UTADA HIKARU: SAKURA NAGASHI

By Paris365 on November 19, 2012

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Release Date

12/26/12

Genre

J-pop

Label

EMI Music Japan

Two years ago Utada Hikaru, one of Japan's greatest and most beloved artists, decided that she would stop making music for a long period of time and just live a normal life. Take time to stop and smell the roses, if you will. As her people have put it, she is "currently focusing her energies on her 'human activities'." But, lucky for us, she has made a brief return to music, writing and recording an enchanting new song called "Sakura Nagashi," which will be the theme song for the latest installment in the Evangelion anime film series, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Re-Do. It turns out that Utada is a great fan of the series. And since she previously contributed the theme songs for the first two films, she wanted to contribute the theme for this new movie.

"Sakura Nagashi" immediately tugged at my heart strings the very first time I heard it. This was partially because it's such a beautiful and haunting song and partially because it reminded me of my favorite Utada song, "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro," a song that has always been precious to me. You see, when "Dareka no..." came out I was living in a Los Angeles suburb named Glendale. I'd been living there for a year already and loved California. Things had started off very well -- I was over-flowing with happiness -- but then they changed. My girlfriend broke up with me and my PTSD and bipolar disorder spiraled out of control, forcing me to finally go on meds for the first time in my life. Meanwhile, I was having awful back problems. During this time, I listened to a lot of ballads, often on repeat, somehow finding comfort in the fact that the artists who made these songs must have felt the way I was feeling at some point in their lives to have written such songs. If they could feel and experience these things they've written about in their songs and still survive then, somehow, I figured I might survive, too. I listened to "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro" countless times, over and over, often crying. I didn't understand the words, not knowing Japanese, but I could still feel the strong emotions Utada had poured into the song. There was certainly sadness and heart-ache, but I suspected that there was a little bit of hope in there, too. The song was truly spell-binding for me. I just couldn't stop listening to it. It had become as important to me as oxygen. I wouldn't have been able to breathe without it. And so "Sakura Nagashi" brought out many of the emotions I'd felt when listening to "Dareka no...". Which wasn't a bad thing. On the contrary, it was quite refreshing to hear a new song that deeply moved me.

"Sakura Nagashi" starts off with some gentle piano, as if it might be a lullaby. Even when Utada begins singing, she does so quietly, like she's trying to coax someone to sleep. Some of the lyrics from that part of the song, as translated by Utada herself, are "if you could see me now / I wonder what you would think / me, living without you." Even though she sings that part of the song softly you can still feel the pain she's trying to convey. "Everybody finds love / in the end," she sings in English with an air of hopefulness mixed in with the heartache. Enter some subtle but gorgeous strings, which bloom at just the right time, making the song that much more emotive. Finally, around the 3 minute mark, loud drums and razor sharp guitar join the mix and the song proves to be something epic, the sonic equivalent of a nervous breakdown, perhaps. Some of the lyrics, again from Utada's own translation: "I can't believe that I'll never see you again / I haven't told you anything yet." Who hasn't felt like that when going through a break up or the loss of a loved one? This is such a potent song that it may bring old wounds to the surface. If it doesn't make you feel something then you must be a sociopath. This song is a beautiful rose with venomous thorns that will make you feel much, much more than a prick. -Michael McCarthy

NOTE: It appears that the record company will only be releasing DVD singles for this song, which will likely have a music video for it, probably featuring footage from the film.

The song is currently available on iTunes Japan and may be available in other countries soon.

Labels and artists interested in being featured here may contact Michael McCarthy at cinema365@gmail.com. Follow Michael on Twitter https://twitter.com/paris365.

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