Keep Tryin' (Utada Hikaru song)

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"Keep Tryin'"
A picture of Utada, having been multiplied and place behind one another.
Single by Utada Hikaru
from the album Ultra Blue
B-side "Wings"
Released February 22, 2006
Recorded 2005
Genre Pop
Length 4:53
Label EMI Music Japan
Writer(s) Utada Hikaru
Utada Hikaru singles chronology
"Keep Tryin'"
"This Is Love"

"Keep Tryin'" is a song recorded by Japanese recording artist Utada Hikaru for her sixth studio and fourth Japanese album, Ultra Blue (2006). It premiered on February 22, 2006 as the fifth single from the album in Japan. It was written and composed by Utada, whilst production was handled by Utada, her father Teruzane Utada, and Miyake Akira. It included the B-side track "Wings", which also appeared on the parent album. Musically, "Keep Tryin'" is a pop song. Lyrically, it discusses themes of self-empowerment. Upon its release, the track garnered generally mixed reviews from music critics. Many critics complimented the song's catchy melody and believed the chorus memorable. However, some critics felt its overall production and composition was "light weighted" and one of her weaker singles.

The single achieved success in Japan, peaking at number two on the Oricon Singles Chart. The single has been certified within four different categories by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ). It was also the best selling digital single in Japan of 2006. An accompanying music video was shot by Utada's ex-husband Kazuaki Kiriya, and currently is his final collaboration with her; it features Utada in several different costumes, channelling several different roles in a cartoon-influenced city. The song had been promoted through several Japanese commercials and television shows.

Background and composition[edit]

"Keep Tryin'" was written and composed by Utada, whilst production was handled by Utada, her father Teruzane Utada, and Miyake Akira. It was recorded by Atsushi Matsui and Daniel Burns in Japan 2005, and programmed by Matt Rohde and Utada. Utada and Rohde played the keyboards, and David Carpenter played bass guitar through the song's composition.[1] In an interview with Oricon Style on February 22, 2006, Utada explained that the inspiration of the song came from her 2003 single "Colors"; "There was a 'Do your best!' kind of message in "Colors", but it wasn’t as distinct as in "Keep Tryin"." She exemplified her routine of riding underground train's in Japan as inspiration, stating that "For me, I think that even when I get on a free way, and see the man at the toll booth. I always tell the man 'thank you' or 'keep up the good work'...". She describing the writing process the song as "refreshing".[2] It premiered on February 22, 2006 as the fifth single from the album in Japan; it was also released around the world digitally on that same date. It included the B-side track "Wings", which also appeared on the parent album, plus an instrumental version of "Keep Tryin'".[1]

Musically, "Keep Tryin'" is a pop song.[3] Lyrically, the song discusses the theme of self empowerment, and talks about people doing the best they can at their passions.[4] During the song's bridge section, a child's toy piano is playing; Utada reflected that it's inclusion reminded her of a child's "admiration" and their questionable "future's".[2] She stated that the "old" and "falling apart" piano playing was live instrumentation, which she bought from a random clerk at a toy department store. She labelled the composition as "gentle".[2]

Critical response[edit]

Upon its release, "Keep Tryin'" received mixed reviews from most music critics. A staff member from CD Journal was positive in his/her review. He/she was positive towards the song writing, describing it as "profound", and complimented the song's "alive" melody.[5] Daniel Robson from The Japan Times was generally positive in his review, calling it "wonderfully weird".[6] However, an emeritus member from Sputnikmusic, Elijah K., was critical towards the song. He compared the track to the album's remaining content, and felt that the production of the track wasn't "interesting". He also believed the song writing of the track "lacked a spark".[7] Similarly, rock musician and music journalist David Bertrand Wilson reviewed the parent album on Wilson & Alroy's Reviews, and question Utada on the tracks' "light-weighted" production; he latter believed it "seem like the work of an impostor."[8] In December 2015, in honor of Utada's comeback into the music business, Japanese website hosted a poll for fans to rank their favourite songs by Utada out of 25 positions; the poll was held in only twenty-four hours, and thousands submitted their votes. As a result, "Keep Tryin'" was ranked at number 23 with 11 votes in total.[9][10]

Music video[edit]

The promotional video for "Keep Tryin'" alludes to Utada's past PVs: "Final Distance", "Traveling", "Sakura Drops" and "Passion".[citation needed] There are also references to Utada's own cartoon cat creation, Chuichi, who is seen jumping on several rooftops while she is marching near the end of the video.[citation needed] First, when she stops by a store window filled with televisions, there is a kid pressed against the glass facing a reflection of himself, similar to "Final Distance". Later on, when she is walking through the office there are several secretaries typing, alluding to the drummers present in "Passion" PV.Also, the two dresses from her "Sakura Drops" PV are on display in a store window. Finally, during the biking sequence, there is a group of "people" marching along, similar to those in the traveling PV.


In 2014, Kirinji recorded the song for Utada Hikaru no Uta, a tribute album celebrating 15 years since Utada's debut.[11]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Hikaru Utada. 

No. Title Length
1. "Keep Tryin'"   4:53
2. "Wings"   4:52
3. "Keep Tryin' (Original Karaoke)"   4:53
Total length:

Chart rankings[edit]

Charts (2006) Peak
Oricon weekly singles[12] 2
Oricon yearly singles[13] 82

Certifications and sales[edit]

Chart Amount
Oricon physical sales[14] 125,000
RIAJ physical certification[15] 250,000
RIAJ ringtone downloads[16] 750,000+
RIAJ full-length cellphone downloads[16] 100,000+
RIAJ PC downloads[16] 100,000+


  1. ^ a b Keep Tryin' (CD Single; Liner notes). Utada Hikaru. Japan: EMI Music Japan; Eastworld. 2006. TOCT-5005. 
  2. ^ a b c Oricon Style Staff (February 22, 2006). "Utada Hikaru Special Interview". Oricon Style (in Japanese). Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  3. ^ CD Journal Staff (February 22, 2006). "Utada Hikaru – Keep Tryin' (single review)". CD Journal (in Japanese). Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  4. ^ Stern, Bradley (December 9, 2014). "Various Artists – Utada Hikaru no Uta (album review)". MuuMuse. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ CD Journal Staff (February 22, 2006). "Utada Hikaru – Keep Tryin' (single review)". CD Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  6. ^ Robson, Daniel (June 23, 2006). "Utada Hikaru – Ultra Blue (album review)". The Japan Times. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  7. ^ Elijah K. (February 10, 2010). "Utada Hikaru – Ultra Blue (album review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  8. ^ Alroy, John; Bertrand Wilson, David (2011). "Hikaru Utada – Ultra Blue (album review)". Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  9. ^ Goo.Ne Staff (December 23, 2015). "Ranking songs by Hikaru Utada". (in Japanese). Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  10. ^ Arama Japan Staff (December 28, 2015). "Hikaru Utada's Best Songs as ranked by Goo Rankings".; published through Arama Japan. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  11. ^ "『宇多田ヒカルのうた』全貌明らかに。井上陽水、椎名林檎、浜崎あゆみ、吉井和哉ら参加アーティストコメント" [All details revealed for Utada Hikar no Uta, comments from contributing artists such as Yosui Inoue, Ringo Sheena, Ayumi Hamasaki and Kazuya Yoshii.] (in Japanese). Barks. December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Keep Tryin' - 宇多田ヒカル/ オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  13. ^ シングル 年間ランキング (in Japanese). Oricon. December 2006. Archived from the original on January 2, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2010. 
  14. ^ "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」". Oricon. Retrieved 2010-09-18.  (subscription only)
  15. ^ ゴールド等認定作品一覧 2006年2月. RIAJ (in Japanese). 2006-03-10. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  16. ^ a b c レコード協会調べ 8月度有料音楽配信認定 <略称:8月度認定>. RIAJ (in Japanese). 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2010-09-18.