2008 In Review ~Part 1: Best-of Albums~

December 30, 2008 at 8:51 AM | Posted in ~Features! | 5 Comments

It’s that time of year again and I want to look back highs and lows of 2008. Last year, I did this all in just one post, but now I decided to include even more stuff! Since the year isn’t exactly over yet, my list of the top singles/albums/etc. of 2008 will come later in the month. For now, let’s take a look at the releases that I DIDN’T review. This is Part 1 of a 4 part series and I will be examining the various best-of / single compilation albums that were released this year.

So I will be taking a look at 8 best-of albums and examine them in the order they were chronologically released. I will also be rating these albums so think of all of this as a bunch of “mini-reviews” or something.

 ♦ ♦ ♦

the brilliant green – the brilliant green complete single collection ’97-’08
To celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band, the brilliant green released this single collection that features a total of 17 tracks. Songs exclusive to this album are the band’s first two singles Bye Bye Mr. Mug and goodbye and good luck (which were in English) as well as their 3 “comeback singles” Stand by me, Enemy, and Ash Like Snow. This collection is perfect if you want to try out this band because many of their earlier songs like BYE! MY BOY!, CALL MY NAME (JAPANESE VERSION), and Sono Speed de showcase their unique Western alternative sound.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Beni Arashiro – Chapter One -complete collection-
Released in March, this compilation album marked the end of the first chapter of Beni Arashiro’s career. It was the last release under her former label avex trax but also as “Beni Arashiro”…literally. She officially changed her stage name to BENI shortly after and transferred to Universal Music. This was definitely for the better because I am honestly not a fan of most of her music when she was in avex. There were a few good singles here and there like Cherish, How Are U? (her best song under avex), and Luna though. Besides all of her singles, there were some B-sides included like THE POWER and her cover of CALL ME, BEEP ME! too. Furthermore, the album contains 3 new songs: Southern Star, Mellow Parade, and BIG BANG. While her songs may have been subpar, Arashiro continued to improve as a vocalist throughout the years and she sounds fantastic now compared to when she first debuted.

Overall Rating

3 stars

Younha – SONGS -teen’s collection-
Also in March, Younha released the most unnecessary album ever. She only released ONE studio album and a handful of singles prior to the release of this compilation album so I thought it was way too early. It was her only release in Japan this year too, but that’s okay because she’s been making awesome music in her native Korea instead. I’ve always enjoyed Younha’s style of piano rock and songs that I especially love in this album include Touch, Te wo Tsunaide, and Hakanaku Tsuyoku. What makes this album kind of worth it are the new tracks. They include the previously unreleased Scratch On The Heart, a Japanese version of her hit Korean song Password 486, and Kono Kokoro.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Ai Kawashima – Single Best
To celebrate her 5th anniversary as a solo artist, Ai Kawashima released this 2 disc compilation album. Single Best contains all of the A-sides from her debut up to her 13th single Kimi ni….. and a lot of new tracks as well. Also, some of the singles like Zetsubou to Kibou and Tenshitachi no Melody have been rearranged and re-sung for the album too. Kawashima has a very pure and soothing voice so I think she sings these mid-tempo pop ballads quite well but she also performs the occasional upbeat song.

 Overall Rating

4 stars

Namie Amuro – BEST FICTION
The mother of all compilation albums this year, Namie Amuro’s BEST FICTION was fucking huge. The album has sold over 1.4 million copies so far and Amuro is more popular than ever before. It contains all of the main A-sides from her last 3 album eras as well as all the songs from the 60s 70s 80s single. Also, 2 hot new tracks were included to promote the album: Do Me More and Sexy Girl. I think BEST FICTION is pretty much perfect in every way and a great introduction to Amuro’s brand of “hip-pop” (a fusion of R&B and mainstream pop elements).

Overall Rating

5 stars


This compilation album was a monster! To celebrate her 10th anniversary, this whopping 3 disc collection was released. It features every leading A-side from poker face up to Mirrorcle World so singles that had multiple A-sides like A, H, and all double A-side singles only included the first track. I listened to the whole thing all at once and it took a good 3 hours or so but it’s interesting to see how Hamasaki evolves as you progressed through each disc. I’m not a fan of her earlier songs, which means most of Disc 1, but she continues to improve as you move onto Discs 2 and 3. It’s no surprise that most of my favorite Hamasaki songs EVER are on Disc 3.

Overall Rating

5 stars


melody. – The Best of melody. ~Timeline~
I’m going to miss melody. sooooo much and all I can pretty much say about her retirement is “too soon”. I really thought she was making the best music of her career prior to the announcement so I was pretty sad. Anyway, this album covers all of her singles but also includes 2 B-sides (So into You and My Dear). I’m not that fond of her debut material but her singles really start getting good after Believe me and everything that follows is very high quality pop music. The album also includes miss you, her popular collaboration with m-flo and Ryohei, as a bonus track.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Salyu – Merkmal
 I thought this release was pretty random too. Merkmal is a German word and it means something like “trait” or “attribute” so I thought that was interesting. Salyu released 2 studio albums prior to Merkmal so it includes some extra tracks next to the singles like her solo version of to U and 2 Lily Chou-Chou songs. Depending on the edition you get, there is a 2nd disc that includes some collaborations. Salyu has a funky voice but it’s not ear grating like certain ~edgy~ singers so I recommend this album. Her music is also pretty experimental, mixing offbeat alternative rock with pop.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Get ready for Part 2 which will be coming tomorrow! Part 2 of this special will cover miscellaneous albums that I also didn’t review like cover albums, concept albums, etc., so stay tuned. Also, I’ve been preoccupied lately so I couldn’t review any new releases…and I’m sorry about that. Persona 4 is so addicting!



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  1. rad review!!! i am glad to see this up! i haven’t heard much of the brilliant green, but i think i will down load this best album. just to hear what they sound like ^_^ [and a english version isn’t bad too] lol.

    AND BEST FICTION WAS OFF THE HOOK! lol, i bought the album DVD & CD one. i loved it! like the most perfect collection and her news songs weren’t too bad, pretty rad!

    and ayu’s was pretty huge too… i didn’t buy this best album because i have most of her stuff. i really liked her earlier stuff, lol. ^^ but it’s so interesting to see and hear how much she has changed as an artist. ^^ i have her A CLIPS DVD box set i got for christmas. and it’s crazy and amazing to see all that change happen.

    and i have never listened to melody. but i think i should with her best album… just like brilliant green so i can hear the grandness.


    i love J-Pop.
    God Bless it.

    thank you lex ^_^V i always get excited to read your reviews.

  2. *cough* Tsukiko *coughx2*

  3. and YUI lol, but it’s alright! I LOVE these posts!

  4. OMG.
    I actually liked some of the songs on Beni’s album, but I just never really had the energy to write up about it.

    as for melody. since she’s leaving, I guess I’m gonna have to listen to her now.

  5. BEST FICTION was my dream this year. I love Namie so it made it all worthwhile.

    I will miss melody. She did say that she might come back to music, but I wish her the best as a fashion designer!

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