First Love (Hikaru Utada album)

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First Love
Hikaru Utada - First Love.png
Studio album by Hikaru Utada
Released March 10, 1999 (1999-03-10)
March 10, 2014 (2014-03-10)15th Anniversary Edition
Recorded August–December 1998
Genre Pop, R&B, dance
Length 54:37
Label Toshiba EMI
Producer Akira Miyake, Teruzane Utada
Hikaru Utada chronology
Precious
(1998)
First Love
(1999)
Distance
(2001)
Singles from First Love
  1. "Automatic / Time Will Tell"
    Released: 9 December 1998
  2. "Movin' on Without You"
    Released: 17 February 1999
  3. "First Love"
    Released: 28 April 1999

First Love is the debut studio album by Japanese recording artist Hikaru Utada, released on 10 March 1999 on Toshiba-EMI. Born and raised in New York City to music-oriented parents, Utada moved to Tokyo to attend Seisen International School and American School in Japan. From there, she begun writing and composing music for her debut effort. Utada, her father Teruzane Utada and producer Akira Miyake produced the album and remain her two main co-producers and composers.

An R&B and dance-pop album, First Love centres on the theme of love and relationships. Songs like "Automatic" and "First Love" are prime examples of these themes. A 2014 re-issue of the album was released simultaneously, featuring a bonus live DVD and the special edition featured two additional discs. Critics' opinions of the album were generally favourable, praising Utada's song writing and vocal delivery. In its first week of release, the album entered the Oricon Albums Chart at number one with over two million units sold. Since its release, First Love remains the highest selling Japanese and Asian album. It has sold over ten million units worldwide.

Utada promoted the album by releasing four singles: "Automatic", "Time Will Tell", "Movin' on Without You" and "First Love", all which were accompanied by a short music video. She performed several tracks from the album on several television appears in 1998 and 1999, and has performed songs on her Utada: In the Flesh 2010 and Wild Life tour. "Automatic", "Time Will Tell" and First Love are her best-selling singles and album respectively.

Background[edit]

Born and raised in Manhattan, New York City, Utada started singing at a very young age; she was a member of U3, a musical act with her mother Keiko Fuji and her father Teruzane. U3 released their debut album Star in 1993, with the hope to debut in America; the album only peaked at thirty-three in Japan.[1][2][3] Utada's mother was a Japanese enka singer and actress, while her father was a Japanese record producer who had contributed to some of Fuji's work. In 1996, the group was re-branded as Cubic U, an R&B project that focused primarily on Hikaru, resulting in the English language album Precious in 1998 with record label Toshiba EMI.[4][5] The album peaked at two on the Oricon Albums Chart and sold over 700,000 units.[6][7]

Utada moved to Tokyo in early-1997 to attend Seisen International School and American School in Japan.[8] During her studies, Utada signed as a solo artist with Toshiba EMI and begun recording her album First Love. Fluent in both English and Japanese languages, the head offices at EMI asked if she could write Japanese songs rather than English lyrics. During the process of the album, Utada desired to become a singer-songwriter and occasionally practised producing and composing her music rather than become an Japanese idol.[9] She refused to allow talent agencies to contact her at the start, which was a very common tradition for Japanese singers in the 1990s,[10] and her father started to manage her work along with producing and composing it; to this day, her father continues to manage and co-produce some of her work.

Composition[edit]

American Mastering Engineer Ted Jensen (Pictured) mastered the majority of Hikaru Utada's albums and tracks, including First Love.

The lyrics to the tracks from First Love are written by Utada and featured English-language phrases.[A] Utada's father Teruzane and Akira Miyake served as the albums primary producers alongside Hikaru; Saito Masaaki, Nakasone Junya, Sanada Yoshiaki and Okamoto Tatsyua served as the album's executive producers.[11] Utada contributed to editing and producing her recorded vocals for all the tracks.[11] The tracks from First Love were recorded in studios across her native New York City, Los Angeles and Tokyo.[11] American producer and mixer Ted Jensen had mixed the tracks at Sterling Sound Studios in New York.[11]

The album's opener "Automatic" is a R&B and dance-pop song that talks about a previous relationship.[12][13] Rockin' On Japan's editor and chief Kano had commented that Utada had brought a large prominence of R&B and soul music with the tracks "Automatic" and "Time Will Tell", and felt that "Automatic"'s release introduced a new R&B audience inside of Japan.[14] "In My Room" utilizes funk and pop piano riffs, while the ninth track "Another Chance" incorporates EDM and Hi-NRG guitars and synths.[13] The title track is a pop ballad song,[13][14] conveying slow and off-key vocals that complimented the music to the album.[13][14]

"Movin' on Without You" is a disco and house inspired track that was influenced by the early 1990s dance music throughout the Western part of the world and lasts a duration total off four minutes and forty-one seconds.[15] The “sugar-coated but digestible pop hits” "Time Will Tell" and "Never Let Go" are placed as the sixth and seventh album track respectively.[13] The composition of Amai Wana: Paint it Black" features a lyrical sample from the 1966 song "Paint it Black" by British rock group The Rolling Stones and was musically compared to the work of American recording artist Prince.[13] "B&C", a funk song, was featured as a b-side to the physical CD format from "Movin' on Without You".[16] The album closer "Give Me a Reason" is a trip hop song. "Interlude" was produced into a song called "Kotoba ni Naranai Kimochi" on Utada's Distance album.[17]

Release[edit]

First Love was released on 10 March 1999 by Toshiba EMI.[11] The album was released as a compact disc and a double vinyl.[18] The vinyl was exclusively released in North America and Japan by Eastworld Records.[18] First Love was released in the Philippines by OctoArts EMI Music.[19] It was released in South Korea by Eastworld and Indonesia by Toshiba EMI Limited and PT EMI Indonesia.[20][21]

After fifteen years of its release, First Love was re-release by Universal Music Japan on 10 March 2014 in two separate versions. The normal version is a two-disc set featuring a remastered version of the normal album along with a second disc featuring Utada's previously unreleased "LUV LIVE" concert. The remastering was done by Ted Jensen.[22] The other version is a limited edition 4-disc set, containing the remastered track list on disc one, "LUV LIVE" concert on disc two, as well as featuring a disc containing karaoke tracks and the last containing a multitude of demos from the First Love era of Utada's career. The deluxe edition also carries with it memorabilia from that time, including a hard cover booklet filled with unreleased photoshoots, handwritten lyrics, promotional items as well as replicas of the tickets and backstage passes to her "LUV LIVE" concert. The Deluxe Edition initially was limited to 5,000 copies, however, due to overwhelming demand, this was pushed to 10,000 after the initial 5,000 units were sold almost instantly.[23][24]

Singles[edit]

The A-side singles "Automatic" and "Time Will Tell' was released on 9 December 1998 as 8cm CD singles.[25] The songs received positive reviews, many whom highlighted them as album stand outs.[26] "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.[27] The Japan Record Awards mentioned the song as an Honorable Mention Award.[28] In 2000, The Japan Gold Disc Awards had awarded "Automatic" along with "Movin' on Without You" and "Addicted to You" for Song(s) of the Year.[28] "Automatic/Time Will Tell" peaked at number two and four on the Oricon Singles Chart in their respective formats.[29][30] "Automatic/Time Will Tell" has sold over 2.1 million units in Japan, making it her best selling physical single and the nineteenth best selling single in Japan.[B]

The third single "Movin' on Without You" was released on 17 February 1999 as a CD single.[16] The song received positive reviews, many of whom highlighted the song as an album stand out.[26] It won the award for Song of the Year at the Japan Gold Disks Awards.[28] The song reached number one on the Oricon Singles Chart, marking this her first number one. The song was certified million by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of one million units.[38] The fourth and final single "First Love" was released on 28 April 1999 as a mini-CD single.[39] The song received positive reviews, many of whom highlighted the song as an album stand out.[26] The song peaked at number two on the Oricon Singles Chart, missing the top spot but was certified double platinum by RIAJ for shipments of 800,000 units in Japan.[38]

Commercial response[edit]

First Love entered the Oricon Albums Chart at number one with over two million units sold.[40][41] It stayed at number one for six weeks and stayed in the chart for eighty-four weeks.[41] As of April 2012, First Love sold over 7 million units in Japan.[42][43][44][45]

First Love is the only album or physical record to have been certified 8x Million by RIAJ, which is equivalent to 32x platinum.[46] This marks First Love the best selling Japanese and Asian-oriented album of all time. As of March 2010, First Love has sold over ten million units worldwide.[47] In September 2007, Rolling Stone Japan ranked First Love No.99 on its list of the "100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time".[48] First Love is the seventh album to claim the highest weekly sales in Japan, behind her 2001 album Distance and 2004 album Deep River.[49][50][51]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Hikaru Utada. 

No. Title Arranger Length
1. "Automatic" (Album Edit) Akira Nishihira,
Taka & Speedy (rhythm track arrangement),
Kei Kawano (additional arrangement)
5:28
2. "Movin' on Without You"   Shin'ichiro Murayama 4:38
3. "In My Room"   Shin'ichiro Murayama 4:19
4. "First Love"   Kei Kawano 4:17
5. "Amai Wana (甘いワナ~ Sweet Trap?): Paint It, Black"   Akira Nishihira 5:02
6. "Time Will Tell"   Toshiyuki Mori,
Jun Isomura
5:27
7. "Never Let Go"   Kei Kawano 3:57
8. "B&C" (Album Version) Akira Nishihira,
Taka & Speedy (rhythm track arrangement)
4:20
9. "Another Chance"   Akira Nishihira,
Taka & Speedy (rhythm track arrangement)
5:22
10. "Interlude"     0:17
11. "Give Me a Reason"   Akira Nishihira 6:28
12. "Automatic (Johnny Vicious Remix)" (Bonus Track)   4:54

Charts[edit]

Personnel[edit]

All Japanese names are in Western order (given name before family name).

  • Hikaru Utada (vocals)
  • Anthony Jimenez Corton (secret Love,additional chorus)
  • Akira Nishihira (arrangement, keyboards & programming)
  • Kei Kawano (arrangement, additional keyboards)
  • Shinichiro Murayama (arrangement, keyboards & programming)
  • Toshiyuki Mori (arrangement, keyboards & programming)
  • Jun Isomura (arrangement)
  • Tsuyoshi Kon (guitar)
  • Yoshiaki Kusaka (guitar)
  • Hironori Akiyama (guitar)
  • Yuji Toriyama (guitar)
  • Masayoshi Furukawa (guitar)
  • Yuichiro Honda (guitar)
  • Yuichiro Goto (strings)
  • Jullian Hernandez (additional chorus)
  • Nobuhiko Nakayama (synthesizer programming)
  • Takahiro Iida (synthesizer programming)
  • Masayuki Momo (synthesizer programming)
  • Taka & Speedy (rhythm arrangement, rhythm programming)
  • Akira Miyake (producer)
  • Teruzane Sking Utada (producer)
  • Hidenobu Okita (director)
  • Masaaki Ugajin (all vocals' recording)
  • Masaaki Ugajin, Masashi Kudo, Seiji Motoyama, Takehiko Kamata, Bob Allecca, Mike Brown (back track recording)
  • Hotoda Goh (mixing)
  • Ted Jensen (mastering)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Amai Wana: Paint it Black" samples lyrics from the 1966 song "Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones.[11]
  2. ^ "Automatic/Time Will Tell" is Utada's highest selling physical single to date, with over 2.1 million units sold as of April 2014.[31] However, it is not her highest selling single in terms of digital, ringtone and physical sales. Her 2007 single "Flavor of Life" sold over 650,000 physical units, 2.85 million digital units of the ballad version,[32][33][34] and 2.25 million digital units of the original version.[34][35][36] These sales tally up to 5.7 million units, Utada's highest selling single to date.[37]
  3. ^ The Gaon Albums Chart chart was established in 2010.
  4. ^ References for Gaon: Single Collection Vol. 2.[54] References for Gaon Overseas: First Love, Distance, Deep River, Single Collection Vol. 1, Ultra Blue, Single Collection Vol. 2,[55] Heart Station.[56]
  5. ^ The G-Music chart was established in July 2005 and only archives the top 20 releases.
  6. ^ The G-Music East Asian chart is a sub-chart, so releases listed may not have charted on the main top 20.
  7. ^ Positions were taken from 2005 week 37 for Single Collection Vol. 1, 2006 week 24 for Ultra Blue, 2008 week 13 for Heart Station, 2008 week 21 for "Prisoner of Love", 2009 week 12 and 2009 week 13 for This Is the One, 2010 week 50 for Single Collection Vol. 2, 2011 week 23 for Wild Life, 2014 week 50 for First Love.

References[edit]

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