Nami Tamaki – STEP

March 15, 2010 at 9:40 PM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | 5 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

STEP is Nami Tamaki’s 5th album and it was released on February 24, 2010. The album reached #55 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,106 copies.

Somebody was using a fan machine! *shifty eyes* Nami looks good even with that funky pose.

♦ ♦ ♦

First of all, I blame Nami Tamaki’s stupid new label Universal Japan for royally screwing up her career. I have seen nothing but bad decisions regarding her musical direction and it’s like they don’t know what to do with her. I definitely get a feeling of “indecisiveness” from STEP because it tends flip-flop every now and then. The transitions from the cutesy pop songs to the serious R&B-ish tracks are awkward, too. 

Before I talk about the album’s new tracks (there’s only 5 of them), let’s go over the older stuff which makes up a big chunk of the tracklisting. The material from her first 2 singles are the album’s brighter songs. GIVE ME UP, Friends!, and the B-sides Negai Hoshi and Happy Forever, are all cheery tracks. Then with the next two singles, we see a different side of Tamaki as she begins to perform more R&B oriented songs. I really liked Moshimo Negai ga… but hated Omoide ni Naru no? so I was wondering if the album was going to be a disaster if she was going to continue with the R&B stuff.

I am happy to report that all five of the new tracks are pretty good! Yes, these songs are mid-tempo R&B styled tracks but they are done quite well. I can’t say the same about Omoide ni Naru no? because that was messy and overproduced. The new tracks feature simpler arrangements and tone down the synth. Zero no Sora and Tokyo were my favorites. Most importantly, Tamaki’s vocals were great because she was singing within her range. She sounds awful when does those screechy high notes (once again, I have to mention Omoide ni Naru no? but also that horrible B-side in my life).

STEP might be her weakest album to date but it has grown on me. At this point, there’s only 3 tracks that I still truly dislike. I know you’ve seen me ranting about how her music has taken a turn for the worse since the label change but there has been the occasional gem. My hope that Tamaki will improve has been tested time and time again but with this album, perhaps her new label will treat her better because the light R&B/pop formula does work for her if it’s done correctly. We might not ever see the “upbeat techno” Nami from her Sony days but I’ll be okay with this.

Pros: Check out the new tracks! Tokyo is a very sweet song and my personal favorite on the album.
Cons: I still hate some of the older stuff. They could have been replaced with better B-sides like Mata ne or Sukiya de ~Itoshii Hito e~.

BASICALLY…at this point in Nami’s career, it’s all about baby steps.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. GIVE ME UP
2. Friends!
3. Sayonara Shite Ageru (さよならしてあげる)
4. Uso (嘘)
5. Kimi no Namida (キミノナミダ)
6. Negai Hoshi (願い星)
7. Zero no Sora (ゼロの空)
8. Moshimo Negai ga… (もしも願いが・・・)
9. Omoide ni Naru no? (思い出になるの?)
10. Happy Forever
11. in my life
12. Tokyo (東京)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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nami – Omoide ni Naru no?

February 23, 2010 at 8:06 PM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | 10 Comments
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Omoide ni Naru no? (思い出になるの?) is Nami Tamaki’s 19th single and it was released on February 17, 2010, a week before her new album STEP. The single failed to make an appearance on the Oricon Weekly Charts (lol).

Pretty cover…and that’s the only nice thing I’ll be saying in this review.

♦ ♦ ♦

For some reason, she released this single as “nami”. I’m guessing because it’s to showcase an even ~newer~ sound from her. Yep, Tamaki has stepped into R&B territory. Omoide ni Naru no? was written by Jeff Miyahara who has done songs for artists like Kana Nishino and JASMINE. Unfortunately, this does not work for *nami* AT ALL. She sounds so awkward throughout the whole song and it really kept me from liking it. The music is okay even though it’s a clone of Kana Nishino’s Kimi ni Aitaku Naru Kara (a piano arrangement that’s masked behind synth).

I was just starting to get used to her dance-free pop sound too. Moshimo Negai ga… and some of the tracks from the Friends! single were pretty good and now she pulls this crap. SMH

Anyway, the B-sides aren’t that good either. Itoshisa no Yukue is an even less interesting version of the A-side and don’t get me started on her cover of Ken Hirai’s Rakuen. It’s another huge example of ^nami^ performing outside of her league. To be honest, she RUINS it with her funky vocals. I know that Rakuen was Hirai’s big breakthrough song when he transitioned into R&B but he had the voice for it. ~nami~ flat out doesn’t.

Pros: The music? Uhhh…that’s it. lol
Cons: Stay out of R&B, -nami-. It makes your voice sound even weirder than usual.

BASICALLY…here are decent songs that are ruined by a stranger bitch’s vocals.

Overall Rating

2½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Omoide ni Naru no? (思い出になるの?)
2. Itoshisa no Yukue (愛しさのゆくえ)
3. Rakuen (楽園)

Nami Tamaki – Moshimo Negai ga…

October 23, 2009 at 8:32 AM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | 1 Comment
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The cover of the CD+calendar edition

Moshimo Negai ga… (もしも願いが・・・) is Nami Tamaki’s 18th single and it was released on October 14, 2009. The single reached #20 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,408 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the video game Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga.

I like all of the covers but the CD+calendar edition’s is my favorite. Looking good, Nami! ♥

♦ ♦ ♦

I’m glad that Nami Tamaki’s music has been improving little by little since the label switch. It’s safe to say that Moshimo Negai ga… is her best A-side so far too. I’ve gotten over the fact that she’s not doing the dance oriented stuff anymore so I’m trying to approach her “new style” with an open mind now. As for this song, it has a nice production value that features a mid-tempo arrangement done with piano and light beats. There’s also some synth in the background as well.

The single includes 2 B-sides. The first one is Sukiya de ~Itoshii Hito e~ and it appears on all the editions. I thought this song was pretty good and it elaborates on the fluffy pop sound heard on some of the tracks from the Friends! single. I was a little turned off by the male vocals that show up during the chorus but they’re not too distracting.

The CD only edition has an exclusive track and it’s a cover of the song MAGIC (originally performed by Tina in 1999). It’s an upbeat track and has a lot of synth and beats. Like the first B-side, it has a polished sound that I thought was great.

Pros: Overall, her best Universal single yet.
Cons: Minor stuff. Don’t falter now, Nami!

BASICALLY…she’s off my shitlist! XD

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Moshimo Negai ga… (もしも願いが・・・)
2. Sukiya de ~Itoshii Hito e~ (好きやで~愛しい人へ~)
3. MAGIC [CD only]
    Moshimo Negai ga… (Instrumental) [CD+calendar & CD+DVD]

Nami Tamaki – Friends!

August 25, 2009 at 12:14 PM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | 1 Comment
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The cover of the CD only edition

Friends! is Nami Tamaki’s 17th single and it was released on July 29, 2009. The single reached #25 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 3,632 copies.

I liked the cover of the CD only edition the most since the other 2 are hot messes. She looks cute on this one. CD+DVD Type A’s cover just screams “These are my boobs! Boom boom!” while CD+DVD Type B’s has a cameo by Dogzilla.

♦ ♦ ♦

I officially added Nami Tamaki to my shitlist after the atrocity that was GIVE ME UP, which was undoubtedly one of the worst singles of 2009 so far. It was such a huge downgrade from her awesome dance oriented songs prior to the label change and it just left me asking “What in the world happened?”. So you could easily tell how apprehensive I was when she released Friends!, ANOTHER cute pop tune.

Luckily, Friends! is not a rehash of GIVE ME UP, but more like an improved version of it. The song is bouncy synth pop but without being too annoying so that’s a plus. However, I thought it was one of the weaker songs on the single at the same time. That’s right…the B-sides are better! =O

There are 3 B-sides but they’re set up so that only one song is exclusive to each edition. I think that’s a terrible gimmick and it obviously didn’t work because this single flopped.
Anywho, the CD+DVD Type A edition includes Negai Hoshi, an upbeat song with some nice programming. I honestly liked 8-bit sound going on in the music but the song tends to drag near the end. My two personal favorite songs are found on the CD+DVD Type B and CD only editions. Happy Forever is an uplifting and catchy track while Mata ne is a mellow ballad. They are both quite nice and show that there is some hope if Tamaki is going to continue on with her current musical direction.

Pros: As a whole, this single is a hell of a lot better than GIVE ME UP. She’s improving!
Cons: Enough of the cutesy stuff already! It’s time for something more aggressive.

BASICALLY…approach the A-side with caution. The B-sides make up for it though.

Overall Rating

 3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Friends!
2. Negai Hoshi (願い星) [CD+DVD Type A]
    Happy Forever [CD+DVD Type B]
    Mata ne (またね) [CD only]
3. Friends! (Instrumental)

Nami Tamaki – GIVE ME UP

April 15, 2009 at 9:31 PM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | 5 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. GIVE ME UP
2. Ichizu na Negai (イチズナネガイ)
3. in my life [Limited edition B]
    Kanojo (彼女) [Regular edition]
4. GIVE ME UP (Instrumental)

This is Nami Tamaki’s 16th single and it was released on March 25, 2009. The single reached #18 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 7,221 copies.

After the release of her last album Don’t Stay, Nami Tamaki parted with Sony and switched to Universal, prompting this question in my head: was this label change beneficial like it was for BENI? In this case, it’s a big fat NO. Honestly, GIVE ME UP is a total dud. Trading in her signature upbeat techno sound for something far more generic, this song includes a sample of the popular 80s track of the same name by Michael Fortunati. Minus the catchy and BORROWED chorus, the only part of the song that I liked, the rest of the song is entirely original.

It just gets worse with the B-sides. Appearing on all editions of the single is Ichizu na Negai, an uninspired pop song. There’s too much going on in the arrangement and it’s pretty sloppy, especially with the random brass. I felt that the song was just one big repetitive chorus and all I heard was Tamaki repeating the same phrases over and over again too.

The downward spiral continues with in my life, which only appears on limited edition B. I’ll just get to the point and say that this song is really bad. It’s an R&B tinged ballad…or something. I don’t know; I was too distracted by the awful vocals in the chorus. The verses are okay though.

There are may still be some hope left for this single with the regular edition bonus track. Kanojo is an improvement and it elaborates on that R&B pop sound, but with better vocals and far less annoying misshaps like in the previous tracks. I think that this is the best track on the single as well since it didn’t make me want to pull my hair out.

Overall Rating

2 stars

Nami Tamaki – Don’t Stay

May 18, 2008 at 10:45 PM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | 8 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

Don’t Stay is Nami Tamaki’s 4th album and it was released on April 23, 2008. The album reached #14 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 18,610 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

This short opening track pretty much sums up the entire sound of the album. Don’t Stay -Inst.- is a mix of techno and rock with a slower, more ballad-like section in the middle. It really sets the stage for what’s to come and it sounds awesome as well.

The ending of the instrumental flows right into visualize, an aggressive dance song. The music is very upbeat and includes a dash of electric guitar like many of the album’s new songs. Nami Tamaki’s vocals are solid as usual, especially when she sings at a lower pitch.

Together is also an extremely upbeat dance song, but it focuses more on the catchy synth riffs. Because of its more techno oriented sound, it reminded me of her past works except that this is much better in terms of overall quality.

Two powerful rock tracks are next, the first one being Brightdown. I thought of this song as Tamaki’s departure from the techno-pop sound she normally does because it shows a new musical side of her. Surprisingly, I think rock music suits her voice quite well.

It gets better with hitchHIKER, a pure rock song that was produced and arranged by Marty Friedman. He is a former member of the American thrash metal group Megadeth and it really shows because the electric guitar is relentless and furious here. The song itself is more light-hearted in nature if you compare it to Brightdown though. I was very impressed by how well Tamaki sang it and this is one of my favorite songs on the album.

The next song begins gently but quickly changes into a harrowing electronic track with incredible pace. Like the title implies, Speedway is very fast and it doesn’t let up. I liked the combination of the synth and band arrangements since they sounded really nice together at that tempo.

The album begins to slow down a little, but the next track is still very much a dance track. Station isn’t as impressive as the previous tracks, but that’s okay. What we have here is a more ambient song thanks to the slower arrangement and melody provided by Tamaki’s vocals. It’s still heavy on the beats and synthesizers though.

The only full blown ballad on the album is Promise, the lead track from the Winter Ballades single. I still like this song and I think it was sung quite well. Tamaki isn’t a ballad singer since she hardly performs ballads but she is pretty good when she actually does them.

re-birth is a more bouncy, pop oriented dance song complete with a very cheery sound. Once again, it is reminiscent of her past works since it includes cutesy chimes and piano chords. The bridge is quite nice despite the rest of the song being somewhat unmemorable.

This song was a surprise since it showcases Tamaki going a little into R&B territory while having a mainstream pop atmosphere. Gokigendazee! ~Nothing But Something~ was the album’s main promotional track. I thought it was an interesting listen because of its stronger use of bass beats and rapping sections by KEN from the group DA PUMP. I didn’t mind his rapping at all and this song is quite fun actually. Tamaki’s vocals sound a little different to match the urban undertones of the music.

Another impressive song in the same vein as the previous track was EDEN. It’s also on the pop side but the addtional clapping beats and short bursts of synth make this song quite unique. I also liked the looping English parts of the song since I found them to be catchy.

I can honestly say that CROSS SEASON is one of my favorite songs by Tamaki, but I absolutely hated the “After Graduation Mix”. A really nice, slower paced electronic song that commemorated her high school graduation was turned into a overblown and awful trance remix. It’s the worst song on the album, but at least it’s only a mediocre remix since the original version is so much better.

Ending the album is a very pop influenced song. 423 makes prominent use of the brass section along with a thumping beat. The music is very uplifting and go well with Tamaki’s higher pitched vocals. It’s a great final track.

A new remix of MY WAY, her 10th single, appears as a bonus track. The original version was a pop track with electronic elements but the reproduction mix reverses that. The remix makes the song more of a techno dance track while the poppish sounds are minimal.

I noticed that Nami Tamaki’s albums tend to get better with each release because Don’t Stay is her best album to date in my opinion. With the exception of the remix of CROSS SEASON, every track is very well done and I was amazed with the new balance of her older dance music and more aggressive pop rock integrating together. She also experiments with other genres of music on some of the other songs and I applaud her for that. The album is also her most mature work as well since it shows great improvement in her development as an artist. I see something even greater for Tamaki in the future as she continues to experiment and branch out from her comfort zone.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Don’t Stay -Inst.-
2. visualize
3. Together
4. Brightdown
5. hitchHIKER
6. Speedway
7. Station
8. Promise
9. re-birth
10. Gokigendazee! ~Nothing But Something~ feat. KEN (DA DUMP)
       (ごきげんだぜっ! ~Nothing But Something~)
11. EDEN
12. CROSS SEASON -After Graduation Mix-
13. 423
14. MY WAY Reproduction -Original Mix-

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Nami Tamaki – Winter Ballades

January 12, 2008 at 11:23 AM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Promise
2. Christmas Time
3. winter fall
4. Promise -Instrumental-

This is Nami Tamaki’s 15th single and it was released on December 26, 2007. The single reached #19 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 6,978 copies.

Nami Tamaki steps up to the plate and proves herself as more than “that girl who sings the anime theme songs”. Winter Ballades is a collection of 3 winter themed ballads, something she has never done before and it’s quite daring for an artist such as herself. The single’s lead track, Promise, is a medium tempo song that’s pretty different from the few ballads she has performed in the past. Utilizing somber strings and gentle percussion, the music is a pleasant listen. What stood out the most were definitely Tamaki’s vocals. Singing at a lower register, she presents her vocal capabilities and range in a whole new light, which impressed me in the end.

The next track is the more upbeat Christmas Time. Opening with flowing strings, piano, and chimes, the song later unfolds into a sophisticated ballad. The music maintains a calm atmosphere that gradually speeds up when the bridge arrives, but it sounds so pretty throughout. Tamaki’s vocals are once again very good, especially during the chorus.

The 3rd track is a calmer and slower cover version of L’Arc~en~Ciel’s 1998 hit winter fall. Tamaki’s take of the song is piano and string based and sung at a much slower pace. The high notes she hits are great too. It’s a great cover of the original and I thought she performed the song very well. I’m not a fan of L’Arc~en~Ciel so what do you guys think?

Overall Rating

4 stars

Nami Tamaki – Brightdown

September 13, 2007 at 11:21 AM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. Brightdown
2. Anata Iro no Namida (あなた色の涙)
3. Endless dream
4. Brightdown -Instrumental-

This is Nami Tamaki’s 14th single and it was released on August 29, 2007. The single reached #8 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 24,404 copies. The title track was used as the 2nd opening theme song for the anime D.Gray-man.

Brightdown shows a new, more edgier side of Nami Tamaki that’s devoid of her known techno-pop sound of the past. The electric guitar riffs in this song are furious and constant, and Tamaki’s strong vocals are really great. I like it when Tamaki sings in a more aggressive tone because it shows that she is more capable as a pop artist.

The B-side is something you don’t hear everyday from Tamaki. Anata Iro no Namida is an uplifting ballad, something that she doesn’t do very often. However, when she does attempt at this kind of music, it’s fantastic. This a very pretty song with nice strings and piano, and Tamaki’s toned down vocals really compliment them well.

The next B-side is another high quality track. Endless dream follows the same electronica style of her previous songs, but in more sophisticated fashion. Sure, the song still has a ‘pop’ sound to it, but the way it’s executed gives it a more mature sound. This track is almost like a more upbeat version of last single CROSS SEASON.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Nami Tamaki – CROSS SEASON

March 27, 2007 at 11:18 AM | Posted in Nami Tamaki | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. CROSS SEASON
2. i CAN FLY
3. Lost and Found
4. CROSS SEASON -Instrumental-

This is Nami Tamaki’s 13th single and it was released on March 14, 2007. The single reached #23 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 6,404 copies.

With a scary looking cover like that, I expected CROSS SEASON to be something extremely different from Nami Tamaki, but it’s not. It still sounds similar to her past techno-pop material, but I do give it credit for having a more ‘mature’ sound (the lyrics are about graduation and moving on as well). The simple piano arrangement plus the underlying electronica loop sounds really good actually. I can’t say the same about Tamaki’s vocals though because they don’t sound as energetic as before, but I suppose they are like that to match the mid-tempo pace of the music.

Now onto the B-sides. I thought i CAN FLY was really annoying because it features the sounds of Tamaki yelling and screaming. The rockish sound of the song is nice but I didn’t like Tamaki’s overly cutesy vocals.

Lost and Found is probably her most rock inspired song to date. The electric guitar riffs are fantastic and this time, I really liked Tamaki’s vocals. They matched very well with the music and this B-side is way better than i CAN FLY.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

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