut album). The ‘cup noodle’ part is…interesting, but it is a cup noodle tie-in. Her voice seems completely fine in this song, which is a good sign.

I don’t think I’ve heard the original mix, but Hikki does pretty well in Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) -2007 Mix-. The only thing that irked me was her lack of vocal support, and the background music seemed a bit strange and unfitting. I think Frank Sinatra sang the original version.

Overall Rating:
4.5/5

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Utada Hikaru – Flavor of Life

Release Date: February 28, 2007

flavor_of_lifeTracklist:

1. Flavor Of Life
2. Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version-
3. Flavor Of Life (Original Karaoke)
4. Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version- (Original Karaoke)
5. Flavor Of Life -Antidote Mix- (CD Only Bonus Track)

I am a bit biased toward the ballad version, but Flavor Of Life seems a bit too upbeat and fast for me. The background music is quite synth-like; it’s similar to her Ultra Blue music. Yes, it’s complete with the drumline and the electric…music stuff. The background vocals in the bridge are interesting though, since they aren’t in the ballad version. Also, the strain in her voice is less obvious than it is in the ballad version. The ending bridge sequence also has a more echo-y feel to it.

Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version- is the first version of the song that I heard (Hana Yori Dango!). This version is more mellow than the original, which suits the lyrics and the mood of the drama better. The background music is more acoustic, with the occasional string instruments in the background. Hikki’s voice is straining so much on the higher notes though; then again, it was recorded after her Utada United tour (singing live for 3 hours for a few months is really bad for the voice…). The ballad version just invokes more emotion.

Overall Rating:
4.5/5

I don’t really like remixes. 😀

Utada Hikaru – Boku wa Kuma

Release Date: November 26, 2006

boku_wa_kumaTracklist:

1. Boku wa Kuma
2. Boku wa Kuma (Original Karaoke)

Wow, a children’s song being released as a single? Well, that’s a first.

Boku wa Kuma starts off with nice keyboard introduction, and the ostinato it establishes in the beginning continues on into the piece. The lyrics itself are pretty simple, and repetitive; well, it is a children’s song. I personally find this song a bit cute, but rather bland… I don’t think I have the right to review this, when I think about it, since I’m not within its target audience. Nonetheless, Boku wa Kuma is just a simple, and rather cute song that was inspired by Kuma-chan :D.

Overall Rating:
3/5

Utada Hikaru – Ultra Blue

Release Date: June 14, 2006
597px-utada_ultra.jpg
Tracklist:

1. This Is Love
2. Keep Tryin’
3. BLUE
4. Nichiyou no Asa
5. Making Love
6. Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro
7. COLORS
8. One Night Magic feat. Yamada Masashi
9. Kairo
10. WINGS
11. Be My Last
12. Eclipse (Interlude)
13. Passion

This is Love is a great song for an opening song to Ultra Blue. This is Love has a happy melody, and an upbeat tempo to it. Utada’s voice has added layers in certain parts to add emphasis. It talks about all the things that make up love, even the harsher parts of it. I think it really summarizes love quite well. I personally don’t LOVE this song, but it is listenable. Maybe I’ll get hooked on it in the near future.

Next up is Keep Tryin’, her last single before this album. Like the song before it, this song is another one of Utada’s synth-like pieces. It makes the album flow quite nicely, actually.

According to Utada in an interview, BLUE is supposedly the centre to this entire album. This song has a soothing tune to it, and the synth in the background help too. The layers of her voice help bring out some important parts of the song. The lyrics are rather depressing though. They talk about a person being ‘blue’, and telling the person they once loved about it. It’s a metaphoric song, and quite nice, in my opinion.

I love the instrumental at the beginning of Nichiyou no Asa, though it thins out as Utada’s voice is the main thing in this song. There’s also a lot of layers of voice in this song (maybe it’s a trend in Ultra Blue..?). The lyrics are talking about being carefree on a Sunday morning, with no worries at all. Then, on Monday morning, the speaker doesn’t want to got to work because they are missing ‘that person’ and still love them. They just want to spend that Sunday morning with them. Nichiyou no Asa is a beautiful song.

At first glance, the title, Making Love, surprised me; but then again, Utada did write The Workout (from Exodus). Making Love has this interesting part half way through, which is like a mix of fast-speaking with an actual pitch to it. I can’t really describe it, but it’s quite intriguing. It has a strong percussion feel to it, and seems happy and upbeat.

After so much synth, Dareka no negai ga kanau koro brings us back into acoutics, with an acoustic piano ballad. It is followed by another single, COLORS, which takes us back into the synth-like material Utada uses in the majority of Ultra Blue.

Wow, finally. One Night Magic is a Japanese, Utada song that actually features someone. Utada’s and Yamada’s voices nicely compliment each other, especially the harmonies. I personally didn’t find this song anything special, but maybe it’s because I have no idea what they’re singing about. The melody is quite interesting, especially in the chorus. I love how their voices overlap each other.

To be truthful, when I first saw the title, Kairo, I thought of the Egyptian city of Cairo. Now I know it actually means sea route. The beginning reminds me of a beginning of a symphony for some reason. This song is another relaxing song, but too bad it’s a bit on the short side. The lyrics really really look like a poem to me. I guess the mysterious atmosphere of the song add to it.

A nice piano intro begins WINGS, followed by Utada’s vocals. To me, this was nothing special; it’s just another song to me. I wouldn’t listen to it by itself, but if it was as an album, I would give this song a chance. Ah well, it’s just my opinion.

After two album-exclusive tracks, we go back into a single with Be My Last. It’s nice to have an acoustic guitar ballad after so much of Utada’s new synth material, but we go right back into that with Eclipse (Interlude). To me, this interlude sounds a bit techo. Nonetheless, Ultra Blue ends off with a good note; Passion. It’s one of my all-time favourite Utada songs.

Overall Rating:
4.5/5

Utada Hikaru – Keep Tryin’

Release Date: Feburary 2, 2006

utada_keeptryTracklist:

1. Keep Tryin’
2. WINGS
3. Keep Tryin’ [Original Karaoke]

Keep Tryin’ is a fun little piece that has a certain…bounce to it. It’s just so upbeat! Not my type of song, but I do listen to it when I listen to Ultra Blue as a whole. The background music is completely synth, with some beeping (well, not really beeping, but yeah) sounds, typical of her Ultra Blue era. It’s a nice song, but it sometimes seem a bit too happy for my liking.

FINALLY, A B-SIDE FROM UTADA SINCE WAY BACK WHEN. WINGS has a nice and calm keyboard opening, in contrary to the hyperness from previous track. It is a ballad (must be a trademark Hikki thing) with a slow tempo; it’s a good song to listen to when you’re just sitting there, doing nothing. Nothing really spectaluar though.

Overall Rating:
3/5

Utada Hikaru – Passion

Release Date: December 14, 2005

Tracklist:

1. Passion ~single version~
2. Passion ~after the battle~

Man, I just have a thing for Utada’s Kingdom Hearts songs. First Hikari, and now Passion. The synth of at the beginning just sets of this EPIC, EPIC, EPIC, and yet, calm emotion. Also, the lyrics are very poetic, very unlike a typical pop song. It’s almost as poetic as her other song, COLORS. The chorus feels so powerful, but (once again) calm, at the same time. My favourite part is the last stanza; it just powers up into an explosion of music. I really enjoy Hikki’s full voice too, because she has absolutely no trouble in reaching those high notes up there (the highest is a high G, I believe).

Next up is the calmer version of Passion, Passion ~after the battle~. Unlike the single version, this version has a mainly piano accompaniment, and brings closure. It’s a nice song to listen to after you beat the last boss.

Overall Rating:
5/5

Utada Hikaru – Be My Last

Release Date: September 28, 2005

Tracklist:

1. Be My Last

Ahhh, I just love Be My Last for some reason, even though it’s quite dull. The only part that irratates me is the ‘ahhh’s, which were repetetive. This song is an aucoustic guitar ballad, with a calming feel to it. It’s not really an exciting song, but if you listen to it while, say, rushing to to do your math homework, it’s quite nice. Hikki’s vocals are also at its best here, far from the strain she got from Utada United (which was in 2006).

Overall Rating:
4/5