Nishino Kana – もっと… [7th Single]

October 29, 2009 at 4:48 pm (Nishino Kana) (, )


Nishino Kana’s 7th single, entitled もっと…, was released on 10.21.09. The title track was used as a Rekochoku CM song.

もっと… is a laid-back midtempo number that catches the ear. The song begins with part of the first verse and it’s basically just Kana with the beautiful sounds of the piano so it makes for the perfect opening combination. It sounds heartbreaking when she sings “I’m just crying cause of you” and the following moment of pure instrumentation really stands out. Then the instrumentation becomes more diverse to bring chorus before moving back into the first verse. Her vocals carry a certain fragile quality on the verse that suits the music very well and brings the emotions out. When she hits the higher notes, she absolutely angelic and it fits the light atmosphere of the song. It’s a very enjoyable song from Kana that shows off her vocals and style wonderfully.

The first B-side is missing you. Opening the song is a very pretty instrumental that is established by the sorrowful sounds of the piano. Kana then comes in on the first verse and her vocals carry a lot of emotion. In fact, at points, it sounds like she’s going to start crying. The chorus is a little flat and sounds a little generic so it doesn’t capture the strength of the build-up from the verse. Although her vocals are nice, the song could have been nicer overall.

Dear my friends serves as the second B-side. This song has a happier and more cheerful atmosphere than the other two songs. After a cute and fun instrumental, the chorus comes in and it sounds very cutesy. The most interesting part of the song is the instrumentation, which carries different sounds it to make the listener pay attention. The vocals are nice as well but they aren’t as strong as the music, which is a shame since it’s so interesting.

In order to promote the single, a PV for もっと… was made. The video basically features Kana spending the day checking her cell phone for new messages in hopes that the one of her dreams has sent her another one. It fits with the lyrics of the song so it was a good idea to incorporate the phone theme into the video. There is also scenes from the single’s cover and Kana looks so pretty here. Overall, the sweetness of the video fits with the sweetness of the song so it’s a perfect fit.

Single Ranking: B +

It’s another good single for Kana. もっと… is one of her more memorable songs and definitely shows what she can do. Hopefully her next single, which was already been announced, will be as strong as this.

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Suzuki Ami – KISS KISS KISS / aishiteru [32nd Single]

October 28, 2009 at 9:15 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

Kiss Kiss Kiss

Suzuki Ami’s 32nd single, entitled KISS KISS KISS / aishiteru, was released on 10.28.09. The extended version of the A-side appeared on the Aquamarine HOUSE NATION compilation CD.

KISS KISS KISS is a mellow number inspired by taking a drive at night. The song begins with a soft instrumental and then Ami sings some of the chorus and the English stands out nicely. Ami’s vocals show some nice emotion and takes the listener off on a nice start before the first verse starts. Here, the vocals flow even more strongly with the first verse and the meloow atmosphere is almost lulling for the listener. It’s a little repetitive but nonetheless, it’s a nice and calm song. It is sort of like Bitter… from DOLCE although not nearly as strong.

The second A-side is aishiteru. Beginning the song is an interesting and sleek instrumental that instantly makes the listener wonder about what’s coming next. On the first verse, it has a sort of magical feeling to it as if Ami is wandering through a magic garden as she sings. The combination of the music and her vocals proves to be a potent mix in bringing a visual association. On the chorus, the energy comes blasting through but the transition is very smooth so the whole song is quite sleek. This is definitely the stronger of the two A-sides and should have been the main one.

In order to promote the single, a PV for KISS KISS KISS was made. The video takes on a similar style to the ONE PV with the various colors. This time, fitting with the inspiration of the song, the video takes place in and around a car. Ami looks very pretty and it’s a nice and relaxing fit with the atmosphere of the song.

Single Ranking: B +

This single is definitely a large step up from Reincarnation. aishiteru has the cool energy that suits Ami perfectly and should have been promoted as the lead A-side. KISS KISS KISS is nice as well with its laid-back style but upbeat songs are Ami’s forte so hopefully we’ll be getting some more aggressive stuff from her. It would be nice for her to revisit working with Nakata soon for more fantastic material like Supreme Show.

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BoA – BUMP BUMP! [29th Single]

October 27, 2009 at 3:43 pm (BoA) (, )


BoA’s 29th single, entitled BUMP BUMP!, was released on 10.28.09. Both songs on the single feature VERBAL of m-flo, whom she worked with on UNIVERSE of her last single. The title track was as NTV’s MUSIC FIGHTER POWER PLAY song as well as being a CM song.

BUMP BUMP! has BoA and VERBAL bringing the energy that will make the listener want to dance. The song begins with the chorus, sung without all the instruments by BoA and her vocals sound great here. Then she says “hit it” and VERBAL comes on in for a rap section. Here, the full instrumentation is shown and it instantly catches the listener’s ear. As usual, VERBAL sounds great and makes a great introduction for BoA. She sings with attitude but there’s also cute parts when she calls herself “BoA-chan.” The English phrases in the song like “let’s party!” and “life’s a melody” all stand out nicely and spice the song up a little. The song is absolutely fantastic and really shows BoA to be the star she is.

VERBAL joins BoA again for the B-side, IZM. The song opens up with VERBAL and he sees a lot different than he usually does, which isn’t a very good thing. Then BoA comes in and provides some strong vocals that portray emotion over the cool and slightly mysterious instrumental. It’s a nice song but it’s nothing that is stellar or anything. It would have been better if VERBAL’s voice sounded like it usually does.

In order to promote the single, a PV for BUMP BUMP! was made. It pretty much features BoA dancing in a gothic style house with some creepy background dancers. As usual, BoA delivers some great dance moves, matching the energy of the song. VERBAL also looks great like always.

Single Ranking: A

BoA did a great job with this single. BUMP BUMP! brings a fun exciting energy for the listener to enjoy from start to finish. Although IZM is not nearly as strong, it still sounds nice. With her next single already on the way, I hope that she’ll continue to bring such great songs like this.

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Morning Musume – 気まぐれプリンセス [41st Single]

October 26, 2009 at 7:25 pm (Morning Musume) (, )

Kimagure Princess

Morning Musume’s 41st single, entitled 気まぐれプリンセス, was released on 10.28.09. The title track was used as the ending theme song to TV Tokyo’s The Gyakyuru Researchers. This single is the last to feature Koharu Kusumi, who will graduate from the group in December.

気まぐれプリンセス carries a much more lighter tone than the girls’ previous singles while still maintaining the same addictive catchiness. The song begins with a fun Russian styled instrumental that instantly hooks the listener. The repeating “oi” is great and adds to the energy of the music. Ai starts off the first verse and what’s interesting is that the verses carry the girls’ voices in a higher pitch than normal. Nonetheless, Ai sounds great and then Reina comes in to close the verse. The hook divides the girls into trios and each one of them has kind of a rapid pace for their parts, quickly catching the listener’s ear. The chorus is primarily divided with Ai and Eri alternating as the leads. It’s a great opportunity to allow Eri the screen time she deserves and she handles the spotlight perfectly, showing off vocals that suit the song fantastically. This definitely continues the string of amazing Morning Musume A-sides and with Eri as a lead, it provides something nice and new for the listener.

The B-side is the fun and quirky number, 愛して 愛して 後一分. The song opens up with a video-game like instrumental that takes the listener into a new world before the first verse. The verses are split in the following order: LinLin, Aika, JunJun and Koharu. Koharu sounds particularly great here and ending with her was definitely the way to go. Sayumi then has her time on the hook and right before the chorus, there is a very interesting sound that has a breaking down feel to it. It definitely is catchy and is actually one of the best parts of the song. Then the chorus comes in and Ai starts things off with a bang. Reina then follows and as usual, she shines and sounds very nice when she goes slightly higher. For the second chorus, Eri and Risa take over and the two of them make a fantastic duo so it comes out strongly. The pure instrumental section sounds great because it really draws on that space feeling that began the song. Along with a streak of great A-sides, Morning Musume is also churning amazing B-sides.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 気まぐれプリンセス was made. The video features the girls in cowgirl styled outfits while dancing in a castle as well as close up shots. Although the connection between the Russian theme of the song and the cowgirl outfits seems to be lost, the dancing is pretty good and feels more involved than the choreography than those of their last few singles. Eri particularly stands out during the dancing shots.

Single Ranking: A +

Morning Musume is on the perfect streak this year. 気まぐれプリンセス is an absolutely fantastic dance track that provides a nice change from the dominantly sorrow singles of the year. Interstingly enough, the lyrics carry a sadness as well but the combination with the music just is very grabbing. The B-side also is of high quality, rounding out the single as a great package. It would be nice to see Koharu a little more since it’s her last single but the single really is another amazing one from the group.

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Hirahara Ayaka – ミオ・アモーレ! [20th Single]

October 18, 2009 at 5:07 pm (Hirahara Ayaka) (, )

Hirahara Ayaka - Mio Amore!

Hirahara Ayaka’s 20th single, entitled ミオ・アモーレ!, was released on 08.26.09.

ミオ・アモーレ! is a beautiful song that suits Ayaka’s style well. The song begins with a nice classical instrumental and then Ayaka comes in for the first verse. As usual, her vocals are beautiful and carry a fragility to them that suits the sounds of the piano perfectly. As the song moves on, more instruments come in to bring a slightly more hopeful and upbeat feel to the song. The chorus sounds quite nice as the emotions come out from Ayaka’s voice fluidly. The pure instrumental section highlights the guitars and they really sound great, taking the listener into a choir. It’s a great song that keeps the listener’s interest from start to end.

The B-side is Moldau. It carries a similar sound to the A-side but has a more sorrowful and fragile atmosphere that Ayaka brings to life. It’s very nice as the emotions also are poured out from Ayaka’s heart.

Single Ranking: B +

Ayaka did a great job with this single, both songs standing out in their own way. They both use classical music and it really suits Ayaka’s vocal style so the choice was certainly a wise one. Hopefully she’ll be delivering more material as great as this in the future.

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AKB48 – 言い訳 Maybe [13th Single]

October 14, 2009 at 11:44 pm (AKB48) (, )

Iiwake Maybe

AKB48’s 13th single, entitled 言い訳 Maybe, was released on 08.26.09.

言い訳 Maybe is an upbeat summery track.The song begins with an upbeat summery instrumental that suits the song well. Then comes the first verse and the girls sound very nice here. Despite the upbeat instrumental, a relaxing and calming feeling comes through to soothe the listener. They sound quite when they sing “maybe” but overall, the chorus is a little dry in that nothing amazing comes through to make this section really stand out. It’s nothing fantastic but it’s cute.

飛べないアゲハチョウ is a much stronger song. Opening the song is a cool and funky instrumental that will catch the listener’s attention quickly. On the first verse, the vocals have a mature feel to them that is catchy to the ear and suits the energy of the music perfectly. The chorus keeps the energy from the verses while still sounding slightly different to keep the interest up. The ending of the chorus especially stands out as they break it down by emphasizing the syllables.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 言い訳 Maybe was made. The video basically features the girls dancing on a school lawn and riding bikes. There’s something sweet and natural in its simplicity so it comes across as a successful PV.

Single Ranking: B –

Without a doubt, 飛べないアゲハチョウ should have been the A-side. It has a mature feel that is really pleasing to the eyes and shows off the girls’ cool side perfectly. The A-side is nice as well but it’s nothing that impressive so it sounds kind of typical. Hopefully they will do more songs like 飛べないアゲハチョウ since that is where they shine.

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YUI – It’s all too much / Never say die [15th Single]

October 14, 2009 at 11:22 pm (YUI) (, )


YUI’s 15th single, entitled It’s all too much / Never say die, was released on 10.07.09. It’s all too much was used as the theme song to the movie KAIJI while Never say die was used as an insert song.

It’s all too much is a cool rock track. The song begins with a dark rock instrumental that has a sort of mysterious feel to it. Then YUI comes in and her vocals are quite soft and fragile while carrying a sort of darkness to them as well that suits the music well. Her vocals aren’t too powerful on the chorus and don’t really emote as strongly as they could have to really make this section stand out like it should. It’s not a great song but it’s worth the listen at least once.

Never say die takes on the sort of rock sound from the first track but this time around, it’s higlighted by an upbeat cheery feel. Unfortunately, the end product isn’t anything to write home about. YUI’s vocals sound a bit more complimentary to the music but overall, the song just doesn’t engage the listener.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made: one for each A-side. They both essenially featured YUI just rocking out with a band as she sings the song with a few other scenes to intercut. The Never say die PV features scenes from the movie.

Single Ranking: C

It’s just not a very interesting single that YUI delivers this time around. Perhaps next time, the instrumentation will have some more magic to it and suit her voice better.

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Goto Maki – SWEET BLACK [Mini Album]

October 4, 2009 at 11:00 pm (Goto Maki) (, )


Goto Maki’s first mini album since her departure from Hello Project and entry into avex, entitled SWEET BLACK, was released on 09.16.09. The SWEET BLACK project was started for Maki as a way to get her back into the game through a radio program and digitally released singles: Fly away, Lady-Rise and with. Plastic Lover was included on a HOUSE NATION compilation CD.

The album kicks off with the dancehall styles of Queen Bee. The song opens up with BIGGA RAJJI shouting and introduing himself, Maki and Aili and immediately the song’s one flaw pops up: his voice. It’s just grating and annoying that it really does take away from the strength of the song but once the listener can get past it, the song is smooth sailing. Maki sings part of the chorus, which consists of a repeated “boom” and “Queen Bee” at the end. On the first verse, Maki provides smooth and sleek vocals that suit the instrumentation perfectly. There is an underlying element of sexuality that comfortably comes through her vocals and spices up the song. The hook that follows the chorus features a slightly softer sound but it still fits with the rest of the song so it stands out quite nicely. If this snogwas sung just by Maki, the song would have been a lot better. Nonetheless, Queen Bee serves as a good album opener and shows Maki’s true energy.

Maki Sweet Black PromoThe second song was the second digitally released single, Lady-Rise. Opening up the song is a hot upbeat instrumental and instantly, the listener knows something great is about to come up. On the first verse, Maki’s vocals continue to carry a tone of sexuality and coolness to them that really makes the song come alive. Right before the chorus, the music builds up a little and Maki gives slightly stronger vocals and although the changes might only be small, they are really effective at introducing the chorus. The chorus features more catchy energy that will keep the listener dancing and one moment that stands out is when Maki calls out the title of the song. The third verse is a nice break-down moment and re-introduces the chorus with a bang. Maki even cutely shouts “Ow!” to really punctuate the coolness of the song. It’s a fantastic song that hasn’t lost any of its magic since its release.

Maki enters the world of the dark disco with the next track, Candy. The song starts off with a cool and mysterious upbeat instrumental that kind of channels Maki’s old sound before avex. She sings “”am I greedy?” and the sexuality comes running out from that moment as it continues to run through the whole song. The verses sound quite nice and set up the atmosphere of the song very well but the chorus does lose a little bit of that strong energy. It’s just lacking that sort of magic that the verses have to really draw in the listener. She sings “are you a man?” and “are you the man?” It’s a nice song but it’s still missing that spark that the other songs have.

Maki teams up with KG for one of the album’s two ballads, TEAR DROPS. The song begins with a beautiful piano opening which really reflects the sorrow of the song and immediately brings out the emotional atmosphere for the listener to feel. Maki sounds fantastic on the first verse, her vocals really portraying fragility and sadness that suit the song. KG also gives some great vocals that compliment Maki’s and keep the emotions rolling from the heart. The chorus features the piano slightly more prominently and there is a sparkling atmosphere that runs through the music that really stands out. On the third verse, Maki sings “sweet, sweet, my tear drops” and “sweet, sweet, your tear drops” before KG  belts out a powerful vocal. TEAR DROPS is easily one of the album’s best songs and the better of the two ballads.

Back at a-nation ’08, Maki debuted a song entitled hear me. Well the beat was kept and with some rewording of the Maki SWEET BLACK Promo 2lyrics and a guest appearance from KEN THE 390, Mine was born. The song takes off with a hot instrumental and KEN THE 390 introducing the song in a combination of English and Japanese for Maki to follow. She sounds great on the first verse, her vocals suiting the sleek atmosphere of the song perfectly. The chorus is catchy as expected although it doesn’t flow as well as the chorus of hear me. KEN THE 390 never has verses that last very long so the focus stays on Maki, which is good but he might as well not have been there at all. To finish off the song with a little extra sweetness, Maki giggles. Although Mine is certainly a catchy song, it just doesn’t flow as well as hear me and it lacks the magic in certain spots.

Maki’s first avex digital single, Fly away, is up next. An orchestral instrumentation starts things off to really begin with a bang before the hot dance instrumental comes booming in. Maki’s vocals here are superb, really staying sleek and cool to fit the atmosphere of the song. The English parts “imgination” and “get alive” stand out and the background vocals provide a slightly haunting feel to the song. The chorus features lines that begin with “fly away” and Maki aces every single one, keeping the listener’s interest without fail. The third verse really stands out as it feels like the build-up to the climax, the instrumentation becoming slightly quieter and more mysterious. Maki follows with some cool vocalizations that really do add a lot of flavor to the song. Like Lady-Rise, Fly away maintains its special magic and remains a strong number to enjoy.

Plastic Lover serves as the album’s semifinale. Starting the song off is a light electronic instrumental that takes the listener into a new world. Then the beat comes thumping in and the edgy electronic side comes out to play, grabbing the listener’s interest immediately. Maki smoothly sings “so what” as the start of the first verse and from there, the sleekness really comes through perfectly. Throughout the verse, the coolness keeps streaming and sets up the listener for an enjoyable chorus. The instrumentation is more energetic and Maki gives some great vocals, particularly at the end when she holds the higher one. During the second verse, there is an angelic part that makes the listener feel like he/she is flying as there is such a levity in both the music and Maki’s vocals. The pure instrumental section sounds great and re-introduces the chorus fantastically. The music during those last few vocal moments really catches the ear and Maki’s final line features some great vocal strength. Plastic Lover was abolutely amazing when it was released on the HOUSE NATION compilation and it shines just as bright on SWEET BLACK.

Closing the album is the spring ballad, with…Opening the song is a very calming and soothing instrumental that catches the ear of the listener and evokes a feeling of true love. Then Maki sings the first verse and her vocals are quite pacifying, suiting the atmosphere of the song very well. There is just something very sweet and natural about the chorus that just can’t be ignored as it works its way into the listener’s heart. The repeating words also stand out and catch the ear of the listener nicely. with… is a very good way to end SWEET BLACK, giving the listener a smile to finish with.

Album Ranking: A

The image of SWEET BLACK is to reflect the duality of a girl’s heart, featuring both a sweet and mature side and that is what Maki has perfectly captured with this album. Although TEAR DROPS and with… are the album’s only ballads, they both shine in their own right with the former being the sorrowful one and the latter being the hopeful one. There is a host of dance numbers, which is where Maki shines. From the playful sexiness of Lady-Rise to the cool and sleek Fly away to the fun and energetic Plastic Lover, Maki really does give it her all. Perhaps the only mis-step on the album was Candy, which was just lacking a little something to really make it stand out. Also BIGGA RAJJI was annoying and Mine didn’t live up to the amazingess of hear me but both of the songs still managed to catch attention. Hopefully SWEET BLACK is an indication of the high quality music we can expect from Maki in the time to come.

Top 5 Most Memorable Tracks: Lady-Rise / TEAR DROPS / Mine / Fly away / Plastic Lover

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Koda Kumi – Alive / Physical thing [45th Single]

October 3, 2009 at 10:23 pm (Koda Kumi) (, )


Koda Kumi’s 45th single, entitled Alive / Physical thing, was released on 09.16.09. Alive was used as the theme song to the movie Kamui the Ninja.

Alive is a very calm and soothing ballad that leaves the listener in a dreamy state. The song quickly starts off with the first verse and there is a real sense of emotion flowing from Kumi’s vocals that suit the magical atmosphere of the instrumentation. It really does have an image of slowly drifting off into a faraway magical world. The chorus maintains the sweet gentleness of the verses with just slightly more powerful vocals. The whole song really does flow quite nicely although it would have been nice if there were some parts that had a more dynamic and grand feeling to really make the chorus stand out to the listener’s ears. Nonetheless, it’s a very pretty and gentle ballad that captures the element of loneliness perfectly while giving hope for a brighter future like a dream.

Balancing out the single is the ero-kakkoi song, Physical thing. Beginning the song is some vocalizations from Kumi before the hot thumping beat comes in to drive the listener wild. Kumi’s vocals ooze sequality and brings the emotions of the lyrics out very nicely. She sings “You see me, I see you, it’s easy, keep it real simple” before diving into the chorus, continuing the heat strongly. The pure instrumentation section is awesome and the repeating “physical thing” part really shines. The third verse is interesting in that the lyrics reflect a kind of insecurity and longing to not be alone. The ending features a quickly repeated “thing,” which just sends things off on a perfect note. Although it’s a short song, it’s Kumi’s best song after the release of TRICK.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made: one for Alive and one for Physical thing. The Alive PV is absolutely gorgeous, featuring Kumi lying underneath a beautiful sky in a very pretty dress. Her sorrow is overwhelming and soon her tears fall onto the earth, turning her surroundings into a forest. That is where the other Kumi comes in, who is wearing a beautiful lightly colred dress. She looks like she is from a fairy tale, which suits the atmosphere of the song perfectly. That Kumi walks towards the future with hope in her heart that the loneliness will eventually pass. Although simple, the video was done perfectly to suit both the song’s lyrics and overall sound. The video for Physical thing really does fit the lyrics of the song, showing off Kumi’s sexy side. In this video, Kumi is featured drinking and with a cigarette, really oozing that ero-kakkoi style. She looks fantastic and it’s always welcomed when her sexy side comes out.

Single Ranking: A

Koda Kumi continues her string of good singles with Alive / Physical thing. Alive does bear a resemblance to faraway, carrying a magical kind of sound but the former is more soothing and peaceful, carrying a similar sound throughout the whole track. On the other hand, Physical thing kicks up her ero-kakkoi sound a la TABOO. Hopefully her upcoming album will feature tracks like Physical thing, which instantly grab the listener’s attention on first listen.

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alan – BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~ [10th Single]

October 3, 2009 at 8:21 pm (alan) (, )


alan’s 10th single, entitled BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた,~ was released on 09.02.09. The title track was used as the theme song of the movie with the same name. Also included in the single is 幸せの鐘, which was prior released as a digital single.

BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~ is a gorgeous longing love song. The song begins with some beautiful and angelic vocalizations from alan, introducing an almost haunting atmosphere that instantly draws the listener in. Then she gives some of her signature wails to build the anticipation even more before moving into the first verse. She sounds great on the first verse, her vocals staying a little low but portraying such emotion that cannot be ignored. The chorus brings out the emotions even more as alan’s vocals become more powerful and the music becomes more dramatic. The lyrics of the song speak of wanting to see someone precious once more because there is distance that weighs on alan’s heart. Thus the story of the lyrics is definitely brought alive through her strong vocals and the fantastic instrumentation. It’s a great song and one that hits the heart of the listener without fail.

alan BALLAD promoThe B-side is 幸せの鐘. Opening the song is some soft and calming instrumentation and then alan sings the first verse. Her vocals here are soft and soothing, really suiting the calm atmosphere established by the instrumentation. Right before the chorus, the music really stands out and offers the perfect transition into the chorus. The chorus sounds strong with more emoting vocals but it still maintains that sense of calm, tying the song together. It’s nice to have the song released physically and it serves as a nice compliment to the A-side.

In order to promote the single, a PV for BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~ was made. The video is pretty simple, only featuring a few scenes. One has alan standing and singing next to a man playing the piano. The room is simply decorated but done so that it reflects alan’s overall style well. There is another scene in which she is sitting on a couch and singing. Near the end, she cries and it really does feel real so that’s a successful element of the video. The setting outside is absolutely gorgeous and its natural beauty also reflects alan perfectly. It’s a very nice video that suits the atmosphere of the song well.

Single Ranking: A –

alan delivers another amazing single in which she brings the songs to life. BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~ is a very pretty ballad that perfectly communicates the feeling of wanting to see someone while 幸せの鐘 carries its own naturalness to it that catches the listener’s ear. With her next single and album on the way next month, I’m sure alan will be able to maintain the high quality music she has been delivering thus far.

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