Promo photo for 'papillon'
|Artist: Hitomi Shimatani
Product Code: AVCD-30160
Release Date: 2001.02.07
Highest Ranking: #14
Label: avex trax
After failing to become a household name with her pop debut, Hitomi Shimatani attempted to take a more original direction in her musical career. This marked another change in her musical career, where Shimatani would start working on covers and ethnic-inspired songs. “papillon” would also be the first single to include foreign phrases. The factors mentioned above would become a trend for Hitomi’s releases. However this transformation would take around four months to take place, since a lot of work was done behind the scenes.
From what was gathered, Hitomi’s staff have spent a lot of time and energy over producing a polished single which would be popular for the general audience. This was probably why Hitomi took quite a long time to release her third single. The jacket photography was shot on the 4th December 2000. Suprisingly enough the weather would be fine enough to reflect the cheerful atmosphere of this single. Hitomi’s stylist would opt for wavy hair to emphasize her cute and yet mature image. The photoshoot would take place in Odaiba and a heliport in Hamamatsucho. Hitomi would also be featured in several magazine photoshoots and would be invited to a few variety shows.
In terms of popularity, this single would become her breakthrough single. With the popularity of Janet Jackson, this single would easily get into the spotlight. Hitomi would finally manage to attract the attention of Japan, though it wouldn’t be until a year later until she would reach her peak in popularity. Although it would fail to enter the top ten spot, this single would sell quite well and become one of her best selling singles. “papillon” would chart for 23 weeks and sell 216,000 copies.
“パピヨン ～papillon～” is a rather intriguing song, with a lot of different elements inserted within it. First of all, for those not proficient in languages, “papillon” means “butterfly” in French. Additionally, the song includes several greetings in several Asian languages. For those who are having the feeling that this song sounds terribly familiar, it is actually a cover of Janet Jackson’s “Doesn’t Really Matter“. Basically, every single element of the original song is included within this song up to the backing vocals, omitting solely Jackson’s vocals. Finally this song also has several elements from latin music, which would become a favourite genre for Shimatani. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitomi chose the song herself.
Unsurprisingly enough for Hitomi’s releases, this song would also receive a tie-in. This song would be NTV system’s “FUN FUN’S RECOMMEND #015″. Despite the fact that this song is not the most original release by Hitomi, it is definitely one of her most charismatic ones. Hitomi’s quirky vocals manage to be extremely entertaining and surprisingly cute. However, the thing which truly made me enjoy this song so much, was that it avoided to fall into the trap where it’s cuteness becomes cheesy to the point that it gives you cavities. This song is truly one of the best upbeat song Hitomi would ever release in her career.
The promotional video was filmed on the 18th January. The venue was set in a metropolitan area’s studio. The director would decide to include dancing in the video, which would become the first promotional video to include a small choreography and backup dancers. Since it was the first video for a set choreography, I suggest that you don’t expect too much from Hitomi’s dancing. In the elevator scene, Hitomi would wear blue eye contacts, red lights and have a small semi-permanent tattoo designed on her hand. The whole atmosphere created is rather cheerful and lighthearted. Overall, despite this promotional video was filmed back then in 2001, and Hitomi was rather early in her career, it’s extremely amusing and entertaining to watch.
2. Boys don’t cry
“Boys don’t cry” is a mid-tempo track which explores the latin genre in more detail and room for experimentation. I’m not exactly crazy over this song, since it lacks the charm or catchy element of the title song. However it has certain elements which were quite new for Hitomi’s releases which are worthy enough to be noted. As a first, Hitomi starts experimenting even more with English phrases, although it points towards the common Japanese artists’ problem of being unable to pronounce the “r” sound. What was interesting too was how this song contained a blend of guitars and what I imagine are jazz instrumentals, which directed towards ethnic, while bordering pop at the same time.
The most attractive aspect of this track is that it gives space for Hitomi’s magnificent vocals to garner the attention of the audience. The tone and style of the vocals are extremely different from the typical J-Pop artist at that age. It reflects a depth and maturity, which reminds me of certain Western artists, rather than a young J-Pop artist. I am unable to speak on behalf of the rest of her audience, but I imagine this was an appreciated element when considering the fact that few artists at that time focused on deep and impressive vocals.
“papillon” would successfully become her breakthrough single, where Hitomi would obtain mainstream success and get into the spotlight. The title would also manage to become one of Hitomi’s singature songs. Despite the fact that avex had to revert to using a cover to got Japan notice Hitomi, I feel that this attention was well deserved. Hitomi’s impressive vocals are too good to remain unnoticed.
To be entirely honest, this single was not what one would consider to be timeless. It follows the typical formula of a popular single in those years, but it stops at that. The whole concept was too much dictated by what was popular at that era, which is both a positive and a negative thing. The success of this single probably lies in the fact that it was a polished package to get mainstream attention. However there seems little room for experimentation or something which is truly unique to the point that it stands out from the typical J-Pop releases of 2001. In the end this single has achieved its’ aim of becoming a hit by complying to the trends, but leaving the originality and innovation part out.
- パピヨン ～papillon～
- Boys don’t cry
- パピヨン ～papillon～（Instrumental）
- Boy’s don’t cry（Instrumental）