Ito Yuna – WISH [2nd Studio Album]

February 24, 2008 at 2:20 am (Ito Yuna) (, )

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Ito Yuna’s second studio album, entitled WISH, was released on 02.20.08. With some standout tracks such as I’m Here, Moon Rabbit, Power of Love and Unite As One, WISH offers some very good songs. However the biggest problem the album faces is that there aren’t enough memorable tracks so in that respect, the album does sound a little bland. Four singles were released before the album: I’m Here, Mahaloha featuring Micro of Def-Tech, Urban Mermaid and あなたがいる限り – A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN – with Celine Dion. In order to promote the album, alone again was released to radio stations. Unite As One also received a tie-in as the ending theme of the Konami game TIME HOLLOW-Ubawareta Kako wo Motomete. –

The album begins with Power of Love, which opens up quickly but strongly in the first verse with a very cool beat and some talented vocals by Yuna. However once the chorus arrives, there is a certain “cheesiness” element that appears and makes a sharp u-turn from the opening. The English lines are really corny but support the overall atmosphere of the song. Once the second verse comes around, the same cool feeling from the verse comes in and her vocals have more strength behind them. The third verse bears a similarity to the chorus but because of the powerful vocals and slightly different arrangement, it stands apart as much stronger. When she sings “never let me go,” her vocals show power and transition smoothly into a small instrumental section. If the song continued in the vein of the verses instead of making such an awkward transition to thechorus, then this song would have been really strong.

Alone again, a sweet midtempo song, serves as the second track. Yuna’s vocals show power in the first verse and compliment the music very well. During the chorus, Yuna’s vocals show power but here it sounds awkward. The opening lines are sung too high in the upper register and some notes are too strong when they should be sung softer. The pure instrumental section was a nice break from the song and really sets in the relaxing atmosphere behind the music. Although the vocals are a very nice part of the song and the first verse has some flavor to it, the song doesn’t really go in a particular direction and sounds like it’s been dragging on for a while.

After making an appearance on a tribute album to Celine Dion, a collaboration for Yuna and Celine was planned and then あなたがいる限り – A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN. – The song opens up with Celine singing in English and then Yuna singing in Japanese. Truthfully it sounded kind of strange hearing the transition between the two singers and the instrumental really does have a direction. The chorus features both singers and both show off their vocal skills but there is a minor clash in vocal strength and it comes off as just being “loud.” I know Celine can sing and Yuna can sing but putting them together probably wasn’t the best idea.

Next up is one of the songs released from the singles, Urban Mermaid. The overall vibe of the song is very different from its title as Yuna delivers a midtempo / pop track. The first verse is nicely delivered and gives a nice relaxed feeling but the chorus abruptly comes in as she sings “I’m a beautiful mermaid.” Not only is the line cheesy, the entire chorus sounds so out of place from the first verse. Going into the second verse, the transition is definitely smoothed out but doesn’t change the overall direction of the song. As a described anthem for women, the song really isn’t that strong to be deemed an “anthem.” I think that the choice of this song for a single was wrong but has a certain “Yuna-element” to it that fits well with her depite the blandness of the track.

Track number five, HEARTBEAT, opens up with a slight jazz and techno instrumentation and a very soft ethereal feeling that gives the song flavor. During the first verse, her vocals are soft and blend well with the music and transitions well into the chorus. In the chorus, her vocals show more power while consistently with the interesting music. Following the second chorus, a pure instrumental section comes in with a small English-speaking segment. The song ends like the instrumental section with some English speaking, making the song memorable. Because of the very interesting instrumentation as well as the right-pitched vocals, HEARTBEAT emerges as one of the most memorable songs on the entire album.

The next track, Colorful, opens up with a sweet and relaxing piano melody that creates an overall feeling for the song. The first verse features some poppy and good vocals by Yuna that go perfectly with the music. The transition between the hook and chorus is a bit abrupt but doesn’t detract from the overall flow. The chorus returns to the poppy atmosphere in contrast to the more relaxed vibe of the hook. Following the chorus is a short pure instrumentation section that sounds great. For a finish, the song fades out during the chorus, which is a good way to end a great song. The song is very enjoyable thanks to the interesting arrangement and instrumentation along with Yuna’s perfectly suiting vocals.

The seventh song, Unite As One, is the powerhouse piano ballad of the album. During the first verse, the instrumentation begins completely with the  piano until other sounds gradually make their way in. All the while, Yuna’s voice supports the music well. The chorus steps apart because of Yuna’s vocals and even the arrangement steps it up a bit. Following the chorus is a beautiful instrumental section that captures the essence of the song perfectly. During the third verse, the vocals show amazing strength in Yuna that had yet to be seen (there even sounded like a beautiful note in the whistle register). The only problem the song really faces is that it’s too long. Clocking over in almost seven minutes, it does feel like it’s dragging on at times. However the song is a strong ballad worth listening to with great vocals and a beautiful instrumentation.

Yuna’s collaboration with Micro of Def-Tech, Mahaloha, is up next. The song is a nice midtempo track with a Hawaiin vibe to it. Both Yuna and Micro’s voices sound nice together and the relaxing atomosphere definitely comes across very strong. However the biggest problem the song faces is that it doesn’t really go anywhere and sounds a bit boring. Vocally, there are no stand out moments and not even the instrumentation can save the song in terms of interest. Yuna’s traditional cheesy English lines come in during the chorus but don’t add to the overall atmosphere like they usually do. Mahaloha really doesn’t stand apart as being one of the best songs on the album and probably shouldn’t have been released as a single.

The ninth track, A Long Walk, opens up with distorted and choppy guitar playing that leaves a very strange impression. The other instruments come in adding a weird spacey feeling to it and make it a real part of the song. During the verses, Yuna’s voice shows the most strength of the song. The chorus also shows off Yuna’s voice a bit as she holds out the ends of notes and maintains relative power behind them. The English also seperates the lyrics and her voice as well. The whole mysterious atmosphere works on all the different layers of the song from her prolonged vocals, the arrangement of the song as well as the instrumentation. Although it has its strange moments, A Long Walk, is one of the best songs on the album.

Moon Rabbit, the tenth track, features a spanish guitar to create a relaxing uptempo track. During the verses, Yuna’s voice nicely accompanies the music but her vocals could have been a little stronger to keep up. The chorus displays some more strength behind them to seperate the chorus from the rest of the song. The frequent English throughout the song doesn’t detract from the overall feel of the song and adds a certain cute element to it. The instrumentation serves as a bridge between the verses and the chorus by directing the vocals. The third verse is a nice change of pace with a slightly different instrumentation and strong vocals. Overall the song has somewhat of a “dated” feel to it which is seen especially during the final chorus.

The first song released as a single for the album, I’m Here, serves as the eleventh track. The opening of the song is very impressive with an interesting instrumental that continues into the first verse. Here Yuna sings at a faster pace and comes off great. During the hook, the instrumentation changes a bit and serves as a good lead into the chorus. The chorus booms a little more than the rest of the song and Yuna pulls it off very well with strong vocals and perfect tempo. Following the second chorus is an instrumental break which continues the overall flow of the song. I’m Here was the best single released and sounds great released in the context of the album.

The title track, Wish, is a traditional ballad. While Yuna’s vocals certainly are strong, the song sounds somewhat like a watered down version of Unite As One. Once again, the length really gives the song a feeling of dragging on. Clocking in at almost six minutes, there really is no need for the song to be so long. There are true moments when the song shines during the verses and at the end of the chorus but it doesn’t really stand apart as being amazing. Unite As One was a much stronger ballad than this and both have similar sounds to them.

Cuteness reigns on the next track, Tokyo Days. The opening English is really corny but per usual, it works in the context of the songs. To support Yuna is a chorus that sings the English lines and their recurring appearance does prove more annoying than helpful. Yunas vocals sounds great however and the instrumentation captures the fun and playful atmosphere perfectly. The song does feel longer than it actually does, which is a recurring problem on the album. The song ends with the chorus fading out with Yuna hitting a powerful note at the end for a great finish. Overall the song is a nice addition to the album and is worth listening to as well.

The bonus track for the album is MY HEART WILL GO ON, a cover the Celine Dion song of the same name. Singing all in English, Yuna’s pronounciation is expectedly perfect and her vocals are powerful as well. There isn’t much to say about the song as a cover but she did a very nice job of covering it.

Album Ranking: B –

 Yuna’s second studio album, WISH, has its strengths and weaknesses. Yuna’s vocals remain consistently strong throughout the entire album and there are songs that feature various interesting instrumentals (such as Power of Love and HEARTBEAT). One problem the album has is that there aren’t very memorable songs and there is a certain cheesiness that continues in various songs. Not enough tracks stand out as being strong to make this a solid album. One plus that the album does have is that the album tracks are much better than the single tracks, thus saving the best material to be found on the album. Next time, Yuna should try more experimentation in her music and keep with the quality of songs such as I’m Here, Power of Love and HEARTBEAT.

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2 Comments

  1. Blax said,

    Ah, thank you for the VERY thorough review. :3nod:
    I’ve found that your opinions seem to be different from other reviewers.

    I thought that Wish was a better version of Unite As One, because the piano in Unite As One just felt forced and just really rough.

    Although I’m glad to see someone liked Power of Love, I’m Here, and Heart Beat like me.
    I just wish there wasn’t that “cheesy” feeling Power of Love had.
    D:

  2. Django said,

    Haha, oh wow. Nice review. Personally as a rabbid fan, I tend to not over think things, so I love the entire album. However, it’s strange… You like the songs I don’t like too much and I like the songs that you don’t like too much. xD;

    At first I thought “Wish” was better than “Unite as One” but over excessive listening and trying to get through Time Hollow, with barely any japanese knowledge, in anticipation has increased my liking of this song… o3o

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