azurite: (blue flower)
Back from the Utada concert! Actually, have been a while, but have been gleefully catching up on LJ entries using NewsFire. I wanted to use NetNewsWire, since it lets me open links in-app, but it displays all the subject lines all mangled and wrong. :(

So: I got there later than I wanted, but I still managed to score my favorite delicious strawberry & banana w/ whip cream crepe and Peach Snapple from Sophie's across the street, and I didn't mind waiting outside--all the way around the corner from the theatre, past the KFC--because it didn't start raining until we just about got inside.

One of the guys working for the Fillmore told me the place was like a giant dance floor, and he wasn't kidding. Thank god for restrooms, but boo to the lack of merchandise being sold! I guess it's because it's been a while since Utada did a tour and she's only going 8 U.S. cities? But I, for one, would totally buy Utada merchandise if it were on sale at a concert. The only things I have of hers otherwise are the physical CDs and a poster I got for Heart Station! (I think Kuma keychains would be awesome.)

Anyway, being short sucks. Even in heels, even standing at the back center of the dance floor, the place quickly got flooded with tall people. Worse, tall people with spiky hair. Sometimes wearing heels themselves! I ended up migrating over to the left of the stage, where many short people congregated. I still had an "iffy" view because of this one couple that kept bobbing their heads in my way, and another guy with ridiculously spiky hair, but I still got to see her! Whee, Utada!

Her (brown) hair's longer than expected, but not as long as she used to have back in the Automatic or Deep River days. She had a kind of punk rocker thing going on with a Susan Sontag black skull & crossbones (with lipstick) tee, a bit of a ruffled/lacy black skirt, and BRIGHT purple tights (yay, purple!), plus a metal-studded bracelet.

I thought the thing was supposed to start at 8, as it said on the ticket. The deejay (lamesauce Mike Rizzo from New York, kept calling the city "Frisco," I wanted to smack him) kept saying "in 30 minutes, in 30 minutes" and 30 minutes later, it was another 30 minutes! The guy either can't tell time or folks can't be honest about a showtime's true start. I don't know if it was really delayed for some reason or not. It ended up starting at 8:40-8:50ish.

Awesome: she had a HUGE variety of songs from all her albums, including the Japanese ones, although she opened with "On and On" from her newest English album, "This Is The One." I got to hear "Automatic," a "Passion/Sanctuary" blend (technically the same song, but she went from Japanese to English), "First Love," and "Kremlin Dusk," some of my favorite songs of hers. It only could have been better if she'd done "Beautiful World" or "Prisoner of Love" instead of "Stay Gold," but it's still a good song. And if she'd done "Take 5," it would have been downright eerie (if you know the lyrics of the song, you'll understand why I think that)!

Out of all of them, there was just ONE song I didn't recognize, but the music was playing so loud, I hardly heard the lyrics, anyway. I know they were in English, but I don't remember it as being off of either of her recent albums (Exodus or This Is The One), and I doubt it was from her Cubic U days. The lyrics sounded something like "See you on the better side?" Anyone? (It didn't sound like the collab she did with Timbaland and Kiley Dean, "By Your Side," though.)

I ended up tweeting throughout the whole concert, when I could find a signal. I couldn't resist! Maybe because I didn't have anyone to squee with, although I did see Theo at the beginning and end. :P

Lastly, but never leastly, I may just be going crazy: I've signed up to do the "Hi My Sweetheart" fanlisting. :P Yes, I'm crazy about this show; it's so awesome. This'll be my...what, fourth fanlisting? (Blue Eyes and Apricots, Ace of Hearts, Firefly Room...yup, fourth) It'll also be my first TV show/drama FL. The others are anime/manga couples and one literature fanlisting.

Keep your eyes peeled.
azurite: (blue flower)
Well, spring break has at last come to a close. It went fast, but at least it was fun and relaxing. It certainly was nice sleeping in till around 10:30 a.m. every day; tomorrow my "waking up at 6:30 a.m." routine begins anew. Oh, and also my habit of going to the Arbor Grill for occasional morning breakfasts; I'm looking forward to enjoying a breakfast burrito again after a week of waffles, cereal, and toast.

I didn't post during spring break even though I had the time; it was more like my thoughts were pretty scattered and I tried to be out as much as possible-- or at least doing stuff.

I went to Opening Night for the Giants at AT&T Park with Steph, Kathryn, Nora, and a guy named Melvin who was only there for a blip of time, it seemed. I shouted myself hoarse and then ended up sick as a result-- I've got awful congestion, a dry nose (ow) and an occasional cough, but I hope to be better by my birthday. I'm being smart about what I'm eating and drinking, and that, of course, includes medicines to help me get over this.

I also got to see Evie, Eva, Crystal, and (surprise surprise!) Louie (from high school) again at our Chevy's night. As is my luck, I got a certificate from Chevy's THE DAY AFTER for a free entree. Isn't that always how it works? Whatever "it" is? Well, maybe I'll go this weekend in San Diego: the closest Tex-Mex to the border when the border is more or less off-limits!

Oh, oh, oh! I also got the real "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" (a.k.a. Furyo, which translates to "Prisoner of War") soundtrack, which I think is beautiful, so even though I don't like Utada's sophomore U.S. album (not counting her days as Cubic U, of course), I applaud her for indirectly introducing me to another composer and his music (Ryuichi Sakamoto). I actually like the title track of the movie (which is what Utada sampled from) a lot more than this song... sorry Utada! Although I am curious if the vocal version, "Forbidden Colours" is the same "Forbidden Colours" that is a special bonus on one of Sarah Brightman's Canadian albums. If it is, it'll be interesting to see how she redid it; I didn't like the vocal version too much, but maybe that has to do with the kind of "spacey" quality it had as a song.

Read more... )

I'm really craving a red velvet cupcake for my birthday. I wonder if any bakeries around here have them?


 This One (Crying Like a Child) by Utada from This Is the One (Rating: 0)
azurite: (purple nails jewels)
I first got into Hikaru Utada (a.k.a. Cubic U a.k.a Hikki, a.k.a Utada) after I heard the Johnny Vicious remix of "Automatic;" since then, it's been my favorite song of hers. I've made a habit of buying as many of her albums and singles as I could get my hands on, including her "new" English debuts (she originally debuted in English as Cubic U before she was in Japan; she was in a different genre then, though), "Exodus" and "This Is The One."

I bought her new single "Come Back To Me" and the album it's on, "This Is The One" as soon as they came out on iTunes.

"Come Back To Me" eventually grew on me, and the video is fairly nice (I love her haircut, but she has more costume changes in it than Cher does in a half-hour of her concert!), though in most of Utada's videos, she doesn't look like she's really singing so much as mouthing the lyrics half-heartedly (the one exception: when she's wearing her bright-red lipstick. Must be something empowering about wearing it). That's probably been one of the big reasons I don't seek out her music videos as much as I used to ("Traveling" from back in the day was awesome, though) or DVDs.

Even though she's classed as a J-Pop artist, I'm confused why her new album is considered Pop. It's got more of an R&B or possibly Hip-Hop vibe to it, which got me thinking Utada's trying to go back to her roots for her second English album (since her re-debut).

As for the songs... "Automatic Pt. II" has nothing to do with the original awesome song, and if it shares more than a few chords with the original, I couldn't tell. I frankly think the "song" is a poor assembly of self-plugging lyrics, in even poorer taste than the "She's got a new microphone" line in one of her "Exodus" songs. It's not really a "song" in my book, and it disappoints me that it shares a title (if only because the phrase "It's automatic..." is repeated so incessantly in it) with the song I love so much.

"Apple and Cinnamon" is a nice song, with a cute melody and a sad story. It doesn't scream "Utada" to me though, which is a double-edged sword: one the one hand, the song will likely appeal to a wider audience than her "Exodus" songs, but on the other, ANYONE could have sung it just as well. Without something to make it distinctly "Utada," there's no reason anyone would associate the title with her, which I would think is a hope of artists. For example, if I say "Funhouse," I imagine people immediately think of P!nk, and if I say "Circus" or "Womanizer," people immediately think of Britney Spears. But saying "Apple and Cinnamon" doesn't recall Utada, no matter how cute the lyrics or melody.

What bothers me most is that a huge chunk of the songs on the album are like siblings of "Exodus"'s "The Workout" and "Let Me Give You My Love"--songs about sex. Sex sells, and when you're not using vague metaphors or symbolism, it sells even better. Apparently someone crammed this message into Utada's brain, because she's got "Taking My Money Back," "Dirty Desire" (the most blatantly sexual of them all, and my least favorite song of hers on the album... quite possibly EVER), and "Poppin'" (at least the sexual references are mostly innuendo and not explicit).

"Mu Muero" is interesting, but it seems a little strange that of all "exotic" languages Utada would opt to use for her second English album, she'd go for the tried-and-true Spanish, instead of something Japanese, because... uh, DUH!? Why Spanish? It doesn't seem "her" at all, but seems a "generic English label" thing to do (by "English" I mean the language, not "of England"). The song itself is nice-- maybe the only songs of hers on this album I like are the sad, almost break-up/I want you back-type songs, as opposed to the "empowerment" themes.

If there's an exception to that, it might be "On and On," though when I first heard the lyrics, "Honeys, if you're gay / burn it up / like a gay parade / Honeys, if you're straight / bump it up / take it all away" I was like "WHAT did she just say?" I was on the border of getting offended before I listened to the song again and got the lyrics.

"Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence - FYI" is another innuendo-laced song, but like "Come Back To Me," I think it grows on you. Or it did on me, anyway. There's nothing "Christmasy" about it, but the title probably has more to do with the sexual nature of the lyrics than a holiday in December (for an album in March, I did think it was weird she had something with "Christmas" in the title, until I heard the song).

"This One (Crying Like a Child)" was another one I liked, but like "Apple and Cinnamon," it could have been sung just as well by someone like Vanessa Hudgens and sounded more or less the same. (BTW, I like Vanessa, but I think Utada and Vanessa's singing styles --even if they're both classed as "Pop"-- are very different). I do like the melody a lot more, though; the instruments used are much more unique and blended well than some of the other songs.

All in all, I'd probably give the album a 3/5. I liked "Exodus" a lot more, with songs like "Kremlin Dusk," (my favorite) "Exodus '04," and "Hotel Lobby" (my second favorite). I didn't like "Tippy Toe," "The Workout," "Easy Breezy" very much, and "Let Me Give You My Love" is one of those 50/50 songs with me, but the songs I do like I think are so catchy and wonderful that it makes up for those I don't enjoy as much. Nonetheless, I don't think Utada should have tried to change her style when debuting in English again. Her Japanese songs were great, and if her English ones had the same feeling in them, I'd probably like them a lot more.

My favorite album to date: Heart Station ("Beautiful World" is another favorite song of mine, after the Johnny Vicious "Automatic" remix). Thank goodness I can keep importing her Japanese albums, and iTunes will have some of her Japanese singles, too. I wish Utada nothing but the best, but she's not going to get the super-stardom she did in Japan here in the States with generic lyrics like her last two albums have had. There needs to be something unique --something "Utada" to make me want to buy them again.

 Beautiful World by Hikaru Utada from HEART STATION (Rating: 0)

January 2016

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