Buono! – ガチンコでいこう! [4th Single]

September 30, 2008 at 9:27 pm (Buono!) (, )

Buono!’s 4th single, entitled ガチンコでいこう!, was released on 08.20.08. The title track was used as the fourth ending theme for the anime series Shugo Chara!

ガチンコでいこう! is a song quite similar to previous single A-side, Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Opening the song is an upbeat poppish instrumental with rock tints, quite similar to Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! The first verse comes in and the vocals are nice, going with the instrumentation nicely and when the music takes backhand to the girls’ voices, then it’s really enjoyable. The chorus is a little lacking as it doesn’t have that certain spark that Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! and there’s no harmonica to stand out in the instrumentation. There is a certain out-of-this-world quality that comes through the pure instrumental section and it’s a very nice touch. This song is nice but it feels like a watered down version of their last single.

れでぃぱんさぁ is a much stronger song. The song starts off with a more upbeat and sleek instrumental that instantly catches the listener’s ear. On the first verses, the girls sound fantastic here, suiting the more mature sound of the song perfectly. The certain rapidity with which they sing the lyrics really works in the song’s favor and makes it stand out. The chorus is a bit of a let down after such strong verses and had the instrumentation had a little more variety for that section, it would have standed out more. The pure instrumental section is wonderful as the guitar comes out to play strongly. This song definitely should have been the A-side because it’s so much mature and catchy.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ガチンコでいこう! was made. The video features the girls just hanging around doing things such as stacking blocks and throwing darts as well as a dance section worth checking out. It’s not a great video but it matches the happy atmosphere of the song.

Single Ranking: B

Buono!’s fourth single is nice although the A-side from this single sounds like a re-hashed version of Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Had the A-side been れでぃぱんさぁ, the listener could have fallen in love with this single more easily.

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Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! [3rd Single]

September 30, 2008 at 9:27 pm (Buono!) (, )

Buono!’s 3rd single, entitled Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!, was 05.14.08. Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! was used as the third ending theme for the anime series Shugo Chara! while the B-side was used as the second theme for the same anime.

Kiss! Kiss! KIss! is an upbeat happy song. The song starts off with a very pretty upbeat rock instrumental that gives a very hopeful and happy feeling and then the first verse starts. The vocals have a certain cuteness to them that just works with the music and the carefree spirit found in the song’s atmosphere. The chorus is nice as the girls sing a little higher and the instrumentation becomes a little more involved than from the verses. On the second verse, the music takes on a different sound with a traditional feeling. Even the harmonica comes out to play with the girls’ voices. It comes back out on the pure instrumental section and it’s just so interesting and memorable that the listener just falls in love with this part of the song before the hook comes back in.

みんなだいすき, serves as the single’s B-side. The song opens with a catchy and sweet poppish instrumental with rock tints to make it stand out. On the first verse, the girls’ vocals move very well with the music and there’s still thta happy element to the song that catches the listener’s ear. The chorus is a little lacking but it’s cute, which is what they were going for. Sections of pure instrumentation are this song’s strongest points and allow the listener moments of sheer bliss. Overall it’s a step down from the A-side but it’s a nice song.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! was made. The video is pretty simple and cute, featuring the girls as schoolgirls just having fun in the classroom and the halls. It’s certainly colorful and pretty so it’s a nice watch every now and then.

Single Ranking: B +

Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! and みんなだいすき both take on slight rock tints in order to create interesting instrumentals for the listener to enjoy. Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! is the stronger song as the girls’ voices as well as the interesting presence of the instrumentation create an atmosphere that is addictive. The girls’ first single of the year ended on a pretty good note.

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Suzuki Ami – can’t stop the DISCO [30th Single]

September 27, 2008 at 5:08 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

Suzuki Ami’s 30th single, entitled can’t stop the DISCO, was released on 09.24.08. It comes as the second single of Ami’s 10th anniversary and like previous single ONE, it was produced by none other than Yasutaka Nakata. The title track was used in a Mister Donuts CM, promoting the collaborative CD between avex and the Mister Donuts franchise.

While previous single ONE had more of a sexy vibe, can’t stop the DISCO takes on a more cool route that Ami really brings to life. The song starts off with an absolutely addictive instrumental that has an out-of-this-world quality to it, immediately catching the listener’s ear. There is a small hook, consisting of two lines, but it really stands out as the music becomes a little higher. Strangely, that little instrumental change really makes a difference and entices the listener, introducing the chorus perfectly. Following, Ami steps up on the first verse and the low-tone of her voice really works to give the lyrics that kakkoi feeling. The chorus is where the vocal distortion comes in as she sings all in English and it stands out strongly from the rest of the song. Lyrics like “come in to the disco” and “you can’t fool me” really do the song justice and make the chorus just too addictive. The song closes with more fabulous pure instrumentation, which actually makes a flawless transition into the B-side, climb up to the top. can’t stop the DISCO is another fantastic song from Nakata and Ami with its cool vocal qualities and addictive instrumental.

One word to describe the B-side, climb up to the top, is fun. The opening instrumentation takes a cue from the closing music of can’t stop the DISCO. Structually, the song isn’t like her other recent songs in that it isn’t formed as by verse and chorus. That’s because the focus of this song is clearly on the instrumentation and for good reason too since the music here is absolutely sensational. Interestingly enough, the darker atmosphere of the music meshes with the happy vibe of the lyrics. Basically it’s like there are two parts that form a chorus and those two parts are repeated throughout the course of the song. Despite being so simple, it’s actually very addictive. The lyrics are sung all in English with phrases that show the light-hearted energy of the song as she sings “whoop it up, blow one’s top” and “what is you up to? out of control.” Nearing the five minute mark, the song takes on a lighter sound as the instrumentation reaches higher and this makes for a smooth introduction into SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A mix). It’s another great song that makes this single so enjoyable and it’s a huge step up from the previous B-side, A token of love.

In order to promote the single, a PV for can’t stop the DISCO was made. Strangely enough, the video cuts about two minutes from the song so it leaves the viewer wishing there was more. The video is pretty simple as it features Ami wearing a fur jacket and a black and white ensemble and she is consistently seen in yellow circles (these circles function as an “O” when the title of the song is written out on the screen). There is another scene featuring Ami in more colorful clothes in a silvery box and she looks very pretty here (the eye makeup really standing out). The final scene is of Ami dressed in a hoodie with the lights on and off. When the lights go off, Ami’s face is covered with colorful glow-in-the-dark symbols like stars. The video is enjoyable although it definitely would have been nice to see the entire song instead of having an entire two minutes be cut off.

Single Ranking: A +

It’s another single from Ami and Nakata as both songs are absolutely addictive. can’t stop the DISCO has that kakkoi atmosphere that makes the listener fall in love with it. climb up to the top then goes for the more fun sound and it really works well. Following ONE, it keeps up that hot electropop vibe that keeps Ami the reigning queen of electropop.

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Tohoshinki – 주문 (MIROTIC) [4th Korean Album]

September 27, 2008 at 5:08 pm (Tohoshinki) (, )

주문 (MIROTIC), a hot and edgy dance track, serves as the album’s title track. Opening the song is an addictive dance instrumental that immediately catches the listener’s ear. The vocals during the first verse help establish that sexy edginess that the boys are taking on as the image theme and their vocals perfectly follow the beat. During the chorus, the music becomes more aggressive and when they sing “I got you under my skin,” the listener absolutely melts. The various English phrases throughout the song such as “chrome heart” and “red ocean” can be a little hard to decipher but they provide the song with a few moments to pop every now and then. Of course the rap section fits perfectly on this song with that sleek coolness that the song suits perfectly. Next is an absolutely fantastic vocal that blows the listener’s away from the pure power. More of the chorus comes to close the song on a strong way as they sing “I got you under my skin” with a sexy element about it. This is a brilliant song from the boys and definitely one the listener can enjoy as the boys take on that sexy route so strongly.

Up next is Wrong Number, which slows things down a bit while still keeping a dance feel. The song starts off with a very interesting and sleek instrumentation with somewhat of a dark atmosphere that nicely introduces the first verse. The vocals have a nice edge to them that continues that sexy atmosphere that the boys are going for. The chorus is simple as the lyrics are all in English as they say “you’ve got the wrong number.” With only three lines, the listener wants a little more but it fits so nicely with the overall atmosphere of the song that it’s still enjoyable. The vocal power comes out on the third verse, where some of the member show what they can do. The rapping section fits very nicely with the dark atmosphere and makes for a standout section of the song. As Jaejong’s first time rapping, he did a very good job because his voice just moves so well with the music. Although it isn’t as strong as the title track, it’s a nice follow-up worth the listen.

노을..바라보다, the album’s first ballad, follows Wrong Number. A very pretty piano-driven instrumental begins the song and then on the first verse, the vocals portray such emotion that the listener really believes what they are singing. They do some fantastic harmonizing on the chorus and the prettiness of the instrumentation really swells the emotions inside the listener. The emotions are clear; the vocals are strong and the atmosphere established by the instrumentation is beautiful, making this a standout song on the album and another one in a string of strong songs from the boys.

We come back to more upbeat music for the fourth song, CRAZY LOVE. A very slick and cool instrumentation takes the song off and then a sweet edgy pop sound comes through to introduce the first verse. The vocals here ae somewhat distorted in keeping with the music but it works really well and catches the listener’s ear. The chorus is enjoyable as they reach a little higher and the vocals suit the lightness of the music so perfectly. Once again, the boys bring strength, keeping the interest level of the listener high and ready for the next track.

HEY! (Don’t bring me down) maintains that upbeat sound from the last song but in a more aggressive dance way. The opening instrumentation sounds fantastic and then the first verse comes in, complete with sleek and sexy vocals to make the listener melt. During the chorus, the aggression of the instrumental comes full force to match the edginess of the boys’ vocals. There is a nice little hook of repeating “give it away” and it is a very nice fit for the song. One part that really stands out is the pure instrumental section and it’s just so strong that the listener can’t not fall in love with it. HEY! (Don’t bring me down) is one of the best songs the album has to offer so it’s definitely one to listen to.

Going back to the slow songs is 넌 나의 노래. Unfortunately, after a series of great songs, this midtempo number falls a little bit flat. The problem with this song is that the music is nice, the vocals are nice and that’s it: everything is just nice. There’s no clear strong point in the song so the listener just sort of wafts through the three and a half minutes. It would have been better if this song would have been left off of the album.

무지개 nicely raises the interest level as the boys come back to a dance song. A very upbeat poppish instrumental that channels what feels like older sounds begins the song and immediately the listener’s attention is caught. The first verse features some smooth and sexy vocals that go perfectly with the music that go with the whole atmosphere of the album. On the chorus, the lyrics are sung with a certain rapidity and the music just becomes lighter to really give the image of a rainbow. This is another one of the album’s jewels and while it is not as aggressive as some of the other songs, it is still addictive and worth the listen.

Continuing the prettiness is 낙원. It sort of draws on cues from the last track to keep the listener in the same pretty and sweet atmosphere, this time taking the tempo down a little bit to make a midtempo number. The vocals are great again and really move well with the music to make this an enjoyable and catchy song.

악녀 (Are you A Good Girl?) brings the listener back to that hot dance sound that the boys sound so comfortable on. The instrumentation is sleek and aggressive and that aggression is seen predominantly on the chorus, particularly on the fast parts. During the verses, the boys nicely keep that sleekness and sexiness so well that the listener once again can just melt. Surely it’s a standout song as the boys stick to the genre that they can shine so strongly on.

Well Flower Lady was an attempt and a sweet and cute number to finish the album but it’s actually one of the more forgettable songs, if not the most forgettable. The music sort of draws on without ever really coming to one standout point so although the idea was nice, it just wasn’t executed well.

Album Ranking: A –

This is a great album, particularly for the edgy dance tracks such as Mirotic, HEY (Don’t bring me down) and 악녀 (Are you A Good Girl?). On slower and prettier numbers like 무지개 and 낙원. There are few misteps on this album, which makes for an enjoyable process.

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Morning Musume – ペッパー警部 [37th Single]

September 22, 2008 at 5:08 pm (Morning Musume) (, )

Morning Musume’s 37th single, entitled ペッパー警部, was released on 09.24.08. Originally the song was sung by Pink Lady and in order to promote their upcoming cover album. Morning Musume covered the song, ロマンス, the B-side, is also a cover.

ペッパー警部 definitely picks up the energy from the Pink Lady version of the song Morning Musume style. The song starts off with a jazzy lounge sound that entices the listener before the adidctive poppier instrumentation comes in. Soon the girls come in with the chorus and the way that they sing the title of the song really stands out. On the verses, the girls split into pairs to sing the lines and everyone sounds really comfortable with another member. There is a sleekness in the girls’ voices that nicely portrays the lyrical meaning of the song. Reina gets her solo line and delivers it fantastically, Each moment of pure instrumentation is an enjoyable one and provide the song with that little extra spice. Another part that stands out is the dance break with the title of the song being repeated and it offers a nice segue back into the chorus. Closing the song is a little phrase sung by Koharu and there is a certain cuteness about it, leaving a little more pure instrumentation to bring the song to a close.

ロマンス is another great pop song. The song starts off with an upbeat pop instrumental that immediately catches the listener’s ear. Then the cuteness factor comes out on the chorus as the girls’ vocals smoothly moves over the fun pop instrumentation. During the verses, there is a more relaxed feeling as the music becomes less involved and the spotlight goes to the girls’ voices. This is a very nice compliment to the A-side and the girls definitely brought that spark.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ペッパー警部 was made. The video is very simple, featuring the girls dancing in green dresses as they move around so that the two girls singing would be up front. The little dance sequence looks pretty cool and the moves that go back to the original choreography were well executed. Overall not much goes on in the video but it’s a nice watch.

Single Ranking: A

Although both songs on this single are covered, the girls bring their special flavor to both songs to make them their own. The title track is absolutely addictive, definitely a necessity to listen to.

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ayaka x Kobukuro – あなたと [2nd Collaboration Single]

September 22, 2008 at 5:08 pm (ayaka, Kobukuro) (, , )

ayaka and Kobukuro’s 2nd collaborative single, entitled あなたと, was released on 09.24.08. The choice to release the song as a single was made after the request of many fans after hearing the song at a live event. This song was used as the Nissan Cube CM song.

あなたと is a beautiful ballad filled with emotion. The song starts off with a very sweet instrumental that immediately catches the listener’s attention. Soon the first verse begins and Shunsuke is the first to sing. His vocals are strong and carry with the music very well. ayaka then sings and there is a certain delicate element to her voice that sounds so beautiful and makes the listener notice. All three voices go together perfectly on the chorus as they capture the emotional presence of the song so well. Kentaro sounds great on his verse as well and his vocals also are strong and demand attention. On the third verse, all three deliver some great vocalizations before the beautiful pure instrumental section comes in with the spotlight on the saxophone.

In order to promote the single, a PV for あなたと was made. The video is pretty simple as it features the three singers near windows and outside it is raining, which really captures the song’s atmosphere. Once the three hands reach one another, the skies clear up to reveal a gorgeous view with all three singers in front of one window. Although it’s simple, it’s a really good fit for the song and reflects the song’s meaning well.

Single Ranking: A +

ayaka and Kobukuro come back again to make the beautiful song, あなたと and the magic comes back to life. All three voices go well with each other perfectly and because they are such good singers, they carry the emotional presence of this song effortlessly. Once again, they delivered excellence and this one is another one to look out for from these three.

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Tohoshinki – Mirotic [PV Review]

September 21, 2008 at 10:04 pm (Tohoshinki) (, )

In order to promote their upcoming 4th album, entitled Mirotic, Tohoshinki (TVXQ in Korea) released a video for Mirotic. Fitting with the image of their new album, the video shows the boys sexy side to make one eye-catching and interesting video.

The video opens with the boys walking into a dark and cold place where they are soon captured by an evil woman, dressed in all red. The rest of the video features each member struggling in their respective area (for example, Jaejong being trapped as he tied on a wall). Other traps include green lasers and even a large crystal that entraps one of the members (this actually fits in with the lyrics of the song). Seperate from those images is the dancing in which the boys really bring that sexiness. The boys’ shirts are almost completely undone so that the audience can see the bare chests of them (Jaejong is actually wearing a black jacket without a shirt so his chest is exposed more. Anyway, the dancing looks great and they really seem to be into it, which makes an enjoyable watch. If you want to see hot guys doing some great dancing then this video is for you.

PV Ranking: A

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Kawashima Ai – カケラ / Flag [16th Single]

September 21, 2008 at 1:29 am (Kawashima Ai) (, )

Ai Kawashima’s 16th single, entitled カケラ / Flag, was released on 08.20.08. The B-side was used as the theme song for Sagano Yubinkyoku Monogatari.

カケラ is a sweet slow pop song. The song starts off with a very pretty piano instrumental and soon Ai comes in with smooth vocals to lull the listener into a very relaxing mode. The chorus really stands out as Ai gives more power in her voice, also portraying the emotions more strongly while the music remains pretty and dreamy. During the pure instrumental section, the music takes off to really solidify that magical feeling that makes the song so enjoyable to listen to. Overall this is a wonderful song that Ai brings to life through great vocals.

Flag takes on more of a light pop sound. Opening the song is a sweet and light-hearted instrumental that immediately catches the listener’s attention. The first verse follows and once again, there is a certain relaxing element about the song that comes out as Ai’s smooth vocals fly over the music. Things pick up a little on the chorus as the instrumentation becomes more varied and her vocals remain on their sweet way. It would have been nice if this song had a pure instrumental section because the music is so enjoyable. It’s a very nice compliment to the other A-side and it’s one to listen to.

太陽電車 is the single’s B-side. Interestingly enough the song draws on both songs to make a nice number. With the slower sound of カケラ and the happy atmosphere of Flag, Ai gets a nice song. Although it’s the weakest song on the single, it’s still worth the listen every now and then.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made: one for each A-side. The video for カケラ is extremely simple, featuring Ai just standing in a room as well as scenes of others singing the songs as well. There was another PV made for Flag but it’s only a short version and this video is very colorful but doesn’t even have Ai in it. Honestly, neither video is nothing worth watching.

Single Ranking: A –

Both A-sides are enjoyable as カケラ is a slow and relaxing pop song and Flag picks up the happy energy. Ai’s vocals on both songs are excellent compliments to the music, which makes for an enjoyable single.

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Shibata Jun – 愛をする人 [17th Single]

September 19, 2008 at 11:51 pm (Shibata Jun) (, )

Shibata Jun’s 17th single, entitled 愛をする人, was released 09.17.08. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Orochi.

愛をする人 is an emotional ballad. The song starts off with the first verse and the first note sounds really strange because it’s so deep in contrast with the prettiness of the music. Soon her voice sounds more controlled and prettier, capturing the emotions of the song very well. One problem about the song is that it is hard to tell where the chorus is and thus as the listener follows, it is hard to find that one spot that they can always return to. Her voice is so pretty and the instrumentation is nice but the combination of the two doesn’t create that magical spark.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 愛をする人 was made. The video takes influence from the covers to make a pretty uninteresting video.

Single Ranking: B –

愛をする人 is definitely not a bad song but it doesn’t connect with the listener as strongly as hoped. Her voice is great and the music is nice as well but there is a gap blocking the two from coming together to make a really strong song.

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Angela Aki – 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~ [8th Single]

September 19, 2008 at 11:29 pm (Angela Aki) (, )

Angela Aki’s 8th single, entitled  手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ,~ was released on 09.17.08. The title track was used as the theme song for the new season of music program Minna no Uta and the image song for Japan’s 75th nationwide school singing contest hosted by NHK.

 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~ is a piano ballad with beautiful lyrics. The song starts with the piano that nicely moves into the first verse. Her vocals carry a smoothness to them but it’s hard to really catch the atmosphere of the song right away. On the chorus, it appears to the listener and there is something so beautiful about Angela’s voice here that immediately stands out and becomes the best part of the song. It’s an enjoyable song that shows off Angela’s vocals over a very pretty instrumentation.

The first B-side is Final Destination. Opening the song is a nice midtempo piano driven instrumentation and then the first verse begins. Angela’s voice sounds very nice here, complimenting the sweetness of the simple music perfectly. As the verse goes on, the instrumentation becomes more complex and it provides the listener with a feeling of progression. The chorus is nice as she gives a little more power behind her vocals and she hits the momentary higher notes very well. The third verse sounds a bit disjointed with the repetition of “driving forward to my final destination” and honestly, it gets a little annoying.” Nonetheless, Final Destination is a very enjoyable song and it’s a nice compliment to this single.

Still Fighting It is a cover of the Ben Folds song of the same name. The song opens up with a nice and relaxing midtempo piano driven instrumental. Angela’s voice is really pretty here, almost carrying some fragile elements while still maintaining perfect clarity. Strangely enough, her voice sounds a little different at points during the chorus as the piano serves as a way of clearly indicating the beat. It’s a pretty simple and natural song and it’s another enjoyable song with the verses being the strongest part as well as Angela’s vocals, which are nicely spotlighted here.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~ was made. The video is really simple as it features Angela playing her piano along with intercut scenes of other people, which really displays the song’s emotion. It’s not a particularly engaging video but it fits with a certain naturalness that is Angela Aki.

Single Ranking: A –

With all three songs relying on the piano to drive the instrumentation, Angela manages to shine on each one. Her voice brings a different flavor to all three, which makes this an enjoyable single from start to finish.

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