First Love

First Love was Utada Hikaru’s debut album. It was released on March 10, 1999 and reached number 1 on the charts with 2,026,870 copies sold. In all this album has sold over 7,650,215+ copies in Japan and over 10,056,000+ copies worldwide. This album is officially the highest selling Japanese language album of all time, a record that will not be passed anytime soon. This album also gave Hikki her first number 1 album on the charts and the 1 album of the year and finally the fastest selling album in Japanese history, over 5 million copies in one month. The singles Automatic / time will tell and Movin’ on without you were featured on this album, and eventually a re-cut single would later be released.

First Love - Utada Hikaru

1. Automatic -Album Edit-
2. Movin’ on without you
3. In My Room
4. First Love
5. Amai Wana ~Paint It, Black
6. Time Will Tell
7. Never Let Go
8. BC -Album Version-
9. Another Chance
10. Interlude
11. Give Me A Reason
12. Automatic -Johnny Vicious Remix-

We begin First Love with Automatic -Album Edit- the beginning of J-Pop supremacy. Automatic was originally released as a double A-Side single with time will tell and began the First Love Era. This edit is basically the same as the original version, with the exception of the length and ad-libbing. The song is steady moving and very R&B influenced. It’s this song that really skyrocketed Hikki to popularity. For the review of the outstanding R&B tune, click here.

After a flawless tune, with have the hit Movin’ on without you, rock with some R&B. This song too was released as a single and right before this album. This song features R&B beats and the guitar’s electric style. Hikki’s vocals are phenomenal as she can hit those high and low notes with ease, and she sings to quickly at a few points. This is one of the best songs featured on this album. For the full review, click here.

On to the first of the new tracks In My Room. Beginning with some odd R&B music and some background vocals this song makes an interesting first impression. But then Hikki begins to sing and all is right. And during the verses the piano began to play, but it made the song better rather than worse. Hikki’s vocals were great as usual but they sounded a little deep and immature, still night though. As for the chorus well it was hard to distinguish between it and the verses but it was great. And the background vocals at the end were a nice touch. I actually found this song to be quite good, mostly because of the vocals, the English, and the music which was so good. This song is easy on the ears, give this R&B tune a chance.

Now we come to the well known ballad, First Love. This song is in a category by itself and is one of Hikki’s most known songs to date. First Love also gave its name to the title, so you know it’s something special. And it was so good, and due to high popularity, it was released as a re-cut single and managed to sell over 800,000+ copies. With an acoustic guitar softly playing followed by the piano this song begins. Hikki then sings in so beautiful vocals. The verses go by so slowly but they’re so profound and worth the wait. As for the lyrics, well they’re so amazing and phenomenal. The chorus is so, well it’s hard to describe, but I will try. Think of the your first kiss, the romantic one, and picture that with music. It’s just so extraordinary, and with the fusion of English and Japanese it makes for a superb combination. It’s no wonder why it’s one of her most famous and most beautiful songs to date.

Time for Amai Wana ~Paint It, Black, lit. Sweet Trap. Hikki does write all the lyrics to her songs right, well this song she borrowed a line from The Rolling Stones, “I see a red door and I wanna paint it black” from Paint It Black. The song begins with some fast R&B music and slowly builds up to some disc scratching then changes tone. It then becomes a blaring fast R&B tune. Hikki’s vocals here are fast and a little softer. It moved very fast but it was still lovable as ever. I loved the chorus, the repeat of Amai Wana was genius and it made it so catchy. But what I loved the most about this song was the fact that both the verses and choruses were so catchy.

It’s now time for Time Will Tell. Originally released as a double A-Side with Automatic this song began the First Love Era. And apparently this song was also the first song she wrote. Featuring catchy R&B beats and music with some English mastery this song is truly a work of art. And besides being so catchy with a great chorus and creative verses this song also had a dub version. For the full review click here.

Time for a brand new song, Never Let Go. This tune begins with an acoustic guitar and some ad-libbing. After Hikki begins to sing the song takes on more of an R&B flavor. The verses sound so-so but that’s not too surprising. What was surprising was the chorus. It did feature some some interesting music and nice beats but I didn’t find it that catchy. Even with the English words it still wasn’t that catchy. This probably isn’t one of her most memorable songs.

The infamous duo strike again, BC -Album Version-. Originally featured on Movin’ on without you, this song was quite good and high quality material for a B-Side. Heavy R&B music are the framework for this song. The chorus was exceptional especially with Hikki’s vocals and the background vocals reinforce that. And it was so addictive, which made it even better. I really loved the guitar in the last section of the song, an excellent addition. I don’t know or remember how it differs from the original version, just know that it’s so good. Here is the full review can be read.

There is some obvious change in music with Another Chance. Beginning with some strange almost dance music this song is definitely the odd song with the music sounding a little 80s like but still with that R&B flare. Hikki’s accompanied with some nice background vocals, but hers outshine the rest. The verses were bland to say the least. The chorus wasn’t really that great either, it was on the lines of ordinary and mediocre, well at the beginning. This song became more enjoyable as it played out.

Here we have the first Interlude. It was probably the shortest and most basic interlude. This was actually the first interlude to include some set of vocals, here they’re in Japanese. The only other interlude to feature vocals is the Gentle Beast Interlude. Besides the vocals it features what appears to be some silverware sounding utensils and a crowd of people chatting in the distance. Very basic at best.

Give Me A Reason is the final new track on the album, well new lyrics that is. This song is a soft spoken ballad that begins with an acoustic guitar playing and a harmonica, well at first. Then is transforms into a blaring drum driven song. I like the first part of the verse as it began with “Only sixteen.” It slowly played out into one of the most interesting choruses. It slowed down and then the chorus comes. It was slowly and more drum driven but with the acoustic guitar playing too. The lyrics were mostly Japanese with a few notable lines in English mostly “Give me a reason to love you” or “…to show you.” I’m not sure what to make of this song really, it’s just very unique.

The final track is somewhat new but it’s not the lyrics, it’s the music. Automatic -Johnny Vicious Remix- is the first of many dance remixes. It’s a bonus track featured on this album, and it’s a great one. New fast, addicting dance music replaced the one slow R&B beats that ruled this song. The song is faster than the original version and more dance friendly. With the destructive dance beats this song becomes very catchy and so memorable. I think of it as a guilty pleasure, sweet and so addicting. This was probably one of the best remixes in the First Love Era.

Overall Review: First Love was an R&B sensation for everyone! This album is one of the greatest albums of all time. You really don’t have to wonder why it’s the best selling Japanese album of all time. It was just what Hikki needed to skyrocket her popularity, well she didn’t need it since she was already popular but it helps. It’s the uniqueness of this album, namely the R&B feel to it, that made it so popular. I loved most of the songs on this album and the quality was so good, unheard of now it seems. But what I really loved was First Love, it’s truly THE phenomenal ballad. This is one of the best albums from the 20th Century!

Final Grade: 94A-

One Response to “First Love”
  1. blackmager says:

    Nice review you made.
    I also liked your change in you’re writing style.

    I should check this album out. It’s the only one I haven’t downloaded from her.
    I wish there was an actual scan of Utada for this album with her entire self, and not just a simple headshot.

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