Utada – This Is The One

by sljinu on September 13, 2009 · 19 comments · AddThis

Utada Hikaru
Utada promoting This Is The One
Artist: Utada Hikaru
Product code: UICL-1088
Release date: 2009.03.14 (JP), 2009.05.30 (US)
Highest Ranking: #3 Oricon, #69 Billboard 200
Label: Island Records
US Version: 3 Bonus Tracks

With the Japanese market completely wrapped around her finger, J-pop sensation, Utada Hikaru, has been seen to frequently flaunt her creative flair in her music. Having dominated the Oricon charts with virtually every venture during her initial five year tenure, Utada finally decided to break into the American music scene with her first English album, Exodus. Her uninhibited, audacious approach to its production led to an album which despite being fresh, was rather difficult for American audiences to accept and ultimately led to its downfall. Undeterred, five years later, Utada returned for another foray in the American market with her now mainstream-focused, aptly titled, This Is The One.

This Is The One raised high expectations, featuring famed producers Stargate and C. “Tricky” Stewart. With such big names involved in what was expected to be a straight forward, R&B album, one could almost be forgiven for expecting an English version of First Love or Distance. Sadly, Utada’s latest release proved to be exactly what was promised – a bland combination of stereotypical R&B and obnoxious club songs. Brilliant vocals and delivery saved a select few such as Come Back to Me or the title track, This One (Crying Like a Child), but the majority of tracks failed to excite those who highly anticipated this album.
 

This Is The One Promo

Loyal, English-speaking fans of Utada were most certainly put off by how explicit and tasteless Utada’s lyrics could be, such as “Sexy stiletto boots; tight jeans no panties on; oops did I turn you on?” in Poppin’ or “When I’m alone at night, I sit and fantasize;…doing my nine to five, I’m thinking six and nines” in Dirty Desire. Few melodies impressed as well, especially with the highly repetitive On and On literally just droning away and the bulk of her R&B ballads feeling like recycled versions of radio hits. As Daniel Robson of The Japan Times stated, “Is this what it takes to find Stateside success? Whoring yourself both musically and lyrically?” And while that certainly seems true given the current crop of successful artists in America, Utada certainly didn’t sell herself out completely with older classics Simple and Clean and Sanctuary serving to be a reminder of the genius Utada is capable of manifesting.

Amongst the few standout tracks, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI perhaps proved to be the most intelligent track Utada produced for her latest release. An adaptation of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s composition, the combination of oriental and western elements could well have provided the direction needed for Utada’s album. A melodic version of the philosophies displayed in Kiss and Cry should have inspired her to bridge the gap between the East and the West. Instead, the haunting failure of Exodus intimidated Utada into playing it safe, thus avoiding the avant garde stature for her commercially-focused album, This Is The One.

It could have been a valuable move to cement her name and win over legions of loyal fans. Had she captivated a large enough audience, certainly she would be granted the freedom to steadily weave her magic through the American market. Instead, This Is The One did the complete opposite, ironically selling a mere 16,000 units in America compared to the 55,000 units managed by Exodus. Fans of the album have frequently argued that the result was due to poor marketing and promotion; her American audience even insisting her music was fresh. But was it really? To the veteran Utada fan, it was easy to tell that This Is The One is a far cry from what she is truly capable of. Exodus may have been a little too inaugural, but it stayed true to Utada’s innovative aptitude. For such a visionary artist, the title of this lacklustre affair is correct in only one aspect; this is the one you should forget.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

 

CD Cover
CD Cover

Japanese Tracklist:

  1. On and On
  2. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI
  3. Apple and Cinnamon
  4. Taking My Money Back
  5. This One (Crying Like a Child)
  6. Automatic Part II
  7. Dirty Desire
  8. Poppin’
  9. Come Back to Me
  10. Me Muero
  11. Come Back To Me (Seamus Haji & Paul Emanuel Radio Edit)
  12. Come Back To Me (Quentin Harris Radio Edit)

US Tracklist:

  1. Come Back to Me
  2. Me Muero
  3. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI
  4. Apple and Cinnamon
  5. Taking My Money Back
  6. This One (Crying Like a Child)
  7. Automatic Part II
  8. Dirty Desire
  9. Poppin’
  10. On and On
  11. Simple and Clean
  12. Sanctuary (Opening)
  13. Sanctuary (Ending)

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

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  3. Ultra Blue Utada's 4th original Japanese album "Ultra Blue" topped the charts but only sold a modest amount. Released 4 years after her last effots, "Ultra Blue" shows a large development musically for Utada.......
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About the author

sljinu is a hybrid Asian. He is currently employed by the geekmaster eyn, working as a translator. He has time management issues but still finds precious minutes to listen to his beloved Utada Hikaru and Otsuka Ai as well as watch J-drama (among other things) on the train.

{ 1 trackback }

”This Is The One” isn’t quite the one « International Wota
September 14, 2009 at 12:01 am

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Yuna-chan UNITED STATES July 6, 2010 at 9:52 am

great review this is an okay album..

Reply

EnvyEyes April 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I had been searching for an Article on this site for Utada’s “NEW” English Album over a YEAR AGO.

And I’m just finding it NOW, even though it came out months ago, which was still 4 to 6 months late, depending on which release you go by. What happened?

I was beginning to think this site had given up on following Utada or something. Especially based on some later articles of other artists I’ve been reading here that blithely mention Utada here and there to get their insulting quips in. (Easy to hate on one of the best)

Well anyway. I’d probably be all over YOU last year for writing such an shunning article, due to the hype that was encompassing my being, but after a lot of retrospection, I can appreciate this article and even agree with SOME points.

This Album has ended up being my least listened to Utada Album, both on iTunes and in physical form.

I tried my best to FORCE myself to like this Album more because it was Utada but it never grew on me beyond the hype. I love “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” and……..that’s pretty much about it. Well I did love “On An On”, but it got old very quickly and there just aren’t enough YODELS in it for me. I managed to get something out of “Apples & Cinnamon” and “This Is The One (Cryin’ Like A Child)”, but that’s pretty much it.

I couldn’t have cared any less about that English Tour she just wrapped up. I just want some Japanese material from her now. She said she plans on doing something crazy and I’m looking forward to it.

Utada sacrificed too much for this Album. She should have had more faith in herself and produced her own tracks. The production on this Album was Mind Numbingly Generic and boring. Nothing she could vocally do could save the majority of this Album. She tried at some points a little too hard to create that alternate American persona. And seriously, she couldn’t have chosen worse producers if she tried. Well she could have gotten Ne-Yo……that would have been worse. I was so scared about that happening.

I honestly see nothing wrong in bringing Utada Hikaru over to America. Over in America there are some CLASSY and successful artists you know. Not to say Utada isn’t classy, but you don’t hear all successful artists singing about sexual positions and lack of undergarments you know.

I don’t know if she’s going to try again, being that she fulfilled her contract with this latest Album, but hopefully if she does, she’ll get the clue and the 3rd time will be the charm and she’ll just bring her Japanese flare over here and stop with the Americanization of her work. I know the American and Japanese music industries are different, but it is possible and change doesn’t come to anyone if there isn’t someone out there to be the first to do something regardless of the trends.

And obviously if Utada had to be pushed into doing this, and wasn’t inspired in any way, then it wasn’t going to turn out great. It was a, “They asked me and I said meh, okay if you want”, kind of situation.

She just needs to come out and blow everyone away with some grand Japanese work:

1. To get this bland aftertaste out of my mouth

2. To shut all the naysayers up that want to base Utada’s current status in Japan based on how “This Is The One” sold which is nonsensical and a way for Ayumi fans to justify their idol’s current status in the Japanese Industry, which is becoming more and more fickle and the Singles go by and the Album Sales go down.

(y^_^y(

Reply

sljinu August 23, 2010 at 9:02 am

Wow, that was perhaps the longest commentI have ever recieved. Kudos to you. As for the article, I did not wish to write something so ‘damaging’ but I could not help but dislike the album. I’ve grown to appreciate a few more tracks but my overall view remains the same. Unfortunately, it appears Utada will undergo a hiatus following her next album (according to U.Blog) but I will be looking forward to what she has to offer next. Her Japanese works in general so far have never let me down.

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Blue_Devil_089 UNITED STATES March 26, 2010 at 1:43 pm

This site has always had a massive bias towards Utada and considering that the author is huge Ayumi Hamasaki stan I’m surprised the album didn’t get zero stars.
This is the One is one of the best pop albums to come out in 2009 period.
Please stop writing reviews on Utada because you’re embarrassing yourself.

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sljinu August 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

Interesting how you automatically assumed I would be an Ayumi Hamasaki fan. Perhaps you mistook me for Rinoa?

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Rinoa August 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm

It’s interesting indeed. People always assume they are a stan for someone else (or a “rival” artist…) if an album doesn’t receive top ratings. Oh well…

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Fadedsun March 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I’m a recent Utada convert. I’ve been obsessing over all her albums, Ultra Blue being my favorite.

This Is The One is easily my least favorite of her albums. I think Exodus is a much better album. It at least showed her experimental side and had interesting music. TitO just seems so bland and boring.

I have nothing against her being sexual, but it seems sort of uncharacteristic. She is an older woman now so I can understand her desire to do so, but she shouldn’t have to stoop to those levels to try and get big in America. Who would she rather appeal to? The dumb American fan base that eats up crap music or the more intelligent ones that actually search for quality music that means something. She is capable of much better.

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sljinu March 11, 2010 at 9:00 am

lol I’m with you Fadedsun…I’m with you

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Patrick AUSTRALIA February 10, 2010 at 1:09 am

The album is not bad. It isn’t amongst Hikki’s greatest work, but it deserves more than 1.5 stars. Honestly, i don’t understand why people have to criticise her for having sexy lyrics. So what if she wants to write sexy music? She said so herself that she had been looking to do that before, but hadn’t felt she was mature enough to do so. Why can’t Utada have some fun?

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sljinu March 11, 2010 at 8:57 am

Utada can write with sexy lyrics if she wants. It’s just not appealing.

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Trent UNITED STATES October 7, 2009 at 10:42 am

Biased review.
If you are gonna give 1.5 stars to This is the One you have to give 0 stars to Boa’s new album and anything from Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera,Beyonce, Rihanna and Madonna in the last 5 years also because those are all mainstream pop albums in the same ilk as TITO that couldn’t hold a candle to this.
I feel this is a heavily biased review based on your jealousy of Utada and a deep seeded hatred for anything that is American.

Reply

sljinu AUSTRALIA October 9, 2009 at 8:02 am

Jealous? Hardly…deep admiration sounds more like it. I just happened to dislike this album. As for my ‘deep seeded hatred for anything that is American’, where did you get that idea? I find it sad that when people like you run out of arguments to make, you simply turn everything racial. Just because I feel that the mainstream American pop scene has become stale, it doesn’t mean I automatically hate America. C’mon man, grow up. The point I wanted to get across was the fact that extremely talented artists like Utada have the potential to contribute something new, not just become another generic artist.
Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, it’s spelt ‘Britney Spears’ ;)

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bleach1st AUSTRALIA September 17, 2009 at 9:01 am

I actually thought the album wasn’t all that bad; sure it wasn’t a master piece due to the second half of the album but it did what I think Utada set out to achieve; to be a pure poppy album that attempted to reach to the masses. Whether it did that is another story.
I do agree with many points brought up though. I did think songs like Poppin and Dirty Desire were utter rubbish and that Exodus’s failure was probably not because of the style but it’s commercial promotion.
Personally I like them both and would rather buy This Is The One over 99% of the other poppy crap in the American music market.

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sljinu AUSTRALIA September 17, 2009 at 9:35 am

Even though I’m a die-hard Utada fan, I’d probably still avoid This Is The One. But hey, if you’re enjoying it then that’s great. Maybe it’s just the stubborn fans of her J-pop having a hard time acclimatizing to her American works?

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sac UNITED STATES September 16, 2009 at 3:14 am

>And while that certainly seems true given the current crop of successful artists in America

True, America is at a low point musically. Can you imagine if the musical brilliance of the Woodstock era ever returned? Or the 80’s British New wave that so many Chinese bands are trying to ape now, but haven’t come up with anything great? Asian wannabe’s current pittance of a chance would be essentially fall to zero

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sljinu AUSTRALIA September 17, 2009 at 9:16 am

Definitely. Can’t wait for someone to come and revolutionise the American music scene again. I’m tired of listening to songs that sound the same but are just performed by different artists.

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octocoffee UNITED STATES September 14, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Lovely piece. I agree for the most part. This album definitely failed to meet expectations. Utada, while she stated that she wanted to do a standard pop album, didn’t have to sacrifice originality. I enjoyed Come Back to Me and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI, but the others are either passable or mediocre.

It’s nice seeing articles from you again, sljinu. I hope this means your life has calmed down and you’re happy now :)

Reply

sljinu AUSTRALIA September 16, 2009 at 2:44 am

Hey octocoffee! Yep, definitely true. She definitely could’ve done better. Also, yep, I’m feeling better at the moment! I need to drop by in the forum again sometime. I’ve actually been meaning to do this article several months ago…it feels a little dated now xD

Reply

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