This Is The One
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
2009 U.S. album from the Japanese-American singer, songwriter and producer. Includes three bonus tracks, 'Simple and Clean', 'Sanctuary' (Opening) and 'Sanctuary' (Ending). Utada is already one of the world's biggest recording artists and 'This Is The One is comprised of 10 self-penned songs recorded with top producers Stargate and Tricky (Britney Spears, Madonna, Mariah Carey). With a number of album and single releases over the last 10 years in Japan, the young star has become one of the most successful and acclaimed Pop singers in Japanese music history with record sales of over 52 million.
About the Artist
When I start making a song, for one second I see an amazing view--and in that instant, it cracks and falls to pieces. Then the rest of the process is trying to put the pieces back together. So when it feels familiar, when I see what I saw in that moment the song was conceived, then I know it's done.--Utada
Hikaru Utada is one of the biggest pop stars in the universe. Over the last ten years, her accomplishments in Japan are simply staggering. Her 1999 debut First Love is the country's biggest-selling album of all time, and three of her albums rank among the Top Ten best-sellers. She has had 12 Number One hits, including four songs in Japan's all-time Top 100. 2001's Distance had the largest first-week sales for any album in Japanese music history, selling an astonishing three million copies. In total, the young singer has sold more than 52 million albums.
But unlike most pop starlets around the world, Utada is also a songwriter and producer; indeed, she says that she thinks of herself as a composer more than as a performer. And on This Is The One, her new Island Def Jam album [featuring ten self-penned songs produced by the powerhouse producers Stargate (Ne-Yo, Rihanna, Beyonce) and Tricky (Britney Spears, Madonna, Mariah Carey)] 26-year-old Utada reveals the unique sense of songcraft that is poised to make her a force in the US and European music communities.
"I wanted to make something that's accessible but not cheap--not low-class or stupid, but still appealing to a wide audience," says Utada. "I like to make music that's multi-layered. You might like a song and want to dance, but not really dive into the lyrics and analyze them. And then if you're more bookish and you like words, you might notice the references I make, to Captain Picard or Freddie Mercury or Winona Ryder.
"Both things are just as important to me--to be catchy, so when you hear a song on the radio it sticks out, and also to have that depth."
In conversation, Utada is endlessly surprising, instantly shattering any expectations or stereotypes. The list of heroes and influences that she cites--from the Cocteau Twins to Conan O'Brien, from author Roald Dahl to the Notorious B.I.G.--is unpredictable but extremely telling. "I like smart people," she says. "Not whether you're educated or not, just whether you have that spark, that light in your attic."
Born and raised in Manhattan and educated at Columbia University, Hikaru Utada grew up surrounded by music. Her father, Teruzane Utada, was an accomplished musician and producer, and her mother, Keiko Fuji, was a successful Japanese enka (ballad) singer. Utada spent her youth shuttling between New York City and Tokyo, but her most consistent home was the recording studio. By age 11, she had written and recorded her first song, and by the time she graduated from junior high school, she had been signed by EMI Records; her first album, Precious, was recorded in English, but didn't come out in the US because of business problems at the label; it was subsequently released in Japan.
After moving to Tokyo full-time, she began recording in Japanese, and her debut album in that language, First Love, was an explosive, historic success. Since then, she has had five Number One albums in Japan--most recently, Heart Station in 2008, which was the year's best-selling non-compilation album.
With that level of popularity, it's easy to wonder why Utada is taking the difficult step of starting over as a new artist for a new audience. "It's true that I could have stuck to my throne and taken the easy way," she says, "but I felt that my creativity, my humanity would be endangered by staying in that position. I don't want to just be this crazy artist who lives in la-la land, I want to be in touch with the real world and stay humble. And I like it when something feels scary--I see fear as a guiding light."
Utada did make one earlier foray into the English-language marketplace with the Exodus album n 2004. But even though the singles "Easy Breezy" and "Devil Inside" were hits on the club charts, she views the new album as her true debut. "On that album, I was so insecure," she says. "I was trying too hard, it wasn't natural. But on This Is The One, there's a maturity, a more free-flowing and natural confidence."
In approaching the new album, Utada was very careful about choosing her collaborators and setting their expectations. "With both teams, I wanted them to lay out the basic tracks," she says, "but I told them that I have to write my own songs, with complete control over melody and lyrics."
The producers also turned out to have very different processes. "With Stargate, it was all data transfer," she says. "I recorded most of the vocals in Tokyo and sent them to Norway or New York. They loved it--they were like `This is the future!" But with Tricky, we actually spent time in the studio together, and that was nice and warm. I'm not much of an extrovert, so it was a good experience to have to communicate and get to know a new person."
Utada singles out the track "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence - FYI" (which includes samples from experimental pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto and references to the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence) as a central moment in determining her final vision of the album. "I recorded the demo in December of 2007," she says, "but it was a difficult song, and I wasn't satisfied with it--I had to try to get to the bottom of it. And then just a few months ago, I suddenly came up with the right lyrics, changed the melody in places, and it made sense.
"When that song crystallized," she continues, "the message of it was very strong and confident, and I felt like it was a good introduction to me, that it fits in with my current story."
In contrast, the breezy "Apple and Cinnamon" came "almost too easily" to Utada. The vocals on the final version are mostly what she recorded as the demo. "I almost don't even feel like I made it," she says. "I didn't get to savor the experience of it." But her own favorite song on the album is the flirty, sophisticated "Me Muero"--"no other song makes me feel the way that one does."
It's been a long journey, full of many miles and many melodies, for Utada to get to this album. But the lessons she's learned ultimately gave her a clear sense of what she was looking for. "I wanted to get back to basics," she says. "Nothing gimmicky, just very straightforward and confident, with a sense of humor. I was so sure of what I was doing, and I just became more of an adult--finally."
Top customer reviews
Anyway, hello, and welcome to this review. After reading this, you may want to Come Back To Me, or you may not. Either way, Me Muero, so it doesn't matter to me. This album may have you saying, "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence." If you listen to this album, it may want you to try something with the flavor of Apple And Cinnamon. I feel like the money spent on this album was well spent and it doesn't make me feel like Taking My Money Back. This One may make you feel as if you were Crying Like A Child, but Automatic Part II will not create the same feelings as the first. Overall, this album may start a Dirty Desire in you while Poppin' this CD On And On. Just be sure to become Simple And Clean again after Opening and Closing the Sanctuary to this album.
If you're new to her music, Utada is one of, if not the most successful singer of all time in Japan. Her Japanese music and lyrics have a great appeal to them... so how about the English side?
Exodus, her previous English album, is along the same lines as this one in terms of it's pop appeal, but the maturity levels have gone way up. She's not just playing cute anymore and dancing around the themes, she takes them to the levels where they belong.
Each song on this album is very distinct - you can clearly imagine the scenarios in her songs, or in the cases of her more club/dance focused songs the beat is invigorating and sticks with you even after they're done playing.
As a long time fan of her Japanese music, the songs on their first listen will probably seem like more of a turn off. But the amazing thing about her music is that it only takes one listen before you realize you've got the songs repeating in your head.
All I had to do was see Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence - FYI live on the CBS early show and I was hooked and bought it on iTunes in addition to buying a CD copy here on Amazon. Leaving the playlist running, Apple and Cinnamon came on next, followed by Taking My Money Back, and I would go back and play them over and over. Come Back to Me and This One (Crying Like a Child) are more like her J-Pop, so those were easy to listen to. Dirty Desire is surprisingly explicit for her, but it's very catchy, as is Poppin', and On And On is just a fun song. Me Muero and Automatic are probably my least favorites, but they actually do grow on me the more I listen to them. And Simple and Clean and Sanctuary are great bonus tracks to the album for the Kingdom Hearts fans.
While it may be minor, one of the things I appreciate about this album are the photos, like the cover one. Some people might be thinking it's boring, confusing, or that she's over-dressed, but this is actually her appeal for me. Utada doesn't dress like a street walker or try to win the audience by acting like trash as most of America's pop artists do - she knows she's better than that, and that's a truly great image to have as an artist.
Like I said before, if you're a fan of her other music, this album might take adjusting to, but it's still the Utada we know and love. And if you're new to her, give it a listen and see how fast you get sucked in before you even realize it.