Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Utada United 2006 PV's

(Originally 24 November 2006)

I was bumming around the other night and realized it was a while since I had paid a visit to my favourite (read: only one I can be bothered to go to) j-pop tracker. That, and I don't frequent the utada-online.net forums very often anymore. Something to do with the site loading really slowly all the time.

Anyway, I saw the latest additions to the tracker, went, "Holy shit!", and was soon blown away by the two clips from Utada Hikaru's 2006 concert DVD, due out December 20. I was blown away more so by Keep Tryin' than This is Love.

It looks she's gained some weight, and my friend had to point out to me that her arms are rather thick now. I knew she had gained weight around the Exodus era, as evidenced from what little footage that made it out of her NYC performance, but thought she lost most of it by the time Ultra Blue was released. At least, I thought I heard from somewhere that she was working out. I maintain a neutral stance, which is to say I don't have any opinion on it. She's not fat, and she doesn't look any worse.

She's all about the flashy costumes it seems. It makes her more colourful, yes, but it just seems out of place. Maybe I'm just a boring person, but from Budokan 2004 DVD where she opened with just a simple long red dress over a black top, I found to be pretty elegant as far as pop concerts go. Ok, I am a boring person.

So, This is Love, wow. She looked to be quite the diva with the frills (looks like fur) lining her shoulders, and black gloves and boots. Another friend complained that the shots change too fast, there were quite a few wide-pan shots and not enough closeups. Given the style of the song, which I fancy to be driving music (probably influenced by first hearing it while watching that Nissin cup noodle commercial), I'm quite comfortable with the quick cuts. They lend a sense of motion.

Another comparison between 2006 and 2004. She cut her hair, and I can't help but think that it adds a lot more energy to her persona.

Vocals-wise, Keep Tryin' was more raw. She was airy in TiL, but it was evident that the control in her voice wasn't all there for Keep Tryin'. I've read some opinions on the U-O.net forums saying that this particular PV was sub-par, and from those who had the opportunity to go to her concert (more than once, in some cases), there were evidently better nights to have recorded. Perhaps they should have recorded all nights and then merged them in like they did for the Budokan DVD.

She might have been tired, Keep Tryin' apparently being 20th on the list, but I think that what she was doing was quite deliberate. Looking at her movements, she was having a blast, and was really rocking out. And as my pop music teacher would say, rocking out is key. Her distorted voice, the pitch slide she used towards the end, her running around, all of it are hallmarks of living in the moment, and communicating that moment's intensity. Vocal control and all those good technical things took a back seat in that performance. If I just ripped the audio track from the PV and listened to it, it's nothing special. You really have to see the video as well in order to appreciate the performance in its entirety.

Keep Tryin' was quite moving. The performer, as tired as she may be, was really into it. The cameras panning around the venue showed that the crowd was clearly into it as well, and audience and performer just fed off each other. It was magic.

Keep Tryin' is one of my favourite Ultra Blue tracks, although that's not saying much since most of the CD consisted of previous singles. But, it felt like her attempt at progressive rock in some ways, particularly in the bridge leading up to the chorus. The somewhat dark twist in harmony, the layering of voices, and change-up in the instrumentals, and her own voice taking on an ethereal kind of timbre, it's probably her tipping her hat to her favourite bands, like Queen and Sting.