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!

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Ayumi Hamasaki – Love songs

July 2, 2011 at 1:22 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | 4 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

Love songs is Ayumi Hamasaki’s 12th studio album and it was released on December 22, 2010. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 272,653 copies. It was preceded by 3 singles: MOON / blossom, crossroad, and the triple A-side single L.

This cover is a lot better than the other two. I don’t know…it seems more genuine and she’s not doing the duck lips.

♦ ♦ ♦

The album begins with Love song which has a gorgeous opening sequence. There are electric guitars but they’re mainly in the background since strings, piano, and acoustic guitar are the main instruments during the vocal segments. While I think the music is wonderful, Hamasaki’s vocals really keep me from enjoying the song. She sounds so…rough. I guess it was supposed to show off the “raw emotion” of her voice but I didn’t like it.

Then we have crossroad, the first A-side of this era to be produced by Tetsuya Komuro. This is probably my least favorite of all the A-sides but that’s simply because I didn’t think it was very memorable. At least the music, along with Ayu’s vocals, were nice.

I didn’t like MOON at first back when it was released as a single but it sounds more fitting on the album. The instrumental sections with the electric guitars were my favorite parts of the song, especially when those haunting riffs appear during the bridge.

When I first heard sending mail, I was blown away. Ayu has never done a song quite as brazen as this. It features an awesome buildup into a powerful chorus that never lets up. I liked the orchestral setting of the music as well, especially when it all comes crashing down at the end (in a good way, of course). As of now, it’s my favorite song on the album.

I’ve always liked Last angel and I thought it was the standout track back on the L single. To me, the music is very “old school” Ayu because of its trance and eurobeat influences. The LOVEppears album really comes into mind when I listen to this song.

insomnia is the first interlude and it’s just kind of there. I didn’t really care for it but it does give you an idea of what the next track sounds like.

I thought Like a doll was another unique offering from Hamasaki. Like sending mail, she hasn’t done anything quite like it. It starts off pretty normal with piano then transitions into a strange mix of beats, rhythmic synth, and background vocals chanting “like a doll”. Mix in the piano with all of that and you got yourself a pretty good song.

And another interlude! But we should be used to that, am I right? Aria is actually kind of pretty, well half of it is. The single violin at the beginning is nice but then it gets all chaotic at the end which ruins it.

The transition into blossom is kind of sloppy, too. I can’t really say much about this song except it’s like a much calmer version of MOON. I just remember Ayu fanboys being angry over the PV because it features Jejung from Tohoshinki and not her. XD

Ugh…Thank U could have been good except for one big problem. “LA LA LA LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA~~~~” The adlibbing that pretty much takes up half of the the song is TERRIBLE! The music is nice and has a pleasant dance vibe but the vocals are just so bad. Can I just have an instrumental version instead?

I loooove Sweet Season. It’s such a heartwarming song. I really liked the organic band arrangement and you can thank legendary singer/songwriter Noriyuki Makihara for that. The chorus is really catchy, too.

The final interlude is titled overture and it’s probably the most appropriate out of the three. I say that because it takes the album into a completely different direction. I like to call it the ~epic ballad phase~.

The next three tracks are indeed grandiose and feature sweeping orchestral arrangements. do it again is notable for its English phrases that she repeats and repeats and repeats. The dramatic buildup that appears inbetween these English segments are pretty good though.

November isn’t as orchestral but features strong percussion and light electric guitar riffs. There are some random instruments too that I can’t quite put my finger on but they don’t detract from anything.

To me, Virgin Road is the official album closer and it does a good job in doing that. The arrangement is very well done and I really liked the strings. Now let’s cover the bonus tracks!

Depending on the version, you get either get the studio version or a live version of SEVEN DAYS WAR (originally the B-side on the crossroad single) as a bonus track. It’s a cover of the TK NETWORK song but in a calmer, ballad format. The studio version is nice but the live…I’ll just say it’s rough. However, it is indeed LIVE and Hamasaki sounds all emotional and stuff since it was one of the final performances of that concert…I think. You can’t blame her for that I guess.

All right! I’m not the huge Ayu fan that I used to be but honestly, this album has given me a little more faith in her. In terms of music, Love songs is great and features some of the best arrangements I have heard from her. It was an even bigger shock to me when I discovered that Tetsuya Komuro was behind most of the material (minus the interludes, the only songs that he didn’t compose were MOON, blossom, and Sweet Season). I know I’m super late on that fact. XD It’s just that when I think of Tetsuya Komuro, I imagine outdated 90s Jpop and cheap sounding dance tunes. The big thing that I noticed about the album is that it mainly focuses on pop songs and ballads instead of the overwrought rock material she’s been churning out in the past couple of years.

Pros: Musically, it’s one of her best albums. You can’t go wrong there.
Cons: The vocals on certain songs could have been better. She either sounds good or she doesn’t. Trust me on that, bbz.

BASICALLY…put in a love song, Ayu! A step up over Rock’n’Roll Circus.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Love song
2. crossroad
3. MOON
4. sending mail
5. Last angel
6. insomnia
7. Like a doll
8. Aria
9. blossom
10. Thank U
11. Sweet Season
12. overture
13. do it again
14. November
15. Virgin Road
16. SEVEN DAYS WAR [CD only & regular press CD+DVD bonus track] 
      SEVEN DAYS WAR (Live at Yoyogi on Oct.11.2010)
      [CD+DVD/micro SD+USB first press bonus track]

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

UPDATE -Still alive but that’s pretty much it-

March 13, 2011 at 9:17 AM | Posted in ~Blog Updates & Announcements | 3 Comments

Bleh! I’m almost done with tech school (I’ll be home on leave on Friday) and I can’t wait to start listening to some new music. Things are going to get busy again once I get to my first base but I’ll have more computer time at least. There’s going to be a lot to listen to as well…so many new albums came out recently!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you guys know that I’m doing good and I’ll be back to reviewing eventually. I’m also sending my regards to all the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I hope everyone there is safe and sound. :)

-Lex

I’m back! However…

February 6, 2011 at 3:05 AM | Posted in ~Blog Updates & Announcements | 8 Comments

Hey everyone! I graduated basic military training at the end January and here I am at tech school. So that’s Airman Lex from now on. ;D Just kidding.

Unfortunately I haven’t heard any new music since I left in November. I know that’s not even 3 months but this is the Japanese music industry we’re talking about. 3 months equals 3 years. Am I right?

There’s no wi-fi or ethernet here in my dorm so I’m stuck using these government computers at the moment. I’m ready to start reviewing again but that’s the main issue I’m facing right now. I haven’t had much time to go online anyway since I’m currently training for my job and taking classes from 8 to 5. I’m ~projected~ to graduate from school at the end of March.

Once I get internet access on my laptop, I’ll have a lot to catch up on. The first thing that I plan on reviewing is Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest album Love songs as a refresher. The Ayu stans can post comments telling me “how good it is”. lolz In the meantime, I’ll let you guys know if something comes up (and let me know about upcoming Jpop releases!)

-Lex

バイバイ

November 14, 2010 at 10:09 PM | Posted in ~Blog Updates & Announcements | 9 Comments

See you in 2011!

~Lex

What Did I Miss!? ~2010 Albums Edition~

November 13, 2010 at 6:59 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 7 Comments


Brought to you by JASMINE’s bling bling bling.

I’ll be doing the same thing as yesterday but I’ll try to be even more detailed when I review these albums. Long paragraphs and rambling ahead~

♦ ♦ ♦


YUI – HOLIDAYS IN THE SUN
Released on: July 14
Oricon Chart position: #1
Copies sold: 294,138
Overall Rating:  
Top tracks: to Mother | Parade | GLORIA | Please Stay With Me

YUI’s 4th album proved to be quite the pleasant listen. I was suprised that YUI took a more mellow direction with this album compared to the overly dramatic I LOVED YESTERDAY (which I did not like at all). New songs like Parade, Shake My Heart, and Kiss me together with the opening track to Mother show a softer side of the singer and I was glad she didn’t drown this album full of monotonous songs. There’s still a good amount of upbeat rock songs including A-sides like again and It’s all too much plus her self-cover of a song she wrote for Stereopony (I do it). Overall, I was pleased with the final product and the fact that it’s her most laid back album does not detract anything but shows that YUI can have a little fun with her songwriting.


JASMINE – GOLD
Released on: July 21
Oricon Chart position: #3
Copies sold: 49,914
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: PRIDE | sad to say | Jealous | Bad Girl | Koi

I fucking love this fierce bitch. This is easily one of the best albums of the year and I have officially become a JASMINE stan. Personally, I think GOLD is flawless despite only having 4 new songs (PRIDE, Bad Girl, dear my friend, and Why). Just like alan’s debut album Voice of EARTH, we mostly have older material on here and that’s not a problem when they’re ALL good. sad to say, Koi (恋), This Is Not A Game, and Jealous still sound as good as when they first came out. I also suggest that CLUBBIN’ haters leave this blog right now! </3 This is one of those Jpop albums where I can listen to every track and that’s rare.


Maki Goto – ONE
Released on: July 28
Oricon Chart position: #10
Copies sold: 14,050
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: Houseki | hanauta

This is Maki Goto’s first release under her own name since leaving Hello!Project. She also transfered from rhythm zone to avex trax after the SWEET BLACK album. This mini-album features 5 tracks and I guess you could say that I was expecting more out of them. After all, it was produced by the great Shinichi Osawa. After multiple listens, all the songs on the mini-album have grown on me with Houseki (宝石) and hanauta (華詩 -hanauta-) being my favorites. Most of the songs have an upbeat electronic vibe to them with the exception of Wagamama (わがまま) which is acoustic based. I have to say that Goto’s vocals never sounded better either.


Angela Aki – LIFE
Released on: September 8
Oricon Chart position: #5
Copies sold: 44,505
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: Remember Me | Unbreakable | Ai to Bansoukou | Haha Naru Daichi

Angela always has some tricks up her sleeve and keeps things fresh with this album. I think LIFE is better than ANSWER because it’s a bit more exciting and I loved the English tracks. Compared to past albums, this one has SIX English songs so I want to focus on them first. Unbreakable, the bittersweet What Are The Roses For?, and the very amusing Mad Scientist are my favorites because not only do they sound impeccable but the lyrics are catchy. As for the Japanese songs, Ai no Kisetsu (愛の季節) is a weak album opener but at least it gets overshadowed by Kagayaku Hito (輝く人). Remember Me, Ai to Bansoukou (愛と絆創膏), and the epic Haha Naru Daichi (母なる大地) mark the best out of these tracks. Hahu Naru Daichi gets a special mention because it has one of the best opening instrumentals I have ever heard.


the brilliant green – BLACKOUT
Released on: September 15
Oricon Chart position: #16
Copies sold: 8,679
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: BLACKOUT |  BLACK DARK NIGHT | Talk to me | LIKE YESTERDAY

About time, guys! This is the band’s first studio album in 8 years. Soooooo…is it good? XD To me, the album is a lot like Tommy heavenly6’s I KILL MY HEART but a million times better. It follows the same heavy grunge style but it’s not boring and the arrangements actually have substance to them. The title track BLACKOUT is a great opener and is followed by more aggressive songs like BLACK DARK NIGHT and I’m sick of this place. The mood changes when Talk to me and Blue Daisy come around, shifting towards the band’s classic alternative sound. The only track that I don’t recommend you listen to is the cover of Blur’s Song 2. I died of laughter every time Tomiko went “WHOO HOO!”.


Anna Tsuchiya – RULE
Released on: September 22
Oricon Chart position: #18
Copies sold: 10,982
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: She Hates Me | Atashi | Believe in Love | Voice of butterfly

I thought Anna was done experimenting after NUDY SHOW! but it looks like she has found some musical styles that work next to her normal rock sound. Some of the tracks on RULE feature quirky jazz / big band arrangements. Boushoku-kei Danshi!! (暴食系男子!!), MY BATTLE, and GUN! GUN! LOVE! are filled with lots of brass and drums. She also mixes electric guitars and synth in Human Clay and JUDGE but you still get a lot of aggressive straightforward rock songs like She Hates Me, Atashi, and GUILTY. I also have to say that the album’s 2 ballads Believe in Love and Voice of butterfly are pretty good.


Younha – Hitotsu Sora no Shita
Released on: September 22
Oricon Chart position: #169
Copies sold: Are you sure you want to know?
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: Kaze | Suki Nanda | Soratomo ~Sora wo Miagete | Complicated

Best cover art of the year! This is Younha’s 2nd Japanese studio album and it pales in comparison to her Korean works. Personally, Hitotsu Sora no Shita is probably her weakest release thus far. This is a very laid back album and features mostly mid-tempo acoustic tracks. The only 2 songs that really stood out were Complicated and Kioku (記憶), the Japanese version of Gieog from her Someday album. If you also compare this album to Go! Younha (her first Japanese album), it’s not as good either. I was hoping for more bright piano tunes to be honest.


JUJU – Request
Released on: September 29
Oricon Chart position: #1
Copies sold: 374,183
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: There will be love there -Ai no Aru Basho- | WILL | Last Kiss | First Love

The little cover album that could. ♥ Yes bbz, Request is a COVER ALBUM and it’s snatching the wigs off all of your J-divas! I became a JUJU fan after listening to her self-titled album earlier this year and when I found out about some of the songs she was going to cover, I was estatic. All of the songs were originally perfomed by female vocalists, a lot of them being ~modern classics~. There’s jazzy renditions of MISIA’s Tsutsumi Komu You ni… (つつみ込むように・・・), Namie Amuro’s Don’t wanna cry, Mika Nakashima’s WILL, and Utada Hikaru’s First Love just to name a few. And because I want to piss off you Shiina Ringo fans, her cover of Gips (ギブス) is WAAAAY better than the original. BWAHAHAHA.


BONNIE PINK – Dear Diary
Released on: October 6
Oricon Chart position: #7
Copies sold: 16,346
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: Is This Love? | Home Sweet Home | Many Moons Ago | Nami Nami

Here is another great release from BONNIE PINK! I thought her last album ONE was slightly better but Dear Diary is almost there. Prior to this album, she released two digital singles (Morning Glory and Is This Love?) and the physical single Kite (カイト). There were some songs that I did not care for like Birthday Girl (which sounds just like a ripoff of Catch The Sun) and World Peace but I seriously love the top tracks I listed above. Home Sweet Home is a lovely jazz ballad and Nami Nami (ナミナミ) is really fun and upbeat, making it one of her best ending tracks ever. Limited pressings of the album come with a B-side collection.


Mika Nakashima – STAR
Released on: October 27
Oricon Chart position: #3
Copies sold: 131,074
Overall Rating:
Top tracks: GAME | Over Load | LONELY STAR | SPIRAL

Mika Nakashima once again throws mud into the faces of her fans, but I wasn’t really that surprised. STAR technically only has TWO new songs but once you get past that, this album is really put together quite well. The ballads are placed at the beginning and end while the middle portion is full of nothing but upbeat songs. I think that’s awesome if you ask me. For example, ALWAYS and Ichiban Kirei na Watashi wo (一番綺麗な私を) start off the album while the new song 16, Nagareboshi (流れ星), and the digital single SONG FOR A WISH close it. As for that upbeat portion, it’s great since it has GAME (yeah it’s on here for some reason lol), the hot electropop track LONELY STAR, and SPIRAL. Heck, even CANDY GIRL isn’t that bad anymore.

Other Observations

  • Juliet released their 2nd album Real in August with the cover art showing the girls crying. Come on now, it was a good album! XD
  • Since Juliet now has a song for every season, they released a freaking mini best-of album of those songs titled Shiki Love -4 SEASONS LOVE BEST-. Only Japan does this, I tell you! XD
  • The award for most unnecessary best-of album goes to JYONGRI. The ironically titled JYONGRI BEST TRACKS featured 2 songs and a digital single plus a lot songs from the last 4 singles. It could have easily been a studio album.
  • Koda Kumi’s cover album ETERNITY ~Love & Songs~ was not all that bad upon further inspection. It was funny hearing the cover of her little sis misono’s song 0ji Mae no Tsunderella because it was sooooo much better.
  • Once again, wyolica went under my radar again and released a new album in September titled Castle of wind. I always forget about them. /bad fan
  • Aya Kamiki’s latest mini-album Gloriosa was pretty awesome.
  • Desperately trying to hold on to what little relevance she has, Thelma Aoyama released LOVE!2 -THELMA BEST COLLABORATIONS- in late July. Guess what song is on it? Soba ni Iru ne. LOLOLOLOL
  • Kaori Mochida’s 2nd solo album NIU was pretty much the same as her debut. Easy listening at its finest but it’s probably not for everyone. One of the songs really hurt my ears though.
  • Ken Hirai released a B-side collection to celebrate his 15th anniversary. Long title coming up: Ken Hirai 15th Anniversary c/w Collection ’95-’10 “Ura Utabaka”.
  • Maki Goto’s single collection also had a long title: Goto Maki COMPLETE BEST ALBUM 2001-2007 ~Singles & Rare Tracks~. No explanation needed.

Upcoming Albums

  • Mai Kuraki – FUTURE KISS [11/17]
  • Aya Matsuura – Click You Link Me (クリックユー リンクミー) [11/24]
  • Utada Hikaru – Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2 [11/24]
  • May J. – Believin’… (mini-album) [11/24]
  • K – K-BEST [12/1]
  • BENI – Jewel [12/8]
  • Crystal Kay – Spin The Music [12/8]
  • Yuna Ito – LOVE ~Singles Best 2005-2010~ [12/8]
  • Ayumi Hamasaki – Love songs [12/22]
  • Maki Goto – Gloria (mini-album) [1/12]
  • Do As Infinity – EIGHT [1/19]
  • May J. – Colors [1/26]

Okay, I’m tired now. lol I’m thinking about what to post for tomorrow (my last day =O). Hmmmm~

What Did I Miss!? ~2010 Singles Edition~

November 12, 2010 at 5:25 PM | Posted in ~Features! | 4 Comments


Featuring Kana Nishino, the new queen of Jpop. Ayuwho?

Sorry but I just love to troll the Ayustans (crazy people need love too). They get so upset. ;D

Anyway, here’s a quick look at 10 singles from late June up to now. These are going to be short reviews so expect just a paragraph with a star rating. I’m a little rusty… >_>

♦ ♦ ♦


Namie Amuro – Break It / Get Myself Back
Released on: July 28
Oricon Chart position: #3
Copies sold: 84,566
Overall Rating: 

This is easily the best single released by an avex diva this year. I love Break It mostly for its wacky arrangement that includes Middle Eastern inspired acoustics and thumping drums. Amuro’s vocals could have better since she’s singing at a higher pitch than usual. The 2nd A-side Get Myself Back is a little slower but not slow enough to classify it as mid-tempo. It features a lot of beats and synth so it maintains a pretty lively atmosphere.


Kana Nishino – if
Released on: August 4
Oricon Chart position: #5
Copies sold: 86,343
Overall Rating: 

I was like “Ahhhhhh” thinking which Kana single to feature on this post…if or Kimitte because they’re both good but I went with if. It is the better single and it has stronger B-sides as well. For one thing, I was glad if was not some “aitakute cellphone” song so Kana gets an A for that. The B-sides are what really make this single shine though. I’ll be there is sweet and heartwarming while Beautiful is an absolute club banger. When is she ever going to release a song like that as a A-side because I need it NOW.


Sayuri Sugawara – “Suki” to Iu Kotoba
Released on: September 1
Oricon Chart position: #37
Copies sold: 3,075
Overall Rating: 

For those who don’t know her, she’s the chick who sang the Final Fantasy XIII Japanese theme song Kimi ga Iru Kara. The 2nd single of her current era, I kind of love “Suki” to Iu Kotoba (『好き』という言葉). It’s so pretty! Get rid of the stupid background vocals and the song would be perfect. As for the B-side I Wanna Cry… (a rockish type of song), I thought it was nice to hear Sugawara sing out of her pop/almost-not-even R&B niche.


Ai Otsuka – I ♥ ×××
Released on: September 8
Oricon Chart position: #8
Copies sold: 14,178 (LOL FLOP)
Overall Rating: 

What a truly bad song. Come at me, Ai stans! I ♥ ××× is terrible and probably one of her worst A-sides to date. The song tries to be cute and uplifting but it’s really just annoying and repetitive. All Ai does is sing “I love you this” and “I love you that” followed by cult chanting at the end. It’s not charming and it doesn’t make me feel all ~warm and fuzzy~ inside. BYE!


Koda Kumi – Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. / Anata Dake ga
Released on: September 22
Oricon Chart position: #2
Copies sold: 73,955
Overall Rating: 

I was totally on TEAM KUU during the crossroad vs. Suki dex3 wars. XD Would you imagine if Kuu did get the #1? I would be laughing all the way to boot camp. Anyway, as far as Kuu’s ballad singles go, this was a good one. Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. (好きで、好きで、好きで。)  was nice but I thought Anata Dake ga (あなただけが) was better. They’re both extremely pretty songs in the end. The single also includes a new version of her classic song walk titled walk ~to the future~.


Ayumi Hamasaki – L
Released on: September 29
Oricon Chart position: #1
Copies sold: 93,521
Overall Rating: 

Ah, Ayu’s landmark 50th single! Awful covers aside, I think this was her best overall single since Rule / Sparkle. It definitely craps all over MOON / blossom and crossroad, too. This is a triple A-side single and features a different leading track depending on the edition. I liked Sweet Season because it was a pleasant song with an arrangement that didn’t come off as overblown or forced. Virgin Road is a grandiose ballad but I didn’t care much for it and then there’s Last angel which I thought was pretty cool since it was reminiscent of her early eurobeat and trance days. Just like the last 2 singles, there’s bonus material depending on the edition like new versions of crossroad and SEVEN DAYS WAR. Check the page at JpopStop! *lazy*


Hitomi Shimatani – Mayonaka no Guitar
Released on: October 6
Oricon Chart position: #64
Copies sold: Bitch, I don’t know!
Overall Rating: 

Giiiiiirl, why are you releasing cover songs as A-sides again? I thought we got past that. Tsk tsk~ Even though I was disappointed, I must say that Mayonaka no Guitar (真夜中のギター) is a grower. It’s a simple, basic song but good lawd it got stuck in my head numerous times to the point that I now like it. The B-side Futari no Sora (ふたりの空) should have been the leading track since it’s more upbeat and has a better arrangement.


alan – Kanashimi wa Yuki ni Nemuru
Released on: October 13
Oricon Chart position: #20
Copies sold: 5,624
Overall Rating: 

Now this is what I’m talking about! After that Voice of EARTH wannabe Kaze ni Mukau Hana (sorry but I had to admit that), alan steps up her game with this haunting winter ballad. Seriously, Kanashimi wa Yuki ni Nemuru (悲しみは雪に眠る) is magnificent and it totally reminds me of music from a RPG. The B-side Namonaki Tane (名もなき種) is also well done and follows the same dramatic tone as the leading track.


Yuna Ito – Mamotte Agetai
Released on: November 3
Oricon Chart position: #41
Copies sold: 1,919
Overall Rating: 

About time this girl releases a single. It’s been a year since Let it Go. I want to like Mamotte Agetai (守ってあげたい) but the song is pretty BLAH. I think of it as a poor man’s miss you or trust you. XD It sounds nice but that’s about it. The B-side Kiss me (that’s the 3rd Sony artist with that song title!) is alright I guess. At least it wasn’t super cheesy. The single also includes a remix of Precious (you know, her hit single from 4 years ago ;D).


Ken Hirai – Aishiteru
Released on: November 10
Oricon Chart position: It hasn’t been a week yet. I can’t predict the future! OMGZ
Copies sold: At this rate, probably not a lot.
Overall Rating: 

Isn’t that just the most dramatic cover art you’ve ever seen? It makes a perfect banner for this blog. XD Focusing on Aishiteru (アイシテル), Ken-chan once again proves that he excels at ballads. I loooove it. The single before this, Sing Forever, was just okay and I didn’t care for it. The first B-side has a weird title. What’s an air cameraman? And why does he want to take my picture? Creepy… The next track is a cover of the classic song Unchained Melody, where I thought Ken-chan’s English singing was pretty good. His falsetto is crazy, too!

Other Observations

  • BoA’s last Japanese single WOO WEEKEND sucked. I’m so glad that she quickly rebounded with her Korean comeback album Hurricane Venus, which has to be one of my favorite albums this year.
  • Thelma Aoyama’s LET’S PARTY! / 23 proved to be her biggest flop yet, charting at #164. I kind of feel sorry for her now.
  • K is going on a 2 year hiatus! *crying rivers of tears* Since he’s a Korean male, he has to complete 2 years of military service before he turns 30. It’s the law! =O At least he released one more single (dear…) and has an upcoming best-of album in December.
  • JIDAISHIN by Do As Infinity fucking rocks!
  • BENI released her obligatory marriage song Heaven’s Door in August. I liked that song but the B-side I like it was pretty bad. Too much auto-tune.
  • Hopping on the LIFE train, Salyu’s latest single was great.
  • Did you see the covers of WaT’s 24/7 ~Mou Ichido~? Just woooooow.
  • I would have mentioned Yuya Matsushita’s Bird / 4 Seasons up there, but I still haven’t heard L.o.L yet. Is it good?

Upcoming Singles

  • JUJU – Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo (この夜をとめてよ) [11/17]
  • BENI – 2FACE [11/24]
  • Crystal Kay – Journey ~Kimi to Futari de~ (Journey ~君と二人で~) [11/24]
  • YUI – Rain [11/24]
  • Ai Kawashima – I Remember feat. Joe Sample [12/15]
  • Juliet – Yuki Love (ユキラブ) [12/15]
  • alan×Kei Fukui – Ai wa Chikara (愛は力) [1/1]
  • Nami Tamaki – Missing You ~Time To Love~ feat. KWANGSOO, JIHYUK, GIONIL (from Choshinsei) [1/12]

Coming up tomorrow: GOLD! LIFE! STAR! You can see what’s happening. coughALBUMScough

“I just pulled a Utada…” & The future of Beyond the Sea

November 11, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Posted in ~Blog Updates & Announcements | 9 Comments

Hello everyone. *shifty eyes* I hope you’re not mad. D:

I finally decided to revisit this blog after neglecting it for months. I have to apologize to all my readers because I never made a proper “farewell post” back in August when I chose to stop reviewing. I have my reasons but the main one was that I got tired of reviewing. At times, posting on this blog was like a big chore to me (I sound like such a whiny bitch right now LOL). After reviewing for 4 years straight, I was uninspired and to put it bluntly, I just didn’t feel like it anymore. I thought changing my style of reviewing would liven things up but that was only temporary.

I realized that I only needed to take a break.

Unfortunately…like I have said many months before, I have enlisted into the US Air Force but the time has finally come for me to go. I leave for basic military training on Monday, November 15th and will be gone for 8 weeks.

It kind of sucks that I finally feel like reviewing again at this point in time but rest assured, I do plan on fully reviving this blog in January. 2011 promises to be a good year. I’ll be in technical school and have my computer back. It’ll just be like when I was in college (reviewing Jpop as I was studying for classes). XD

Anyway, I have 3 days left before I have to leave and I want to make some posts. This includes special posts like “2010 in review” and some lists like my all-time favorite artists, albums, and other random stuff.

So just like Utada Hikaru, I’m going on hiatus from my current hiatus. ;D

~Lex

Aya Kamiki – Revolver

July 24, 2010 at 9:21 PM | Posted in Aya Kamiki | 5 Comments
Tags:

Revolver is Aya Kamiki’s 12th single and it was released on July 14, 2010. The single reached #34 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,998 copies.

I love the cover. Dystopic society has never looked hotter. ♥

♦ ♦ ♦

After doing a little bit of avex pop rock on INDIVIDUAL EMOTION, Aya Kamiki delivers some hard-hitting grunge with Revolver. The song is definitely reminiscent of her GIZA Studio works because it has a cool punk influence in the arrangement. The chorus is awesome as well. Overall, this is a sleek song that should win over veteran fans who were let down with her first avex album.

The B-side Infinity is also really upbeat but features a more uplifting arrangement as opposed to the edgy atmosphere heard in Revolver. Kamiki’s vocals are stronger in this song, too.

Pros: As much as I loved INDIVIDUAL EMOTION, this single has material that surpasses most of it.
Cons: I don’t have any. She’s back in full force!

BASICALLY…I want Gloriosa now! It’s her new mini-album out in August.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Revolver
2. Infinity

alan – Kaze ni Mukau Hana

July 20, 2010 at 8:31 PM | Posted in alan | 9 Comments


The cover of the regular CD only edition

Kaze ni Mukau Hana (風に向かう花) is alan’s 13th single and it was released on July 7, 2010. The single reached #17 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 7,223 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Hisshiken Torisashi.

I personally think all the covers are great so it was hard to decide which one to post on the blog. The backgrounds could be a little better though.

♦ ♦ ♦

I just wanna say this single has waaaaaay too many editions. On the plus side, each edition has a different tracklisting so I got a bunch of songs to cover.

Let’s start with the main track Kaze ni Mukau Hana which marks the so-called return of ~epic alan~. The song is indeed epic and features a big, sweeping arrangement. Even though I wasn’t getting Voice of EARTH vibes, this is still quite good. Honestly, it sounds most similar to BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ if anything. Opening with an awesome wailing and adlibbing sequence, the song proceeds to a slow buildup in the first verse that transitions into a powerful chorus.

Here’s where things get confusing. The B-side Koko ni Iru only appears on the CD+DVD type A and regular CD only editions. I thought I was going to despise this song because it’s kind of like Swear with its cute and bouncy pop arrangement but it’s actually pretty nice. This song stays interesting and doesn’t remain monotonous so I liked it.

The CD+DVD type B edition features live versions of Gunjou no Tani, Megumi no Ame, and Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ from her 1st concert voice of you. I was really impressed with her live singing and she sounds FLAWLESS. Hearing Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ live is bound to give you goosebumps.

Along with Koko ni Iru, the regular CD only edition includes a cover of the famous 1978 song Ii Hi Tabidachi by Momoe Yamaguchi. A dramatic ballad, the song has a omninous air about it thanks to unsettling piano chords and strings. Anyway, I thought alan’s version was good.

That’s not the end of it! There’s also 2 editions that are only available through the mu-mo online shop. The CD+DVD edition comes with Chinese versions of Nobody knows but me and my life that were originally on her Chinese mini-album Lan Se ~Love Moon Light~. More importantly, the CD only edition has two songs performed with an erhu! If you didn’t know, alan is an avid erhu player. Nada Sousou is a cover of a BEGIN song and it’s really pleasant. It’s mainly acoustic guitar but the erhu comes in during the bridge. After that is Kizuna, a gorgeous instrumental song where the erhu is the main focus.

Pros: I thought this was a solid single with a bunch of extra goodies.
Cons: All the editions make this release a total clusterfuck.

BASICALLY…I just reviewed an album. XD

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting (ALL editions! D:)

CD+DVD type A
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana (風に向かう花)
2. Koko ni Iru (ココニイル)
3. Kaze ni Mukau Hana (instrumental)
4. Koko ni Iru (instrumental)

CD+DVD type B
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
2. Gunjou no Tani (alan 1st concert -voice of you- version) (群青の谷)
3. Megumi no Ame (alan 1st concert -voice of you- version) (恵みの雨)
4. Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ (alan 1st concert -voice of you- version)
(懐かしい未来 ~longing future~)

Regular CD only
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
2. Koko ni Iru
3. Ii Hi Tabidachi (いい日旅立ち)

mu-mo CD+DVD
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
2. Nobody knows but me (Chinese Version)
3. my life (Chinese Version)

mu-mo CD only
1. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
2. Nada Sousou (Erhu version) (涙そうそう (二胡version))
3. Kizuna (Erhu version) (絆 (二胡version))

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