Yui: I Loved Yesterday
by Rachael Carothers,
Click below for a clip of the song "Daydreamer"
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If you are a fan of Bleach, you might remember Yui from the fifth opening and ending theme songs. Many of her other songs have been used for various commercials and dramas, including her first professional single, Feel My Soul, which reached number 8 on the Oricon charts. On April 9, 2008, she released her third studio album, I Loved Yesterday, which features four more theme songs.
First up is “Laugh Away,” the song for the Glico Watering KissMint gum commercial. A light pop tune with fast-yet-catchy lyrics that absolutely shine, it has a sort of folksy feel to it. None of the instrumentals are over-bearing, which compliments the love theme within the song. It seems a little weird to use as a gum commercial but it is still very pretty nonetheless.
The first drama theme song on this album is “My Generation.” Seito Shokun! is a school drama based on the Seito Shokun! Kyoshi Hen manga. “Generation” has a whimsical feel that perfectly fits the general ‘dreaming of the future’ theme that most school-based dramas have. The song starts out slowly but builds throughout the song until the chorus bounces in free-spiritedly. It definitely feels like something you should be listening to as you ride your bicycle through the countryside.
While “Find Me” isn't a dark sound, it has a bit more of a depressing song compared to the opening tunes. Yui starts off singing in a lower register but then her voice soars when it hits the chorus. Along with this deeper sound, the lyrics tell the story of a woman desperately searching through the harsh realities of life in order to find love. Even though the first two tracks on this album aren't bad by any means, this song really shows off Yui's talent.
“No Way” is a short song, clocking in at a mere one minute, sixteen seconds. However, it feels like it should be much longer. Despite the vocals having a slightly faster pace than the previous songs, it's still not a particularly fast song. The backing instruments keep repeating the same pattern over and over again. Combining these pieces gives the song a bit of a rolling feel to it but it feels like there should be more. The song ends very abruptly, leaving us wondering where the rest of it is.
4 Shimai Tantei Dan, a drama about four detective sisters, also has a theme song on this album. “Namidairo” is actually a rather melancholy song about someone feeling emotionally weak even though they want to be strong, which makes it seem like an odd choice for the theme song of a detective series. It is a rather pretty song though. The verses have simple instrumentals behind Yui's sad voice. However, string instruments join these for the choruses which give the song an interesting depth beyond just being depressing.
Heading back into happier territory, “Daydreamer” comes rolling in. This song pairs quite well with “Namidairo.” Where the slower song talked about wanting to be strong, this faster one is an upbeat tune about using your strong daydreams to help change yourself. It's a fun song with music that lifts your spirits as it rushes past your ears.
Two love songs, “Love Is All” and “I Will Love You,” start off the second half of the album. “Love Is All” is a forceful song about generally loving everything that starts slow but progressively builds up to the chorus. On the flip side, “I Will Love You” shows the joy in the beginning stages of a relationship. Together, the two songs come together beautifully to tell us to look for the brighter things in life.
“We Will Go” lets the drums take the lead here, instead of giving the vocals the spotlight. This makes it completely different from every other song we've heard so far. It's a little funkier, which is a nice change from all of the pop songs. Don't think that Yui's voice is completely obscured though. She simply proves that she is more than just a one-trick pony.
Mezamashi TV is a Japanese morning news program. The cute song “Oh Yeah” has recently been used as the show's theme song. With lyrics talking about new mornings and running to catch the train, it's no surprise. It's a cheerful upbeat tune that would be sure to put anyone in a good mood first thing in the morning!
The nostalgic “My Friend” is up next. Memories of an old friend, who may have been more than just a friend, come to life with soft vocals and instrumentals. Everything about this song makes adults think back to a ‘better’ time when they were in school and had nothing more to do than to hang out with their friends. Hopefully songs like this let the younger generations know to enjoy their school days before the responsibilities of adulthood creep up on them.
We finish off Yui's theme songs with “Love & Truth.” This agonizing love song was used as the theme for the Japanese movie Closed Note. Much like the lonely lyrics, the vocals sound desperate to reach the ears of the person she loves. Grand string instruments join with the guitar and drums to form a solidly emotional background, making us want her voice to reach her loved one as well. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like they will ever get together.
Thirteen songs later, we are given the final song on the album, “Am I Wrong?” Here we have a soft tune debating whether or not the decisions we make are right or wrong or if there even is a right or wrong. While that sounds like it might be depressing, the song is the exact opposite. It's a rather uplifting song that basically reminds us that we need to do what we must to make ourselves happy. Things may not always go our way but we do what we must to get through those times and move on.
Despite the fact that a lot of these songs sound similar, I found myself enjoying “I Loved Yesterday” for some reason. Maybe its Yui's youthful optimism mixed with the pain of lost loves that drags me in. All I know is that Yui has an amazingly lovely voice that I could listen to all day. She mixes it with simple instrumentals that remind me of Angela Aki's music. Considering how young Yui was when she began writing songs, I foresee nothing but good things for this talented singer.
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