A little history lesson:
Utada is a J-Pop singer. Probably most well known for her work in both of the infamous "Kingdom Hearts" video games. ("Simple And Clean" for the first, and "Sanctuary" for the second). She has also been amongst the most popular in Japan, however, not so in the U.S. (yet, anyways). She has stated that some of her influences include Led Zeppelin and Freddy Mercury So now she's gained a little bit of popularity from the Square Enix/Disney cross-over, she's decided to release an American release. So how did it turn out?
Well, if you're looking for the talented and fairly origional Utada Hikaru (called Hikki by most fans), you are going to be disappointed. If you're not... well, you'll still be disappointed....
So, imagine this. You walk into a store, you see this poster that says: "UTADA: EXODUS '04!" and in smaller print, you see some magazine labeling her as "the Japanese Britney Spears". If I hadn't already known about Hikki, that statement would have totally turned me off. So I decided to buy the album anyways. Then I found out WHY they called her "The Japanese Britney Spears"
"I just wanna crossover, cross the line / I just wanna go further/ Between here and there, grow wiser." Those are the words to the first track, "Opening", showing Utada wanting to "Crossover" into the American borders.
This album is an obvious (and pathetic) attempt at trying to catch an American audience. One thing I loved about Utada is that she always wrote her own music and never, EVER used sex appeal to catch the eye. While she has still stayed away from sex appeal (thank Buddah), if she did write her own music for this... she didn't do half as good as she should have.
Some of these tracks include "The Workout" (which sadly sounds like Gwen Stafani's "Hollaback Girl), "Let Me Give You My Love" sounds like an Aaliyah b-side, and "Exodus '04" sounds like something that could have been good if Utada's voice didn't fall so far.
Then the first single off the album, "Easy Breezy", is so poppy it's disgusting. I'm not trying to be biased against pop music (I'm actually a big fan of Duran Duran and 80's Madonna), but it really reminds me of old-school Britney Spears, with the so-called "dreamy" chorus. Plus the horrid lyrics, "You're easy breezy and I'm Japaneezy". uh-huh. Okay then.
Now onto the highlights of the album. The second single off the disc, "Devil Inside" is very catchy in a good way, and the music sounds like Reggae percussion mixed with the Mario music you hear after you beat Bowser (which actually works really well together). The lyrics to this song are very "You think you know me, but you don't" ("Everybody wants me to be their angel/ They don’t I know I burn/ Maybe there's a devil or something like it inside of me."), but considering Utada actually writes her own music and lyrics, it gives it a much more realistic feel.
2 other highlights are the sadder songs. "Hotel Lobby" is the story of an aging prostitute, and it definitely gives off the sad side. HL can be a downer, but it the sad vibe is very well done and much better than most depressing pop ballads. The last highlight of the album is my personal favorite, "Kremlin Dusk". This is where Utada brings in a very industrial influence (which isn't too suprising if you knew that she's a huge Nine Inch Nails fan.), and gives off a very eerie vibe. The lyrics are very strange in this case, too, mainly being focused on Edgar Allan Poe's infamous poem "The Raven". (All along, I was searching for my Lenore,
And the words of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.
Now I'm sober and nevermore
Will the Raven come to bother me.)
So, what's the final verdict on this album? Well, I definitely miss her sound from her Japanese CDs, espcecially because she was always very diverse, doing R&B (Letters), good pop-oriented music (Sakura Drops), soft acoustic songs (Be My Last), hip-hop style (Tokyo Nights), and some heavier stuff (the bridge in "Passion"). NOTE: The songs I just mentioned aren't on this CD, for those who didn't know.
I don't think Utada's completely lost it, though. Songs like "Kremlin Dusk" and "Devil Inside" show a new side that I really like. But, overall, this CD was actually a bit of a letdown.
-Some new directions (Kremlin Dusk)
-Her vocals are very well done most of the time
-Better than most pop CDs out their.
-Pathetic attempt to get teeny boppers
-Some tracks could have been better if her voice didn't fall on them
-Lyrics are bad for the most part