album review: Utada Hikaru “BAD Mode”

At last, we have reached the album!

Released January 19, 2022, as a gift to their fans on their own birthday, “BAD Mode” is Utada Hikaru’s (or Hikki’s, as their fans devotedly call them) eighth studio album, featuring singles that trace back to the beginning of 2019. In the three year span, Hikki would go on to display a more subdued sound, collaborating with producers such as A. G. Cook and Obukuro Nariaki, and every song would have a tie-in to a Japanese-made property.

“BAD Mode” is one of the hotly anticipated releases of early 2022, but is “BAD Mode” all it’s chalked up to be? Is it the bad mode you wish to feel, or are you just on a ‘good’ mode instead? Or is the release just… bad? Let’s take a look into the album onward.

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single review: Utada Hikaru “Kimi ni Muchuu”

The final single in the series is “Kimi ni Muchuu“, serving as another tie-in (Hikki and these tie-in’s…). This time, “Kimi ni Muchuu” is attached as a theme song to the J-drama ‘Saiai’, and the track sees Hikki pairing up one more time with well-known PC Music producer A.G. Cook (best known for his collaborations with Charli XCX, and previously working with Hikki for “One More Kiss”).

Opting for another more subdued tone, “Kimi ni Muchuu” is the lead single for ‘BAD Mode’, but will you be crazy for this lead-in song, or is Hikki crazy to think they could keep up with this new generation of sound? Let’s check it out!

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single review: Utada Hikaru “PINK BLOOD”

Fourth up would originally be “One Last Kiss” in the ‘BAD Mode’ review series… however! I have already reviewed it here, so enjoy!

With that established, the next review up on the list is for a single released in 2021, and yes, it has another tie-in. This time, Hikki’s “PINK BLOOD” serves as the opening theme song for the anime series To Your Eternity, being the second anime tie-in for Hikki of the year.

Now, is “PINK BLOOD” actually pink, my favorite color, or is it just a regular red, meaning it might not be what I’d like? We’d have to take a look, so read on!

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single review: Utada Hikaru “Dare ni mo Iwanai”

Third up in the set is “Dare ni mo Iwanai“, otherwise translated to ‘I Won’t Tell Anyone’, which also has a tie-in. This time, Hikki is paired up with Suntory Water, selecting the song as the theme track for the commercial, which also stars Hikki themself. Released literally days following “Time”, “Dare ni mo Iwanai” has Hikki also participating with the same producer of “Time”.

Now, is this song worth keeping a secret, or is it a track that will have Hikki asking if you can keep a secret? Whatever the case may be, we’ll have to tell everyone how I feel about this song, so read on below!

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single review: Utada Hikaru “Time”

Second up in the “BAD Mode” review set is “Time“, released more than a year after “Face My Fears”. This single was released as a digital single in 2020, mere months following the onset of the pandemic, and it has Hikki exploring uncharted territory by offering a theme song for a drama aired on NTV in Japan (the drama being “Bishoku Tantei Akechi Goro”).

With all the time in between releases, was this single crafted with care and precision, using all that time wisely, or did Hikki waste time for everyone, from those involved to the listener? Let’s look at the sole song onward.

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single review: Utada Hikaru “Face My Fears”

I’m back for a new review set, and this time, I will be taking a look at several Utada Hikaru releases. For this review set, I will tackle the recent releases leading up to their new album “BAD Mode”, which is set to be released on January 19.

The first single of the bunch, having actually been released three years prior (gee, that is a while!), is “Face My Fears“, which is the much-anticipated tie-in release to the video game Kingdom Hearts 3. Having offered several theme songs to the game series with “Hikari/Simple and Clean” (“Hikari”, which I reviewed here) and “Passion/Sanctuary”, “Face My Fears” shows Hikki taking on two songs for the game.

With this single, were they successful in facing those fears, or did they have to think twice contrary to what their song says… read on!

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the best of jpop 2021

We made it! The finish line!

This is MY list of the best songs from Japan in 2021, and let me tell you, it’s been quite the year! I think I’ve become more accustomed to Korean pop music than I have Japanese pop music in recent years, but I still manage to get a lot of music from Japan on my radar. It was actually quite a surprise to have a full list of songs I could actually pick from, because I did a lot of exploring this year and finding a lot of new artists to listen to.

So, will those artists make an appearance on the year-end list for 2021? Will some more veteran artists appear? Will Koda Kumi actually have a song on the list this year? The only way to find out is to read on…

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the best of jpop 2021 so far

I have to admit, this was a harder list for me to create, but can you believe that we’re already at the half-way point for the year in J-pop?!

It’s been quite a few years already, and I’ve noticed big-time how the J-pop scene has changed so vastly during those years. Some of my favorite artists are no longer big names, and newer artists seem to show up every year… I can no longer keep track! That said, I’m still finding more and more through word of mouth and recommendations.

I can only hope these next fifteen tracks are worthy of your listening pleasure, as I consider them the best from what I have heard throughout this first part of the year. Will we share the same opinions? Let’s take a look!

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mini-album review: Utada Hikaru “One Last Kiss”

It’s been 14 years!

Crazy to believe that the Evangelion rebuilds are finally coming to an end, but alas, here we are. With this end comes an end to the collaboration efforts between Utada Hikaru and the series, as well. You may be familiar with Hikki’s works with Kingdom Hearts but if you don’t know about their efforts with Eva… where have you been?! Jokes aside, Utada Hikaru’s work with Eva is one filled with lyrics of love, beauty, and their sound is that of an etherealness that is reminiscent of their works in the mid-00s.

Their final release with the project comes in the form of a mini-album, with one new track, a rehash of an old Eva song, and remasters of all their tie-ins. “One Last Kiss” is the title of the new song and is meant to signify one last effort – but will it be worth it in the end? Is this one last kiss one for the books? Let’s check it out!

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