alan – Kaze ni Mukau Hana

July 20, 2010 at 8:31 PM | Posted in alan | 9 Comments


The cover of the regular CD only edition

Kaze ni Mukau Hana (風に向かう花) is alan’s 13th single and it was released on July 7, 2010. The single reached #17 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 7,223 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Hisshiken Torisashi.

I personally think all the covers are great so it was hard to decide which one to post on the blog. The backgrounds could be a little better though.

♦ ♦ ♦

I just wanna say this single has waaaaaay too many editions. On the plus side, each edition has a different tracklisting so I got a bunch of songs to cover.

Let’s start with the main track Kaze ni Mukau Hana which marks the so-called return of ~epic alan~. The song is indeed epic and features a big, sweeping arrangement. Even though I wasn’t getting Voice of EARTH vibes, this is still quite good. Honestly, it sounds most similar to BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ if anything. Opening with an awesome wailing and adlibbing sequence, the song proceeds to a slow buildup in the first verse that transitions into a powerful chorus.

Here’s where things get confusing. The B-side Koko ni Iru only appears on the CD+DVD type A and regular CD only editions. I thought I was going to despise this song because it’s kind of like Swear with its cute and bouncy pop arrangement but it’s actually pretty nice. This song stays interesting and doesn’t remain monotonous so I liked it.

The CD+DVD type B edition features live versions of Gunjou no Tani, Megumi no Ame, and Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ from her 1st concert voice of you. I was really impressed with her live singing and she sounds FLAWLESS. Hearing Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ live is bound to give you goosebumps.

Along with Koko ni Iru, the regular CD only edition includes a cover of the famous 1978 song Ii Hi Tabidachi by Momoe Yamaguchi. A dramatic ballad, the song has a omninous air about it thanks to unsettling piano chords and strings. Anyway, I thought alan’s version was good.

That’s not the end of it! There’s also 2 editions that are only available through the mu-mo online shop. The CD+DVD edition comes with Chinese versions of Nobody knows but me and my life that were originally on her Chinese mini-album Lan Se ~Love Moon Light~. More importantly, the CD only edition has two songs performed with an erhu! If you didn’t know, alan is an avid erhu player. Nada Sousou is a cover of a BEGIN song and it’s really pleasant. It’s mainly acoustic guitar but the erhu comes in during the bridge. After that is Kizuna, a gorgeous instrumental song where the erhu is the main focus.

Pros: I thought this was a solid single with a bunch of extra goodies.
Cons: All the editions make this release a total clusterfuck.

BASICALLY…I just reviewed an album. XD

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting (ALL editions! D:)

CD+DVD type A
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana (風に向かう花)
2. Koko ni Iru (ココニイル)
3. Kaze ni Mukau Hana (instrumental)
4. Koko ni Iru (instrumental)

CD+DVD type B
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
2. Gunjou no Tani (alan 1st concert -voice of you- version) (群青の谷)
3. Megumi no Ame (alan 1st concert -voice of you- version) (恵みの雨)
4. Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ (alan 1st concert -voice of you- version)
(懐かしい未来 ~longing future~)

Regular CD only
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
2. Koko ni Iru
3. Ii Hi Tabidachi (いい日旅立ち)

mu-mo CD+DVD
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
2. Nobody knows but me (Chinese Version)
3. my life (Chinese Version)

mu-mo CD only
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
2. Nada Sousou (Erhu version) (涙そうそう (二胡version))
3. Kizuna (Erhu version) (絆 (二胡version))

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alan – Diamond / Over the clouds

February 14, 2010 at 4:09 PM | Posted in alan | 15 Comments
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The cover of the regular CD only edition

Diamond / Over the clouds is alan’s 12th single and it was released on February 3, 2010. The single reached #20 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 5,096 copies. The first track was used as the 2nd ending theme song for the anime InuYasha: The Final Act while the 2nd track was the opening theme song for the video game GOD EATER.

THAT’S NOT ALAN!!111!! Whoever that is, she is hot! ♥

♦ ♦ ♦

The Ayufication of alan continues with part 3: Diamond. M anyone?
Seriously guys, I get HUGE Ayumi Hamasaki vibes from this “remake” of Essence of me. If you remember, it was that funky dance track from her my life album. I liked Essence of me for being different and now that it got the star treatment as a single, it became pretty generic. It makes her first Ayu clone song Kaze no Tegami sound unique. The song as a whole isn’t that great anyway and I’ll be sticking with Essence of me. Thanks but no thanks.

Now onto the 2nd A-side. This is what I was waiting for! Over the clouds is HOT and actually has a distinct sound to it. alan has been experimenting and I think she’s finally got something! The problem I had with most of the stuff on my life was that it was boring and lazy. With its heavy beats, synth, and stringwork, this song is the complete opposite. I wouldn’t mind hearing more of this stuff.

Pros: Over the clouds is awesome. I approve!
Cons: Get out of here, Diamond. What a waste of space.

BASICALLY…alan is trying to be a pop star? Oh my word!

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting (CD+DVD and regular CD only editions)

1. Diamond
2. Over the clouds
3. Diamond (Instrumental)
4. Over the clouds (Instrumental)

Note: The limited CD only edition’s tracklisting reverses the order of the 2 A-sides. Over the clouds becomes the 1st track and Diamond becomes the 2nd.

alan – my life

November 23, 2009 at 7:29 PM | Posted in alan | 18 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

my life is alan’s 2nd Japanese album and it was released on November 25, 2009. The album reached #16 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 17,489 copies.

I’m sure everyone knows this already but…what is a young AYUMI HAMASAKI doing on the cover? I see where avex is going with this.

♦ ♦ ♦

WOW. Talk about a sophomore slump! alan’s debut album Voice of EARTH was released earlier this year and I absolutely loved it. Seriously, it’s one of my favorite albums of 2009 because it was pretty phenomenal but most importantly, it showcased alan’s unique style and characteristics as an artist. Say what you want but that album has something that my life definitely lacks: an identity.

After her latest single Swear, I guess I was expecting the worst. It’s too bad that I let my suspicions get the best of me because in all honesty, most of my life is bland and lifeless (no pun intended). Like I said when I reviewed that single, I don’t have a problem with alan going out of her comfort zone. Actually, I’m all for it. The problem here is that a majority of the new tracks are just not interesting at all. That’s where I draw the line.

Songs like One, Butterflies, Shiroi Tsubasa and the new version of Namida (the B-side on the Megumi no Ame single) are so boring. At least she brings some emotion in Mitsumeteitai though. That song is actually pleasant despite being slower paced. Luckily, alan does bring some surprises with the album’s 2 “dance-like” tracks. They are SO out of place and have no business being on here but I liked them. XD Despite being a hot synthetic mess, Essence of me is endearing. The sound gets improved upon in Call my name too.

The best was certainly saved for last on this album. Even with all the bad stuff, the final 3 tracks are such a relief. That includes the singles BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ and Kuon no Kawa. Kuon no Kawa is easily my favorite song on the album even though it should have been on Voice of EARTH because of the epic factor. At least the title track my life ends the album on a good note. Not everything was disappointing. ;D

Well, my life isn’t terrible but damn, it’s such a let down. Considering that alan made such a staggering debut, this is a huge, colossal let down. When I said I was open for her branching out musically, this is not what I had in mind. Hmmm…the wonders 8 months can do. At this point, it seems like she’s stuck in a rut.

Pros: At least she’s trying new things??? The last 3 tracks too.
Cons: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz *snore*

BASICALLY…wail yourself up out of here, alan! We’re through for the time being!

Overall Rating

3 stars

Tracklisting

1. reflection ~overture~
2. Swear
3. One
4. Mitsumeteitai (見つめていたい)
5. Namida (Smooth Jam Mix) (涙)
6. Lost Child
7. Butterflies
8. Essence of me
9. Call my name
10. Shiroi Tsubasa (白い翼)
11. Nobody knows but me
12. BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ (BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~)
13. Kuon no Kawa (久遠の河)
14. my life

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

alan – Swear

November 13, 2009 at 6:28 PM | Posted in alan | 6 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Swear is alan’s 11th single and it was released on November 4, 2009. The single reached #35 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,910 copies.

The covers aren’t bad…but alan is wearing Stephanie’s short shorts. D:

♦ ♦ ♦

I’m all for alan coming out of her comfort zone (ballads ballads ballads!) but Swear doesn’t cut it. It’s a pretty bland attempt at an upbeat pop song in my opinion. Sure, it’s unique for her but even then, the song isn’t that great. The music sounds typical and uninteresting as well. I wasn’t feeling anything because nothing really happens. I thought previous upbeat tracks like BRAVE and even Kaze no Tegami were better.

I don’t feel the same way for the B-side though. At least Beauty has something going for it. While Swear was so orthodox and plain, this song actually has some flavor in it. The various beats and acoustics are pleasant. alan’s vocals don’t sound dead either. For me, this was the superior track.

Pros: Beauty stands out.
Cons: Swear is so BLAH. *dozes off*

BASICALLY…I’d rather have another ballad. =x

Overall Rating

3 stars

Tracklisting

1. Swear
2. Beauty
3. Swear (Instrumental)
4. Beauty (Instrumental)

alan – BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~

September 14, 2009 at 10:56 PM | Posted in alan | 4 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ (BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~) is alan’s 10th single and it was released on September 2, 2009. The single reached #11 on the Oricon Weekly and sold 13,190 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie of the same name.

These are definitely her worst covers ever, especially the CD+DVD edition. Sorry alan fans but I’m gonna talk shit about them. ♥
She looks dopey as hell, the ~teardrop~ is tacky, and don’t get me started on the white space/random pink bubbles at the top. WTF @ EVERYTHING. *rage*

♦ ♦ ♦

HEY GUYS! Did you guess what kind of song BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ is? *stumped*
Okay, it’s a ballad, but good lawd it’s a pretty one. The beginning is very beautiful and I loved the strings mixed with the vocals echoing in the background. I’m still on the fence with the rest of the song though. Sure, the music is flowing and quite dynamic at times but I can’t help but feel that it doesn’t measure up to previous ballads. There’s something missing but I can’t exactly pinpoint it just yet. I’m sorry for being so vague at the moment but this song will probably grow on me. It took a while before I started to fully appreciate her last single Kuon no Kawa so let’s see what happens.

The B-side is a new version of Shiawase no Kane, a song that was released as a digital single in May 2008. The “2009 version” has subtle differences compared to the original but it’s lovely nonetheless. I seriously can’t get over how gorgeous those strings are. The song as a whole is very uplifting and I’m currently liking it a lot more than the A-side.

Pros: Both songs are exquisite in their own right but Shiawase no Kane is the winner by far in my opinion.
Cons: BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ lacks the flair of past songs. Maybe that’s what I’ve been trying to say. LOL

BASICALLY…I hope the alan stans don’t start a mob over this. ;D

Overall Rating

 3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ (BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~)
2. Shiawase no Kane (2009 ver.) (幸せの鐘)
3. BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ (Instrumental)
4. Shiawase no Kane (2009 ver.) (Instrumental)

alan – Kuon no Kawa

May 5, 2009 at 8:25 PM | Posted in alan | 3 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Kuon no Kawa (久遠の河)
2. Chi Bi ~Da Jiang Dong Qu~ 
    (赤壁 ~大江東去~)
3. RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ (RED CLIFF ~心・戦~)
4. Xin Zhan ~RED CLIFF~ (心・戦 ~RED CLIFF~)
5. Kuon no Kawa (Instrumental)
6. Chi Bi ~Da Jiang Dong Qu~ (Instrumental)

This is alan’s 9th single and it was released on April 8, 2009. The single reached #3 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 37,740 copies. The 2nd track was used as the theme song for the Chinese movie Red Cliff Part II and the title track was the theme song for the movie’s Japanese release.

alan keeps churning out those singles, doesn’t she? Oh well, I’m not complaining. Kuon no Kawa sounds very old fashioned and has a classic, traditional flair to it. That being said, the arrangement is very top notch and features imperial strings and woodwinds. Just like in RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~, there is a great buildup in the verses and it transitions into a sweeping, powerful chorus. While I thought the song wasn’t as grandiose as RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ because it felt kind of short in terms of length, it is still executed extremely well. It just left me wanting more in the end.

Then we have the original Chinese version of the song, Chi Bi ~Da Jiang Dong Qu~. There is a very noticable difference from the Japanese version in that the pitch of the music has been raised an octave. I didn’t really like this though, especially when it came to alan’s vocals. She just sounded shrilly and kind of annoying to me. There’s no mountain wailing here like in the Japanese version either.

Since this single is associated with the movie Red Cliff, the songs from part 1 of the film are included because avex is evil. Since I am lazy, check out my thoughts on RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ (the Japanese version) and Xin Zhan ~RED CLIFF~ (the Chinese version) by reading my review of the original single HERE. ;D
New versions of the song would have been better, but that’s just me.

Overall Rating 

 4 stars

alan – Voice of EARTH

April 6, 2009 at 8:06 AM | Posted in alan | 14 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Voice of EARTH is alan’s debut Japanese album and it was released on March 4, 2009. The album reached #15 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 23,568 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Tennyo ~interlude~ provides for a great album opener because it prepares you for what’s to come. The ear splitting mountain note at the very beginning startled me when I first heard it! The track starts off slowly then boom, it builds up after that wailing. The music speeds up, heavy beats come in, and if you listen closely, you can hear alan singing in her native Tibetan behind drastic vocal distortions.

I knew Ashita e no Sanka, her Japanese debut single, would appear at the beginning of the album. I believe that THIS is the song that defines her as an artist because it shows off her signature Tibetan wailing, traditional music style, and organically themed lyrics. Even now, the song astounds me.

There are some upbeat tracks on this album and Sora Uta, the sky elemental single, is the first one to show up. Mixing up ethnic sounds with modern synth, the song has an ethereal and whimsical quality to it.

Now we go from sky to earth with the next track, Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~. It has now become one of my favorite songs from her and I just absolutely love it. Relating to the element the song represents, the music has a very “earthy” sound to it thanks to its use of traditional instruments.

Hitotsu was one of alan’s more simpler A-sides arrangement-wise. That being said, I still love this song. Even with the more reserved sound, it’s an emotionally charged ballad with fantastic vocals. The chorus is definitely the highlight when she performs those elongated power notes.

The next track has always been “so-so” for me. Kaze no Tegami was the wind elemental A-side and perhaps her most aggressive song to date. The music features electric guitar and synth, creating an overall pop arrangement.  

The first new full length track to appear is BRAVE. It’s aggressive and upbeat like Kaze no Tegami, but the music has a more ethnic sound with its use of guitars and alan’s wailing in the background. I was surprised with the amount of English in this song as well. She says a random phrase every now and then so I thought that was interesting. Out of the album’s new tracks, this is one of the more impressive ones.

Then we have Yume no Garden. Like the title implies, the music has a hazy, dream-like quality to it. Gentle piano, electric guitar chords, and beats combine to form a sweeping and ethereal arrangement. I liked the chorus the most when the erhu shows up and there’s an upheaval in sound with the other instruments.

The pristine Gunjou no Tani is next and I think it’s her best upbeat A-side so far. Unlike some of the other upbeat tracks, this song makes full use of organic instruments like flowing strings and percussion. alan sounds positively radiant in the chorus when she performs those high notes as well.

I REALLY like my friend. It is such a sweet and relaxing track. The arrangement is quite simple and only features acoustic guitar and chimes, but they sound really good next to alan’s voice. The chorus adds a shaker in the background and she displays lovely vocals.

I don’t really remember the next two tracks and I think that they are the most unmemorable on the album. Liberty is kind of boring but at least it sounds pretty. Characterized by laid back strings and drums, this song just strolls on by. alan’s vocals are on the reserved side too.

Tsuki ga Watashi was a little better though. It starts off pretty uneventful but the piano is great and the verses do transition into a vibrant chorus. I liked the adlibbing and strings that followed as well. Like in Liberty, alan’s vocals are soft and laid back.

FIRE AND WATER, BITCHES. That’s what we get for the next two tracks and first up is the super dramatic RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~, the fire elemental single. This was my favorite of the 5 elemental singles because it is epic and full of theatrics, perfect for the movie it was featured in. The orchestral arrangement is amazing and really adds to that overall cinematic sound, especially since the music has a great buildup of tension and development as it progresses.

To balance fire is Megumi no Ame, the water elemental single. Even though it is the most reserved of the 5 elemental singles, it’s very pretty and has a peaceful atmosphere full of vivid strings and piano. The ending sequence always gets to me when alan displays those powerful vocals and the song closes with a graceful erhu. On the normal editions of the album, this is the final track.

However, on the first pressings of either edition, the album ends with Together, which is by far the best new track. It is STUNNING from beginning to end and incredibly beautiful to the ears. It’s a shame that this song is only a limited track because it makes for the perfect ending of this album. alan composed this song herself and I thought she did an excellent job. I loved the strings the most since they flowed so well next to the ethnic string plucking and drums. The middle sequence of the song features alan speaking in Tibetan and it is quickly followed by powerful, exuberant vocals. The song has a simple, yet powerful message as well: protect our Earth because it is the only one we have.

What can I say? Voice of EARTH is an amazing album. It is one of the strongest debuts I have seen in a J-pop artist and even though I have already heard most of the album through its EIGHT previous released singles, they all form together with the new tracks to create a truly remarkable listening experience. The album has a solid theme focusing on planet Earth and every track relates to that theme so it balances out in the end. Some of the new tracks could have been better, but I didn’t find a single unsatisfactory song on this album. As a whole, the album is neat and flows very well too. With her stellar voice, alan can prove herself to be a force that is able to move mountains.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. Tennyo ~interlude~ (天女 ~interlude~)
2. Ashita e no Sanka (明日への讃歌)
3. Sora Uta (空唄)
4. Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ (懐かしい未来 ~longing future~)
5. Hitotsu (ひとつ)
6. Kaze no Tegami (風の手紙)
7. BRAVE
8. Yume no Garden (夢のガーデン)
9. Gunjou no Tani (群青の谷)
10. my friend
11. Liberty
12. Tsuki ga Watashi (月がわたし)
13. RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ (RED CLIFF ~心・戦~)
14. Megumi no Ame (恵みの雨)
15. Together [First pressing bonus track]

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

alan – Gunjou no Tani

February 17, 2009 at 12:29 PM | Posted in alan | 7 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Gunjou no Tani (群青の谷)
2. Gunjou no Tani Acoustic Version
3. Gunjou no Tani (Instrumental)
4. Gunjou no Tani Acoustic Version 
    (Instrumental)

This is alan’s 8th single and it was released on February 4, 2009. The single reached #30 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,426 copies.

It’s nice to see alan mix it up a bit with Gunjou no Tani, a song that ISN’T a ballad. She worked with Cocco on this track and it really shows in the music. It combines the ethnic style of alan’s previous releases with an upbeat arrangement that consists of strings, percussion, and some electric guitar. alan’s vocals are top notch as well and the chorus features some great elongated notes from her. Compared to her other upbeat A-sides like Sora Uta and Kaze no Tegami, this is a much better track because it provides some variety as well as an overall sound that’s better suited for her voice.

The acoustic version is a nice bonus on the single. Next to the acoustic guitar, there are also shakers in the background and an excellent erhu solo during the bridge. alan showcases gentler vocals too but she still performs with a good amount of force when the chorus comes around.

Overall Rating

4 stars

alan – Megumi no Ame

November 19, 2008 at 10:31 PM | Posted in alan | 11 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Megumi no Ame (恵みの雨)
2. Namida (涙)
3. Megumi no Ame (Instrumental)
4. Namida (Instrumental)

This is alan’s 7th single and it was released on November 12, 2008. The single reached #30 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 5,422 copies.

We’re finally here, the FINAL release of alan’s “5 elemental singles” campaign. The theme of Megumi no Ame is water and like her past singles, this is a traditionally styled ballad. While the song isn’t really spectacular, I think it’s VERY sweet and comforting. The music is very elegant and makes good use of the erhu, but it’s primarily just piano and strings. alan’s vocals are pretty and remain reserved for the most part until the fantastic ending sequence where she lets loose. I love the way the song fades out with its gorgeous mix of strings and erhu too.

The B-side is a mixture of organic and synthetic sounds. Namida is pretty much a dramatic and unsettling version of the previous track but with various beats included. I remember hearing the same opening beat in a song from the Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack (go to YouTube and check out Chronopolis by Yasunori Mitsuda to see what I mean XD). Anyway, there is an ominous atmosphere about this song but it sets an effective mood as well. In the end, it’s a solid and nicely done track.

NOW WHERE’S THAT ALBUM, ALAN?! I heard that it got pushed back to next year. D<

Overall Rating

4 stars

alan – RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~

October 22, 2008 at 5:40 PM | Posted in alan | 20 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ (RED CLIFF ~心・戦~)
2. Xin Zhan ~RED CLIFF~ (心・戦 ~RED CLIFF~)
3. Ashita e no Sanka ~Orchestra Version~
    (明日への讃歌)
4. RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ (Instrumental)
5. Ashita e no Sanka ~Orchestra Version~
    (Instrumental)

This is alan’s 7th single and it was released on October 15, 2008. The single reached #23 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 15,223 copies. The 2nd track was used as the theme song for the Chinese movie Red Cliff and the title track was the theme song for the movie’s Japanese release.

Holy shit. RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ is epic epic epic. Being the 4th release in alan’s 5 elemental singles campaign, this song represents fire and the burning desire within one’s heart. I loved how cinematic and theatrical the music was because it features a fantastic orchestral arrangement. There is a great accumulation of tension right when the song starts with alan’s adlibbing and it just builds and builds until the powerful chorus arrives. The sweeping strings really give the song its dramatic feel without being over the top. However, the most phenomenal part of the song is without a doubt the climactic bridge sequence that includes powerful mountain vocals. I was honestly blown away by that part because it is AMAZING. alan is certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with and this song proves it.

The 2nd track is the original Chinese version, Xin Zhan ~RED CLIFF~. This was actually my first time hearing alan sing in her native language and there’s a big difference in terms of how “natural” she sounds. I’m not surprised though and the Chinese version is definitely on the same level as the Japanese version, except for one thing. The bridge does not feature the mountain vocals previously heard in the Japanese version. I was mildly disappointed by the exclusion but the song is still insanely epic nonetheless.

Also on the single is a grandiose and sensational orchestra version of her debut Japanese single Ashita e no Sanka. I really liked how things got mixed up for this version because it does not follow the same structure of the original. It open and ends differently, plus the verses are rearranged as well. The instrumental sections are great and sound really grand with the added strings and brass, giving the song this extra “royal” or “imperial” vibe.

Overall Rating

5 stars

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