1) Fight The Blues 2) HEART STATION 3) Beautiful World 4) Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version- 5) Stay Gold 6) Kiss & Cry 7) Gentle Beast Interlude 8) Celebrate 9) Prisoner Of Love 10) Take 5 11) Boku wa Kuma (I'm a Bear) 12) Niji-iro Bus (Rainbow Colored Bus) 13) Flavor Of Life (Bonus Track)
HEART STATION is Utada Hikaru's 5th Japanese album & her 7th overall album . The album was released in Japan last Wed on the 19th & is Utada's 1st Japanese album since 2006's ULTRA BLUE .
Prior to the release of HEART STATION , 4 singles were released from the album in which 2 singles are double A sides & the titles are highlighted in bold .
The album start things off with a new song titled Fight The Blues which's quite a decent opening track . I noticed it's not as strong as ULTRA BLUE's This Is Love but Fight The Blues's good for my liking .
The next 5 tracks on the album are songs that Utada has released prior to the announcement of HEART STATION . Track 2 has the same title as the album & it's 1/2 of Utada's 20th double A side single .
I did not like HEART STATION when I 1st heard it because I heard the other A side Stay Gold long before both songs were announced to be released as singles from the album . Maybe because of this , in the beginning , I liked Stay Gold more than HEART STATION & perceived the former as a weaker A side but now HEART STATION has begin to grow on me .
Next in line's 1/2 of Utada's 19th double A side single , Beautiful World . Beautiful World is a very nice piece of work & I like the fact that Utada's voice flows in synch/well with the melody . In fact I took an instant liking to Beautiful World when it was 1st released alongside with Kiss & Cry .
Track 4's no doubt 1 of Utada's most successful single in recent years in the form of her 18th single Flavor Of Life . The original Flavor Of Life was not released as a single . Instead the ballad version was released & the reason/s as to why Flavor Of Life accomplished a lot of success for Utada is because the ballad version was featured as the insert song for the popular dodrama Hana Yori Dango 2 .
If that tiny piece of news doesn't convince you on how Flavor Of Life's that good , consider the statistics of the song , be it physical singles sales & download units wise .
Flavor Of Life is ranked as the best-selling ringtone of all time in Japan , eventually recording 5.580 million downloads in sales by the end of March 2007 & in 2008 , reports placed Flavor of Life as the #2 downloaded song of 2007 in the world .
Physical singles sales wise , it sold a reported total of 644,259 copies, making it the #2 single of 2007 . If that doesn't convince you how good the song's , then I don't know what else I can say to win you over .
Personally to me when I 1st heard the ballad version of Flavor Of Life , I only find it a-ok only as there're other ballads from Utada that're much much better but now I can see why the single's so successful .
Track 5's the other 1/2 of Utada's 20th double A side single , Stay Gold . Stay Gold was used last year in the ASIENCE shampoo/conditioner ad . That was my 1st contact with the song .
There was only a 30 secs snippet when the song was 1st used in the ad & naturally I wanted to hear more of it & when I finally got the chance , I wasn't disappointed with it .
The melody is just gorgeous & 1 of the most beautiful melodies I've heard in recent times . It's unfortunate there wasn't a PV that accompanied the song . I think the video will look great .
Next in line's the other 1/2 of Utada's 19th double A side single , Kiss & Cry . Kiss & Cry was used in the Nissin Cup Noodle FREEDOM CM & the song features a sample of Hotel Lobby , a song that can be found on Utada's english album EXODUS .
Kiss & Cry did not sit well with me initally when I 1st heard it as it sounded a bit weird & outta place but now it's a grower on me .
Track 7's the only interlude on the album titled Gentle Beast Interlude . The interlude sounds like a mix mash of the 1st 1/2 of the album to me . Not sure if it's good or bad thing but it's good to see an interlude in the middle of the album . At least it's not placed before the album's about to end & etc .
The next 3 tracks are new songs that were not released as singles . Celebrate's 1st in line & it's a pretty catchy song . It displayed a new music direction from Utada which's good .
Prisoner Of Love served as the theme song for Fuji TV's drama Last Friends & I really like this mid tempo ballad from Utada . I like the way she delivered the song without going over the top . I think out of the new batch of songs found on the album , this's my fave outta the lot .
Track 9's titled Take 5 which's an eletronic ethereal song. When I 1st heard the song , I got a shock at the end simply because it was cut adruptly . I wondered whether the song was corrupted but it turns out that the main theme of Take 5's death .
The next 2 tracks on HEART STATION displayed a rather refreshing cute personna from Utada . 1st up's her 17th single Boku wa Kuma (I'm a Bear) . This song's unlike any Utada's material that was released simply because it's just too cute for words .
The song was written & composed by Utada & Boku wa Kuma is about the gigantic teddy bear that Utada owns , called Kuma Chang . It's kinda like a kiddie song but it's a cute no. from Utada & the video's just too adorable & extremely entertaining .
Track 11's Niji-iro Bus (Rainbow Colored Bus) . Now when I 1st saw the title Niji-iro Bus on the tracklisting , I was worried as to how it will sound like . My fears were unfounded when I got to hear the song . It wasn't as tacky as I thought it would be & Niji-iro Bus followed almost as the same vein as Boku wa Kuma .
In fact aside from Prisoner Of Love , this's my 2nd fave track on the album , for a non released single ie. .
The album closed things off with a bonus track in the form of the original version of Flavor Of Life . I don't know why Utada decided to include it in the mix as I rather she would include a brand new song instead of the original Flavor Of Life . I have a feeling that's done as probably not many people are familiar with the original that's why this move was executed .
Long time fans of Utada might not appericate the fact that almost 1/2 the album was released prior to the announcement of HEART STATION but personally to me I don't have a problem with that as I don't buy singles to begin with .
My only grouse about HEART STATION is that I wished Utada would have spread out the songs that she has released before more evenly as you can definitely see from the tracklisting that the 1st 1/2 of the album centres on the singles while the other 1/2of the album basically comprises of new material . I would rather she alternate between a single & a new song .
But other than that , it's another solid offering from Utada . The sound consistency is there from the start to the end & it's a pretty darn good album from her .
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
ayumi hamasaki - Mirrorcle World
CD Only Cover (YOU ver.) :
CD Only Cover (Depend on you ver.) :
CD + DVD Cover (YOU ver.) :
CD + DVD Cover (Depend on you ver.) :
Mirrorcle World is ayumi hamasaki's 43rd single & it's her 1st single release of 2008 .
Mirrorcle World is scheduled to be released in Japan on 8th April '08 , Tue & instead of the standard CD & CD + DVD editions , this time there're 2 editions of each in which it features 2 new recordings of ayumi's 2nd and 5th singles YOU & Depend on you which both singles were released a decade ago .
I know usually for the release of new singles/albums , they will be released on a Wed in Japan but for ayumi's case , it's special .
Why ? because 8th April will mark the 10th anniversary of her being in the music business since her debut in '98 .
Mirrorcle World is the extended full version of Mirror , the opening track on her 9th album GUILTY .
When I 1st heard the news that Mirror has been transformed into Mirrorcle World , I was stoked because I was very anxious to hear the full version of the song . I finally got to hear it in full just now & as of now , the song has never left my mp3 .
I'm speechless over Mirrorcle World as it's even better than I thought it will be . I like the opening of the song where you can tell it's kinda like influenced from France as the PV for the song was shot there . I haven't seen the PV as of now .
& then without any knowing , the song started to build up & eventually exploded .
I'm definitely sure the song will do really really well & it's a risky & tricky move to undertake to extend an opening song into a full track but ayumi & her team has gone to great lengths to ensure nothing goes wrong .
I was expecting Mirrorcle World to be short but it clocks in at 5:14 mins & I personally feel that it's definitely 1 of her best works to date .
I think it's a great way to celebrate ayumi's 10th year anniversary in the business with a brillant masterpiece in the form of Mirrorcle World .
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Koda Kumi - LIVE TOUR 2007 ~Black Cherry~ SPECIAL FINAL In TOKYO DOME DVD Details
Limited Edition Cover :
Regular Edition Cover :
DVD 1 Tracklist :
1) Black Cherry 2) Get Up & Move !! 3) Cherry Girl 4) CUTIE HONEY (LIVE VERSION) 5) Tsuki to Taiyou (The Moon and the Sun) 6) Yume no Uta (Dream Song) 7) Heat 8) Break it down
9) Candle Light 10) Unmei (Fate) 11) Milk Tea 12) Koi no Tsubomi (Bud of Love) 13) Twinkle
14) Ningyo-hime (Mermaid Princess) 15) FREAKY 16) real Emotion 17) LAST ANGEL feat. TOHOSHINKI 18) Butterfly 19) Puppy 20) I'll be there 21) GO WAY !! 22) With your smile
23) I Feel Love with BLUE MAN 24) LOVE HOLIC / Chase / Come Over (Medley) 25) CUTIE HONEY 26) Taisetsu na Kimi e Important to you) 27) TAKE BACK 28) COME WITH ME / girls (Medley) 29) BUT 30) Ai no Uta (Love Song) 31) WIND 32) walk
DVD 2 Tracklist :
Tour Documentary Twinkle ~MUSIC VIDEO~ (KODA KUMI VERSION)
LIVE TOUR 2007 ~Black Cherry~ SPECIAL FINAL In TOKYO DOME Koda Kumi's 4th live DVD which features footage from her December 1st '07 performance at the Tokyo Dome .
This DVD commemorates her 7th anniversary since her debut & as such includes a rare performance of her debut single TAKE BACK .
This set also includes bonus disc with making-of footage and unreleased video spanning nearly 1 hour .
The DVD is gonna be released in Japan on the last day of March ie. 31st March , Mon .
Personally I don't like both the limited & regular editions of the DVD . Koda looks great in the pirate outfit but the wordings & font practically spoiled everything . Avex/Rhythm Zone really need to hire better designers to design their own artiste's DVD covers !
The tracklisting looks really solid . 3 hours worth of Koda's hits which's fantastic .
I'm familiar with about 90% of the songlist on the Black Cherry DVD since most of the songs on the setlist included from her Black Cherry album onwards . I'm not familiar with her older works from her secret era but I do listen to the singles that she has released since 7 years ago .
Looks really great , I'm gonna get my copy of it as soon as the local press of the Black Cherry DVD hits stores next month .
Koda's previous DVD ie. her Live Tour 2006 - 2007 SECOND SESSION is well recommended .
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
CD Review :: Ken Hirai - FAKIN' POP
1) POP STAR 2) Kimi wa Su.te.ki♡ (You're Won.der.ful) 3) Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) 4) Canvas 5) Pain 6) fake star 7) UPSET 8) Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) 9) Elegy (Aika) 10) Twenty ! Twenty ! Twenty ! 11) By(e) My Melody 12) Itsuka Hanareru Hi ga Kite mo (If Some Day a Day Comes Where I'm Separated from You) 13) Shashin (Photo)
FAKIN' POP is Ken Hirai's 7th studio album . It's released today in Japan & FAKIN' POP is Ken's 1st studio offering since 2004's SENTIMENTALovers .
Prior to the release of FAKIN' POP , 6 singles were released in which 1 of them is a double A side single , a 1st for Ken in his 13th year in the music business . The songs are highlighted in bold .
In Ken's brand new album , there're 5 new songs . I say 5 because I do not count Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) in the pic as it's the B side of Ken's 26th Single , Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) .
The album kick things off with Ken's 4th no.1 single POP STAR & I'm so happy that Ken has decided to include POP STAR & let it have the honour to start things off as that's 1 of my faves from him , be it song & PV .
POP STAR was included in Ken's Utabaka best album so if you didn't bought his best album then consider yourself lucky that POP STAR's in the album !
Track 2's 1/2 of Ken's 1st double A side / 28th single , Kimi wa Su.te.ki♡ (You're Won.der.ful) . It's a song that you will either like or don't like on 1st listen as it sounds like nothing that Ken would have done in his previous works .
For me I find Kimi wa Su.te.ki♡ (You're Won.der.ful) quite cheesy when I 1st heard it especially since he took his vocals to a higher level like iterally but now I like it . It's unique & the part where Ken went 'down down down down , fat' made me & my younger sister laughed .
After 2 upbeat songs , Ken decided to slow things down by a bit in the form of his 26th single Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) . I liked Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) the very 1st time I heard it & like I said before , whenever Ken performs this live during performances , he's always in happy spirits & it's a cheery upbeat song which I dig .
Canvas's the other 1/2 of his 28th single . Prior to Canvas , the only song that my younger sister liked from Ken was his 20th single's Hitomi wo Tojite but after she watched the Honey & Clover drama , she went nuts over it because Canvas was used as the insert & ending song to Honey & Clover .
I 1st heard the live version of Canvas in Ken's Bar 2007 Winter & it's a pleasant nice piano ballad from Ken . The piano version is even better because it presents a more stripped down vibe which's great .
Track 5's a new song in the album titled Pain . The opening sounds like Bye My Melody part 2 due to the melody that's going on which's a bit odd as with a song title like Pain , I would be expecting a ballad & in a way I was 1/2 correct .
Pain started out a bit shaky but then as the song flows , it slowly starts to take form & ends on a beautiful note . The last part where Ken went 'I can never escape this pain' is woah .
After 3 mid tempo & ballad songs , the pace is picked up at the mid point of FAKIN' POP in the form of Ken's 27th single fake star . fake star is the dark alter ego of POP STAR & I suspect due to both song titles , it kinda inspired the album title . You know FAKIN' POP ?
Anyway , I know fake star wasn't well received when it was 1st released as at this point in time , it's Ken's worst selling single . It even sold less than his debut single Precious Junk and his 15th single , Strawberry Sex .
I don't know what led to the low physical single sales of fake star but I suspect it's due to the naughty raunchy PV which was shot in Prague in the Czech Republic & I dug up some info regarding details to the fake star PV & what I found out was quite er eew .
If you watched the PV of fake star , you would have noticed Ken was making out with 2 hot chicks (not at the same time unfortunately haha) & if I never know about this bit of info , I would have assumed that the ladies were probably a few years younger than Ken but surprised surprised , they were 1/2 his age :S which shocked me cos they sure do look mature . Either that or it's probably the makeup so that 1st part turns me out , PV wise .
& 2nd , for some stupid lame reason/s altogether , 1 of the girls who made out with Ken in the PV , brought her boyfriend along & he was at the set when all the raunchy sex scenes were shot in which it's possibly 1 of the dumbest things that she or a person would do & it doesn't help matters that the boyfriend was more taller & muscular than Ken in which I think he might have pounded & beat Ken up in a pulp .
The reasons why I know all of these is because Ken mentioned details of the fake star PV in an interview with MUSIC STATION , prior to the performance of the song last Sept . Maybe because of these 2 reasons , somehow the sex scenes in the PV doesn't looked er naturally to me & not to mention shocked people .
BUT my point is regardless of the PV or not , I adore fake star even though the physical single sales were poor . The melody's super catchy , I love the hooks of the melody which's going on in there & to me , the Pv of fake star's nothing . You should watch the PV of Strawberry Sex , it's even up there but somehow the humor factor's sorta dampens the sex factor in the video . Strawberry Sex cracks me up like seriously .
& the ~Ken's swingin' jazz~ version of fake star which's found on the fake star single's gorgeous & so smooth . Not to mention , the single cover of fake star's 1 of the hottest Ken covers out there , be it albums or singles wise .
Ok enough of fake star , time to move onto the 2nd new track of the album . With a song title like UPSET , you might be expecting another ballad but you'll be surprised it's nothing like what you imagined & yes it's an upbeat no. & I think it's great that prior to UPSET , fake star was there to set the mood .
UPSET's hot . I 1st heard a snippet of it on Ken's official site & I was psyched to hear the full version of UPSET & that didn't disappoint me . It's super groovy , sexy & I adore the saxaphone in the background which's great .
UPSET is used in the CM for the new LG L705iX mobile phone for NTT Docomo .
The mood has now changed to a slower pace & what better way to start with Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) which's the B side of Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) . I was surprised that Ken has decided to include Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) in the mix as I didn't expect this coming from him but regardless of which , I love Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) as it's a piano driven ballad which I adore .
Track 9's Ken's 25th single Elegy (Aika) & this's 1 of Ken's most serious & amazing works to date . The song was written from the perspective of a woman & it's easy to see or should I say hear why Elegy (Aika) is deemed 1 of Ken's finest songs to date .
Could tell that Ken put a lot of his heart & soul into the song which's awesome .
Soon after , the mood is changed in Twenty ! Twenty ! Twenty ! . I have heard Twenty ! Twenty ! Twenty ! prior to the release of FAKIN' POP & I'm glad to see it being included in the album as it's such a catchy song .
Bye My Melody's up next & this's Ken's 24th single . Bye My Melody's 1 of Ken's poppier songs to date . Not that it's a bad thing but it's good to see Ken venture outta his music comfort zone .
The last 2 songs on the album are 2 ballads . Itsuka Hanareru Hi ga Kite mo (If Some Day a Day Comes Where I'm Separated from You) is track 11 & this rather complicated sounding song is the longest track on the album , clocking in at about 6:35 mins !
Itsuka Hanareru Hi ga Kite mo (If Some Day a Day Comes Where I'm Separated from You) is a nice piano ballad , reminded me of Ken's previous piano driven ballads but I thought it's a bit too long for my liking but other than that , no further complaints coming from me .
I think it's a great way to close the album with Shashin (Photo) & I think it's the best track on the album for a non single simply because from the start to the end , Shashin kept me occupied with its great melody & the melody to which the song closes , it ended in a very dramatic note which sent goosebumps on my spine .
Shashin reminded me of the B side of POP STAR aka Tameiki Kippu (Sigh Ticket) & the same thing happened regarding Sentimental which incidentally is a great ballad which closed off Ken's last album SENTIMENTALovers with a fantastic note altogether .
& it's said that Shashin was written for Ken's dad who unfortunately passed away in Nov '04 due to cancer so bless the both of them . There is 1 part in Shashin which goes 'I really think it's good to be your son' .
FAKIN' POP is a great album & despite the fact that almost 1/2 the album was released before FAKIN' POP was announced , I honestly enjoyed FAKIN' POP right from the start to the end .
The sound consistency is there & I like the fact that Ken switched the mood vibe of the album from up tempo to ballad within a 2-3 songs interval & the remaining 5 new songs were the missing pieces to complete the jigsaw puzzle of FAKIN' POP .
FAKIN' POP deserves my vote to be 1 of the top albums for '08 . Here's to more great material from Ken Hirai in the near future !
Monday, March 10, 2008
Ken Hirai - Bye My Melody
1) Bye My Melody 2) hug 3) Bye My Melody ~less vocal~
Bye My Melody is the last single that will be reviewed from Ken Hirai soon to be released 7th album FAKIN' POP . Bye My Melody was Ken's 24th single .
The song was released on 14th June '06 & its peak position was no.2 on the Oricon weekly singles chart .
Before I go on , that has gotta be 1 of the cutest & better singles covers from Ken & it's so adorable . Which guy would be jumping over a rainbow ? Whoever came up with the concept to the Bye My Melody's single cover's a genius & no the cover doesn't have any linkage with Bye My Melody unfortunately or not .
The 1st time I heard Bye My Melody , I find it unusually poppy . In fact it's 1 of Ken's more poppier songs that he released in recent years . But no doubt Bye My Melody's really catchy & could tell it's a summer song , judging from the melody & the PV .
The B side hug's so cool & it's quite a mirror contrast to Bye My Melody . Unlike the latter , hug's a slow mid tempo no & I enjoyed it the 1st time I heard hug . The live version of hug where Ken performed the song at MUSIC STATION sounds even better .
With that said , here's to the release of FAKIN' POP which's gonna be out in Japan this coming Wed , YAY !
Sunday, March 09, 2008
New Electrico Song ?
I was at Electrico's MySpace site eariler on where I chanced upon this new song that they have uploaded on their site titled Everybody's Here .
Now I'm not sure if this song is gonna be a) their comeback song since they're currently on hiatus but that's gonna end soon . b) will make the cut in their still yet untitled 3rd album but regardless of which I think it's a fine rock no. & I do miss them , not to mention new material from them so double joy alert :)
You can hear the song below from their MySpace or check it out via imeem.com which I uploaded it just now .
1) Elegy (Aika) 2) Kiss 3) POP STAR ~winter lover version~ 4) Elegy ~less vocal~
Elegy (Aika) is Ken Hirai's 25th single . The song was used as the theme song for the movie Ai no Ryuukeichi & this's Ken's 1st song that is written from the opinion of a woman.
Elegy (Aika) was released on Ken's 35th birthday aka 17th Jan '07 & its peak position on the Oricon weekly singles chart was no.5 .
This song is no doubt 1 of the most serious ballads/songs that Ken has ever released & it's such a great song , you can't help but feel Ken has really overstretch his vocals by a notch or 2 .
The music's great , his vocals are even better than before on Elegy (Aika) , it's no wonder why fans consider this to be 1 of his finest songs to date & I can't help but agree with this statement too .
The PV is very artistic . Kinda reminded me of Muse's Supermassive Black Hole , except unlike Muse's , Elegy's more toned down , colour wise & there're kinda many topless shots of Ken in the PV . Too bad the camera only zoomed upwards & didn't show the rest of his body but I suppose that will leave me to my imagination haha !
I love the B sides on the single . Kiss is very different compared to Elegy . While Elegy's a powerful piano driven ballad , Kiss is a laid back , chilled out lounge kinda track .
The other B side is a rearrangement of POP STAR titled POP STAR ~winter lover version~ . While the original is more synth & poppy , this ~winter lover version~ is more striped down & mellow based which's the perfect song to listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon .
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Ken Hirai - Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like)
1) Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) 2) Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) 3) Bye My Melody -HALFBY's music for momo REMIX- 4) Kimi no Suki na Toko ~less vocal~ (The Place You Like)
This is a special 3 days serial where I will review the singles that made the cut in Ken Hirai's upcoming 7th album FAKIN' POP .
I will not review fake star , Canvas / Kimi wa Su.te.ki (You're Won.der.ful) & POP STAR as I had reviewed them before so what I will do is to review the other 3 singles which will be included in FAKIN' POP .
In anycase , let's cut to the case shall we ?
Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) is Ken Hirai's 26th single . This was released a month & a 1/2 after his previous single Elegy (Aika) . The song was released on 28th Feb '07 & its peak position on the Oricon singles chart was no.5 .
Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) was used as the theme song for the drama Enka no Joou's theme song .
Kimi no Suki na Toko (The Place You Like) is such a happy song , you can't help but be cheered up immediately when you heard it ! Not to mention whenever Ken sing this live during his performances , he always have a smile on his face which's great .
The B side of the single Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) is the one that's honoured to be included in FAKIN' POP . Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) was used in the Shiseido Elixir Superieur ad .
In fact I'm real surprised that Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) is included . Honestly all the B sides that I've listened from Ken are truly amazing . I love Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) a lot as it's a piano driven emotional song & I'm pleased that Ken has decided to include this in his upcoming album .
Utsukushii Hito (Beautiful One) :
Friday, March 07, 2008
CD Review :: Yuna Ito - WISH
CD Only Cover :
CD + DVD Cover :
1) Power of Love 2) alone again 3) Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ (As Long as You are Here) (with Céline Dion) 4) Urban Mermaid 5) HEARTBEAT 6) Colorful 7) Unite As One 8) Mahaloha (with Micro of Def Tech) 9) A Long Walk 10) Moon Rabbit 11) I'm Here 12) Wish 13) Tokyo Days 14) MY HEART WILL GO ON (Bonus Track)
WISH is Yuna Ito's 2nd album . It was released in Japan last month on 20th , Wed & its debut peak position was no.3 on the Oricon weekly album chart .
4 singles were released from WISH & they're highlighted in bold with the inclusion of a B-side .
Contrary to what you might think , Yuna's not born in Japan . Rather she was born in US & raised in Hawaii . English's her 1st language while she speaks Japanese as her 2nd language .
She got her big break when she was picked to play Reira Serizawa (the vocalist of TRAPNEST) in the manga adaption of NANA 1 & NANA 2 which were screened in movie cinemas in Japan & she sang the ever so awesome ENDLESS STORY under the name REIRA starring YUNA ITO & that song was released as her debut single & that was the song which got me interested in her music .
She attained further more success when she released her debut album HEART , a year & 4 months after the release of ENDLESS STORY . HEART managed to debut at no.1 on the Oricon weekly album chart & to this date , HEART has sold about 527,655 copies in Japan & was the 14th most sold album in Japan last year .
Unfortunately or not , after the whole NANA hype died down , she doesn't seem to fare well with singles that she has released after Truth but that's a different story altogether .
The album kicks off with Power of Love , an energetic dance no. with quite a bit of spunk in it .
The next 2 tracks are ballads . alone again is a nice ballad & undoubt 1 of the strong links in the album for a non released single . If I'm correct , alone again was used as a radio single to promote WISH prior to the release of the album .
Track 3's Yuna's 10th single Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ (As Long as You are Here) & it's a duet with none other than Celine Dion . By right the original title's A World To Believe In . This track can be found on Celine's 10th Eng album Taking Chances .
The duet came about when Celine heard Yuna's rendition of MY HEART WILL GO ON which Yuna covered in a tribute album titled TRIBUTE TO CELINE DION which Yuna & other Japanese artistes covered certain classic songs that were sung by Celine originally .
Celine was so taken back & impressed with Yuna's rendition of My Heart Will Go On that she contacted Yuna personally to do a duet hence this brillant collbo between the 2 ladies .
If you ask me , it's more like a remake in that sense cos A World To Believe In was originally done in English but depends on how you see it . You can find the original version on Taking Chances .
I really like Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ (As Long as You are Here) when I 1st heard it . Yuna wasn't overshadowed by Celine vocals wise & it was good to see that her vocals are on par with Celine & both their voices blended really well together which's great . My only gripe was that I wish Yuna should have sang certain parts of the song in English as it's her 1st language after all but still it's a good song & no doubt it's the strongest single that she has released outta the 4 singles found on WISH .
Track 4 was Yuna's 9th single , Urban Mermaid . The song was used in the Unilever Japan LUX Super Rich Shine shampoo ad . Urban Mermaid has been described as a "cheer-up tune" to all women & I think so too . It's a cheery no. which will lift your spirits up on a rainy gloomy day .
The next 2 tracks in hand are 2 more dancey upbeat no.s . HEARTBEAT's a pleasant no. while Colorful's the B side of Urban Mermaid . I don't know why Colorful's doing down here . Must have been sloted in to fit in the same vibe as HEARTBEAT .
Not that I don't like Colorful but I was hoping that the B side of Mahaloha ala Shining On would be included instead as that's a much stronger song but oh well .
The 1/2 way mark's here & in comes track 7 , Unite As One . Funny enough if you were to pronounce the title as fast as possible , it sounded like Yuna's full name but anyway that's just me .
Unite As One is the longest track on the album , clocking in at a whopping 6:47 mins which's almost 7 mins long ! It's a ballad & it's something that you either like it or not depending on whether are you willing to spend 7 mins + to listen to it .
For me I'm alright with it but I realise the beginning of the song sounded really boring but at least Yuna managed to pick up the pace before I decided to switch to the next track .
Mahaloha is Yuna's 8th single & it's 1 of my faves from her . Incidentally , chart & sales wise , Mahaloha is the most successful outta the 4 singles that made the cut in WISH , in which its peak position was no.5 . Urban Mermaid's peak position was no.10 while Yuna's duet with Celine was no.8 .
I like Mahaloha the very 1st time I heard it & you can definitely tell it's a summer song . Could tell that Yuna was trying to bring a bit of her place that she was raised in ala Hawaii back to Japan which's cool & I like Micro's rapping on the song & both artistes's vocals go hand in hand together .
Track 9's A Long Walk & up to now , I think this must have been the strangest song I've ever heard to date , musically . Initally when I 1st heard it , I thought what's going on in the music cos the synth & guitar beats were very dis-oriented . For a moment I thought the song's corrupted or something .
If you were to put it in a different light , the concept's refreshing but somehow I'm quite annoyed with the distortion of the synth & guitar beats , for the beginning & ending of A Long Walk . At least the 'meat' of the song sounds good .
Next up in line is Moon Rabbit . I know weird/strange title for a song but surprisingly , it's 1 of my fave tracks on the album . It's a very catchy no. & I like the way Yuna's vocals goes with the flow in Moon Rabbit . It's a smooth groovy no. although the opening of the song wasn't catchy but still I like this !
Track 11's Yuna's 7th single I'm Here which was the weakest outta the 4 singles that Yuna released . Its peak position was no.14 . I suspect it's because people were shocked that Yuna suddenly did a 360 degree turn & came up with something so aggressive sounding , in your face type of no. where she's more known for her ballads .
I'm Here is ok for me but here & there , Yuna seems to be screaming into my ears .
Next in line is the title track of the album . I think it's very disorganised that from an upbeat no. , you suddenly jump ship into slow vibe mode but anyway Wish is a pleasant ballad but I personally feel it's not as good as alone again .
In fact I had to give Wish a couple more listens before I can remember how the song sounds like to begin with .
After Wish , it's another dancey upbeat no. (again) Tokyo Days . You might be thinking with a title like Tokyo Days , it might sound Japanese-ish of sorts but surprise surprise , the song is filled with Carribean beats which took me by surprise .
In fact Tokyo Days was the 1st song I heard from WISH , for a non released single & since then it has become 1 of my fave songs from the album .
& what better way to close the album with a bonus track in the form of Yuna's rendition of the famous classic song from Celine Dion ala MY HEART WILL GO ON & I'm impressive with Yuna's take on the song & that she did not went over the top & just let her vocals do the talking or should I say work .
Now I have a confession to make , I have heard the original countless times til my love for the song turns to hate & in this case , I feel Yuna's take on My Heart Will Go On is a great one . It's due to this cover from Yuna that Celine personally contact Yuna to do a duet with her which turns out in the form of Yuna's 10th single Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ (As Long as You are Here) .
In general , I find Yuna's latest studio offering WISH a pleasant listen although this time round , sales wise , WISH has not yet suppressed/on par of what was achieved from her debut album HEART .
Minor gripes of the album are that there seems to be quite a lot of dancey upbeat no.s floating in WISH & they somehow tend to overshadow the ballads which's quite a shame as I really like it when Yuna does ballads .
I suspect it's because of this , WISH did not do as well as expected as I think the public would want her to stick with ballads instead of moving towards dancey upbeat no.s . Either that or it's just the typical 2nd album syndrome/slump .
I have a feeling Yuna's doing that cos maybe she doesn't want to be pigeonhole & people will only remember her for her ballads as they were superb (think ENDLESS STORY , Precious , Truth) .
Also the sound consistency is not really there especially when you switch from I'm Here to Wish . I would rather Yuna grouped all the upbeat no.s in maybe the 1st 1/2 of the album & then ballads for the 2nd 1/2 of WISH .
I have not heard her debut album HEART yet but I read reviews that the A sides were the only strong tracks on the album while the rest of the album were just fillers . That I cannot comment cos I never heard the non released singles from HEART .
In short , in WISH , I feel the singles & non released singles on the album are on par with each other as this time round , the singles were not as successful as compared to the singles from HEART & on certain occasions , the non released singles tend to outshine the songs that were released prior to WISH .
Whether you perceive this as a good or bad thing , it depends on the individual but WISH is a good listen .
If you're looking for an album with a mixture of dancey upbeat no.s & ballads thrown in the mix , then WISH might be the album for you .
Thursday, March 06, 2008
CD Review :: Ken Hirai - SENTIMENTALovers
1) Omoi ga Kasanaru Sono Mae ni ... (The Memories Pile Up Before Me) 2) jealousy 3) Iwanai Kankei (Unsaid Connections) 4) Kimi ga Boku ni Hyoui Shita !! (You Depended on Me !!) 5) Hitomi wo Tojite (Close Your Eyes) 6) Seishun Days (Days of Youth) 7) style 8) signal 9) Kagiana (Keyhole) 10) nostalgia 11) Kimi wa Tomodachi (You're My Friend) 12) Sentimental
SENTIMENTALovers was Ken Hirai's 6th album . It was released on 24th Nov '04 . SENTIMENTALovers debuted at no.1 on the Oricon weekly chart & sold 1,660,885 copies in 2005 & became the 3rd most sold album of '05 .
4 singles were included in the album which are highlighted in bold .
I only became a big fan of Ken's music recently ever since I discovered his music in mid-Jan this year & the 1st thing that caught my attention of him was his soulful voice & then his looks which have been known to set housewives in Japan fluttering . I'm not spared too & I have to admit , a hot guy is hard not to resist & for the record he's a pure / 100% Japanese & he's not mixed .
& so I took a crash course & listen to his 1st best album titled Utabaka Ken Hirai 10th Anniversary Complete Single Collection '95 - '05 which's essentially a 2 disc compilation of all the singles that Ken released since his debut in '95 all the way to '05 to celebrate his 10th anniversary in the music business at that time .
He's gonna release his 7th album FAKIN' POP next Wed in Japan & I thought what better way to review his last studio offering .
The album start things off with his 22nd single Omoi ga Kasanaru Sono Mae ni ... (The Memories Pile Up Before Me) which was his 3rd no.1 single . The song was 1st used in the Toyota Corolla Fielder CM though later in Sept '05 , it became the theme song for the special two day drama Tsumiki Kuzushi Shinsou ~Ano Kazoku , Sono Ato no Higeki~ .
When I 1st heard Omoi ga Kasanaru Sono Mae ni ... (The Memories Pile Up Before Me) , I thought it was an un-memorable track because if you were to compare his no.1 singles Ooki na Furudokei (A Big Old Clock) , Ring & POP STAR against Omoi ga Kasanaru Sono Mae ni ... , Omoi ga Kasanaru Sono Mae ni ... seems to be the weakest outta the lot .
But after intensive drilling of the song into my head , I can remember the song as to how it sounds like & now I'm glad to see Omoi ga Kasanaru Sono Mae ni ... (The Memories Pile Up Before Me) kicking things off on SENTIMENTALovers & I really like the song now especially the harmonica going on in the melody .
The next 3 tracks are groovy no.s in the form of jealousy , Iwanai Kankei (Unsaid Connections) , Kimi ga Boku ni Hyoui Shita !! (You Depended on Me !!) . I love the melodies of jealously & it's such a smooth song & a great track to dance along with .
Iwanai Kankei (Unsaid Connections) was the 1st song I heard from SENTIMENTALovers & this's also another top notch song from Ken . I like that Iwanai Kankei (Unsaid Connections) is extremely upbeat & cheery without going over the top .
Man , I dig Kimi ga Boku ni Hyoui Shita !! (You Depended on Me !!) . It's such a happy song & I also like the keyboards that's backing up in the song . You can't help but realise that all 3 songs are unique & special in its own right . Not to mention distinct too which's fabulous .
Track 5 on the album is the song that started it all for me which's Hitomi wo Tojite (Close Your Eyes) . This's the song that got me interested in Ken in the 1st place . My younger middle sister played me this song which was like the only song she liked from Ken at that time & the next time you know , the rest's history .
Hitomi wo Tojite (Close Your Eyes) is a great power ballad & it's easy to see why it deserves to be the top selling single in Japan for '04 for Ken despite the fact that it did not debuted at no.1 on the Oricon weekly singles chart . It had to settle for no.2 instead .
Soon after , the album picks up the pace with Seishun Days (Days of Youth) which's another very nice no. . I like the trumpets that were used in the song which makes the song stands out & that the melodies takes the song up a notch or so .
Track 7's Ken's 19th single style . It's a cool song which I dig on 1st listen . I don't really understand what's going on in the video especially the ending which was very unsatisfactory . Not to mention Ken shaved his head in the PV T_T & for the record Ken you don't look good bald *guffaws* .
Track 8's signal which follows the same vein as style . I can't help but wonder that the melody sounds strangely familiar & similiar to that of Modjo's Lady , Hear Me Tonight . Not that it's a bad thing but at least style's memorable in its own right .
The next 2 tracks are the ones that doesn't really sit well with me . When I 1st heard Kagiana (Keyhole) , I thought it was really & very very cheesy & somemore the song makes me cringe up to now . I'm not sure what Ken's singing in the song but I have a feeling it's a naughty no. & the lady in the background of Kagiana (Keyhole) ain't helping matters too .
Track 10's nostalgia & it's a ballad but for some reasons , when I heard nostalgia , I find it very depressing . I usually like Ken's ballads but nostalgia was a bit too much for me + the melody of nostalgia switch my mood to PMS mood which's definitely not good so nostalgia is strictly a song that I will listen on repeat mode provided if I'm having a lousy day .
Next in line's Ken's 21st Single Kimi wa Tomodachi (You're My Friend) . I'm feeling the song as it's catchy , has finger snapping beats going on in there + the PV is kawaii too ! It's a cartoon PV & it's an enjoyable video to watch .
I think it's a great way to close the album with a nice ballad in the form of Sentimental . The song was used as a radio single to promote SENTIMENTALovers and it was given its own PV . I really like it & I feel Ken really shines in his ballads .
SENTIMENTALovers suppressed my expectations from Ken & it was even better than I expected it to be . Initally I was skeptical on whether I should gave his last studio album offering a shot but I'm really glad that I decided to went for it .
I'm just really glad that I decided to give his music a listen . He has been around for 13 years & it's no laughing matter . My only regret was that I didn't gave his music a listen a bit eariler than expected but I supposed it's better late than never .
Now that I've been fired up from listening to SENTIMENTALovers , all the more I can't wait for FAKIN' POP to be released in Japan next Wed .
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
ayaka - Te wo Tsunagou (Let's Hold Hands) / Ai wo Utaou (Let's Sing Love)
1) Te wo Tsunagou (Let's Hold Hands) 2) Ai wo Utaou (Let's Sing Love) 3) Mikazuki [Crescent Moon] (2007.12.20 Nippon Budokan LIVE ver.) 4) Te wo Tsunagou (Instrumental) (Let's Hold Hands) 5) Ai wo Utaou (Instrumental) (Let's Sing Love)
Te wo Tsunagou (Let's Hold Hands) / Ai wo Utaou (Let's Sing Love) is ayaka's 8th single . This double A side was released in Japan today & Te wo Tsunagou (Let's Hold Hands) is her 1st single to be released in 2008 .
Te wo Tsunagou (Let's Hold Hands) is used as the theme song for the movie Doraemon Nobita to Midori no Kyojinden while Ai wo Utaou (Let's Sing Love) was used in the KOSÉ's "ESPRIQUE PRECIOUS" .
I love the way Te wo Tsunagou (Let's Hold Hands) starts & it slowly builds up & it becomes more emotional driven . It's probably on par with Mikazuki (Crescent Moon) which's fantastic . I like the way ayaka delivers the song without going over the top .
The other A side Ai wo Utaou (Let's Sing Love) is really nice too . It's a uptempo no. kinda reminded me of some of ayaka's previous works like Real voice & melody ～SOUNDS REAL~ while last on the line's a gorgeous live version of Mikazuki (Crescent Moon) which was recorded from Nippon Budokan on 20th Dec '07 .
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Namie Amuro - 60s70s80s
CD Only Cover :
CD + DVD Cover :
1) NEW LOOK 2) ROCK STEADY 3) WHAT A FEELING 4) NEW LOOK (Instrumental) 5) ROCK STEADY (Instrumental) 6) WHAT A FEELING (Instrumental)
60s70s80s is Namie Amuro's 32nd single & this is her 1st single to be released for 2008 . Not to mention it's Namie's 1st triple A side single .
60s70s80s will be released on 12th March , Wed in Japan & this single comes in 11 months since Namie released her last single FUNKY TOWN & 9 months since the release of her successful album PLAY .
60s70s80s contains 3 songs that are all featured in a massive campaign ad for Vidal Sassoon's latest shampoo and conditoner products in Japan . Each song represents a certain time period starting with the 60's (NEW LOOK) then the 70's (ROCK STEADY) & finally the 80's (WHAT A FEELING) .
NEW LOOK features a sample from The Supremes's Baby Love while ROCK STEADY features a sample from an Aretha Franklin's no. of the same title .
Lastly , WHAT A FEELING features samples from Irene Cara's What a Feeling , which was used as the theme song for the 1983 film Flashdance .
It has been a since while a hotly anticipated single has been released & this probably will kick off the new month with a good bang of sorts !
All the songs found on Namie's new triple A side are seriously amazing in its own right . Whether you dig 60's , 70's , 80's or all 3 decades genre of music , there's something for everyone . Not to mention both singles covers are hot .
As mentioned before , all the songs are featured in Vidal Sassoon's CMs & basically all 3 no.s are used in separate ads of Vidal Sassoon & the PVs are collaboration videos aka extended versions from the CMs just like Ken Hirai's Kimi wa Su.te.ki (You're Won.der.ful) PV .
# 10th Jan
# #1 BREAKERZ fan in Singapore since 2008 debut single ♥
# My music blog consists of JPop/Rock singles & albums reviews that I put my heart , efforts & soul into writing them as I'm disgusted with the way that JPop/Rock music is being treated/written/reviewed in Singapore so to the local media (yes you TEENS , Teenage Magazine & The Strait Times) , screw you all . I basically can write better JPop/Rock reviews , period