Hamasaki Ayumi – Rule / Sparkle [45th Single]

February 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm (Hamasaki Ayumi) (, )

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Hamasaki Ayumi’s 45th single, entitled Rule / Sparkle, was released on 02.25.09. Rule was used as the theme song for DRAGONBALL Evolution, a live action movie adaptation of the popular manga and anime series while Sparkle was used as the CM song for Honda ZEST SPARK.

Rule is a fantastic rock song that allows the listener to really enter another world. The song begins with a rock instrumental that immediately catches the listener’s attention as there is a certain darkness to it that stands out. She then comes crashing in with the chorus and she delivers some powerful vocals to match the strong instrumental. Ayu shows a very cool confidence on the verses and that really is communicated to the listener, further establishing a clear atmosphere. On the last line of the verse, there is a slight instrumental change and although not very big, it makes a difference and sounds amazing. The hook features a much lighter sound and more delicate vocals from Ayu before re-introducing the chorus with a bang, both instrumentally and vocally as Ayu holds that last note wonderfully. Following the second chorus is the pure instrumental section and here, the listener can really pick up on the clear dance beats of the song. At the end of the song, Ayu shows off those great vocals as she belts out one strong note. It doesn’t last very long but there’s something entrancing about it. Rule is the perfect continuation of a long line of addictive Ayu rock songs so it’s choice to be the leading A-side is no surprise.

Sparkle is a wonderful contrast to Rule as it explores a more techno and trance sounding instrumentation, letting Ayu explore some new sounds. That opening sound is so strange but it really does introduce the general atmosphere of the song well. Then the dark trance instrumentation comes in and Ayu comes through with the first verse. Her vocals are so cool and sleek here that the listener can’ t help but fall in love with them. The chorus is absolutely addictive as Ayu steps up a little vocally and that final “no no no” will definitely linger on the listener’s mind. One noteable hing about this song is that the lyrics are quite sexually charged and have even been described as “ero” by some. It’s always nice to see Ayu change up lyrical themes and she managed to do that while still keeping that Ayu touch. Sparkle is definitely an interesting song as Ayu tries out something new and finds success.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Rule was made. Fitting with the theme of it’s tie-in, the PV feaures ninja battling and Ayu looking badass. The video starts off with Ayu entering the dojo and her walk is wonderful here, giving that kind of diva edge that only Ayu could bring (especially before the 2nd line when she flips her hair back). On the first verse, she proceeds to walk by various ninjas (the leading ones played by her dancers) and uses her magic stick to crack their mouth constraints. During the hooks, Ayu is seen in front of a silver background with matching globes and just looking pretty. It also resembles something expected from a jewlery commercial minus the jewelry. Even though it’s simple, my favorite scene of the video is during the second verse. Ayu is just sitting in a room as she sings the lyrics. She looks so great here and that shot that goes farther from her as she holds the last note is a nice touch. During the final choruses, Ayu shows us that she’s still got some dance moves in her as she and the ninjas all perform some great dancing. It’s always great to see Ayu dancing and this set of moves really fit with the overall theme of the song. The video ends with the bird magically breaking the lock of the dojo and flying away. It was a very impressive video although it would have been nice to see a video for Sparkle as well.

Single Ranking: A +

I had no idea that Ayu would deliver such amazing songs after her previous fantastic single, GREEN / Days. In fact, she outdid herself as both Rule and Sparkle are extremely memorable songs. Rule is a powerful rock song with those danceable influences that stand out while Sparkle lets Ayu enter the world of trance to deliver a sleek and sexy number. If NEXT LEVEL will take cues from these four songs, then Ayu is going to be bringing one of the best albums of the year for sure.

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9 Comments

  1. Karen said,

    I echo the same sentiments as you Kevin . I’m still sore that Sparkle didn’t get a PV , I think it should have 😦

    It’s said that she will be making 2 more PVs for NEXT LEVEL , including 1 of the same title . Hopefully the other one will be Sparkle ? although I seriously doubt it , sigh 😦

  2. Karen said,

    Ditto on that Kevin & I’m still sore that Sparkle didn’t get a PV of its own , it should have man 😦

    I really thought she wasn’t able to top things up after Mirrorcle World & Days / GREEN but she has proven me wrong

    I hope this means NEXT LEVEL will be even better & bigger than GUILTY πŸ˜€

  3. Karen said,

    awesome awesome awesome single . I just love Sparkle super big time & Rule’s just epic

    Too bad the covers of the single is saying something otherwise ;p . I hope NEXT LEVEL will be awesome , I have a feeling it will be

  4. amaiyume said,

    hahaha, the covers aren’t that bad XD

    NEXT LEVEL should be amazing judging from the singles. I love four songs a lot and Ayu is really bringing the quality with each one!!! Now I can’t wait to get my hands on that album!!

  5. Karen said,

    The covers don’t really capture the essence of the single , I thought it might be something dark given how both songs sound like

    guess not

  6. amaiyume said,

    I can agree with you there. Both songs have that dark element to them but Rule does have that edge that the covers portray right? πŸ˜›

    Hopefully the covers for NEXT LEVEL will be better though

  7. bucebucethecaboose said,

    I flat out did not enjoy Rule at all xD and Sparkle was so disappointing D: I feel as though this single didn’t deliver much than an unoriginal rock song and an electronica song that tried to sound catchy.

    But the remix and Orchestra version of GREEN is so good omg ❀

  8. Karen said,

    ayumi off topic here & Kevin I realised you haven’t reviewed alan’s Gunjou no Tani . Did you forgot to do so ?! @_@

  9. amaiyume said,

    oh I’m just doing my wait until the album comes out thing. Basically I’ve avoided listening to Gunjou no Tani until I get my copy of the album so I’ll have an extra new track πŸ™‚

    It’s the same thing I’ve done with Kuu’s last 2 albums. So once I get my copy, I’ll do a review of the single and then the album. I’ve heard lots of good things about it though so I’m REALLY looking forward to it

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