JYONGRI – Muteki na Ai

September 4, 2009 at 2:49 PM | Posted in JYONGRI | 6 Comments
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Muteki na Ai (無敵な愛) is JYONGRI’s 8th single and it was released on August 19, 2009. This single reached #34 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,143 copies.

I LOVE the cover. It’s her best one to date!

♦ ♦ ♦

As much as I love JYONGRI’s mid-tempo songs and ballads, it is always a treat when she releases an upbeat track as an A-side and Muteki na Ai is superb. Utilizing constant beats with upbeat strings, I thought this stylish tune had great production value. Her vocals are crisp and strong as well. There is also a nice break in the music that features low key strings with adlibbing in the background. All of her dance oriented songs have never disappointed me so I was very content with this song. It’s HOT, okay?

Then there’s START, which is also upbeat but definitely has more of a cute and uplifting vibe. It’s described as a “job hunting song” so go figure. lol
Anyway, I liked this song too. The chorus is very nice and it has lyrics that aren’t corny! Overall, the song is a lot better than the B-sides on her previous single.

Speaking of her previous single, a lovely piano version of Maybe Someday appears as track 3. Personally, the song sounds a lot better with just the piano and strings so I thought it was a step up compared to the original. It gets very pretty near the end.

Pros: Muteki na Ai is her best A-side since Kissing Me. The other tracks are well done too.
Cons: I really can’t think of any! XD I’m just hoping for less ballads and more upbeat dance songs in the future.

BASICALLY…listen to this single NOW!

Overall Rating

 4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Muteki na Ai (無敵な愛)
2. START
3. Maybe Someday -Piano Hikigatari Ver.- (Maybe Someday -ピアノ弾き語り Ver.-)
4. Muteki na Ai (Instrumental)
5. START (Instrumental)

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JYONGRI – Maybe Someday

May 22, 2009 at 8:28 PM | Posted in JYONGRI | 2 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Maybe Someday
2. Special
3. First Kiss
4. Maybe Someday (Instrumental)
5. Special (Instrumental)
6. First Kiss (Instrumental)

This is JYONGRI’s 7th single and it was released on April 29, 2009. The single reached #23 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,290 copies.

JYONGRI delivers another great A-side but this time in the form of a melancholy pop ballad. Musically, Maybe Someday is a little different from her previous material as well. It doesn’t have that lingering R&B sound and relies on percussion and light electric guitar chords to keep up the pace instead. Overall, I liked this change and it goes quite nicely with the prominent piano. I have to give a special mention to the chorus, my favorite part of the song, because it’s pretty catchy and features strong vocals too.

The first B-side is Special, an odd track that is mostly comprised of tiny beats and piano with some trings thrown in. I just find the structure of the arrangement to be kind of strange and spacy since it doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. This isn’t necessarily bad…just weird. Ignore the corny lyrics of the chorus and this is a decent song.

Then we have First Kiss, a song that is of typical JYONGRI flair. It’s a cutesy upbeat song with light R&B elements and random brass. Unlike Special, which was pretty bland, this track is bouncy and at least sounds like it has a personality. It’s definitely the better B-side on the single, but it still doesn’t top Maybe Someday.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

JYONGRI – Winter Love Story

December 16, 2008 at 12:26 AM | Posted in JYONGRI | 2 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Winter Love Story
2. Tender Touch
3. Blue Destiny
4. Winter Love Story (Instrumental)
5. Tender Touch (Instrumental)
6. Blue Destiny (Instrumental)

This is JYONGRI’s 6th single and it was released on December 3, 2008. The single reached #31 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,245 copies.

With a title like Winter Love Story, I was expecting a ballad of some kind, but JYONGRI decided to mix things up. She creates a nice twist to the typical winter J-pop song by combining an uptempo dance-like sound next to these common elements. The arrangement features a prominent synth beat along with strings and bells that maintain a winter atmosphere. This is a bilingual track as well and as she starts the song off in Japanese but transitions into English at the beginning of the second verse. Anyway, Winter Love Story is nicely done and quite a catchy track too.

The single features 2 B-sides and the first one originally appeared on her latest album Love Forever. Tender Touch is a sweet love song and one of my favorite tracks off that album. The music is very calming and I loved the gentle piano, strings, and drums as they flowed next to JYONGRI’s enchanting vocals. Even though this song was recut from Love Forever, it’s great nonetheless and a welcome to the single as well.

The new B-side is probably the most dramatic song that JYONGRI has made so far. Blue Destiny is a sweeping ballad that features haunting piano chords and accumulative strings that build up further into the song. There is a more serious tone in her voice this time around and she sounds very good when singing those sad lyrics. This is a high quality track and ranks as one of her better B-sides too.

Overall Rating

4 stars

JYONGRI – Love Forever

July 28, 2008 at 9:33 PM | Posted in JYONGRI | 6 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Love Forever is JYONGRI’s 2nd album and it was released on July 2, 2008. The album reached #17 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 17,477 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Starting things off is a simple, yet effective song. I say it’s effective because it sets the overall romantic tone of the album. The title track, Love Forever, is in English but only around 50 seconds long. The music consists of just background vocals next to JYONGRI’s singing which provides the melody.

I loved how the ending of Love Forever smoothly transitioned into the gentle piano chords of the next track. Tender Touch is a first glimpse of what most of the album sounds like. This pop ballad has a calming piano and string arrangement with some light drums as well. I thought it was sung very well and JYONGRI gives a great vocal performance, especially during the gorgeous chorus. This song was supposed to be released as a single in January but was shelved in favor of the next track.

Kissing Me is actually one of the few upbeat tracks on the album and also the only one that features dance elements. Alongside the piano chords, there is a nice beat with some added synth. I like to think of this song as a slower version of Possession, but perfect for the theme of this album.

Up next is Unchanging Love ~Kimi ga Ireba~ but with one small change. The only thing that makes this “new” version different from the single version is JYONGRI whispering some English during the bridge. Everything else, from the music to the vocals, is the same but that’s okay because it’s still a really pleasant song.

Both of the B-sides from the Lullaby For You single are included, the first one being the totally forgettable Catch me. It’s upbeat and throws a little R&B here and there, but it’s very messy at the same time. Honestly, the music lacks structure and the lyrics are so corny. It’s a dud and my least favorite song on the album.

The transition into Lullaby For You is bad as well because of the song’s opening piano chords. I’ll let that slide since this is a great love ballad with a nice and consistent beat. The song showcases great vocals and a calming arrangement where those low key strings play in the background.

The next track is a little more upbeat and it features some interesting guitar plucking at the beginning. Watashi no Taiyou has calm verses but a surprising chorus that includes short bursts of electric guitar. I liked how strong, yet controlled JYONGRI’s vocals were in the chorus as well.

A more ethereal sounding song follows. Naitemo Ii yo combines ambient strings with quick electric guitar chords to create a relaxing atmosphere. JYONGRI provides another uplifting vocal performance during the chorus alongside some additional beats.

Her best B-side EVER is next and it was originally on the Kissing Me single. You’re the One is a really enchanting song with fantastic, upbeat vocals from JYONGRI. The music is pretty bouncy and it has a nice rhythm thanks to the catchy beats. I’m glad it’s on the album because I think it’s one of her best songs.

The 2nd B-side from the Lullaby For You single is also on the album. Lovers DRIVE is definitely better than Catch me but the lyrics are corny here too. At least the music is good and the chorus is quite fun, which was mostly due to the catchy vocals. We’re getting close to the end of the album and this is last upbeat song before a string of ballads.

I gotta say that The Chills is one of JYONGRI’s best efforts in capturing a full blown R&B inspired sound. Even though this is a laid back song, the clapping beat is quite assertive and the music seems to have more depth to it. Her voice sounds more sensual this time around and she actually pulls it off surprisingly well. The chorus also has this catchy opening hook where she sings You’re giving me, you’re giving me the chills.

I absolutely loved the next track. Still in Love is a ballad, but different from the album’s other ballads too. The music is bare and only consists of simple piano chords and flowing strings, but this where I believe the song really shines. There are no additional sounds at all and you’re just presented with a beautiful vocal performance. This is such a bittersweet song and I appreciated the amount of emotion she put into her voice.

Closing the album is STARS, an acoustic based song with some light beats. The first half of the song is rather plain but it does pick up near the end when the music becomes more aggressive. The bridge sequence is definitely the highlight and I liked how everything elevated during this part. I thought that this was a good way the album even though the song itself is kind of depressing.

Love Forever is actually quite a solid album and I was surprised by how good the new tracks were. Compared to JYONGRI’s debut album Close To Fantasy, this is much better and it’s an considerable improvement. Even though a majority of the songs range from medium to slow paced pop ballads, she produced them extremely well. I didn’t find any of them to be boring at all and it definitely proves that she can deliver some excellent ballads that are also interesting. There’s also the occasional upbeat song and their placement in the tracklisting was good since they separated the ballads. It made everything more convenient in the long run. The new tracks might be a turnoff for some people because they’re ALL ballads, but I think they are a lot better than most of the songs off her debut album. After all, the main theme of the album is love and she definitely stayed true to that.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Love Forever
2. Tender Touch
3. Kissing Me
4. Unchanging Love ~Kimi ga Ireba~ (with Whisper) (Unchanging Love ~君がいれば~)
5. Catch me
6. Lullaby For You
7. Watashi no Taiyou (私の太陽)
8. Naitemo Ii yo (泣いてもいいよ)
9. You’re the One
10. Lovers DRIVE
11. The Chills
12. Still in Love
13. STARS

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

JYONGRI – Unchanging Love ~Kimi ga Ireba~

June 26, 2008 at 6:47 PM | Posted in JYONGRI | 4 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Unchanging Love ~Kimi ga Ireba~
    (Unchanging Love ~君がいれば~)
2. Trust & Try
3. YOUR SONG
4. Unchanging Love ~Kimi ga Ireba~ 
             / Instrumental
5. Trust & Try / Instrumental

This is JYONGRI’s 5th single and it was released on June 4, 2008. The single reached #12 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 21,496 copies.

At times, Unchanging Love ~Kimi ga Ireba~ sounded similar to JYONGRI’s last R&B infused pop ballad Lullaby For You. It’s less of a ballad than Lullaby For You though since it features faster vocals and a more upbeat rhythm. The verses are boring because the vocals sound a little dry but at least they transition into a vibrant chorus. This is where she begins to put some life into her voice and it’s a considerable change. In the end, this was another good A-side from JYONGRI but the B-sides…man, they’re bad.

Trust & Try is odd and a horrible combination of dance beats, electric guitar, and synth. The overall presentation of this song is just plain sloppy and it felt poorly put together. I had the biggest problem with the chorus because it’s a huge mess. It ranks with Romeo & Juliet as one of her worst B-sides.

There is one word describe her modern rendition of Elton John’s YOUR SONG: AWFUL. What ruins this otherwise okay cover is the rapper that blurts out random crap. It’s totally distracting and some of the things he says are just plain stupid (I wanted to punch him by the time it got to his “solo part”). I guess he was added into the song to make it more “urban” but it didn’t help one single bit.

Overall Rating

3 stars

JYONGRI – Kissing Me

February 11, 2008 at 8:09 PM | Posted in JYONGRI | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Kissing Me
2. You’re the One
3. Lullaby For You -English Version-
4. Kissing Me (Instrumental)
5. You’re the One (Instrumental)

This is JYONGRI’s 4th single and it was released on January 30, 2008. The single reached #11 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 11,513 copies.

Kissing Me has to got to be JYONGRI’s strongest offering since her debut single Possession / My All For You. The song is actually quite similar to Possession in some ways, but it deviates from it as well. The music has an ambient atmoshere, combining an upbeat dance rhythm with a prominent piano arrangement. The overall product sounds quite refreshing and it’s different from anything she’s done before.

The single gets even better with the B-side, You’re the One, a more laid back track. It’s a really charming song and definitely one of JYONGRI’s better efforts when it comes to her more pop oriented works. I loved the catchy chorus and her vocals are excellent, especially when she starts ad libbing near the end. I also enjoyed the bridge where the music slows down a little bit for a cute drum sequence.

Included on the single is an English version of Lullaby For You, her previous single. The English lyrics are very good and they fit this love ballad extremely well. With the exception of this horribly cheesy lyric… 

Sweet dreams I do not see cause darkness scares me. Is it because I’m still fifteen or the loneliness in me?

Oh well. It’s still pretty good, if not as good as the Japanese version.

Overall Rating

4 stars

JYONGRI – Lullaby For You

August 7, 2007 at 8:05 PM | Posted in JYONGRI | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Lullaby For You
2. Catch me
3. Lovers DRIVE
4. ~Yakusoku~ Live Version (~約束~)
5. Lullaby For You (Instrumental)
6. Catch me (Instrumental)
7. Lovers DRIVE (Instrumental)

This is JYONGRI’s 3rd single and it was released on July 25, 2007. The single reached #12 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 20,963 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the Square Enix video game Subarashiki Kono Sekai (The World Ends With You overseas).

The opening piano chords of Lullaby For You are really pretty and set the gentle tone of this ballad. The song adds some R&B beats in the mix when it draws closer to the chorus. Speaking of the chorus, the vocals are great and JYONGRI puts a lot of emotion into her voice. This is a well done song.

The 2 new B-sides on the single are both upbeat tracks, the first one having a more aggressive R&B style to it. Catch me starts off promising but the annoying chorus kind of ruins it. The English lyrics of the song cheesy too: Catch me if you can and Gotta be a macho man.

I liked the other B-side Lovers DRIVE a lot more. It’s very poppy and JYONGRI’s vocals really add flavor to the song. The chorus is also fantastic. The only problem I had with the song was it’s ending; the English lyrics at the end really annoyed me: Sunny day, feels like it’s a holiday, come my way, so much fun like a birthday. Those lyrics can also be heard as the background vocals during the chorus but still, it’s a bad way to end the song.

The next track is a live version of ~Yakusoku~, one of the songs from her debut album Close To Fantasy. Instead of the piano arrangement of the original, it is replaced by the acoustic guitar. Compared to other live versions of other artists’, the quality of this one is sort of bad because everything sounds slightly muffled. Anyway, JYONGRI sings amazingly well live so I’m not really complaining about sound quality.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

JYONGRI – Close To Fantasy

April 14, 2007 at 10:39 AM | Posted in JYONGRI | Leave a comment
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Close To Fantasy is JYONGRI’s debut album and it was released on March 21, 2007. The album reached #25 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 28,275 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

The album opens with the catchy synth riffs of Getting Funky!. This is a great opening track because it clearly showcases JYONGRI’s crisp vocals and professional composition skills. I am amazed that she wrote and composed all of the songs on this album at the age of 18.

The next track is the first song from her debut single. Possession is the most aggressive song on the album because of its mix of fast paced classical strings and strong dance beats. JYONGRI’s vocals are at their best as well.

I absolutely love the next track, Hop, Step, Jump!, her 2nd single. Even though it somewhat lacks energy, it more than makes up for it in terms of overall sound and presentation. The chorus is extremely catchy and the song’s R&B undertones are great. Along with Possession, I consider this song as the signature track of the album.

The first new track is ICHIZU, a laid back pop song. I did find this track to be a little on the boring side and nothing that special.

I thought the next track, Stay, was great. The piano chords were excellent and the beats were odd, but effective. The overall mood of the song is melancholy and JYONGRI’s vocals really match the sad tone the music.

Things get even better with track 6, Let Me In. This is an upbeat song with a catchy chorus and upbeat vocals. The music combines synth, underlying piano, and even some electric guitar. Compared to the rest of the tracks on the album, this song is quite unique.

The next track was the 2nd song from JYONGRI’s debut single. My All For You is a really pretty song and is the first of the 2 ballads on the album. The chorus is definitely the highlight of the song and becomes stronger towards the end.

Track 8 is probably my least favorite song on the album. Romeo&Juliet just gets on my nerves with its cheesy lyrics and music. This song was originally the B-side on the Hop, Step, Jump! single.

The last batch of new tracks begins with ~Yakusoku~. I liked the opening English lyrics that seamlessly flow into a slow mix of strings and piano. This track is similar to ICHIZU, but features better music.

Track 10 is another somewhat laid back song. Lost Girl is more progressive and features a catchy chorus. The English lyrics are great as well: I lost myself when I lost you and So scared, where do I go from here?. JYONGRI’s falsetto is probably the weakest aspect of her voice but she still manages do it well.

Along with Getting Funky!, the final track is my favorite of the new album tracks. Wherever was the first song that JYONGRI released in Japan in the form of a PV. This is a simple piano love ballad with a lot of heart and grace. The chorus of the song is mainly in English with some Japanese in the middle: Your love lets me fly so very high and No matter the distance, we’ll be together forever. I thought this was an excellent ending track for the album.

Close To Fantasy is not a bad debut album to say the least. It’s not great either but it shows a clear indication that JYONGRI has a lot more potential as a singer, songwriter, and composer. She has plenty of time to grow, refine, and improve the sound of her music because she has only just begun to show what she is capable of. I will definitely be looking forward to her future works.

Overall Rating

3 stars

Tracklisting

1. Getting Funky!
2. Possession
3. Hop, Step, Jump!
4. ICHIZU
5. Stay
6. Let Me In
7. My All For You
8. Romeo&Juliet
9. ~Yakusoku~ (~約束~)
10. Lost Girl
11. Wherever

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

JYONGRI – Hop, Step, Jump!

March 6, 2007 at 10:35 AM | Posted in JYONGRI | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Hop, Step, Jump!
2. Romeo&Juliet
3. Hop, Step, Jump! (Instrumental)
3. Romeo&Juliet (Instrumental)

This is JYONGRI’s 2nd single and it was released on February 21, 2007. The single reached #32 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 5,895 copies.

Compared to her debut single Possession / My All For You, Hop, Step, Jump! was a little underwhelming. Despite its shortcomings, this was a really pleasant song. It has a nice, toned vibe with great vocals from JYONGRI. Even though it is a mid-tempo song, the beats are pretty strong, especially during the catchy chorus. The English lyrics at the end of the song are cute too: Let’s hop and step and jump together, it’s easy like your ABCs, it’ll take you anywhere you want to be, so don’t be shy.

Unfortunately, the B-side Romeo&Juliet is not good at all. The chorus irritates me because of the cheesy lyrics and generic sound. Well, this is a cheesy song and a very forgettable one at that.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

JYONGRI – Possession / My All For You

December 26, 2006 at 10:23 AM | Posted in JYONGRI | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Possession
2. My All For You
3. Possession (English Version)
4. Possession (Chris Paul Club Remix)
5. Re-Possessed 
    (Possession – Chris Paul Dub Mix)
6. Possession (Instrumental)
7. My All For You (Instrumental)
8. Possession (Vocal Track)
9. My All For You (Vocal Track)

This is JYONGRI’s debut single and it was released on December 13, 2006. The single reached #16 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 30,277 copies.

JYONGRI is a new artist on Toshiba EMI record label (the same as Utada Hikaru) and by listening to this single, I think she shows A LOT of promise as a young and fresh newcomer in the Japanese music industry. Possession is a fast paced dance track that combines JYONGRI’s fluent English and Japanese. I thought it was pretty daring to mix strings and R&B beats together in the song but it works pretty well. JYONGRI has a great voice and she really shows it off during the bridge.

The other A-side is the R&B ballad My All For You. This is a typical slow R&B track but I actually like this song more than Possession. JYONGRI gets a chance to showcase the full extent of her voice during the chorus, which is my favorite part of the song. The song elevates a little bit towards the end when a stronger beat comes into play.

The next 3 tracks on the single are the English versions of Possession. The original English Version is set to the BGM of the Japanese version. I don’t really like the English version, not because of JYONGRI’s vocals (they’re perfect), but the song just doesn’t seem to flow as well in English. The same goes for the Chris Paul Club Remix as well.
The last remix has been retitled Re-Possessed (Chris Paul Dub Mix) because it’s pretty different. There are some interesting twists and turns in this remix and the slow down part at the 2:20 mark is pretty cool. This is when the remix starts to become a full blown electronica / dance hybrid.

Tracks 6 and 7 are just your basic instrumentals of Possession and My All For You but I thought it was an excellent idea to add vocal tracks (tracks 8 and 9). The vocal tracks do not feature any music at all and only feature the main and background vocals. Now I wish more singles included vocal tracks.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

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