Album review: MiChi - Eyes wide open

MiChi - Eyes wide open | Random J-Pop

It was evident from MiChi's second major studio release Therapy and the culling of material she had left off of that album that her sound was pulling away from dance music into a more rock tinged and acoustic sound scape. Therefore I can't be shocked that MiChi fully embraces it with her third solo album Eyes wide open. Guitars and Ukulele's run rampant on this album and hard hitting dance beats are eschewed completely. The album is much more easier on the ears than her amazing debut Up to you was, but it comes as the risk of leaving absolutely no imprint and being completely forgettable.

"Saturday night" acts as a nice introduction to MiChi for those who hadn't heard anything of hers before. Embracing the return of disco which is littering the charts worldwide and also being sung entirely in English. It is a solid representation of her in general. My take out from the song and also this album is that MiChi wants people to see her in a brand new light and forget everything she had done prior. But the problem is with this new MiChi and her latest material is that it's making me look back and want to stay looking back to play what she had delivered back then, because boy did this woman deliver.

Eyes wide open is a much more sonically consistent album than Therapy. Where-as Therapy felt like a tug-of-war between the free spirited girl of angst she once was and the poised ambassador of love she was becoming, Eyes wide open has MiChi settle on a sound throughout the album and find her feet. Eyes wide open definitely makes me see Therapy in a new light and makes it more clear to me as to why MiChi decided to keep the likes of "Perfect world", "Sound of love" and "All about the girls ~Iijyanka party people~" off of it. She just doesn't want to be seen as the party girl. She wants to cycle around and feel the wind in her face, run through flowers. Pretty much do all that stuff Mariah did in the "Always be my baby" video. Swings on lakes, horses and all that shit.

Eyes wide open doesn't have a single terrible song on it, but it doesn't feature any particularly amazing songs neither. This is a problem for me when her major label debut was track-to-track wig snatching and her first new single of 2011 which was one of the best pop singles ever. Every single song on Up to you was so striking and atypically MiChi. Therapy retread some of these elements, but gave them unique twists which fit in with the new sound MiChi was going for, as evidenced on tracks such as "One" and "Light up". But Eyes wide open feels like MiChi's sound has been completely diluted to the point where her entire album sounds like 12 tracks of songs anybody else could have done. Some of the songs on this album also feel like subdue re-works of which fit in with her musical aesthetic as she sees it now, which to me appears to be 'boring'. "Saturday night" feels like like a classier and safer version of the club heavy "Jump on it". "Heartbeat" feels like a dialled down version of "Promise". "Journey" is a sunset road trip version of "One". Eyes wide open doesn't act as a great introduction to MiChi, because the excitement, the freshness and genre bending quality of her music she was so well known for is not evident here at all. This album is nice. There's nothing here to offend anybody or make them take a dislike to her. But there's nothing here to form a particularly strong opinion on her or become intrigued.

MiChi is going through an evolution in her sound and is trying to strip things away, which is admirable. I'm glad that she isn't just pumping out Up to you part 2's and part 3's and regurgitating the same old thing which we know happens a lot in J-Pop. If a weak album here and there is the price to pay, then we just have to support her as fans and let her work it out. But at the same time I feel as though MiChi is peeling too far away from her signature sound to the point where some of her songs are sounding dangerously close to the Dr. Luke and Max Martin tripe radio pumps out every few months - a complete shame given that MiChi's sound was once incomparable and was heads, shoulders and 6 air balloons above everything other hoes in pop were putting out. MiChi's Up to you wasn't just one of the best J-releases of 2009, it was one of the best Pop albums to drop PERIOD. As someone who was advocating the shit out of MiChi early on, it saddens me that there is no sign on this album of the girl who was breaking all of the musical rules and giving us sounds which would go on to be trends 2 years later. There is a glimpse of her in the album intro and "Saturday night", but that's all you get. When you listen to the output of producer Tomokazu Matsuzawa outside of his work with MiChi, it's so vividly varied that it makes you want to throw a cup of coffee in her face for pinning him down and having him do nothing but these strummy-ass songs.

Eyes wide open is a nice album. But it feels far too pedestrian for a girl like MiChi who is capable of so much more. My issue with this album isn't that it doesn't feature enough dance cuts. My issue is that MiChi as an artist who expressed herself so colourfully on her previous releases bleeds into shades of grey on this album and becomes an anybody. As a result of this, Eyes wide open becomes completely forgettable.


Album highlights:
■ Madness vol. 4
■ Just because
■ Hello
■ Journey ★ J's fave
■ Your life

8 comments:

  1. I agree with your points, but not your score; this album is a lil too stripped down and basic (besides the awesome "Lighten the F**k" and "Saturday Night"), though it isn't bad. I can find myself listening to this album when I want something not so loud, syntheszied, or manipulated. I'd at least give it a five or so; not good, not bad, but needs work.

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  2. stc:dr
    (saw the score:didn't read)

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  3. Did you copy the score from 20/20 again!? LOL


    I hope not. Because it was decent.

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  4. I did! My bad, I didn't even realise.

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  5. I'm surprised how much I like this album. I like it more with every listen, it makes me feel happy :)

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  6. I agree with you @Beruda1495 , when you said that this is more of an attempt to fund a promotional video rather than her entire endeavor to break into the US music scene. I find it hard to believe that Crystal has been blowing up Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with her exploits in New York for the past 6 months only to have all of that work halted by some Japanese kickstarter. Universal had to be funding something, including all of that studio time, because as much as I love Crystal, those Vivid sales are not enough to fund a plane ticket from Tokyo to Asaka, let along an international expedition from Japan to New York to record music.

    This is not to say that Kuri doesn't need all the prayer, support, holy water, and divine intervention in order to make her US debut amount to more than two blades of grass rubbed together. I just think that this particular kickstarter project is some crazy marketing attempt to generate fan interest and support from the Japanese market. Unfortunately, whoever thought this up didn't factor in that the Japanese don't give flying wig about CK, which is why she is venturing to the US in the first place.

    I want to go on the record by addressing the notion that Crystal Kay fans are all talk and no support by saying that I bought physical copies of her 10th Anniversary Tour and two of her earlier albums. I also individually downloaded all of her singles from Vivid from iTunes and Amazon to help my girl get some revenue. Plus, I bought the full Vivid album from iTunes. I even tried to get a Japanese iTunes account to buy "My Heartbeat" when I found out I couldn't buy it from the US iTunes. *CK can thank me later for that Big Mac combo meal and her morning grande latte later*

    I have done my part, so I think I have earned the right to support her and sing her praises in any octave and key of my choosing. If and when she gets her act together enough to get an album ready for the US market, I have set aside the funds for that too. Plus, I have a solid marketing strategy inspired by Random J to hit up my local music store and move her albums to the front. I also will periodically come back with my Swiffer Duster and clean them off in case the plastic looses its shine due to settling dust particles.

    I am just going to hope that this is just a chapter in CK's Behind the Music story that we can look back on and laugh at when she is finally famous. She is a talented woman with a lot of tenacity and spirit, and that has to pay off at some point in her career. Hopefully, she can find some love in a hopeless place too if things don't work out for her. If her peep's aren't treating her right, she at least needs a man that will.

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  7. Shinoske you are my hero :) I would also like to state for the record that I have purchased almost every cd in Crystal's catalog plus the Vivid dvd. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, even in Japan. With a little luck I think her hard work will pay off. I'm focusing on the positive why bask in all this negativity.

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  8. Blame Americans not giving a shit about Asian artists, despite Asian's being the best entertainers in the world. The future of music can be found in South Korea and Japan, and the U.S. knows this, that is why they keep Asian artists out of the limelight. But groups like EXO and Perfume show the world that;

    a. Asian's are the best singers/dancers/performers in the world,

    b. Everyone else is just playing catch up.

    The fact that CK has to resort to this speaks more of the public in general, who would rather see some half-hearted group of crappy British twinks see stardom than a girl that can sing in multiple languages, dance, write her own songs, and often work in conjunction with her producers. I have hated the American music industry for years, and this just puts the final nail in the coffin. I no longer feel bad torrenting shit, since the real talent isn't getting my money anymore, anyway. CK, forget about the U.S. That music industry is lost to shit-hop and Taylor Swift. Stay in Japan where at least people respect your craft.

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