Mai Fukui – Beautiful DaysJanuary 26, 2012 at 5:45 PM | Posted in Mai Fukui | 2 Comments
The cover of the CD only edition
Beautiful Days is Mai Fukui’s first mini-album and it was released on December 14, 2011. The mini-album reached #11 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 9,157 copies. It was preceded by 2 singles: Ikutabi no Sakura and Yakusoku no Basho / Tatta Hitori no Mikata.
♦ ♦ ♦
Another singer I have discovered through Final Fantasy! Mai Fukui entered my radar when it was announced that she would perform the theme song for Final Fantasy XIII-2 so I was intriguied.
Speaking of which, the mini-album actually begins with that song. Yakusoku no Basho is an enchanting ballad and the first thing that grabbed my attention was her voice. Fukui has a rich and deep tone to her voice, giving it a soothing quality but she can put some power behind it as well. The verses really showcase this with the chorus and bridge featuring stronger vocals. As a Final Fantasy theme song, I think it’s wonderful and actually better than the previous theme Kimi ga Iru Kara. On a side note, Filipino singer Charice sings the English version titled New World.
At the beginning of 2011, Fukui changed her stage name from “福井舞” to “ふくい舞” (basically her last name from kanji to hiragana) and released Ikutabi no Sakura as her first single of the year. Also a ballad, this song has a simpler arrangement but still features bright piano chords. The song starts off slow but becomes more interesting near the end when a choir joins her.
I have seen Fukui labeled as a “ballad singer” but this next track proves that she can execute a great upbeat song, too. Tatta Hitori no Mikata was the other A-side coupled with Yakusoku no Basho and it’s very nice. Right from the beginning, Fukui sings with enthusiasm followed by a cheerful mix of strings, brass, and percussion. The chorus is very catchy as well.
The mini-album only has two new songs and the first one is Believe. I thought the Spanish influenced acoustics were a great touch and gave the song some flavor. Being the only other upbeat song on here, it works as a bridge between Tatta Hitori no Mikata and the next track.
The next track is an acoustic version of Ai no Uta, her debut single from 2008. I actually haven’t heard the original yet but I did like this. The calm arrangement is pleasant and Fukui sounds great. The lone acoustic guitar that accompanies her has a cool solo during the bridge as well.
Ending the mini-album is the title track Beautiful Days, a flowing ballad with gorgeous strings. I thought this song was notable for Fukui’s elongated notes and English lines during the chorus: I don’t cry anymore but I don’t smile like I did before. I loved it when she hit the high notes, too.
With only a mini-album, Mai Fukui has already left a big impression on me. I am seriously in love with her voice. It has such a graceful quality to it that really enhances her songs. I think Beautiful Days is a good entry point for those that want to try her music out (especially you’re a Final Fantasy fan like me). Yakusoku no Basho is one of the better themes that the series has delivered in my opinion. Four of the six tracks are ballads but at least they have variety in their arrangements and the inclusion of upbeat songs like Tatta Hitori no Mikata and Believe are very welcome additions.
Pros: Her voice is heavenly. *sigh*
Cons: There’s only 2 new tracks and I felt like this was a rushed release.
1. Yakusoku no Basho (約束の場所)
2. Ikutabi no Sakura (いくたびの櫻)
3. Tatta Hitori no Mikata (たったひとりの味方)
5. Ai no Uta (Acoustic Ver.) (アイのうた)
6. Beautiful Days
Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!