Utada Hikaru japanese studio albums ranking

A ranking of the japanese studio albums by Utada Hikaru

Utada Hikaru - Heart Station
8.
67
'Heart Station' falls at the bottom of the list. It's weird because I've seen people calling this her best album - but to me it feels like an awkward transitional phase between her past and present eras. This album wants to be pretty and beautiful, opting for a more washed out sound than the previous album 'Ultra Blue' but instead the results are just mixed. There are fun tracks on here like 'Fight the Blues', 'Kiss & Cry' and 'Nijiiro bus' but nothing that reaches the highlights of other albums. It just feels like Utada wasn't ready to compose an album lie this at this stage of her career and the hiatus really helped mature her. Quite a few songs here just fall flat for me but I still come back to it for cuts like 'Beautiful World' and 'Prisoner of Love'.

EDIT: Heart Station is slowly growing on me with it's hazy synth soundscapes but I still think it's one of her weaker albums - not bad at all though!
Utada Hikaru - Hatsukoi
7.
77
'Hatsukoi', like 'Fantôme' is much more mature than some of her other albums. However some of the more underwhelming cuts put it far below it's predecessor. Tracks like 'Anata' and 'Forevermore' are beautiful but the irritatingly repetitive 'Pakuchii no Uta' and 'Good Night' skew this album to the bottom half of the list. It has some great tracks but ultimately as an experience it is inconsistent. The album has definitely grown on me however. 'Chikai' and 'Shittosarerubeki Jinsei' are genuine gems with amazing songwriting, 'Hatsukoi' suffers from basically being 'Fantome' the re-up, but that doesn't mean it's bad!
Utada Hikaru - First Love
6.
83
'First Love' is not only Utada's best selling album but also the best selling album in Japanese history, and for a good reason. This debut just exudes youth and innocence. The synthy R&B approach with Utada's fresh vocals work really well. It's a simple debut but an effective one for sure. 'Automatic' --> 'Movin on Without You' --> 'In My Room' is one of my favourite 3 track combinations and open up the album really well. The album fades in quality near the end but on the whole it's just very fun and nostalgic.
Utada Hikaru - Distance
5.
85
'Distance' is so polarising. Most people either hold it as one of her best or one of her worst albums. What I love about distance is the experimental passages intertwined with the 2000s R&B palette. Immediately our opener 'Wait and See -Risk' sets the tone with its high energy twinkly pop rock chorus. 'Can You Keep a Secret?' has such slick verses and an unforgettably catchy chorus with licks of R&B used tastefully. 'Sunglasses' and 'Distance' are also both really good. 'Addicted To You (Up-In-Heaven Mix)' is one of my favourite songs of hers, the desperation in the chorus and the transforming structure across the song's duration combine well with the urgent strings and expressive vocals. I also like the ambience of cuts like 'Kotoba ni Naranai Kimochi' and ''Hayatochiri'. Criticisms of this album mostly lie in the vocals, which I have to agree with because some of the vocals here are slightly unpleasant and pitchy but honestly I still really like this album.
Utada Hikaru - Ultra Blue
3.
88
'Ultra Blue' is one of Utada's most revered albums - and I can see why, it just hasn't fully clicked for me yet. The sound of this album is very much unlike the others - it's much more electropop oriented with a mix of some lush ballads, vibrant synth cuts and electronic bangers. 'This Is Love' and 'Keep Tryin' are so catchy and open the album up on a high note, the electropop flair of 'Colors' is great and I would be lying if I said that the beautiful harmonies and guitar strokes of 'Be My Last' don't get me every time. But some tracks just don't appeal to me that much like 'Wings' and 'Darekano Negaiga Kanaukoro'. But I'm sure it'll rise up my list in time.

EDIT: Yup it grew on me :)) it's just so vibrant and definitely a headphone album, her harmonies are incredible on this one. Not one song I dislike on this anymore, I just cannot deny the irresistable beauty of the production.
Utada Hikaru - Deep River
4.
88
'Deep River' is a near immaculate J-pop album. Released in 2002, the beat selection is so sophisticated that it still holds up well today. It sounds like a product of it's time but not in the sense that it sounds aged, moreso that it holds nostalgic appeal. The beats on songs like 'Sakura Nagashi' and 'Play Ball' are immediately hooking. The near hypnotic melody of 'Shiawase ni Narou' and the soaring catchiness of 'Traveling' display Utada's unrivaled ability to turn ballads into bangers. The middle passage of the album from 'Play Ball' to 'Usomitai Na I Love You' takes us on a slightly darker synthier detour. The trickling synths and atmosphere on 'Tokyo Nights' make it one of my favourite songs of Utada's career. The R&B influence from her first 2 albums is apparent but more cleverly utilised. 'Letters' and the title track have some of the best songwriting in Utada's entire career. And the album finishes with the sweet and nostalgic 'Simple and Clean' making an album listening experience that feels fresh and fulfilling.
Utada Hikaru - BAD Mode
2.
90
'BAD MODE' surprised me. Despite 'Flop My Fears' existing and half of the songs being released as singles, this album really holds up in cohesion. The longer tracks like 'Kibunja Naino' and 'Somewhere in Marseilles' manage to not get boring with their constant sonic variation and the singles like 'One Last Kiss', 'PINK BLOOD' and 'Darenimo Iwanai' are as strong as ever. It's like Ultra Blue but with more variatin and experimentation. The album is more cohesive than expected but lacks the feeling of a project for me - and isn't as emotionally gripping as my number one pick, but it's a close second!
Utada Hikaru - Fantôme
1.
92
'Fantôme' is simply one of the best comeback albums I've ever heard. After a long hiatus from music Utada returned using her various traumas and experiences to fuel her music. Compositionally it is a huge improvement from the large majority of her albums. Taking on a more mature sound she fills this album with well produced and written ballads and some upbeat tracks. Ultimately this is an album of coming to terms with grief - which can be seen in the pessimistic but hopeful lyrics of 'Sakura Nagashi'. Overall this album is so compelling and doesn't have one wasted moment. 'Nijikan Dake no Vacance' is a beautiful combination of Utada and Sheena's voices. I could talk for days about how much I love songs like 'Ore no Kanojo' and 'Manatsu no Toriame' but I'll let the listening experience speak for itself.
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5mo
love the love for bad mode
7mo
Great list!

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