Crystal Kay – FLASH

June 28, 2010 at 9:46 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | 5 Comments
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The cover of the limited edition

FLASH is Crystal Kay’s 2nd mini-album and it was released on June 16, 2010. The mini-album reached #29 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,197 copies.

I’m not a fan of the hair because it’s very Bride of Frankenstein. lol

♦ ♦ ♦

Remember that “premium disc” on BEST of CRYSTAL KAY? We got our first glimpse of Crystal Kay experimenting with some electronic based tracks like Over and Over and Step by Step. On this mini-album, she does a little more of that and then some. After the crazy Intro -Genesis- (it sounds like the end of the world in music form), the title track FLASH comes in with heavy synth and aggressive vocals. The song shows off her sexy side as well (OMG have you seen the PV? It’s hooooot). Following that is Victoria which has a similar sound. I don’t know who this Victoria is but she’s a ~super sexy lady~.

That’s it for the super hot tracks because Never say goodbye is a much tamer song. It’s still on the upbeat side but the synth is reduced to little bips mixed with a nice dance beat. The mini-album then transitions into 2 ballads. The first is a cover of Michael Jackson’s Happy (one of his early Motown songs) and I really liked her take on the song. Since it’s a just a simple piano arrangement, her voice resonates. I pray has an acoustic R&B sound and it’s nicely done. Ending the mini-album is a pretty Outro that features strings and simple adlibbing.

Contrary to some opinions, I didn’t find FLASH to be boring. I know that everyone has been raving about the title track and Victoria but I thought the rest of the mini-album was great, too. Never say goodbye is catchy and the ballads are interesting so I thought this was a pretty well-rounded release. Being a mini-album, it’s to the point and concise but still shows some range. I also like that Crystal Kay is trying out different sounds because she does pull it off.

Pros: I liked every song and the song FLASH is hot hot hot.
Cons: NADA. This isn’t Shining. XD

BASICALLY…CK worked it! I’m anticipating her next release.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Intro -Genesis-
2. FLASH
3. Victoria
4. Never say goodbye
5. Happy
6. I pray
7. Outro

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Crystal Kay – After Love -First Boyfriend- feat. KANAME (CHEMISTRY) / Girlfriend feat. BoA

August 11, 2009 at 11:07 AM | Posted in Crystal Kay | 5 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. After Love -First Boyfriend-
    feat. KANAME (CHEMISTRY)
2. Girlfriend feat. BoA
3. Deaeta Kiseki (出会えた奇跡)
4. After Love -First Boyfriend- 
    feat. KANAME (CHEMISTRY) inst
5. Girlfriend feat. BoA inst

This is Crystal Kay’s 26th single and it was released on August 12, 2009. The single reached #31 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,298 copies.

First of all, a big congrats to Crystal Kay for 10 years in the music industry! It’s amazing that she made her major debut when she was just 13 years old. Along with this single, she will release her 10th anniversary compilation album BEST of CRYSTAL KAY on September 2nd.

The first track is After Love -First Boyfriend-, a mid-tempo R&B pop number that makes allusions to past Crystal Kay’s songs (Boyfriend and Boyfriend -part II-). The music has the basic formula with clapping beats and chimes to keep up the pace but it does gain momentum when the chorus comes around. A little synth mixed with some strings make the song more interesting to say the least. The song also features Kaname Kawabata from the R&B duo CHEMISTRY but his role in the song is pretty minor. He only provides background vocals during the chorus and you do hear his voice occasionally in other parts. I would have liked some solo lines from him though.

The other A-side is much more of a collaboration. Girlfriend features BoA and unlike After Love -First Boyfriend-, she plays a big part in this song and has a good amount of solo lines. She also harmonizes well with Crystal Kay when they sing together during the chorus. Music-wise, this song is better too since it’s more upbeat and didn’t make me say “That’s it?” when it was over. In the end, I was definitely more satisfied with this track.

Also included on the single is Deaeta Kiseki, which was released digitally back in late 2008. This song has an uplifting vibe compared to the A-sides and it features stronger beats alongside pleasant piano chords. It’s not bad for a B-side even though it left me with that lingering feeling again.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Crystal Kay – Color Change!

September 2, 2008 at 9:52 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | 15 Comments
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The cover of the regular edition

Color Change! is Crystal Kay’s 8th album and it was released on August 6, 2008. The album reached #8 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 33,290 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

I have to admit that Namida no Saki ni makes for a strong album opener because of its robust nature and overall pop sound. The song quickly begins with electric guitar and stern vocals that provide an infectious hook. Crystal Kay’s vocal performance during the chorus hasn’t quite grown on me yet but it’s still pretty catchy nonetheless.

Her latest single, the uplifting R&B and pop tune ONE, follows. I really liked the calming strings mixed with the light beats since they create a gentle ambiance that goes well with the vocals. The song does speed up for the chorus so the music doesn’t stay too laid back.

It’s awesome that there are a lot of new tracks on this album and it’s even better that they showcase a stronger R&B sound as well. The first one is Good Times and it’s very upbeat right from the start with the opening synth riffs and thumping percussion beats that follow. In the end, this is a refreshing party song that has a playful arrangement.

The beginning of Help Me Out just pulls you in thanks to the beats and Crystal Kay’s talking in English. The verses are kind of uninteresting but at least they get instantly overshadowed by a strong chorus. The way she concludes the chorus with English is great and the adlibbing sequences that come right after are vibrant too.

Crystal Kay collaborates with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis once again for two of the album’s new tracks. I definitely remembered her hot English track Kirakuni, but ITOSHIIHITO is quite different from that song. It’s mostly in Japanese and the music is slower but still quite rhythmic with the frequent beats and synth. The chorus does stand out when she repeats itoshii hito over and over but the way she sings that phrase showcases some good vocal range.

There are also two back-to-back ballads on this album but that’s okay because they are both quite impressive. Kaerimichi has a gorgeous arrangement that utilizes some really pretty strings and piano. The inclusion of a light beat and some other pop elements were nice touch too. While the instruments don’t do this, Crystal Kay’s vocals during the chorus actually provide a traditional flair into the song which create this interesting melody of sorts.

The other ballad is Toki no Kakera, which is a little more on the jazzy pop side and it has lovely piano chords with some additional percussion. I did like how the verses transitioned into an absolutely uplifting chorus with matching vocals. This song ends the album’s short, yet really good ballad phase because there are nothing but upbeat tracks up ahead and that’s a really good thing.

The overall ‘feel good’ sound of TIME GOES BY is excellent and I just loved how catchy it was. Crystal Kay shows off more carefree vocals next to a really awesome R&B vibe that I just found to be really bright and fun. This song is definitely one of my favorites from this album.

The other song produced the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis is I Can’t Wait, a really interesting track that is almost entirely in English (the slower parts that feature elongated notes are in Japanese). The music definitely has an American sound to it because of some of the elements thrown in like the parts where Crystal Kay says “C to the!” and the male background vocals that go “OHHH!”. I enjoyed how the entire song had this insanely infectious rhythm that just seemed to flow so well with the vocals.

Uh oh, Shining is next! I definitely ripped it a new one back when it was the lead song on the Christmas themed mini-album of the same name. The song isn’t so bad anymore since it fits better within the context of a studio album but I also decided to give it a second chance. The music is still on the generic side but I like the vocals now.

The biggest surprise of this album was by far It’s a crime. Crystal Kay worked with Swedish producers Bloodshy & Avant for this far out and futuristic dance inspired track. It’s also in English and the lyrics are pretty cool too. Bloodshy & Avant have also worked with a lot of other popular artists, most notably Britney Spears, so they’re pretty well known. I do have to say that the production value of It’s a crime is amazing and I think it’s the first song by her to dominantly feature computerized vocals.

Concluding the album is History, another unique track from Crystal Kay. The arrangement is kind of offbeat thanks to the various instruments that are involved but it works in the end. The electric guitars and low key strings in the background stood out the most for me and they can be heard throughout the entire song. This is a great ending track because it closes the album in a strong and dignified manner.

Color Change! was a fantastic way for Crystal Kay to show off a more refined side of her and it’s a step up from her previous album ALL YOURS. As a whole, it has a variety of sounds or ‘colors’ that fit into a central theme. The new tracks are what make this album so good and it was great to hear a more prominent R&B sound because the singles obviously didn’t do that. It looks like Color Change! might be the first step into something even greater because the album represents her graduation from college and her ‘change’ in musical style. There’s also news about an upcoming debut in the United States so I’ll be hoping for that too.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Namida no Saki ni (涙のさきに)
2. ONE
3. Good Times
4. Help Me Out
5. ITOSHIIHITO
6. Kaerimichi (帰り道)
7. Toki no Kakera (トキノカケラ)
8. TIME GOES BY
9. I Can’t Wait
10. Shining
11. It’s a crime
12. History

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Crystal Kay – ONE

August 7, 2008 at 7:54 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | 4 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. ONE
2. Suki (すき)
3. ONE CORNELIUS MIX
4. ONE DEXPISTOLS MIX
5. ONE INSTRUMENTAL

This is Crystal Kay’s 25th single and it was released on July 16, 2008. The single reached #32 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,237 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the new Pokemon movie titled Giratina to Sora no Hanataba Sheim.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a review of the normal edition. You won’t be seeing a review of the Pokemon edition here since it kind of sucks and I don’t really see a point in reviewing it anyway.

ONE is just another great example of what Crystal Kay’s excels at: R&B flavored pop songs! The strings give the music a gentle quality, but the bass beats provide some much needed flavor. Both of these elements become much stronger and faster during the chorus where Crystal Kay begins to display more assertive vocals as well. The chorus is also very vibrant thanks to the catchy vocals and frequent beats.

The B-side is a fantastic cover of a DREAMS COME TRUE song from 1994. Crystal Kay’s modern rendition of Suki is very stylish and smooth. The original song is actually a soulful ballad and it has been turned into a thumping dance track. She actually added a lot of new things into it like some new ad libbing sequences. The catchy S-U-K-I never wanna say good-bye parts come to mind. Even though her version is radically different from the original, I thought it was brilliant at the same time.

The next two tracks are remixes of ONE. The first one is the CORNELIUS MIX which has a more organic sound because it includes a prominent piano. Speaking of the piano arrangement in this remix, it’s AMAZING. I enjoyed how upbeat and fast paced it was too.

The 2nd remix was to be expected. The DEXPISTOLS MIX is electronic and dance oriented, featuring a lot of synth and quick beats. It’s nice at first, but it gets really repetitive and doesn’t really change. The CORNELIUS MIX is a lot better because it’s so unique while this one is pretty uneventful.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Crystal Kay – Namida no Saki ni

July 4, 2008 at 6:57 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | 5 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Namida no Saki ni (涙のさきに)
2. Girl Move On
3. Dream World SOIDOG MIX
4. Namida no Saki ni SOIDOG MIX
5. Namida no Saki ni INSTRUMENTAL

This is Crystal Kay’s 24th single and it was released on June 11, 2008. The single reached #42 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,144 copies.

For Crystal Kay’s standards, Namida no Saki ni is pretty different. I noticed the song’s use of electric guitars immediately and they actually play a pretty large role in the arrangement. The riffs are quick and sound good next to the various beats, but Crystal Kay’s vocals don’t seem to match that well with the music. Throughout most of the song, her voice sounds choppy and less refined. Despite that, the chorus is pretty catchy. At least this song is an improvement over the material from that horrible mini-album Shining.

The B-side is more like Crystal Kay’s style of music, but with a Hispanic twist. Girl Move On has a cool R&B sound with a distant electric guitar screeching in the background. The chorus caught my attention the most because of the Spanish lyrics and I thought she sang them well. Thanks to her lively and less awkward sounding vocals, I liked this song more than Namida no Saki ni.

The single also includes two SOIDOG remixes. The first one is of Dream World, the main promotional track from her previous album ALL YOURS. I must say that this remix is awesome because it gives the song a slick and edgy electro pop sound. I actually prefer it over the original since it is definitely more interesting.

After that is the Namida no Saki ni remix. Once again, the arrangement has been changed to sound more electronic with the addition of synth. I’m still not feeling those vocals, but at least the music sounds nice. It’s not as good as the Dream World remix though.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Crystal Kay – Shining

December 14, 2007 at 3:06 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | Leave a comment
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Shining is Crystal Kay’s 1st mini-album and it was released on November 28, 2007. The mini-album reached #21 on the Oricon Weekly Single Charts and sold 6,050 copies.

 ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Shining is the main track off this Christmas themed mini-album. The song is nothing short of typical and terribly bland. The music is very pop with acoustics and mild beats, but it lacks any interesting hooks to bring in the listener in. The chorus is also very uninspiring. I don’t mind that Crystal Kay keeps on drifting towards the pop route, but this song is boring. If you want an awesome pop song from her, listen to Koi ni Ochitara or the material from her latest album ALL YOURS.

The next track is pretty much the same song as before, but in ballad form. Let’s say that you slow Shining down, add a flowing string arrangement, and make the beats a little bit stronger. The result would be Snowflake, and fortunately, this song is better. It’s still typical, but definitely more memorable than Shining.

The 3rd track is by far the worst on the mini-album. Happy 045 Xmas just oozes with unoriginality and corny lyrics. Sure, it’s a “Christmas party” song that’s supposed to be fun, jingle bells and all, but it teeters on the edge of being extremely generic and unforgettable. This song was originally a digital release that could be purchased from Crystal Kay’s official website (which basically means that it’s pure filler material on this mini-album).

It’s too bad that the best song on here is an OLD track originally released back in December 2003. Her cover of Natalie Cole’s No More Blue Christmas’ was the bonus track on her English album NATURAL and it’s been slapped on here for the mini-album’s Christmas theme. I love her vocals on this track and she does great justice to the original.

Closing this thing up is the JAZZTRONIK remix of Shining. I will admit that the remix is A LOT more interesting because of the jazzy piano chords. The beats are faster as well, but that’s pretty much it. It’s an improvement over the original, which did nothing for me.

Thank goodness Shining is an only a mini-album, even though it’s pratically just a glorified single, because it contains some of the most disappointing and bland material that Crystal Kay has released to date. Honestly, the vocals are great as usual, but the music is less than stimulating and it feels like recycled pop. No More Blue Christmas’ is the only song worth listening to, but it’s a cover AND an old track from 2003. This “mini-album” just seemed so unncessary and rushed upon further inspection. I believe that this could have been a great release, but poor execution and the lack of original material proved otherwise.

Overall Rating

2 stars

Tracklisting

1. Shining
2. Snowflake
3. Happy 045 Xmas
4. No More Blue Christmas’
5. Shining -JAZZTRONIK REMIX-

Crystal Kay – ALL YOURS

July 25, 2007 at 7:20 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | 1 Comment
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ALL YOURS is Crystal Kay’s 7th album and it was released on June 20, 2007. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 136,841 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Konna ni Chikaku de… was a perfect opening track and it’s quite possibly the album’s best song. It’s just so unique compared to her past works.

The next track pretty much represents what most of the new album tracks sound like. Dream World is a mid tempo song with a catchy chorus. It’s one of the better tracks because it has a very nice rhythm.

Track 3 is a little bit slower paced but it has a nice beat. Anytime is pretty good and it has great vocals, something that many of the new album tracks share.

Anata no Soba de is great because it has wonderful beats and the chorus is very catchy. It shouldn’t have been released as a single in my opinion though (since it only had 1 track).

The album slows down for the next few tracks starting with Cherish. The sound is progressive but it relies more on the beats instead of vocals.

I was really glad to see STILL on the album (which was released back in December as a digital download). The English version of this song is known as As One and it was originally the B-side on the Kitto Eien ni single. I do have to admit that the song sounds a little better in Japanese but only by a little.

Track 7 bored me to be completely honest. Butterfly’s garden has this annoying rain drop beat that never goes away and I couldn’t stand it.

Ending the album’s ‘laid back’ phase, I was glad to hear Kitto Eien ni. The song has grown a lot on me since then and I find it quite beautiful. The song’s orchestral arrangement is unique and pretty epic compared to the rest of the songs on the album.

Track 9 is the kick in the ass that the album needed because ESCALATOR is FANTASIC. It’s very refreshing to hear thanks to its various synthetic elements and the song is almost like an edgier version of Konna ni Chikaku de… because it’s another unique effort by Crystal Kay.

After ESCALATOR, the album begins to pick up and the rest of the tracks that follow are nice and upbeat. Sugar Rain sounds very poppy but yet it has a R&B sound in it.

I liked track 11, I WANNA BE. The song is heavy with harmonizing background vocals and they all blend together quite well.

Track 12, Lonely girl, has a nice dance rhythm with synth in the background. Aside from that, I thought the song was okay.

The next track was pretty average too. However, I thought the fast paced beats in Midnight Highway were really cool.

Now onto the album’s final track. Last Kiss starts off kind of weird because of the brass but then it transitions into a really catchy opening chorus. Crystal Kay’s vocals are at their best and this song was a great way to end the album.

ALL YOURS is a good album, but I found it to be lacking a lot of the elements that her last album Call me Miss… had. Honestly, the album is too laid back and I wanted a stronger R&B sound. This album does excel in one area though, and that is the vocals. Crystal Kay’s vocals are at their absolute best and at their prime. I thought the best songs were Konna ni Chikaku de…, Kitto Eien ni, and ESCALATOR because they showcase her musical range outside of the pop and R&B realm. I do recommend this album but I also believe that it is not her best.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Konna ni Chikaku de… (こんなに近くで…)
2. Dream World
3. Anytime
4. Anata no Soba de (あなたのそばで)
5. Cherish
6. STILL
7. Butterfly’s garden
8. Kitto Eien ni (きっと永遠に)
9. ESCALATOR
10. Sugar Rain
11. I WANNA BE
12. Lonely girl
13. Midnight Highway
14. Last Kiss

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Crystal Kay – Anata no Soba de

July 4, 2007 at 7:19 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Anata no Soba de (あなたのそばで)

This is Crystal Kay’s 23rd single and it was released on May 16, 2007. The single reached #30 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,059 copies.

Anata no Soba de is a one track single that was sold a special low price and even though this single isn’t worth getting now unless you’re a hardcore collector (since it’s on her latest album ALL YOURS), it’s still a nice song. What I liked the most about this ‘R&B love anthem’ is the very catchy chorus and excellent vocals from Crystal Kay. Compared to her past two singles, this song sounds the most R&B but with a dash of pop.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Crystal Kay – Konna ni Chikaku de…

June 11, 2007 at 7:17 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Konna ni Chikaku de… (こんなに近くで…)
2. FEEL
3. Konna ni Chikaku de… -KZ Future Disko Remix-
4. FEEL -Singo.S Remix-
5. Konna ni Chikaku de… -instrumental-

This Crystal Kay’s 22nd single and it was released on February 28, 2007. The single reached #14 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 15,158 copies. The title track was used as the ending theme song for the anime Nodame Cantabile.

Konna ni Chikaku de… is an awesome song because it experiments with three different genres of music. The song opens with wonderful strings and then R&B beats enter into the mix. There is also funky synth arrangement that comes in during the bridge. This has grown to be one of my favorite Crystal Kay songs because well, it’s different. It’s more than just your average R&B song because of the strings and synth. I also want to mention that the chorus is extremely catchy.

The B-side, FEEL, follows Crystal Kay’s traditional R&B style with it’s thumping bass. The song also has a laid back club sound that isn’t boring. She showcases powerful vocals during the chorus and especially during the bridge, where she really belts it out. All in all, this is a good B-side.

Now onto the remixes. The KZ Future Disko Remix of Konna ni Chikaku de… is similar to her past remixes. It just makes the original sound more ‘club friendly’ but I actually liked the new instruments that were used in the remix. The added acoustic guitar stood out the most for me though.

The Singo.S Remix of FEEL doesn’t really present anything new at all. It just has some added sounds and that’s pretty much it. The remix of Konna ni Chikaku de… is much better in my opinion.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Crystal Kay – Kitto Eien ni

May 15, 2007 at 7:15 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Kitto Eien ni (きっと永遠に)
2. As One
3. Kitto Eien ni -STUDIO APARTMENT REMIX-
4. As One -REMIX-
5. Kitto Eien ni -INSTRUMENTAL-

This is Crystal Kay’s 21st single and it was released on January 17, 2007. The single reached #12 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 19,615 copies . The title track was used as the theme song for the live action movie version of the manga Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru.

Kitto Eien ni is a nice ballad with sweeping strings and percussion, etc. However, it sounds like a very typical Japanese ballad but I do give credit to Crystal Kay for trying something different from what she normally does. Almost all of her previous ballads have had a slight tinge of R&B in them and this is the only one that makes full use of an orchestra.

The B-side was a nice surprise for me. As One is in English and I thought the lyrics were excellent and pretty emotional. This song is one of the best English R&B slow tracks I have heard and just another reason why Crystal Kay could be a successful artist in America. The Japanese version of this song, STILL, was released on December 1, 2006 and was only available as a digital download.

Now onto the remixes. The STUDIO APARTMENT REMIX of Kitto Eien ni takes the song in a new direction by removing all of the orchestral elements and adding a constant dance beat. I was glad Crystal Kay’s vocals weren’t sped up for the remix because that’s what ruined the Koi ni Ochitara remix that was on the Kirakuni / Together single.

The remix of As One gives the song a new pop and R&B sound, so it doesn’t sound so much like a ballad anymore. Unlike other remixes, I didn’t mind the ones on this single at all and I thought they were rather good.

Overall Rating

4 stars

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