Exodus is the second English-language studio album by Utada Hikaru, released on September 8, 2004 under the mononym Utada. Though this is her second album in English, it is typically seen as her Western debut, as her previous album, Precious (released under the Stage Name Cubic U) was not released in English-language markets due to Capitol Records restructuring at the time.
Following the release of three massively successful and acclaimed Japanese albums, First Love, Distance and Deep River, Utada felt she had exhausted her creative energy and was unsure of what to do next in her career when she was approached by Island Records to debut with an English-language album in the US. She agreed, feeling that a recording in a different language could provide her with new inspiration for music.
Utada produced almost all of the album by herself, in what she described as a "very intense, introverted process", resulting in a dramatically different sound from her previous work. Though she had already begun to branch away from R&B music and experiment with different genres with Deep River, Exodus sees a major Genre Shift to experimental electronica music, with hip-hop, R&B, rock and world music influences. Lyrically, the album deals with relationships, communication and self-reflection, and is notable for having much more sexual content than her previous work. Utada also addresses her Japanese heritage on certain tracks, with lyrics that raised eyebrows among some listeners.
Though Exodus was intended to make Utada a crossover star, the album was commercially unsuccessful in Western markets. Despite positive reviews, the album peaked at #160 on the Billboard 200 and sold about 55,000 copies. Unlike previous crossover attempts by Japanese artists, Utada's English ability was not an issue; however, its left-of-centre style, lack of promotion by Island, and Western prejudice against East Asian artists are all cited as possible reasons for its failure. In Japan, the album was much more successful, debuting at #1 and selling over 1 million copies, though this was also an underperformance compared to the monumental success of her first three albums.
Four singles were released from the album: "Easy Breezy ", "Devil Inside", "Exodus '04", and "You Make Me Want to Be a Man". None of them received significant attention in the West, though "Easy Breezy" was a hit in Japan and "Devil Inside" became a #1 hit on the US dance charts.
- "Opening" (1:50)
- "Devil Inside" (3:58)
- "Exodus '04" (4:32)
- "The Workout" (4:01)
- "Easy Breezy" (4:03)
- "Tippy Toe" (4:15)
- "Hotel Lobby" (4:30)
- "Animato" (4:31)
- "Crossover Interlude" (1:18)
- "Kremlin Dusk" (5:14)
- "You Make Me Want to Be a Man" (4:37)
- "Wonder 'Bout" (3:48)
- "Let Me Give You My Love" (3:38)
- "About Me" (4:00)
I still remember the ways that you troped me...
- AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: In "About Me":Although we have known eachother for quite a while...[...]Who knows it if could be good for you after all
- Adam and Eve Plot: In the video for You Make Me Want to be a Man has a modern, robotic twist, where Utada plays a feminine robot constructed around a masculine robot's rib. Also, there is a reference to the snake.
- Album Title Drop:
- "Exodus '04":Through mountains high and valleys lowThe ocean, through the desert, snowWe'll say goodbye to the friends we knowThis is our Exodus '04...
- "Exodus '04":
- Boastful Rap: Somehow manages a rare sung variant in "Animato".Somebody out there better get thisNot many people can do it like thisHow about some speakers to amplify me?How about a rhyme to fortify me?Life's messy so I clarify itSimplifying things for everybody
- Broken Bird: The character described in "Hotel Lobby" seems to be one:She doesn't want to be respectedReality's her best friendShe needs the extra moneyIn the city, the town, and the householdSo many things go unreported
- Double Entendre: From "Easy Breezy":I should have never ever let you inside
- Face on the Cover: As with all her albums.
- Genre Shift: This album can be considered the completion of her transition to electronic music that began with Deep River. Almost all the tracks are electronica, with a handful of electronically-infused R&B / hip-hop songs.
- Hotter and Sexier: Oh, boy. Where her Japanese albums were fairly chaste (the most sexual it got was "Travelling", which was an extended but fairly subtle Does This Remind You of Anything? innuendo), here she grinds on strangers at nightclubs, has a one-night stand and regrets it, is The Mistress to a married man, and sings from the perspective of a Broken Bird escort. This understandably attracted a lot of attention from her Japanese fanbase.
- Intercourse with You: "The Workout", "Tippy Toe", and "Let Me Give You My Love" are all quite overt examples.
- Mood Whiplash:
What a day, young boy next door passed awayOh, it makes me wanna say, I don't wanna waste another dayCan you and I start mixing gene poolsEastern and Western people, getting naughty, multilingual...
- "Let Me Give You My Love" takes us from the death of a child to Intercourse with You in about 10 seconds:
- Not Staying for Breakfast: "Easy Breezy" is about Utada's lover doing this to her.You came and went and left my house like a breeze just passing byHello, goodbye, you left a note saying "It was nice stopping by"
- The Oldest Profession: "Hotel Lobby" is a fairly dark portrayal of this:She rises with the sunsetShe wonders "when will this end?"The world is full of moneyShe goes out unprotectedShe doesn't listen to her best friendIt's only for the money
- Out-of-Genre Experience: The rock song "Kremlin Dusk" is one compared to the rest of the album which is all electropop.
- Sampling: The violin-sounding instrument from "Exodus '04" is lifted from the song "Meshkeltek" by an Arabian artist named Aitha al-Menhali.
- Scenery Porn: The video for "You Make Me Want to Be a Man" has some very elaborate scenery to go with its Adam and Eve Plot.
- Slut-Shaming: The first verse of "Easy Breezy" deals with being on the receiving end of this:You look stupid, telling all your friends that you got the best of meI intended to share the pleasure onlyNow I look stupid, we're living in a world with a lot of pressureIt's quite unneeded to put more pressure on me
- Title Track: "Exodus '04" is a partial example.