C-ute – 涙の色 [5th Single]

April 20, 2008 at 9:17 pm (C-ute) (, )

C-ute’s 5th single, entitled 涙の色, was released on 04.23.08. The first single after their first album, C-ute loses no steam and brings some strong material. Both tracks display the more mature sound of C-ute and shows where they truly shine.

The title track, 涙の色, features a Latin-influenced instrumentation that works wonders for the girls. The song opens up with the soft playing of a Latin guitar before booming into a pop sound that is addictive. The first verse features some nice vocals. The guitar riff right before the chorus is a nice touch as it introduces the power of the chorus. The vocals are nice and go well with the music and there is also a range from more mellow vocals to higher notes. The pure instrumental section highlights just how addictive and wonderful the music truly is before the vocals return. Nearing the end, the music stops for a moment and puts the emphasis on a strong note in the higher register. Instrumentation finishes off the song for an enjoyable listen. 涙の色 is definitely one of C-ute’s strongest songs and is a perfect lead-in single to a new era after their last album.

ダーリン I Love You is the c/w for the single. The track opens up with a strong rock guitar before diving into a strong pop sound. Although it’s quite strange to then hear “darling I love you” right after such a powerful and mature sound from the music. The music somewhat directs the girl and they keep up perfectly, hitting the notes strongly. Following the pure instrumental section is a little cheering part from the girls that sounds a bit out of place. Overall the song is cute with a strong sound and is another hit for C-ute.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 涙の色 was made. The more mature atmosphere of the song is paralleled in this video. The girls are dressed more maturely and the dance sequence is one of C-ute’s best offerings. The solo shots are also enjoyable and make for a highly enjoyable experience. Overall the PV for the single is their best PV to date and hopefully this quality will continue in the future.

Single Ranking: A –

C-ute’s 5th single shows a welcomed new sound from the girls. 涙の色 is a hot Latin track that features a fantastic instrumentation and some nice vocals that support it. The c/w, ダーリン I Love You, features a cool sound with some slight rock sounds hidden that may not make the perfect fit with the girls’ voices but is still an enjoyable song. The instrumentation for both tracks is very strong and if the girls can keep up with them, this style should continue.

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Tohoshinki – Beautiful you / 千年恋歌 [22nd Single]

April 20, 2008 at 5:08 pm (Tohoshinki) (, )

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Tohoshinki’s 22nd single, entitled Beautiful you / 千年恋歌, was released on 04.23.08. 千年恋歌 received a tie-in as the theme for the Korean drama Taioushinjiki.

Beautiful you is a guitar-driven ballad that showcases the mature sound of the boys. The song begins with the instrumentation, which features a spotlight on the guitar. The opening vocals are smooth and Jaejong delivers it strongly. The chorus pops with the opening English line “You’re such a beautitful woman,” which shows the more mature sound the boys have been channeling lately. The chorus stands apart because of the strong vocals that work with the instrumentation to create the perfect atmosphere. The pure instrumental section is nice because it spotlights the true beauty of the music without the vocals. Beautiful you is a nice track that follows the TRICK project, showing that they haven’t lost any steam from their previous releases.

The other A-side, 千年恋歌, is a fantasy-like ballad. The song begins with a beautiful instrumentation that lasts a few second before going into the first verse. The vocals are smooth and compliment the fantasy-like atmosphere that the music creates. The chorus is very enjoyable and the instrumentation does a fantastic job of making the transition. The only problem is that it doesn’t come alive as much as the music directs it to. The final chorus brings more of the spirit of the song through the vocals and the arrangement. The ending instrumentation is beautiful and finishes the song perfectly.

Single Ranking: A –

Tohoshinki’s 22nd single, entitled Beautiful you / 千年恋歌, features two ballads but with different sounds. Beautiful you is centered around the guitar and showcases the more mature sound of the boys that compliments them well. 千年恋歌 is more of a traditional ballad but sounds amazing as the boys give a strong vocal performance that mixes perfectly with the absolutely gorgeous instrumentation.

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Misia – Yes Forever [19th Single]

April 20, 2008 at 5:07 pm (Misia) (, )

Misia’s 19th single, entitled Yes Forever, was released on 04.30.08. This single is the second single in a trilogy of releases to celebrate her 10th anniversary. The title song received a tie-in as the Kose  “Sekkisei” CM song.

Yes Forever is a soft uptempo track. The song begins with an acapella delivery from Misia that shows off her strong vocals and soon the instruments come in to support her, creating a fantasy-like atmosphere. From her smooth vocals to the instrumentation soon after, a relaxing feel is achieved. The chorus is very strong as the instruments combine together and sound beautiful, which work together with Misia’s voice all too well. She then shows off her true skill by adlibbing primarily within the upper range. Yes Forever is a strong song that showcases Misia’s voice and it supported by a beautiful instrumentation to create a soothing and fantastic atmosphere.

A PV was made to promote Yes Forever that works with the fantasy-like atmosphere of the song. It appears to consist of Misia within a planetarium studio underneath a beautiful night sky as she explores the various wonders of space. It’s very simple but it’s a strong visual representation of what the song communicates through its sound.

Single Ranking: A –

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BONNIE PINK – Ring A Bell [Digital Download Single]

April 20, 2008 at 5:05 pm (BONNIE PINK) (, )

BONNIE PINK’s first digital single, entitled Ring A Bell, was released through iTunes on 04.16.08. The song received a tie-in as the theme song for the XBOX 360 Video Game Tales of Vesperia. This version was recorded in English and there is a rumored Japanese version in the works.

Ring A Bell is an enjoyable uptempo song with rock influences. The song begins a strong pop-rock instrumentation followed by a great opening line: “reaching out for no man’s land.” Bonnie sounds great and so at home here that she captures the atmosphere of the song perfectly. The hook features some nice backing vocals from Bonnie as well that is a strong compliment. The chorus features some great vocals as well as lyrics: “I will ring a bell until you feel me by your side.” The third verse features a slightly different instrumentation  that spotlights Bonnie’s vocals and she hits a nice note at the end of the verse. The following pure instrumental section seems to come to a close before coming back to the chorus and its a strong way to put focus on the strength of the chorus. The song ends with a nice guitar riff to put a good close to a perfect song.

Single Ranking: A +

Ring A Bell is one of Bonnie’s strongest songs and putting it as a digital single was a smart move. Her English songs are always strong and Ring A Bell is no exception. Both the lyrics and the powerful sound of the instrumentation combine to make a highly enjoyable track.

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Hirata Kaori – Stylish Star [Debut Single]

April 20, 2008 at 5:03 pm (Hirata Kaori) (, )

Hirata Kaori’s debut single, entitled Stylish Star, was released on 03.05.08. This single features a techno sound, which other artists are beginning to use as well. Kaori has put her own special cuteness on it that makes her stand out.

The title-track, Stylish Star, is a techno-pop song filled with cuteness. The song begins right off the bat with some slightly distorted vocals over a sugary techno-pop beat. The music of the first verse really stands out due to a repeated sound when she finishes a line and her voice sounds cute and at home with the beat with distortion. The chorus sounds nice and cute. The pure instrumental section is somewhat reminiscent of a video-game and really highlights the power of the instrumentation. Although the song is fairly simplistic in terms of vocals, the instrumentation is really strong and makes for an enjoyable combination.

The B-side to the single, FANTASTIC MEMORIES, is a slower techno-pop song. The track opens up with a more mellow instrumentation that begins with distorted music and soon the true music comes in with Kaori’s vocals. The arrangement leads Kaori’s vocals and she follows it perfectly. The chorus is pretty simple but it has an element of cuteness that keeps it enjoyable. The pure instrumental section is really pretty and like Stylish Star, a video-game feeling is awakened that sounds great.

To promote the single, a PV for Stylish Star was made. The video is pretty strange due to the random special effects added to it but Kaori captures the cute vibe perfectly from the outfit to the dancing. Overall a nice but strange PV as it’s pretty simple.

Single Ranking: A –

Hirata Kaori’s debut single features a cute techno-pop sound that many have begun to use as well. Stylish Star is a cute song that features a wonderful instrumentation that is unforgetttable. FANTASTIC MEMORIES picks up where Stylish Star leaves off only with a slower sound that is still very enjoyable. Both songs on the single show the true power of a strong techno instrumentation and Kaori’s style is displayed on both songs even with distorted vocals.

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Morning Musume – Resonant Blue [36th Single]

April 14, 2008 at 5:06 pm (Morning Musume) (, )

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Morning Musume’s 36th single, entitled Resonant Blue, was released on 04.16.08. One of Morning Musume’s strongest singles to date, both tracks on the single are winners. Resonant Blue is amazing, funky and shows a more mature side of the girls both lyrically and stylistically. The c/w, その場面でビビっちゃいけないじゃん!, is a return to that cute and poppy sound but doesn’t sound sappy.

Resonant Blue is one of Morning Musume’s best offerings. The song begins with a funky and poppy instrumentation followed by the chorus which stands apart strongly. The use of English lyrics really pull spotlight to those lyrics such as the beginning of the chorus in which the girls sing “cry, cry, don’t cry.” The arrangement of the verses are interesting as they feature one girl singing primarily and then feature other girls singing a repeated line [i.e. baby, baby]. The hook is also interesting as the girls sing their lines in a cute way that still has that attitude behind it. Following the hook is a little section featuring soft vocals. The repeating “help me” also stands apart due to being surrounded by English lyrics and provides a cool change of pace. The pure instrumental section is really cool since there seems to be somewhat of an Arabian influence looming within the instrumentation. The final “help me” of the song [performed by Sayumi] was nice as it stood apart from the other ones. Overall Resonant Blue is one of the best offerings from Morning Musume and the girls did a great job on it.

The c/w of the single is その場面でビビっちゃいけないじゃん! This song is more in the vein of the traditional cute Morning Musume. An fast and poppy track, the song begins with an excited instrumental. The first verse features some cute vocals that go well with the instrumentation and makes a smooth transition into the chorus, which has a nice arrangement of having vocals and then small sections of instrumentation. While listening to the song, there is a certain carnival-like atmosphere that comes through strong and makes the song even more enjoyable. The guitar solo was really impressive and takes the song in a sligtly different direction as it introduces the pure instrumentation section. Overall the song was great and was definitely more than c/w material.

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 One PV for Resonant Blue were released. The first to be released featured the girls dancing in a dark area. Three of the girls (Tanaka, Takahashi and Koharu) were completely the center of the PV from their different outfits to their constant position in the front of the other girls. That didn’t seem completely fair for the other girls but because they were singing lead in the song, putting them in front of the PV only made sense. The entire video consisted of dancing but the dancing wasn’t as strong as hoped for. It would have been much stronger if the dancing was more uniform and it felt more like a team. Although the train that they did during the pure instrumentation section was the definite highlight of the PV and was really cool.

A later released version of the PV features the girls of Morning Musume in normal routines. The different scenes feature one [or two in some cases] of the girls doing an activity that can be related to a failed relationship [from the lyrics of the song] [i.e. Ai trying to exercise her pain away, Reina trying to walk it off, ]Sayumi and Eri relying on friends to get them through the tough times, etc.]. Although there are some nice shots in this version, the interspersed dance scenes from the dance version seem totally out of place and don’t mesh well with the concept of the new scenes. The shots of the girls staring into the camera is strange as well as it is too long and the emotion doesn’t come across as strongly as it should. The nice bonus of this PV was a new rehearsal scene that worked well. Overall, this PV was pretty forgettable and the dance version was superior.

Another version of the PV [Lesson Studio Version] was also made. This version is very similar to the dance shot as it features the girls in the studio practicing the routine. The key difference between the two versions is that this version features the girls dressed in casual clothes in a casual setting. The good thing about this PV is that it features dancing the entire time so all the moves are revealed (although there really new dance moves). Overall the PV was enjoying but a bit too similar to the dance version (which was superior).

Single Ranking: A

Morning Musume’s 36th single, Resonant Blue c/w その場面でビビっちゃいけないじゃん!, is definitely one to remember. The A-side is a funky uptempo track with slight Arabian influences while その場面でビビっちゃいけないじゃん! is a carnival-like and cute track. Both songs display the girls’ strength and together make one of their best singles to date. Hopefully the future releases will contain this amazing quality.

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aiko – 秘密 [8th Studio Album]

April 13, 2008 at 6:00 pm (aiko) (, )

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aiko’s eighth studio album, 秘密, was released on 04.02.08. The album’s theme is clear from the title and when interviewed, aiko stated that she felt as if she released a secret on each song, showing the personal conection she has this album. Three singles were released previous to the album release: シアワセ, 星のない世界/ 横顔 and 二人.

The album begins with You & Me both, an enjoyable spring-like track. The song begins with an uptempo piano introduction and soon the true instrumentation comes in. There is a blaring of sounds for a moment and then the first verse arrives with an instrumentation consisting of a guitar and piano, which mesh well with aiko’s voice. While the verse begins slow, the chorus brings in more instruments to make it pop and more exciting. aiko shows off her vocal prowess as she effortlessly holds the final note in one of the choruses. The song ends nicely with instrumentation to bring the song to a great close. You & Me both is truly a strong way to introduce the album.

二人, the third single released before the album, follows You & Me both. The song starts off with a soft sound with rock influences that slowly builds up to bring in more of a pop flavor. When the first verse starts, the instruments are pushed to the back to focus on aiko’s vocals and only the strumming of the guitar is heard when she finishes a line. The chorus is poppy and enjoyable as aiko’s vocals mesh well with the music. Overall the song is a nice poppish song with rock flavor that sounds great in accompaniment with aiko’s voice.

学校, a fun and jazzy song, is the third track. The song begins with a very poppy instrumental that is reminiscent of an older style of music that seems to call on a jazzy atmosphere and the modernization comes in with the introduction of other instruments. The first verse features some very relaxing and nice vocals and the hook continues these vocals but sound even better with the slightly different instruments. The chorus is really nice and it shows off aiko’s vocal abilities as she sustains the notes flawlessly. The pure instrumentation section really highlights the jazzy qualities of the song and it sounds great. 学校 is a nice fun song that has a summer feel to it and it finds its home on this album.

Next is キョウモハレ, a wonderful uptempo track. The song begins with a slow gorgeous instrumentation and slightly builds up by the first verse. aiko’s vocals work so well with the music that it comes across perfectly and the emotional presence is clear. She holds the note before the chorus very strongly and shows off her power as a vocalist. The chorus sounds great and although aiko delivers the lines somewhat rapidly, she still makes it sound personal and beautiful. The pure instrumental section highlights the relaxing beauty of the instrumentation. The song ends as strongly as it began, making this song a definite one to remember from this album.

横顔 was one of the two tracks released as a double A-side single before the album. The track begins with an uptempo sound filled with the imagery of hope. The first verse begins and aiko’s vocals blend well with the music and the combination of the two makes for a great summer sound. The chorus stands out for the slight change in the instrumentation and aiko’s vocals still sound great on the song. 横顔 is an enjoyable summer-filled song that captures the season’s essence well with a strong instrumental and great vocals from aiko.

The album’s title track, 秘密, was actually not planned for the original release of the album. However during the process, aiko decided it would be a good fit. The song begins with beautiful piano playing that slowly builds up until aiko’s vocals come in. Her vocals support the music well and keep in perfect harmony with the atmosphere. The new instruments introduced in the chorus and continued in the chorus, make both pop [especially the chorus] and aiko’s vocals sound great here. The decision to include the album was strong since it’s one of the album’s strongest tracks. 秘密 serves as a perfect title-track and it’s definitely a wonderful song to listen to.

ハルとアキ follows the title track as the seventh track. The beginning is so smooth and relaxing with the beat standing out through the instrumentation. aiko’s vocals come in and sound great with the overall feel firstly presented. Soon the instruments come to play a bigger role particularly in the chorus and aiko sounds so at home with the sound. Her vocals are strong but controlled and follow the arrangement of the song by emphasixing certain notes when the music comes to a climax. The pure instrumental section is genius as it spotlights all the instruments that are somewhat pushed to the background throughout the rest of the song. Her ending ad-libs sound great and work well within the context of the song. ハルとアキ is definitely a memorable track that stands out.

Following is 星電話, clearly one of the strongest songs on the entire album. The song opens up with a short but wonderful piano interlude before going into the first verse. The arrangement of the song is interesting is it begins with a soft and sweet sound and then from nowhere, an upbeat sound with slight rock influences is introduced. aiko’s vocals on this song sound great as always and support the music perfectly. The chorus easily stands out the most from this song and aiko’s vocals really show her range as she hits the higher notes with such ease. The section featuring pure instrumentation is such bliss on this song and it highlights the creativity of the track. 星電話 is very enjoyable and is one of aiko’s best efforts.

恋道 is the ninth song on the album. After nice and poppy instrumentation, which also seems to draw on some older music influences, the first verse comes. aiko sounds completely in her element as she sings alongside the music. The chorus is very nice and features some pretty good vocals as well as a cool instrumentation. Overall it’s a nice song although it isn’t as strong as some of the other tracks on the album.

The tenth song is 星のない世界, from the double A-side single released before the album. The song starts off strongly with the instrumentation and there is a very smooth transition into the first verse, which features some controlled but strong vocals from aiko. The first note of the chorus is held out well as are various other notes during the chorus. The song is definitely enjoyable and keeps a consistent sound that the album has.

The first song released as a single for this album’s era is the eleventh track シアワセ. Opening up with a light and springy instrumentation, a peaceful atmosphere is established from the very beginning. The first verse features some consistently great vocals from aiko that work with the music to make an enjoyable listen. The chorus is memorable for its slight change in instrumentation and the delivery of the lines, which are a bit rapid at points and her voice highlights certain notes that the instrumentation does as well. The song is definitely a great start for the album era and it hasn’t lost its touch on the album.

The penultimate song is ウミウサギ. The soft sounds of the piano open up the song and once aiko’s vocals begin the first verse, it sounds as if she’s slightly toning down the vocals to fit with the music. In this case, it was a good move since it supports the music well. However her vocal power is displayed yet again as she sings the chorus strongly and with emotion. In fact, there is even the sound of what appears to be her taking a slight breath after one of the vocals, which really brings home the personal touch. Following is a nice pure instrumental section that showcases the instrumentation. The final note that she holds truly is incredible as it shows she can really draw out certain notes for emphasis. The track is a good penultimate track and sets up the last track to really shine.

約束 is the finishing song of the album. The song opens up quickly with vocals as aiko effortlessly sings her way through. Soon the instrumentation is highlighted before going into the first verse. aiko sounds perfectly at home on the song with good vocals and a nice instrumentation. The song is nice but it may not have been the perfect song to end the album with. However, it does bring the album to a nice finish and maintains the atmosphere of the album.

Album Ranking: A

aiko’s eighth studio album, 秘密,  is definitely a personal and relaxing album. The album is cohesive in terms of its sound but is able to maintain a certain level of diversity. From the strong single tracks such as シアワセ,  星のない世界 and 横顔 to some powerful album tracks such as 星電話 and the title track, 秘密. All the work aiko put into this album definitely shines through crystal clear.

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Shiraishi Kikyo – BLACK [Debut Single]

April 12, 2008 at 9:00 pm (Shiraishi Kikyo) (, )

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Shiraishi Kikyo’s debut single, BLACK, was released on 02.20.08. A newly introduced artist on GIZA Records, she seems to have taken an image somewhat similar to my beloved Koda Kumi. Using a more sexy style and a more urban approach, I hope she has a bright future ahead of her.

The title track and A-side, BLACK, certainly is a booming introduction to Kikyo. The song begins with alarms before going into a little talk-rap delivered smoothly from Kikyo. The first verse features some nice vocals that go well with the music and the hook begins to draw the listener in as she sings “I know…” “You know…” until the chorus arrives. The chorus is easily the most addictive part of the song and it really showcases Kikyo’s vocal strength and it ends powerfully with her singing “oh black!” The little instrumentation section supported by her ad-libbing is great and also shows off the pipes she has. Overall BLACK is an awesome introduction to Kikyo and she sounds great as she performs this track.

STEP UP, the B-side, is a good compliment to BLACK as it begins with a nice and relaxing sound before booming into an edgy beat. The first verse features Kikyo delivering the lines with such a slickness that supports the aggressive and dance atmosphere of the instrumentation. The repeat of “Step Up” in the chorus is a little annoying because it sounds so kiddish but otherwise, her vocals are strong and it makes the song very enjoyable. The third verse sounds great and the following pure instrumentation section spotlights the cool instruments. Interestingly enough, the new instruments are highlighted as she continues to sing before the chorus. STEP UP is a great B-side and compliment to BLACK.

To promote the single a PV for BLACK was released. It’s fairly simplistic as it features Kikyo and her dancers dancing in a dark warehouse and show off some pretty cool moves. In fact, the dancing style is somewhat reminiscent of Koda Kumi and there are some moves that resemble the SHAKE IT PV. The outfits are great and the dancing is great to create a memorable debut video.

Single Ranking: A

Shiraishi Kikyo’s debut single definitely introduces herself in a big way. BLACK is an addictive track that features some amazing vocals, a creative beat and an overall attitude that works with Kikyo’s voice. STEP UP is a wonderful B-side that compliments BLACK so well and shows off her vocal strength. This single is definitely a sign that she is someone to look out for.

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melody. – Lei Aloha [4th Studio Album]

April 12, 2008 at 11:53 am (melody.) (, )

melody,’s fourth studio album, entitled Lei Aloha, was released on 04.09.08. The album release came after only one single 遥花~はるか~, which meant that 13 tracks were brand-new. melody. said that the album theme is “bonds” and it represented who she was when she lived in Hawaii and before she moved to Japan as well as the things and people she cannot live without.

The album opens up with the goregous introductory track Daybreak. The song opens beautifully with the playing of a harp alongside the sound of waves creating a peaceful and relaxing feel. Soon, some smooth vocals come in that compliment the music and show off melody.’s range as they all stay within a higher range. Daybreak is a wonderful introduction to the album as it features some beautiful music and vocals that truly reflect the island theme that the album possesses.

The first song after Daybreak is Say Hello. The song is a sweet and poppy song perfect for spring and the English line “say hello, hello for you and myself” sounds great here. Say Hello is definitely a nice island song that is both uptempo and relaxing.

遥花~はるか~ Eternal Version is the only song released as a single but for the album, it was slightly altered and dubbed the “eternal version.” melody.’s vocals throughout the song are restrained yet confident and they support the music of the song very well. The chorus is when she particularly shines in the vocal area and it makes the song pop. In the context of this album and due to a slightly different arrangement, the song sounds even better than it did when it was released as a single.

Peace Song is the fourth song on the album. It begins with the playing of guitars, which introduces melody.’s voice. She continuously sings in English and she sounds so comfortable that it works for the overall atmosphere of the song. Her voice sounds great and although at some times the notes seem a little strained, she still performs very well on the song. The instrumentation driven by the guitar retains the island feel of the album to make a nice listen. The track is pretty short though, clocking in at just under two minutes but it’s very enjoyable nonetheless.

Never Goodbye is a wonderful track that sounds just like the companion track to 遥花~はるか~.The song opens up with a wonderful instrumental that slows down once the verses start. melody.’s vocals sound great here as they stay more in a lower range but the chorus brings a more bubbly tempo as well as more polished vocals to make it stand out. The third verse features more presence in terms of instrumentation and her voice sounds great. It is followed by an instrumentation that has an underwater feel to it alongside some breahty vocals to create the perfect atmosphere. The song ends strongly with the fading of the vocals and then the fading of instrumentation. Never Goodbye is an excellent track that still keeps the island atmosphere of the album.

A soft and beautiful interlude, Memories In Time, is perfect for this album and really captures an ethereal beauty that stands out.

Next is HORIZON, a gorgeous ballad that shows melody.’s true power as a singer. Beginning with instrumentation, there is a smooth transition into the first verse. The vocals are somewhat echoed which gives a hollow feel that works wonderfully in the context of the song. The chorus in particular stands out for creating a ghostly atmosphere with the instrumentation and melody.’s soft but powerful vocals compliment it beautifully. With the second verse, more of a beat is established, which makes the song build-up as time goes on. HORIZON is a wonderfully-arranged ghostly song that is sung with beautiful vocals to create one of melody.’s best tracks to date.

Track number eight, Kiss away, is an overall nice track. The song begins with a soft and sweet instrumentation before going into the first verse, which features vocals that begin in the lower key and grow with power. The chorus is good and she holds the final note perfectly. The arrangement of the song is interesting as the progressive vocal strength mirrors the introduction of different instruments. Overall Kiss away is a nice track that does seem a little “safe” and “predictable” but it does have a nice relaxing island vibe that works with the song.

Following Kiss away is あなたのそばに, is a relaxing midtempo track. The song opens up with a soft piano chord before crashing into a variety of sounds. This then fades into a midtempo guitar-driven instrumentation supported by melody.’s calm vocals. The chorus re-introduces the variety of instruments and it doesn’t clash too much with the normal music and melody. sounds great [although the instrumentation does down her just a bit]. Overall melody. performed great on this track and it’s a wonderful addition to the album that has great vocals and a nice island instrumentation that is different.

No Return is a nice dance track with sparking sounds that make it cute and still perfect for this album. It’s enjoyable and one of the tracks to watch out for.

Sunset Love is an interlude that begins slowly with a gorgeous instrumentation and melody.’s vocals sound as if they are echoing in the wind. The song presents such imagery with it that it comes across as amazing and the lyrics are completely in English and work well with the precious sound of the interlude. The uplifiting tone of the song is seen within the lyrics “I’ll be there when you fall…” “I’ll be right there beside you…” and makes the interlude all the more enjoyable. It’s an excellent interlude that stands out as being strong.

The twelfth song, Beneath My Skin, is a great ballad. It begins with a beautiful instrumentation that makes a smooth transition into the first verse. The vocals are smooth and compliment the overall relaxing atmosphere of the music. The hook serves as a bridge as new instruments are slowly introduced and the chorus begins with an English lyric that makes it pop. The pure instrumental section really emphasizes the Hawaiin sound and sounds great. The the instrumentation re-introduces the piano sounds before re-diving into the chorus. The song ends with melody. repeating “I promise to be true to you” to finish the song off wonderfully.

The penultimate track, DOOR, is a fine island track. The song begins with a guitar-driven instrumentation that goes into the first verse, which has some nice and poppy vocals. Once again, the chorus opens with an English lyrics “it’s time to open the door,” which draws attention to it. The section where the instrumentation takes the forefront sounds pretty nice although melody.’s vocals are drowned out a bit. Overall DOOR is also a bit predictable and a little boring but it’s “nice.”

Paradise finishes off the album on a good note. The opening vocals sound beautiful and there is a slight echo that works well with music. The chorus is gorgeous as her vocals show her true strength and definitely possess the emotional presence. The second verse introduces some more instruments that melody. keeps up with effortlessly. The somewhat haunting sound of this song is reminiscent of HORIZON, which is definitely a strength. The song’s ending vocals were lovely and ended the song on a perfect note. Paradise was the perfect song to end the album with as it has the Hawaiin feel, great vocals and beautiful music.

Album Ranking: A –

melody.’s 4th studio album, Lei Aloha, is a truly strong album composed of island sounds and beautiful vocals. From the gorgeous introductions / interludes of Daybreak, Memories In Time and Sunset Love to the haunting yet beautiful ballads Paradise and HORIZON, melody. shows versatility while still keeping a concise and cohesive album. Lei Aloha is her strongest work to date and is a good signal for the future.

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Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World [43rd Single]

April 7, 2008 at 7:02 am (Hamasaki Ayumi) (, )

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Hamasaki Ayumi’s 43rd single, entitled Mirrorcle World, was released on 04.09.08. To celebrate her 10th anniversary, Ayu has started off the year right. The title track, Mirrorcle World, is the extended version of Mirror, from her 9th studio album GUILTY and was played during Panasonic FX-35 commercials. The single also includes the B-side entitled Life, which served as accompaniment for music.jp commercials. Two different versions of the single were released, each receiving a CD Only and CD + DVD release. While one edition featured a re-recorded version of her 2nd single YOU, the other featured a re-recorded version of her 5th single DEPEND ON YOU.

Mirrorcle World opens up with a beautiful orchestral opening that creates the beautiful sounds of an opening of a French romantic film. Quickly following is where Mirror began with the first verse. The opening vocals are relatively soft but the note finishing the third line is notably more powerful than it was in Mirror. Transitioning from the softer sound, the vocals are complimented by a rock edge during the chorus that demands attention. Newly added to the song from Mirror after the chorus is a nice guitar riff and a small section that consists of a marching beat. The new second verse features a similar sound to the first but the lyrics come off a lot slicker this time around. Following is a new chorus which is just as powerful and demanding as the first. After the chorus is a crashing guitar solo that melts into a fantasy-like feeling with soft vocals. After this soft atmosphere comes the sound of glass crashing following by some new adlibbing before the final chorus. As an extended version of Mirror, Mirrorcle World is an excellent bridge from GUILTY.

The B-side for the single, Life, has a rock atmosphere that would be perfectly at home on her last studio album GUILTY. The song begins with a highly-rock influenced instrumentation before melting into the soft first verse. There is something behind Ayu’s vocals that is reminiscent of her older works. The hook introduces some new instruments that also channel her old sound as well before diving into the chorus, which is pretty simplistic. The verses certainly stand stronger than the chorus here but the chorus still sounds very nice. The ending ad-libbing shows off Ayu’s truly powerful voice that compliments the rock instrumentation perfectly. Life is a good B-side to the single and while it is not as strong as Mirrorcle World, it’s a very nice song.

Included on one version of the single is the re-recorded version of YOU entitled YOU (10th Anniversary version). On the other version is the re-recorded version of Depend on you entitled Depend on you (10th Anniversary version). Ayu has definitely come a long way from her first album so rereording these two tracks is a perfect way to celebrate the long journey filled with happiness, tears, loss and heart. Her vocals sound great on both recordings but its particularly on the re-recorded version of Depend on you where they shine. Ayu did a great job on both songs and should be proud.

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 The PV for Mirrorcle World was shot in Paris and is one of the best PVs of the year to date. The opening features a group of spies searching for Ayu using technology to communicate. Ayu’s first scene in the video is similar to her walking performance in her (don’t) Leave me alone PV but with longer hair and a beret to compliment it well. This Ayu represents such a state of confidence and strength as she walks. Another scene features Ayu in lingerie, representing her physical side and her body, which she contemplates abandoning [as seen in the lyrics]. With a black background behind her, Ayu wears white feathers on her nails and they are adorned in her hair as well. Represented in only face shots, these scenes represent her mind as she considers all of the various questions that she asks. Wearing a enormous red dress represents Ayu’s mysterious side, signaled as she leaves behind a white handkerchief that one of the spies picks up. The final Ayu is seen locked inside a telephone booth as she confronts the spies. Before Ayu makes her final exit into the car, she delivers a smug smile to the the spies and escapes into the night.

Single Ranking: B +

Ayumi’s 43rd sinle, entitled Mirrorcle World, is the first single after the release of her 9th studio album GUILTY. The title track makes a smooth transition from the last album era by being an extended version of the album’s introductory track, Mirror. The song loses no steam from its predecessor and is definitely one to remember. The B-side, Life, is a nice rock track that shows off Ayu’s vocals. In order to celebrate her 10th anniversary, two songs (YOU and Depend on you) were chosen to be re-recorded and the vocals this time around are even better than before. Ayu looks to have an amazing 10th anniversary if she can keep such quality releases.

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