Album review: Mademoiselle Yulia - Whatever Harajuku

Album review: Mademoiselle Yulia - Whatever Harajuku | Random J Pop

Mademoworld was one of 2011's surprise releases and one of the year's best albums. Gravely underrated and a complete shocker as there was never any inkling Mademoiselle Yulia wanted to become an artist in her own right. The chart performance of the album dashed all hopes of a follow up, but still, one came. But given how this album sounds, I wish Yulia hadn't bothered. Whatever Harajuku is such a mess of an album that I do not know where to begin.

Where Mademoworld felt like a credible album with the purpose of delivering good songs (as any good album should), Whatever Harajuku sounds like it was created with the purpose of becoming a soundtrack to a Mademoiselle Yulia fashion show. There is nothing palatable about the songs on this album. They are completely throw away. Unless you're a fan of badly produced club records, or 2NE1, you would never voluntarily listen to 80% of the music on this album. I can deal with a song being vacuous, but at least produce the damn thing properly.

Yulia's amazing debut was a nice ode to chart pop music of the 80s and 90s. Comparable to Gwen Stefani's Love. Angel. Music. Baby, only a little less contrived and much more consistent. The songs all held together nicely and had a clear over-arcing theme. Whatever Harajuku however is a messy tug-o-war which pulls between the foundations built by Mademoworld and Yulia's current fixation on EDM and trance. The division is far too stark. On one song Yulia will be rapping over a Cybertron inspired production about big girls needing love and then two songs later she's singing over an easy breezy Beach boys guitar jam lamenting to some white dude in chino shorts to not tell her goodbye. The collection of songs short listed for this album make for such an non-cohesive set of songs that the album runs through like a shoddy mixtape. In a year where so many consistent and conceptually sound albums have been released in both Western and Japanese Pop, Whatever Harajuku sticks out like a sore thumb from a collective of talent who seem utterly oblivious to what makes a good album. Entirely baffling given they had gotten it near perfect the first time around.

The production is what carried Mademoworld and the same is said for Whatever Harajuku. Yulia sings a lot less on this album, and raps for almost half of it. But her singing has improved. Mademoworld featured one ballad which was God awful because it placed all emphasis on Yulia's lack of vocal talent. It marked the lowest point of the album; unanimously panned and deservedly so. But despite this we get two ballads on the follow up album; "Bad vibrations" and "Runner". Yulia manages to hold them together nicely, much in part to there being a lot more in the song to support her. "Chronic" was completely stripped down and highlighted Yulia's vocal shortcomings, where-as "Bad vibrations" and "Runner" are lavishly produced around her. They are unlikely stand out songs on the album, but I found myself liking them. "Runner" is a winner, which feels instantly familiar due to it's 80s sound-scape.

Yulia is no Miho Fukuhara, but she can hold a tune and sounds much more vocally confident here than she did before. This is what makes it even more of a shame that the majority of the material on this album is so bad. Because even though Yulia's not had a chance to really train her vocals on tours and such, she does sound better. But this isn't exercised through the material, with Yulia's vocals being affected or decisions being made for her to not sing at all.

Whatever Harajuku has moments when it does deliver solid songs, but these moments are too few, and as a result feel fleeting. Album opener "Boom boom boom" is utterly ratchet and awash with auto tune (East Asia ain't done with that shit yet. We can continually blame T-Pain) but it's funky, bouncy and swagged out. It doesn't set the tone of the album at all, but it at least ties in with the album concept and artwork. At least I think it does. Bitch mentions a bike and some keys. "BGNLT" is 90's techno fused with a bit of hip-hop and has Yulia in her element. This would have made a much better promo single choice than "Harajuku wander". "Don't tell me goodbye" feels completely out of place. Yulia sings the entire song in English and the 60's doo-wop, Grease vibe flies in the face of every other song on the album, but it is stellar song. It's also a nice insight into Yulia away from what we see perpetuated online and by other songs she's done, as you would never expect her to ride with a song like this, let alone record one herself.

Whatever Harajuku doesn't feel like an album from somebody who wanted to record an album to be taken seriously as an artist. But rather an album which was released for the sole purpose of it being something to reel off to socialite friends in fashion who are desperately aspiring to release music. And also to make her appear credible to fashion friends because she's directly highlighting fashion boutiques in her music video, has 'Harajuku' in her album title and mentions a high heel in one of the songs. Not a great deal concerning this album really goes beyond that from what I can see and hear. No care was taken to at least present a solid body of work which could be appreciated outside of the Yulia circle who love everything she does by default. Mademoworld could be appreciated regardless of whether you had heard of Yulia, or were a fan or not. The same can't be said for Whatever Harajuku.

RATING: 2 / 10

Album highlights:
■ Boom boom boom ★ J's fave
■ Don't tell me goodbye
■ Runner

Album review: Mademoiselle Yulia's debut Mademoworld


  1. So, I should save myself the trouble and delete the thing from my iTunes now...?

  2. I wasn't expecting you to review this because it was rubbish. I thought Boom Boom Boom could have been good, but all of the autotune ruins it for me. I don't really have a favorite song on the album, all of the songs I like are just okay to me. I guess If I had to pick one it would be Runner because I really like the chorus. Overall, I'm extremely disappointed in Mademoiselle Yulia. It seems as though getting involved with the fashion world, however good it may be for her career, has had a negative impact on her music. Anyway, I'm waiting for that Electric Lady review! Possibly a Kavkanize review as well and maybe one for Ariana Grande's album? LOL

  3. Pretty much :3

  4. Yeah... I was kind of hoping that the album preview that was released last month was just shoddily mixed (which it was), but it totally did it's job; warned us about how bad this album would be. Yulia, WHA?!??! WRY U DO DIS TO US?!?!

  5. "I wasn't expecting you to review this because it was rubbish."

    I had to let my people know the REAL side of things *lol*. I was seeing too much banter online about how good this album was. I'm almost certain half of these people talking up this album have never heard 'Mademoworld', think that 'Whatever Harajuku' is Yulia's first album and are so in love with how ratchet and hood fly she looks that they're in-denial about the quality of the music.

  6. Yulia fell all the way off with this album. She straight up wasted EMI's money just to flog her jewellery line and shout out her hipster fashion homies.

  7. She actually wasted Universal's money, because EMI is no more; they were eaten (*ahem* "merged") with Universal Music (everywhere, it seems). The only thing that Yulia and her overlords did right with this album is that Youtube promo. Homegirl had Harajuku Wonder on her freshly created Youtube channel *and* had a preview up a few weeks later. It sucked ass, but it's the thought that counts. It's a shame it was wasted on this album and *not* Mademoworld, but meh... Better late than never?

  8. You can't deny the ratchet powers of Sunny, though. Dat bass would get *anyone* on the floor, acting a damn fool XD

  9. I guess Mademoiselle Yulia has been hanging around her gal-pal CL from 2NE1 too damn much. :P

    In all honesty I didn't even listen to the album yet. Is it really that bad?

  10. "Unless you're a fan of badly produced club records, or 2NE1,
    you would never voluntarily listen to 80% of the music on this album." hmm I personally hate 2NE1, will.i.not and those flops, but I love this album. IMO Boom boom boom, Sunny, Harajuku Wander, I'ma Mademoiselle and The Void are awesome songs.

  11. Pros: there's nothing as bad as Chronic.
    Cons: the overall production sounds muffled; there's nothing not nearly as good as Gimme Gimme, Replay, Don't stop the music, WAO, etc...

    RUNNER is by far the best track (well, actually it's the only very good one). It could have been even better with a crispier production.

    Nonetheless, I bought it anyway (for less than 2000 yen, shocking!) because I'm such a sucker for these Japanese flops.

  12. It sounds muffled because a nigga either didn't care to have this mess of an album mastered or the mixers were all drunk when they were working on it >_<

  13. WAY too much.

    'Mademeworld' was a flop, but by golly did that album teach bitches in pop a thing or two regardless. For her to resort to this mess just to seem hip and flog some of her crusty ass rings is a tragedy.

  14. The mixing on "Runner" is a complete mess. The chorus is just one giant ball of noise. You can't hear vocals, you can't hear the chord changes, you can't hear the drums. It's just a piece of noise. Had the mixing on this song had been helmed by somebody who isn't deaf, "Runner" would have been my album fave outright.

  15. I wrote a whole response to this, but put it on hold because I was looking for the perfect gif to summarize how I felt, and then I accidentally refreshed the page -___-. Anyway, I tend to disagree with the majority of people in the small online community that follows J music. I saw so many people talking about this album being more cohesive than Mademoworld and I was rolling my eyes so hard, you woulda thought I was epileptic. I was sitting there wishing I wasn't banned on forums so I could let bitches know what it is.

  16. From the previews I thought runner was going to be the one, but after listening to the album in full, Don't Tell Me Goodbye became my favorite song. I thought Bad Vibrations was going to be on that Chronic shit initially, but her wailing vocals are endearing in a weird way and oddly fit the song. Overall this album was trash, but I have to thank Yulia for one thing: she got me listening to Mademoworld again; Touch Me and Luxury of You are getting played to DEATH at the moment.

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