Review: Utada – This Is The One
Popping the dent the failure of Exodus left in her ego, Utada, with the aid of some powerful producers (Stargate, Tricky Stewart, The-Dream) , picks up the pieces with This Is The One and proves that she is serious about releasing quality music for the English-speaking crowd. The tracks are radio friendly for the most part, and still manage to retain their ‘Utadaness,’ the unique quality that has made her a staple in the Japanese music industry for years now.
There’s something to be admired about an artist who experiences complete failure, and is then brave enough to try again. However, there is also something to be wary of over an artist who just doesn’t know when to give up. Thankfully, Utada is not the latter. Where Exodus came off as self-indulgent, shallow, and somewhat embarrassing, This Is The One shines and positions Utada for success.
Well aware of who she is musically, Utada sticks mainly to mid-tempos and does them well. Tracks like “This One (Crying Like A Child)“, “Apple And Cinnamon“, and “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI” mark Utada’s territory. She doesn’t stray far from the formula that made her notable overseas, but she still manages to dress her songs appropriately for American ears; the tunes are catchy without being overly-complex, the lyrics are worth recognizing without being cryptic, and the luster of the songs does not wear off after repeated listens.
“Inotxicated, emancipated, unapologetic’s what I am tonight”
She does sink her teeth into some danceable tracks as well, but the up-tempo numbers are more hit-and-miss than the others. “On And On” and “Dirty Desire” (leaving its tragic first verse out of the picture) will get heads bobbing and remind listeners that Utada definitely knows how to have a good time. However, tracks like “Automatic Part II” and “Poppin’” may leave listeners with a bitter taste in their mouth. The lyrics and melodies are awkward and quirky beyond comfort at parts, showing that she isn’t completely immune to repeating the mistakes of her past.
Replacing the remixes at the end with actual songs would have helped this record sound more complete, but with all things considered This Is The One is a solid Pop/R&B record that should receive a warmer reception than Exodus. Utada does her thing without turning the people around her off. This is good news for her loyal fans and new listeners, alike.
KEEPERS: “On and On”, “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI”, “Apple And Cinnamon”, “Taking My Money Back”, “This One (Crying Like a Child)”, “Dirty Desire”