Heart Station - Album Promotions

Album Promotions

E-hon.com was the first website to post details on promotion of Utada's fifth Japanese album January 21, 2008, stating in its item summary that the "Boku Wa Kuma" track would be included in the tracklist, another (album) tie-up was in the works, and there would be a Media Blitz of TV commercials nationwide in Japan and Billboard Wraps in major cities. There were also some hyperbolic statements along the lines of "even as the music industry changes into a digital world, an enormous amount of care went into the creation of each and every track, making us realize that the album format will continue to live on strongly in the future. " On January 24, 2008, e-hon.com revealed further specifities when they listed the album as "Heart Station," changed from "Undecided. " EMI confirmed conflicting speculation on January 26, 2008, by revealing the album's title as indefinitely being "Heart Station," making this her first album titled after a track single released prior to the album's own.

Just over two weeks later, on February 7, 2008, Utada revealed in her blog that she had done one of the album's first direct promotional efforts by having done an interview and photoshoot with Rockin' on Japan, one of the nation's foremost music magazines. It had been six years since her last appearance in the publication, and according to the magazine's official blog, this issue will in fact hit newsstands on April 20, 2008 (the May issue). On February 19, 2008, it was revealed that Space Shower TV would be airing a special, 60-minute program entitled "V.I.P Utada," on March 8, 2008, featuring new interview clips of her talking about the album in anticipation of its close release. On the same day, it was confirmed another TV program, this time Fuji T.V.'s Domoto Kyoudai hosted by the popular J-pop KinKi Kids duo, would also be doing prelusive promotion for the album on March 16, 2008. This will also be Utada's first appearance and interview at the latter. Utada's Japanese site was updated February 21, 2008, with a list of television appearances she would make in the coming weeks for the upcoming release's promotion. The albums's opening track,"Fight the Blues" will be its pre-release promotional single, and will air on Japanese radio and be available for download via USEN on March 3, 2008. On March 1, 2008, her official Japanese site disclosed an official magazine promotional list for Heart Station, with a large amount of 30 magazines hosting a standard short Q&A with artist's picture while four will have exclusive interviews and longer photoshoots (including the aforementioned "Rockin' on Japan" and a cover + 20 page exclusive for CD Data). EMI Japan made available all blog parts for all the "Heart Station" singles on March 2, 2008, between "Flavor of Life: Ballad Version" and the newer "Fight the Blues." The clips vary from a small bit to full-length. The same day a 45-second preview clip of "Fight the Blues" would be available for listening at her official website and, in addition to a 45-second promo clip of the same song featuring Utada lip-syncing along.

According to a new Livedoor article, also publicized March 2, 2008, it was announced EMI took the unusual measure of having the album mastered twice, once for the physical CD and separately for the digital release of the album. This process, a first for any Utada release, was taken to ensure the quality of the audio for both formats given their individual media differences. Both were mastered at New York’s Sterling Sound, with Ted Jensen and Tom Coyne handling the mastering for each version, respectively. Additionally, the article mentions that Chaku-Uta clips for all album tracks will be available on the album's release date, while Chaku-Uta Full and PC digital downloads (iTunes, etc.) will commence on March 26, 2008. The next day her official Japanese site was updated with 2 additional TV appearances in promotional support of the album. On March 31, 2008, Utada will be appearing on Hey!Hey!Hey! Music Champ’s Spring Live Special, and on April 4, 2008, TV Asahi’s Music Station Special. Both programs are live broadcasts, and both will mark Utada’s first appearance on any live special program in her career. Given these two special live performances, another eight TV appearances, a 34 magazine promotion, an eponymously named site of blog parts and updates, and a special double-mastering of the physical and digital formats, "Heart Station" is easily Utada's most aggressively promoted musical release yet. The CX Domoto Kyoudai special featuring Utada was filmed the day of March 4, 2008, where she sang Flavor of Life. The March 4, 2008, issue of Gyao Magazine that featured advertisements for the album also dispersed details on two album tracks, "Celebrate" and "Prisoner of Love," as "a hot dance tune" and "a ballad with a sad chord" respectively, and that this project as a whole was Utada's most "heartwarming" album to date. According to many Japanese sources, her appearance in NTV Music Lovers will be shot and recorded on March 16, 2008, and Japanese music fans are currently being contacted for the event, with no news yet on which song(s) she'd perform. March 18, 2008, it was revealed that "Prisoner of Love," an album track, would be her performance song at TV Asahi's Music Station Special, the official first performance of the song. Utada made her first appearance on Japanese music program "Music Lovers" on March 22, where she performed four songs, including “Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version-.” The session was filmed the week before in Utada’s recording studio in Shibuya. The full setlist was than still unknown. The next day after the episode aired in Japan, it was reported Utada sang 3 tracks off of her "Heart Station" album. First up was the opening track, “Fight The Blues,” followed by “Flavor Of Life: Ballad Version” and “Celebrate” (featuring a maracas shaking Utada). As mentioned in one of her recent blog updates, Utada was sick during the performance, and was noticeably (albeit not horribly) nasally for both her talk and performance. Her encore performance of “Boku wa Kuma” would be aired next week, as this week’s episode had to be cut down due to scheduling. Later, Music Lovers aired the encore of last week’s Utada performance March 30, featuring “Boku wa Kuma.” Utada performed the 3-minute song, playing the keyboard for the interlude portion. After being called back to the stage by the clapping of the audience, Utada explained that she wanted to perform one more song, “Boku wa Kuma,” a song which would keep her up at night were she not able to perform it that night.

Utada appeared March 8, 2008, on SSTV’s Chart Cobain program, talking more in depth about her upcoming album “Heart Station.” She mentioned the importance of softness for this album, and how it feels like her identity as a woman played an important role in the creation of the album. She also explained that it was important for her to be more accepting of what her role is as an artist. She specifically mentions “Flavor of Life -Ballad Version-,” which had a huge tie-in to a teen oriented drama, and that she views the simplicity of the song as less of lowering her level as an artist, but rather just broadening her reach as a musician. Some more information regarding tracks from Utada’s upcoming album, “Heart Station,” had been revealed on March 9, 2008, according to the latest issue of Gyao Magazine, “Take 5″ is the most unique sounding track off the album, while “Niji-iro Bus,” the last song on the record, is said to be a cute and bright tune. On March 10, 2008, two more lists of promotional activities, including online websites featuring album-related articles and radio interviews respectively, appeared at her official Japanese site.

According to a Yahoo! JP article, Japanese social networking service Mixi, would collaborate with Utada and EMI Music Japan to celebrate her 10th anniversary as an artist as well as to promote her Heart Station. The campaign that was created between them commenced March 10, 2008 (the day of the article's posting) and ended on March 17, 2008, presented a special collaboration logo that replaced the normal Mixi logo on Mixi Mobile phones, prominently displaying “Utada Hikaru 10th Anniversary.” Links to the free “First Love” Chaku-Uta downloads are also present (which sold 700,000+ downloads within four days according to a Tokyograph article), helping to promote that campaign where the ringtones may be gifted to others, in time for Japan’s White Day. In addition, members who write journal entries recalling their memories of their own “first love" are automatically entered to win special Utada and Mixi prizes.

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