Miwako Okuda – Kimi wo Omou

December 4, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Posted in Miwako Okuda | 1 Comment
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Kimi wo Omou (君を想う) is Miwako Okuda’s 2nd album and it was released on September 6, 2006. The album reached #155 on the Oricon Weekly Charts.

♦ ♦ ♦

I thought this album was quite the departure from her debut album Futari because it is almost entirely composed of ballads and Okuda co-wrote the lyrics of all the new songs as well.

The first track is the only true rock song on the album. BORN is Okuda’s latest single and it is reminscent of Aozora no Hate, a song from her first album. It’s a good album opener since it’s different from every other track.

Track 2 is the first many of slow paced ‘pop ballads’ on the album. Tsuki ga Suki has a pretty chorus, but that’s pretty much it.

The next track is the best freakin’ song on the album. Sure, Boku ga Ikite Ita Koto is also a ballad, but it’s a rock themed power ballad with an amazing string arrangement.

Gah, another pop ballad. Soraoi is another pretty song, but I didn’t like low pitched background vocals of the chorus. They feel out of place.

Whoo-hoo, track 5 is a personal favorite of mine. 1/2 is a beautiful piano ballad with amazing vocals from Okuda. The song was originally the B-side on the Boku ga Ikite Ita Koto single.

Finally! A song with some alternative electric guitar riffs! love you is definitely a breath of fresh air after all those ballads. The music has a more alternative feel to it.

Never mind, Soba ni Ite continues the string of ballads. Okuda’s vocals are quite beautiful and the string arrangement is very well done. Other than that, it’s a little boring.

Track 8 is the oldest song on the album. Ano Hi was the B-side on the Ame to Yume no Ato ni single, released more than a year ago during the Futari era.

I like the powerful vocals of the chorus in Ashita e. I am SO glad there is some percussion in this song because it’s definitely a nice touch.

Track 10 is my favorite of all the new tracks on this album. Egao has some slight R&B elements in it (some light beats and fingersnaps) which makes it stand out among the other tracks.

Ending the album is a piano ballad (no surprise there). Similar to 1/2, Kimi wo Omou has amazing and beautiful vocals. It’s a very gentle song and it’s a good way to close this ballad dominated album.

As much as I love Miwako Okuda, I was disappointed with this album. I really like listening to ballads, but there’s way too many of them on this CD. The only ‘rock’ songs on the album are BORN and Boku ga Ikite Ita Koto (and maybe love you). This album didn’t have the variety of Futari, her debut album, because of the lack of rock songs. Futari had 6 rock songs and 7 ballads while Kimi wo Omou had 3 rock songs and 8 ballads. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked this album, but not nearly as much as Futari.

Overall Rating

3 stars

Tracklisting

1. BORN
2. Tsuki ga Suki (月が好き)
3. Boku ga Ikite Ita Koto (ぼくが生きていたこと)
4. Soraoi (ソラオイ)
5. 1/2
6. love you
7. Soba ni Ite (そばにいて)
8. Ano Hi (あの日)
9. Ashita e (明日へ)
10. Egao (笑顔)
11. Kimi wo Omou (君を想う)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Miwako Okuda – BORN

October 22, 2006 at 9:56 AM | Posted in Miwako Okuda | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. BORN
2. love you
3. Ame to Yume no Ato ni (雨と夢のあとに)
4. BORN (Instrumental)
5. love you (Instrumental)
6. Ame to Yume no Ato ni (Instrumental)

This is Miwako Okuda’s 8th single and it was released on August 30, 2006. The single reached #197 on the Oricon Weekly Charts. The title track was used as the opening theme song for the anime Le Chavalier D’eon.

BORN is a mid-tempo rock song with a nice electric guitar opening. The song combines mostly acoustic guitar and percussion with added strings during the chorus. Okuda’s vocals during the chorus are strong as usual but still gentle. The bridge sounds very dramatic and the electric guitar solo is a nice touch. Okuda always manages to release excellent A-sides.

The next track, love you, is more slower paced than the previous track and has a more alternative feel as well. I absolutely love the chorus of this song because it’s the first time Okuda sings in English and it’s not half bad. She only sings I love you but she executes it rather nicely.

Since I’ve been a fan of Okuda for a while, I was completely baffled to find Ame to Yume no Ato ni AND it’s instrumental to be on this single. First of all, it’s an old song released back in April 2005. She released it as a single and it’s on her debut album Futari. So why is it on this single? I have NO CLUE but it was a popular song for her so maybe that’s why. It is a good song after all but I was expecting a new version or arrangement of it to be on this single. Read my review of the original single here.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Miwako Okuda – Boku ga Ikite Ita Koto

October 2, 2006 at 9:53 AM | Posted in Miwako Okuda | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Boku ga Ikite Ita Koto (ぼくが生きていたこと)
2. 1/2
3. Boku ga Ikite Ita Koto (Instrumental)

This is Miwako Okuda’s 7th single and it was released on September 7, 2005. The single reached #130 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 774 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Nagurimono.

Boku ga Ikite Ita Koto is probably one of my favorite Miwako Okuda songs of all time. It combines the gentle piano and strings of her ballads and the powerful electric guitar and percussion of her rock songs. Okuda’s vocals are very powerful during chorus and the electric guitar solo in the bridge is amazing as well. The song does feature a more polished BGM compared to her past work, which is a plus.

The B-side, 1/2, is a piano ballad, just like all the other B-sides of her previous singles. Out of all the songs she has released, this one has the simplist music arrangement (the piano and harp are the only instruments used). Okuda’s vocals stay very gentle throughout the whole song. Her vocal performance during the chorus is beautifully done and she puts a lot of emotion into the high notes.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Miwako Okuda – Futari

September 17, 2006 at 5:51 PM | Posted in Miwako Okuda | 3 Comments
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Futari (二人) is Miwako Okuda’s debut album and it was released on June 22, 2005. The album reached #36 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 10,963 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

The opening track is Aozora no Hate, Okuda’s “re-debut” single under BMG Funhouse. It’s an omninous song that works very well in setting the overall depressing mood of the album.

Track 2, Mugon, is all about questions. Is it good to love? Is it bad to hate? and so on. I love the powerful percussion and opening guitar riffs. The bridge contains great riffs too. The song becomes more brazen with even stronger vocals near the end.

Track 3 is quite possibly the most pop oriented song on the album. The chorus of Ame no Oto contains repetitive lyrics but I find them to be very catchy.

Track 4, Ame to Yume no Ato ni, is much like Aozora no Hate, a mellow rock song with powerful riffs. 

Track 5, Nichiyoubi no Asa, is the first ballad on the album. The verses are slow paced but quickly elevate and Okuda’s vocals are simply amazing. This song is all about acoustic guitar and strings.

Track 6 in my opinion, is one of the most aggressive rock songs on the album. Yume also features extremely loud and powerful guitar riffs as well.

Unfortunately track 7, Kanashimi ni Oborete, is the last true rock song on the album. Once again, Okuda’s powerful vocals match the angry lyrics making this another great addition to the album.

Track 8 is the first full blown piano ballad of the album. Habataite Tori wa Kieru was released as a double A-side single (Utau Riyuu being the other A-side).

Track 9, Zetsubou no Hate, is basically a piano ballad version of Aozora no Hate with more cheerful lyrics. The melody is the same so there really isn’t anything new.

Track 10 is by far the best ballad on the album. Sakura Chiru Mae ni is a little different because the chorus features light electric guitar riffs and percussion. Okuda’s vocals are astounding as well.

Track 11 is the beautifully disturbing Buranko ni Yurete, the B-side from the Aozora no Hate single.

The next track is Utau Riyuu, a two-faced song with an explosive ending. Since this song is so short with an odd overall structure, it’s almost like an interlude. That’s the weird thing because this song was also released as a single.

The final track on the album is also the saddest one. Futari 2002.11.4. LaValse contains lyrics that are really depressing because they depict her lover committing suicide and she wishes that they could have done it together. The strings add a mystical feeling to the song but also include an extra dose of sadness. It’s a beautiful yet extremely depressing way to end the album.

In my opinion, she has released one of the most emotionally driven albums I have ever heard and I think it’s a masterpiece. Each song has themes of death, suicide, sorrow, betrayal, and all that other sad stuff. It’s a shame she didn’t write ANY of the lyrics; famous songwriter Yuu Miri did, and some of the songs are just plain sad (and disturbing at times). Okuda stands out amongst the other artists I listen to because of the dark lyrics of these songs. It’s not cute and fluffy, and that’s what makes this album worth listening to.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. Aozora no Hate (青空の果て)
2. Mugon (無言)
3. Ame no Oto (雨の音)
4. Ame to Yume no Ato ni (雨と夢のあとに)
5. Nichiyoubi no Asa (日曜日の朝)
6. Yume (夢)
7. Kanashimi ni Oborete (哀しみに溺れて)
8. Habataite Tori wa Kieru (はばたいて鳥は消える)
9. Zetsubou no Hate (絶望の果て)
10. Sakura Chiru Mae ni (さくら散る前に)
11. Buranko ni Yurete (ブランコに揺れて)
12. Utau Riyuu (歌う理由)
13. Futari 2002.11.4. LaValse (ふたり 2002.11.4. LaValse)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Miwako Okuda – Ame to Yume no Ato ni

September 9, 2006 at 9:59 AM | Posted in Miwako Okuda | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Ame to Yume no Ato ni (雨と夢のあとに)
2. Ano Hi (あの日)
3. Ame to Yume no Ato ni (Instrumental)

This is Miwako Okuda’s 6th single and it was released on May 25, 2005. The single reached #24 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 23,801 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the drama Ame to Yume no Ato ni (appropriate, no?).

Ame to Yume no Ato ni is a another powerful rock driven song but this time, it’s a little more slower paced with less brazen vocals from Okuda (like in her previous single Yume). The intro quickly sets the mood of the song and onto the calm verses. The chorus is powerful as always and Okuda puts a lot of emotion into her voice.

 The B-side, Ano Hi, is yet another melancholy piano ballad. This trend doesn’t change until the release of her latest single BORN. Don’t me get me wrong, it’s still a beautiful song, but the formula is wearing a little thin. I’m a sucker for her ballads though so I love this song.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Miwako Okuda – Yume

August 30, 2006 at 5:47 PM | Posted in Miwako Okuda | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. Yume (夢)
2. Mabataki wo Yamete (瞬きをやめて)
3. Yume (Movie Version)
4. Yume (Instrumental)

This is Miwako Okuda’s 5th single and it was released on September 22, 2004. The single reached #139 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 710 copies. The title track was used as the ending theme song for the horror movie Kansen (released as Infection overseas).

Yume is probably Okuda’s most powerful song music-wise. The opening contains fast and furious electric guitar riffs and quickly quiets down for the verses. The song picks up during the chorus with very powerful vocals from Okuda. It’s an action-packed song and one of her best.

The B-side, Mabataki wo Yamete, is a gorgeous song. The arrangement is very simple and Okuda’s vocals are simply amazing. It’s a beautiful ballad and a great follow-up track. The B-sides on most of her singles are laid back piano ballads and this one is great.

The movie version of Yume is what you hear during the ending credits of Kansen. It’s shorter of course and it begins right at the chorus.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Miwako Okuda – Utau Riyuu / Habataite Tori wa Kieru

August 23, 2006 at 5:44 PM | Posted in Miwako Okuda | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Utau Riyuu (歌う理由)
2. Habataite Tori wa Kieru
    (はばたいて鳥は消える)

This is Miwako Okuda’s 4th single and it was released on March 3, 2004. The single reached #172 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 679 copies.

Utau Riyuu begins as a piano ballad with very quiet vocals. This is a very short song (it’s only 2 minutes and 50 seconds long) but the way the song completely changes is astounding. Around the 1:47 mark, a screeching guitar riff begins and the song suddenly becomes hard rock. Okuda’s vocals change drastically as well. She’s pretty much yelling now but she still maintains the rich quality of her normal singing voice. The song ends very abruptly with the sound of Okuda gasping. The lyrics change as well. They start happy but then become very angry: Like a scream, like a sob, I’ll sing. I can’t smile again so I’ll sing and sing and sing.

The next track, Habataite Tori wa Kieru, is a beautiful piano and string based ballad. Okuda’s voice just shines throughout the whole song, even during the low pitched verses.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Miwako Okuda – Aozora no Hate

August 17, 2006 at 5:27 PM | Posted in Miwako Okuda | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. Aozora no Hate (青空の果て)
2. Buranko ni Yurete (ブランコに揺れて)
3. Aozora no Hate (Instrumental)

This is Miwako Okuda’s 3rd single and it was released on November 3, 2003. The single reached #14 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 69,505 copies. The title track was used as the theme song to the drama Yankee Bokou ni Kaeru.

Miwako Okuda first appeared in the Japanese music scene in 2000 under the DefSTAR label with the single Shizuku which was used in the anime GTO. A couple of months after that, she released her second single tsu-ki and disappeared from the music industry for more than 3 years. The tracks on these 2 singles were pure pop songs.

Aozora no Hate is a mid-paced rock song (that has some awesome guitar riffs) with some of the most emotional lyrics ever. The lyrics depict a girl wanting to commit suicide (by jumping off the roof of a school) after being rejected by a guy and they’re VERY descriptive: The truth is, I wanted to stop breathing because my whereabouts are nowhere and Under that sky is the 16 year old me, who you deserted.

The B-side, Buranko ni Yurete, is an acoustic guitar ballad. The lyrics are descriptive and not to mention blunt and to the point. Here are some samples: I slit my wrists with the razor blade I had in my pocket while swaying on the swing and Am I alive? Am I dead? Do I want to live? Do I want to die?

Okuda has always stood out among the other artists that I listen to because of the dark lyrics of her songs and her music does have a genuine rock sound as well. Stay tuned for more reviews on this artist.

Overall Rating

4 stars

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