What A Beautiful World
I think I once remarked here that I didn’t listen to Utada Hikaru‘s last single, Flavor of Life, until several months after it’d been released. But let’s be honest – the truth is, I didn’t listen to it until August, when the ballad version video happened to play on MTV Asia as I sat in my Beijing hotel room in utter boredom. Then I remembered that it was sitting stagnant on my MP3 Player, promptly brought up the single, and decided it wasn’t bad. Shame it took several months for me to discover that.
This time, thanks to varying factors like running out of space on my laptop (due to more rotting music videos, of course), I’m not pulling the same stunt with her latest, Beautiful World/Kiss & Cry. A very good thing indeed, because the first track has me utterly captivated.
With an opening tie-in to the Rebuild of Evangelion film, this got a lot of buzz around the Internet circles I’m often in, whether it’s music or anime. But then again, Utada’s made the rounds of my other usual interest circles already, be it games or j-dramas or just plain old music. You’d figure the anime tie-in was bound to happen at some point.
o1/ Beautiful World: I absolutely love experimental pop. Experimental, New Age, and especially anything that just has an ethereal sound to it. I was hooked within the first 15 seconds of the song. At first it sounded as though the beat might be a rehash of the PLANITb remix of Hikari, but then the keyboard came in. This is light, dancing around the ears and the music absolutely atmospheric. And Utada’s vocals float in and out, growing in volume or peaking the notes without sounding strained, which would have easily detracted from a song like this. If I were running an MP3 rotation, this would be the song I’d tell you to download and listen to now if you hadn’t already done so. I may very well buy the single for this track anyways.
o2/ Kiss & Cry: Here’s another confession. I’m not quite an early Utada fan. Can You Keep A Secret? was one of the tracks that got me delving deeper into Japanese music, Wait & See ~Risk~ has fun addictive stanzas, and I have an appreciation for traveling, COLORS, and FINAL DISTANCE. But it was the aforementioned Hikari -PLANTITb remix- that really had me liking Utada’s vocals, and following that, I rather liked her American release, Exodus. I also liked Ultra Blue – but mostly the songs that followed the similar experimental synth pop flavors of Exodus.
Um. Anyways. This song. It’s not really the particular sort of music I’ve grown to enjoy from Utada, with the exception of the Hotel Lobby vocal melody right before the chorus. But it also doesn’t help that I’ve become enamored with the previous song, and sort of developed a definite bias against the other tracks. Yes, I know it’s not a very good thing to do. I never claimed to be a good unbiased reviewer. Leave the plebian alone.
o3/ Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) -2007 MIX-: While I’m being honest… I’m actually pretty sick of this song. And I’ve never heard Frank Sinatra’s version, never mind Utada Hikaru’s original cover of it. Like with Zankoku na Tenshi no TE-ZE, this is another one of those songs that have been done to death in association with the Evangelion anime. This song is a nice version, with more polished vocals than most of the ones that have made me tired of this song, but I’m still biased towards the first track. I said I was going to be honest.
I still love the titular track (I’ve had it playing on nonstop repeat while writing this review), but looking at my impressions of the other two tracks… I’m sort of wishing that perhaps it wasn’t so good. But that’s just one downside to having an amazing title track, and I’d rather have an amazing song and two that need to grow on me than a disc of three mediocre ones.