What Did I Miss!? ~2010 Albums Edition~

November 13, 2010 at 6:59 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 7 Comments


Brought to you by JASMINE’s bling bling bling.

I’ll be doing the same thing as yesterday but I’ll try to be even more detailed when I review these albums. Long paragraphs and rambling ahead~

♦ ♦ ♦


YUI – HOLIDAYS IN THE SUN
Released on: July 14
Oricon Chart position: #1
Copies sold: 294,138
Overall Rating:  
Top tracks: to Mother | Parade | GLORIA | Please Stay With Me

YUI’s 4th album proved to be quite the pleasant listen. I was suprised that YUI took a more mellow direction with this album compared to the overly dramatic I LOVED YESTERDAY (which I did not like at all). New songs like Parade, Shake My Heart, and Kiss me together with the opening track to Mother show a softer side of the singer and I was glad she didn’t drown this album full of monotonous songs. There’s still a good amount of upbeat rock songs including A-sides like again and It’s all too much plus her self-cover of a song she wrote for Stereopony (I do it). Overall, I was pleased with the final product and the fact that it’s her most laid back album does not detract anything but shows that YUI can have a little fun with her songwriting.


JASMINE – GOLD
Released on: July 21
Oricon Chart position: #3
Copies sold: 49,914
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: PRIDE | sad to say | Jealous | Bad Girl | Koi

I fucking love this fierce bitch. This is easily one of the best albums of the year and I have officially become a JASMINE stan. Personally, I think GOLD is flawless despite only having 4 new songs (PRIDE, Bad Girl, dear my friend, and Why). Just like alan’s debut album Voice of EARTH, we mostly have older material on here and that’s not a problem when they’re ALL good. sad to say, Koi (恋), This Is Not A Game, and Jealous still sound as good as when they first came out. I also suggest that CLUBBIN’ haters leave this blog right now! </3 This is one of those Jpop albums where I can listen to every track and that’s rare.


Maki Goto – ONE
Released on: July 28
Oricon Chart position: #10
Copies sold: 14,050
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: Houseki | hanauta

This is Maki Goto’s first release under her own name since leaving Hello!Project. She also transfered from rhythm zone to avex trax after the SWEET BLACK album. This mini-album features 5 tracks and I guess you could say that I was expecting more out of them. After all, it was produced by the great Shinichi Osawa. After multiple listens, all the songs on the mini-album have grown on me with Houseki (宝石) and hanauta (華詩 -hanauta-) being my favorites. Most of the songs have an upbeat electronic vibe to them with the exception of Wagamama (わがまま) which is acoustic based. I have to say that Goto’s vocals never sounded better either.


Angela Aki – LIFE
Released on: September 8
Oricon Chart position: #5
Copies sold: 44,505
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: Remember Me | Unbreakable | Ai to Bansoukou | Haha Naru Daichi

Angela always has some tricks up her sleeve and keeps things fresh with this album. I think LIFE is better than ANSWER because it’s a bit more exciting and I loved the English tracks. Compared to past albums, this one has SIX English songs so I want to focus on them first. Unbreakable, the bittersweet What Are The Roses For?, and the very amusing Mad Scientist are my favorites because not only do they sound impeccable but the lyrics are catchy. As for the Japanese songs, Ai no Kisetsu (愛の季節) is a weak album opener but at least it gets overshadowed by Kagayaku Hito (輝く人). Remember Me, Ai to Bansoukou (愛と絆創膏), and the epic Haha Naru Daichi (母なる大地) mark the best out of these tracks. Hahu Naru Daichi gets a special mention because it has one of the best opening instrumentals I have ever heard.


the brilliant green – BLACKOUT
Released on: September 15
Oricon Chart position: #16
Copies sold: 8,679
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: BLACKOUT |  BLACK DARK NIGHT | Talk to me | LIKE YESTERDAY

About time, guys! This is the band’s first studio album in 8 years. Soooooo…is it good? XD To me, the album is a lot like Tommy heavenly6’s I KILL MY HEART but a million times better. It follows the same heavy grunge style but it’s not boring and the arrangements actually have substance to them. The title track BLACKOUT is a great opener and is followed by more aggressive songs like BLACK DARK NIGHT and I’m sick of this place. The mood changes when Talk to me and Blue Daisy come around, shifting towards the band’s classic alternative sound. The only track that I don’t recommend you listen to is the cover of Blur’s Song 2. I died of laughter every time Tomiko went “WHOO HOO!”.


Anna Tsuchiya – RULE
Released on: September 22
Oricon Chart position: #18
Copies sold: 10,982
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: She Hates Me | Atashi | Believe in Love | Voice of butterfly

I thought Anna was done experimenting after NUDY SHOW! but it looks like she has found some musical styles that work next to her normal rock sound. Some of the tracks on RULE feature quirky jazz / big band arrangements. Boushoku-kei Danshi!! (暴食系男子!!), MY BATTLE, and GUN! GUN! LOVE! are filled with lots of brass and drums. She also mixes electric guitars and synth in Human Clay and JUDGE but you still get a lot of aggressive straightforward rock songs like She Hates Me, Atashi, and GUILTY. I also have to say that the album’s 2 ballads Believe in Love and Voice of butterfly are pretty good.


Younha – Hitotsu Sora no Shita
Released on: September 22
Oricon Chart position: #169
Copies sold: Are you sure you want to know?
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: Kaze | Suki Nanda | Soratomo ~Sora wo Miagete | Complicated

Best cover art of the year! This is Younha’s 2nd Japanese studio album and it pales in comparison to her Korean works. Personally, Hitotsu Sora no Shita is probably her weakest release thus far. This is a very laid back album and features mostly mid-tempo acoustic tracks. The only 2 songs that really stood out were Complicated and Kioku (記憶), the Japanese version of Gieog from her Someday album. If you also compare this album to Go! Younha (her first Japanese album), it’s not as good either. I was hoping for more bright piano tunes to be honest.


JUJU – Request
Released on: September 29
Oricon Chart position: #1
Copies sold: 374,183
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: There will be love there -Ai no Aru Basho- | WILL | Last Kiss | First Love

The little cover album that could. ♥ Yes bbz, Request is a COVER ALBUM and it’s snatching the wigs off all of your J-divas! I became a JUJU fan after listening to her self-titled album earlier this year and when I found out about some of the songs she was going to cover, I was estatic. All of the songs were originally perfomed by female vocalists, a lot of them being ~modern classics~. There’s jazzy renditions of MISIA’s Tsutsumi Komu You ni… (つつみ込むように・・・), Namie Amuro’s Don’t wanna cry, Mika Nakashima’s WILL, and Utada Hikaru’s First Love just to name a few. And because I want to piss off you Shiina Ringo fans, her cover of Gips (ギブス) is WAAAAY better than the original. BWAHAHAHA.


BONNIE PINK – Dear Diary
Released on: October 6
Oricon Chart position: #7
Copies sold: 16,346
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: Is This Love? | Home Sweet Home | Many Moons Ago | Nami Nami

Here is another great release from BONNIE PINK! I thought her last album ONE was slightly better but Dear Diary is almost there. Prior to this album, she released two digital singles (Morning Glory and Is This Love?) and the physical single Kite (カイト). There were some songs that I did not care for like Birthday Girl (which sounds just like a ripoff of Catch The Sun) and World Peace but I seriously love the top tracks I listed above. Home Sweet Home is a lovely jazz ballad and Nami Nami (ナミナミ) is really fun and upbeat, making it one of her best ending tracks ever. Limited pressings of the album come with a B-side collection.


Mika Nakashima – STAR
Released on: October 27
Oricon Chart position: #3
Copies sold: 131,074
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: GAME | Over Load | LONELY STAR | SPIRAL

Mika Nakashima once again throws mud into the faces of her fans, but I wasn’t really that surprised. STAR technically only has TWO new songs but once you get past that, this album is really put together quite well. The ballads are placed at the beginning and end while the middle portion is full of nothing but upbeat songs. I think that’s awesome if you ask me. For example, ALWAYS and Ichiban Kirei na Watashi wo (一番綺麗な私を) start off the album while the new song 16, Nagareboshi (流れ星), and the digital single SONG FOR A WISH close it. As for that upbeat portion, it’s great since it has GAME (yeah it’s on here for some reason lol), the hot electropop track LONELY STAR, and SPIRAL. Heck, even CANDY GIRL isn’t that bad anymore.

Other Observations

  • Juliet released their 2nd album Real in August with the cover art showing the girls crying. Come on now, it was a good album! XD
  • Since Juliet now has a song for every season, they released a freaking mini best-of album of those songs titled Shiki Love -4 SEASONS LOVE BEST-. Only Japan does this, I tell you! XD
  • The award for most unnecessary best-of album goes to JYONGRI. The ironically titled JYONGRI BEST TRACKS featured 2 songs and a digital single plus a lot songs from the last 4 singles. It could have easily been a studio album.
  • Koda Kumi’s cover album ETERNITY ~Love & Songs~ was not all that bad upon further inspection. It was funny hearing the cover of her little sis misono’s song 0ji Mae no Tsunderella because it was sooooo much better.
  • Once again, wyolica went under my radar again and released a new album in September titled Castle of wind. I always forget about them. /bad fan
  • Aya Kamiki’s latest mini-album Gloriosa was pretty awesome.
  • Desperately trying to hold on to what little relevance she has, Thelma Aoyama released LOVE!2 -THELMA BEST COLLABORATIONS- in late July. Guess what song is on it? Soba ni Iru ne. LOLOLOLOL
  • Kaori Mochida’s 2nd solo album NIU was pretty much the same as her debut. Easy listening at its finest but it’s probably not for everyone. One of the songs really hurt my ears though.
  • Ken Hirai released a B-side collection to celebrate his 15th anniversary. Long title coming up: Ken Hirai 15th Anniversary c/w Collection ’95-’10 “Ura Utabaka”.
  • Maki Goto’s single collection also had a long title: Goto Maki COMPLETE BEST ALBUM 2001-2007 ~Singles & Rare Tracks~. No explanation needed.

Upcoming Albums

  • Mai Kuraki – FUTURE KISS [11/17]
  • Aya Matsuura – Click You Link Me (クリックユー リンクミー) [11/24]
  • Utada Hikaru – Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2 [11/24]
  • May J. – Believin’… (mini-album) [11/24]
  • K – K-BEST [12/1]
  • BENI – Jewel [12/8]
  • Crystal Kay – Spin The Music [12/8]
  • Yuna Ito – LOVE ~Singles Best 2005-2010~ [12/8]
  • Ayumi Hamasaki – Love songs [12/22]
  • Maki Goto – Gloria (mini-album) [1/12]
  • Do As Infinity – EIGHT [1/19]
  • May J. – Colors [1/26]

Okay, I’m tired now. lol I’m thinking about what to post for tomorrow (my last day =O). Hmmmm~

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What Did I Miss!? ~2010 Singles Edition~

November 12, 2010 at 5:25 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 4 Comments


Featuring Kana Nishino, the new queen of Jpop. Ayuwho?

Sorry but I just love to troll the Ayustans (crazy people need love too). They get so upset. ;D

Anyway, here’s a quick look at 10 singles from late June up to now. These are going to be short reviews so expect just a paragraph with a star rating. I’m a little rusty… >_>

♦ ♦ ♦


Namie Amuro – Break It / Get Myself Back
Released on: July 28
Oricon Chart position: #3
Copies sold: 84,566
Overall Rating: 

This is easily the best single released by an avex diva this year. I love Break It mostly for its wacky arrangement that includes Middle Eastern inspired acoustics and thumping drums. Amuro’s vocals could have better since she’s singing at a higher pitch than usual. The 2nd A-side Get Myself Back is a little slower but not slow enough to classify it as mid-tempo. It features a lot of beats and synth so it maintains a pretty lively atmosphere.


Kana Nishino – if
Released on: August 4
Oricon Chart position: #5
Copies sold: 86,343
Overall Rating: 

I was like “Ahhhhhh” thinking which Kana single to feature on this post…if or Kimitte because they’re both good but I went with if. It is the better single and it has stronger B-sides as well. For one thing, I was glad if was not some “aitakute cellphone” song so Kana gets an A for that. The B-sides are what really make this single shine though. I’ll be there is sweet and heartwarming while Beautiful is an absolute club banger. When is she ever going to release a song like that as a A-side because I need it NOW.


Sayuri Sugawara – “Suki” to Iu Kotoba
Released on: September 1
Oricon Chart position: #37
Copies sold: 3,075
Overall Rating: 

For those who don’t know her, she’s the chick who sang the Final Fantasy XIII Japanese theme song Kimi ga Iru Kara. The 2nd single of her current era, I kind of love “Suki” to Iu Kotoba (『好き』という言葉). It’s so pretty! Get rid of the stupid background vocals and the song would be perfect. As for the B-side I Wanna Cry… (a rockish type of song), I thought it was nice to hear Sugawara sing out of her pop/almost-not-even R&B niche.


Ai Otsuka – I ♥ ×××
Released on: September 8
Oricon Chart position: #8
Copies sold: 14,178 (LOL FLOP)
Overall Rating: 

What a truly bad song. Come at me, Ai stans! I ♥ ××× is terrible and probably one of her worst A-sides to date. The song tries to be cute and uplifting but it’s really just annoying and repetitive. All Ai does is sing “I love you this” and “I love you that” followed by cult chanting at the end. It’s not charming and it doesn’t make me feel all ~warm and fuzzy~ inside. BYE!


Koda Kumi – Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. / Anata Dake ga
Released on: September 22
Oricon Chart position: #2
Copies sold: 73,955
Overall Rating: 

I was totally on TEAM KUU during the crossroad vs. Suki dex3 wars. XD Would you imagine if Kuu did get the #1? I would be laughing all the way to boot camp. Anyway, as far as Kuu’s ballad singles go, this was a good one. Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. (好きで、好きで、好きで。)  was nice but I thought Anata Dake ga (あなただけが) was better. They’re both extremely pretty songs in the end. The single also includes a new version of her classic song walk titled walk ~to the future~.


Ayumi Hamasaki – L
Released on: September 29
Oricon Chart position: #1
Copies sold: 93,521
Overall Rating: 

Ah, Ayu’s landmark 50th single! Awful covers aside, I think this was her best overall single since Rule / Sparkle. It definitely craps all over MOON / blossom and crossroad, too. This is a triple A-side single and features a different leading track depending on the edition. I liked Sweet Season because it was a pleasant song with an arrangement that didn’t come off as overblown or forced. Virgin Road is a grandiose ballad but I didn’t care much for it and then there’s Last angel which I thought was pretty cool since it was reminiscent of her early eurobeat and trance days. Just like the last 2 singles, there’s bonus material depending on the edition like new versions of crossroad and SEVEN DAYS WAR. Check the page at JpopStop! *lazy*


Hitomi Shimatani – Mayonaka no Guitar
Released on: October 6
Oricon Chart position: #64
Copies sold: Bitch, I don’t know!
Overall Rating: 

Giiiiiirl, why are you releasing cover songs as A-sides again? I thought we got past that. Tsk tsk~ Even though I was disappointed, I must say that Mayonaka no Guitar (真夜中のギター) is a grower. It’s a simple, basic song but good lawd it got stuck in my head numerous times to the point that I now like it. The B-side Futari no Sora (ふたりの空) should have been the leading track since it’s more upbeat and has a better arrangement.


alan – Kanashimi wa Yuki ni Nemuru
Released on: October 13
Oricon Chart position: #20
Copies sold: 5,624
Overall Rating: 

Now this is what I’m talking about! After that Voice of EARTH wannabe Kaze ni Mukau Hana (sorry but I had to admit that), alan steps up her game with this haunting winter ballad. Seriously, Kanashimi wa Yuki ni Nemuru (悲しみは雪に眠る) is magnificent and it totally reminds me of music from a RPG. The B-side Namonaki Tane (名もなき種) is also well done and follows the same dramatic tone as the leading track.


Yuna Ito – Mamotte Agetai
Released on: November 3
Oricon Chart position: #41
Copies sold: 1,919
Overall Rating: 

About time this girl releases a single. It’s been a year since Let it Go. I want to like Mamotte Agetai (守ってあげたい) but the song is pretty BLAH. I think of it as a poor man’s miss you or trust you. XD It sounds nice but that’s about it. The B-side Kiss me (that’s the 3rd Sony artist with that song title!) is alright I guess. At least it wasn’t super cheesy. The single also includes a remix of Precious (you know, her hit single from 4 years ago ;D).


Ken Hirai – Aishiteru
Released on: November 10
Oricon Chart position: It hasn’t been a week yet. I can’t predict the future! OMGZ
Copies sold: At this rate, probably not a lot.
Overall Rating: 

Isn’t that just the most dramatic cover art you’ve ever seen? It makes a perfect banner for this blog. XD Focusing on Aishiteru (アイシテル), Ken-chan once again proves that he excels at ballads. I loooove it. The single before this, Sing Forever, was just okay and I didn’t care for it. The first B-side has a weird title. What’s an air cameraman? And why does he want to take my picture? Creepy… The next track is a cover of the classic song Unchained Melody, where I thought Ken-chan’s English singing was pretty good. His falsetto is crazy, too!

Other Observations

  • BoA’s last Japanese single WOO WEEKEND sucked. I’m so glad that she quickly rebounded with her Korean comeback album Hurricane Venus, which has to be one of my favorite albums this year.
  • Thelma Aoyama’s LET’S PARTY! / 23 proved to be her biggest flop yet, charting at #164. I kind of feel sorry for her now.
  • K is going on a 2 year hiatus! *crying rivers of tears* Since he’s a Korean male, he has to complete 2 years of military service before he turns 30. It’s the law! =O At least he released one more single (dear…) and has an upcoming best-of album in December.
  • JIDAISHIN by Do As Infinity fucking rocks!
  • BENI released her obligatory marriage song Heaven’s Door in August. I liked that song but the B-side I like it was pretty bad. Too much auto-tune.
  • Hopping on the LIFE train, Salyu’s latest single was great.
  • Did you see the covers of WaT’s 24/7 ~Mou Ichido~? Just woooooow.
  • I would have mentioned Yuya Matsushita’s Bird / 4 Seasons up there, but I still haven’t heard L.o.L yet. Is it good?

Upcoming Singles

  • JUJU – Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo (この夜をとめてよ) [11/17]
  • BENI – 2FACE [11/24]
  • Crystal Kay – Journey ~Kimi to Futari de~ (Journey ~君と二人で~) [11/24]
  • YUI – Rain [11/24]
  • Ai Kawashima – I Remember feat. Joe Sample [12/15]
  • Juliet – Yuki Love (ユキラブ) [12/15]
  • alan×Kei Fukui – Ai wa Chikara (愛は力) [1/1]
  • Nami Tamaki – Missing You ~Time To Love~ feat. KWANGSOO, JIHYUK, GIONIL (from Choshinsei) [1/12]

Coming up tomorrow: GOLD! LIFE! STAR! You can see what’s happening. coughALBUMScough

1/3 of 2010 In Review!? + May Releases

May 1, 2010 at 1:51 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 13 Comments


…featuring some chick that resembles alan.

I promised, didn’t I? Here’s a quick little rundown of the first 4 months of 2010. I know it’s only been 4 months but there’s already been a lot of stuff. It’s gonna happen in this order: A-sides, B-sides, and albums.

♦ ♦ ♦

A-sides

The Best!
YUI – GLORIA
Salyu – Atarashii YES
JASMINE – This Is Not A Game
Do As Infinity – Kimi ga Inai Mirai
alan – Over the clouds
The honorable mention goes to…CHiAKi KURiYAMA – Ryuusei no Namida

The Worst
Thelma Aoyama – Kaeru Basho
alan – Diamond
Nami Tamaki – Omoide ni Naru no?
Ai Otsuka – Zokkondition
Morning Musume – Kimagure Princess (I don’t review them but it was HORRIBLE!)

B-sides

The Best!
Angela Aki – The Chase
BENI – Stylish
the brilliant green – at light speed
Kana Nishino – ONE WAY LOVE
Mika Nakashima – SPIRAL
The honorable mention goes to…Yuya Matsushita – Futari

I didn’t really hate any B-sides so far. XD

Albums

The Best!
Sayuri Sugawara – First Story
Salyu – MAIDEN VOYAGE
KOKIA – REAL WORLD
Kalafina – Red Moon

The Best album-only tracks!
Ayumi Hamasaki – Sexy little things
Sayuri Sugawara – ALWAYS
Koda Kumi – UNIVERSE
Nami Tamaki – Tokyo
Kalafina – Yami no Uta

The Worst
BoA – IDENTITY
Rie fu – at Rie sessions (Such a disappointment.)
Morning Musume – 10 MY ME

Honestly, I’ve been unimpressed with the veteran artists like Ayumi Hamasaki, Koda Kumi, BoA, and Ai Otsuka. Nothing but subpar material from them. So far, only KOKIA has delivered the goods with REAL WORLD. On a positive note, it’s the more recent artists that have really surprised me. Sayuri Sugawara, Kalafina, and Kana Nishino are some good examples.

Here are some of the “other” albums released so far. I’m not gonna include Koda Kumi’s Driving Hit’s 2 because I don’t care about remix albums.


Hitomi Shimatani – Otoko Uta II ~20 Seiki Nostalgia~
Release date: January 27
What is it?: Her 2nd cover album.
Worth listening to?: Not really. You won’t be missing much.
Notable tracks: The Japanese version of Time After Time.

Ugh. I love you Shimatani-sama but enough of the boring cover albums! This was even less exciting than the first one. NEW ORIGINAL MATERIAL PLZ.


misono – misono Cover ALBUM 2
Release date: January 27
What is it?: Her 2nd cover album.
Worth listening to?: Not as much as the first one.
Notable tracks: The JUDY AND MARY medley (track 5).

Very original titles, ladies. I didn’t care for this cover album. She does try out some different stuff like an enka song (Amaigigoe) and a Japanese version of that song from the musical Annie (Tomorrow). Unlike the first cover album, her vocals aren’t as good here.


HIMEKA – ♥Anison ~Utatte Mita~
Release date: March 3
What is it?: A cover album featuring anime theme songs.
Worth listening to?: YES!
Notable tracks: Sore ga, Ai Deshou, Yuzurenai Negai, and Tamashii no Refrain.

I know that HIMEKA is an otaku but I’ll forgive her (j/k she’s still awesome). I actually like this album a lot because she does these songs justice. There are upbeat ~kawaii~ tracks (Yuzurenai Negai), aggressive songs (BLAZE), and even a ballad or two (Voices). I thought she did a great job and I can’t get enough of her powerful voice.


alan – Lan Se ~Love Moon Light~
Release date: April 16
What is it?: Her first Chinese mini-album.
Worth listening to?: Yep! It’s her best Chinese release, IMO.
Notable tracks:  Xuan Ying ~Sharp Light~ and Luo Dan De Chibang.

This is the first Chinese release by alan that I actually liked. It has really nice and ORIGINAL songs that rival her Japanese works. You also get Chinese versions of Nobody knows but me and my life.

♦ ♦ ♦

The Stranger Bitches (that’s YOU, Meisa Kuroki)

So I’ve listened to a bunch of other stuff and I wanted to share my thoughts on them. There were some releases that I loved while others that were just plain awful. The big question I get is Then why don’t you review them? and my answer is…I don’t wanna! lol


Meisa Kuroki – ATTITUDE
Release date: January 1
You should check out: Are ya ready?

I still don’t know about this hot, yet tonedeaf chick. This is a mini-album and in some ways, it’s better than hellcat, but in other ways it’s not. Her vocals are slightly better (I’m exaggerating the word “slightly”) but the music is a downgrade. The only track that stands out is Are ya ready? and the other songs after it are just pale imitations. I have to admit that Are ya ready? was my jam in January and February! XD


AKB48 – Sakura no Shiori
Release date: February 17
You should check out: The A-side is all you need to hear.

Mind you, I have only listened to the A-side (lol) but it’s absolutely gorgeous. I have never heard a song like this from an idol group because it sounds like it was performed by a choir instead of just a bunch of girls. There’s actual harmonies and a catchy melody behind all of it. When was the last time Morning Musume did that? Morning Coffee? LOLOL I know there’s 48 of them but still, I can’t deny how good this song is. Give it a listen, plz.


Yuya Matsushita – Trust Me
Release date: February 17
You should check out: Both the A-side and the B-side!

This is the R&B singer’s 4th single and his first to reach the top 10 on the Oricon charts. After a series of mid-tempo songs and ballads, he finally releases a hot dance track. The B-side Futari is a nice ballad, too. I know some people have been saying stuff like “omg Lex you don’t review any male artists” but whatever bitches; here’s one now! I like this guy and you’ll be seeing more of him on this blog.


Tohoshinki – BEST SELECTION 2010
Release date: February 17
You should check out: Uhh…there’s a lot of songs on here but BREAK OUT! was cool.

OMG THEY DISBANDED! *CRYING A RIVER OF TEARS* So I finally gave these guys a chance and I listened to BOTH DISCS of this compilation album. I found myself liking the slower paced songs more like Stand by U because the upbeat dance songs had annoying rapping sections (minus BREAK OUT!). Something about their voices bugs me, too. Oh well, I don’t think I’ll be a fan anytime soon.


CHEMISTRY – regeneration
Release date: February 24
You should check out: Period, Once Again, and Heaven Can Wait.

I WAS going to review this album but I was swamped with work and other reviews at the time. Anyway, this is the duo’s 6th studio album and the first to feature some electronic dance influences. It still has the classic R&B tunes that they’re known for but I’m glad for the unique tracks like Go Alone, Trico…, and Life goes on ~side K~. You also get some solo tracks and collaborations with Dohzi-T. I thought their last album Face to Face was better though.


Shota Shimizu – Journey
Release date: March 3
You should check out: DAYS

I thought this album was an improvement over his debut Umbrella but I still don’t like him enough to keep his music on my computer (sorry, bb). I loved the song DAYS though. Congrats on getting your first #1, Shota!


Kalafina – Red Moon
Release date: March 17
You should check out: EVERTHING…except for maybe Hikari no Senritsu.

EPIC BITCH ALERT! What’s the best way to describe Kalafina? ~Epic symphonic pop rock~ seems about right but they’re even more than that. This is their 2nd album and I was floored by how amazing it was. There are so many dynamic songs on it so I won’t even start. Combine Yuki Kajiura’s composition skills with the 3 vocalists Keiko, Wakana, and Hikaru and you got some spellbiding music. It’s already shaping up to be one of the best albums of 2010 and I will be reviewing their future releases from now on.


Morning Musume – 10 MY ME
Release date: March 17
You should check out: The Chinese version of Ame no Furanai Hoshi de wa Aisenai Darou?.

And now we have one of the WORST albums so far. What a piece of crap. I didn’t like a single song off this album except for the Chinese version of “Ame no blahblah?” but that doesn’t count. The music sounds so outdated and cheap plus the vocals were awful. Platinum 9 DISC had much better songs. No wonder Japan likes AKB48 more. I’m done with these hacks.

♦ ♦ ♦

Coming Up in May!

Today is May 1st and here is a list of upcoming releases (relevant to me, of course) for the month of May. Most I will review, some I won’t.

SINGLES
Yuya Matsushita – YOU [5/5]
BENI – Yura Yura / Gimme Gimme♥ [5/5]
misono – …Suki××× / 0 Jimae no Tsunderella [5/5]
JASMINE – DREAMIN’ [5/12]
Juliet – 23:45 [5/19]
Kana Nishino – Aitakute Aitakute [5/19]
Sayuri Sugawara – Sunao ni Narenakute [5/19]
HIMEKA – Mirai e… [5/26]

ALBUMS
Ai Kawashima – 24/24 [5/26]

Well, that’s not much. I might add some more though. That’s all for now, everyone! I’ll see you in a week or so.

– Lex

2009 In Review ~Albums + Ripping Things Up~

January 1, 2010 at 9:36 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 9 Comments


PART 5

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

First of all, I want to say that I LOOOOVE whoever made this manip. It had me loling for hours. A big thanks to some random member at ONTD for posting it. 

That was Namie’s reaction when she found out that Susan Boyle beat her on the World Charts. =(

Along with my favorite albums, I will also have some random categories to finish off the post. Once again, these will be in no particular order but I did divide the albums section into 2 categories: a lower tier and an upper tier. The upper tier contains my top 5 albums of the year!

♦ ♦ ♦

THE BEST!

ALBUMS

The Lower Tier


Ayumi Hamasaki – NEXT LEVEL
LOL. Why are you looking at me like that? It was a fun album. =x
Top Tracks: Sparkle | Rule | LOVE ‘n’ HATE


BENI – Bitter & Sweet
An excellent “re-debut” album.
Top Tracks: Kiss Kiss Kiss | nice & slow | Beautiful World


Rie fu – URBAN ROMANTIC
A great mix of the old and new for Rie fu.
Top Tracks: Romantic | PRESENT | She Can’t Say No ~No to Ienai Onna~


Perfume –
It’s GAME but without the boring second half!
Top Tracks: One Room Disco | Kiss and Music | edge (⊿-mix)


Koda Kumi – TRICK
This would have been perfect without the cute songs and bling bling bling.
Top Tracks: TABOO | show girl | JUST THE WAY YOU ARE

The Upper Tier


Yuna Ito – DREAM
It’s easily her best album to date. It contains her best upbeat songs too.
Top Tracks: Ima Demo Aitai yo… | trust you | LOVE MACHINE GUN


KOKIA – KOKIA∞AKIKO ~balance~
Another flawless release. I loved the variety on this album.
Top Tracks: INFINITY | Usu Momoiro no Kisetsu | usaghi


MiChi – UP TO YOU
Most infectious album of the year. No doubt about it!
Top Tracks: PROMiSE | KiSS KiSS xxx | YOU


Namie Amuro – PAST<FUTURE
The queen! *bows down*
Top Tracks: FAST CAR | WILD | The Meaning Of Us


alan – Voice of EARTH
You know, before her “Ayufication”.
Top Tracks: Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ | RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ | Together

Albums That Just Missed The Top 10
Angela Aki – ANSWER
BONNIE PINK – ONE
Kana Nishino – LOVE one.
Do As Infinity – ETERNAL FLAME
MISIA – JUST BALLADE

♦ ♦ ♦

THE WORST?
Well, the only album that I really hated this year was Tommy heavenly6’s I KILL MY HEART. Please rename it to I KILL MY FANBASE/CREDIBILITY/SELF. There’s also alan’s my life (The Ayufication of alan, part 2) but it’s only the album’s boring first half that I dislike so much.

WRAPPING THINGS UP: RANDOMNESS!

Other Amazing Album Tracks
Kana Nishino – Life goes on…
BONNIE PINK – Get on the Bus
Angela Aki – ANSWER and Dahlia
Aya Matsuura – Omoi Afurete
Mai Kuraki – touch Me!

Songs That I Shouldn’t Like But I Do Anyway
Koda Kumi – Lick me
Ayumi Hamasaki – Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~
Kana Nishino – candy
alan – Essence of me
Yuna Ito – BAILA BAILA

Collaborations
The best: Yuna Ito feat. Spontania – Ima Demo Aitai yo…
Runner-up: BoA – UNIVERSE feat. Crystal Kay & VERBAL (m-flo)

The worst: Ai Otsuka×SU from RIP SYLME – aisu×time
Runner-up: Koda Kumi×misono – It’s all Love!

Cover Songs
The best: misono – Urusei Yatsura no Theme ~Lum no Love Song~
Runner-up: Ami Suzuki – Dub-I-Dub

The worst: Sowelu – Time After Time
Runner-up: Angela Aki – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (What are you gonna do about it? XD)

Remixes
I’m not big on remixes but my favorite this year was the “8-bits of tears YMCK remix” of Days by Ayumi Hamasaki.

Introductions/Interludes
The best: Koda Kumi – INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK
Runner-up: alan – Tennyo ~interlude~

The worst: Ayumi Hamasaki – Disco-munication (So pointless.)
Runner-up: Thelma Aoyama – Intro (Also very pointless.)

Don’t disappoint me now, 2010.

2009 In Review ~All the Singles…Put Your Hands Up?~

December 30, 2009 at 6:10 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 11 Comments


PART 4

Personally, I thought 2009 was a decent year for singles. 2008 was better though since a lot of the “veteran acts” that I listen to haven’t exactly delivered with some of their releases.

You’ll be seeing some newer artists on the following lists too. I’ll be starting with the best…and then the worst. These will be in no particular order too. You know me and my weird/crappy taste in music. >_>

Disclaimer: Don’t like my choices?

♦ ♦ ♦

THE BEST!

A-SIDES

5 Honorable Mentions

BONNIE PINK – Joy
Sowelu – MATERIAL WORLD
ayaka – Minna Sora no Shita
BENI – Kiss Kiss Kiss
Perfume – One Room Disco

And here’s the top 10~


Thelma Aoyama – Todoketai… feat. KEN THE 390


Kana Nishino – Kimi ni Aitaku Naru Kara


Ayumi Hamasaki – Sparkle


Namie Amuro – WILD


BoA – Eien


MiChi – YOU


Do As Infinity – Umareyuku Monotachi e


Salyu – Corteo ~Gyouretsu~


alan – Kuon no Kawa


Yuna Ito – trust you

B-SIDES

5 Honorable Mentions

Ai Kawashima – Power of smile
JASMINE – Koi
Tiana Xiao – You’re My Heart
Stephanie – BREAKDOWN
Mika Nakashima – Memory (feat. DAISHI DANCE)


Hitomi Shimatani – Stay with me (from the single SMILES)


BENI – CRUISE the WORLD (from the single Koi Kogarete)


Angela Aki – Emily (from the single Ai no Kisetsu)


Yuna Ito – Brand New World (from the single trust you)


Do As Infinity – Timeless (from the single ∞1)


Thelma Aoyama – Don’t Stop (from the single Wasurenai yo)


MISIA – LOVE TRULY (from the single Aitakute Ima)


Nami Tamaki – Happy Forever (from the single Friends!)


YUI – Sea (from the single again)


ayaka – Arigatou. (from the single Minna Sora no Shita)

♦ ♦ ♦

THE WORST (besides everything by GIRL NEXT DOOR)

…or just “least favorite” because that would be mean. ;D
I’ll only be covering A-sides since the only B-side that I seriously hated this year was in my life by Nami Tamaki. Please enjoy the poorly made macros. lol


Koda Kumi – Hashire!
Bitch, you better run!


Ami Suzuki – Reincarnation
Better off dead, tbh.


Nami Tamaki – GIVE ME UP
Thanks for FUCKING UP Nami’s career, Universal!


alan – Swear
“The Ayufication of alan, part 1”


Mika Nakashima – CANDY GIRL
YES, I went there. Worst cicrus ever!

Coming up in part 5: The finale! I will go over my favorite albums of 2009. I’m starting to have second thoughts on some of my reviews, actually. =O You’ll know for sure if it made the top 10!

2009 In Review ~Discoveries and Stranger Bitches~

December 22, 2009 at 10:31 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 117 Comments


PART 3

Whew, I discovered a lot of new artists this year! Minus the ones you’ve seen on the blog already (Kana Nishino, JASMINE, MiChi, HIMEKA, May J., etc.), there’s a lot that I didn’t mention. The main reason that you haven’t seen them yet is because I’m waiting for the right moment or I’m not fully convinced yet. There are some discoveries that I’ve had the pleasure (or absolute displeasure) of listening to.

♦ ♦ ♦

Up Close and Personal…


Juliet – Gyaru girls who aren’t total flops.
Label: Universal Music
Sounds like: Morning Musume but without the helium and cheesiness.
Notable tracks: Chotto Zutsu., Natsu Love, and Fuyu Love.
What’s next?: A new single titled Haru Love in January.

When this trio first debuted with the single Natsu Love in August, not much was known about them. Not even their faces were revealed to the public but the song topped the Recochoku ringtone charts (reminds me of Stephanie’s debut lol). The group consists of 3 “gyaru” models: Hami, Maiko, and Yumi. They released another seasonal love song titled Fuyu Love in October followed by their debut album a month later…which is simply titled Love. XD I thought the album was pretty catchy and the girls aren’t bad singers.


Sayuri Sugawara – That chick who sings the FFXIII theme song.
Label: For Life Music Entertaiment
Sounds like: I’m not gonna sugarcoat it…a super pop version of ayaka.
Notable tracks: Destiny feat. FEROS, Kimi ni Okuru Uta, and Kimi ga Iru Kara.
What’s next?: Her full-length debut album First Story is out in January. 

I SWEAR this girl is the second coming of ayaka! From her frumpy image to her vocals, I get total ayaka vibes from her. Just like how I discovered Angela Aki, I found out about Sugawara because she was going to sing the theme song for Final Fantasy XIII. So I listened to her mini-album Kimi ni Okuru Uta that was released in April and behold, I was impressed. She’s got a good voice on her and I like me some pretty pop music.


lela – Antrophobia has never sounded so good.
Label: Sony Music Entertainment
Sounds like: A mix of experimental pop and ethnic flavors.
Notable tracks: Hadaka no Tsuki and FREEDOM.
What’s next?: Nothing has been announced as of yet.

You read right. lela suffers from a condition known as anthrophobia;  an extreme fear or anxiety of people. This means that she hasn’t done any public appearances or live performances. Putting that aside, I think she’s really good. Her voice has a nice, deep quality to it and I was liking her brand of ethereal pop rock. She released her debut album Hadaka no Tsuki in October and I want MORE!


Meisa Kuroki – Some hot bitch.
Label: Sony Music Entertainment
Sounds like: She needs to take more singing lessons.
Notable tracks: Bad Girl and ummm…it’s remix? LOL
What’s next?: A new mini-album titled ATTITUDE is out on New Year’s Day.

Okay okay okay! I’m only hating for the sake of hating but…I don’t really think she can “sing”. I listen to my fair share of tone deaf J-skanks but Meisa Kuroki takes the cake. An actress, model, and now “singer”, I guess you can call her a triple threat now? Whateverrrrrrr. Bad Girl was the only song that I really liked off her hellcat mini-album and don’t even get me started on the mess that was SHOCK -Unmei-. Prove me wrong with this next mini-album, girl! She is very hot though. lol

The Rest of Them

Those are the only 4 artists that I’m keeping my eye on but I did listen to a bunch of other random people this year as well. I checked out their latest albums/singles out of plain curiosity…and also for shits and giggles. I was bored, okay? Warning: Extreme bitchiness coming up.


Shoko Nakagawa –
Magic Time
Release date: January 1
You should check out: Kirei à la Mode and Fuyu no Yuuenchi.

She’s cute. This is the 2nd album by the actress/seiyuu and I thought it was a little better than her debut. I sort of like her voice too even though she has a slight lisp. I should listen to her other singles from this year too.


Kanon Wakeshima –
Shinshoku Dolce
Release date: February 18
You should check out: still doll (album ver.) and Shinku no Fatalism.

I remember a lot of people going batshit crazy over this new chick and her cello playing. I really liked the use of the cello in her songs but the voice…not so much. She has an inconsistent voice that bugged me. Her style of music is a treat though. It has a creepy gothic feel thanks to producer Mana.


Morning Musume –
Platinum 9 DISC
Release date: March 18
You should check out: Ame no Furanai Hoshi de wa Aisenai Darou? and Resonant Blue.

Hmm…Morning Musume always presents a dilemma. I like them one moment but then despise them in the next. Oh well, the group always presents songs that I end up enjoying. Then again, there’s also A LOT that I hate. XD As for this album, I am indifferent. I will say that the solo songs suck though.


LEO Imai –
Laser Rain
Release date: April 22
You should check out: Synchronize and Word.

I still don’t know what to think about this guy. This is his 2nd major album and correct me if I’m wrong, the first one where he starts some genre experimenting. However, the only songs that stuck to me were Synchronize, Word, and MAYBE Connector. I would like him to do more of that funky electronic sound heard in Synchronize.


Nana Mizuki –
ULTIMATE DIAMOND
Release date: June 3
You should check out: Shin’ai and Aoi Hikari no Hate -ULTIMATE MODE-.

This is the popular seiyuu’s 7th album and her first to reach #1 on the Oricon Charts. From what people have told me, she has been drifting away from the typical “anime sound” and I could understand that after listening to ULTIMATE DIAMOND. There were some pretty good songs on here!


GIRL NEXT DOOR –
Infinity
Release date: June 10
You should check out: Just the A-side. The rest is gross.

Out of all the mediocre singles GIRL NEXT DOOR released this year, the only good one was Infinity (yeah, Orion sucked so deal with it). When I mean “good”, I mean it wasn’t as generic or annoying like everything else they put out. I predict that their next album NEXT FUTURE (LOLOLOL OIC!) will be full of the same old crap.


Aira Mitsuki –
PLASTIC
Release date: July 22
You should check out: Robot Honey and BARBiE BARBiE.

The lispy robot girl’s 2nd album (I guess not even a vocoder can hide a lisp). I thought COPY was better and a lot more memorable though. Minus the singles, it was a “so-so” sophomore effort. I guess I’m not a huge J-tek stan like some other people are. >_>


Jun Shibata –
Ghost Writer
Release date: November 4
You should check out: Love Letter and Chou.

This one was kind of random since I discovered this singer-songwriter through a CDTV chart clip on YouTube. She’s been around for a while and this is her 7th album. I fell in love with the single Love Letter because of her pristine voice. On this album, the music is mostly mid-tempo organic pop crafted from elegant musical compositions.


HANGRY & ANGRY –
Sadistic Dance
Release date: November 11
You should check out: Mr.Monkey and Top Secret.

I’m not gonna lie…I like these girls. HANGRY & ANGRY is a unit consisting of 2 former Morning Musume members: Hitomi Yoshizawa and Rika Ishikawa. Intended to promote a fashion line, they also release some pretty cool rock music. This is their first full-length album and features new tracks as well as new versions of songs from the Kill me Kiss me mini-album.


Becky♪#
– Kokoro Komete / Happy Happy
Release date: December 2
You should check out: Absolutely nothing.

No no no. I hated this single. The 3 tracks are Hello!Project rejects and the B-side WBC has got to be one of the most annoying songs I have heard this year. I don’t wanna hear anybody yell “BANZAI!” for 4 minutes. Girl, bye!


Erina Mano –
FRIENDS
Release date: December 16
You should check out: Uhhhh…Otome no Inori?

This is Erina Mano’s debut album. For being an H!P release, it’s pretty boring. I don’t really remember it since it hardly had any fun upbeat tracks. As for Mano’s voice…it’s not bad but there’s nothing striking about it. She’s very plain to say the least.

Your Thoughts?

Did anybody catch your eye? Well, I got more for you! Here’s a list of some even more artists that I’ve been thinking about listening to. From your requests (don’t even think about it ;D), e-mails, shouts at last.fm, etc., here are the rest of these stranger bitches. State your case on WHY I should listen to them. I can be easily persuaded but don’t be a crazy stan about it.

Miho Fukuhara – I haven’t heard a thing from her but judging from those single covers…she can’t keep her mouth shut.
OLIVIA – I find her insane and weird, but I’m open for suggestions.
Chihiro Onitsuka – I have listened to infection and was pretty amazed. Is there anything else?
Kou Shibasaki – I don’t know where to start with her but she did release a new album. How is it?
Miliyah Kato – Besides being really ugly and trannylicious, she has a good voice. So how about it?
RURUTIA – The elusive whisper-singer. Seirios was a cool album but I need more convincing.
school food punishment – A fairly new band. I’ve been hearing good things about them.
Any MALE artists or groups? – Except Johnny’s acts or the Korean converts. Bye!

There are some people that I won’t even touch with a 30 foot pole but I won’t mention them. That would be mean! lulz

Coming up in Part 4: Singles singles singles! I will talk about my top 15 A-sides, B-sides, and whatever. New to this year, I will also reveal my least favorite songs. While 2009 had a lot of stuff that I liked, there was also a good amount of crap. Stay tuned!

2009 In Review ~This Is Lex’s Bar II: The Reckoning~

December 12, 2009 at 9:07 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 11 Comments


PART 2

OTHER STUFF! This section will pretty much cover everything else that I didn’t review this year (because I’m lazy and only like to review studio albums). Yep, this will include ~foreign language~ material from your favorite artists too. Mini-reviews are fun! =D

♦ ♦ ♦

The Japanese Stuff


KOKIA – AKIKO∞KOKIA ~balance~
Release date: March 18
What is it?: KOKIA’s “indies” album that I didn’t want to review. lol
Worth listening to?: If you want to get bored out of your fucking mind.
Notable tracks: Only one – Ooki na Senaka.

Earlier this year, KOKIA’s released 2 albums to celebrate her 10th anniversary. One album was a major release while the other was indies. I loved the major label album (KOKIA∞AKIKO ~balance~) and gave it 4½ stars but this one…you don’t want to know. This album was just one big boring ballad and I couldn’t get into it. I normally love her ballads but they are just so bland and far too simple on here. No offense if you liked the album but I absolutely did not.


Ken Hirai – Ken’s Bar II
Release date: May 27
What is it?: The sequel to his first cover album! Bwahaha.
Worth listening to?: Not really.
Notable tracks: Let’s see…I liked his version of Stardust the most.

*yawn* This cover album bored me. Even though he performs a different array of songs from Ayumi Hamasaki’s LOVE ~Destiny~ to Ne-Yo’s Because of You, they all sound the same. This is because they’re all “jazzy piano renditions” that relate to the album’s intimate lounge club theme. I don’t mind the atmosphere but please make the songs more interesting if you’re going to do this again, Ken-chan! I guess that means a “Ken’s Bar III” will be coming soon. >_>


misono – misono Cover ALBUM
Release date: September 23
What is it?: misono’s first cover album.
Worth listening to?: Give it a try!
Notable tracks: The 2 “animedleys”.

I actually liked misono’s cover album and I thought it was pretty solid. There’s only 9 tracks but there’s a lot of content. The 2 animedleys (a medley that features theme songs from various anime) are pretty lengthy because they contain like 5 songs each. As for the rest, check out her cover of Momoe Yamaguchi’s Playback part2 and her take on Avril Lavigne’s Complicated is…pretty interesting.  She will be releasing another cover album in January 2010 too.


LOVE – LOVE.IT
Release date: November 18
What is it?: Ai Otsuka’s first mini-album but released as her bunny alter ego “LOVE”.
Worth listening to?: If you like auto-tuned whisper singing.
Notable tracks: I’ll get back to you on that one.

Japan doesn’t care about Ai Otsuka’s releases as “LOVE” since this release only peaked at #82 (the two singles LOVE no Theme and White Choco flopped too). I didn’t care for this mini-album either, hence why I didn’t feel like reviewing it. Who cares about alter egos in Japan, anyway? LOVE ain’t no Sasha Fierce! As for the 6 tracks on the mini-album, they are sort of interesting since they have a more electronic feel than her normal material. The vocals bothered me though because she’s whispering throughout the entire thing.


K – Merry Christmas
Release date: December 2
What is it?: A Christmas themed mini-album.
Worth listening to?: Like BONNIE PINK’s CHAIN; only during the holiday season!
Notable tracks: His covers of Twilight Avenue and Wonderful Christmastime.

At least one Christmas themed J-pop album comes out every year but I won’t be doing full-scale reviews of them anymore (sorry, K-san). Anywho, he adds an R&B feel to the songs he covers and also performs acappella versions of his own songs. There’s also a new original song called Christmas Day. Who the heck ends a festive Christmas album with Only Human though? How depressing.

Foreign Stuff lol


BoA – BoA
Release date: March 17 (regular edition); September 22 (deluxe edition)
What is it?: BoA’s English language debut album.
Worth listening to?: You better listen or she’ll eat you up! j/k It doesn’t matter.
Notable tracks: I Did It For Love, Did Ya, and Look Who’s Talking.

I don’t know what to say except…FLOP FLOP FLOP! Okay, now that’s out of my system…*deep breath* This album isn’t bad. Sure, it’s filled with overproduced dance music and distorted vocal effects but it’s catchy! I definitely liked the first half more since I felt the album the album goes downhill after Obsessed. I don’t really remember anything from that point (except the Engrish version of Girls On Top). Later in the year, the deluxe edition was released and included the new songs Control and Crazy About. I haven’t heard them yet but I dare you to convince me!


Utada – This Is The One
Release date: March 14 (Japan edition); May 12 (US edition)
What is it?: Utada’s 2nd English album.
Worth listening to?: I liked Exodus more but yes.
Notable tracks: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI, Dirty Desire, and Poppin’.

One word best describes this album: RIDICULOUS! While her first English album Exodus was experimental, This Is The One is very mainstream. Aside from being mainstream, the album is dirtyyyyyy and will make your inner prude surface. Okay, not the entire thing but you get the drift. I was surprised that fans were shocked by the lyrical content. It’s funny that the album’s more ridiculous/dirty songs happen to be my favorites though. Poppin’ is my ultimate guilty pleasure! Even though I thought Exodus was better, “TITO” is a nice sophomore effort that is perfect for the American market.


Younha – Peace Love & Ice cream
Release date: April 16
What is it?: “Part A” of Younha’s 3rd Korean album.
Worth listening to?: Only for a couple tracks.
Notable tracks: Break Out and Luv U Luv U Luv U.

For some reason, Younha divided her 3rd Korean album into 2 parts. Peace Love & Ice cream is part A and it’s something else. Let’s just say that the album is very typical of your modern K-pop release: high production value but no originality whatsoever. For example, even though I liked Luv U Luv Luv U, it’s a total ripoff of Lady GaGa’s Just Dance. There’s also 1,2,3 and it sounds way too similar to the Jackson 5’s ABC.


alan – Xin De Dong Fang
Release date: July 10
What is it?: alan’s first major Chinese album.
Worth listening to?: I’m still on the fence with this album, tbh.
Notable tracks: Xin Zhan ~RED CLIFF~ and Ai Jiu Shi Shou.

Basically, this is the Chinese version of Voice of EARTH and then some. The tracklisting is vastly different too. Along with the 2 original RED CLIFF theme songs, it was interesting to hear alan perform Chinese versions of her Japanese tracks like Ashita e no Sanka, Gunjou no Tani, and Sora Uta. All the tracks have a Japanese counterpart except for one: Jia You! Ni You ME!, a duet with Wei Chen. It’s a very poppy song that sticks out. I didn’t like this album as much as Voice of EARTH but it’s still good. I guess it’s because I’m not used to the Chinese language but alan’s vocals are a lot quieter and less exuberant here.


Younha – Growing Season
Release date: December 11 (my birthday! =D)
What is it?: “Part B” of Younha’s 3rd Korean album.
Worth listening to?: It’s definitely better than part A so yes!
Notable tracks: Say Something and LaLaLa.

It only took Younha 8 more months to complete her 3rd Korean album! It was worth the wait though since Growing Season is much better than Peace Love & Ice cream. It’s a more mature album that is…wait for it…ORIGINAL! She returns to the sound that made her Someday album so brilliant. There’s a nice mix of pop, jazz, and some rock. I wonder if she’ll combine the 2 albums for a “repackage edition”. I see it happening. >_>

Coming up in Part 3: 2009 was a great year when it came to discovering new artists. I definitely added a lot of new artists to the blog but there’s even more than I haven’t mentioned. They will be revealed in the next post but I also want to name off some other people that I have been thinking about listening to. I will want your feedback, guys! ;D

2009 In Review ~BEST of BtS & COVERS & USA & Such As!~

December 6, 2009 at 12:26 AM | Posted in ~Features! | 10 Comments


PART 1

Welcome to part 1 of my 2009 In Review special! I did this last year but there’s going to be MORE! This section will cover best-of compilations (part 2 will cover everything else). These will be featured in the order they were released and have “mini-reviews” like before (but no star ratings this time). Think of this as a guide. XD

♦ ♦ ♦


Tommy heavenly6 – Gothing Melting Ice cream’s Darkness Nightmare
Release date: February 25
Features: Every A-side plus a slew of other tracks for 19 total.
Exclusive stuff: The new track Unlimited Sky.
Worth listening to?: More than the february6 best-of! XD

Tomoko Kawase released the best-of collections for both of her personas on the same day! This one is from her Tommy heavenly6 persona and it’s pretty solid. Aside from having every A-side, the album has a bunch of extra songs like album tracks and B-sides. Ending the collection is the new track Unlimited Sky too. Personally, I still prefer the heavenly6 persona despite the atrocity that was I KILL MY HEART so eat it february6 fans.


Mika Nakashima – NO MORE RULES.
Release date: March 4
Features: Various tracks from all albums.
Exclusive stuff: The new track GAME.
Worth listening to?: Sure, why not.

This release came out of nowhere and I thought it had the strangest concept. Limited to 50,000 copies, this is a collection of Nakashima’s songs that were used in commercials for KATE cosmetics (since she’s the model and all). Fortunately, it’s a great collection of songs. It helps that her more unique tracks are on the album and the new song GAME is hot. If you are new to Nakashima, I recommend this album instead of BEST since it has a better selection.


BoA – BEST&USA
Release date: March 18
Features: DO THE MOTION up to Eien/UNIVERSE/Believe in LOVE.
Exclusive stuff: New versions of Meri Kuri and VALENTI.
Worth listening to?: Personally, I would say yes.

In Japan, BoA’s English language debut album (I’ll talk about that later) was released in conjunction with her 2nd compilation album as a 2 disc set. Well, that depends on the edition but anyway, I think this is a great collection. A lot of people say BEST OF SOUL was better but I disagree to an extent since I’m more a fan of her recent material. Plus, the covers are FIERCE.


Sowelu – Sowelu THE BEST 2002-2009
Release date: March 18
Features: Every A-side + random cover songs.
Exclusive stuff: The new track AINOTE.
Worth listening to?: Just for the A-sides honestly.

To mark Sowelu’s departure from Sony, this album was released quickly after her final single MATERIAL WORLD. The weird thing about this album is that it becomes a “cover best” right in the middle of Disc 2. Then it finishes off with MATERIAL WORLD and followed by the new track AINOTE. As for the covers, the only ones that I really liked were The Rose and Piano Man. I’m a big fan of most of the A-sides though.


Hitomi Shimatani – BEST & COVERS
Release date: July 29
Features: Viola up to SMILES on Disc 1 and various cover songs on Disc 2.
Exclusive stuff: Covers of Shiroi Chou no Samba and Nagai Aida.
Worth listening to?: YES! on Disc 1. NO! on Disc 2.

I love Hitomi Shimatani but WTF. Disc 1 (the BEST part, get it?) of this compilation is absolute perfection but Disc 2 is a “cover best”…I know. :| Well, some of the covers were released as singles (Amairo no Kami no Otome, OF COURSE) while others were floating around on other random CDs. Anyway, while Disc 1 has no new tracks, Disc 2 has two new covers (yay?). I have to admit that the Shiroi Chou no Samba cover is really nice but that’s it!


Crystal Kay – BEST of CRYSTAL KAY
Release date: September 2
Features: Almost every A-side and a track from each studio album.
Exclusive stuff: A limited premium disc that contains 4 new songs.
Worth listening to?: Yes and the premium disc is a must!

Congrats to 10 years, CK! I thought this was an impressive collection and it really shows her evolution as an artist. She’s done a lot of growing ever since her debut when she was just 13 years old. Limited pressings of the album come with a “premium disc” that has 4 new songs, each one a collaboration. For example, Step by Step was produced by Yasutaka Nakata and Helpless Night is a duet with Jin Akanishi from KAT-TUN.


Mai Kuraki – ALL MY BEST
Release date: September 9
Features: Random A-sides and album tracks throughout her entire career.
Exclusive stuff: The new track Watashi no, Shiranai, Watashi..
Worth listening to?: This one is a DOOZY. Approach with caution!

DAMN, MAI-K! Not even avex releases their crap in 10 editions. That is just overkill. Mai Kuraki released this album to celebrate her 10th anniversary and it’s very extensive. It covers songs from her debut like Love, Day After Tomorrow and Secret of my heart all the way up to her 2009 singles (PUZZLE and Beautiful). Not every A-side was included though. Actually, there was a good amout that was left out in favor of album tracks! The new song Watashi no, Shiranai, Watashi. isn’t that great either.


ayaka – ayaka’s History 2006-2009
Release date: September 23
Features: All A-sides on Disc 1 and 10 tracks selected by fans on a limited 2nd disc.
Exclusive stuff: A piano version of Minna Sora no Shita at the end of Disc 2.
Worth listening to?: Of course!

ayaka’s “history” was very short, wasn’t it? But through the course of 3 years, she has made a pretty big impact. This album was released before her hiatus due to Graves’ disease and it features all of her A-sides as well as her collaboration songs with Kobukuro. The limited 2nd disc has songs voted by fans and it’s composed of B-sides and album tracks (with a piano version of Minna Sora no Shita as a bonus). The fans voted well IMO.


Ai Otsuka – LOVE is BEST
Release date: November 11
Features: Various tracks from all albums and some singles.
Exclusive stuff: The track Is and new versions of past songs.
Worth listening to?: It depends if you’re a lover and not a fighter.

What would you call this? A concept best-of? I call bullshit and an excuse for Otsuka to release one album a year! lol LOVE is BEST is a collection of her love songs and it has various A-sides (Sakuranbo and Daisuki da yo.), B-sides (drop. and Ticket) and some album tracks. It includes a new track called Is but it’s nothing special. This collection also has new versions of older tracks but ignore the new versions of one×time (renamed aisu×time) and Pocket because they suck.


KOKIA – Coquillage ~The Best Collection II~
Release date: December 2
Features: A random assortment of songs from the past 5 albums.
Exclusive stuff: A self-cover of Inori† and a limited bonus disc with 2 extra tracks.
Worth listening to?: Nooooooooo.

I have no idea what is going on with this album. Considering that KOKIA released only ONE non-anime single (Follow the Nightingale and it’s not even included) but 5 albums, that’s bound to cause problems. The song selection on here is very strange and there’s many tracks that I just don’t care for. There’s also a limited 2nd disc that has a new version of Arigatou… (AGAIN?) and the English track Candle in the Heart. Overall, it just doesn’t compare to her first best collection.

Other notable compilation/miscellaneous albums from this year:
Thelma Aoyama – LOVE! ~THELMA LOVESONG COLLECTION~ (February 11)
Tommy february6 – Strawberry Cream Soda Pop Daydream (February 25)
Anna Tsuchiya – NUDY xxxremixxxxxxx!!!!!!!! SHOW! (March 11)
Koda Kumi – OUT WORKS & COLLABORATION BEST (March 25)
Koda Kumi – DRIVING HIT’S (March 25)
Nami Tamaki – TAMAKI NAMI REPRODUCT BEST (March 25)
misono – Tales with misono -BEST- (June 10)
Crystal Kay – THE BEST REMIXES of CK (December 16)

Coming up in Part 2: “Everything else” (cover albums, concept albums, whatever). Also, since people have been bitching for months, I will give my take on the ~amazing success stories~ of BoA and This Is The One. Spoiler: They’re both flops.

2008 In Review ~Part 4: Albums~

January 4, 2009 at 6:08 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 8 Comments

Here’s the final post! Like yesterday, there will be two categories: my top 10 album-only tracks and top 10 overall albums. Also, the lists will be in no particular and were chosen based on my personal thoughts. Previous star ratings from my reviews will not matter.

TOP 10 ALBUM-ONLY TRACKS

ayaka – Kimi ga Iru Kara

Hitomi Shimatani – Taiyou no Flare

BoA – AGGRESSIVE

melody. – Say Hello

Yuna Ito – Wish

Ayumi Hamasaki – GUILTY

Ami Suzuki – Mysterious

Crystal Kay – TIME GOES BY

JYONGRI – Still in Love

Utada Hikaru – Celebrate

Honorable Mentions
Tomiko Van – Utopia
Koda Kumi – Amai Wana
Nami Tamaki – EDEN
Leah Dizon – Not Too Bad

TOP 10 OVERALL ALBUMS

top_10_albumsJYONGRI – Love Forever

Mai Kuraki – ONE LIFE

Koda Kumi – Kingdom

Mika Nakashima – VOICE

Ayumi Hamasaki – GUILTY

BoA – THE FACE

KOKIA – The VOICE

melody. – Lei Aloha

Ami Suzuki – Supreme Show

ayaka – Sing to the Sky

Honorable Mentions
Hitomi Shimatani – Flare
Nami Tamaki – Don’t Stay
Mr.Children – SUPERMARKET FANTASY
Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION

So that’s it! Regular reviews will continue now. I still have 4 releases from 2008 that I have to review and I’ll get working on them as soon as I can. ;D

2008 In Review ~Part 3: Singles~

January 2, 2009 at 11:34 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 5 Comments

I’m going to keep things simple this time…
Even though I like making lists (lol), I hate putting them in order! Part 3 of this special will go over anything related to singles so basically just A-sides and B-sides. Just remember that all of these will be in no particular order. Honestly, these are songs that I personally enjoyed so don’t be mad if your ~favorite song~ isn’t on here. Also, I couldn’t possibly create a “worst-of” list because I am way too nice! ;DD

TOP 10 A-SIDES

Ayumi Hamasaki – Mirrorcle World

Tommy heavenly6 – PAPERMOON

Leah Dizon – Love Paradox

Hitomi Shimatani – WAKE YOU UP

Koda Kumi – TABOO

ayaka – Okaeri

Ami Suzuki – ONE

alan – RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~

Yuna Ito – miss you

Namie Amuro – NEW LOOK

Honorable Mentions
Mika Nakashima – ORION
JYONGRI – Kissing Me
Ai Otsuka – Kurage, Nagareboshi
Utada Hikaru – Prisoner Of Love 

 

 TOP 10 B-SIDES

Koda Kumi – Winter Bell

Leah Dizon – LOVE SWEET CANDY

BONNIE PINK – Pump It Up!

JYONGRI – You’re the One

Crystal Kay – Girl Move On

Yuna Ito – Mafuyu no Seiza

Mika Nakashima – FOCUS

Hitomi Shimatani – Kuchizuke Shiyou

YUI – Oh My God

Angela Aki – Final Destination

Honorable Mentions
Perfume – edge
alan – Seed of Green
Anna Tsuchiya – Imitation night
Ami Suzuki – A token of love

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