Koda Kumi – JAPONESQUE

February 4, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 3 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

JAPONESQUE is Koda Kumi’s 10th studio album and it was released on January 25, 2012. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 93,835 copies. It was preceded by 3 singles: 4 TIMES, Ai wo Tomenaide, and Love Me Back.

♦ ♦ ♦

This is gonna be a lengthy review. I got a lot of tracks to cover! However, I will let you know beforehand that this album is good. It’s probably the closest thing to perfect that we will ever get from Koda Kumi and I say that as a long-time fan.

After the album opens with an interesting and ethnically charged intro track, we go right into So Nice which features rapper Mr.Blistah. Much like their previous collaboration Candy, this song has a strong Arabian inspired arrangement that is laced with heavy beats and guitar chords. It’s a short song but instantly sets the mood for the album.

An aggressive electric guitar kicks off Boom Boom Boys, which has become one of my favorite tracks. Kumi has always been on and off when it comes to rock songs but this is on point. Actually, all the rock songs on this album are great. For me, the chorus was the best part because the music is so in your face and Kumi packs an extra punch in her vocals.

I have to admit that V.I.P. was a guilty pleasure of mine. When I first heard it on the 4 TIMES single, I thought it was such a hot mess but at the same time I began to like it more and more with each listen. The song is slightly different on the album thanks to an atrocious rap by rapper T-Pain. It’s a short 20 second rap but still…”arigatou I’m out HOLLA”. *dead*

Kumi collaborates with American artist Omarion for the next track Slow. It has a catchy chorus but I wasn’t too fond of all the auto-tune, especially during the verses. As for Omarion’s contributions, he has a solo rap during the bridge which was tolerable and he sings the English lines with Kumi.

After all of those high-octane tracks the album begins to simmer down a little at this point. Starting with Brave, this is a decent mid-tempo ballad but with no outstanding qualities. You can just brush it off to be honest.

Everyday is better though. It’s more on the cute side which I was afraid of at first (because of the disaster that was Melting) but this turned out to be not half bad.

I like to describe IN THE AIR as a prime example of an ideal pop song. It’s very upbeat, extremely catchy, and the music production is top notch. Initially the charming pop number of the 4 TIMES single, it has grown to become one of my favorites on the album.

I was on the fence when I saw You are not alone was included on the album but this new acoustic version was a total surprise. The original was the B-side on the Ai wo Tomenaide single and I thought it was generic. I loved the acoustic revamp though! The heavy clapping beat mixed with the uplifting guitar chords made this song feel a lot more genuine, giving it a “campfire” feel.

It’s interlude time! I didn’t think this was as cool as the intro track because the sounds were random but get ready for a slew of skanky songs. ESCALATE has that heavy dance club feel that I love from Kumi and she kills it here. A very hot track indeed.

As for Love Me Back…I guess the similarities to Cherry Girl are there but not really. This song is pretty different even for Kumi. I got more of a retro TV feel from the music but it has a modern twist thanks to the synth. Still a cool song nonetheless!

No Man’s Land was another surprise. This has to be her best rock song in ages. The reason I say this is because her vocals finally match the dark tone of the music. Alongside the sinister electric guitar riffs, Kumi sings in a lower pitch for a majority of the song. The chorus is definitely the best part since she isn’t yelling or straining her voice. She sounds cool and collected.

Umm…this is a weird spot to place Ai wo Tomenaide on the album. The second single of the era, this is a refined acoustic based ballad that has grown on me. It’s just that it has no business being wedged between No Man’s Land and the next track!

Because the transition into the sexy and seductive KO-SO-KO-SO is awkwaaaard. This was my favorite track on the 4 TIMES single because it’s just plain hot. Even though it’s not a total club banger like some of the previous upbeat tracks on the album, it has an infectious melody with a chorus that is very memorable.

The next track starts with Kumi saying “You’re gonna love it~” followed by heavy synth. Lay Down continues the sensual vibe of KO-SO-KO-SO but this song is much more aggressive. The English lyrics were probably the most notable thing as well, especially that “popping bottles” line. lol

Honestly, Love Technique is the only song on the album that I don’t like. It’s another cute song and I was turned off by Kumi’s childish vocals. I thought the verses were really annoying because of that “talk-singing” thing she was doing. The chorus was okay though.

At least once Love Technique ends, it goes right into Poppin’ love cocktail in a snap. This was the lead track of the 4 TIMES single and it was my least favorite of the four back in August 2011. The song has grown on me though since it’s catchy and has a fun, summer atmosphere. I thought the rapping by TEEDA (the MC of the rock band BACK-ON) was more amusing than anything so I didn’t mind it, even though that “You looks like horny!” line still cracks me up.

The final track of the album is the thoughtful and heartwarming All for you. A simple acoustic guitar ballad, what makes this song stand out is the fact that it was recorded in one take and without any fancy studio magic. The vocals are very raw but Kumi sounds good, singing simple lyrics that were compiled from fan letters.

Koda Kumi has officially outdone herself! In terms of overall presentation and quality, JAPONESQUE is her strongest release from beginning to end. Like I said at the beginning of the review, this album is nearly perfect. It’s going to be tough to see Kumi top JAPONESQUE because it has the best combination of music genres that she’s known for and then some. For example, even though the only song that I didn’t like was Love Technique it’s still leagues ahead of other cute songs she has done from the last 3 albums. For having 19 tracks, you’re really getting the best of everything she has to offer. My main gripes go to T-Pain’s unwelcome presence in V.I.P. and the so-so mid-tempo tracks like Brave. They couldn’t find a better place to put Ai wo Tomenaide either?

Pros: An incredibly solid album. With 19 tracks, what is there not to like?
Cons: The minor things that I mentioned in the final paragraph. You can make your own minor adjustments to make this album the perfect package if you wanted to.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Introduction ~JAPONESQUE~
2. So Nice feat. Mr.Blistah
3. Boom Boom Boys
4. V.I.P. feat. T-Pain
5. Slow feat. Omarion
6. Brave
7. Everyday
8. IN THE AIR
9. You are not alone (Acoustic Version)
10. Interlude ~JAPONESQUE~
11. ESCALATE
12. Love Me Back
13. No Man’s Land
14. Ai wo Tomenaide (愛を止めないで)
15. KO-SO-KO-SO
16. Lay Down
17. Love Technique
18. Poppin’ love cocktail feat. TEEDA
19. All for you

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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Koda Kumi – Dejavu

July 3, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 3 Comments
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The cover of the CD+2DVD edition

Dejavu is Koda Kumi’s 9th studio album and it was released on March 2, 2011. The album (barely) reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Chart and sold 204,227 copies. It was preceded by 3 singles: Gossip Candy, Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. / Anata Dake ga, and POP DIVA.

Seriously what is going on in this cover? Look at all that crap! Books, cakes, a trumpet…the only thing that it’s telling me is that Kumi is a hoarder and needs an intervention.

♦ ♦ ♦

In the Prologue to Dejavu, Kumi asks a simple question: “Why won’t you come with me to my Dejavu?” Sure, why not! The music is rather strange and seems to have a foreboding atmosphere so I think it works well as the opening number.

I used to haaaaate POP DIVA because I thought it had the most obnoxious chorus ever but I guess you could say that I’ve grown accustomed to it (well the rest of the song at least XD). If you do ignore the chorus, you have a pretty sleek and thumping track.

Fortunately, only one song from the Gossip Candy single is on here. Lollipop is silly goodness and I think the chorus is pretty catchy despite the funny lyrics about dodging bullets and such. At least neither of the “fishbowl songs” were included!

The first new full-length track is Okay, a cool R&B song with prominent synth. There’s also some Western influences in the music like the dudes in the background going “Ayyyy!” (like in BoA’s Eien) and that distorted English voice.

Next up is a mellow R&B track. Aitakute is very nice and trumps her previous attempts at songs of this nature (Tsuki to Taiyou and Your Love come into mind). It maintains a relatively calm vibe but manages to keep you interested.

We have another R&B inspired mid-tempo track but a male singer joins Kumi this time. In Passing By, I’ve never heard of this B. Howard person but his role in the song is undeniable. I don’t mind his vocals and he sounds alright for the most part. The chorus is where the song shines and his and Kumi’s voices come together, mixing English and Japanese.

Out of all the new upbeat tracks on the album, AT THE WEEKEND was my favorite. It has a lot of energy, a great beat, and Kumi sounds great. The chorus is a highlight as well.

Now we have the Interlude to Dejavu, which features the same music as the prologue. The main difference is that it has some more English lyrics like “This Dejavu drives me crazy” and Kumi going “Woo!”. XD As an interlude, it only prepares you for the upcoming ~kawaii song~. D:

And it’s a doozy (and it mean that in a bad way)! Melting just comes in and attacks you with disgusting cuteness. I honestly don’t like this song at all and I hate Kumi for getting that “La la la melting chocolate” line stuck in my head.

At least it smoothly transitions into a much better song. Hey baby! was released digitally in an edited version prior to the album and here we are with the full version…all 2 and a half minutes of it. The cute vibe is there but at least it’s masked behind heavy beats and synth on top of an aggressive chorus unlike the complete bubblegum pop heard in Melting.

Here’s some more fluffy pop for you! Choi Tashi Life isn’t bad and probably the most laid back of the pop songs on this album. I don’t have much to say on this one.

Two back-to-back ballads are up next, the first one being Anata Dake ga. This song is seriously beautiful and I now think it’s one of her best ballads. Kumi also gives one of her strongest vocal performances as well.

After that is Suki de, Suki de, Suki de., which has grown on me a little bit. Compared to the R&B and piano blend heard in Anata Dake ga, this song is more of an acoustic pop ballad.

One notable thing about this album is that it ends with upbeat songs. I was worried that Bambi was going to be like Melting (yeah I’m going to keep bashing that song) because it follows the same cute pop formula but at least we get a nice rockish sound in the music. This song is a lot more tolerable as well.

I thought I Don’t Love You !?? (why is it being presented as a question? lol) was a great ending track because it breaks the mold of her albums always ending with ballads. The pop synth arrangement is nice and the chorus is great. I also get a “classic Kuu” feel from this song since it reminds me of material from past albums like grow into one and secret.

With a title like Dejavu, I was wondering what direction Koda Kumi would take with this album. Luckily, there wasn’t a case of de ja vu because I thought a majority of the album sounded pretty fresh. Like past Kuu albums, Dejavu has a mixture of hot dance songs, upbeat pop tunes, and ballads but it’s presented in a cohesive format. The same can be said about her last album UNIVERSE but I thought the songs on here were better executed this time around. Honestly, the only song that I skip is Melting since it’s garbage but everything else is good.

Pros: This was a solid release. I could listen to the entire album except…
Cons: Melting! Kill it with fire! Give me Black Candy or even the fishbowl songs…just make it go away. *cries*

BASICALLY…if I didn’t like this album, I would call it “DejaBOO”! LOLOLOL /lame

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Prologue to Dejavu
2. POP DIVA
3. Lollipop
4. Okay
5. Aitakute (逢いたくて)
6. Passing By
7. AT THE WEEKEND
8. Interlude to Dejavu
9. Melting
10. Hey baby!
11. Choi Tashi Life (ちょい足しLife)
12. Anata Dake ga (あなただけが)
13. Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. (好きで、好きで、好きで。)
14. Bambi
15. I Don’t Love You !??

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Koda Kumi – Gossip Candy

July 17, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 15 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Gossip Candy is Koda Kumi’s 47th single and it was released on July 7, 2010. The single reached #4 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 60,027 copies.

What a colorful cover. The text stinks though.

♦ ♦ ♦

It’s that time of the year again and Koda Kumi dishes out a summer single. The first track is Lollipop, a sexy mid-tempo song. Instead of dance beats and synth in songs like TABOO and Physical thing, this track is on the slower side and features an R&B sound. I have to admit the chorus is the best part since it’s so catchy but the line about her dodging bullets cracks me up. Anyway, it’s my favorite track on the single.

Then we have the “fishbowl songs”. They feature the same rockish arrangement and melody but are different in key. Inside Fishbowl is in a higher key and Kumi’s vocals are so annoying. She is literally shrieking the chorus because it’s so high pitched. I thought Outside Fishbowl was better because her vocals were more tolerable thanks to the lower key.

For you is the ballad of the single and it’s boring. I thought faraway was dull but this is even worse. With acoustics, light beats, and water drops, this song didn’t get my attention at all. It’s way too long as well. First pressings of the single come with a cover of the classic disco song Got To Be Real. Kumi’s version is surprisingly good and mainly because the Engrish is minimal.

When it comes to Koda Kumi’s summer singles, this one has to be my least favorite. The only song that I liked was Lollipop and I thought the rest was just mediocre. When it comes to the fishbowl songs, Outside Fishbowl is the better of the two but it’s still annoying. In the end, I’d rather take last year’s 3 SPLASH over Gossip Candy. What a letdown.

Pros: Only Lollipop is the standout track.
Cons: Inside Fishbowl and For you are baaaaaad.

BASICALLY…I’ll have a lollipop but not a fishbowl.

Overall Rating

3 stars

Tracklisting

1. Lollipop
2. Inside Fishbowl
3. Outside Fishbowl
4. For you
5. Got To Be Real [First pressing bonus track]

Koda Kumi – UNIVERSE

February 10, 2010 at 8:48 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 16 Comments
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The cover of the UNIVERSE booklet

UNIVERSE is Koda Kumi’s 8th album and it was released on February 3, 2010. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 221,887 copies. Together with BEST ~third universe~, it’s a part of the joint release BEST ~third universe~ & 8th AL “UNIVERSE”.

The booklet covers are way better than the actual ones. lol

♦ ♦ ♦

Uh oh. To be honest, I still don’t know what to think about this album and I’ve been giving it a good amount of plays this past week. What I can say for sure is that UNIVERSE has moderate highs but also BIG lows. Ranging from the mainly supbar singles to the not-so-impressive new tracks, there is an air “uncertainty” surrounding the album.

As for the TRICK vs. UNIVERSE debate…is there even a contest? TRICK is a lot better. Heck, I think Kingdom and Black Cherry are better too and all three of those albums had their share of problems. I’ll explain why in a little bit.

There was one big thing about UNIVERSE that I did like. It’s one of her neater, more cohesive albums. The transitions between each track are smoother than usual and the tracklisting is evenly divided into different phases. Minus the aggressive tracks Step Into My World (the second coming of INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK) and Can We Go Back, the first half of the album is made up of mid-tempo pop/R&B tracks. You’re So Beautiful and No Way were the big standout tracks while the rest was pretty forgettable. Work It Out! would have to be the worst out of them though.

My favorite segment of the album arrives once Physical thing starts. I thought it was great that all the upbeat dance tracks were together. Followed by ECSTASY (from the 3 SPLASH single) and the new track UNIVERSE, this is where I thought the album was at its strongest. The collaboration song It’s all Love! with little sis misono is thrown in at the end but that’s okay. I also thought the album’s only ballad Alive (my favorite A-side from this era) provided for a clean finish too. There’s also a super long (but good) live version of Moon Crying performed in Taiwan that’s a bonus track.

Here’s the main problem that I had with UNIVERSE. While the overall package is nicely executed, nothing really stands out. Compared to past albums, there were hardly any new tracks that made me say “wow”. There were only a couple on this album like You’re So Beautiful, No Way, and the song UNIVERSE. It didn’t help that most of the A-sides were average and took forever to grow on me either. It could be different for you but that’s how I feel. I would gladly take a messy, yet exciting album like TRICK over the shortcomings of UNIVERSE.

Pros: The album is a grower for sure. You’re So Beautiful is really pretty and tracks 10-12 are awesome.
Cons: Too much “blah” and not enough “OOMPH”. I was kind of let down.

BASICALLY…the album is an improved version of feel my mind (my least fave Kuu album).

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Step Into My World
2. Can We Go Back
3. SUPERSTAR
4. You’re So Beautiful
5. Lick me ♥
6. Work It Out!
7. No Way
8. Stay
9. Comes Up
10. Physical thing
11. ECSTASY
12. UNIVERSE
13. It’s all Love! / Koda Kumi × misono
14. Alive
15. Moon Crying (Live ver. in Taiwan)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Koda Kumi – Can We Go Back

January 22, 2010 at 10:04 AM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 6 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

Can We Go Back is Koda Kumi’s 46th single and it was released on January 20, 2010. The single reached #2 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 31,078 copies.

Gross! This one isn’t as greasy as the CD+DVD edition’s cover if that counts for anything.

♦ ♦ ♦

Koda Kumi + rock = Uhhhhhhhh.
Sometimes it can be good (Ningyo Hime) or a complete and total disaster (Hashire!). As for Can We Go Back, my stance on the song is currently in the middle. It’s a very straight foward song to say the least. The music is loud, in your face, and extremely blunt. Kumi’s vocals follow suit but I didn’t really like it when she started yelling. On a relevant note, it’s also a cover of some Kelly Clarkson song.

The B-side is the complete opposite. Good☆day is a bright and cheery pop song, the kind of thing that Kumi is definitely not a stranger of. This track isn’t that bad even though we’ve heard it all before. I do like that “I’ll be there for you” line.

Pros: Can We Go Back is growing on me!
Cons: But something about this single is annoying.

BASICALLY…Kumi should stick to hot dance songs but I’ll make an exception.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Can We Go Back
2. Good☆day
3. Can We Go Back (Instrumental)
4. Good☆day (Instrumental)

Koda Kumi – Alive / Physical thing

September 24, 2009 at 2:30 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 5 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

Alive / Physical thing is Koda Kumi’s 45th single and it was released on September 16, 2009. The single reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 42,944 copies. The first track was used as the theme song for the movie Kamui the Ninja.

I think the covers are quite nice. I don’t get that white puffy thing she’s wearing though. It’s consuming her! DDD:

♦ ♦ ♦

I would normally say “UGH NOT ANOTHER BALLAD” but I actually like Alive a lot soooooo…
Well, I think it’s different from previous ballads. Instead of the typical R&B and pop tinged fluff that’s she been putting out for a while, this song feels way more sophisticated and epic. I haven’t heard anything like it since Asu e… or the orchestral version of 1000 no Kotoba. From the music’s use of flowing strings and woodwinds, it’s extremely pretty. I like that Kumi isn’t “oversinging” like she usually does too. I wish the song was longer though because it’s well under 4 minutes, which is way too short for a song of this caliber (EXTENDED ALBUM VERSION PLZ).

Then there’s Physical thing, which I thought was pretty hot. I was loving aggressive synth the most. Hey, I’m glad it’s not just some cutesy pop song! LOL It’s no BUT or TABOO but it still trumps any of her recent material by a large amount. I’m talking about everything on 3 SPLASH specifically.

The single also features live performances of 2 songs from her latest tour. The first is an extended version of INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK, simply titled TRICK, and it has an added verse near the end. It gives me hope for a studio version. =) 
The other one is Joyful, the happy pop song off the TRICK album. I thought she sang pretty well, considering it’s one of the later songs performed on the setlist.

Pros: A solid single! I thought both songs were nicely done.
Cons: Alive is too short and Physical thing could still use some work.

BASICALLY…keep it up, Kumi. There’s still some hope left!

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Alive
2. Physical thing
3. Alive (Instrumental)
4. Physical thing (Instrumental)
5. TRICK Live Version (from TRICK TOUR 2009)
6. Joyful Live Version (from TRICK TOUR 2009)

Koda Kumi – 3 SPLASH

July 29, 2009 at 4:58 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 6 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. 09:00 A.M. [Intro]
2. Lick me ♥
3. ECSTASY
4. 12:35 P.M. [Interlude]
5. Hashire! (走れ!)
6. 04:20 P.M. [Interlude]
7. Lick me ♥ (Q;indivi-Yusuke Tanaka Remix)
8. ECSTASY (Caramel Pod E Remix)
9. Hashire! (420 Remix)
10. 12:00 A.M. [Outro]

This is Koda Kumi’s 44th single and it was released on July 8, 2009. The single reached #2 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 81,278 copies.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a review of the CD+DVD edition which has 10 tracks because it features 3 remixes and an extra interlude.

Oh goodness…Koda Kumi and her summer singles. After the short introduction track (which was just a bunch of random beats), we get a song with a title that is quite misleading. Initially, I thought Lick me ♥ was going to be dirty or something, but it’s the complete opposite. This song is actually a cute, summer themed pop track and as of late…I’m starting to like it. The song as a whole is catchy with the chorus being the main focus. However, there are still some things that bother me. The adlibbing at the end of chorus has got to go and the music is very typical. *inserts every other cute Kumi song here*

Now ECSTASY is more like it! Here is the sexy Koda Kumi that I love…to an extent in this song at least. Just think of it as a more involved and improved upon version of Lick me ♥ since it incorporates more of an R&B sound instead of just cute clapping beats next to electric guitars. The vocals are better here as well. In my opinion, it’s the best song on the single.

After another random interlude, Hashire! crashes in with its loud electric guitars. I don’t like this song at all and I think it’s really obnoxious, the biggest offender being Kumi’s vocals. She just needs to tone it down a notch because there’s a lot of shouting going on. The adlibbing near the end is so annoying too!

Booooo! Another interlude! </3 This one just has beeping and other crap but it transitions into the remix portion of the single. Let’s go over them, shall we?

  • Believe it or not, I think the remix of Lick me ♥ is better than the original! It ditches the pop rock sound for funky synth and it sounds a lot better because of that.
  • The ECSTASY remix was annoying. I guess the remixer thought Kumi’s “LAID BACK!” line was cool because you hear it constantly during the instrumental sections. It reminds me of that horrible 80kidz’s remix of Ayumi Hamasaki’s Rule. *dies*
  • Hashire! wasn’t good but the remix is an interesting take on the song. The vocals have been distorted a lot and are mostly muffled underneath buzzing synth. I’m still deciding if this was an improvement or not.

I thought the “outro” was a fitting end for the single since it features the sound of crashing ocean waves. It also includes a short sample from Lick me ♥ for good measure.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Koda Kumi × misono – It’s all Love!

April 24, 2009 at 7:32 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi, misono | 4 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition 

It’s all Love! is a special collaboration single between sisters Koda Kumi and misono and it was released on March 31, 2009. The single reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 97,577 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

You know, I’ve always wanted Koda Kumi and misono to collaborate even though they are complete opposites when it comes to musical styles. It looks like that wish came true with It’s all Love!, a strange, funky, hybrid of a song. Koda Kumi does pop and R&B while misono does rock and what do you get when you mix them together? Musically, the song is a cluttered, hot mess but oddly enough, I thought the sisters sounded great together. The arrangement is very chaotic and filled with frantic electric guitar riffs, drums, and synth. Add that random R&B-ish segment that appears during the bridge and you got yourself a song! Surprisingly, I liked the vocals and the sisters do make a great pair. Kumi sounds good as usual but I noticed a vast improvement in misono. Honestly, she has never sounded better vocally.

The B-sides on the single are solo songs from each sister, starting with faraway. This is Koda Kumi’s solo song and it’s your typical J-pop ballad. *yawn* There’s nothing new here and the song is incredibly unremarkable. It’s too much on the safe side. NEXT~

Unfortunately, misono’s solo song is a lot worse. Tenbin ~Tsuyogari na Watashi×Yowagari na Kimi~ is absolutely cringe worthy. It’s soooooo bad. I never liked her “raw” acoustic based songs but this one takes the cake. All I have to say about her vocals is “TONE IT DOWN, GIRL”. The yelling near the end makes me want to die.

Overall Rating

3 stars

Tracklisting

1. It’s all Love!
2. faraway / Koda Kumi
3. Tenbin ~Tsuyogari na Watashi×Yowagari na Kimi~ (天秤~強がりな私×弱がりな君~)
    / misono
4. It’s all Love! (Instrumental)
5. faraway (Instrumental) / Koda Kumi
6. Tenbin ~Tsuyogari na Watashi×Yowagari na Kimi~ (Instrumental) / misono

Koda Kumi – TRICK

February 11, 2009 at 9:35 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 8 Comments
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Koda Kumi - TRICKThe cover of the CD only edition

TRICK is Koda Kumi’s 7th studio album and it was released on January 28, 2009. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 391,094 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Watch out, bitches! The explosive INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK is hot hot hot. The way it starts is tame but I just loved how the music blows up in a frenzy of bass and synth next to Kumi’s aggressive vocals. Compared to her other album intros, this one is definitely the best. I can’t get enough of it.

The introduction track smoothly flows into TABOO, Kumi’s best single in recent memory. With its heavy electropop and dance sound, this song is perfect for showing off the sexier side of her voice. I love this song and there’s nothing else to say except that it will always remain FIERCE. ♥

The album’s main promotional track is next and it is stellar. show girl lives up to its title thanks to the overall theatrical atmosphere of the music. There’s an interesting combination of old fashioned brass and modern beats that sound great together. While the structure of the song may seem a little “off” at first, I find it really catchy and memorable. Plus, the way it ends is really awesome, especially when Kumi says “Thank you”.

A Koda Kumi album isn’t complete without a couple of ballads, right? Anyway, Your Love is a laid back tune that mainly features piano and light beats. Unfortunately, the arrangement is monotone and not very interesting. I guess the same can be said for the vocals, except for the brief moments of adlibbing. In the end, this track doesn’t stand out at all.

stay with me seems a little out of place at this stage of the album. I do think that it’s a pretty winter ballad, but let’s just say that I wouldn’t have been disappointed if it was not included. Any B-side from this era would have been better in my opinion.

This is not a love song puts things back in order though. It has a cool urban pop sound and I thought the deep bass beats were hot. Kumi certainly gives a feisty vocal performance and the chorus is a good example of that. I also have to note that there is a nice break in the music and it happens during the bridge. A lonesome piano appears and the tone of Kumi’s voice changes.

Next to show girl, Driving is the most impressive of the album’s new tracks. I love the song’s use of synth because it’s uplifting and full of energy but there is also a great buildup into the strong chorus. It’s quite aggressive with that synth mixed in and the beats are a welcome addition too. This song could have definitely been a great A-side.

Oh my goodness…Bling Bling Bling feat. AK-69 delivers the LOLZ. Actually, I find this song amusing despite its overall silliness. The verses are good, but the chorus just cracks me up because of the lyrics and Kumi’s cutesy vocals. What’s even funnier is that I think the chorus is really catchy. I’m not gonna lie. The rapping by AK-69 is okay but he doesn’t contribute much anyway (besides mispronouncing “bling” too). According to the lyrics, Kumi wants a lot of things: 1. That bling bling bling, 2. Your car car car, and 3. MORE bling bling bling!

More hilarity ensues with That Ain’t Cool, Kumi’s collaboration with Fergie. Only Kumi’s solo verse is the funny thing about this song because I really don’t mind the rest of it. The chorus is pretty catchy and the music isn’t bad at all. “Fergie feat. Koda Kumi” is more appropriate though, right? This song originally appeared as the 2nd track on the MOON single.

~Frantic~ is the best way to describe Hurry Up!, an exciting song with a quick pace that doesn’t let up. I liked the constant electric guitar and Kumi’s aggressive vocals matched that since she sings with vigor (even with that muffled effect during the verses). For me, this was another standout track on the album.

Unlike stay with me, Moon Crying seems to blend in better with the rest of the album. This song is more of a pop ballad as it incorporates very light beats into the mix. Like I said back when I reviewed the MOON single, it’s your standard ballad but I really liked Kumi’s vocals in it.

The next track is a personal favorite of mine. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE is a perky song with a simple, yet fantastic arrangement. I really liked the low key strings in the background because they went nicely with beats, but it’s the chorus that positively shines. It’s very catchy and the melody will get stuck in your head. I especially love that “I like you” line that Kumi sings to open the chorus.

Joyful is the obligatory cute pop song of the album. It reminded me of certain songs like WIND and I’ll be there because it used electric guitar too. Anywho, this is actually a pleasant track, minus the “joyful la la la la” part, and it’s better than the pop songs she put out on her previous album Kingdom.

On the CD only edition, the album ends with Ai no Kotoba. Just like Moon Crying, it’s a bare bones strings and piano ballad, but with more flair and powerful vocals. The arrangement is a lot stronger as well since it includes percussion. The song itself is nothing special but it’s quite uplifting.

The CD+DVD edition includes a cover of the classic song Venus as a bonus track. Kumi’s cover isn’t similar to the 1969 original by The Shocking Blue, but it has the 80s new wave sound of Bananarama’s popular 1986 version. I thought her cover was good and the chorus was definitely the best part. Kumi still can’t pronounce certain words that well though.

I was thoroughly surprised by TRICK. I was expecting this album to be mediocre because those previously released A-sides, minus TABOO, were pretty weak compared to past singles (and that gave me the wrong impression). I honestly think that TRICK contains some of the hottest material that Koda Kumi has ever done. The new tracks like show girl, This is not a love song, and Driving are really well done and showcase an addicting dance pop sound that’s perfectly suited for her. Even with those ballads thrown in, there is still a large amount of fun and upbeat tracks. This album is a step up from last year’s Kingdom as well.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK
2. TABOO
3. show girl
4. Your Love
5. stay with me
6. This is not a love song
7. Driving
8. Bling Bling Bling feat. AK-69
9. That Ain’t Cool / Koda Kumi feat. Fergie
10. Hurry Up!
11. Moon Crying
12. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE
13. Joyful
14. Ai no Kotoba (愛のことば)
15. Venus [CD+DVD bonus track]

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Koda Kumi – stay with me

January 13, 2009 at 4:28 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 4 Comments

Tracklisting
1. stay with me
2. Winter Bell
3. stay with me (Orgel Version)
4. stay with me (Instrumental)
5. Winter Bell (Instrumental)

This is Koda Kumi’s 42nd single and it was released on December 24, 2008. The single reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 65,657 copies.

Koda Kumi seriously has been pumping out the ballads lately, but at least stay with me is better than Moon Crying. The song is described as a winter love ballad and you get exactly just that.  Don’t get me wrong because I think the song is good, but it’s kind of ordinary at the same time too. At least the upbeat arrangement keeps things from getting boring and Kumi sings with nice, lower pitched vocals.

This pretty much proves how crazy I am as a Koda Kumi fan because I looooove Winter Bell. Compared to stay with me, the B-side is a lot brighter, cheery, and…dare I say it? CUTE! I honestly don’t mind it when Kumi does cutesy pop songs like this one because they’re fun, catchy, and she sounds great while performing them. I have taken a big liking chorus because it has a nice rhythm and the vocals are very catchy.

Also included on the single is a simple orgel version of stay with me. Like any other orgel version, it’s an instrumental comprised of music box chimes set to the vocal harmony of the original song.

Overall Rating

4 stars

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