CD Review :: Mika Nakashima - VOICE
Both CD Only & CD + DVD Covers :
Tracklist for both editions :
2) SAKURA (Cherry Blossoms) ~Hanagasumi~ [~Flower Haze~] (DAISHI DANCE) [Album Version]
3) FOCUS (Album Version)
4) Eien no Uta (Endless Song)
6) Anata ga Iru Kara (Because You Are Here)
7) MY GENTLEMAN
8) TRUST YOUR VOICE
9) IT'S TOO LATE
10) I DON'T KNOW (MICA 3 CHU)
11) SHUT UP (MICA 3 CHU)
13) FLOWER OF TIME
14) Koe (Voice)
VOICE is Mika Nakashima's 6th studio album (inclusive of her NANA inspired album THE END) . Her new album was released on 26th last month in Japan & it's her 1st album to reach #1 on the Oricon album chart since THE END & her previous studio album YES which both albums charted at #2 & #3 respectively .
5 singles , 4 B-sides & Mika's 1st digital download single Anata ga Iru Kara make the cut in VOICE which just leaves only 4 brand new songs in Mika's brand new album .
This's the most no. of B-sides I have seen on an album's tracklist too I must add .
The 1st song to kick start VOICE is Mika's 23rd single LIFE in which it's her best selling single outta the singles that made the cut in the album . I haven't listened to LIFE for a while now & it was so nice to hear it once again & I think it's quite fitting to start things off with such a mid tempo ballad .
Likewise , the next song is another single track which's her 25th single . However instead of the original , the SAKURA (Cherry Blossoms) ~Hanagasumi~ [~Flower Haze~] (DAISHI DANCE) is included & it's an album version in that the music arrangement differs slightly from what you might find in the single .
Still I'm glad that Mika included the DAISHI DANCE remix of SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ instead of the original as I wasn't too fond of the original mix of SAKURA (Cherry Blossoms) ~Hanagasumi~ as it was somewhat boring for my liking & the DAISHI DANCE remix managed to transform the original SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ to a really upbeat & catchy song .
I'm usually not fond of remixes but in this case , it's an exception .
From an A-side to a B-side , in comes FOCUS which's the B-side of Mika's latest/27th single ORION & just like SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ (DAISHI DANCE) , you also got an album version of FOCUS .
For me I'm thrilled that FOCUS is included as this's 1 B-side which I feel is 1 of the best ones that Mika has delivered in recen times & I really like the midtempo jazz influenced no. , be it the single or the album version . FOCUS has a lot of love , so much so that it's the only B-side in VOICE to receive a music video of its own .
The next 2 songs are singles back to back in which 1st up in line is the reggae inspired tune Eien no Uta (Endless Song) which's Mika's 25th single . I just like how different & fresh Eien no Uta sounds as it's something that Mika doesn't usually do as her music forte lies in jazz influenced no.s .
Eien no Uta still sounds great no matter how many times I listened to although I make do without the rapping of the guy's voice in the beginning of the song .
ORION is her latest/27th single which was released a mere week before VOICE was released . The song is used as an insert song for the dodrama Ryūsei no Kizuna in which Mika had a minor role & the music video of ORION featured actress Toda Erika in which she also starred in the drama .
Honestly I was pleasantly surprised when ORION did even better than I expected it to be especially since SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ & I DON'T KNOW weren't able to crack the top10 so naturally I thought the same fate will befall on ORION but boy was I wrong . ORION managed to crack the top10 , peaking at #6 , making this her 1st top10 position since Eien no Uta .
Song wise , I must admit I didn't like it when I 1st heard it as it sounded like another typical ballad that Mika would do but I like the song now especially since now I know the significance of the song .
Anata ga Iru Kara (Because You Are Here) is Mika's 1st digital download single & obviously I was so glad to see this being included in VOICE as I remembered way back in June when I 1st heard Anata ga Iru Kara , I was really blown away on the simplicity & sincerity of the ballad & that it's what Mika does best in delivering such heartwarming ballads .
The next 2 songs are album tracks . MY GENTLEMAN boosts of a simple guitar driven tune which's accompanied by Mika's powerful pipes . It's quite cool for her to reach the high notes without straining herself in any single bit .
In the case of TRUST YOUR VOICE , this's 1 really jazzy peppy no. . I find this to be a really upbeat cheery song & it's definitely 1 of the stronger album tracks in VOICE , seeing that prior to the release of VOICE , I have already heard 10 songs out of 14 so TRUST YOUR VOICE's a really good song .
The 2nd last B-side on VOICE , it's IT'S TOO LATE which's the B-side of LIFE . The song was used in the Kanebo Kate advertisement in which Mika endorsed . Now this's another great B-side that I'm very happy to see on VOICE simply because I just like how jazzy & extremely catchy/infectious it sounds & that it's a perfect contrast to the A-side that's of LIFE .
Mika's 26th single takes the 9th & 10th spot in VOICE . I DON'T KNOW is a collaboration with owarai group Morisanchuu & the single was released under the name MICA 3 CHU (Mikasanchuu) & it was marketed as girl angry rock .
I DON'T KNOW is the 1st time Mika has sung a commercially released song entirely in English (not counting her NANA works as MY MEDICINE & MY WAY weren't released as singles) .
I remembered when I 1st heard I DON'T KNOW , I was amused with the song & also the video too . I can understand Mika's Eng dictation although it somehow got lost in the way but at least I know what she's singing about . She's basically fed up in changing everyone's opinions about herself & decided that enough's enough & she just said the 3 magic words - I DON'T KNOW !
Likewise for SHUT UP which's the B-side of I DON'T KNOW , lyrically , it's more or less than the same as what you will hear in the A-side although I find it a bit funny that you can string together a sentence with the title of both songs - I DON'T KNOW , SHUT UP . LOL
I should point out that these 2 songs are the only rock influenced no.s in VOICE so you might somehow find them to be the sore thumbs in the album .
& speaking of sore thumb , the final B-side in VOICE takes place in the form of conFusiOn which's the B-side of SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ . Out of the 4 B-sides which made the cut in VOICE , conFusiOn is the one that I disliked the most simply because it sounds well confusing & that there's neither a head or a tail in this no. .
I rather You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To feat Katteni-Shiyagare to have replaced conFusiOn instead as the former's 1 seriously addictive B-side that I enjoyed tremendously in Mika's Eien no Uta single .
The final 2 songs in VOICE are incidentally the last 2 album tracks . FLOWER OF TIME is the longest song in the album , clocking in at a whopping 6:30 mins ! Despite the duration of FLOWER OF TIME , this's 1 song that I enjoyed as it brings back to Mika's jazz roots . I find FLOWER OF TIME sounded a bit the same as HELPLESS RAIN though but it's ok as I enjoyed both songs .
The very last song to close off VOICE , is Koe (Voice) & I think it's quite fitting that the final track on the album's titled as such . Koe boosts of some fantastic great violin strings & also an orchestra of sorts backing Mika up . It's a bit different from what she does but this's such a great way to end things off nicely .
At 1st I thought I was going to dislike VOICE as I practically heard 10 outta 14 songs which made the cut in Mika's new album but surprisingly , I actually like it & that the sound consistency of the album is there .
Except for the sore thumb that's of conFusiOn , the rest of the songs found in VOICE are great & considering that most of the material are singles releases , it's surprising to know that they managed to sound unique in their own right & not to mention the 4 new songs that I heard are real gems as well .
It's great to see Mika claming back the top spot with VOICE after THE END & YES & this goes to show that if at 1st you don't succeed , try again & she has done so in claming back the top with this neat album in the form of VOICE .