U – U (Retro Review)

J-Pop Reviews


Retro Review by Jen Wang


Fans of the early Sailor Moon and Prince of Tennis musicals know Yu Shirota as a triple threat: actor, dancer, and singer. He’s gained mainstream success in films and dramas, but how about in the J-pop world? Going by simply “U”, he makes a valiant attempt to break into the scene with his 2011 self-titled debut.

The EP starts off strong with “Sisyphus”. U’s powerful voice rises above the prominent rhythm. He draws out notes in anguish while the guitar adds a Latin flavor, heightening the drama. Next is “U”, which shows off his vocal range. Although his falsetto is impressive, its overuse becomes distracting, making some of the lyrics incomprehensible.

“Heart of Glass” is another sweet song, this time with a disco beat. U’s English studies have paid off here with his near-flawless pronunciation. This song has a lot of crossover potential.

Those who bought the “C” version of the CD (the one without a DVD) treated to a bonus track, “Cuando Se Ama”. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, the bilingual U sings entirely in Spanish. The sibilant words soften his voice, and the piece’s simplicity creates a sense of intimacy. Spanish may be stereotyped as the language of love, but U makes a case for it.

Given U’s background in musical theatre, his debut is a little underwhelming. It seemed unnecessary for all three main songs to have a dance beat, and the only things that truly stands out in them are the dark tone of “Sisyphus” and U’s rich voice. This is a good start, but U is capable of so much more.