I’m disappointed with Utada Hikaru’s second attempt to break into the American mainstream music scene.
This is (depending on how you see it) her second (third if you count Cubic U) English album. The conclusion that I draw after having listened to “This Is The One” is that it is far from being the one. This album fails because she is trying too hard, a fact that is apparent in almost every song. In her decision to do a more mainstream album, she sacrifices her musical identity.
I remember I was very pleased with “Exodus”; it was full of fun pop/dance tunes, clever lyrics and sometimes nostalgic melodies. “This Is The One”, in contrast, has a heavier R&B sound, it less dynamic, and unexciting. It has none of the sparkling “Japanese” sound, nor has it acquired the edgy “American” sound. In essence, it falls flat.
Below I added a short reviews and ratings of the songs in the album:
“Come back to me“- Honestly, one of the few songs that is worthy of being a single. It’s an averagely good power balled. I rate it 3/5. (Better by far than Rihanna’s horrible “Unfaithful” so…)
“Me Muero“- This is one of those songs where the impressing you get is that this is not Utada Hikaru the confident best selling Japanese artist, but Utada the desperate. It has this R&B and Latin sound, but the song will never pop not matter how much Spanish she speaks in it. I rate it 2/5.
“Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence- FYI“- And odd mixture of hip hop and Japanese pop, that somehow works. I guess is the song with most Japanese pop culture soul in it. I rate it 3.5/5.
“Apple and Cinnamon“- Delightful title! The song does not really go with it, but it’s a typical Utada Hikaru ballad. It’s a cute song, and I love the chorus, but mostly I like the imagery that “chemistry like apple and cinnamon” implies. I rate this song 3.5/5.
“Taking my money back“- This song is not convincing. It’s the lyrics are so “black woman kicking out her scrub boyfriend”. And the sound hints of Usher. Except she’s this Japanese chick posing as black. I rate this song 2.5/5. (Go listen to “Taking Back My Love” by Enrique Iglesias and Ciara, instead).
“This One (Crying Like A Child)“- This song is just plain boring. It has a faint Rihanna sound, especially the chorus (reminds me of a mix of “Umbrella” and “Rehab”). I rate this song 2.5/5. (You get more satisfaction of subjecting yourself to Rihanna… at least she brings personality to her songs, no matter how insipid that personality may be).
“Automatic Part II“- It tries so desperately to be down in the hood that it’s almost embarrassing. This is another poser song, with lifeless lyrics to top it off. Why couldn’t she just sing “Automatic” in English? I rate this song 2/5.
“Dirty Desire“- This is song has a faint ring of Britney’s “If You Seek Amy” but fails to be as edgy (“If You Seek Amy” at least has a tiny controversy attached to it which makes it slightly interesting). I rate it song 2/5.
“Poppin‘”- This is also another odd song, childishly flirty R&B with a hint of jazzy fetish… don’t ask! But it reminds me of Madonna’s “Erotica” somehow. Japanese erotica. I rate this song 3.5/5.
“On and On“- The best song in the album. It’s poppy, catchy, and sexy. A dance-worthy, yet slow pick-me-up song. Classic Utada Hikaru. I rate it 4.5/5.
But. I’m a huge Utada Hikaru fan. So, all I have to do is to listen to this album a couple of more times before I start liking it…