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Intoxicating, Emancipating, Unapologetic

Reviewing: Utada This Is The One  |  Rating:
Wilson Alba By Wilson Alba on
Badge: Author | Level: 1 | Music Expertise:

I'm a sucker for pop music. Not that I don't listen to anything else (I believe my taste is eclectic.) but I'll listen to anything that sounds good to me.

Utada Hikaru being called the Japanese 'Britney Spears' is an unfair comparison. Utada doesn't dance. She writes, composes, and produces her own songs. And she didn't become some bald psycho running around LA. Haha!

She's HUGE in Japan, but not content on resting on her laurels; she makes a second bid to crack the US market. Her first try "Exodus04" failed to make an impact due to its experimental nature. "This is The One" could be the one that makes her a worldwide success.

"Come Back to Me" opens the album and is the first single. Very mainstream but well crafted plus there's a Photoshop reference slipped in.

"Me Muero" is a very good bossa sounding song about depression, and her unique voice fits the song perfectly.

"Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence - FYI" is a signature track; confident, well-produced and ingenious in sampling part of the score from the movie 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' hence the weird title. Lyrics are clever and quirky, mentioning Captain Piccard (Star Trek) and using a Buddhist chant. A standout.

"Apple and Cinnamon", a simple and very radio friendly track that has 'potential hit' written all over it, similar to Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis.

"Taking My Money Back" is a distant cousin of Destiny's Child's Say My Name. Very weak compared to the other songs on the album but decent nonetheless.

"This One (Crying Like a Child)", a lush ballad with outstanding production where the album title was taken. Contains numerous references, Freddy (as in Freddy Mercury), Simon and Garfunkel, Blackberries, and JPEG files.

"Automatic Part II", a follow up to the song that made her a sensation in Japan. A very funny track, with quirky lyrics. Short and sweet.

"Dirty Desire" sounds like a song written for Britney Spears. Again, well-produced and there is humor again in its lyrics. Utada even breaks Asian stereotype with the line "And in my fantasies, I love you longtime." Haha!

"Poppin'" on the other hand, feels crafted for the Pussycat Dolls. The track has a 60's Austin Powers vibe to it. Very funny and full of brass and confidence with lyrics like, "See the stars up in the sky, they're all mine. All mine."

"On and on" closes the album, and has that ethereal quality that we expect from Utada Hikaru songs, especially towards the end of the song. Her voice, singing "On and on and on" layered over her proclaiming "Intoxicating, Emancipating, Unapologetic " which is what best describes this album.

A tight set of mostly piano-driven songs, well-written melodies and quirky lyrics. The album may be too "American mainstream" for her fans, but it could be "The One" that breaks her through.