Hitomi’s Dragonfly

by Rinoa on March 16, 2007 · 7 comments · AddThis

Dragonfly promotion
Dragonfly promotional photo
Artist: Hitomi Shimatani
Product Code: AVCD-31135/6
Release Date: 2007.02.21
Debut Ranking: #15
Label: avex trax

It is certainly no secret that Hitomi Shimatani has one of the most majestic vocals in the J-Pop industry. For this reason her management has conveniently taken advantage of her talent and Hitomi has become a genre chamaleon. She has sung bubblegum pop, gospel, enka, ethnic and most recently classical mixed with pop – her crossover genre. This genre was well received within the classical communities and earned her various awards and invitations to participate in prestigious events. For this reason Hitomi became synonymous for elegance and classiness and started appealing to a more mature generation.

The only problem was that the sales were rapidly slipping, because classical music is a specialised genre which attracts only a small margin of the population. Adults are not as keen to shell their money as much as teens are on certain releases, such as singles. This factor was rather troublesome to a company like avex who focuses on making sure they get the highest sales possible out of an artist. After two years of attempting to render the crossover genre more popular, they decided it was time for an image and genre makeover. In November, avex released the ethnic single PASIO. However this single was even less successful and flopped on the charts. Later on in January, Hitomi had a chance to release a duet with Masayuki Suzuki, but the outdated genre of this single made it another flop. Thus avex attempted to release a single with a genre which Hitomi had never worked with. They hired a new composer and announced that Hitomi is going to release a “garage rock” single.

Hitomi’s image changed radically from classy and demure to rebellious and sexy. She was featured on the cover photoshoots in a semi-monochrome colour style and an almost aggressive personality reflecting the typical garage rock style. Her appearances on the television had a similar style with leggings, dark make-up and rock-influenced costume jewellery. She also cut her hair in layers to give her a disheveled appeal. avex also hired a live band to perform while she was singing on variety shows to make her rock transition appear more realistic. However avex seems to have missed a small detail – hiring a decent choreographer. Hitomi who is more used to dancing along to pop music clearly had a difficulty in dancing to rock music during her live performances. This made most of her dance performances look rather awkward.

In the attempt to make this single as marketable as possible, an offshot was included for the very first time for a single release. Also the title song received a tie-in with the dorama Ai-chiteru. Hitomi appeared at a Shibuya nightclub and performed with a band. What definately attracted the media’s attention was that her dress choice was extremely sexy and bold. Hitomi wore a golden micro-mini dress, which Ayu would later wear for her A BEST 2 photoshoot. This unexpected performance was extremely exciting for the audience. Hitomi announced that her fans were going to see a new version of herself in 2007.

This single was first scheduled to be released on the 17th January, but due to Suzuki’s staff contacting Hitomi to release a duet single, Hitomi had to temporary stop working on “Dragonfly” and the single was pushed back to the 21st February. Unfortunately the release date coincided with a variety of popular releases which led to this single’s ranking to fall down quite rapidly. Also the announcement to release her 6th studio album in less than a month later contributed to a lack of interest in purchasing this single. This single ranked at #29 on the first week and sold a dismal amount of 5,532 copies.

 

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1. Dragonfly

“Dragonfly” is a rather refreshing release. Despite the fact that I simply adore her crossover genre, I have to admit that I missed her upbeat releases. I’ve always enjoyed rock, although I’m by no means an expert of this genre. In various occassions Hitomi had claimed that she had always wished to experiment with rock in the past and she was rather pleased that she finally got the occassion to release a rock single.

The lyrics were written by BULGE, who frequently works with Hitomi’s releases. However the composition and arrangement were in the hands of yamazo, a promising young talent who is only 22. Her management team announced that this song shall be a “Killer Tune” where Hitomi’s vocals are powerful and agressive, portraying the evolution of her vocals. A preview of this song was first aired on the 8th January on Hitomi’s radio program “Keep up Spirits”.

The genre “garage rock” has been adopted in the 60’s, which probably explains the setting of the promotional video. It focuses on a raw form of rock’n'roll, with an aggressive tone. The style is usually identified with very low cost record production, where the performers would rehearse in a garage. Although this genre’s peak is quite over, it is still fairly popular in USA and Canada and has branched into various other genres.

Hitomi Shimatani’s “Dragonfly” follows the typical style of garage rock. The tone of this rather powerful and aggressive. The band players fully exploit the power of their instruments, especially in the chorus. Fortunately for Hitomi, her vocals are powerful enough even to conquer these musical instruments giving a rather spectacular display of her vocals. I’ve also enjoyed the husky quality of Hitomi’s vocals, which were extremely appealing. Despite the fact that this song doesn’t have a hit quality, it certainly has a repeat quality as it is rather catchy and addictive.

As for the promotional video, avex recorded two versions: one for the single and the other for the album “PRIMA ROSA”. The promotional video was rather unique though absolutely random. This is a recurrent problem in Hitomi’s video clips where they seem to go in no direction, although they rarely seem to lack any form of creativity. Hitomi has already used a monochrome style for her clip, “Koimizu – Tears of Love-” but this promotional video has more contrast. “Dragonfly” has a dark setting, quite similar to the old movies in black and white, which gives it a vintage feel. It was created to fit the era when garage rock was born: the 60’s.

The promotional video’s theme and atmosphere are different from what the audience are used to Hitomi’s videography. Rather than focusing on beautiful visuals and spectacular settings, the focus was on the historical setting. Hitomi and her band wear outfits which were typical of the 60’s and they perform in what seems an American nightclub. There are also various references to the theme of flying and wings through various animals and images. Oddly enough no dragonfly made appearance in this clip. Hitomi’s image is also quite more mature and sexy, in a classy manner. She danced playfully in front of the camera as if she was challenging the viewer. Oddly enough the choreography in this clip was quite stunning, compared to the live performances.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

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2. Bye-Bye

“Bye-Bye” moves away from the direction of her typical b-sides, which are usually emotional ballads. The style is reminiscent of her older typical pop releases which seem to contain a neutral mood and a generic mood. However the genre is rather unique. “Bye-Bye” is a mid-tempo song with a jazz genre reminiscent of the 90’s music. It’s rather elegant and laid back. This genre is reminiscent of various releases by Mika Nakashima.

Despite the mood of the song is quite laid back, the tone is relatively lively and quite catchy. However this song has failed to charm me, probably because I’m not into jazz enough to fall in love with this style. I also feel this song is rather bland because the chorus is too mellow and seems to fail to become the focus of the song. The only highlight is that the lyrics were penned by Hitomi herself which is a pretty rare occurance, especially in a single release. The composition and arrangement were in the hands of Kenjiro Sakitani.

Rating: ★★★½☆

 

Conclusion

Overall this single was a fairly decent release, despite the fact that it was released too close to the album. avex gave this single a fairly decent promotion, especially on variety shows. However the tie-in was too weak to attract any attention and the extras included in the single only were not exactly enticing enough for people to pick up this single. Maybe a first press extra or a strong tie-in might have been able to excite the fans more.

However I suspect avex’s aim wasn’t to sell well. In the end I feel this single’s sole use was to promote the release of her album “PRIMA ROSA”. The cover art was rather similar in style and was probably shot in the same session. Also Hitomi kept performing this song while promoting her album. On the other hand it’s also possible that avex were experimenting with different genres to see how they would be received by the audience. At this rate I doubt Hitomi would attempt to work with rock again in the near future.

I’ve enjoyed this release, despite the fact that this single deserved to have a higher quality and exposure. The idea of experimenting is rather interesting since I feel Hitomi’s vocals are too stunning to remain on one genre and are flexible enough to fit any genre. Hopefully in the future we might get even more interesting releases and experimentation with other genres. I’m especially keen on having her experiment with urban music, where I believe would be a rather exciting aspect to work onto. Hopefully it won’t be long enough until we discover what Hitomi has up her sleeve for the future.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

 

Regular CD Edition
CD Version
CD+DVD Edition
CD+DVD Version

CD Tracklist

  1. Dragonfly
  2. Bye-Bye
  3. Dragonfly (Instrumental)
  4. Bye-Bye (Instrumental)

DVD Tracklist

  1. Dragonfly Single Version Music Clip
  2. Dragonfly Music Clip Making

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

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About the author

Rinoa enjoys spending her free time writing articles, most particularly reviews, biographies and news articles. Her favourite artist is Ayumi Hamasaki but she enjoys listening to a wide range of musical talents from all over the world.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tenoh Haruka April 1, 2007 at 10:35 pm

DUUUUUDE you have no idea……like i said b4, that blessed creature we call hitomi changed ma lyfe.

Reply

Rinoa April 1, 2007 at 6:10 am

To be honest, Jose your admiration to Shimatani amuses me =P Anyhow your wish did come true. I finally finished my PRIMA ROSA review so I hope you do enjoy reading it. (It will take quite a while). Happy reading!

Reply

Tenoh Haruka March 31, 2007 at 10:41 pm

dude, you wanna noe wat i listened to all day at work? Papillon, ASAP, and Ichiba Ni Ikou, like the perky blonde pop stuff she has, its kinda old, but im mentioning this cuz i noe wat u mean. Im not THAT big a fan for rock, but her VOICE! dude, her voice rises above the obviously loud drums that gets annoying and addictive, lol. But yea, i cant get enough of her, and your right, bye bye, just like, doesnt go the extra mile. You hear the chorus in the beginning, and it doenst get better, like stronger or higher, so im with you on that one. but yea, im glad you love hitomi like the rest of us, im glad the word is spreading out. and rinoa dude, prima rosa, its highly anticipated man! Yoroshiku onegaishimasu, best of luck!

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fred AUSTRALIA March 31, 2007 at 9:18 am

You’re right, Rinoa! We’re just the same.. :D I’m not much into rock or garage rock so I missed Hitomi’s upbeat dance tracks! But it’s a good thing that the avex trax is experimenting on different genres for Hitomi. But for me, she’s still the best when it comes to upbeat dance tracks (next to Nana Katase which was a former singer of avex trax).

About the dragonfly single, I still kinda liked it hahah! I’m kinda sensitive and meticulous when it comes to rock genre but I’m glad I was able to get addicted with Dragonfly! It was like a perky rock for me and Hitomi’s voice is very powerful. The PV is kinda simple but it displays Hitomi’s unique and “exocity” because I haven’t seen her in that style before. I didn’t liked Bye Bye that much too but it’s not really far away from good so the single was still very good despite the fact that it sold less… lesser than her debut single that is.

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Tenoh Haruka March 19, 2007 at 10:41 am

Well Rinoa. Masterfully done, yet again! Dragonfly, indeed is something different for our dear Hitomi. When i first heard it, i thought “What the ****?” Beacuse what i did was put in Dragonfly and Bye-Bye along with the crossover songs in my I-tunes playlist. And i remember like if yesterday. I finished hearing Koi no Shizuku, and then after this nice mellow ending, came this loud upbeat aggresive drums and guitar raging at me. And i literally jumped, i said “what the ****?” So i gave it a chance, and i cant drive anywhere without listening to it. And im actually surprised that it sold so little? But you are right, i think it was waay too close to Prima Rosa’s release date. I wasnt shocked AT ALL to see dragonfly pop up in prima rosa also. and pasio, but it is typical to have older slightly recent singles pop up. But yea, what you said about bye bye, is true also. Im into the whole jazz thing. Its a great toe-tapper and finger-snapper. But she doesnt project as strongly as she does in Dragonfly. It reminded me alot of her older songs, like “Boys Dont Cry.” That the chorus is “there” and yet it isnt. beacuse you sense a VERY SLIGHT change in her vocals. So you think “well this MUST be the chorus.” So yea, i think it was wise to call the single dragonfly instead of Bye-Bye. Hehe, and btw, i actually didnt see any dragonflies at ALL in the PV…. nice catch man…

Reply

Celsius005 UNITED STATES March 17, 2007 at 10:21 am

Three runs through “Dragonfly” and I’ve grown to become quite attached to it. It has a certain aggressiveness as you say and also a menacing air about it, which gets to me the most. Thanks for the review!

Reply

Radicalpatriot UNITED STATES March 16, 2007 at 11:30 pm

No doubt a powerful vocalist. I can see listening to a few more of these.

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