Distance is the 2nd Japanese studio album by Utada Hikaru, released in 2001. Following her debut album, First Love, which became the best-selling album in Japanese history, Distance was a similarly massive success, becoming the 4th highest-selling Japanese album of all time and 2nd highest-selling original album, with over 4.5 million copies sold in Japan. This solidified her position as one of the most successful and influential artists in Japanese music history.
Like its predecessor, Distance is an R&B-pop album, influenced by American R&B, hip-hop and soul music. From a production standpoint, the American influence is arguably greater than on First Love, as Utada collaborated with US producers like Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins on some of the tracks. The album also shows more incorporation of rock influence on tracks like "Drama" and "Kettobase!". This was also the first album where Utada was involved in the arrangements for some of the tracks.
The album is also notable for selling a whopping 3 million copies in its first week, making it the fastest-selling album in Japanese music history. It also held the global record for fastest-selling album of all time for 14 years before being surpassed by Adele's 25 in 2015. This was in part due to its release date, which it shared with the fellow J-pop superstar Ayumi Hamasaki's first compilation album A BEST, attracting media attention and fuelling speculations of rivalry between the two singers, which they both denied. Regardless, there was a perceived "competition" to see which album would outsell the other, and Distance won, outselling A BEST in its first week and overall. note
Four singles were released from the album: "Addicted to You", "Wait & See (Risk)", "For You" / "Time Limit" and "Can You Keep a Secret?". All 4 reached #1 on the charts and were massive hits, with "Can You Keep a Secret?" becoming the #1 single of the year for 2001. The album track "Distance" was going to be released as a single following the album's release, but these plans were changed after the Osaka school massacre in June of that year. In commemoration of one of the victims - a fan of Utada who had written an essay about wanting to become like her - the song was re-recorded as a sombre ballad and released under the name "Final Distance". This new version later appeared on her following album, Deep River.
- "Wait & See (Risk)" (5:28)
- "Can You Keep A Secret?" (5:08)
- "DISTANCE" (5:30)
- "Sunglasses" (4:46)
- "Drama" (4:36)
- "Eternally" (4:45)
- "Addicted to You" (5:19)
- "For You" (5:22)
- "Kettobase!" (4:31)note
- "Parody" (5:25)
- "Time Limit" (4:55)
- "Kotoba ni Naranai Kimochi" (5:03)note
- "HAYATOCHI-REMIX" (4:10)note
You said my tropes don't mean a thing...
- Album Title Drop: In the Title Track:Itsu no hi ka distance mo dakishimerareru you ni nareru yonote
- Bare Your Midriff: Downplayed in the music videos for "Can You Keep a Secret?" and "Wait and See (Risk)"
- Face on the Cover: A close-up, as with most of her albums. Notably, this is her only album cover to show her not looking at the camera.
- Love Is a Drug: "Addicted to You", as the name suggests.
- Melismatic Vocals: As with First Love, Utada's vocals are a lot more showy here than on her later albums.
- Obsession Song: "Addicted to You". The chorus' lyrics are an example of the Passive type:Dakedo sore ja kurushikutenoteMainichi aitakutenoteKono kimochi dou sureba ii no?note[...]Aenai hi no koishisa mo soba ni iru itoshisa monoteOnaji kurai kuse ni narundanoteKisu yori dakishimete, ikinari yamenaidenote
- Poirot Speak: From "Can You Keep A Secret?"Can you keep a secret, or kono mama secret? note
- This is also possibly the only real example of Gratuitous English in her music, as the above line doesn't quite make grammatical sense.note
- Questioning Title?: "Can You Keep A Secret?"
- Rhyming with Itself: From "HAYATOCHI-REMIX":You said my love don't mean a thing, how much I love youThat's 'cause you don't know, how much I love you
- Robosexual: Subverted in the music video Can You Keep A Secret, where Utada is having a romantic relationship with a robot but by the last scene is revealed to be a Robot Girl herself.
- Spoken Word in Music: In "Can You Keep a Secret?":Hey, can I take a time out to... tell you something? And say, can you keep it a secret? 'Cause this guitar is... making me warm... come on
- Studio Chatter: Does this with Darkchild at the beginning of "Time Limit".
- Teen Pregnancy: "Kettobase!" has the repeated line "I want your baby". Utada was 18 when the album was released and would have been 16 or 17 when writing the song.