Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Ken Hirai - Plus One / TIME
CD + DVD
1) Plus One
3) Ken Hirai 20th Anniversary Mega Mix Vol.2 (CD Only Track)
4) Plus One -backing track- (CD Only Track)
5) Ise Shima Summit Cheer Song -less vocal- (CD Only Track)
Plus One / TIME is Ken Hirai's 39th single & it was last week released on 25th May .
This's Ken's 1st single release of 2016 & Plus One / TIME is his 3rd double A-side single .
Ken Hirai 20th Anniversary Mega Mix Vol.2 serves as the B-side in the single and this's only found in the CD only edition , likewise with instrumentals of both A-side's .
The 1st A-side Plus One was used to promote TV Asahi's Good Partner Muteki no Bengoshi drama . It's described as a love song that Ken wrote while picturing various relationships that men and woman cannot express in words .
The 2nd A-side TIME was used as Ise Shima Summit Cheer Song . Ken was appointed as an artist for the G7 JAPAN 2016 Ise-Shima Summit in Feb & despite being an A-side , TIME has no music video .
Originally , this single was labelled Plus One & frankly I'm glad that it has been changed to a double A-side release as both songs are equally good/strong .
Plus One is a catchy finger snappy upbeat song which's memorable while for TIME , it's a really nice ballad which felt like it has 2 different melodies .
The 2nd part of TIME is my favourite as the melody suddenly changed into a Gospel like music direction , which reminded me of Gaining Through Losing to a certain extent & it brought back nostalgic memories .
All in all , I enjoy Plus One / TIME . It's a pity that TIME does not have a video and it's strange that the same thing happened for the 2nd A-side in past both double A-side singles of Ken as well .
And Ken's not stopping here as his 40th single Mahoutte Itte Ii Kana ? will be released next month on 22nd June .
Saturday, May 28, 2016
ARASHI - I seek / Daylight
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
I seek / Daylight is ARASHI's 49th single & it was released on 18th May .
Released 3 months + since their previous single Fukkatsu LOVE , the group's last double A-side single release was 2013's Calling / Breathless .
The 1st A-side I seek was used to promote leader Ohno Satoshi's Sekai Ichi Muzukashii Koi drama . Described as a love song , I seek centres on the dilemma + sadness of a clumsy man in love & it's sung in a bright positive way that's accompanied with groovy feelings .
The 2nd A-side Daylight was used to promote member Matsumoto Jun's 99.9 ~Keiji Senmon Bengoshi~ drama . MatsuJun personally requested fellow member Sakurai Sho to provide rap verses in the song .
2012's Face Down was the last single song that Sakurai last rapped in . Linked to the world of drama , both strength + kindness are wrapped inside the warm melody found in Daylight .
With regards to the rap lyrics included in Daylight , Sakurai said MatsuJun went to talk to him in the dressing room & let him read the script of the 1st 2 episodes in order to give Sakurai a glimpse of the plot in 99.9 ~Keiji Senmon Bengoshi~ before he proceeded to write the Sakurap in the song .
2 B-sides are available in I seek / Daylight . Both tracks are exclusively found in the CD only edition of the single .
The 1st B-side is titled Tadaima & this serves as the theme song for ARASHI's current ongoing ARASHI "Japonism Show" in ARENA .
According to Sakurai , the lyrics of Tadaima are a message to their fans . ARASHI wanted to do small-scale concerts this time to go back to where they started as the last time they did an Arena tour was 9 years ago . Before they got to perform at huge venues like Tokyo Dome and National Stadium , Arenas used to be ARASHI's playground with their fans .
Tadaima is their way of saying , "We never forget our starting line & our fans from back then ."
As for the 2nd B-side supersonic , it's an upbeat song with lots of edgy beats & it's quite memorable sounding .
ARASHI brings their 49th single in the form of the double A-side I seek / Daylight . The theme song of Ohno Satoshi's drama Sekai Ichi Muzukashii Koi , I seek is a bright groovy positive number about the dilemmas of a man who is clumsy in matters of love while Daylight is the warm theme song of Matsumoto Jun's drama 99.9 ~Keiji Senmon Bengoshi~ .
The group's last double A-side single Calling / Breathless was quite a stellar release & luckily I seek / Daylight was able to live up to expectations .
Although I must admit I did not like I seek that much (the video didn't helped matters) but the performances they did on various TV shows (including their own ones) subsequently changed my opinion on the song .
It's different for Daylight as I actually liked it when I 1st heard it and anything with the inclusion of Sakurap is always good although it's quite crazy knowing that it has been 4 years since Sakurai last rapped in Face Down (which was & still is a great single song) .
Both I seek & Daylight are very different music styles wise which's a good thing because there's no point to release 2 songs as A-sides if they follow the same music pattern although there're exceptions .
B-sides wise , it's unusual for them to use a song as a opening number for their tour but then again it makes sense given the context of Tadaima . Luckily (for better or worst) , there're only 2 B-sides this time round which I don't mind as I rather ARASHI focus on quality rather than quantity .
Overall , I enjoy I seek / Daylight and I guess their next music release should be a new album ? Since ARASHI "Japonism Show" in ARENA has not concluded yet , I will not be surprised if they chose to do another Dome tour at the end of the year & if so , that will signify another new album seeing that they've been releasing 1 on a yearly basis since 2010's Boku no Miteiru Fuukei .
If so , hopefully their next album will be better as Japonism was unfortunately a mess to me .
Monday, May 23, 2016
Namie Amuro - Mint
CD + DVD
2) Chit Chat
3) Mint -Instrumental-
4) Chit Chat -Instrumental-
Mint is Namie Amuro's 42nd single & it was released last week on 18th May .
Namie's 1st single release of 2016 , the A-side was picked to be used as the theme song for Kansai TV / Fuji TV's drama Bokuno Yabai Tsuma which's a suspense drama that revolves around a husband and wife (played by Ito Hideaki and Kimura Yoshino) .
The drama's production team approached Namie and asked her to provide the theme song . Namie commented , "I'm grateful to receive the offer to provide the theme song for Bokuno Yabai Tsuma . I'd be happy if Mint captured the essence of the drama . It's a fast-paced thrilling track told from a women's perspective . By singing this thrilling track with a sense of speed from a woman's point of view , I hope to deliver the drama's charm even more . "
Ito Hideaki who acts in Bokuno Yabai Tsuma remarked , "From her singing and dancing debut days , Namie had this cute image and now she has a sophisticated adult image . The sound of the guitar which starts off the song , is heart pounding & the song conveys the feelings of liking someone but feeling trapped . The lyrics also reveal the malicious thoughts of Maria (Kimura Yoshino's character) . I think it's a good fit for Bokuno Yabai Tsuma . "
Chit Chat serves as the B-side in the single . Strangely there was no B-side information included initially when early details on Mint were released but aside from that , Chit Chat contrasts the A-side quite well although the melody sounded like something it comes from a computer video game .
Namie Amuro's 1st single of 2016 , Mint is a serious thrilling dance rock number with a memorable melody that's accompanied by a mysterious guitar phrase .
I actually liked Namie's previous single Red Carpet but I feel that it has a mismatched concept & all the while I'm not a big fan of her ballads .
But I like Mint a lot as it's what Namie does best which's upbeat songs and the sound that Mint has is not a typical hip pop track . In addition , Mint is edgy and aggressive which fits the Bokuno Yabai Tsuma drama really well .
It reminds to be seen what Namie's next music move will be seeing that she's going to embark on a new tour namie amuro LIVE STYLE 2016-2017 in August which will take place until March 2017 .
If not , in between namie amuro LIVE STYLE 2016-2017 , Namie might release another new single ? Only time will tell .
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Hey ! Say ! JUMP - MajiSUNSHINE
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
MajiSUNSHINE is Hey ! Say ! JUMP's 16th single & it was released on 11th May .
The group's 1st single release of 2016 , MajiSUNSHINE was used in the ads of Kose Cosmeport's Sun Cut .
Described as a Summer song that centres on the feelings of a boy in love , MajiSUNSHINE is a festival track that will make you suddenly want to start dancing .
There're 4 B-sides in total in the single with the 1st 2 tracks found in the CD only edition of MajiSUNSHINE .
We are Otokonoko ! was used as the ending theme for TV Tokyo's Little Tokyo Life & this feisty upbeat song is quite memorable .
As for Eve , it's a keeper as it's the only ballad in the single which contrasts the A-side quite well .
The other 2 B-sides are available in each CD + DVD edition of the single and both are handled by the sub units within the group .
Party Monster is included in the CD + DVD A edition and this's sung by the younger members Hey ! Say ! 7 .
Surprisingly despite the title , Party Monster is actually an aggressive driven song . It has a mature grown up tone which Hey ! Say ! 7 handled pretty well .
Speed It Up is found in the CD + DVD B edition of MajiSUNSHINE and this song is sung by the older members Hey ! Say ! BEST .
In playing up the song title , there're considerably sound effect references found dotted within Speed It Up . Aside from this , this's actually a not bad upbeat track .
Love blooms under the blue skies in Hey ! Say ! JUMP's 16th single , the Summer love song MajiSUNSHINE . The energetic Summer dance number is a CM song for cosmetics brand Kose .
I wasn't a fan of the group's last 2 singles (Chau# / Wo I Need You & Kimi Attraction) as I felt they sounded too rather childish for my liking but luckily my faith in their singles has been restored to a certain extent with the release of MajiSUNSHINE .
Surprisingly if not oddly , Hey ! Say ! JUMP has not released a Summer inspired single until now & for once when I listened to MajiSUNSHINE , I don't feel embarrassed even though it slightly made me cringe but not as bad as their last 2 singles .
Considering that Summer is around the corner , MajiSUNSHINE really fits the season so for once I can pardon them but hopefully their subsequent releases , they will consider to go for the adult mature sound .
Their earlier single songs like Your seed , Mayonaka no Shadow Boy , Hitomi no Screen were great and back then the members were still quite young & for them doing a reverse music turn on their material now , that feels really strange .
Since they will be doing a new tour in July , I guess their next music release will be a new album ?
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
GLAY - Desutopia
Desutopia is a digital single by GLAY & it was released on 9th May .
GLAY's new song was picked to be used as the opening theme no. for the anime Kuromukuro & it was composed by guitarist HISASHI .
Desutopia is extremely aggressive in your face & it has plenty of attitude and energy accompanying it . What I like about the song is the melody which has a great catchy hook .
I'm not sure why Desutopia was released digitally but GLAY might include it as a B-side in their next physical single release but for now , this latest song from the group is highly recommended in checking out .
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Kanon Wakeshima - Unbalance by Me
1) Unbalance by Me
2) Jiyuu Rakka To Pinocchio
3) Unbalance by Me -Instrumental-
4) Jiyuu Rakka To Pinocchio -Instrumental-
Unbalance by Me is a special single released by Kanon Wakeshima which's only made available for sale in Unbalance by Me Kanon Wakeshima Live Tour 2016
This release is sold together with a CREATIVE BOOK for 4,000 Yen .
The A-side is a straight up no nonsense upbeat song that has plenty of attitude and charisma . As for the B-side Jiyuu Rakka To Pinocchio , it contrasts Unbalance by Me well by being a slow paced mid tempo song .
I frankly enjoy both tracks & it's unusual for Kanon to release Unbalance by Me in this manner and let alone , her record label do not count this as her next single after she released Love your enemies in Feb .
It's odd & let alone for Kanon to make Unbalance by Me for purchase only if you attend Unbalance by Me Kanon Wakeshima Live Tour 2016 , it's a bit unfair for those who weren't able to go .
But that said , hopefully the 2 songs will be made available in Kanon's next album but if not , both tracks can be found and heard on YouTube .
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
CD Review :: Aoyama Thelma - PINK TEARS EP
1) One Day Feat Miliyah Kato & AI
2) Trouble Love
3) PINK TEARS
4) Summertime !!
5) SMILE FOR ME Feat MAPPY
6) Anata no Soba ni Feat HY's Nakasone Izumi
7) stay (Acoustic Live Ver.) (Bonus Track)
PINK TEARS EP is Aoyama Thelma's 2nd mini album & it was released last month on 27th April .
Aoyama's latest mini album release serves as the sequel to last Sept's GRAY SMOKE EP & no singles are included in PINK TEARS EP .
In addition , PINK TEARS EP was released on the same day as 2 compilation albums , SMOKE & TEARS + LOVE! ~SPECIAL~ .
SMOKE & TEARS complied 12 songs from both GRAY SMOKE & PINK TEARS while LOVE! ~SPECIAL~ includes popular songs from Aoyama's LOVE! series as well as collaboration songs and love songs she's released since LOVE!2 -THELMA BEST COLLABORATIONS- .
To realise her vision , Aoyama collaborates with female artists to portray the various "tears" of women this time round in PINK TEARS EP .
Kicking things off in Aoyama's new mini album is One Day which features Miliyah Kato & AI .
One Day was 1st released digitally on 23rd March & the 3 ladies 1st collaborated in 2014 in I'll be there with you , which was included in Miliyah's 10th anniversary album MUSE .
The 3 singers are very close both personally & professionally . One Day has the theme "tears of regret" & on this song , Aoyama commented , "Even if you cry tears of regret , it's the best feeling when you look beside you & find your friends . These 2 [Miliyah & AI] are the ones I wanted to sing these words with ."
Trouble Love is the 2nd song & this's quite a nice mid tempo song which flows quite well to the next track which shares the same title as the release .
PINK TEARS (the song) features lyrics collaboration together with columnist LiLy . I enjoy this as it's something I can relax to while listening to it .
The next song is titled Summertime !! & the music was produced by DJ KAORI .
The last Summer inspired song that Aoyama released was her 2010 / 10th single Summer Love !! so hearing Summertime !! brings back great memories of everything Summer related .
SMILE FOR ME is track #5 and this song features a piano performance collaboration with fashionista MAPPY .
To me , SMILE FOR ME is a stand out track in PINK TEARS EP as it's such a catchy cheery no. . Also end of the day this is simplicity at its best , it's just Aoyama being back by a piano melody & she sounded having a great time while belting out this track .
Anata no Soba ni is the last 2nd song in PINK TEARS EP & for this track , it features HY's Nakasone Izumi .
Described as a ballad that talks about the love between a mother and child , Aoyama wanted to "portray a woman's happiest moment" in Anata no Soba ni & "write a song with someone who has gotten married & experienced childbirth" .
A video was made for Anata no Soba ni & model/actress Kinoshita Yukina is featured in the video . Kinoshita previously starred in the video for Aoyama's 2011 / 12th single Zutto. . This time round , the video also stars Kinoshita's daughter . It's a heartwarming video that features scenes of Kinoshita cooking a bento & having a picnic underneath cherry blossom trees .
The final track to conclude PINK TEARS is an acoustic live version of stay which was originally found as track #1 in Aoyama's previous mini album GRAY SMOKE .
Unlike the original take , stay (Acoustic Live Ver.) does not feature Shota Shimizu's vocals .
stay is 1 of my favourite tracks in GRAY SMOKE EP . The acoustic take of the song is lovely . As such , it's a fitting conclusion to PINK TEARS EP .
After presenting songs that have a male perspective in GRAY SMOKE , Aoyama Thelma now presents the female perspective in her 2nd mini album PINK TEARS with the tracks expressing the different experiences & emotions behind a woman's tears .
GRAY SMOKE EP was an interesting release & it makes sense for Aoyama to do a follow up with another release that has a different perspective but the end result is pretty good .
PINK TEARS EP overall has a more cheery positive vibe unlike GRAY SMOKE EP where it was considerably sombre/moodier . Let alone , the music styles present in Aoyama's latest release is a bit more diverse as well .
I enjoy listening to PINK TEARS EP & it's perhaps no surprises the collaborations are the ones that stood out in the release .
It suddenly dawns to me that 2017 is Aoyama's 10th anniversary in the business & it will be great if she has something special plan for next year . Even though Aoyama is not able to attain mainstream success like what she was able to do so in the past , for her to continue to release material despite all odds , it's heartening to know so .
I look forward to more interesting well thought releases from Aoyama in time to come .
Friday, May 06, 2016
ayaka - I believe 2016 ver.
I believe 2016 ver. is a digital single by ayaka & it was released last month on 27th April .
This version is a re-recorded rendition of ayaka's 2006 debut single & will be included in the 3rd disc of THIS IS ME ~ayaka 10th anniversary BEST~ which will be released next month on 13th July .
It's hard to believe it has been 10 years since ayaka made her debut in the music business & let alone in releasing I believe which kicked start her career .
Perhaps that's why when I heard I believe 2016 ver. , it brought back so many nostalgic memories for me . Even though ayaka had a rough patch with her health along the way , it was heartening to see her come back more stronger be it musically and then some .
I look forward to hear the Mikazuki 2016 ver. next (which's also included in THIS IS ME ~ayaka 10th anniversary BEST~) but hearing I believe 2016 ver. is a great testimony on how far ayaka has come .