BENI – Lovebox

June 13, 2010 at 5:01 PM | Posted in BENI | 7 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

Lovebox is BENI’s 5th album and it was released on June 2, 2010. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 22,528 copies (congrats, bb!).

She’s too pretty…and her rings spell out BENI. XD

♦ ♦ ♦

I’ll take you to a place you’ve never been before.
So open up your heart, it’s called the lovebox.

It’s been less than a year since the release of Bitter & Sweet and here we are with a brand new album. There’s no complaining here because Lovebox is a great follow-up. Naturally, I’m going to compare the two albums because they’re both similar in sound and production (thanks to Daisuke Imai). However, Lovebox is definitely the more “romantic” album.

While I do think this is a good album, it took longer to grow on me than Bitter & Sweet did. On the plus side, there is more balance between the upbeat and mid-tempo tracks with fewer ballads thrown into the mix. The main issue is that some of these songs are hard to distinguish at times. For example, most of the new tracks sound good but don’t really stick with you. The first half of the album contains mid-tempo songs like Hitomi Tojite and Kimi Ja Nakya which require multiple listens. I was expecting they would be catchy like Gimme Gimme♥ and a million jewels was the only other song. The one new track that I didn’t care for was Girl’s Night because of JAMOSA’s funky, nasally voice (have you seen her boobs, though? OMGZ).

I really liked the upbeat A-sides from this era like Yura Yura and bye bye so I was even more impressed that BENI stepped it up with the songs MOVE and break the rules. They are arguably her most “urban” songs to date because of the aggressive, sensual flair surrounding them. Besides Sign, the album closes with nice, slower paced songs. he is mine has weird sound effects that I thought were distracting but luckily My Friend and Message are better. They’re both sincere songs, the latter track being more of a ballad. To top things off, a gorgeous “unplugged” version of Zutto Futari de ends the album.

In conclusion, how does Lovebox fare against Bitter & Sweet? I would say it’s pretty close but I find myself favoring Bitter & Sweet. While being a relatively slower album, it has variety and the songs are more memorable. Like I said, Lovebox is a grower but boy does it take a while. It certainly differs in overall theme and the abundance of upbeat songs is a good thing so I think the album can stand on its own. Personally, I’m not disappointed with Lovebox because it’s a strong release and once you do get familiar with the material, it’ll stick. That’s the endearing thing about BENI’s music. It’ll grab you sooner or later.

Pros: Excellent upbeat songs. It’s Bitter & Sweet but without the bitter side.
Cons: The first half of the album is really “same-ish”. Things gets better after Kimi Ja Nakya though.

BASICALLY…I have opened the Lovebox and I like it! =D

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Lovebox Intro
2. Yura Yura (ユラユラ)
3. Sign (サイン)
4. Hitomi Tojite (瞳とじて)
5. Gimme Gimme♥ (ギミギミ♥)
6. Girl’s Night feat. JAMOSA
7. a million jewels
8. Kimi Ja Nakya (君じゃなきゃ)
9. bye bye
10. MOVE
11. break the rules
12. he is mine
13. My Friend (マイ・フレンド)
14. Message
15. Zutto Futari de unplugged version (ずっと二人で)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

BENI – Yura Yura / Gimme Gimme♥

May 7, 2010 at 9:41 PM | Posted in BENI | 8 Comments
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Yura Yura / Gimme Gimme♥ (ユラユラ/ギミギミ♥) is BENI’s 16th single and it was released on May 5, 2010. The single reached #20 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,434 copies.

UGH SHE IS SO PRETTY.

♦ ♦ ♦

BENI has done it again! Yura Yura is kind of similar to her last A-side bye bye and that means it’s UPBEAT (hooray!). The biggest difference between this song and bye bye would be the strings in the background since there’s the familiar synth and fingersnap beats. We also get treated a really catchy chorus, which I think is the strongest aspect of her songs.

The other A-side is a little slower side and has a fluffy, girlish atmosphere (I blame the cutesy chimes). Gimme Gimme♥ has a catchy hook too with that gimme gimme your love sotto line. It’s funny how people are getting Kiss Kiss Kiss vibes because this song sounds nothing like it. Check your ears, bitches. Anyway, I think Yura Yura is the better track but this is still good!

The DJ HASEBE remix of bye bye is a cool and chillout R&B take on the song. I liked it because it removes the synth of the original and adds constant beats. I’m glad that his remixes have been sounding less monotone lately.

And to top this review off, she has a NEW ALBUM out next month!

Pros: This is her first double A-side single and it’s a fantastic one.
Cons: Why should there be? Whateverrrrr.

BASICALLY…gimme gimme more BENI! ♥

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. Yura Yura (ユラユラ)
2. Gimme Gimme♥ (ギミギミ♥)
3. bye bye (DJ HASEBE REMIX)
4. Yura Yura (Instrumental)
5. Gimme Gimme♥ (Instrumental)

BENI – bye bye

March 24, 2010 at 4:37 PM | Posted in BENI | 6 Comments
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bye bye is BENI’s 15th single and it was released on March 10, 2010. The single reached #57 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,171 copies.

What a random cover. Her trendy trenchcoat + the birds = ???

♦ ♦ ♦

OMG YES MY PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED! An upbeat A-side from BENI! =D

I’ve been waiting for this and bye bye didn’t disappoint. I instantly liked the song on the first listen because it starts off with a strong, catchy chorus (itsumo no bye bye!). That gets followed by clapping beats, synth, and a little piano. It’s a nice change from all the other A-sides and like I said when I reviewed the last single Sign, I was growing weary of the mid-tempo stuff. Thank you, BENI! ♥

The pace doesn’t let up when the B-side arrives. Stylish is also upbeat but features more electronic elements next to the clapping and whiplash beats. Just like in bye bye, BENI’s vocals remain energetic and I wasn’t finding myself bored after multiple listens.

The 3rd track is a DJ HASEBE remix of Sign and I was expecting the ~same old, same old~ from him. However, this is the most unique remix I have heard since it doesn’t have the typical “hip hop” facelift like the other ones. Besides being more upbeat the original, the remix adds a nice drumbeat but you can still hear the piano and strings.

Pros: This is her most exciting single to date.
Cons: I don’t really have any. I thoroughly enjoyed everything.

BASICALLY…my fandom for BENI is at an all-time high. Get it, girl!

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. bye bye
2. Stylish
3. Sign (DJ HASEBE REMIX) (サイン)
4. bye bye (Instrumental)

BENI – Sign

January 29, 2010 at 9:55 AM | Posted in BENI | 1 Comment
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Sign (サイン) is BENI’s 14th single and it was released on January 20, 2010. The single reached #50 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,596 copies.

Classy cover. I’m glad that it’s different from her past covers too.

♦ ♦ ♦

Oh, it’s another mid-tempo song. I’m growing weary of this, BENI! Then again, I think Sign is an improvement over her past A-sides. I call it “mid-tempo” because of the beats but it could definitely pass for a ballad too. The music sounds polished and her vocals are top notch as well.

Of course, the B-side is upbeat! Gon’ luv u is on the cute side and it mostly features synth with tinny chimes. The chorus is pretty catchy too. I’ve said this before but here is another example of a song that makes for good A-side material.

As expected from DJ HASEBE, he gives KIRA☆KIRA☆ an urban makeover with this remix. Seriously though, I think this is the strongest remix so far since the song sounds better with heavier beats and so on.

Pros: Another strong offering from BENI. Sign is a great track.
Cons: I want an upbeat A-side for once! Pleeeeeease.

BASICALLY…this is a really good way to start her new era.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Sign (サイン)
2. Gon’ luv u
3. KIRA☆KIRA☆ (DJ HASEBE REMIX)
4. Sign (Instrumental)

BENI – KIRA☆KIRA☆

November 18, 2009 at 9:33 AM | Posted in BENI | 4 Comments
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KIRA☆KIRA☆ is BENI’s 13th single and it was released on November 4, 2009. The single reached #94 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 792 copies. The title track originally appeared on her latest album Bitter & Sweet.

It’s Bitter & Sweet ~The Christmas Edition~! XD

♦ ♦ ♦

Concerning this single…all I ask is WHYYYYYYYYYYY? Okay, I know why KIRA☆KIRA☆ was chosen to be a recut single (it was voted by fans) but still, I think it was a poor choice. That’s just my personal view though since I thought it was one of the weaker tracks on the Bitter & Sweet album. I don’t really remember it either, except for those English lines (you bring to me kira kira) and the catchy chorus.

At least the single includes some extra tracks. The remixes of Zutto Futari de and Koi Kogarete aren’t bad actually. They work in making two mid-tempo songs sound more interesting at least.

Pros: The remixes???
Cons: A weak release…and any other new track from the album would have made a better A-side (Beautiful World plz).

Overall Rating

3 stars

Tracklisting

1. KIRA☆KIRA☆
2. Zutto Futari de (DJ HASEBE REMIX) (ずっと二人で)
3. Koi Kogarete (CLUB REMIX) (恋焦がれて)
4. KIRA☆KIRA☆ (Instrumental)

BENI – Bitter & Sweet

September 20, 2009 at 9:30 AM | Posted in BENI | 9 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

Bitter & Sweet is BENI’s 4th album and it was released on September 2, 2009. The album reached #5 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 104,501 copies. It’s also her first album under her new stage name as well as with Universal Records.

I think the covers are alright. I like the giant text and the fact that it’s not distracting from BENI herself. She is sitting on her own name after all. ;D

♦ ♦ ♦

It’s my time to shine. It took me some time.

I pretty much predicted that Bitter & Sweet was going to be her best album…
And duh, I was right. XD
Seriously, compare this album to the 3 albums she released when she was on avex trax and there is obviously a huge difference. The music sounds better, her vocals have improved drastically, and there is finally some coherent flow between each song. The R&B sound works for her and there are really some excellent tracks on here. I know have complained about her trend of releasing mid-tempo songs as A-sides but really, all those songs were good (Mou Nido to…, Kiss Kiss Kiss, Koi Kogarete, and Zutto Futari de).

I apply this to all of the new tracks as well. Even though most of them follow the same mid-tempo R&B formula, I thought they were done quite well and each song has something going for it. Even the songs that I didn’t care for, particularly KIRA☆KIRA☆ and Shinjisasete, had some kind of hook to keep me mildly interested. However, there were a few upbeat songs like Anything Goes!! and STAY but the problem is that they are few and far between since the album is dominated by the slower stuff.

Anyway, the new tracks that really impressed me were nice & slow and Beautiful Worldnice & slow has an awesome electronic based sound which sets it apart and I just loved the adlibbing and layered vocals in Beautiful World (does anybody know the guy featured in that track?). I did enjoy this album but I still would have liked more upbeat songs. Personally, the album would have been even better as a whole if it included some R&B songs with quicker beats or more flair in their arrangements. Even so, I am content with Bitter & Sweet because it contains the best material of her career thus far.

Pros: Leaving avex was a GOOD thing! She’s made such an improvement.
Cons: There’s not enough upbeat songs. As a certain blogger friend of mine would say: “WHERE ARE THE SLUTTY SONGS?!?!”

BASICALLY…the sweet outweighs the bitter! Nice work, BENI. =)

Overall Rating

4 stars

 

Tracklisting

1. Bitter & Sweet Intro
2. Kiss Kiss Kiss
3. Zutto Futari de (ずっと二人で)
4. Koi Kogarete (恋焦がれて)
5. Dakishimete feat. Dohzi-T (抱きしめて feat. 童子-T)
6. Anything Goes!!
7. stardust
8. KIRA☆KIRA☆
9. GO ON
10. Shinjisasete (信じさせて)
11. nice & slow
12. STAY
13. Beautiful World
14. Mou Nido to… (もう二度と・・・)
15. Kiss Kiss Kiss (DJ HASEBE REMIX)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

 

BENI – Zutto Futari de

August 28, 2009 at 8:40 PM | Posted in BENI | 2 Comments
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Zutto Futari de (ずっと二人で) is BENI’s 12th single and it was released on August 12, 2009. The single reached #67 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,251 copies.

BENI continues her trend of ~classy side portraits~! Even though she is sporting one of those fake flowers with the fake water droplets, it’s an elegant cover.

♦ ♦ ♦

Like her previous single Koi Kogarete, we are presented with another mid-tempo, borderline ballad. To clear things up, I don’t think Zutto Futari de is bad by any stretch and I think that it’s a little better than Koi Kogarete. This song is quite pretty actually, but I am starting to get bored of her releasing these types of songs as A-sides.

Once again, the B-sides are upbeat tracks that could have easily passed as A-sides. The first two are stardust and With U, which were kind of unmemorable for me at first. I’m warming up to them now, especially With U because of the bright acoustic pop sound, but it’s taking more time with stardust even though it has a better overall rhythm. That song will appear on her new album Bitter & Sweet so I’ll be hearing more of it.

The surprise of this single was the cover of The Boy Is Mine, the popular duet that was originally performed by Brandy and Monica. I remember this song fondly when I was younger in the late 90s (oh memories! LOL). R&B singer Tynisha Keli joins her as “the other girl” and I was thrown off by her voice when I first heard it. It’s kind of nasal, but she definitely has good tone and control. I liked this collaboration despite my initial worries that BENI’s husky voice wouldn’t go well with Keli’s.

Pros: The A-side is nice and I really liked the cover of The Boy Is Mine.
Cons: The B-sides aren’t exactly up to snuff. They might be my least favorite from her yet.

BASICALLY…Bitter & Sweet is out next week! GIMME THAT NOW.

Overall Rating

 3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Zutto Futari de (ずっと二人で)
2. stardust
3. With U
4. The Boy Is Mine feat. Tynisha Keli

BENI – Koi Kogarete

July 1, 2009 at 10:04 AM | Posted in BENI | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. Koi Kogarete (恋焦がれて)
2. CRUISE the WORLD
3. FOREVER 21
4. Koi Kogarete (Instrumental)

This is BENI’s 11th single and it was released on June 10, 2009. The single reached #70 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,266 copies.

Koi Kogarete is another mid-tempo A-side from BENI. Basically, it’s like her previous single Kiss Kiss Kiss but in a melancholy form. Rampant with tinny beats and acoustics, the music tries to remain at a steady pace for the most part. I have given this song multiple listens but I just wasn’t feeling it like I did with Mou Nido to… and Kiss Kiss Kiss. It’s still waaaaay better than her avex stuff though. ;D

However, the B-sides show more promise. The first one is CRUISE the WORLD, a sleek and futuristic sounding electropop track. The beats and synth riffs are pretty hot and it seems that BENI has been on a roll when it comes to her upbeat songs. Vocally, I thought she did very well and I liked the occasional electronic distortions in her voice. In my opinion, this should have been the A-side.

FOREVER 21 is on the other side of the pop spectrum since it has that overall “cute” feel to it. The music isn’t as energetic as the previous track’s but I thought the melody was catchier. The chorus is memorable thanks to that “Forever loving you” line as well. In the end, I liked B-sides more on this single and they balance out my indifference towards the A-side, which will take more time to grow on me.

Overall Rating

4 stars

BENI – Kiss Kiss Kiss

April 29, 2009 at 11:35 AM | Posted in BENI | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. Kiss Kiss Kiss
2. Signal
3. Mou Nido to… (DJ HASEBE REMIX)
    (もう二度と・・・)
4. Kiss Kiss Kiss (Instrumental)

This is BENI’s 10th single and it was released on April 8, 2009. The single reached #40 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,945 copies.

We’re only 2 singles in and I’m already starting to see a big improvement in the quality of BENI’s music since her label change. Just like Mou Nido to… and STAY, Kiss Kiss Kiss wipes the floor with the stuff she did as an avex artist. Even though I think the song has a typical Western R&B sound, it’s pretty good and not to mention extremely catchy. The chorus was the most infectious part for me. I especially liked the vocals that repeat “kiss kiss kiss” and “oh baby oh baby” in the background too.

The B-side is a more aggressive song with a slightly faster tempo. Signal shows off the huskier side of BENI’s voice and she gives off a lot of attitude when she sings, which I thought was great. The music has a hasty arrangement that mainly mixes various types of dance beats with background vocals. This song is a good compliment to the A-side, which was a calmer track in comparison.

Included on the single is a remix of Mou Nido to…, her previous single. The remixer DJ HASEBE added many different R&B elements to the original song, which was a pop ballad, to make it a lot more upbeat. The looping male background voice and the extra beats were the most noticable to me. Also, the tempo has been sped up.

Overall Rating

4 stars

BENI – Mou Nido to…

December 23, 2008 at 10:38 AM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Mou Nido to… (もう二度と・・・)
2. STAY
3. Mou Nido to… (Instrumental)
4. STAY (Instrumental)

This is Beni Arashiro’s 9th single, but the first under her new stage name “BENI” (which is what I will call her from now on). It’s also the first single with her new label Universal Records and it was released on December 10, 2008. The single reached #20 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 13,064 copies.

Before BENI’s switch to Universal Records, she collaborated with rapper Dohzi-T for the bittersweet love song Mou Ichido… feat. BENI. The song proved to be a success and BENI released a “response song” titled Mou Nido to… as the first single on her new label. The stage name and label change proved to be a good thing for her because this song is excellent. Even though I did like the original Dohzi-T song, this track is even better. Since it’s a response song, it borrows the chorus of Mou Ichido… feat. BENI and incorporates it into a completely new arrangement. Also, the original was a piano ballad that included light R&B elements while BENI’s version is more acoustic based. I have to comment on her vocals too because she has never sounded better.

I was equally impressed with the B-side. STAY definitely has a Western sound to it and BENI delivers an amazing performance. It’s more upbeat than the previous track and features a stronger R&B influenced arrangement as well. Just by listening to both of the tracks on this single, they are a huge improvement over the mediocre songs she made on her previous label avex trax. With more new material coming out in the new year, I’m looking forward to seeing what BENI can really do because she is finally showing her true potential.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

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