Automatic (Hikaru Utada song)

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"Automatic"
"Automatic/Time Will Tell" 12cm CD single cover.
Single by Hikaru Utada
from the album First Love
Released December 8, 1998 (1998-12-08)
(see release history)
Format CD Single, Digital download
Recorded 2010
Genre Contemporary R&B, pop
Length 5:28
Label Toshiba EMI
Writer(s)
Hikaru Utada singles chronology
"Time Will Tell"
(1998)
"Automatic"
(1998)
"Movin' on Without You"
(1999)
"Automatic/Time Will Tell" 8cm CD single cover.

"Automatic" is a song by Japanese musician Hikaru Utada, released as one of the A-sides of her debut single "Automatic/Time Will Tell" on December 8, 1998. The single was commercially successful, managing to reach number two on Japan's Oricon singles chart and sell over 1,000,000 copies.

Background and development[edit]

Utada began recording music as a small child, as a member of U3, a musical unit with her mother, enka singer Keiko Fuji and her father, producer Teruzane Utada. The group released an album in 1993, Star, when Utada was nine. After several years, the project focused more on Utada, being retitled Cubic U. In early 1998, Utada released the album Precious as Cubic U, an album featuring mostly contemporary R&B songs composed by her.

In 1998, Utada was asked if she could write Japanese songs by her record company, Toshiba EMI. This lead to the recording sessions for her debut Japanese album, First Love. (1999)[1]

Writing and production[edit]

The song was recorded in late August 1998, at Studio Z'd, Wonder Station Yoyogi Studio and Studio Terra in Tokyo.[1]

Utada self-reverences the song on her 2009 English-language album This Is the One on the song "Automatic Part II".

Promotion[edit]

In 1998, "Automatic" was used as the ending theme song for the Fuji Television variety program Warau Inu no Seikatsu: Yaraneva!!, and again in 2008 for Warau Inu 2008 Aki. It was also used in a commercial for Honda Life, and was featured in beatmania GB 2 GatchaMIX for the Game Boy Color.[2]

The song has been a constant feature of her live concert set lists. She performed the song during her Luv Live concerts in April 1999, as well as her Bohemian Summer 2000 concert tour and at the Utada Hikaru Unplugged event on August 10, 2001. The song was a part of her Hikaru no 5 residency concerts at the Nippon Budokan in February 2004, her Japan-wide tour Utada United 2006, her overseas tour Utada: In the Flesh 2010 and her December 2010 Wild Life concert series.[3]

A music video was produced for the song, directed by Tomu Izawa,[4] and later included in her Utada Hikaru Single Clip Collection Vol. 1 (1999) music clip collection. It featured Utada sitting in a darkened room, performing the song on a yellow armchair. The second section of the video features Utada performing the song in the blue and white room depicted on the 12cm cover. In 2010, Utada self-parodied the armchair scene in the music video for her song "Goodbye Happiness".[5]

Cover versions[edit]

In 1999, Hong Kong singer and actress Kelly Chen covered the song as "Qíngbùzìjìn" (情不自禁, "Can't Help") in Mandarin.[citation needed] In 2009, Jamaican reggae group Sly and Robbie and Unitzz released an English language cover of the song.[6] A second reggae cover was produced in 2011 by DJ Sasa with Island Souls on their album Respect! J-Pop, featuring vocals by Shinobu Nakasone of OrangeClover.[7] Kyoto rock band Unchain released a cover of the song on their cover album Love & Groove Delivery (2013).[8] Swedish band Dirty Loops covered the song on their 2014 album Loopified.

Critical reception[edit]

CDJournal gave the single a star of recommendation, praising Utada's vocal and expressive abilities. They described her voice as "full of emotion", and felt the "flexible melody line" created a pleasant floating feeling.[9]

"Automatic" was given the gold award at the 2000 JASRAC awards, beating her own song "Time Will Tell" and "Dango 3 Kyodai" to be the most royalty receiving song in 1999.[10]

Track listings[edit]

Commercial 8cm CD
No. Title Length
1. "Automatic"   5:12
2. "Time Will Tell"   5:30
3. "Automatic (Original Karaoke)"   5:11
Total length:
15:53
Commercial 12cm CD/vinyl record
No. Title Length
1. "Automatic"   5:12
2. "Time Will Tell"   5:30
3. "Time Will Tell (Dub Mix)"   5:36
Total length:
16:18

Personnel[edit]

Personnel details were sourced from First Love's liner notes booklet.[1]

Musicians and personnel

  • Hotoda Goh – mixing
  • Kei Kawano – additional arrangement
  • Masashi Kudo – recording
  • Tsuyoshi Kon – Guitar
  • Akira Miyake – production
  • Nobuhiko Nakayama – synthesizer programming
  • Akira Nishihira – arrangement, keyboards, programming
  • Taka & Speedy – rhythm tracks arrangement, programming
  • Masaaki Ugajin – recording
  • Hikaru Utada – writing, vocals
  • Teruzane "Skingg" Utada – production

Chart rankings[edit]

Charts (1998) Peak
position
Japan Oricon weekly singles[11]
  • "Automatic/Time Will Tell" 8cm
4
Japan Oricon weekly singles[12]
  • "Automatic/Time Will Tell" 12cm
2
Charts (2014) Peak
position
Japan Billboard Adult Contemporary Airplay[13] 52
Japan Billboard Japan Hot 100[14] 73

Sales and certifications[edit]

Chart Amount
Oricon physical sales[15]
  • "Automatic/Time Will Tell" 8cm
772,000
Oricon physical sales[15]
  • "Automatic/Time Will Tell" 12cm
1,291,000
RIAJ physical certification[16]
  • "Automatic/Time Will Tell"
4× Platinum (1,600,000)
RIAJ cellphone download certification[17] Gold (100,000)

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Distributing Label Catalogue codes
Japan December 9, 1998 (1998-12-09)[11][12] 8cm single, 12cm single Toshiba EMI TODT-5242, TOCT-4127
February 17, 1999 (1999-02-17)[18] Vinyl record TOJT-4140
November 19, 2004 (2004-11-19)[17] Digital download

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c First Love 15th Anniversary Edition (Media notes) (in Japanese). Hikaru Utada. Tokyo, Japan: Universal. 2014. 
  2. ^ "GameFAQs Song List FAQ for the Beatmania series". 
  3. ^ "宇多田ヒカル一時休止前ラスト公演で感涙&Ust新記録樹立" (in Japanese). Natalie. December 13, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Automatic" (in Japanese). Space Shower. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  5. ^ "宇多田ヒカルが監督デビュー!「Automatic」をほうふつさせるその内容!" (in Japanese). Cinema Today. November 9, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Sly & Robbie J Paradise". AllMusic. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ "リスペクト! J-POP". Victor. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ "UNCHAINが宇多田、林檎、靖幸、キリンジ、少女時代カバー" [Unchain covers Utada, Ringo, Okamura, Kirinji and Girls Generation]. Natalie. January 16, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  9. ^ "ミニ・レビュー" (in Japanese). CDJournal. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ "JASRAC賞" (in Japanese). JASRAC. Archived from the original on August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Automatic/time will tell". Oricon. Retrieved August 14, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Automatic/time will tell". Oricon. Retrieved August 14, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Adult Contemporary Airplay 2014/03/24". Billboard (in Japanese). March 19, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Japan Billboard Hot 100 2014/03/24". Billboard (in Japanese). March 19, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" [Oricon Ranking Information Service 'You Big Tree']. Oricon. Retrieved June 17, 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  16. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 1999年2月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. February 1999 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 473: 9. April 10, 1999. Archived from the original on January 23, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "レコード協会調べ 11月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: November Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. December 20, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  18. ^ "CubicU「Precious」再発に関して/「time will tell」アナログ盤に関して" (in Japanese). U3 Music. January 25, 1999. Archived from the original on August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014.