Yuna Ito – Let it Go

November 20, 2009 at 12:22 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | 2 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Let it Go is Yuna Ito’s 14th single and it was released on November 11, 2009. The single reached #36 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,858 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Tenshi no Koi.

WHOA, MISS ITO. ♥ Ignoring that text, the cover is hot.

♦ ♦ ♦

Yuna Ito isn’t exactly a stranger to the pop rock sound so I wasn’t all that surprised with Let it Go. I thought she’s done it brillantly with songs like JOURNEY and LOVE MACHINE GUN but this song is a little different from them since it’s more on the acoustic side. Ito worked with Koichi Tabo (former guitarist of Superfly) and fortunately, Let it Go isn’t filled with that 60s hippie crap (no offense lol). It’s just standard rock tinged pop but it works well with Ito’s voice. Her vocals are strong and she sounds very good during the chorus.

The B-side is your typical cute track. I didn’t really care for Happy Days but it’s not bad. It’s just that there’s nothing striking about the arrangement. I thought the music was too mellow to be interesting as well.

Pros: Let it Go is pretty good after a couple of listens.
Cons: Happy Days is pure cheese. Girl, bye!

BASICALLY…this single was both a hit and a miss.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Let it Go
2. Happy Days
3. Let it Go (instrumental)
4. Happy Days (instrumental)

Yuna Ito – DREAM

June 13, 2009 at 11:51 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | 7 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

DREAM is Yuna Ito’s 3rd album and it was released on May 27, 2009. The album reached #7 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 32,373 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Opening the album is the infectious love you, an upbeat pop number filled with loud brass and constant percussion. It’s the chorus that gets to me since it has a catchy mix of English and Japanese lyrics. The song is also effective in setting up the album’s summer feel.

 The next track is definitely one of my favorites off the album as well as an awesome collaboration. Ima Demo Aitai yo… is the answer song to R&B duo Spontania’s Ima Demo Zutto which also featured Ito. The original was kind of clunky as a whole so I thought Ito’s version was much better. It’s more upbeat to sound less like a ballad, the vocals are better, and the arrangement has been revamped with added strings and beats. Everything, but the overall melody being the biggest factor, sounds a lot more polished as well. Released as a digital single first, it also served as the album’s main promotional track.

I’m glad Brand New World is on the album! It’s a fun pop song that is extremely catchy and uplifting. I really like dance beats and upbeat synth that play next to Ito’s exuberant vocals. This song was originally the B-side on the trust you single.

The party continues with Koi wa groovy×2, a song that I didn’t really care for at first. I’m pretty fond of it now since it follows Brand New World and heck…it IS groovy. It does make for the ideal celebration song.

We slow down a bit for trust you, my favorite A-side off the album. It is indeed a strong ballad that showcases a more emotional side of Ito when it comes to the vocals. She sounds absolutely radiant when she performs the passionate chorus.

The next 3 tracks are what I like to call the album’s “summer beach” phase. It starts with BAILA BAILA, an amusing song that sounded like it took its inspiration from a party in the Caribbean islands. Sure, it comes off as cheesy, but I can’t help but find it quite charming at the same time. Incorporating steel drums and brass, the music is very cheery. You try getting that “BAILA BAILA HIGHER HIGHER” phrase out of your head!

When I first saw the tracklisting, I was immediately opposed to having BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!! on the album…but this was solely because I wanted Mafuyu no Seiza. XD Oh well, but this is why I mentioned the album having a “summer beach” phase because the song fits in perfectly here. It’s not a bad song anyway so I’ll just shut up and start breezing. (lol) It originally appeared as the B-side on the miss you single.

I still love miss you, a bittersweet song with a beautiful island influenced sound. The arrangement just screams “I like long walks down the beach and getting my heart broken”. D<
Anywho, it’s a fantastic song that is soothing, yet sad.

OMG OMG! LOVE MACHINE GUN isn’t just an amazing song, but also her best upbeat track EVER. This song took me by surprise because it has a powerful, floor shaking sound. Featuring a furious mix of synth, drums, and electric guitars, the music is loud and in your face. I love the intense chorus as well and Ito sings with incredible energy. This song is HOT and the best new track off the album.

No one else is definitely more reserved when compared to everything else on this album. The music is mostly on the acoustic side, but there are also prominent beats and strings that come later on. The progression of the song is nice and I liked how Ito’s vocals got stronger towards the end.

ARE YOU TRYING TO BE SEXY, MISS ITO!? I’m not gonna lie though because I totally dig Body. It’s a mid-tempo track but it has some hot clapping beats and an overall sensual atmosphere. On top of that, the lyrics and Ito’s lower pitched vocals show a more mature side of her. I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of people who want your body, Yuna. ;D

But wait, there’s more! The album doesn’t exactly end with Body and you have to wait over a minute until the secret bonus track groovy×2 appears. It’s the English version of Koi wa groovy×2 and it was originally released as a digital single in late 2008. Also, it is performed as her groovy, English speaking alter ego Christine Ito (who needs to release her own album, pronto!). Aside from having English lyrics, the song opens and ends differently compared to the Japanese version.

The third time’s a charm for Yuna Ito because I was really impressed with DREAM. Aside from having some really excellent material on it, the album is by far her most well-rounded and cohesive to date. Honestly, HEART and WISH are messy and disjointed when compared to DREAM. Unlike those past 2 albums, this one has a solid foundation with new tracks that aren’t half-assed filler. It’s true that there could have been more because of the previously released songs but that’s beside the point. Ito has stepped it up and delivered an album that is not only wonderful, but extremely easy to pick up.

Overall Rating

 4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. love you
2. Ima Demo Aitai yo… (今でも 会いたいよ・・・) / Yuna Ito feat. Spontania
3. Brand New World
4. Koi wa groovy×2 (恋はgroovy×2)
5. trust you
6. BAILA BAILA
7. BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!!
8. miss you
9. LOVE MACHINE GUN
10. No one else
11. Body
Hidden bonus track: groovy×2

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Yuna Ito – trust you

March 31, 2009 at 7:08 AM | Posted in Yuna Ito | 3 Comments
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The cover of the regular edition

trust you is Yuna Ito’s 13th single and it was released on March 4, 2009. The single reached #5 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 43,446 copies. The title track was used as the 2nd ending theme song for season 2 of the anime Mobile Suit Gundam 00.

♦ ♦ ♦

I think Yuna Ito has been on a roll lately and trust you has got to be my favorite single from her so far. An R&B styled ballad, it is a sweeping love song that is very endearing. The combination of beats, piano, and strings is very nice and create an uplifting, yet melancholy atmosphere. This IS a romantic song, but there is also an underlying layer of sadness beneath it all. Ito’s vocals are excellent as well. She sounds great and I love that her voice is full of strength.

The B-side is also quite good. It took me longer to warm up to Brand New World compared to trust you but I really like this song now. You can think of it as a tamer version of Koi wa groovy×2 but I think this song is somewhat more memorable. The chorus is catchy and I liked the mid-tempo dance beats included, so I think this is one of Ito’s better executed pop songs. She has a knack for releasing awesome ballads and I even though I said that I’m still a little “iffy” on her upbeat songs, that doesn’t mean she can’t release the occasional surprise.

A remix of Koi wa groovy×2 is included on the single and it’s pretty similar to the original; perhaps TOO similar. I did see more emphasis on the “Caribbean” aspect of the song in the remix since it utilizes more percussion like island flavored drums and so on. Still, there’s not much difference here compared to the original but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Gundam 00 Version of trust you is only available on the Gundam version of the single (which features a different cover art). You gotta please the anime fans too, I guess! Anyway, this shortened TV size mix starts off differently and features new vocals.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. trust you
2. Brand New World
3. Koi wa groovy×2 -DJ-PASSION MORE PASSION REMIX- (恋はgroovy×2)
4. trust you -Gundam 00 Version- (trust you -ガンダム00 Version-)
    [Gundam edition bonus track]
5. trust you -instrumental-

Yuna Ito – Koi wa groovy×2

December 7, 2008 at 3:06 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | 4 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Koi wa groovy×2 (恋はgroovy×2)
2. Mafuyu no Seiza (真冬の星座)
3. miss you -Hawaiian Breeze Remix-
4. Koi wa groovy×2 (Instrumental)

This is Yuna Ito’s 12th single and it was released on November 26, 2008. The single reached #44 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,912 copies.

I’m still a little iffy when it comes to Yuna Ito’s upbeat songs and I honestly have mixed feelings towards Koi wa groovy×2. The Caribbean inspired music is nice but Ito’s vocals come off as a little odd. Even though she displays stronger and fuller vocals, I think she doesn’t sound as good when performing with this “big girl” voice. I could hear some straining when she sang those high notes in the chorus too. However, what I find the most endearing thing about the song is the adlibbing because there is A LOT of it. It’s a good thing I find those “NA NA NA” parts catchy because they would just be annoying otherwise.

Thankfully, the B-side is a lot better. Mafuyu no Seiza is a very pretty mid-tempo track and a perfect example of what Ito excels at. She obviously performs these slower songs with greater ease and it definitely shows here. Her vocals do sound a lot better after all and the arrangement is fantastic. I loved the constant piano mixed with the various light beats as well. Actually, this song is a lot like her previous single miss you, which I loved too. It definitely ranks as one of her best B-sides.

Speaking of miss you, here’s a remix! Unfortunately, as much as I love the song, the Hawaiian Breeze Remix is really boring. It drags on for 8 minutes and all you really get is an incredibly lazy tropical island influenced arrangement that loops over and over. It’s meant to be relaxing like a day at the beach, but I didn’t find it interesting in the least bit. It will make you fall asleep if anything.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Yuna Ito – miss you

September 12, 2008 at 12:09 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | 9 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. miss you
2. BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!!
3. Urban Mermaid
    -Bittersweet Movement Blood-I Riddimix-
4. miss you (Instrumental)

This is Yuna Ito’s 11th single and it was released on September 3, 2008. The single reached #20 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 5,593 copies.

This was the song I was hoping for from Yuna Ito. I was wondering which direction she would take after her latest album WISH and miss you fits her perfectly. Opening with the rushing sound of ocean waves, they instantly set the relaxing island feel of the music. The piano and acoustics really show off this sound but there’s also a strong beat which I thought was nice. Ito’s vocal performance is heartfelt and the lyrics are very bittersweet, making this song quite somber. The way she sings that I miss you line just breaks my heart! Compared to her more recent A-sides, it’s definitely her best. Good job, Yuna!

“Everybody to the beach! We’re gonna be breezing!”
Um, what does that even mean?! That’s what Ito says at the beginning of BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!!, a track that takes inspiration from those Californian summer beach songs of the 60s (like cowabunga dude!). The music utilizes a quick clapping beat with retro electric guitars so it’s pretty energetic. The chorus stands out thanks to the quick riffs and Ito’s fast paced vocals as well. The song is a little silly, but it’s alright as a B-side.

Surprisingly, the Urban Mermaid remix is actually good! The original version had an awkward arrangement with strange transitions but the remix fixes all of that to make the song more fluid (a MAJOR improvement by the way). There is a nice mix of organic and synthetic instruments too, especially with the strings and constant beats.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Yuna Ito – WISH

March 1, 2008 at 2:11 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | 5 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

WISH is Yuna Ito’s 2nd album and it was released on February 20, 2008. The album reached #3 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 101,250 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

While not as energetic as WORKAHOLIC, the opening track from Yuna Ito’s debut album HEART, Power of Love is a much stronger song. The music gets faster from the mid paced intro as the guitar chords and beats pick up in speed. Ito’s vocals sound pretty loud and brazen during the chorus and especially at that little “mishap” when she sings the Never let me go line. The random English lyrics that don’t make sense in this song also make me question Ito’s writers.

The calmer and more serene along again is up next. This is a really nice, mid-paced song with light beats and pretty strings. The song just shines during the chorus and it features a melody that sounds quite sad but oddly catchy next to Ito’s crisp vocals. This is one of the album’s best tracks.

I thought Ito’s collaboration with Celine Dion, Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~, was the best of the 4 singles released for the album. This traditional power ballad is a great duet and Ito and Dion’s voices sound really good together. I was kind of hoping that Ito’s solo version would be included on here, but this is okay too.

Office ladies unite! Urban Mermaid is decent song but it sure gets the message across. I still think the verses are the best part of the song because the chorus feels so out of place.

The next track sounds like a song ripped straight from her debut album. I mean, it’s called HEARTBEAT if that wasn’t an indicator. The music has that outdated pop sound and it’s kind of boring. At least it’s upbeat and the arrangement sounds nice.

Uh, what’s Colorful, the B-side on the Urban Mermaid single, doing on here? Ah, the power of tie-ins. Anyways, it’s a good song but I think it’s only average. If only Shining On, the much better B-side from the Mahaloha single ,was included instead…

There’s one word that describes Unite As One: BORING. This overwrought ballad is almost 7 minutes long and the song just drags on and on. I did like Ito’s powerful vocals in the chorus, but that’s it. However, after this song, the album does begin to get a little better.

Staring with Mahaloha, the Hawaiian inspired pop song that features Micro from the group Def Tech.  Micro is my least favorite thing about this song because of his horribly raspy voice and bad harmonizations with Ito. Everything would’ve sounded better if she performed the song alone. Aside from that, this is a relaxing, yet catchy tune.

Now I have approached to what may be the biggest surprise on the album and one of Ito’s most unique tracks ever. A Long Walk is amazing from beginning to end. The overall arrangement is very strange because it features distorted beeps and synth lines accompanied by acoustics and light beats, but it sounds very awesome at the same time. Ito’s vocals are fantastic as well and when sings in a lower register, she pulls off great adlibbing sequences during the chorus.

Okay, I had to a little research for the next song, Moon Rabbit. Right off the bat the title is strange, but the whole song is based on the ancient ”Tsuki no Usagi” legend about a rabbit that lives on the moon. The music has a slight Spanish atmosphere because of the guitars and I found the chorus to be oddly catchy despite those Engrish lyrics.

So…I have expressed my sheer dislike for this track when I first reviewed it as a single, but my opinion on I’m Here has changed a little. I don’t find the song as annoying and just plain bad as before anymore. It’s definitely the most aggressive track on the album but it feels very out of place at the same time. It would have been a better choice to place this song at the very beginning, preferably after Power of Love.

The main reason I’m Here is out place at the this stage of the album is because of the song that comes right after it, the gorgeous ballad Wish. The transition is bad, but this song certainly isn’t. Ito gives a beautiful and absolutely heartfelt vocal performance in this song. Unlike Unite As One, the music feels less forced and it just seems to flow really well with its light percussion and strings. It has now become my favorite song on the album too.

The album is drawing to a close and the overly cheerful Tokyo Days tries to end things on a happy note. The background GOSPEL like vocals killed this song for me and they sound so dumb. Ito sounds fine just by herself honestly. I liked the sound of this pop song because the beats are frequent and mix well with the rest of the music.

I didn’t hear Ito’s cover of Celine Dion’s MY HEART WILL GO ON until this album and I was impressed with how well she sang it. When the song reaches its climactic finale, she does put a lot of power into her voice and lets it all out it. This is a nice cover and it’s the reason why Celine Dion wanted to collaborate with her.

I can say that WISH is an improvement over Yuna Ito’s debut album HEART, but the album still had its share of faults. The singles weren’t as good this time around, but the new tracks made up for them…well, some of them at least. The album was a bit more cohesive too, with the except of the placement of I’m Here, but it still felt kind of clunky. Sometimes I think that Ito has no control over her work, and this is especially evident in the lyrics. Since she’s fluent in English, I thought there wouldn’t be any grammatical errors and the like. In conclusion, it’s a decent album and Ito still has a lot of improving to do in order to find the kind of music that fits her the best.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Power of Love
2. alone again
3. Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ 
     (あなたがいる限り ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~)
4. Urban Mermaid
5. HEARTBEAT
6. Colorful
7. Unite As One
8. Mahaloha
9. A Long Walk
10. Moon Rabbit
11. I’m Here
12. Wish
13. Tokyo Days
14. MY HEART WILL GO ON

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Yuna Ito × Celine Dion – Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~

January 21, 2008 at 2:09 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~
   (あなたがいる限り ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~)
2. Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~
    (U.S.A. Mix)
3. Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~
    (Yuna Ito Solo Ver.)
4. Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~
    (Instrumental)

This is Yuna Ito’s 10th single and it was released on January 16, 2008. The single reached #8 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 24,105 copies.

Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ is one of the best collaboration songs I have heard in a long time and it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. The song is a sweeping pop power ballad with sincere and thoughtful lyrics. The drums and electric guitar were a were a nice extra addition too. The music is the same as Celine Dion’s original English version, but she has re-recorded her English parts alongside Yuna Ito who sang the new Japanese parts. I honestly thought that Dion, being the vocal powerhouse that she is, would definitely overpower Ito’s vocals during the chorus where they sang together, but Ito firmly stood her ground and also presented a strong performance as well. Their voices blend together well when they sing the You gave me a world to believe in line and when Dion provides background vocals during Ito’s Japanese parts and the bridge (I think she does anyway). If you’re curious, you can find Celine Dion’s original version on her latest studio album Taking Chances.

I thought the U.S.A Mix of the song was going to be a collaboration of the English version, but it’s the same as the Japanese version. The only difference is that chorus focuses more on Dion’s vocals during the English parts. You can clearly hear her voice this time around instead of it being blended with Ito’s.

I was impressed with Yuna Ito’s solo version because she performed it well. Besides being in Japanese, the lyrics are different during the verses too. Everything else remains the same though.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Yuna Ito – Urban Mermaid

October 31, 2007 at 2:07 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Urban Mermaid
2. Colorful
3. Mahaloha
   -Gira Mundo “City Lights at Night” Remix-
4. Urban Mermaid (Instrumental)

This is Yuna Ito’s 9th single and it was released on October 24, 2007. The single reached #10 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 23,833 copies.

I honestly think that Urban Mermaid is an improvement over her past 2 singles, but just by a little bit. The song begins VERY nicely with calming vocals from Yuna Ito, but then the chorus just kind of appears out of nowhere without a good transition or anything. It feels really out of place for some reason. The song’s English phrases are a little corny too (I’m a beautiful mermaid and Don’t be afraid, naked heart). The strongest aspect of the song is probably its acoustic guitar arrangement and the really nice solo during the bridge.

The B-side, Colorful, is a cheery and upbeat pop song. I liked Ito’s vocals in this track especially during the verses, which I thought were very well done. I also found the chorus more enjoyable than Urban Mermaid’s. This is a pretty good track and definitely better than the A-side.

Next up is an interesting remix of Mahaloha, Ito’s previous single. The remix still keeps the island vibe of the original, but adds more instruments like brass and jazzy percussion. The added sounds make it sound more tropical and festive. If you liked the original, you’ll most likely enjoy this remix too.

Overall Rating

3 stars

Yuna Ito – Mahaloha

July 9, 2007 at 2:04 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Mahaloha / Yuna Ito with Micro of Def Tech
2. Shining On
3. stuck on you
    -Reggae Disco Rockers Kiss & Tell Remix-
4. Mahaloha -Instrumental-

This is Yuna Ito’s 8th single and it was released on June 27, 2007. The single reached #5 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 43,233 copies. The title track is a combination of the two Hawaiian words mahalo and aloha.

Mahaloha is a breezy island pop song that also features the vocals of Micro from the popular group Def Tech (who is from Hawaii just like Yuna Ito). Unfortunately, I didn’t like Micro’s performance in the song because of his raspy vocals and bad harmonizing with Ito. Don’t get me wrong, Ito does an excellent job BY HERSELF but I thought they didn’t perform well together.

I thought the B-side was so much better. Shining On has very catchy English lyrics and one of the best melodies I have ever heard in an upbeat Yuna Ito song. This song should have been the A-side. The song title was originally listed as Doin’ on her official website which was then changed to Doin’ Alright before getting changed again to it’s official title.

The 3rd track is a new remix of stuck on you, her 4th single which was not included on her debut album HEART. For starters, the remix is a lot more laid back and features a completely new musical arrangement. It’s a nice remix but I still prefer the original.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Yuna Ito – I’m Here

March 28, 2007 at 2:02 PM | Posted in Yuna Ito | 2 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. I’m Here
2. Reason Why
3. Faith -Teardance Remix-
4. I’m Here -Instrumental-

This is Yuna Ito’s 7th single and it was released on March 14, 2007. The single reached #15 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 36,634 copies. The title track was used as theme song for the movie version of the drama UNFAIR and the B-side was an insert song.

I’m Here is Yuna Ito’s most aggressive song to date but it is also her worst. There were so many things that turned me off from the song but the biggest problem I experienced were the vocals. Ito is pretty much yelling the entire chorus and I guess that she’s trying to do something new with her voice, but it’s obviously not working. The synthetic string arrangement and overall sound of the song is annoying as well. I absolutely know that Ito can do better with these kinds of songs and since this is the first single released after her debut album HEART (which was bad too), I really thought she was going to redeem herself.

The B-side, Reason Why, is just as bad, but it’s in English. The lyrics make no sense and Ito is yelling the chorus AGAIN. This song relies more on synth than I’m Here does and it sounds a lot better, especially with the ending bass beats.

The 3rd track is the Teardance Remix of Faith, Ito’s 2nd single. This remix just destroys the original (just like what the remix of ENDLESS STORY did on the Truth single) because let’s face it, most ballads don’t sound good at all when you try to remix them. All the synthetic sounds of this remix just make everything sound worse.

Overall Rating

2 stars

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