Archive for the 'Ayumi Hamasaki' Category

2010: Albums

So, this is possibly the last entry when it comes to my look back to 2010.
I’ve long decided on my Top 10 Albums but to bring them in order was a hard decision. But here you go!

#10 3OH!3 – Streets of Gold

Yes, good single, good album track and now good album. After listening to three tracks on the previous album so often I couldn’t hear them anymore I was pretty excited about this album and in the end it did deliver. It’s not perfect and sadly not as kick ass as WANT but still has the nice catchy tunes that will stay in your head for a long time. And for the most part the album is just a great fun.

Best Songs: Double Vision, See You Go, House Party

 

#9 Mao Abe – POP

None of the songs on this album were good enough to be on my other lists but as a whole package you can’t really go wrong with this album. It is fun and she shows different styles even though I still wished she would have been a little bit more creative and had tried some more stuff. But that just means I can be curious about the next album.

Best Songs: I wanna see you, Mada, Tsutaetai Koto

 

#8 Berryz Koubou – 6th Otakebi Album

Berryz Koubou just had a strong year all around. We got with almost every single two songs and they never really disappointed. So it was double the fun. Also, with songs like Otakebi Boy WAO! they got back to more fun songs and even though I still can’t stand Risako’s voice I can’t help but see it as a step in the right direction that Yurina got to be the center once. Oh, and Dakisimete Dakishimete is on the album which is my favorite so yeah ❤

Best Songs: Dakishimete Dakishimete,  Otakebi Boy WAO!, Seishun Bus Guide

 

#7 UPLIFT SPICE – MEMENTO

With UPLIFT SPICE you just know what you’ll get. Great rock tracks with a unique voice and memorable melodies. And that’s really all I want from them. I have to be honest and say that I think Omega Rhythm was a bit better because I really liked to listen to it all the way through but on the other hand when it comes to MEMENTO I know what songs I prefer. Well, I’m happy as long as there’s a new album next september. I really like that pattern.

Best Songs: Queen Anne’s Revenge, Cosmology, Mönster

 

#6 Ayumi Hamasaki – Rock’n’Roll Circus

Everyone who read my review knows that I think that this album was a step in the right direction. Back. For me it felt like from somwhere between Rainbow and Memorial Addresse and while most people didn’t like it and seem to prefer Love Songs (which isn’t going to show up on this list) I think this was the better Ayu album of 2010.

Best Songs: Don’t Look Back, Microphone, Last Links, count down

 

#5 AKB48 – Kamikyoku Tachi

The problem I have with this album is that it doesn’t feel like an album. It feels like a collection of all the singles AKB released in that time. Every fucking B-Side is on there. Everyone who bought the singles must feel like a fool. Except for those who buy allt hose Singles for Handshakes and the likes. But yeah, after all those were some pretty strong singles and also the B-sides were quality stuff. Nothing to complain about really.

Best songs: RIVER, Sakura no Shiori, Tobenai Agehachou


#4 JASMINE – GOLD

Oh look, it’s a debut album! But a damn good one. If you haven’t heard about JASMINE yet, where do you live? I have to be honest and say that the singles were the best tracks and album tracks were good, but not as good. But that doesn’t make the album any worse, it just means I had too big expectations. But what do you expect after songs like THIS IS NOT A GAME and sad to say?

Best Songs: THIS IS NOT A GAME, sad to say, L.I.P.S.

 

#3 2NE1 – To Anyone

Just like last year, 2NE1 still going strong. It was a long wait for the album but I guess it was worth the wait. The dance tracks are great and I even got to like the slower songs a lot more. My sister just loves Apa (Slow). Plus the solo songs and remix and english version. I guess this album offers everything you want from a korean album. Yes, there’s a difference. I’m curious how there songs will turn out in Japanese and if they will be successful in the US. I doubt it but let’s just drink some tea and see.

Best Songs: I Don’t Care (Reggae Mix), Can’t Nobody, Clap Your Hands

 

#2 Tokyo Jihen – SPORTS

I’m still not sure about #1 and #2 but since I’ve listened to SPORTS not as much as to the #1 this album gets the second spot. SPORTS is great. I already blogged about it because it blew me away. Listen to it. Every single song would be perfect as a single release. You won’t get bored when you listen to it the whole way through and in the end you’ll want to listen to it again. It’s great.

Best Songs: Sweet Spot, Noudouteki Sanpunkan, Kachiikusa

 

#1 BENNIE BECCA – BENNIE BECCA

It’s pop, it’s rock, it’s hip hop, it’s Japanese, it’s English, it’s the perfect mixture.  This album is just so much fun and is it really  a surprise when those great artists work together? I just wish that I wasn’t a one time only thing. I want more from them. I can’t go back to just one of them T_T

Best Songs: Ashita, Dilemmas, KAMINARI GIRL

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Love Songs ~The PVs~

When I ordered the new Ayumi Hamasaki album I realized that I didn’t watch any of the PVs on it. Not even the ones from the singles. They were either ~short ver.~ which is something I just find frustrating, or the song itself was so boring that I just couldn’t be bothered with it.

So, three days ago love songs arrived at my door step and now I am going to watch the PVs. And I will write down my first impression of them because when it comes to PVs it’s all about the first impression. I mean, they are there to make you buy the single/album. And you should like them immediately.

In the album’s order:

MOON

Yeah, no… I don’t know. I really liked the dark atmosphere and everything was really pretty but for the length of the song it just wasn’t enough. I mean, yeah, the Ayu covered and viscous black stuff is interesting and weird at the same time but somehow not enough. And God, that dress was just aweful. A pink dress with roses all over it? How old is she? No… And if I want to see stuff get broken I just watch the Is this LOVE PV. There they did it in a really skillful way. But I liked her shoulder and the “old footage” where she plays with her dog. At least there’s some kind of action.

blossom ~director’s cut~

Now that was fun to watch. Something to look for the girls, something for the boys… a dog. Then a turn of events in the middle. His being sad and angry scene was a bit long but the guitar solo was placed well in there. And then some recaps and a happy end that I didn’t really expect. The painted angel was a nice touch. I’m just confused how the doctor could have made a prediction that precise. And no, I didn’t miss Ayu that much. This PV really works. You just can’t expect some kind of masterpiece.

crossroad

Someone has to tell those people that one nice effect isn’t good enough for a 4-5 minute long PV. I mean, she looks horrible. Her lips are just a disaster and that eye make up did nothing for her face… And eveything else is just boring. Yes, she looks at a match. Yes, she starts to burn. Yes, it looks nice but you can’t call that a PV. But you could call it a CM if you show more of those big close ups of her eyes and then put a “Visée” at the end…  At least the TV Ayu brings some nostalgia. She kind of reminded me of the Because of You PV and I really liked that hair style. She should wear it short more often. But yeah. Not really impressed…

Sweet Season

Ayu wants to be white and live in the… what are those? The sixties? Ok, that is kind of interesting. If not only the kids but also Ayu would have been in a bathing suit, it would have been a lot better. But yeah, nice sunny day and all that. Interesting how all those white kids and this one latino kid and this one asian kid can sing along. But the best is the ending. You sit there, wondering what’s going on and Ayu is about to just fall into the pool and bam! She wakes up. Apparently she got herself drunk and cried herself to sleep. That was one good ending, I tell ya.

Virgin Road

I liked it. Mannie (Manuel; yes, her husband-to-be) is badass and Ayu tries to be, which sometimes works and sometimes not… so… much. But when it doesn’t, at least it’s cute. And I mean this storyline of them two being bank robbers and stuff just beats all of her other storyline PVs including some sort of lover. All of  ’em!

Last angel

So this is the first part of the two-part storyline. Honestly? I didn’t get it. He had a girlfriend before her or does she, again, wish to be white? And I thought all the time that she’s dead and then she’s wearing a wedding dress? I’m just going to watch the next one to see where this story is supposed to go.

Love song

To get it out of the way: I love the short haired Ayu that sings the song. I just love her. And now on to the other part of the PV: I still don’t get it. So, he cheated on her and she leaves and he follows her and then she sees herself with him robbing a bank? No, still don’t have the slightest clue about that. I guess I will look for an explanation on the internet. It will help me. I’m sure of it.

do it again

It’s not like I’m drunk or anything but I did drink some Relentless which is the only reason I’m still awake at this ungodly hour but those camera swings in the PV – they hurt. And most of the PV was Ayu walking down a street with two giant dogs (here, down the street we also got one that’s like bigger than me) and some of those camera swings and angles make it look like it’s been shot in front of a green screen. And you know, I don’t really dig her outfit and this whole thing doesn’t make much sense to me. And I have no idea in what kind of world she’s living there. Is it after the zombie apocalypse? Hm… I guess at the end she sees “the light at the end of the tunnel”. Yeah…

So overall some nice PVs if you just like looking at them but most of them didn’t make much sense to me and I hope it’s because I don’t understand the lyrics. And I’m still not sure if the PVs are in the right order on the DVD. Last angel and Love song are apparently in the wrong order on purpose but it’s still confusing. My final words are: Ayu, cut your hair and never let someone with a needle near your lips. Please.

Rock’n’Roll Circus – The Songs

Rock’n’Roll Circus Tracklist:

1. THE INTRODUCTION
2. Microphone
3. count down
4. Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~
5. BALLAD
6. Last Links
7. montage
8. Don’t look back
9. Jump!
10. Lady Dynamite
11. Sexy little things
12. Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~
13. meaning of Love
14. You were…
15. RED LINE ~for TA~ (album version)

There is only one post about Ayu on this blog and I think I should change that. And what better reason is there than a new album? After listening to it a few times I think I can tell you what I think about it.

First thing the interludes, just so I have them out of the way. I can’t even remember what THE INTRODUCTION sounds like so I think that one wasn’t really necessary. montage is good from the middle on. Maybe I will get used to it more. And Jump!, while simpel and repetetive is how an interlude should be. They took something that’s awesome but wouldn’t work out for a whole song and made it exactly as long as it is interesting. And it really prepares you for the part of the album to come. That’s how I like it.

Next the new album tracks. Those are the ones that make me love this album. Microphone is just a typical Ayu rock track but I always liked them. And I’m not even that bothered about her English. count down continues this style but on a softer note. It might sound weird but that song gave me the same feeling as Last Links. When I listen to them they already feel like Ayu classics. Like I already listened to them dozens of times. Those songs give me hope for Ayu’s future. (That reminds me that I still have to listen to the preview of MOON…) I think Last Links could fit onto Rainbow. It just sounds a bit… rougher maybe? Just to give you an idea of what I think. Don’t look back is set right between those two interludes even though I don’t know why. montage wasn’t really needed there but I guess they had to fit it in somewhere. The song itself gives me quite some goose bumps. I love those slow songs that build up to the chorus. And with those oriental, experimental sounds it really sticks out in a positive way. Maybe like ourselves? I know I look back a lot at other albums but I look back at the really great ones which means it’s a flattery. After Jump! we get the tracks that sound like Ayu hasn’t really let go of the Next Level style and I like it. I’d rather have some electro pop than pop pop, if you know what I mean. Lady Dynamite‘s chorus is so infectious! At least to me! The song itself is quite repetetive and could be boring if I wouldn’t love that chorus so much (~kureru *sing*). Just a matter of taste. And I think it’s the same with Sexy little things. If you like that sweet voice and stuff it’s really something for you. I like it but I guess the concert outfits for this song could be ubercute. The last new song is meaning of Love and I don’t really know what to think of it. There alrady are a lot ballads on the album but I guess it’s a good bridge from those party songs to You were… and the end of the album.

After reading the opinions of fans about the new songs (because I myself stayed away from the previews and PVs) I was asking myself how for god’s sake the songs from the singles should fit on this album next to those other songs. But I was surprised. Because there are some slow album tracks the ballads from the singles fit in quite nicely. And Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~, despite being a pop pop song like mentioned before, has found it’s place on the album after the party songs. And it’s not even that bad of an pop pop track with those little electro influences. I’ve come to like it in context of the album but as single I just had enough of this style. And I don’t know how Ayu did this but I think RED LINE ~for TA~ is the perfect album closer. It really got this thank you vibe and I’m already curious how this song will work as a concert song. Hopefully it will then also end with some a capella lines.

All in all I think this was a quite good album even though the singles forecasted something different. The Rock’n’Roll in the title is kind of justified if you keep in mind that rock always also has a softer side to it. And that’s what this album is. A great mix of Ayu’s strong sides. The rock, the ballads and one summer song. Because it wouldn’t be Ayu if there wasn’t one.

If I had to rate it, it would get a straight B. There’s only THE INTRODUCTION that kind of messes up the good grade.

As you may guess from the title there’s going to be another part. That’s the one for the videos. But it might take some time because I’m waiting for my copy to arrive before writing that. I want to include the Making ofs xD

The Best of 2009 (Part 3)

Here are the last 5 albums of my Top 15 and I’m sure you’re all curious which ones it will be. Aren’t you? Yes you are~
And I wanted to post every day but the birthday of my best friend was in the way and stuff…
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#5  Ayumi Hamasaki’s NEXT LEVEL

When Guilty was released it made it to the top of my list. But those times are over it seems. Still, Ayu’s newest album is a good piece of work. The singles were very good except maybe for Days and I loved the rock tracks on here. I’m a sucker for those. Even Next Level, the song, was good in my ears despite the fact that I see it as a summer song. Now we’re again down with two singles and I guess the next album will released in late March, maybe. I’m curious for it because the singles were kind of mediocre. But she can still surprise (with fewer interludes), no one knows.

Best Songs: LOVE ‘n’ HATE, Load of the SHUGYO, Rule and Curtain Call
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#4  MiChi’s UP TO YOU

Oh, look who’s there. The girl with the always good singles and improving PV. I’m a bit sad that she’s moving away from her indies sound but I like the way she sounds now, too. And I can’t wait for the next single. I hope she changes things up a bit. Her singles are great but after a while they tend to sound the same. But that’s still nothing negative when you look at the album tracks and you see that there’s nothing bad here. A kind of debut is better than an Ayu album. And that comes from me! Who’d have known?

Best Songs: PROMiSE, Shibuya de Punch, YOU and Why Oh Why
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#3  UPLIFT SPICE’ Omega Rhythm

I guess UPLIFT SPICE  is a band that not so many people know. And if I’m wrong, you know where you can post comments. But man, they are really great. Omega Rhythm continues with the sound from their first full album and shows you one powerful song after another. The only flaw is the playing time that is with not even thirty minutes quite dissapointing. But you can’t expect an album to be perfect and at least there are nine songs. They are just not as long as we are used from the Japanese market.

Best Songs: Omega Rhythm, Nanatsu no Umi and Amidakuji

#2  2NE1’s 2NE1

It’s the Korean Invasion!!! Well, yes, it is. But that’s nothing bad. 2NE1 is THE Korean Girlgroup of 2009. They had everything and most of all the best producer(s). Beside the fact that the whole mini album is superb, I liked the girls themselves. The four girls are the first Koreans that got me to watch something (subtitled) idol-related that wasn’t from Japan. I can’t wait for the full album. I’m quite sad that it wasn’t released in 2009 anymore but now it can’t be too long till the release date is announced. 2010 will rock!

Best Songs: I Don’t Care (Reggae Mix), Fire and Let’s Go PARTY
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#1  Chihiro Onitsuka’s DOROTHY

What a surprise! NOT. It’s not like the only artist I wrote a lot about besides AKB48 was her. Nooo. But to be honest, I’m still not sure if the album is really that good or if it’s just still fresh in my mind. But right now I’m pretty happy with calling it the best album of 2009. She’s BACK! Great voice, great ballads and of course X! I don’t know what more to write about, I said everything in my album review. Just… listen to it if you haven’t yet.

Best Songs: X, X, X and X. And Kagerou and I Pass By and …

That was it but like in Part 0 I will tell you a bit what I’m looking forward to.
The new Ayumi Hamasaki album because there will be one. Finally a Hidemi Uematsu album. How did she manage to release in 2 years only 3 singles? And of course the new Kumi Koda album because it’s going to suck. And I hope I’m wrong with that prediction. And Rie fu should start releasing singles again! Maybe a comment on her blog would work…

~Love is WTH~

I think I didn’t really say it until now but when it comes to simple Jpop Ayumi Hamasaki is my favorite singer. She was one of the singers that I discovered in the beginning of my love for Japanese music back in 2003. It has been a long time since then and an even longer time for Ayu.

But that is no excuse.

ayusummer

I wanted to make a review like I did with the other singles but Ayumi’s newest effort “Sunrise/Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~” simply doesnt deserve that. I’m so disappointed even though I didn’t expect much from a summer single. Those were never my favorites. But there always was something about them that I thought “That’s worth buying.”

Let’s think about it. What was the first real summer single? When I look through her discography I think it was “Unite!” in 2003. Maybe not your typical summer single but look at the cover and the release date. And not only was it hell of a great and powerful song but it was one of those singles with a total running time of an whole hour. Six remixes of “Unite!” and one remix of “Key” and one of “Endless Sorrow”. That’s what I call a good package.
In 2004 we got “H” that gives you a total of three new songs with two of them clearly summer themed. And even without any PVs it sold over a million copies which also confirms that it is a great single.

One year later “&” was released which tops the three songs from “H” and is packed with four new songs. The special thing is the song “Theme of A-Nation ’03” which is one of the very rare B-Sides from Ayu. To date she has released 47 singles and there are only 6 B-Sides.
Somehow I think that “Inspire” is my favorite of all those summer singles because the song is with its fastness something really special and the PV gets stuck in your head too. A bonus is “Game” which is as the rock song that it is always a good thing on a single. At least for me. And that PV was also great. The good ol’ days also known as 2004~
Next year’s summer single “fairyland” starts for me the trend of Ayu releasing average summer songs just because there always needs to be a track like this. But the song is despite that fact very good and the PV is impressive even though you can’t always see why it was so damn expensive. The c/w track is “alterna” which is like “Game” very rockish and follows with its PV the trend that “Ourselves” started. Very weird and scary. I love it ❤
In the summer of 2006 we were listening to “Blue Bird” which is still a nice song with a nice PV and a nice second A-Side but that’s it. What brings this single in the category “buyworthy” are the remixes. “Ladies night ~another night~” was long awaited and the Harderground remix of Blue Bird is also very good even though the intro is a bit long.
“Glitter/Fated” was again a single with a nice summer song but “Fated” was underwhelming. So much that I can’t even remember how it sounds. But at least we got this special short-film called “~Distance Love~” which consisted of the two PVs. Well, it wasn’t that greate either but at least it was something new. Well, at least.

So, you see how it got worse with the time. The only thing I considered a summer song after “Glitter” was “Next Level” from the album of the same name. And it was already better than the last two summer singles because it wasn’t a single. It only got a PV to promote the album and that was fine. It did it’s job and I liked it.

But now we got this. Look at those covers! Looks like I did them. I can copy+paste a background just like what we see here! No really, did they have a real location or what? And Ayu, clean your ears before a shooting and now give Shakira her clothes back!

The song “Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~ again is a nice summer song but I think the only thing you will remember is this “Motto” at the beginning of the chorus. And what’s wrong with “Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~”? It got the same melody like “Sunrise” but slower. I hope the lyrics aren’t the same. I don’t think so but I didn’t check… Well, after all you could consider that creative or experimental. I consider it as recycling. Who was too lazy to think of a new song for the second A-side?

I don’t even want to start thinking of the PVs. We got a very creative location. I give you that. But what else is there? Ayu performing and her dancers are dancing? Yeah, that was what happened in the Sunrise PV. And now tell me about Sunset. What? Yes! It’s Ayu performing and her dancers are dancing! Oh come on…