Release Date: February 12, 2014
- White Anniversary
- Crush On You!
- Kimi wa Clione
- All For U!
- My Sunshine
- Waitin For Your Love
- New Year Song
There was a time when C-ute had a roster of seven members. Well eight if you count before their major label debut.
The majority of fans probably remember the seven-member group more fondly. The girl who was supposed to be the leader of that group was Umeda Erika as she was the oldest. But feeling she could not handle the responsibility of being leader, that title was instead handed to the second oldest member, Yajima Maimi.
During her time in C-ute Umeda was not a featured member. Those who follow C-ute closely know who the front women are. For casual Hello! Project fans she’s probably most notable for being the tall girl in the back of C-ute ‘s older PV’s and live performances.
In 2009 she announced her graduation from C-ute and Hello! Project to pursue a career as a fashion model. In 2010 she signed to the ILLUME agency and a year later moved to modeling agency Peach.
She is also signed to the Our Songs Creative agency as an actress and talent. On the four year anniversary of her departure from C-ute (October 25, 2013) Umeda announced her return to the world of J-Pop with a solo debut.
And that debut comes in the form of this mini-album. Released in February of 2014 it contains seven songs of mostly dance pop and it’s not too far of a departure from her roots in C-ute.
The material is just a lot less idol-like and much more mainstream. In a way she gets similar pop tracks that Ono Erena dishes out every once in a while. Or possibly more relevant, E-girls kind of songs.
So here’s the thing for those who never paid attention to C-ute outside Yajima and Suzuki. Umeda actually has a pleasant voice. She’s no vocal powerhouse diva by any stretch of the imagination but she’s nice to listen to.
That’s a good thing, and it is great that she is getting a chance to show off some vocal chops. Even if a few of her vocals are auto-tuned a little in some songs.
There isn’t exactly anything mind blowing on this album that would make one go, “Yo, she was under rated in C-ute.” The tracks on Erika are pretty inoffensive and nothing stands out. Not even the lead single Crush On You.
The fact that this did not chart on Oricon probably is fairly telling of what to expect. Then again, if you don’t believe in the charts then that doesn’t exactly factor into giving this a shot.
In the end I do recommend you give this a listen if you were a fan of C-ute when she was still part of the group and/or are interested in Umeda’s return to pop music.