Misleading mix

Wikipedia gets it right and Sano(suke) elaborates: Eternally -Drama Mix- is more session/cut than mix. I concede that using “mix” or “remix” is tantamount to giving any track a new lease on life, but there’s got to be some room for creativity here. I mean, we got Final Distance out of Distance.

There’s some circumstantial evidence to support the claim that the vocals are from a different session, and not one taken recently. For one, her singing is not the same; the little quirks in her voice don’t line up between the two versions. On the other hand, it is close enough, i.e. the gap isn’t 7 years wide.

More circumstantially, I don’t think she’d want to step into the studio to record this again anyway. Final Distance, being the closest relative to Eternally, only ever got 2 live performances.

That’s too bad. I’ve always liked Eternally, being about as close to a high school dance ballad as you’re ever going to get out of Utada Hikaru. And just like Hero, I fell pretty hard for the sentimentality and faux-nostalgia (what could a 12 year old possibly be nostalgic for?). These days, the sentimentality’s still there, but not so much the nostalgia. Those memories are now subject to constant suppression.

Seems like reaction is generally favourable, on the strength of “better vocals.” There is a bit more in the way of embellishment, but better? Try louder. In this case, louder is kind of sort of better, if only because a boost at the mixer board beats me turning up the volume any day of the week.

But if this take was strictly better in terms of singing merit, you’d think that this would have been the one to make it into the gold master. Truth is, circa 2001, this alternate session was not better, although the differences are immaterial save for those additional decorative figures.

That’s the point, though. This slightly busier session fits well with the more prominent piano, guitar and string parts. It’s richer, yet at the same time it lacks the gravity of the original.

How could that be? Louder percussion, basically, because believe it or not, a strong backbeat generates more movement than a weak backbeat.

Vocals help, too. What one calls decoration — split voicing right in the first chorus, that ad-lib line in the first interlude — another perceives as distraction and excess. Are those things not there to fill space?

If nothing else, I wish that they kept the bass line strong. It feels as if the foundation has been knocked out of this re-cut.

So I get why they (whoever they are) did what they did. This re-cut is rosier and, lacking a solid tether, floats pretty well in air. Maybe that’s what innocent love is, after all.