Single: Hikaru Utada – “Traveling” (2001)

While I recuperate after my Japanese voyage, I will do a quick single review. Jet lag is weighing down on me like a lead weight, and I don’t think I can stay awake for much longer. So on a related note I look at this appropriately-titled single from J-pop megastar Hikaru Utada (or Utada Hikaru in Japan).

“Traveling” was the second single from third album “Deep River” that was another tremendous success to Hikaru’s astonishing level of success in Japan, ultimately becoming the 8th biggest selling album of all time there. It joined previous albums “First love” and “Distance” in the all-time top 10, which are first and fifth on the list respectively as it stands.

I’ve never quite broken through with Hikaru, though there is certainly cause for some investigation, with fourth album Ultra Blue and debut English-language album Exodus being particularly interesting for me. I found the older material from her first Singles Collection to be a bit too R’n’B for my tastes, but “Traveling” sees her in a much poppier state of mind, in a rather sophisticated dance crossover track.

I find this song impossible to detach from the incredible video, a real fiesta of colours and styles, driven by what I’m sure was an eye-popping budget earned by the massive success of her previous albums.

The production is gorgeous, I love that bustling futuristic intro, leading into a quite subtle verse before the addictive chorus kicks in. The middle-eight with those beautiful autumnal video segments are really wonderful, I love it.

The video is almost enough for a blog entry of its own. Full of colour, bright designs, glittering neon lights, and even a stop-motion segment with Hikaru looking beautiful in a more back-to-basics look. A start contrast to the cosplay-esque outfits, all weird creatures and bright wigs.

In short, an uplifting fun J-pop song, that never outstays its welcome after the 5-minute run-time, and even translated wonderfully to the Utada United 2006 tour as a brilliant intro. It’s certainly good enough to deserve a good look at its parent album before too long.

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Filed under Music, Reviews, Songs

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