MHAM | Music Monday | Utada Hikaru —  BADモード(BAD MODE)

MHAM | Music Monday | Utada Hikaru —  BADモード(BAD MODE)

Hello BAYOG Fam! Sorry I’ve been hella busy. I’m throwing in the last Mental Health Awareness Month Music Monday post~ Today I’m sharing Utada Hikaru’s BADモード (BAD MODE). I’ve really loved the songs on the album. In particular, I wanted to share the songs 「BADモード 」 and 「気分じゃないの)(Not in the Mood) 」 , as I felt they really fit in with mental health struggles. I feel like those two tracks are super relatable, and I hope 「BADモード 」 brings you a bit of comfort as well. Also, while half the songs are songs that had previously been released, I feel like the album is the result of having gone through the pandemic as well. Anyway, let’s get to it.

If y’all aren’t new here, y’all know I’m a huge Utada fan. Literally been a fan since maybe 2000 or 2001? I’ve actually [extensively covered Utada before], like back when I first started blogging. It was one of the first music-related posts I ever did for BAYOG too. I’ve also covered their background in a [previous Music Monday post]. So I won’t go into super detail here. You can check out that post for the full details and my faves from their discography. But I’ll do a little refresher here. By the way, Utada did come out as being non-binary back in June 2021 on an Instagram livestream and uses both she/her as well as they/them. Anyway, they’re a Japanese-American singer and songwriter who was born in the US, but grew up in both New York and Tokyo. Utada HIakru is the daughter of music producer Utada Teruzane and enka singer Keiko Fuji. In 1998, they signed with Toshiba-EMI and debuted in 1998 under the name Cubic U with an English album. They released their first Japanese album, First Love, under the name Utada Hkaru later that year. It was a huge success and the start of their continued successful career to this day. Like, Utada Hikaru has been known as one of the Queens of J-Pop, and one of the most well-known female artists in Japan and Asia. They’ve stood out for having a unique sound in their voice and music. Utada had been known to have more western influences compared to other J-Pop artists of that time. Not only that, they were known to be very experimental, which again, resulted in having such a unique sound to their music. Utada is also known for having contributed songs to Kingdom Hearts and Evangelion. They also did attempt to break into the western market with an appearance on the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack, as well as releasing 2 English albums (Exodus and This Is The One). They’ve also contributed to some drama soundtracks as well as the opening for the anime To Your Eternity. Utada also recently did their first music festival performance at Coachella with [88Rising].

Artist: Utada Hikaru (宇多田ヒカル)
Album: BADモード (BAD MODE)
Genre: J-Pop, Pop, EDM, Dance Pop, Jazzy Electronica
Language: Japanese/English
Release: January 2022

BADモード is Utada’s eighth Japanese studio album. It’s also their eleventh album overall, as well as their first bilingual album. It was released digitally on January 19, 2022, which was their 39th birthday. The physical CD and the limited CD-DVD-BD bundle were released on February 23, 2022. I was excited for this album since it’s been 4 years since her last full album release. Utada says that the term “BADモード/Bad Mode” is the “opposite of ‘great mode’…” Basically, it means when you’re feeling down, depressed, going through a rough time, etc. The track itself is actually a bit more uplifting because that’s what they want to convey and do when someone they care about is going through said “bad mode”. It’s basically their idea of how to be there for someone or how they’d like to be supported and loved. I definitely get that. Again, it’s totally normal for us, as humans, to go through periods of “bad mode” throughout our lives. Sometimes it’s a bit heavier than one would like it to be, so some comfort, support, and love are definitely needed and appreciated. Overall, the message is that whether you/we are at our highest or lowest, we want to be there for that person if they’d allow us to and that our love will never change. It’s okay to feel bad, it’s totally normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. Especially when you consider how everyone has had to deal with the pandemic and everything. Utada said they were initially going for a city pop feel type of track or at least a different type of pop sound. Which isn’t surprising since Utada is known for being experimental with their music. The result is a track that is very upbeat and different from Utada’s previous releases. I also think it’s cute that their son had a little hand in it as well. He had come into the recording studio on the day they recorded it and he had his violin with him. So he got to play the E string, and it was actually included in the final song.

The album also includes some tracks, including 「Bad Mode」 that had previously been released as singles or for things. [「Pink Blood」] was the theme song for the anime series [To Your Eternity]. [「One Last Kiss」], which we had on a [previous Music Monday post], was released for promotion of [Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time]. It’s still one of my favorite tracks on this album, and out of all their releases. Literally, still one of my most listened to tracks for 2021 and even now. Of course, we also have the songs they and Skrillex worked on for [Kingdom Hearts III]: [「Face My Fears (Japanese Version)」], [「Face My Fears (English Version)」](Bonus Track), and [「Face My Fears (A.G. Cook Remix)」] (Bonus Track). [「Beautiful World (De Capo Version)」] (Bonus Track) is another track from Evangelion, specifically Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. [「Find Love」] was used with Utada [promoting] [Shiseido]’s [Power Is You campaign]. 「キレイな人 (Find Love)」, which is the Japanese version, also appears as another bonus track. [[君に夢中]], or “I’m Crazy About You”, was the main theme song for a J-Drama called [最愛] (aka Saiai or “Dearest”). I’ll admit I wasn’t super sure about how I felt about this track at first. I kinda liked it at first because it kind of reminded me a bit of [「Stay Gold」]. Parts of it, or some elements, were a bit too “gritty”(?? IDK how to describe it) sounding for me. But I did really like the chorus, so overall it did end up growing on me. I initially didn’t really care for [「Time」], however, it did grow on me as well. 「誰にも言わない」was another previously released track that was used in a [Suntory water ad]. I actually did really like this during it’s initial release as a single. I loved the ambient kinda vibe and sound it had. In regards to new tracks, I really love 「気分じゃないの(Not In The Mood)」. It just seems like a perfect rainy day kind of track. I love how it’s kind of simplified with the piano, drum, and bass(?). It’s got a jazzy, r&b vibe going on. Honestly, the instrumental would also be perfect for a chill-hop playlist. I also really relate to it, as it’s a track that represents sadness and when you’re in those sad feels and feel like you can’t really talk to anyone. The lyrics are also interesting since it’s expressed so simply by Utada quite literally just describing some of the things that went around them when they were writing the lyrics. So it captured that feeling of being an outsider, not really belonging or existing, and just observing. Also, fun tidbit is that Utada’s son also makes a little cameo at the end of the song too singing, “Not, not, not in the mood. Not in the mood today.” I just really loved this track because I feel like it’s very relatable when we’re going through our thoughts and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Lastly, I think, is the track 「マルセイユ辺り(Somewhere Near Marseilles)」. It’s actually Utada’s longest song. Like it’s almost 12 full minutes long! It’s a bit of a spicy kind of song as it’s about a rendevous, or wanting to meet up for one. I don’t know if I would say this is one of my favorites, but I do find it interesting. Again, I feel like it’s a track that sounds very different from their past releases as well. It’s just interesting to see them experiment and come out with new types of songs and tracks, but still kind of have that experimental Utada sound to it. Also, fun fact, some familiar names on the producer list with Utada include: Skrillex, Poo Bear (Bieber’s “What Do You Mean”, “All That Matters”; Usher’s “Caught Up”), and A.G. Cook (Charli XCX’s creative director).

Also…your girl splurged and got herself the limited edition CD-DVD-BD bundle~ Treat yo’ self!~ I had spontaneously preordered it after Utada’s YouTube account had posted something promoting it. It was ¥6,182 JPY (~$48-50 USD) and I got a ¥500 JPY discount. However, shipping and handling was ¥2,516. So it was a total of about ¥8,200 JPY or $75 USD at the time that I bought it. It’s got very simple looks and vibes. Honestly, it’s confusing cuz the whole album just looks like a package…as in a parcel in the mail. It even has small print that has to note that it’s not actually a parcel with “[Music Label – Do Not Ship ]” LOLOL But I do kinda like the simple and minimalistic aesthetic/vibes to it? I definitely didn’t expect it, that’s for sure. Probably cuz I’ve gotten so used to flashy K-Pop albums in my collection haha. Anyway, inside there were all the discs that came in paper disc sleeves, large photos (size of the box/album) that also served as the “booklet” with the song lyrics and credits, and a little folded paper note printed with “Thank you 🙂 – Hxx” and a little drawing of a bear. The photos are interesting as they give this kind of personal and private moment kind of feel. You can even see their son a bit, albeit cut off or very blurred and obstructed, in I think 3 of the photos. This is important since Utada is known for being very private when it comes to their personal life. Heck, that’s the whole reason they moved to and lived in London for the past decade. Also interesting to see their son in said photos because Utada has especially tried to keep their son out of the public eye. The DVD and Blu-Ray was basically 5 music videos (「Time」, 「One Last Kiss」, 「Pink Blood」, 「Kimi ni Muchu」, and 「Bad Mode」), a little behind-the-scenes documentary, as well as the performances of Hikaru Utada Live Sessions from Air Studios.

You can also check out the Linear Voice + Utada Hikaru playlist on Spotify where Utada adds some commentary about the tracks and album overall. You can find that [here].

Utada Hikaru Time GIF - Utada Hikaru Time Transcend GIFs

BADモード

I really loved this track. Because it is very different from Utada’s past releases, yet at the same time, it has that Utada essence and sound to it. It’s interesting because if you think about it, Utada tends to be known more for like sad and melancholy type of tracks. Yet this is a much upbeat and brighter song with a good amount of groove to it. Again, it’s ultimately a track about how it’s ok to be in a “bad mode”, or to be going through something or feel down. It’s about showing love, care, support, and just being there for someone through that time. I love the little bit of self-care where it’s like, just forget about everything, take it easy and just chill. It’s also like a self-reflection of how we feel when we’re in “bad mode”, thus reminding us that we all go through it. So it’s also a note of how we’d want to be cared for when we’re in that state.

For a kind, sweetheart like you
To be feeling down for so long
What’s going on?
Hey God, you’re not being fair

Should I give some space?
Should I be direct and ask?
What if I end up hurting you?

I don’t know
But I want to protect you no matter what
Whether you’re at your best or in Bad Mode
I’d like to see you
I can’t let you go
I just want you more in my life
Whether we’re flying high or in Bad Mode
My degree of love for you remains the same

Here’s a Diazepam
We can each take half of
Or we can roll one up
Howevеr the night flows
Here’s a Diazеpam
We can each take half of
However the night flows

How about we ignore texts, watch Netflix
Stay in our pajamas all day, order something on Uber Eats
And take a bath together

How many times did I question myself?
Is it this scary for everyone else too?
I guess all I can do is pray
That things won’t turn out like last time

[Instrumental Bridge]

Even when it’s hard to believe that better days are coming
I’m here for you
I can’t let you go
I just want you more
When you feel low and alone
You’d better let me know
You know I’m bad at explaining
But lately I’ve done some maturing
Won’t you lean on me when you need
Something to lean on

Your profile as you insist on watching
To the very end of the end credits
That’s my favorite part of the show
My favorite part of the show

Hope I don’t fuck it up
Hope I don’t fuck it up again
Hope I don’t, don’t fuck it up again, oh-oh-oh

Utada Hikaru | BADモード (BAD MODE) | Translation: [Genius]

One Last Kiss

Again, I freaking love this track so much. I also love the video too. It’s another one of the music videos that Utada kind of had to do by themselves. I love the candid and personal vibes you get since it’s kind of mostly filmed “home movie” style with phones as well as professional cameras. It had somewhat of an intimate feel. So it’s kind of like feeling and reliving the memories and times you’ve shared with someone from your past. It definitely captured that bittersweet feeling very well, in my opinion. But y’all can check my [One Last Kiss Music Monday] post for that.

Time

Again, I wasn’t totally feeling this one at first. It did grow on me, and I could feel some old school Hikki vibes to it. The video has Utada just vibing with the music and dancing around at home. Them vibing kind of reminded me of them vibing and dancing around that chair in [「Automatic」]. If I remember correctly, this is another music video that was shot during the pandemic. It was basically DIY with Utada having some friends come over to their house and shoot the video then and there.

Pink Blood

Let Me Face My Fears (JP Version)

Honestly, I never expected an Utada Hikaru x Skrillex collab, and to get 2 different songs for Kingdom Hearts III. This track had Utada going full-on into EDM. I did like it, but honestly preferred [「誓い」] , or [「Don’t Think Twice」] for the English version more though. It was just more my style. But it was definitely interesting to see Utada try something new and accomplish a new sound.


Utada Utada Hikaru GIF - Utada Utada Hikaru Goodbye Happiness GIFs

Anyway, that’s it for this week’s Music Monday post y’all. What did y’all think of the album? Which are your favorite tracks? What are your favorite Utada songs?~ Let me know in the comments, my socials, or discord! With that being said, I’ll say my little thing about mental health…given that it is Mental Health Awareness Month. I know it’s hard. It’s definitely a struggle at times. It can feel so lonely and frustrating at times, and it can also just be incredibly difficult to express ourselves. It’s overwhelming at times. Still, for me, music, books, and films help me a lot. Especially music. There are times it just perfectly captures my thoughts and feelings in the lyrics and/or vibe of the song itself. It’s also just a reminder that I’m not alone, and it helps me feel a bit lighter after feeling like I can express myself. Especially in times when I find it difficult to open up to talk to people. I hope you find music, books, and films to help you as well. Remember it’s okay to feel that way, and that you’re not alone. Don’t forget that are people who love and support you. Sometimes we feel lonely, but also feel the need to have space. Still, remember that despite that space, you do have people there for you when you need it~ Just like Utada mentioned with 「BADモード 」.

Yoongi Yoongi Dance GIF - Yoongi Yoongi Dance Dynataee GIFs
My BTS gif tax
‘Kay…Goodbye~

Also, I do apologize y’all. It’s been crazy busy, hence my semi-hiatus status. I’ve been slowly working on several posts. I’ll try to get them out when I can. Novel review should be out this week. Drama review kind of on hold, but should be out soon too~ Hopefully… Anyway, y’all take care and stay safe! I hope you have a wonderful start to your week! Also, it’s getting hotter now, so don’t forget to stay hydrated!!!


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2 Replies to “MHAM | Music Monday | Utada Hikaru —  BADモード(BAD MODE)”

  1. For as much of a Kingdom Hearts fan as I am, I haven’t been much of a music enthusiast until recently. Probably about time I give Utada the the respect they deserve and give her discography a listen.

    1. I definitely recommend checking out her discography if you ever get the chance to~ For me, I do like her JP releases over her English albums for her western debut. They’re not bad, but I just prefer her JP releases. Classics like her Distance and Deep River albums are probably my favorites. But her music is interesting in that it’s always kind of changing since she’s always experimenting with different sounds and genres. Yet at the same time, it still has her signature sound and vibe to it~

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