Sakura Drops

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"Sakura Drops"
The head of a woman surrounded by frills, flowers and leaves
"Sakura Drops" / "Letters" cover
Single by Hikaru Utada
from the album Deep River
Released May 9, 2002 (2002-05-09)
Format CD Single, digital download, vinyl record
Recorded 2002
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:59
Label Toshiba EMI
Songwriter(s) Hikaru Utada
Producer(s) Kei Kawano, Akira Miyake, Teruzane Utada
Hikaru Utada singles chronology
"Hikari"
(2002)
"Sakura Drops"
(2002)
"Colors"
(2003)
"Hikari"
(2002)
"Sakura Drops"
"Letters"
(2002)
"Colors"
(2003)

"Sakura Drops" (Japanese: SAKURAドロップス, Hepburn: Sakura Doroppusu, "Cherry Blossom Drops") is a song by Japanese musician Hikaru Utada. It was released as a double A-side single with the song "Letters" on May 9, 2002.[1]

Background and development[edit]

Since she debuted as a musician in 1998, Utada had worked as the primary or sole songwriter for her music. Beginning with her second album Distance (2001), Utada began to co-arrange songs, such as "Wait & See (Risk)", "Distance" and "Kettobase!"[2] The bonus track on Distance, "Hayatochi-Remix", was arranged entirely by Utada.[2] In March 2002, Hikaru Utada released "Hikari", the theme song for the game Kingdom Hearts.[3] "Sakura Drops" was first announced as the theme song for the drama First Love in mid February.[3]

Promotion and release[edit]

The song was used as the theme song for the TBS drama First Love, starring Atsuro Watabe and Kyoko Fukada.[4] This was Utada's third composition to be used as a drama theme song, after "First Love" was used for Majo no Jōken (1999), and "Can You Keep a Secret?" for Hero (2001).[5][6] The drama first aired in Japan on April 17, 2002.[3]

On May 13, 2002, Utada performed the song live at Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ, a week before she performed the single's second A-side "Letters".[7][8]

Utada performed the song during her Hikaru no 5 Budokan residency show in 2004, at her Utada United 2006 Japanese tour, during her international tour Utada: In the Flesh 2010 and at her two date concert series Wild Life in December 2010.[9]

The song was noticed for its digital success in the burgeoning ringtone market in Japan, with 29% of the revenue she had received from the song coming from ringtones.[10]

Music video[edit]

A music video was released for the song, directed by her then husband Kazuaki Kiriya,[11] who had directed all of her music videos since "Final Distance" (2001). The video clip was a mix of strongly colored CGI imagery of a fantasy forest and animals, as well as scenes of Utada standing in this forest. The imagery seen in the video was inspired by the works of Edo period artist Itō Jakuchū.[12]

Usage and covers[edit]

For the Disney on Ice production Let's Party! which debuted in 2009, an English language version of the song was used as a part of the set. After becoming aware of Disney's usage of the song in 2012, Utada was surprised, but honored that Disney had chosen to use her song.[13]

In 2007, the band Kinmokusei covered "Sakura Drops" for their cherry blossom-themed album Sakura, and similarly in 2008 by Sotte Bosse for Blooming E.P..[14][15] In 2014, "Sakura Drops" was recorded by Yōsui Inoue for Utada Hikaru no Uta, a tribute album celebrating 15 years since Utada's debut.[16] It was released as a preceding download from the album on December 3, 2014, and was commercially successful enough to reach number 68 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart and number 11 on the Japanese Adult Contemporary Airplay chart.[16][17][18] In Spring 2015, Inoue's cover recharted on the Adult Contemporary Airplay at number 41.[19]

Critical reception[edit]

Critical reception to the song was positive. Hayashi of Ongaku DB noted that the song was simultaneously elaborate and simple, praising the balance of this sound with a humble melody and Utada's passionate vocals, feeling that this mix was "natural, but at the same time miraculous".[20] Akiyoshi Sekine of CDData praised the song's "simple but deep world view", while noting its "oriental taste" and "graceful sense of the season".[21] Kanako Hanakawa of Backstage Pass felt that the cherry blossom imagery worked especially well because of Utada's vocal qualities.[22]

CDJournal reviewers called the song "simple and fresh", and were surprised at how much more dark her style was in "Sakura Drops", considering how dark much of her music was already. They praised her vocal style and song arrangement, noting the "gleaming sound effects" and "tough melody" as highlights.[6][23] Masamichi Yoshihiro of Yeah!! J-Pop! called the song a "classic pop tune", and noted the "J-Pop-style approach" of "Sakura Drops", also shared with her previous single "Hikari", which was stronger than anything seen before in her music, as opposed to her earlier R&B/club styled songs. He likened the song to those of Yumi Matsutoya, feeling its "straightforward emotional expression" and "pop arrangement" left the biggest impression. He felt that Utada's signature lyrics and vocals made the song stand out over other pop-genre songs.[24]

Track listings[edit]

All tracks written by Hikaru Utada.

"Sakura Drops" / "Letters" single
No. Title {{{extra_column}}} Length
1. "Sakura Drops" Utada, Kei Kawano 5:01
2. "Letters" Kawano, Utada 4:48
3. "Sakura Drops (Original Karaoke)" Utada, Kei Kawano 5:01
4. "Letters (Original Karaoke)" Kawano, Utada 4:48
Total length: 9:59

All tracks written by Hikaru Utada.

Sonic Sprout Mix promo vinyl record[25]
No. Title {{{extra_column}}} Length
1. "Sakura Drops (Sonic Sprout Mix)" Yuzuru Tomita for Mintmania 5:01
2. "Sakura Drops (Sonic Sprout Mix) (Instrumental)" Yuzuru Tomita for Mintmania 5:01
Total length: 10:02

Personnel[edit]

Personnel details were sourced from Deep River's liner notes booklet.[2]

  • Hironori Akiyama – electric guitar
  • Yuichiro Larry Honda – guitar sample
  • Goh Hotoda – recording
  • Kanno – guitar sample
  • Tsunemi Kawahide – synthesizer programming
  • Kei Kawano – acoustic piano, arrangement, keyboards, programming
  • Atsushi Matsui – recording
  • Akira Miyake – production
  • Masaaki Ugajin – recording
  • Hikaru Utada – arrangement, producer, writing, vocals
  • Teruzane "Sking" Utada – production

Chart rankings[edit]

Charts (2002) Peak
position
Japan Oricon weekly singles[26]
  • "Sakura Drops" / "Letters"
1
Charts (2012) Peak
position
Japan Billboard Japan Hot 100[27] 74
Charts (2014) Peak
position
Japan Billboard Adult Contemporary Airplay[28] 23
Charts (2015) Peak
position
Japan Billboard Japan Hot 100[29] 79
Japan Billboard Adult Contemporary Airplay[19] 21

Sales and certifications[edit]

Chart Amount
Oricon physical sales[30]
  • "Sakura Drops" / "Letters"
687,000
RIAJ physical certification[31]
  • "Sakura Drops" / "Letters"
2× Platinum (800,000)
RIAJ cellphone download certification[32] Gold (100,000)

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Distributing Label Catalog codes
Japan May 9, 2002 (2002-05-09)[1][33] CD Single Toshiba EMI TOCT-4381
Taiwan Gold Typhoon 55088529
Japan April 1, 2004 (2004-04-01)[34] Digital download Toshiba EMI
South Korea September 30, 2005 (2005-09-30)[35] Digital download Universal Music Korea

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "SAKURAドロップス/Letters". Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Distance (Media notes) (in Japanese). Hikaru Utada. Tokyo, Japan: Toshiba EMI. 2001.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "booklet" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b c "Artist Search 宇多田ヒカル" (in Japanese). Sony Magazines. Archived from the original on March 20, 2005. Retrieved December 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ "News" (in Japanese). Toshiba EMI. Archived from the original on April 1, 2002. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ 魔女の条 (in Japanese). Tokyo Broadcasting System Television. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b 宇多田ヒカル / Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.1 (in Japanese). CDJournal. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ "GUEST 宇多田ヒカル" (in Japanese). Fuji Television. Archived from the original on October 9, 2009. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ "GUEST 宇多田ヒカル" (in Japanese). Fuji Television. Archived from the original on October 9, 2009. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ Miki Tanikawa (September 3, 2003). "In Japan, phone downloads lift royalty payments". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  11. ^ "宇多田ヒカル SAKURA ドロップス" (in Japanese). Space Shower. December 13, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ EMI Music Japan. "宇多田ヒカル - SAKURAドロップス" (in Japanese). Youtube. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Utada Hikaru's "Sakura Drops" Used For "Disney On Ice" Show". Jpop Asia. July 18, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  14. ^ さくら (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Blooming E.P." (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b 『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 Hikaru 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. 
  17. ^ "Japan Billboard Hot 100". Billboard (in Japanese). December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Adult Contemporary Airplay". Billboard (in Japanese). December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Adult Contemporary Airplay". Billboard (in Japanese). April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  20. ^ Hayashi of OngakuDB.com (May 9, 2002). SAKURAドロップス (in Japanese). Yahoo! Japan. Archived from the original on August 16, 2004. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  21. ^ 宇多田ヒカル PAST RELEASE. CDData (in Japanese). Kadokawa Shoten. Archived from the original on January 10, 2004. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  22. ^ Kanako Hanakawa of Shinko Music (May 15, 2002). SAKURAドロップス (in Japanese). Yahoo! Japan. Archived from the original on August 16, 2004. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  23. ^ 宇多田ヒカル / 1.SAKURAドロップス 2.Letters (in Japanese). CDJournal. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  24. ^ Masamichi Yoshihiro of Yeah!! J-Pop! (May 15, 2002). SAKURAドロップス (in Japanese). Yahoo! Japan. Archived from the original on August 16, 2004. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  25. ^ Utada Hikaru – Sakuraドロップス -Sonic Sprout Mix-. Discogs. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  26. ^ 宇多田ヒカルのシングル売り上げランキング [Hikaru Utada single sales ranking] (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Japan Billboard Hot 100". Billboard (in Japanese). April 10, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Adult Contemporary Airplay". Billboard (in Japanese). April 9, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Japan Billboard Hot 100". Billboard (in Japanese). April 8, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  30. ^ "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 December 18, 2014. (Subscription required (help)). 
  31. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 2002年5月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. May 2002 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese). Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan. 512: 12. July 10, 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  32. ^ レコード協会調べ 4月度有料音楽配信認定 [Record Association Investigation: April Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. May 20, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  33. ^ "櫻花翩翩". G-Music. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  34. ^ "SAKURAドロップス". Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Sakuraドロップス/Letters" (in Korean). Bugs. Retrieved December 19, 2014.