SWEET BLACK feat. MAKI GOTO – SWEET BLACK

September 28, 2009 at 5:58 PM | Posted in Maki Goto | 1 Comment
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SWEET BLACK is Maki Goto’s first mini-album and it was released on September 16, 2009. The mini-album reached #26 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 5,530 copies. It’s also her first physical release since transferring to avex.

I like the cover but I could do without her weird facial expression. What is she, a Disney princess? That headdress thing isn’t working either. lol

♦ ♦ ♦

You know I like me some avex whores so I was really glad when Maki Goto swtiched to the rhythm zone sublabel after leaving the Hello!Project. However, that was last year and I have been dying for new material. Prior to this release, she began working under the “SWEET BLACK Project”, which is a collaboration between several media outlets. That was when she started releasing digital singles under the stage name “SWEET BLACK feat. MAKI GOTO” (those singles were Fly away, Lady-Rise, and with…).

Despite only having 8 tracks, SWEET BLACK certainly has variety. From electronic, R&B, pop, and even reggaeton, the mini-album has a wide array of different styles. To me, it’s a good way for Maki Goto to show off her true capabilities as an artist. Even though her voice hasn’t changed that much since her last album How to use SEXY, there was definitely an overhaul in the music department. She’s now working with different producers instead of just Tsunku so I thought many of the songs featured a higher production value than almost all of her Hello!Project material.

For example, we hear Goto singing more mainstream songs in this mini-album. From the heavy electronic influences in Plastic Lover to the distinct reggaeton sound of Queen Bee with BIGGA RAIJI, Goto impressed me. Even though I have a love/hate relationship with Queen Bee because of BIGGA RAIJI’s excrutiating rapping, the song gets props for being one of catchiest tracks on the mini-album. If you want a better collaboration with a rapper who’s voice is actually tolerable, listen to Mine with KEN THE 390 instead. It’s perhaps my favorite song. Other noteworthy tracks include Fly away and the rockish Lady-Rise.
It’s not all upbeat stuff though, which I thought was perfectly fine. TEAR DROPS with KG and with… represent the slower paced songs and they’re both nice. TEAR DROPS with KG is the better song though since it was a good collaboration.

In the end, I thought SWEET BLACK was a great collection of songs that showcase the “new” Maki Goto. I don’t think any of the songs are bad even though the rapping in Queen Bee just slays me. It gives me a lot of hope for Goto’s future releases as an avex artist because she has potential and this mini-album can possibly be a taste of what she can really pull off. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. =x

Pros: There are some really hot songs on here. *fans off*
Cons: BIGGA RAIJI! FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

BASICALLY…you’re officially an avex bitch, Miss Goto! ^^

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Queen Bee with BIGGA RAIJI
2. Lady-Rise
3. Candy
4. TEAR DROPS with KG
5. Mine with KEN THE 390
6. Fly away
7. Plastic Lover
8. with…

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Maki Goto – How to use SEXY

June 16, 2008 at 9:50 PM | Posted in Maki Goto | 5 Comments
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The cover of the regular edition

How to use SEXY is Maki Goto’s 4th album and it was released on September 29, 2007. The album reached #18 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 14,996 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Wait a minute, I thought we were learning how to use SEXY, not Loneliness! Anyways, the album’s opening track is pretty hot. How to use Loneliness shows the full extent of Maki Goto’s departure from idol pop. The song is very heavy on the synth and I liked how it was combined with the ethnic string plucking from the guitars. Goto’s vocals are strong and full since she sings most of the song in a lower pitch and that went well with the aggressive music.

The synth gets taken up a notch with the next track, the fast paced GIVE ME LOVE. Almost every aspect about this song is fast and I liked the high energy of the music. From its speedy vocals to the endless looping synth, nothing ever lets up from beginning to end.

Things just get better with SOME BOYS! TOUCH, my favorite song by Goto as well as on this album. I just find it so addicting and catchy and like I said before: it’s the ultimate guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, this song ends the short, yet really awesome “synth phase” of the album as it dabs more into different categories of mainstream pop.

Goto slows down a bit for a song that’s laid back, but still on the sensual side thanks to great vocals. City Wind has a very relaxing lounge club atmosphere and I liked the ambient sounds that it incorporated. What I thought was the most interesting thing about the music was the thumping beat because it had a nice rhythm and it sounded unique.

The next track is kind of boring and pretty much just a less interesting version of City Wind. Nee Samishikute has nothing really going for it except for its gorgeous bridge which features calming strings and piano. It’s too bad the rest of this sleepy song doesn’t follow suit.

At least things begin to pick up briefly with Glass no Pumps, a nice jolt after those slow songs. It’s a heavenly piece of retro pop mixed with catchy lyrics and beats. Even though this song has that idol sound, it’s still very infectious and fun to listen to.

It was nice to hear Goto try out something within the realm of jazz and DAYBREAK was a great experimental track for her. It features a prominent use of brass but also great additional instruments like the several different kinds of percussion. Her vocals also go quite well with the music too and I was surprised by her overall performance.

The next track is VERY poppy and pretty much showing that lingering idol side of Goto. WOW Suteki! is upbeat and happy, but it did nothing for me. Musically, I didn’t think it had any substance compared to the rest of the album since this song is just a bunch of random synth riffs placed here and there.

The album is drawing to a close with Secret, a pop infused ballad. While having the normal strings and piano, the music also features different kinds of beats from bass to waterdrop. It’s a different take on the typical pop ballad so I thought it was well done.

Ending the album is another ballad, but of the orchestral variety. LIFE has a pretty arrangement and a sweeping string section, but the lyrics are what make this song shine. Goto’s vocals sound full and quite strong, but I thought the acapella sequence of the ending could have been better. It felt incomplete and choppy at the very end, despite the lyrics. Aside from that, it’s an effective final track.

I was incredibly skeptical upon first listening to How to use SEXY since it was my first album by a Hello!Project artist, but this album is not bad at all. There are actually some REALLY good songs on here, but not without the bad ones of course. I could have done without Nee Samishikute and WOW Suteki! but the rest of the new tracks are fantastic, especially the ones that open the album. I can’t quite say how it ranks compared to Maki Goto’s previous albums since I haven’t listened to them, but you might find yourself surprised wtih How to use SEXY. You might find something you like and then some.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. How to use Loneliness
2. GIVE ME LOVE
3. SOME BOYS! TOUCH
4. City Wind
5. Nee Samishikute (ねえ 寂しくて)
6. Glass no Pumps (ガラスのパンプス)
7. DAYBREAK
8. WOW Suteki! (WOW 素敵!)
9. Secret (シークレット)
10. LIFE

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Maki Goto – Secret

May 17, 2008 at 10:58 AM | Posted in Maki Goto | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. Secret (シークレット)
2. Inner Child (インナーチャイルド)
3. Secret (Instrumental)

This is Maki Goto’s 17th single and it was released on April 11, 2007. The single reached #9 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 14,861 copies.

Being a more intimate offering from Maki Goto, I thought that Secret was a nice ballad. It’s also a little more upbeat and has a stronger pop arrangement than the ballads from other Hello!Project soloists like Natsumi Abe and Aya Matsuura. The various synthetic sounds and waterdrop beats give the song its “pop” sound. Goto’s vocals are gentle but get a little stronger near the end.

The B-side is an aggressive pop track. Inner Child has a dynamic use of different instruments while including synthesizers. The strings and electric guitar have the strongest influence in the song and this is most evident in the verses. I thought the guitar solo of the bridge was a good addition too.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Maki Goto – SOME BOYS! TOUCH

May 2, 2008 at 11:47 AM | Posted in Maki Goto | 2 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. SOME BOYS! TOUCH
2. ALL OF US
3. SOME BOYS! TOUCH (Instrumental)

This is Maki Goto’s 16th single and it was released on October 11, 2006. The single reached #5 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 29,459 copies. The B-side was used as the first ending theme song for the anime Ginga Tetsudou Monogatari ~Eien e no Bunkiten~.

In my opinion, this is the ultimate guilty pleasure. SOME BOYS! TOUCH is probably Maki Goto’s most daring song to date and it shows off a more mature sound as well. Okay, the song isn’t really all that dirty like the title implies, but the lyrics are a huge tease and the way Goto sings might convince you otherwise. The music is mostly aggressive synth while still having an overall pop arrangement. This is most evident in the chorus where the music changes to have a more pop sound. The elevating verses and the awesome bridge were the most impressive parts of this song. I didn’t know that Tsunku, the composer AND writer, had it in him to create such a great track.

The B-side is a lot more cutesy pop than the previous track. ALL OF US is a simple song comprising of mostly strings and light percussion that create a light-hearted atmosphere. Goto’s vocals are good but sound a little boring at times. As far as her B-sides go, this one was okay.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Maki Goto – Glass no Pumps

April 21, 2008 at 3:48 PM | Posted in Maki Goto | 6 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Glass no Pumps (ガラスのパンプス)
2. LOVE Kan Coffee (LOVE缶コーヒー)
3. Glass no Pumps (Instrumental)

This is Maki Goto’s 15th single and it was released on June 21, 2006. The single reached #7 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 27,907 copies.

The first of the How to use SEXY singles, Glass no Pumps incorporates a retro sound with its furious use of old fashioned synth and peppy dance beats. What I liked the most about the song was the catchy chorus which has simple English lyrics like Dance with me baby baby and I love you, hold me hold me next to a fast rhythm. Maki Goto’s vocals sound really good here and she does give an almost tantalizing performance.

The B-side, LOVE Kan Coffee, is a total mess. The music felt sloppy especially during the chorus when it’s just synth, synth, and more synth piled on top of one another. While Goto’s vocals are okay, she can’t seem to keep up with the chaotic arrangement. Thank goodness it’s only B-side and it should stay that way since it doesn’t compare to Glass no Pumps at all. Most Hello!Project singles follow this formula: GOOD A-side; BAD B-side.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

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