Exodus (Hikaru Utada album)

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Exodus
Exodus JP+USA.jpg
Studio album by Utada
Released September 8, 2004
Genre Pop, dance, alternative rock, techno, electronica
Length 54:15,
65:00 (UK Version)
Label Island, Mercury
Producer Utada, Timbaland, Danja, Sking U
Utada chronology
Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol. 1
(2004)
Exodus
(2004)
Ultra Blue
(2006)
Alternative cover
UK album cover
Singles from Exodus
  1. "Easy Breezy"
    Released: August 3, 2004
  2. "Devil Inside"
    Released: September 14, 2004
  3. "Exodus '04"
    Released: June 21, 2005
Singles from Exodus (United Kingdom Version)
  1. "You Make Me Want to Be a Man"
    Released: October 17, 2005

Exodus (エキソドス Ekisodosu?) is the debut English language album by Japanese singer-songwriter Utada, released on September 8, 2004 by Island Records. After being discovered in North America by Island CEO Lyon Cohen when she contributed to the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack, he was very interested in signing Utada to his record label and she eventually accepted the offer. She traveled to Los Angeles, California to sign the contract and begun recording the studio album straight after her signing. However, during the time frame from 2002 and 2003, Utada was diagnosed with cancer that needed surgery and treatment and married her husband Kazuaki Kiriya, which stopped recording temporarily.

Musically, Exodus incorporates several musical genres including dance music and electronic music. This then utilizes several elements from electropop, avant garde, dreampop, ethereal wave and glitch music. Exodus is her first studio album to have full-English-language tracks since her album Precious under the alias Cubic U. Several tracks on the album were written, composed and produced by Utada herself but also received help from American rapper Timbaland, Danja and her father Teruzane Utada. Lyrically, the album deals with several human-related stories from a third-person perspective. Themes incorporated inside the album is love, prostitution, lust, her own mixed heritage and break-ups.

Upon its release, Exodus received mixed reviews from most contemporary music critics. Many critics complimented the composition experimentation and Utada's vocal deliveries on certain tracks. However, critics were divided towards the lyrical content and felt the production and album was only to achieve an wider audience throughout the Western market. Commercially, Exodus was a commercial success in her native Japan, peaking at number one and sold over one million units in the country, making it the highest selling English studio album there. It was certified million by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ). In North America, Exodus suffered and only peaked inside the top 200 on the Billboard 200.

Four singles were released from the album. The first single "Easy Breezy" failed to gain success in both Eastern and Western territories, but the following single "Devil Inside" peaked at number one on the US Hot Dance Club Songs, making it her highest charting effort regarding any Billboard chart. The final North American single "Exodus '04" charted moderately in America overall, while the lead UK single "You Make Me Want to Be a Man" failed to achieve higher success in that region as well. To promote the album, Utada had commenced her Utada Hikaru In Budokan 2004 tour.

Background[edit]

Utada, who was under her birth name Hikaru Utada in the Japanese market, was one of the most successful musicians inside off Japan.[1] Utada had released three Japanese-language studio albums; First Love, Distance and Deep River. All three studio albums achieved an massive success inside off Japan, all listed as one off the biggest selling albums in Japan with the debut release being the most successful Japanese album off all time, selling seven million units in Japan and an additional three million worldwide.[2][3][4] Several singles from each album sold over one million units and tallied up to seven off her singles having sold over one million units, with her debut single "Automatic/Time will tell" selling over two million.[4][5]

In 2001, Utada was approached by American label Island Def Jam to record a track entitled "Blow My Whistle" with American rapper Foxy Brown on the American film Rush Hour 2.[6] The track was written by Utada herself, alongside Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. The song is included on Def Jam's Rush Hour 2 soundtrack, which peaked the 11th spot on both the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and also the 1st on the Top Soundtracks. Although Hikaru usually produces her own songs, Blow My Whistle was produced by The Neptunes.[7]

Then, in 2003, Island CEO Lyor Cohen was interested in signing Utada to his label and she eventually accepted his recommendation and signed her first deal in 2004.[6] Utada had flown to Los Angeles, California to meet Cohen and Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris with her mother Keiko Fuji and father Teruzane Utada to support her there.[6] Her record label Toshiba-EMI had also released her material worldwide like Island, but Cohen commented that Island would support her choices throughout the American audience.[6] According to Steve McClure from Billboard, Utada and her father were originally approached by EMI Music and Virgin Records beforehand and were also interested in signing Utada to their label.[6] A source from the article commented; "People at [Virgin] were kissing up her dad and promising him that they were definitely going to launch her as an international star."[6] However, he later commented "But with the complete meltdown [...] Everybody Utada had knew had gone."[6]

Composition[edit]

Music and style[edit]

Musically, Exodus is an dance-oriented album that incorporates several electronic genres. The album was co-produced by Utada herself.[8] During an interview in the United States whilst promoting This Is the One in 2009, when asked about Exodus, Utada said that Exodus was "a very experimental album. I was like a mad scientist working away in an underground laboratory", going on to say "I had the time of my life but it was a very intense, introverted process".[9] Reviewed by Allmusic, they had commented on the music by saying "delivers a diverse collection of urbane, modern, and, at times, almost avant-garde electronica and dance music [...] A true fusion of Western and Eastern music's edgier elements thrown together in an after-hours disco melting pot."[10]

Tracks from Exodus were heavily compared to American recording artist Aaliyah (pictured).

Majority off the album deals with dance music and traditional J-pop music. "Devil Inside" incorporates several electronic dance genres including progressive house and dark pop music. The song features drum machines and synthesizers and Rob Carolan from Stylus Magazine compared it to Super Mario games during their intro sequences.[11][10] Carolan had originally labelled the album's musical composition as "strange" and exemplified "Hotel Lobby" as an example for incorporating J-pop music.[11] "The Workout" was compared to Gwen Stefani's 2003 track "Hollaback Girl" for its instrumentation of colossal drums and horn parts but was often criticized for being "darker" and "demented."[11] The album also incorporates influences off Americanized R&B and Hip-Hop music. "Easy Breezy" was commented as a "sing-song hip-hop/R&B amalgam" and was compared to Britney Spears due to its "dreamy" choruses and vocal delivery.[12] The single "Exodus 04" takes homage towards the album title and was compared to the composition by American rapper and singer Aaliyah, with instrumentation off string samples and piano, while "Let Me Give You My Love" incorporates more fast forward "future funk music" that was also compared to Aaliyah.[12][11] The first track had been produced by American rapper Timbaland.[8]

Exodus was noted by several critics for its experimentation off genres and including industrial music, avant-garde music and electronic music. "Kremlin Dusk" features a dark "bizarre neo-industrial symphony" that also references British poet Edgar Allan Poe's story The Raven with the lyric ("And the words of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe/Now I'm sober and nevermore/Will the Raven come to bother me.")[11] "Animato" includes several electronic instrumentation's including synthesizers and keyboards to create an "alien-like" sound and composition. Throughout the track, "it synthesized mournful choirs and oppressive alien electronics, pushes pop to its most avant garde extremes."[11]

Lyrical content[edit]

Like the rest off her previous studio albums, Utada had written the entire album all herself.[8] In a press conference off her record label signing, Utada stated that she had written all her songs, including Japanese tracks, in English language; "Most of my lyrics come out in English, which I then rewrite in Japanese [...] so this project will save a little bit of time in songwriting, which I’ll be needing, to give the best of both [Hikaru Utada] and [Utada Hikaru.]”[13]

The introduction track and interlude entitled "Opening" and "Crossover Interlude" incorporate the same lyrics in different composition.[8] The tracks feature the lyric ("I don’t wanna cross over between this genre, that genre,”) which talks about the different composition off each off the tracks and also incorporate her interpretation off her Western crossover to her J-Pop music.[11][14] On her single "Easy Breezy", the song talks about a relationship between a man and wanting to become romantic with the other person. In the lyrics, she mocks her American-Asian heritage that was often noted as "dumb" or "silly" which specifies the lyric; ("You're easy breezy / And I'm Japaneezy")[14]

The fourth track "The Workout" talks about an experience in an nightclub, but eventually talks about her having an relationship with a Born-again Christian and an "dirty blonde Texan", while the seventh track "Hotel Lobby" incorporates the theme off prostitution and depicts an aging woman as a male escort at a hotel.[14] In the song "Kremlin Dusk", she references British poet Edgar Allan Poe's story The Raven ("Will the Raven come to bother me").[12] In the song "Animato", the track references several music genres including dance, hip-hop and pop music and also comments about a woman having an extra-marital affair.[14]

Release and promotion[edit]

After Utada signed to the record label in 2002, Cohen and Morris had high hopes in releasing Exodus during the end of 2002 or early 2003 in North America, with a release date already being confirmed.[15] However, after Utada had promoted her third Japanese studio album Deep River, she underwent surgery after being diagnosed with a benign ovarian tumor,[16] causing Utada to put her promotional activities on hold and the release off Exodus was delayed. They were still persistent in a 2002 release, but Utada had announced her marriage to director Kazuaki Kiriya and then delayed the studio album release.[15][17]

Then, Billboard announced the release off Exodus in Spring 2004.[15] Utada told Billboard about Asian artists like herself making it into the Western market; "Maybe the fruit has always been ripe, but so far, Asian artists who reached for it were a few inches short."[18] The album was released on September 8, 2004 by Island Records in Japan, and worldwide on October 5, 2004. The album was re-released by Mercury Records in the UK over a year later on September 25, 2005. This is Utada's debut English language studio album (not including Precious). Exodus was released in North America nearly a month after its release in Japan, on October 5, 2004, two months later in Brazil,[19] on November 17, 2004, and the UK version was released about a year after on September 26, 2005. Exodus was re-released on September 20, 2006 in Japan, under Universal International, parent company of Island Def Jam.

On February 23, 2005, Utada did a one-night-only showcase at the Skylight Studios, New York. There she sung a few songs from Exodus including "You Make Me Want to Be a Man" and "Kremlin Dusk".[20]

Response by Elton John[edit]

In an interview, Elton John stated that:

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 4/5 stars[22]
Allmusic 3/5 stars[10]
AnimeFringe 3.5/5 stars[23]
Billboard (Mixed)[24]
MSN Music 3/5 stars[25]
Stylus Magazine (B)[26]
Sputnikmusic 2.5/4 stars[12]
USA Today 3/4 stars[27]

Exodus received generally favorable reviews from most music critics. Allmusic gave three out of five stars, highlighting the two first tracks from the album and "Exodus 04", stating that Exodus "Delivers a diverse collection of urbane, modern, and, at times, almost avant-garde electronica and dance music", and concluding with "EXODUS heralds the American arrival of an unusual and challenging artist." Rob Carolan from Stylus Magazine gave it a positive review, stating "So there you have it. It’s not a pop masterpiece but it’s a decidedly good record. Few J-Pop artists ever attempt to make such a bold and risky record, but with Exodus, Utada has established herself as an individual who can proudly stand aside from the rest of the identikit J-Pop idols. Hopefully she'll keep on getting better, but even if she falls into the machine, she will always have Exodus, and that’s enough."[28] Isaac McCalla from Dancemusic on About.com gave it a positive review, complimenting the album's process, calling some songs "radio-friendly" and then the rest more "chilled-out". He later concluded saying "[...] Utada is definitely an up and comer; she's beautiful, writes good songs with intelligent lyrics, and has a keen electronic sensibility."[29]

Elysa Gardner from USA Today gave it three stars out of five. She said "Utada Hikaru crafts slick, electronically fueled tracks that could, on their surface, pass as background music for nightclubs and loft parties. Luckily, this young singer/songwriter is more than a ghost in her own machine." She compared Utada to an early stage of Madonna saying she is "girlish yearning that transcends her vocal limitations and melts the cool sheen of her arrangements." Sputnikmusic gave the album 2.5 out of 5. The review praised Hikaru's vocals saying it is "very well done most of the time". However, he did say that overall, he felt that the album was a "letdown". He also said that the lyrics were not good as well. He did highlight "Kremlin Dusk", "Devil Inside" and "Hotel Lobby".[12] JPop-Go gave the album a positive review saying "This is Utada's 'Exodus' from overly-polished, commercial pop; her two fingers up at the music industry. Existing fans with more eclectic tastes will be pleasantly surprised, while hardcore J-pop junkies might be disappointed at the changes."[30]

Chart performance[edit]

Exodus is the largest debut selling foreign language album in Japanese history (debut with 523,761 units). It is the 247th best selling album of all time in Japan.[31] It did have success in Japan. On September 8, 2004, Universal Music Japan shipped 1 million copies of the album, breaking a record that was previously held by Mariah Carey (she had sold 500,000).[32]

However, the album did not achieve a lot of success in the US, reaching #160 on the US Billboard 200 chart, and has sold in excess of 55,000 units in the territory according to Nielsen Soundscan.[33] The album did however have success on the US Billboard Heatseekers, peaking at number five on the albums chart, making Utada's first album to debut on both albums chart.[34]

Singles[edit]

"Easy Breezy" was released as the first single of the album. This is the first single to debut her name "Utada" which she uses for her English releases. The song received generally positive reviews from music critics,[citation needed] however the song did not chart on any singles chart. The song however sold more than 2000 copies in Japan. The second single of the album, "Devil Inside", was released on 14 September 2004 and received generally mixed reviews from music critics. The song was released physically in the United States. No music video was produced. The song remained Utada's biggest hit in the States, as it peaked at number one on the Hot Dance Club Play.

The third single "Exodus '04" received generally positive reviews from music critics,[citation needed] and was released in 2005, a late release on the album. No music video was produced for the single. The song received little attention yet again, but did peak at number twenty-four on the Hot Dance Club Play. The fourth and last single, "You Make Me Want to Be a Man", was released as the only UK single. The song received little success as well, but peaked at number 227 on the UK Singles Chart.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Utada, except "Exodus '04" and "Let Me Give You My Love" composed by Utada and Timbaland

No. Title Length
1. "Opening"   1:50
2. "Devil Inside"   3:58
3. "Exodus '04"   4:32
4. "The Workout"   4:01
5. "Easy Breezy"   4:03
6. "Tippy Toe"   4:15
7. "Hotel Lobby"   4:30
8. "Animato"   4:31
9. "Crossover Interlude"   1:18
10. "Kremlin Dusk"   5:14
11. "You Make Me Want to Be a Man"   4:37
12. "Wonder 'Bout"   3:48
13. "Let Me Give You My Love"   3:38
14. "About Me"   4:00
UK Bonus Tracks
No. Title Length
15. "You Make Me Want to Be a Man" (Bloodshy & Avant Mix) 4:03
16. "You Make Me Want to Be a Man" (Junior Jack Mix) 6:44

Charts[edit]

Exodus (Japan) - Oricon Sales Chart (Japan)

Release Chart Peak Position Debut Sales Sales Total Chart Run
September 8, 2004 Oricon Daily Albums Chart 1[35]
September 8, 2004 Oricon Weekly Albums Chart 1[36] 523,761 1,074,393 20
September 8, 2004 Oricon Yearly Albums Chart 6[37][38]

Exodus (U.S.) - Billboard Sales Chart (U.S.)

Release Chart Peak
position
Sales Total
October 5, 2004 The Billboard 200 160
55,000
October 5, 2004 Top Heatseekers 5

Exodus singles - Billboard charts[edit]

Year Single Chart Peak
position
2004 "Devil Inside" Dance Radio Airplay 1
2004 "Devil Inside" Hot Singles Sales 57[39]
2004 "Devil Inside" Hot Dance Music/Club Play 30
2005 "Exodus '04" Hot Dance Music/Club Play 24

Release history[edit]

Country Date Distributing label
Japan September 8, 2004 Universal Music Japan
United States October 5, 2004 Island Records
Luxembourg October 5, 2004 Universal Music
Germany October 5, 2004
New Zealand October 14, 2004
Brazil November 17, 2004
United Kingdom September 26, 2005 Mercury Records
Worldwide October 5, 2004 Universal Music

Personnel[edit]

  • Hikaru Utada - vocals, writer, producer, programmer, acoustic guitar
  • Teruzane Utada/Skingg U - producer, guitar
  • T. Moseley / Timbaland - producer, writer, remixer
  • Goh Hotoda – recording, mixer
  • Mat Snedecor – engineer
  • Dan Bucchi – engineer
  • Brian Russel – engineer
  • Pat Woodward - engineer
  • Jason Dale – engineer
  • Patrick Magee – engineer
  • Pete Davis – programmer
  • Steve Sidelnyk – programmer
  • Bill Pettaway – production coordinator
  • Michael Evans - production coordinator
  • Yuko Honda – production coordinator
  • Jeff Gulob - guitar
  • Jon Theodore - drums
  • Bryan G. Russell - saxophone

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Announcing the Top 100 Big Artists of the 20th Century as chosen by listeners and J-wave (リスナーとJ-WAVEが選んだ20世紀のビッグ・アーティスト100人を発表!)". www.j-wave.co.jp (in Japanese). 1999. Retrieved August 26, 2007. 
  2. ^ RIAJ: Turbulent and challenging 10 years of software industry - Rapidly changing recording industry
  3. ^ 2010-3-24 22:42 (2010-03-24). "亚洲地区专辑销量最高的是多少张_百度知道". Zhidao.baidu.com. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  4. ^ a b List of million-selling CD albums in Japan
  5. ^ "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)). 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Billboard Book pg. 14.
  7. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266915/soundtrack
  8. ^ a b c d Liner notes off Exodus by Utada, September 2004. Island Def Jam.
  9. ^ "Utada Reaches The Peak Of Her Pop-ness with 'This Is The One'". popdirt. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c AllMusic. "Exodus - Utada". AllMusic. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g http://www.stylusmagazine.com/reviews/utada/exodus.htm
  12. ^ a b c d e http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/6906/Utada-Hikaru-Exodus-04/
  13. ^ http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2002/02/27/music/signs-of-the-times/#.VOgDjfmUdyQ
  14. ^ a b c d http://noisey.vice.com/blog/ten-years-ago-def-jam-released-utada-hikarus-exodus-the-genius-jpop-crossover-album-that-never-crossed-over
  15. ^ a b c Billboard Magazine Pg. 55. December 13, 2003.
  16. ^ "Japanese teen pop star home after bout with side effects of ovarian surgery". AP Worldstream. May 11, 2002. Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  17. ^ "Important announcement (大事なお知らせ)" (in Japanese). Retrieved August 26, 2007. 
  18. ^ Billboard Magazine Pg. 53. December 28, 2002.
  19. ^ Shin. "Universal Music lança Utada Hikaru no Brasil". jpop.com.br. Retrieved 5 May 2005. 
  20. ^ popdirt. "Utada Showcase Performance in New York City". popdirt. Retrieved 26 February 2005. 
  21. ^ "Elton's tip sheet". Interview. February 2005. [dead link]
  22. ^ About.com. "Exodus - Utada". About.com. 
  23. ^ http://www.animefringe.com/magazine/2005/02/review/08.php
  24. ^ Billboard Review.
  25. ^ MSN Music. "Exodus [CD] by Hikaru Utada". MSN Music. 
  26. ^ Carolan, Rob. "Utada - Exodus - Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 9 January 2006. 
  27. ^ Gardner, Elysa (October 19, 2004). "Jimmy Eat World's 'Futures' lacks bite; Utada's techno-pop is toothsome". USA Today. Retrieved 18 October 2004. 
  28. ^ http://www.stylusmagazine.com/review.php?ID=3685
  29. ^ About.com Review
  30. ^ http://www.jpopgo.co.uk/html/exodus.html
  31. ^ Unknown (October 19, 2004). "歴代アルバムランキング TOP280". Music TV Program. 
  32. ^ popdirt. "Utada's 'Exodus' Breaking Records". popdirt. Retrieved 12 September 2004. 
  33. ^ Schwartz, Rob. "Utada in 2/28 Billboard Magazine". U.Blog. Retrieved 25 February 2009. 
  34. ^ Exodus - Utada | Allmusic Charts/Awards
  35. ^ Oricon. "Utada、2位以下を圧唐キる好スタート!". Oricon. Retrieved 8 September 2004. 
  36. ^ Oricon. "Utadaが洋楽史上最高のスタートで首位!". Oricon. Retrieved 14 September 2004. 
  37. ^ Unknown. "2004年間シングルランキング TOP100". Music TV Program. 
  38. ^ "2004年の音楽". 
  39. ^ Top Music Charts - Hot 100 - Billboard 200 - Music Genre Sales

External links[edit]