Automatic/Time Will Tell

  • I. Introduction

    "Time Will Tell" (stylized as "Time will tell") is a song recorded by Japanese–American singer Utada Hikaru, taken as the lead single from her debut album First Love (1999). It was released on December 9, 1998 through Toshiba-EMI in three physical formats: mini CD single, standard CD single and 12" vinyl. Additionally, the single was originally served as a B-side to "Automatic", but was changed into an A-side. The song was written and co-produced by Utada herself, while Akira Miyake and the singer's father Teruzane Utada served as producers. Despite working recording in English under the name Cubic U, "Time Will Tell" is Utada's first Japanese recording, and was released after she enrolled into high school in Japan. Musically, "Time Will Tell" is a dance tune that incorporates elements of pop, jazz and funk music. Lyrically, it delves into themes of love, and focuses on moving on from a relationship. Although an English version was recorded, it was placed as a B-side recording on the re-released CD single. Upon its release, "Time Will Tell" received positive reviews from music critics, who commended Utada's vocal abilities and production style. It was nominated for numerous accolades in Japan, and has subsequently been listed as one of her best releases. Commercially, the 8cm CD single edition of "Automatic" and "Time Will Tell" experienced success in Japan, reaching number four on the Oricon Singles Chart and selling over 772,000 units there. Meanwhile, the 12cm CD single edition peaked at number two and sold 1.291 million units, tallying over two million copies in Japan; it was certified million by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for physical shipments. Since its release, Oricon has ranked it amongst many best-selling singles in the country, and has earned other distinctions for its commercial success. In order to promote the single, Utada had included it on all her concert tours, such as her Bohemian Summer 2000, Budokan 2004 concert shows, Utada United, In the Flesh and her most recent Wild Life tour. Additionally, the recording appeared on compilation albums conducted by the artist, and has made appearances on various commercials in Japan.

    II. Background and Composition

    Born and raised in New York City, Utada had her first solo experience in professional recording with Cubic U, a pseudonym used for her earlier English language work. After completing her first record Precious (1998), with the help and guidance of her parents, musicians Teruzane Utada and Keiko Fuji, it failed to generate interest in both the United States and Japan, with the record only appearing at number 38 on the Oricon Albums Chart in the latter country. At the time however, Utada had moved to Tokyo and attended Seisen International School, and later the American School in Japan, subsequently scoring a record contract with label Toshiba-EMI. Executives at the company worked with her to become classified as a singer-songwriter instead of an idol singer, but prompted her to write and record songs in Japanese language rather than English. From the bunch, Utada solely wrote "Time Will Tell" in Tokyo, and recorded a demo tape in mid-1998—which then appeared on the special 15th Anniversary edition of her album First Love (1999). An English language version was recorded, but it appeared as an additional recording on the physical release, titled the "Dub mix". She received help from her father, his friend Akira Miyake, and they both served as producers on the track. Additionally, the singer acts as a co-producer and co-composer on the recording, two roles which she felt were necessary in becoming a singer-songwriter.The trio began working on her debut single, and recorded it in June 1998 at Quad Recording Studios in New York City and Studio Terra in Tokyo. Musically, "Time Will Tell" is a dance tune that incorporates elements of pop, jazz and funk. According to a contributor of Japanese magazine CD Journal, he/she noticed that the sound was "very mid-tempo" and believed it to be inspired by contemporary American culture. Kano, writing for Rockin'On Japan, felt the song infused contemporary R&B and hip hop elements. The writer commented that her experimentation with R&B music was signfiying to Japanese culture, as he felt the country did not emphasize the genre. Additionally, he noticed her "positive" songwriting. In a similar review, Mori Tomoyuki from believed that the singers use of R&B "influence the country" and other growing musicians. "Time Will Tell" was released as a double A-side with "Automatic", which premiered on December 9, 1998 through Toshiba-EMI in three physical formats: mini CD single, standard CD single and 12" vinyl. All three packages feature the two song, but included a different third track; the mini CD featured an original karaoke of "Automatic", while the vinyl and standard CD single included an English-dub mix of "Time Will Tell". The cover art for the mini CD was a shot from the accompanying music video, which has the singer sitting on the yellow sofa. In the United States, "Automatic" and "Time Will Tell" were added onto a special 12" vinyl that was published for promotional usage, namely through underground clubs. Furthermore, the artwork for the standard CD single was yet another shot from the clip, this time with Utada standing in the blue room wearing white clothes.

    III. Tracklisting

    IIII. Mini CD Single

    Number Name Length
    1 Automatic 5:14
    2 Time Will Tell 5:30
    3 Automatic (Original karaoke) 5:14

    IIIII. CD Single, Digital EP and 12" Vinyl

    Number Name Length
    1 Automatic 5:14
    2 Time Will Tell 5:30
    3 Time Will Tell (Dub mix) 5:36

    IIIIII. Radio Promo 12" Vinyl

    Number Name Length
    1 Movin' on Without You 4:40
    2 Movin' on Without You (Tribal mix) 4:40
    3 Automatic 5:14
    4 Time Will Tell 5:30
    5 Time Will Tell (Dub mix) 5:36

    IV. Packaging