K – Aitai Kara

July 1, 2010 at 2:12 PM | Posted in K | 3 Comments
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The cover of the limited edition (K version)

Aitai Kara (会いたいから) is K’s 12th single and it was released on June 16, 2010. The single reached #33 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,013 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Shun Matataki.

He’s looking good as usual. ;D

♦ ♦ ♦

All I can say is FINALLY! It’s been over a year since the last single. Anyway, I think Aitai Kara is a wonderful song that I instantly liked on the first listen. A mellow pop ballad, the song is a little typical coming from K but it’s still very good. The strings and piano arrangement flows beautifully and his vocals are perfect. I also think the chorus is really catchy, especially the 2nd half that’s after the donna toki mo line.

The single includes alternative versions of the main track, the first being a piano instrumental and then a live version. The piano instrumental is great but the live version has some shaky parts. Even though his vocals came off as strained sometimes, I thought he gave a good performance.

Pros: Aitai Kara is excellent. It now ranks as one of my favorite A-sides from him.
Cons: No B-sides?! That’s not really a bad thing though.

BASICALLY…if anyone call pull off melancholy and bittersweet, it’s K. =D

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Aitai Kara (会いたいから)
2. Aitai Kara (Piano instrumental ver.)
3. Aitai Kara (Music video live recording ver.)

K – Traveling Song

April 20, 2009 at 7:50 PM | Posted in K | 1 Comment
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Traveling Song is K’s 3rd album and it was released on March 18, 2009. The album reached #44 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,675 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Seeing you gives me reason to believe.
K opens the title track Traveling Song with that English line which is followed by an upbeat band arrangement consisting of electric guitars and drums. A little more “organic” sounding than most of his songs, it’s devoid of the normal R&B fluff that he usually does. Nevertheless, the song itself is quite pleasant and K sounds great. It also served as the album’s main promotional track.

I have always been on the fence with Kono Uta wo………, K’s collaboration with hip-hop group ET-KING. There are some parts of the song that I enjoy, like the chorus because they’re all singing together, but I still can’t tolerate some of the rapping sections from the individual members of ET-KING. Those harmonizations that appear during the chorus and bridge are very nice though.

Meh…Birth of Treasure. This song will forever be bland to me. It’s an all right pop ballad but it really has nothing going for it. It’s my least favorite song on the album since it’s so conventional and “blah”. I still hate that awful single cover too. =x

I have to admit that all of the new tracks that follow are GREAT. Sand Paper World is kind of a strange title but this song is excellent. Utilizing an upbeat brass driven arrangement, the music is on the cheery side and K displays strong vocals. It’s a very enjoyable track and starts a noticeable trend of K performing more jazz oriented songs instead R&B.

Out of all these new tracks, LOVE FREAK is my favorite. It is such a fun and campy song! It starts off with upbeat piano and playful vocals for the verses then transitions into an amazing chorus. The music speeds up and it creates an extremely infectious rhythm. I also liked how smooth the transitions were since the end of the chorus goes flawlessly right back to the calm atmosphere of the verses.

A laid back song is next and it displays a more soulful side of K. You’re My Home has an arrangement dominated by the piano with some additional percussion. It’s simple but very effective, especially when K performs the vibrant chorus. The adlibbing at the end is fantastic as well.

Don’t Come Back is an unique offering from K. This song has a rockish vibe to it thanks to the prominent use of electric guitars that are mixed with the piano and drums. The bridge features an impressive solo too. K also showcases assertive and aggressive vocals to match the tone of the music.

The previous track was a break from the upbeat jazz songs but we go right back into that sound with Y.E.S., another charming tune. There is emphasis on bass and drums next to the rhythmic piano with electric guitar appearing near the end. My chorus is my favorite part of the song since it features catchy vocals.

play and pray is like Birth of Treasure, but infinitely better. You can easily detect the R&B undertones in this song and while the verses remain dull for me, the chorus is pretty good. It’s still an uneventful song though.

Appearing as the ~epic ballad~ of the album is Sotsugyou ~Melodies of Memories~. This is a well done track that includes pretty strings alongside fingersnap beats and piano. It’s very reminiscent of his past ballads, minus the emo factor (lol). I’m just joking because I pretty much love all of his ballads and this song is a great addition.

I think 525600min. ~Seasons of Love~ makes for the ideal final track. It’s easily the best A-side of this era and it ends the album in an extremely uplifting fashion. The way it samples the original Seasons of Love (from the Broadway musical Rent) was very thoughtful and it blends perfectly with the new, original material. Work it, K-san!

Unlike K’s last 2 albums, Beyond the Sea and Music in My Life, this one took some adjustment. Traveling Song contains his weakest A-sides to date but ALL of the new tracks act as the album’s saving grace. I think they are excellent and definitely overshadow those A-sides, minus 525600min. ~Seasons of Love~ of course. I noticed a slow, but steady departure from the typical R&B sound of previous albums in Traveling Song as well. I definitely sensed that there was more focus on organic instruments and arrangements in the new tracks, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. It shows some versatility on K’s part and I’m not complaining. A valiant effort!

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Traveling Song
2. Kono Uta wo………♪ (この歌を・・・・・・・・♪) / K × ET-KING
3. Birth of Treasure
4. Sand Paper World
5. LOVE FREAK
6. You’re My Home
7. Don’t Come Back
8. Y.E.S.
9. play and pray
10. Sotsugyou ~Melodies of Memories~ (卒業 ~Melodies of Memories~)
11. 525600min. ~Seasons of Love~

Note: My favorite songs are highlighted in blue!

K – 525600min. ~Seasons of Love~

December 12, 2008 at 1:51 PM | Posted in K | 4 Comments
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K - 525600min. ~Seasons of love~Tracklisting
1. 525600min. ~Seasons of Love~
2. LISTEN ~Seasons of Love~
3. A Year A Lifetime ~Seasons of Love~
4. 525600min. ~Seasons of Love~ -less vocal-

This is K’s 11th single and it was released on November 5, 2008. The single reached #49 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,146 copies. All of the tracks on the single sample the song Seasons of Love from the Broadway musical Rent.

525600min. ~Seasons of Love~ has got to be K’s best single in quite a while. The last A-side that I thoroughly enjoyed from him was First Christmas which was back in late 2006 if that’s any indicator. Anyway, this song is a uplifting pop tune that is mixed with nice R&B and jazz undertones. I really liked how it samples the original Seasons of Love as well because the parts that K’s song borrow serve as great transitions into the chorus and contribute to the overall flow. The bridge also features lyrics from the original song as well. If you’re wondering why a song from Rent was the inspiration for this single, it’s because K plays the character of Roger in the Japanese version of the musical.

The 2 B-sides feature similar samples but they are both ballads. LISTEN ~Seasons of Love~ is more like K’s usual piano and R&B tinged style plus some additional percussion. K’s vocals are fantastic and he excels at performing slower paced songs like this. His B-sides always seem to be of high quality too.

A Year A Lifetime ~Seasons of Love~ is slower paced and more piano driven than the previous track but it’s the better of the two B-sides. This song samples a little bit of the piano arrangement heard in Seasons of Love and K sings its main melody with the English lyrics plus some new Japanese lyrics. Overall, it’s a very pretty track that’s performed extremely well.

Overall Rating

4 stars

K – play and pray

July 11, 2008 at 3:10 PM | Posted in K | 2 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. play and pray
2. Believe in love you
3. Lovin’ You
4. play and pray -less vocal-

This is K’s 10th single and it was released on June 25, 2008. This single reached #48 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,673 copies.

Hmmm…play and pray is a step up from K’s last 2 singles, but even then I think it’s just an okay song. This mid-tempo R&B inspired song has uninteresting verses but a great chorus that’s pretty upbeat and jazzy. Similar to his past songs, there is a nice combination of his trademark piano playing mixed with R&B elements like fingersnaps and drum beats. His vocals are strong as usual too.

I liked the B-sides even more though…a lot more. The oddly titled Believe in love you should have been the A-side, honestly! The constant, yet rhythmic piano chords next K’s flowing vocals are fantastic and make this song stand out. The chorus is also quite vibrant with its inclusion of sweeping strings. Let’s hope this “B-side” makes the next album too.

When the tracklisting for this single was first announced, I couldn’t believe that he was going to cover Minnie Riperton’s 1975 classic Lovin’ You. You know, that song with the whistle notes? I kind of cringed at the thought of K performing of them, but I was glad that he DOESN’T after finally listening to his cover. He does his own normal high notes and his English has gotten even better (surprisingly).

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

K × ET-KING – Kono Uta wo………♪

October 16, 2007 at 8:12 PM | Posted in K | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. Kono Uta wo………
(この歌を・・・・・・・・♪)
2. NO WOMAN, NO CRY
3. KI・ZU・NA ~Wasurenai yo~
    (KI・ZU・NA ~忘れないよ~)
4. Kono Uta wo………♪ -less vocal-

This is K’s 9th single and it was released on October 3, 2007. The single reached #19 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,942 copies.

There is one major problem that I have with Kono Uta wo………♪, and it’s ET-KING. The chorus is the only good part of the song because there is an actual harmony between the 7 members of ET-KING and K himself, and it doesn’t sound that bad. However, when they start freestyling and rapping, things go into the toilet. They sound SO annoying and obnoxious during these sequences of the song and what makes it worse is that they appear frequently. K’s solo parts are well done as usual, but even that doesn’t save this collaboration gone bad.

The first B-side is worse, FAR worse than the previous track. Words can’t describe how painful it was to listen to this cover of Bob Marley’s NO WOMAN, NO CRY. The song is riddled with horribly accented English and awful vocals thanks to ET-KING. Unfortunately, K’s vocals don’t sound that good either. The only saving grace of the song is the laid back reggae atmosphere that remains faithful to the original.

The next track is by far the best on the single and for one VERY good reason: ET-KING is not in it (rejoice!). KI・ZU・NA ~Wasurenai yo~ is a lovely ballad with a R&B feel to it. The chorus showcases strong vocals that are accompanied with calming strings. The piano arrangement that opens the song and is heard later in the background is excellent as well. This track better be on his next studio album.

Overall Rating

2 stars

K – Birth of Treasure

September 11, 2007 at 8:16 PM | Posted in K | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Birth of Treasure
2. TRUST ME
3. To Be With You
4. Birth of Treasure -less vocal-

This is K’s 8th single and it was released on August 29, 2007. The single reached #42 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,154 copies.

Birth of Treasure is a nice song, but an incredibly predictable one at the same time. It’s a cheery, yet generic ballad that doesn’t really show off anything new. K has done this before, and much better too. I guess you could say that I was expecting more after his excellent sophomore album Music in My Life. Don’t even get me started on that HORRIBLE cover with the ugly baby on it. It’s such a turn-off.

The B-side is definitely a lot more interesting. TRUST ME has a groovy, stylish sound that’s pretty cool. The only problem I had with it was K’s vocals near the end of the song because he goes a little crazy with his ‘yelling’ voice.

Track 3 is a cover of Mr. Big’s To Be With You.  I didn’t like K’s vocals in this song at because he’s definitely trying too hard to put unnecessary power into his voice. It just ends up sounding obnoxious to be completely honest. On the plus side, I liked the acoustic guitar, but that’s pretty much it.

Overall Rating

2½ stars

K – Music in My Life

January 2, 2007 at 9:57 PM | Posted in K | Leave a comment
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Music in My Life is K’s 2nd Japanese album and it was released on December 13, 2006. The album reached #25 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 12,864 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

The opening song on the album is the hot acoustic guitar track Music in My Life. K shows a new side of himself that I have never seen before and I absolutely love it. The acoustic guitar dominates this song and I think this the first time the instrument is an essential part of it. K’s English vocals are awesome as well.

The next track is the holiday love ballad First Christmas. This was the best holiday themed J-pop song of 2006 in my opinion. Its placement on the album is kind of weird though.

Track 3 is a slow and mellow R&B song featuring Kaoru Kurosawa of the the famous acapella group The Gospellers. Again features an absolutely catchy beat and chorus. Kurosawa doesn’t start singing until the middle of the song, but when he and K’s voices start to blend together, it’s pure magic.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a full version of Together Again, the B-side on the Only Human single, on this album. The new album version adds even more to the original, which makes it better.

Track 5 is definitely the most upbeat song on the album. Brand New Map is a very cheerful and happy song. It’s one of my personal favorite songs from K and it always cheers me up now.

The next track hit me like a ton of bricks when I first heard it. Thirsty mixes dance and club beats with excellent vocals from K. I’m not afraid to call this song sexy, BECAUSE IT IS. =O

Track 7 is another upbeat song, but this time it is more brass driven. Last Love is pretty relaxing too.

Track 8 marks a turning point in the album because this is when things start to slow down, but not to the point where they are boring. Stay Right Here is a soulful R&B influenced song with slower paced vocals.

The same goes for track 9, Asa no Hikari, Kaze no Nioi. However, I could definitely sense some blues and jazz undertones.

Track 10 is the bittersweet ballad The Day. Since this was his first single after the release of Beyond the Sea, it still has some of the depressing piano chords and sad lyrics of his previous singles.

The last 2 songs on the album didn’t really do anything for me like the previous ones, but they work well as ending album tracks. Blue and Hoshi no Omoi are both upbeat, the latter track being a little slower but featuring a more progressive beat.

This album is quite different from his debut album Beyond the Sea in many ways, but the biggest difference is the overall mood, which is light-hearted and almost bittersweet. In my opinion, Music in My Life was a step up. It contains a lot more upbeat tracks and the songs are brillantly crafted (tracks 1, 3, and 6 being my favorite of the new songs). It’s good to see K experiment with different genres of music, and making more R&B and soul influenced tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ballads of his first album, but this is an excellent departure.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. Music in My Life
2. First Christmas (ファースト・クリスマス)
3. Again feat. Kaoru Kurosawa (Gospellers) (Again feat. 黒沢 薫 (ゴスペラーズ))
4. Together Forever ~album version~
5. Brand New Map
6. Thirsty
7. Last Love
8. Stay Right Here
9. Asa no Hikari, Kaze no Nioi (朝の光、風の匂い)
10. The Day
11. Blue
12. Hoshi no Omoi (星の想い)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

K – First Christmas

November 12, 2006 at 9:54 PM | Posted in K | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. First Christmas (ファースト・クリスマス)
2. STILL
3. Every Year, Every Christmas
4. First Christmas (less vocal)

This is K’s 7th single and it was released on November 1, 2006. The single reached #25 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 7,780 copies. The title track was the theme song to the movie 7gatsu 24nichi Dori no Christmas.

First Christmas features the traditional elements of a perfect Christmas song: jingle bells, an amazing string arrangement, and a lot of heart and soul. The middle of the song includes an acapella ensemble that gives the song a very old school and classic feel to it. I absolutely love the ending because of K’s spine tingling falsetto, reminiscent of the vocals in Only Human. I’m also happy to say that K’s English vocals in this song are at their very best. His pronounciation of words (otherwise slaughtered by other artists) is impeccable.

The first B-side, STILL, is a very light-hearted pop song with catchy English vocals in the chorus. This song would have been perfect if an R&B beat was incorporated into the music.

The next B-side is a cover of Luther Vandross’s Every Year, Every Christmas. The piano chords and additional light percussion are very jazzy and K’s English is almost completely understandable. He definitely gets the award for most improved English vocals for any J-pop artist.

I was very happy with all the songs on this single. K can definitely pull off a soulful song, even if it is Christmas themed.

Overall Rating

4 stars

K – Brand New Map

September 15, 2006 at 9:49 PM | Posted in K | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Brand New Map
2. Sunshine
3. Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?
4. Brand New Map (less vocal)

This is K’s 6th single and it was released on August 23, 2006. The single reached #20 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 14,385 copies. The title track was used as the 4th ending theme song for the anime BLOOD+.

To me, this was a very refreshing single. Brand New Map is probably his most upbeat pop song to date. The song has a very calming and cheerful atmosphere to it. The chorus is very catchy and like I said before, it’s very refreshing to the ears. The looping English phrase I’m gonna be on my way, bye bye my younger days, now wipe your tears away that is heard throughout the song is SOOO good and I love hearing it. There’s more to K than just his depressing piano ballads and this song proves it.

The next track, Sunshine, is a little more R&B influenced than the previous track. This song ALSO has a catchy chorus and it’s more laid back too.

K continues to wow me with his recent English covers. I absolutely loved his cover of I Like It and it was pretty daring of him to make his own version of Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?, the classic Rod Stewart song. I was a little nervous to listen to this song at first, but I realized that it is REALLY good. K’s version of the song has some slight R&B beats along with the famous synth line of the original version. His English has improved greatly as well, especially his pronounciation.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

K – The Day

September 6, 2006 at 9:35 PM | Posted in K | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. The Day
2. Let Me Go Now
3. I Like It
4. The Day (less vocal)

This is K’s 5th single and it was released on April 19, 2006. The single reached #14 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 12,965 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie TYPHOON. 

The title track, The Day, another high quality track. K’s vocals are great as usual and the combination of piano and strings is nice. What makes this song a little different is that it incorporates a great R&B beat in the background.

The single gets even better with the awesome B-sides. Let Me Go Now has a great beat with catchy lyrics. The song is a lot more energetic and upbeat than The Day and it would have made a better A-side in my opinion.

The 3rd track totally took me by surprise. I Like It is an English cover of the song made famous by DeBarge. The brass intro is HOT and instantly sets the mood of the song. The beats are amazing as well. K’s English is understandable at best, but he does a really good job overall. I honestly think this is the best track on the single.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

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