ULTRA BLUE

ULTRA BLUE was Utada Hikaru’s 4th studio album. It was released on June 14, 2006 and reached number 1 with sales of over 500,000 copies, and remained the top album the second week with sales of 157,000+. The album would go over to sell over 1.3 million copies in total. This was also the highest studio album by a female artist in 2006. ULTRA BLUE was also her first album to show Hikki’s more experimental pop music. And this is the only album, so far, not to have an eponymous track, in other words a track with the same name as the album.

Ultra Blue

Tracks:
1. This Is Love
2. Keep Tryin’
3. BLUE
4. Nichyo no Asa
5. Making Love
6. Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro
7. COLORS
8. One Night Magic feat. Yamada Masashi
9. Kairo
10. WINGS
11. Be My Last
12. Eclipse (Interlude)
13. Passion

Review:
Beginning Ultra Blue is the serene This Is Love. It’s a very fast paced song that truly shows her more experimental pop side. The music is very pop oriented and rather strong. The keyboards get this song off to a magnificent start, followed by some great vocals. The synth elements create such a beautiful and calming atmosphere, while the music propels everything. I loved how the vocals sounded very calm and mild, not very dramatic or angry. The verses sounded great to my surprise, very uplifting. And the chorus was completely breathtaking. Well, it sounded great and it was catchy, the nice constant beats were a nice treat. And the ad-libbing at the end was great.

The fantastic Keep Tryin’ appears next. The lyrics are a bit humorous but that’s great. The music is very pop and synth oriented, no surprise. It’s very fitting of the wonderful winter tune. I loved the toy piano during the bridge, such a sweet edition to the song. Anyway the lyrics tell us all to Keep Tryin’, go figure. It was also her best song in terms of digital sales until it was surpassed. The chorus was so up-beat and sounded so wonderful. And the pre-chorus sounded incredible as well, must be her amazing vocals and the music.

BLUE is the closest thing there is to a title track. This song is an up tempo and up-beat song, even for a ballad. The keyboard along with the synth elements are the signature instrumentals. Again, the synth elements are really a signature thing with Hikki now, and one can see why this was her experimental pop album. The lyrics are quite interesting but are still wonderful as always. Naturally the chorus here is the best part, and it’s so catchy, a huge plus. English again is used throughout the song. The lines “Darling, darling, ah… Questions make me blue Darling, darling, ah… Tell me something good” help you get a clear idea about why the song is named as it is. And the vocals were just amazing. There were definitely some emotions present along with some power.

One of my new favorites on the album is Nichyo no Asa lit. Sunday Morning. This song also showcases some of Hikki’s more experimental tone. There is a big synth vibe, along with some great arrangement. The keyboard along with some claps are the main instrumental force. The ad-libbing in the beginning was awesome and very calming. Her vocals really sounded great too, they’re not too overwhelimg. The verses sounded great, namely because of the constant claps. But I also loved the English lines. They were whispered so sweetly and sounded great. The chorus was pretty catchy as well, although it was a bit similar to the verses, nice background vocals though. The Sunday morning refers to the Christmas of 2005.

Making a very gentle and playful entrance is the ever sweet Making Love. Beginning with the keyboard, this song quickly turns into a fast paced pop song, filled with synth sounds. The beats sound great during the verses, which sound incredible, probably due to vocals and music. The vocals were great as usual, but sounded exhilerating during the chorus. They were a lot stronger, as was the music. As for the chorus, well it was extremely catchy. The melody was wonderful and the synth-like background music was very fitting. There was such a funny bridge in this song that sounded pretty sweet. As for the lyrics, well it involves some rather adult themes, that’s all I’ll say. But it’s still great and very addictive.

Definitely the saddest and most depressing song on the album is Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro lit. When Someone’s Dreams Come True. It’s truly a ballad of sorrow and yet such beauty. It consists of the piano, the violins, the cello, and the acoustic guitar. The piano however is the main instrumental during the song, followed by the acoustic guitar and strings. The song as a whole is absolutely phenomenal, filled with incredible vocals and music. It had such a classical feel, minus the acoustic guitar. Hikki managed to deliver with her excellent vocals, so powerful and filled with emotion.

And now for the song that began it all, the ethereal COLORS. It was her first song to showcase her new found style of experimental pop, which is surprisingly good. The music was very synth oriented, but still contained the drums and cello. The verses were very beautiful, painting vivid pictures with the lyrics. The lyrics talk of seeing the blue sky and that COLORS seem to fade beneath the fluorescent lights, among a few other things. And as for the chorus, well it was better than ever imagined. Not only is it beautiful in its lyrical content, but it sounds breathtaking. Such a memorable track filled with various synth elements.

Also featured on this album is her first collaboration with a Japanese artist, One Night Magic feat. Yamada Masashi. This song is a lighthearted pop song with some great synth elements. Hikki’s vocals sound so deep, yet so high at various parts of the time, allowing her to display to talent to a greater extent. And those vocals sounded amazing. As for Yamada, he just sung during the pre-chorus and the post-chorus, kinda useless. The verses sounded great, deeper vocals, and majestic music. And it sounded rather catchy, which was great. The chorus was pretty catchy, despite it being a bit slow with the lyrics. You can also hear her singing “Oh baby give it up!” somewhat fast in the chorus. The bridge here was particularly good, the excellent lyrics, and superb vocals.

The last true new song on the album is Kairo lit. Sea Route. This song is amazing and truly epic, if you can call a song epic. Whenever I hear this song I think of someone sailing across the open seas. I can honestly say that I love this song, the only problem is that it is so short, and I mean it, only 3:35. This song features some beautiful strings along with various synth elements, the piano, some other minor instruments, and the sound of the wind blowing. The verses were very short and honestly, there weren’t that many lines to begin with. As for the chorus, well it was flawless. The strings propelled it into such a magnificent example of beauty. And to top it off, it sounded both epic and dramatic. Short but incredible.

Following is the laid-back WINGS. This eternally soft song is rather sweet. It’s gentle, laid-back, and quite gorgeous. The piano serves as the primary instrumental, along with some drums, and some excellent woodwinds I believe. The vocals are calm and wonderful. The lyrics are sweet talking about “heaven” and a “warm bath” among other things. The snoring was pretty adorable and worked out great with the ending. The ad-libbing was just that good.

Perhaps the most mature song on the album, Be My Last makes its debut. This acoustic ballad proved to be such a strong digital seller, and it’s no wonder. It also serves as a great example of how mature she’s become since her debut. The acoustic guitar was an impressive instrumental, and built this song. Well, that along with the stunning and emotional vocals. The verses sounded beautiful, but where out shined by the chorus. The chorus was stronger and featured a better presence altogether. I loved how she yet again used English in this song and made it fit. By far one of her more mature and strongest songs.

Enveloped in a miasma of synth is Eclipse (Interlude). It prepares you for the final track while helping ease transition from an acoustic ballad to a more synth oriented ballad.

Ending the album is the serene ballad entitled Passion. This song is infamous for being the theme song for the Kingdom Hearts 2, as well as featuring reversed lyrics. The opening itself has a magical quality with the synth music and guitar opening. The drum beats provide a constant beats keeping the song catchy. The vocals were astounding along with the melody. The chorus was just amazing as well as memorable. But my favorite part was the last stanza, so to say, not the final line. The vocals were at the peak of perfection and it just sounded epic. Such a beautiful way to end ULTRA BLUE.

Overall Review: ULTRA BLUE was a synth sensation. The album proves just how much her style of music has changed since her debut. It also features some of her most memorable songs and such beautiful scans. All of the songs featured were memorable as well as perfect for the most part. The album also had a unifying feature, it was mostly synth oriented, with some acoustic and ballad digressions. What a flawless album that’s continues to thrill listeners.

Final Grade: 100A+

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Comments
6 Responses to “ULTRA BLUE”
  1. glassmask says:

    this is my fav album of her…just go tit yesterday..i should get this one first..-0- all my fav songs!!

    my second fav is deep river, then heart station…

  2. amaiyume says:

    great album and I agree!!! It’s a fantastic album 🙂
    Although I’m still not a fan of Be My Last…just not my cup of tea…

  3. Selryam says:

    While I’m not really a fan of many of the songs on the second half of the album (save WINGS and Passion), the rest of this album was absolutely outstanding.

    Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro, COLORS and Keep Tryin’ all on one album couldn’t possibly fail.

  4. NotebookDarling says:

    YAAAY!~ I’ve got this album =D
    It features so many different sounds. It’s amazing.

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  1. […] after that was the up-beat and synth driven Keep Tryin’. Not sure why, but she also included This Is Love, good call though, because it’s […]



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