Koda Kumi – TRICK [7th Studio Album]

February 7, 2009 at 11:43 pm (Koda Kumi) (, )

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Koda Kumi’s 7th studio album, entitled TRICK, was released on 01.28.09. Kumi explores various sounds with this album, centering around the theme of a show. The album comes after previously released singles MOON, TABOO and stay with me.

Kumi’s albums always start off with a bang and TRICK is no different with the aptly titled INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK. The introduction really establishes the whole show theme as it begins with the performers getting ready for the show. A man quickly rushes them onto the stage as he says “ladies, what are you doing, let’s go!” As they get ready, you can hear Kumi say “ladies, you look fabulous” and after the announcer introduces them to the crowd, the song comes in full effect. The music is additively aggressive and Kumi’s vocals support it wonderfully, particularly on the “party people bounce.” The song is a combination of English and Japanese and the one part repeats twice before a few final repeats of “trick.” Once again, Kumi delivers an extremely solid introductory track and it emerges as one of the most memorable numbers on the album.

Keeping the energy from the introduction comes the first full track, TABOO. The song starts off with Kumi saying a few English lines that introduce the whole atmosphere of the song nicely: “baby come with me I’m a show you something you’ve never seen before.” Then a little sequence of pure instrumentation follows that carries an addictive dance beat before she goes into the first verse. Her vocals are smooth and keep the sexual vibe of the song flowing through the listener’s ears. All of the English phrases of the verses also pop nicely such as “escape” and “drive away.” The chorus features a more involved instrumentation and the vocals help this section stick out from the rest of the song. She also gives a little more vocal attitude and strength in the third verse, which precedes a nice instrumental breakdown. TABOO was an absolutely fantastic track when it was released as a single and it hasn’t lost any of its steam on its current position.

trickiishow girl was chosen to promote the album and it makes sense as it returns to the show theme. Opening the song is a fun instrumentation that soon turns into a good dance beat after Kumi says “break it down now.” There are some backing vocals and some talking on Kumi’s part while the instrumentation runs through and this part nicely captures the show element as well. Her vocals on the verses are very enjoyable and portray the whole energy of the song and what makes the verses memorable are the English phrases such as “follow me” and “hurry up.” The chorus takes on a slightly different sound with more of a cute and fun atmosphere. This is achieved as the instrumentation becomes lighter and Kumi reaches higher with her notes, holding them with strength. The “I’m a show girl” is the focal point of the chorus and having it be the final line was definitely a strong idea. On the third verse, she sings various fashion points in katakana before a very cool-sounding second half. Furthering the show theme is the ending instrumental section which sounds like it actually belongs in a circus show. It’s kind of surprising to hear that very last “thank you” but it fits as she is closing out the show. show girl is a very enjoyable song and a true album highlight.

Your Love is the first song of few songs to take on a cute vibe. The song begins with a very natural and calming midtempo instrumental, highlighted by the piano alongside some vocalizing from Kumi. On the verses, Kumi’s vocals are very sweet and portray a lot of emotion and the last two lines right before the chorus feature a more grand instrumental to really catch the listener’s ear. She really brings out the cuteness on the chorus with English phrases like “Baby, thank you for your love” and “baby, nobody but you.” The third verse is amazing with the slight instrumental change because it enhances the prettiness and the last English phrase, “baby, nothing can defeat love” is so representative of what the song is all about. Your Love does a great job of slowing down the pace while still maintaining the listener’s attention.

Following the slow pace is the gorgeous winter ballad, stay with me. A very pretty instrumental, very appropriate for the time of year, begins the song and there’s something very magical established. Then comes the first verse and Kumi’s vocals carry so much emotion that the listener can’t help but be overcome by them. The English phrase “I remember you with all your smile” is really reflective of the nostalgia that is the message of the song. What makes the song so memorable however is the chorus as Kumi brings even more vocal strength and emotion. That final line “stay with me” is sung with a fragileness that really stands out. The pure instrumental section following the second verse is absolutely brilliant and a real standout part of the song and it introduces the grandeur of the third verse perfectly. She finishes the song off with the chorus and a little more pure instrumentation for a perfect close. stay with me is absolutely amazing and definitely one of the album’s jewels.

Kumi comes back to the hot upbeat tracks with the very aptly titled, This is not a love song. The song starts off with trickiiiattitude as she says “don’t sing along because it’s not a love song” and suddenly, a hot dark instrumental comes through, entrancing the listener. Kumi’s vocals on the verses are sleek and smooth, carrying a certain sexual atmosphere to them to fits with the music. The small hook features some vocalizations and the English name “Maria.” The chorus brings us back to the attitude of the song. She sings “I need a love song” and there is a slight desperation in that line that soon comes to anger and a disregard for the feeling as she continues until “this is not a love song.” Easily the most impressive part of the song is the little breakdown before the final chorus. She softly sings “this is not a love song” before belting out the same line with power and emotion. This is not a love song is absolutely fantastic and shows Kumi taking on a new sound and working it.

Driving shows Kumi trying out a new electric sound. A man starts the song off by saying “back off” before a very cool and different instrumental comes in, catching the listener’s ear. On the first verse, Kumi sounds very comfortable and manages to show off her vocals without belting out. The last two lines have a very cool and calculated feel to it as she sings. The chorus features a much more involved instrumentation to make it stand out and there’s something about it that is slightly reminiscent of GIRL NEXT DOOR. Even more new and interesting instrumentation comes out on the pure instrumental section and there is a very video-game like atmosphere to it. The song finishes with the sound of a car driving off to really solidify the atmosphere of the song. For tying in techno and electronic sounds, Driving shows Kumi’s willingness to experiment with different sounds even if it’s not as strong as some of the album offerings.

Kumi teams up with AK-69 for the addictive and harmlessly materialistic Bling Bling Bling. The song begins with the chorus and Kumi sings it with such a fun personality that it really catches the listener’s ear. English phrases like “baby all I want is that bling bling bling” and the laugh at the end make this section stand out strongly. She continues that on the verses with more personality and without a doubt, one of the best lines of the entire song is “all that money money money make it to cash” because Kumi sings it so cheekingly. The hook features a darker sound that is somewhat reminiscent of Under from previous album, Kingdom. After a repeating of “blinga linga linga linga linga,” Ak-69 comes in for his rap section and he really brings more attitude to the song and all the English is a nice touch. Bling Bling Bling is definitely an album jewel and stands out as it shows Kumi tackling hip-hop sounds, albeit lightly, but with absolute fun.

Both collaborations are grouped together as Fergie joins Kumi for That Ain’t Cool. The song starts off with the chorus with Fergie having a more prominent vocal presence although you can hear Kuu if you listen closely. Fergie has her turn on the first verse and she really portrays the attitude of the song through her lyrics such as “when you hurt me, you really hurt yourself.” The hook features one line sung repeatedly “what you gonna do about it?” again with Fergie having the louder vocals. Kumi then has her turn on the second verse and she sticks mainly to English with a few Japanese phrases thrown here and there. Her first line “did you really think I was really that easy?” shows her ability to bring attitude to the track. This is a pretty simple song and Fergie definitely got more of her fair share on the song and it’s an enjoyable addition to the album.

kumitrickivKumi explores the sounds of rock on the addictive fast-paced Hurry Up! The song starts off with Kumi saying a few lines over the cool rock-influenced instrumentation in English that excite the listener such as “let me give it to you all night” and “come on party people all night.” She then dives into the first verse and her vocals here perfectly capture that coolness and the electric guitar really gets the chance to shine. Soon the instrumentation becomes more diverse and Kumi steps up a little vocally to make for a perfect introduction to the chorus. The repeating English phrases such as “get away boy” and “not anymore” really spice up the song and that final “tell me” lingers on the listener’s mind. Following the second chorus is a line with a very different sounding instrumentation that has an almost angelic feeling, which nicely contrasts with the following line supported by more rock instrumentation. Then Kumi busts into a rap section and her voice sounds so cool and brings so much attitude that it really stands out. After a few more lines, the pure instrumentation section comes in and the listener gets another chance to really hear the music on another level. Hurry Up! is an album jewel as Kumi strongly embraces the sounds of rock again to produce a memorable number.

Things then slow down for the emotional and sorrowful ballad, Moon Crying. The piano opens up the song on a strong note and immediately, the emotions of the song come rushing into the listener’s heart. These are only amplified when Kumi sings the first verse. Her vocals are so fragile and perfectly communicate the emotions of the song. Soon, the piano becomes slightly more powerful to signal a change for the chorus. Kumi’s vocals are wonderful here and the element of magic really comes out. That magic comes out even more strongly on the pure instrumental section following the second chorus, really bringing out the tears in the listener. That final line is sung with such emotion that it is only fitting for the ending of the song. This song definitely is memorable and although not as strong as stay with me, it’s one Kumi should be proud of.

Even though there aren’t that many cute songs on the album, Kumi definitely had to have a couple and she brought the very best with the adorable JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. The song centers around the theme of friendship and was the perfect choice to promote the album. Opening the song is a very sweet poppy instrumental that will make the listener just want to smile as the atmosphere becomes crystal clear. Her vocals are cute and there’s something very natural and endearing about them that stand out the listener. The chorus is definitely the best part of the song because of the English phrases “I like you, you are my best friend” and “I like you just the way you are” since they really are representative of the song’s message. The third verse is sung with great vocals and it’s a real standout part of the song. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE is an amazing song and listening to it will make the listener think about memories with the friends.

Quite reminiscent of WIND from BEST ~second session~ comes the next track, Joyful. She starts the song off on a trickvhappy note as she sings “and joyful, joyful la la la la la” to make the listener pay attention. The use of the electric guitar really connected the track to WIND but it manages to stay unique. On the verses, there is a very relaxing and natural atmosphere that the listener can enjoy and as it goes on, it reaches the point when the instrumentation becomes slightly more varied in time to introduce the chorus. Her vocals are very enjoyable and carry a certain element of hope to them and it sounds great when she reaches high. The pure instrumental section is nice in that it starts off with the very simple sounds of the acoustic guitar before diving into another level with the electric guitar. Joyful is a very enjoyable cute number that keeps the listener feeling a sense of hope for the future.

愛のことば is the final song available on the CD Only version and the semifinale for the CD + 2 DVD version. The piano starts the song off and there is a nice atmosphere established here before Kumi comes in with the first verse. Her vocals are pretty good here although there is just something that doesn’t come across as first. It slowly trickles in as the violins really show a magical feeling arising. Then comes the chorus and she shows off her vocal chops as she delivers more emotion, particularly on that last phrase. The pure instrumental section is a little lacking and it probbaly would have been nicer without the backing vocals. Overall, this song was the weakest song on the album but it wasn’t too bad.

Kumi’s cover of Venus is included as the bonus track on the CD + 2 DVD version. Kumi brings so much life and personality into the song that it actually ends up being an album gem. Her pronounciation is pretty good since it’s very easy to understand what she sings almost the whole way through. The best part of the song is the chorus, particularly the “she’s got it” line since Kumi sings it so perfectly. Although a full version of Introduction For Kingdom would have amazing (like what was rumored), the inclusion of Venus was a pretty good choice too.

Album Ranking: A +

TRICK was a fantastic album from start to finish. The whole show theme guaranteed a lot of great upbeat tracks and she sure delivered. Just listen to the introduction and you’ll see just how strong she brought it. This is not a love song, Bling Bling Bling, TABOO, Hurry Up! and show girl are all addictive dance numbers that will keep the listener entranced. It’s all smiles on the cuter numbers Your Love, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE and Joyful. And of course she delivers the overflowing emotions on stay with me and Moon Crying. Overall, TRICK was perfect and it shows that Kumi’s albums are consistently full of amazing material.

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4 Comments

  1. Karen said,

    TRICK’s so much waay better than Kingdom for sure ! I was quite disappointed in Kingdom but it’s so great to see her stepping up her game or 2 musically in her new release !

    definitely a good album to start off 2009 =D

  2. amaiyume said,

    I think both albums were amazing. The thing I appreciate about TRICK is that she tried out different sounds and the whole album really came together. Plus it’s generally upbeat, which wins points with me 🙂

  3. Karen said,

    it’s & you can tell she ventured into genres that she never tried before such as electropop , synth & dance which pretty much worked in her favor

    kinda sucks that sales wise it’s not doing as good as expected 😦

  4. amaiyume said,

    yep yep, Driving is actually growing on me so I’m glad she tried out a new sound on that. And songs like show girl and Hurry Up! are also nice ventures into new sounds which have me addicted 🙂

    It makes me kinda mad the album isn’t doing as well because I feel like it’s definitely a quality release and it deserves good sales. But then again, not many people can achieve great numbers these days so I guess we should be happy it’s doing well compared to a lot of other artists 😦

    The only people who can really sell these days are…well…EXILE

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