Berryz Koubou – 青春バースグイド / ライバル [20th Single]

May 31, 2009 at 12:03 am (Berryz Koubou) (, )

Seishun

Berryz Koubou’s 20th single, entitled 青春バースグイド / ライバル, was released on 06.03.09. 青春バースグイド was used as the ending theme for the anime series Inazuma 11.

青春バースグイド is a fantastic upbeat song with a mature feel to it. Beginning the song is a very pretty sound that takes the listener into another world. The the girls come in for the chorus and they really shine as their vocals come together and form a collective energy that attracts the listener. On the verses, the music stays cool in the back while the girls switch off singing. Everyone sounds great and carries that sweetness that makes them irresistible. Of course, the pure instrumental section stands strong, spotlighting the mature atmosphere of the song for everyone to enjoy. This is definitely a nice change for Berryz and more mature songs are welcomed from them in the future.

ライバル is a cute track that goes back to the group’s older sound. The song opens up with a cool rock instrumental and then a few vocalizations from Berryz come in. Following is the chorus and it has a cute feeling to it that seems a little strange for the girls considering the recent mature songs they’ve had. It gets a little better on the verses because of the rapidity they sing with. It pumps a little interest into the song. The chorus is nice too although it does fall a little too close on the cute side. It’s a nice song but it’s nicer to hear Berryz deliver those mature songs.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made: one PV for 青春バースグイド and the other for ライバル The 青春バースグイド PV features the Berryz girls on a field trip with Ooe Mariko as the youth bus guide. They all have fallen for her and are dazzled by her presence. It’s kind of cute and a very nice concept, fitting perfectly with the lyrics. There are also dance sequences included but the dancing could have been stronger or more intricate. Also included are close-up shots. It’s a pretty good video and it fits with the song very well. The video for ライバル is very cute, just like the song and features the girls dancing and having fun in a bright colorful room.

Single Ranking: A –

Berryz continually brings the hotness with 青春バースグイド. It’s a magnificent dance track with a mature vibe for everyone to enjoy. With the other A-side, they go for the cute sound. Although it doesn’t sound as good, it’s a nice balance for the single.

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Tiana Xiao – 悲しい嘘 [3rd Single]

May 30, 2009 at 11:50 pm (Tiana Xiao) (, )

TianaXiaoUso

Tiana Xiao’s 3rd single, entitled 悲しい嘘, was released on 05.20.09.

悲しい嘘 is a nice mellow track. The song begins with a nice and cool instrumental, highlighted by the sounds of the guitar. Tiana opens up with “hey boy, there is just something I wnat you to know, so just listen,” which invites the listener on the journey of the story. Her vocals are nice and smooth, having a sort of natural quality which is touching. She then embarks on the chorus, singing “I can’t be with you” and you can feel the emotion in her voice. She really hits those higher notes nicely too. It’s a very enjoyable song that one can sit down to and feel relaxed.

The first B-side is Promise. It’s such a relaxing and sweet song because Tiana’s vocals are calming and have a lullaby effect to them. The listener can really get into a dreamy state while listening to this song so she gets points for that. The style of the song is very reminiscent of Jyongri and Tiana adapts to it wonderfully.

The same can be said for the second B-side, You’re My Heart. There is a kind of magical feeling that the song has, which is nice to listen to. However, it would have been even more enjoyable if the song before didn’t sound so similar. Nonetheless, it’s a nice song.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 悲しい嘘 was made. Honestly, the animated eggs felt so random and out of place. Without them, it would have been a pretty normal video fitting with the theme of the song. Although they’re not that big of a deal, they are just a little annoying.

Single Ranking: B +

It’s nice that Tiana Xiao made her return to music with such a pleasant single. Her vocals were lovely throughout all three songs and the instrumentation actually makes it a very connected package. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of her in the future.

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Angela Aki – ANSWER [3rd Studio Album]

May 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm (Angela Aki) (, )

answer

Angela Aki’s 3rd studio album, entitled ANSWER, was released on 02.25.09. Only one single, 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ,~ was released before the album.

The album begins with the strings version of 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ,~ released as a single before the album. The song opens up with the piano, which starts things off very nicely and immediately draws the emotions together for Angela to come in on. Her vocals on the first verse are nice, carrying those emotions although at points it sounds like her voice is slightly strained. Luckily she sounds stronger on the chorus and the strings actually work very well with the piano and enhances the sound of fragility that makes the song enjoyable.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, a cover of the Bob Dylan song, is the next track. Opening the song is the piano and there is a slightly dark atmosphere to it, which stands out although it doesn’t manage to capture the listeners’ ears as strongly as the opneing instrumental of the previous track. She sounds good on the first verse and on the chorus but that is as far as it goes. Nothing about this song really stands out and the emotions don’t come out strongly enough to truly make an impact.

ANSWER, the title track, is the following song. The song begins yet again with the piano but the other instruments give it almost a slight rock feeling and that makes it stand out a little from the previous songs. The way that she sings the words on the first verse makes them sound awkward and it feels like she’s trying to hard enunciate. She sounds much better on the chorus as she sings with some rapidity and the backing vocals give a very relaxing feel. It ends rather nicely when she sings “you are my answer.” Besides the chorus, this song isn’t very memorable but it does do a better job than the last track at bringing impact.

Things slow down with the next song, Somebody Stop Me. A feeling of sadness takes from that opening piano instrumental and it smoothly introduces Angela. She sounds great on the first verse, her vocals remaining controlled and gentle enough to reveal a true fragility. When she moves into the deeper vocals, it actually doesn’t sound strange at all and it manages to serve as a interesting contrast against her usual vocals. This is seen on the chorus, which comes out as the best part of the song. After a few lacking tracks, Angela steps it up with Somebody Stop Me.

ダリア is quite a long song, clocking in at almost 8 minutes. When a song is that long, it has to some appeal to it that makes it bearable to sit through and listen. Unfortunately, Angela dropped the ball on this one and it just feels boring. It drags on and leaves the listener waiting for the end.

What makes Final Destination stand out is its cheerier and more hopeful atmosphere. It’s about moving forward past the obstacles in order to reach our final destinations, whatever those might be. That’s a good message and the music isn’t that bad either. It could have been a little more memorable musically and has that “Angela Aki sound” but it’s enjoyable for what it is.

Our Story is the next song. Angela steps up the piano for the opening instrumental and from this part, it feels like the song could go either way: cheerful or sad. Then comes the first verse and her vocals sound awkward and she kind of loses that sweetness in her voice that makes her songs memorable. The chorus is a little better for the music but the constant repetition of “our story” gets annoying quickly. She also sings “continued” very strangely because the pronounciation sounds awkward. It’s an okay song but could have been stronger.

黄昏 sticks to the formula of Angela and a piano but it actually doesn’t sound as generic as one might think. Angela provides some nice vocals and the music is prettyso the listener can at least enjoy.

It’s another cover, this time of Bob Scaggs’ song, We’re All Alone. If you’re looking for something new and interesting from Angela then look past this song because it’s just another piano ballad that doesn’t sound particularly different from the other tracks on the album.

リフレクション is just a upbeat and poppy mess. It’s not that Angela can’t do upbeat songs but somehow the genuine factor is lost in her vocals when she attempts to do them. It just doesn’t sound particularly believable and leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, this song is a prime reflection of that and she would have been better off leaving this song off the album.

レクイエム ma be over 10 minutes long but it does a much better job at keeping the attention of the listener. The instrumentation is actually pretty interesting, allowing the listener to fall into the dreamy state of the song.

Angela teams up with Ben Folds for the semifinale, Black Glasses. Honestly, this track is extremely forgettable. Ben got pushed back to the background and Angela just sounds awkward, particularly when she sings “black glasses.” It sounds like she’s talking her way through the song and did not put any emotions into the song at all. It was a mistake having this song on the album.

Closing the album is ファイター. Well it may not be the most complicated or interesting song but it does take a nice hopeful atmosphere and that’s a nice way to finish off the album. If only it was a more enjoyable song…

Album Ranking: D +

Angela Aki’s album honestly felt like one song reworked for 13 slightly different songs. It’s understandable that she enjoys playing the piano and would want to include it in her music but must she insist on using it in every single song? Her vocals were quite shaky at various points on the album and sometimes it just came off as messy. Truthfully, it was boring and the low sales of this album doesn’t surprise me at all.

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MEG – BEAUTIFUL [6th Studio Album]

May 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm (MEG) (, )

MEGBeautiful

MEG’s 6th studio album, entitled BEAUTIFUL, was released on 05.27.09. PRECIOUS and FREAK were released before the album although FREAK was not included on the CD portion of the album. Instead, it was remixed by Nakata and placed on the DVD portion.

DAYS, an introductory track clocking in at just less than two minutes, begins the album. Opening the song is a very trippy instrumental that is kind of slow so there is a slightly haunting atmosphere about the song. This is particularly seen in MEG’s long and drawn out vocals. After she sings “fly with me,” the vocals sound kind of shaky as she’s trying to hold them for so long. After a bit after the minute mark, the tempo sounds just slightly faster and MEG speaks a little. On the one hand, it does introduce the sound of the album nicely but it’s not a particularly memorable song.

The first full track is PRECIOUS, released as a single beforehand. The song starts off with a dreamy instrumental which is nice although MEG’s vocals are a little to be desired. The use of the guitar was very smart since it makes the music stand out from the rest of the album. Things pick a little more on the first verse as there’s just something more likeable and cool about it. Unfortunately, the chorus sounds a little generic and keeps the listener from really falling into the song’s atmosphere.

TELEPHONE is the next track. The song begins with a cool and relaxing instrumental which carries a soft sweetness to it. MEG’s vocals are actually very loveable here and suit the music perfectly. English phrases like “I need the telephone” and “we feel the telephone” stand out and she really brings those particular phrases to life. The hook is a very good lyrical connection to the theme of the telephone as she sings “your love runs on the electric wave and I recieve it…” The chorus continues the fun sound previously established and all the English is very ear-catching. Of course the pure instrumental section stnads out and has a sort of aggression to it that is perfect. Without a doubt, TELEPHONE is one of the ost addictive new tracks.

LIES takes on the sound of previous numbers like SUPERSONIC with a clear focus on the instrumentation. It starts off on a very strong note and catches the listener’s attention. Once she starts singing, it is near impossible to understand what she is singing, even though the song is in all English. Nonetheless, the lyrics carry a sexual atmosphere to them as she sings “You rush my heart with endorphin, I really really don’t know what you’d say next morning.” There doesn’t seem to be any particular chorus but after she says “lies,” there is an awesome distortion on her vocals that just sounds fantastic. As always, these kind of songs end up being one of the best on the album and LIES is no different.

STAR slows things down a bit. The opening instrumental is kind of jazzy and thus it stands out from the rest of the instrumentals on the album. Her voice actually manages to carry emotion despite the distortion on it and it really feels like she’s telling a story that is soothing to the listener. Even though the chorus doesn’t change that much from the verses, it sounds awesome and manages to stand out, catching the attention of the listener. It’s a good song and is definitely worth the listen.

STAND definitely carries the Nakata sound but it doesn’t sound generic at all. The song opens up with a very pretty and calming instrumental, before slowly becoming more diverse and opening the doors of a new world. On the first verse, she sounds great and she seems to go a little higher than usual. There’s just something very loveable about the chorus because it feels very freeing. The English phrases like “And finding the rainbow” and “it’s not far away” stand out strongly. She also sounds fantastic when she sings “stand,” reaching a little high but keeping up the energy.

WHY has a more aggressive instrumental but the problem is that it’s so long that it can feel a little like it’s dragging on. f it were a little bit shorter, it would have been nicer because MEG’s vocals are actually pretty cool. The chorus has some cool English like when she sings “Why do I need such surprise…ah yeah, silky kiss.” WHY is an awesome song and had it been just a little shorter, it would have been even better.

Things continue at a weird pace with the following song, JOKER. It begins with a sort of sleek instrumental that gives the image of walking through a maze. In combination with the sort of haunting atmosphere of the music, MEG’s vocals really fit here. The chorus is easily the most memorable part of the song as she sings “1,2,3…and fall in place, say ‘lucky fortune’ it’s a phrase for you.” It’s definitely one of the coolest songs on the album and it really finds its place on BEAUTIFUL.

SKIN, which was used as a promotional track, is the semifinale. She starts off with the chorus, which is basically the only lyrical part of the song. She sings “look at me, there’s nothing we should worry about” and “touch my skin, I’m in the dreamy wonderland.” Her voice sounds particularly strong when she sings “Cast the skin” since she holds the note for so long at a higher range. Outside of this section, the rest is instrumentation that carries an aggressive vibe to it that cannot be ignored. No wonder it was chosen to promote the album because it’s one of the best songs BEAUTIFUL has to offer.

The album closes with its title track, also used to promote the album. This is the closest song that can be called an electro ballad and unfortunately, it’s the worst song on the album. The music just isn’t very appealing although the lyrics are nice, such as when she sings “I’ll always be your miracle.” it was a nice attempt but the execution was poor.

Album Ranking: A

BEAUTIFUL is a vast improvement over MEG’s last studio effort. This album has variety and the recurring use of English spices things up lyrically. From JOKER to TELEPHONE to LIES, MEG shows off her skills and Nakata’s production power to catch the listener’s attention. The album is only ten tracks, which is a shame since MEG was on a roll this time around.

6 Most Memorable Tracks (The Memorable Tracks): SKIN / LIES / JOKER / WHY / TELEPHONE / STAND

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Ito Yuna – DREAM [3rd Studio Album]

May 26, 2009 at 6:53 pm (Ito Yuna) (, )

YunaDream

Ito Yuna’s 3rd album, entitled DREAM, was released on 05.27.09. The singles released before the album are as follows: miss you, 恋は groovy x2, trust you and 今でも会いたいよ… featuring Spontania. Also included on the album is LOVE MACHINE GUN, used as the theme song to the cell phone novel Tenshi no Koi. The theme of the album is “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

The album begins on a sweet note with the upbeat love song, love you. The song opens up with the drums to give a really old-school feel and then Yuna comes in with the chorus. You can definitely hear the happiness in her voice when she sings “I do love you completely” and “I love you, I do.” On the first verse, the use of English and she really manages to show off her vocals for everyone to hear. The third verse introduces a few new instruments and it spices up the instrumentation a little bit. It’s very ear-catching. This is truly a “Yuna-styled” song and it’s a great way to start off the album and catch the listener’s attention.

The second song is 今でも 会いたいよ…, which is an answer song and collaboration with hip-hop duo Spontania. The song begins with a nice instrumental and is a fitting beginning for the song perfectly. On the first verse, Yuna sounds great, really getting into the emotional spirit of the song. The beat comes in more and it carries more of an upbeat feeling, which takes away from the original beauty of the song. Unfortunately, this stays with the chorus and doesn’t fuel the listener with the same emotions that opened the song. It’s the worst song on the album and it would have been better off being left off the album.

DREAM1Brand New World was included on the album as the third track. The instrumental that begins the song is very pretty and carries an ethereal sound, which gives the listener a sense of happiness. On the chorus, she hits those higher notes wonderfully and the English phrases “every day” and “you are the one.” Overall, it’s kind of unnecessary and Sony would have been better off choosing a new track or 真冬の星座.

Yuna explores the Latin sounds with 恋は groovy x2, released as a single before the album. The song opens up with an upbeat energetic instrumental and then Yuna does some vocalizations that suit the fun-ness of the music perfectly. On the first verse, she brings some great vocals and really outdoes herself. The lines in the background stand out and compliment the front lyrics perfectly. The chorus is easily the most addictive part of the song, primarily when she sings “groovy groovy.” The song closes with the backing lines “baby come with me tonight, baby come into the light.” She then slips in a final “groovy” and although it does sound a little annoying when it was released, it’s actually kind of charming. It’s another great song coming from Yuna and she should be proud.

Switching from upbeat to sad is the next song, trust you. The soft and beautiful sounds of the piano open up the song, really starting off with a magical feeling. There are these little vocalizations in the background that give the image of little flowers blooming at night, which suits the song perfectly. On the verses, she sings somewhat rapidly and this makes the listener pay attention to the sweetness of the lyrics. Her vocals are very smooth here but still capture the essence of the song very well. Right before the chorus, she picks up the pace even a little more and although it only lasts for a couple lines, it sounds great. The chorus is memorable for the English phrases “I love you” and “I trust you” as well as the great vocals in the upper range. For bringing out the emotions so strongly, Yuna achieves success with trust you.

The sixth song, BAILA BAILA, takes on some reggae influences. After the sound of waves, the song’s true sound comes DREAM2in and Yuna sounds so cheerful and sweet when she sings the title of the song. Here, the music gives the feeling of a late-night beach party so the listener can really get into the vibe of the song. On the verses, there is a very relaxing atmosphere that comes through. The pure instrumental section sounds very pretty, particularly because of the guitar, which brings the Hawaiian sound even more strongly. BAILA BAILA is a great song and it leads perfectly into the next track.

BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!! continues the Hawaiian sound but takes it to an addictive upbeat atmosphere. That opening instrumental with definitely catch the attention of the listener as it really feels like the audience is being taken to the beach to celebrate. So it’s only appropriate that Yuna introduce things with “everybody to the beach, we’re gonna be breezin.” She sounds fantastic on the verses, delivering some attitude and some charm, which is what really makes the song so fun to listen to. For the two lines before the chorus, the instrumentation has a slight change and honestly it’s one of the best sounds on the entire album. The chorus stands out nicely because of the more powerful vocals and she sounds great when she sings “maybe I say no, maybe I say yeah, maybe you’re mine!” If there’s one part of the song that stands out the most, it’s the third verse without a doubt. She does kind of a rap thing and sounds very edgy. English phrases like “feelin’ me,” “believe in me” and “doin’ doin’ me” really stand out and so strong. BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!! was an amazing song when it was first released and it maintains that perfection on DREAM.

miss you is the next track, turning things for a sad atmosphere. That opening instrumental is very romantic and really reflects the feeling of longing. Her vocals on the first verse are fantastic and bring the lyrics to life, particularly when she sings “stay here” and “staying here.” On the chorus, she sounds awesome and it really stands out when she sings “I miss you.” This is another great number and is one of the stellar ballads of the album.

DREAM3Yuna pumps up the energy with LOVE MACHINE GUN. The song opens up with an infectious beat along with Yuna repeating “why not?” and there’s just something very cool about this phrase that shines through. On the verses, it sounds like there is a slight distortion on her vocals which kind of adds to the whole cool atmosphere of the song. The English phrases like “motion” and “communication” really stand out and they just make the lines a little more interesting. On the chorus, there is a kind of rock feeling to it, which seems slightly out of place with what began the song. Nonetheless, her vocals are very good, especially at the end. On the pure instrumental section, there is the feeling of just falling so deep into the song so it really stands out from the rest of the song. LOVE MACHINE GUN is a great song and it definitely lives up to the preview released so long ago.

The semifinale of the album is No one else. Beginning the song is a nice instrumental that carries a true sadness to it. Then comes the first verse and Yuna sounds very pretty here. Her vocals really communicate a personal connection that gets to the listener. On the chorus, she sings “no one else could take your place” and “Only I can be the one for you,” showing the lyrical story of the album. Although it’s kind of cheesy, it’s something that is easily relatable and so it ultimately is a success. Right before the final chorus, Yuna shows off her amazing vocals and belts out a powerful note. No one else is a wonderful ballad filled with emotions that catch the ear of the listener beautifully.

Closing the album is Body. The song starts off with an entrancing, almost sensual instrumental with Yuna singing “dance with me, come dance with me.” She sounds very relaxed and cool on the first verse and there is a true feeling of paradise tha comes through. Before the chorus, Yuna does some vocalizations that alternate between low and high and although it might sound a little strange, it grabs attention and introduces the chorus nicely. She kind of shows her sexual side as she sings “do you want my body.” However she manages to stay classy and very lady-like throughout. Following is a little rap section, which is unexpected but it definitely spices things up. Body is a nice sleek way to close up DREAM and will leave the listener wanting more.

Album Ranking: A –

DREAM is definitely a step up from Yuna’s last two albums primarily because she brings some more variety to the table. LOVE MACHINE GUN takes on a rock sound and a couple of tracks use a Hawaiian sound in different ways (BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!!, BAILA BAILA). The ballads here are wonderful, miss you and trust you still shining from when they were released. As for the new tracks, love you and No one else are both very sweet and have perfect places on the album. Body is weakest new song but it’s still nice to listen to. Brand New World and  今でも会いたいよ… just should have been replaced by new songs or at least 真冬の星座. It’s also puzzling because GATE is nowhere to be found. Overall though, a good package and a worthwhile listen.

6 Most Memorable Songs: BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!! / LOVE MACHINE GUN / miss you / 恋は groovy x2 / BAILA BAILA / love you

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Arashi – 明日の記憶 / Crazy Moon ~キミ・ハ・ムテキ~ [26th Single]

May 25, 2009 at 2:21 am (Arashi) (, )

Crazy Moon

Arashi’s 26th single, entitled 明日の記憶 / Crazy Moon ~キミ・ハ・ムテキ,~ was released on 05.27.09. While 明日の記憶 was used as the theme song for the dorama The Quiz Show starring Arashi member Sakurai Sho, Crazy Moon ~キミ・ハ・ムテキ~ was used in Kose CM.

明日の記憶 is the slower song with an emotional context to keep it going. The song begins with the piano, immediately tugging at the listener’s heartstrings with such a beauty to it that really stands. Then other instruments come into the picture and give the music an unforgettable magical feeling. Up next is the first verse and the vocals here sound very nice and they suit the music perfectly. That little descent of the piano right before the chorus is genius and manages to stand out very proudly. Everyone sounds great on the chorus and they portray those emotions to bring the song to its highest point. This is an excellent ballad that catches the listener’s ear and makes the emotions flow from their heartstrings.

On the other hand, Crazy Moon ~キミ・ハ・ムテキ~ is a dance-styled song to get everyone moving. The song starts off with a cool instrumental that carries a sleekness to it, perfect for attracting attention. The verses are nice since the boys give some good vocals and the listener can definitely something building up but there’s still something missing from it to make it amazing. Right before the chorus, there is this little instrumental introduction that sounds wonderful. Without a doubt, the chorus is the best part about the song and is much catchier than the verses. The pure instrumental section is awesome and is a great time for a dance break. This is another great song and it’s a nice change of pace from Arashi’s usual sound.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made: one for each A-side. The PV for 明日の記憶 is very nice and natural, carrying an almost angelic feel to it with the whole white theme. Having all the members take pictures really fits with the lyrical theme of the song and it somehow makes the video very likeable. The only problem with it is that the guys look a little too pale at points and some (Matsujun) look kinda ghost-like. The Crazy Moon ~キミ・ハ・ムテキ~ PV is a complete dance video, just featuring the guys bringing out the moves. They might not be doing the best choreography in comparison to some of their Johnny’s counterparts but it’s nice to see them dance.

Single Ranking: A –

明日の記憶 / Crazy Moon ~キミ・ハ・ムテキ~ is another strong single delivered from the boys of Arashi. 明日の記憶 is the stronger song, with an emotional story that will tug at the heartstrings of the listener. Crazy Moon ~キミ・ハ・ムテキ~ has a sort of 80s style to it that makes the energy perfect for dancing. It would have been nice if the music was a little more aggressive but it’s still a good song. I wonder what Arashi will deliver next since they have more than enough A-sides to get cracking on that next studio album.

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Ikimonogakari – ふたり [13th Single]

May 23, 2009 at 10:40 am (Ikimonogakari) (, )

Futari

Ikimonogakari’s 13th single, entitled ふたり, was released on 05.27.09. The title track was used as the theme song to the dorama Boku no Imouto.

ふたり is a true love ballad. The song opens up with some wonderful vocals that really portray emotion so that the listener can fall into the story of the song. Then after that section, the instrumentation becomes brighter and seemingly more hopeful. On the first verse, Yoshioka continues to give strong vocals that support the beautiful music perfectly. The chorus comes back in and she still sounds strong. The pure instrumental section sounds very nice and allows the listener the opporunity to really focus on just how pretty the musc is. It’s a very nice song and she gives the emotions in her voice to bring it to life.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ふたり was made. It’s a very simple video, just featuring Yoshioka wandering about town and getting on a train, looking for the one she loves. It’s kind of nice to just have pretty scenery but the video’s grabbing point is at the end when she just looks so sad that you want to give her a hug. It definitely shows her connection to the song.

Single Ranking: B

ふたり is a pretty good song coming from this group since Yoshioka brought the emotions for everyone to feel. She really catches the listener’s attention and hopefully they can continue with this for their next single.

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Maria – Getaway [Debut Single]

May 23, 2009 at 10:14 am (Maria) (, )

Maria

Maria’s debut single, entitled Getaway, was released on 05.20.09.

Getaway is a simple midtempo tune with some rock flares. The song begins off quickly with Maria singing very quickly and there is some slight distortion on her vocals. It almost sounds like she’s attempting to do a little rap sequence because of the whole energy. Her vocals could be better here but the music does a ncie job of catching the listener’s attention. Then the distortion leaves and she goes for it with some vocalizations, which honestly do not sound too good. The song continues with a slight rock sound which is nice but the biggest problem is her vocals, which sound nasal at points and a little too screechy. This really comes out on the chorus when she sings “getaway” and “get a life.” It just sounds weird and is kind of off-putting.

Following in the same vein is the B-side, Someday Star. It doesn’t quite take on the same slight rock feeling and the instrumentation is centered more around the guitar. Unfortunately, the vocals are still a problem and sound a little too nasal for the song so it just ends up sounding like a watered down version of the A-side.

Single Ranking: C

The debut single is supposed to wow the audience so that the singer can start building up a fanbase. This single definitely did not accomplish that goal. Both Getaway and Somebody Star face the same problem of having Maria having off vocals. Hopefully she can work on that and her next single will be better.

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Aira Mitsuki – BARBiE BARBiE [5th Single]

May 20, 2009 at 7:23 pm (Aira Mitsuki) (, )

AiraBarbie

Aira Mitsuki’s 5th single, entitled BARBiE BARBiE, was released on 05.20.09.

BARBiE BARBiE is a sweet song that carries happiness. The song opens up with an instrumental that takes the listener to another world but once the actual music comes in, it bears a similiarity some of her older songs so it feels “done before.” On the verses, she sings some of the words quickly so that is a nice pace but overall it’s not very interesting. It’s not a particularly interesting song but it’s all right for what it is.

AiraBarbieBarbieThe single’s first B-side is the addictive number, CHANGE MY WILL. The song starts off with a really crazy and cool instrumental that will immediately attract the attention of the listener. Then Aira comes in and her vocals give a really sleek touch the song before the song goes into hyper aggressive mode. Even if the music kind of takes the spotlight from Aira at some points, it’s okay because it’s that good. On the chorus, Aira takes control back with higher pitched vocals and these go along with the music as well just because of the crazy coolness of the entire track. Honestly, the whole song sounds kind of messy but strangely, that’s where its charm lies. It’s what make it so interesting and addictive so this song should have been the A-side since it’s much more interesting than BARBiE BARBiE.

Up next is Freedom Star. The song begins with some great drums and the song moves into a cuter feel with the chorus. Aira sounds very sweet here and the music definitely establishes an atmosphere that hits the listener at first listen. It sounds nice but it could be a little stronger. Luckily that missing piece comes on the verses where there is a kind of video-game feeling because of the emptiness of the music. It’s as if they chose to only use the most basic elements here and that’s what grabs the listener and puts Aira in the forefront. There is a part right before the chorus where the music changes and even though it’s only momentary, it stands out quite nicely. Freedom Star is a nice song and although it is not as memorable as CHANGE MY WILL, it fits on the single.

In order to promote the single, a PV for BARBiE BARBiE was made. Aira’s videos tend to be very colorful and kind of weird and the BARBiE BARBiE PV is no different. From the opening scene of Aira looking like a marionette, I’m assuming that she is playing the doll figure of BARBiE and the rest of the video shows her enjoying town. Basically, the colors are what are interesting but that’s really it.

Single Ranking: B +

This single is definitely is not as strong as サヨナラ Technopolis but it’s not bad either. CHANGE MY WILL is easily the most interesting number on the single and should have promoted as the A-side. Freedom Star has its catchy moments while BARBiE BARBiE is actually the least interesting song. Nonetheless, Aira did bring some goodness to the single and hopefully her album will have some more aggressive stuff in the vein of CHANGE MY WILL.

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2NE1 – Fire [Digital Single]

May 16, 2009 at 4:24 pm (2NE1) (, )

2ne1

Dubbed the female version of BIG BANG, the girls of 2Ne1 are on the move with their digital single entitled Fire, released on 05.06.09.

Fire is a hot dance track, perfect for grabbing a new audience. The song begins with a fantastic instrumental and CL introduces the song to the crowd. The strongest part of the music is when it sounds like it’s winding down in pitch (when she says “you better get yours cause I’m getting mine). They do some vocalizations that sound a little annoying but then comes the first verse. CL sounds great and she gives the attitude to make everyone pay attention to her, having a quality similar to G-Dragon. Minji is up next and she sounds on her rap too but she lacks that same spark CL has. And that last vocal was a bit strange. Bom does some singing and she sounds pretty good, nicely showing off her vocals. The chorus is extremely catchy and it’s a case when repeating actually catches the attention well. Sandara then follows and her vocals are kind of distorted so they do stand out. It’s a very good song and one definitely made for dancing and having fun.

In order to promote the single, two PVs for Fire were made: one dubbed the “Space Version” and the other the “Street Version.” The “Space Version” has more of a colorful and futuristic feel to it and is very visually appealing. This version carries more of the girls’ personalities. CL rides her motorcyle, Minji acts cool around some trash cans, Bom is associated with cards and Sandara has an Indian atmosphere. It’s pretty cool and it fits the song well. The “Street Version” is a lot more simple but it gives the audience a chance to become better acquainted with the dance moves. it’s some good choreography so this version makes use of it. It also gets points for having G-Dragon make a very quick special guest appearance.

Single Ranking: A

If they can keep up this quality of songs, 2NE1 should have a bright future ahead of them. They’ve got the moves and the energy to keep everyone moving so hopefully we’ll be hearing more from them soon.

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