Utada Hikaru Is Releasing Her Seventh Japanese Studio Album in June

Twenty years later, Hikki is back to thinking about her First Love.

“Come back to me!” we demanded. And so, Utada Hikaru was like “okay, fine.”

Hikki is, at long last, dropping the follow-up to 2016’s Fantome on June 27: it’s called 初恋, or Hatsukoi – which means “First Love” in Japanese. Do you see what she did there twenty whole years later?

First Love Utada

No, you’re crying.

“The album…tells the stories of feelings. The album featuring everybody feels warm inside. The album everybody else’s feelings and emotions everyone can relate to with beautifully written. Hatsukoi is filled with inspiring and heartwarming emotions in such a way that only an iconic pop creator Hikaru Utada can magically come across through her creativity and it show the world that Hikaru Utada keeps on and will keep on on prime for 2 more decades,” her website declares, which sounds as though this record will very much be the light, spring-y polar opposite of the rather thematically dense and occasionally grim Fantome.

The album is available for pre-order already, and we now know it features six brand new songs in addition to ones we have already, or are coming up: “Oozora De Dakishimete,” “Forevermore,” “Anata,” “Hatsukoi” (“First Love”) from the upcoming drama Hana Nochi Hare and the forthcoming Kingdom Hearts III theme song, “誓い” or “Oath.”

One of those previously released songs, which serves as the theme song to Suntory’s SWITCH&SPARKLING delicious water, is called “Play A Love Song” – and it just dropped at midnight on iTunes. (Yes, including America!) It’s not on streaming yet because nothing is easy…but give her your physical coins, anyway.

The song is actually one of the more uptempo servings she’s supplied in the past few years, so naturally, the lyrics are actually devastating. You didn’t think she’d let a carefree bop slide through, did you?

You can comb through the lyrics translated in English in their entirety on Lyrical Nonsense – but the general gist is that this is life after a(nother) divorce – and she’s just looking for a hug, and a moment to forget about the fighting.

I wonder how long my parents went on like that. I don’t really know but…from here on out, you and I will keep growing and maturing,” she sings on the sweet, synth-y production.

Similar to Fantome‘s “Michi,” the track feels like an encouraging endurance run through some of life’s darkest challenges. There’s even an uplifting “Like A Prayer” moment at the very end with an entire choir – as she’s begging to play a love song and be held again. The complexity of these mixed emotions, Hikaru. Kiss and cry!

Finally, there’s the tour: it’s happening, definitively, at the end of this year from November to December. It’s her first national tour in 12 years. How could that be? Utada United was in 2006 and – oh my God, 2006 was already 12 years ago.

The first shipment of the physical Hatsukoi CDs will include a lottery ticket to pre-order tour tickets, which already sounds very stressful. Lord knows, I don’t have a piggybank labeled “Japan” lying around here anywhere. But let’s go to Japan. Let’s just go for it, everyone.

“Play A Love Song” was released on April 25. (iTunes)

When made available to stream, this song will be featured on the MuuTunes Spotify playlist. Subscribe!

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Photo credit: Epic Records Japan

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