BoA – BUMP BUMP! [29th Single]

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

BoA - BUMP BUMP

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 music.jp 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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BoA – BoA [Debut English Album]

March 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm (BoA) (, )

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BoA’s debut English album, entitled BoA, was released on 03.17.09. The album was released before the single Eat You Up and the upcoming single is I Did It For Love. Look Who’s Talking was originally planned to be the second single but was used as a promotional song instead.

The album opens up with I Did It For Love, featuring Sean Garrett. The song starts off with a very cool instrumental with BoA repeating “I did it for love” in a sort of robotic voice to match the overall atmosphere. Then she sings the first verse and she definitely understands the attitude of the song because her vocals really portray the emotional story of a girl loving a guy who doesn’t return that love. The chorus is very simple, just featuring BoA singing the title of the song over. Although there is something about it that just is pleasing to the listener’s ear. Sean Garrett’s part really wasn’t necessary and his vocals aren’t that great so he doesn’t really add anything praticularly memorable to the song. Overall I Did It For Love is a simple song but a good way to introduce the listener to the music style of the album.

BoA gets ready to dance with some aggression on the second track, Energetic. Opening the song is an attention-grabbing instrumental and BoA sings “report to the dance floor.” Then there are some vocals from a guy and he actually starts the song off very nicely as his voice commands attention just like the music. BoA comes in for the first verse and her vocals are highlighted by the certain hollowness of the music since the beat is focused. She then sings “put me on” repeatedly and there’s something strangely hypnotizing about it, despite its simplicity. Energetic is a fantastic song that really takes the listener into the world of BoA.

Did Ya features some rock tints to drive home the message of the song. The song starts off on a fun way with a little circus-like sound going on to really stand out to the listener. She then slickly moves onto the first verse and her vocals show strong emotion and really make the listener pay attention to the story of the song. On the chorus, she sings “you shoulda loved me but you didn’t, did ya?” and the sort of in-your-face attitude really shows BoA’s confidence.  The constant repetition of the circus sound throughout the song really makes the instrumentation one of the most interesting album offerings and her vocals are some of the most emotionally energetic, which makes Did Ya one of the best songs on the album.

Look Who’s Talking is without a doubt one of the most addictive songs on the album. The song begins with a really cool instrumental that gets the dance beat going and then in comes BoA. She sings “champagne and caviar, hot boys at the bar looking at me” and this sort of harmless self-centeredness really works in BoA’s favor since she can pull the attitude off perfectly. Her vocals are sleek as well, adding to the attitude and making it believable. The hook is great as she sings “they wanna give it to me” and “this song is all about me, damn right it’s all about me” and her vocals here are stepped up a little so that the listener has to pay attention to them. Actually, the song seemed to have more energy and attitude when it was performed live but it’s still one to look out for because it’s an album jewel.

The album’s first single, Eat You Up, is next. The song begins with a hot beat and then the actual dance instrumentation comes in to spice things up. BoA’s vocals on the first verse are great and her prounciation is actually really strong. Her flirty side is shown as she sings “you feed my appetite in ways I can’t explain.” Like a lot of the other songs, the chorus is simple and just features BoA singing “I’ll eat you up.” However she sounds great, her vocals really standing out here so it’s no problem at all for the listener. The second verse features two of the best lines of the song: “Like I’ve become some kind of demon in the night, you look so tasty I could eat you up alive.” Eat You Up is a fantastic dance song and was a wise choice to release as a single.

Obsessed comes as the next song. The song starts off with a heavy instrumentation and then BoA repeats “it’s a crime” and “it’s a shame” before moving into the first verse. BoA’s vocals here are great and her prounciation is fantastic. She really brings out to the lyrical theme of the song for the listener to catch onto. She steps it up even more on the chorus as the emotions come out a little more while still keeping that cool edge. Since the music is so catchy, the pure instrumental section is great, spotlighting the aggression of the instrumentation. Then the third verse is a great followup as BoA gives even stronger vocals and blows the listener away. Obssessed is a wonderful track and certainly one that will get stuck in the listener’s head.

BoA’s sexy side comes out again with the next song, Touched. The song begins with an interesting dance instrumentation with has some kind of siren going on to make it all the more exciting. On the first verse, BoA brings great vocals and she describes just how the boy is making her feel. There’s just something very magical about the instrumentation in the chorus, which catches the listener’s ear. One noticeable thing is that the backing vocals are actually pretty loud and they seem to overtake BoA’s vocals at points but it’s still really addictive. Touched is another fantastic song that has that American appeal to it that BoA takes to perfectly.

Scream was originally written for German group Monrose and was also used to make the song Daydream for the temporary Korean group Anyband (featuring BoA herself). Beginning the song is a very pretty dance instrumental and then BoA speaks a line. There’s something very grabbing about that one line because it lingers on the listener’s mind and keeps them wanting more, which she then delivers. It sounds like her vocals are distorted but just only by the smallest amount and as the verse goes on, the instrumentation builds up and becomes more grand to introduce the chorus. The lyrics of the chorus are really good as she sings “There’s nobody to hear, it doesn’t matter, it’s only me and you and all of your fears.” It’s another great song and has a kind of prettiness to it that makes it memorable among all these dance tracks.

BoA pulls a self-cover with Girls On Top. The song was originally sung in Korean and now she’s singing it in English. Sometimes changing the language can make the song sound awkward because it wasn’t written in this second language but BoA manages to do herself proud. It’s probably one of the best vocal performances on the album, particularly on the chorus as she declares “this is who I am!” The beat is hot and definitely makes the listener want to dance. The only problem is that the parts with the backup vocalists are a little annoying and appear just a few too many times. They’re not so horrible but it would have been better had the amount of them be lessened. Overall though, it’s an enjoyable track and it serves as a sort of connection between BoA in the Asian Industry and the American one.

The semifinale, Dress Off, shows BoA’s sexy side yet again. The song starts off with an addictive dance instrumental that will have the listener moving the minute it starts. BoA’s vocals on the first verse are commanding and entice the listener and the backing vocals are a nice touch and adding a bit of mystery to the mix. What makes the song so fun is the chorus, in which she sings “why don’t you whisper to me, to me, how you wanna get freaky, freaky,” which is a perfect representation of the sexuality that BoA brings. The “dress off” part of the chorus is great because there’s this certain perky element to it that is kind of cute while still staying with the overall atmosphere of the song. The third verse is interesting as she repeatedly sings “me,” each time getting slightly louder until she’s hitting the fantastic note at the end. Dress Off is without a doubt, one of the best songs on the entire album and hopefully it will be a single in the future.

The album closes with Hypnotic Dancefloor. With its dark atmosphere, BoA brings the dancefloor to life and creates the image for the listener. Since BoA is such an accomplished dancer, it’s kind of nice that she shows that dedication and love in a song. The lyrics have a sexual energy such as “feelin’ an erotic charge, almost like a pain” and it’s obvious that BoA is vrey comfortable with it so it doesn’t come across as awkward as all. Hypnotic Dancefloor is a great way to close the album and keep the listener moving.

Album Ranking: A +

Honestly, I can’t say that BoA made one single mis-step on this album. Every single track is gold, showcasing BoA’s hot dance style. Some of the biggest standouts on the album are Look Who’s Talking, Did Ya, Dress Off, Touched and Obsessed. Any of these songs would make great singles and it’s a solid release from its beginning to its end. I hope that this album gets the recognition it deserves because one thing can be sure, it blew Hikki’s album out of the water.

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BoA – 永遠 / UNIVERSE featuring Crystal Kay & Verbal / Believe In LOVE featuring BoA (Acoustic Version) [27th Single]

February 14, 2009 at 7:02 pm (BoA) (, )

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BoA’s 27th single, entitled 永遠 / UNIVERSE featuring Crystal Kay & Verbal / Believe In LOVE featuring BoA (Acoustic Version), was released on 02.18.09.

永遠 is a midtempo pop song that has that cuteness and sorrow that can’t be overlooked. Opening the song is some vocalizations that support the instrumentation quite well and introduces the listener to the first verse. BoA’s vocals are actually really good here and she effortlessly moves to the higher notes very nicely. However it’s the chorus that really stands strong as she delivers even stronger vocals and the beat comes in heavier, making for a nice dance section. The following repeating “why did you say bye bye” is one of the standout parts of the song and really gets stuck in the listener’s head. It’s a great song and certainly one to look out for from BoA.

The 2nd A-side is definitely the best one of the three, UNIVERSE featuring Crystal Kay and VERRBAL. The trio team up for a groovy and funky dance song that will leave you excited. The song starts off with a really cool instrumental before VERBAL delivers a short rap that shows off his cool attitude. BoA then steps in for the first verse and her vocals are strong, supporting the music very well. Some of the English phrases include “DNA” and “life is a surive race,” which might sound strange but pop out to the listener. Crystal Kay then comes in for the hook and delivers some soulful vocals that are perfect for this song. She sounds great when she sings “You know? Brand new feel, only one you feel.” The chorus is addictive as BoA and Crystal Kay sing together as their vocals actually compliment each other’s really well. BoA does have a tendency to outsing Crystal here but I suppose it’s her song afterall. All the English is kind of hard to understand is a bit non-sensical such as “DJ play & digi style” but it’s a really catchy part of the song. Also the “hey” delivered by Crystal is infectious (BoA says her “hey” in the second verse and it’s really cute). VERBAL’s longer rap section is wonderful as his voice really stands out and is a good compliment to the overall atmosphere of the song. UNIVERSE is one of the best songs BoA has delivered in a long time so teaming up with Crystal and VERBAL definitely was a good idea.

The acoustic version of Believe in LOVE (the original is more upbeat and infectious version done by ravex featuring BoA) is included as the third A-side. There isn’t much to say about the song except that it’s just all right. It’s nowhere as good as the original version and at first listen, it might even sound boring but it’s quite the grower. There’s no vocal change so there isn’t that much to comment on except that the guitar sounds quite pretty but it just doesn’t stand as strongly as the original.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 永遠 was made. It’s a video from BoA so of course there has to be some dancing in it. She definitely shows us what she’s got, delivering some wonderful moves here that suit the song well (although the wall dancing was a bit out of place). There are also scenes of BoA wearing a hat, in which she looks very cute as well as scenes of BoA in her house, just thinking. It’s a pretty good video and definitely one that suits the song well.

Single Ranking: A

BoA delivered on this single as both 永遠 and UNIVERSE are wonderful songs that show BoA’s range. She can deliver her midtempo numbers and addictive dance numbers. UNIVERSE is definitely the best song that the single offers and will make you want to dance. The acoustic version of Believe in LOVE is nice although nothing to write home about. Overall, a solid single worth the listen.

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[Part Six] Oricon Year 2008 Top PVs

December 12, 2008 at 10:06 pm (AAA, aiko, alan, Amuro Namie, Arashi, ayaka, BoA, C-ute, DOUBLE, Hamasaki Ayumi, Hey! Say! JUMP, Ishida Yuko, Ito Yuna, Jyongri, Kobukuro, Koda Kumi, Leah Dizon, Morning Musume, NEWS, Nishino Kana, Otsuka Ai, Perfume, Shiraishi Kikyo, Suzuki Ami, Tanimura Nana, Tohoshinki, Utada Hikaru) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

tabooplayroom

With all the PVs released this year, there have been some real standouts. We’ve seen some amazing dancing, sad love stories, cuteness and pretty lights. So here is the list of the best PVs released this year.

01. Koda Kumi – TABOO PV

02. Hey! Say! JUMP – 真夜中のシャドーボーイ PV

03. Koda Kumi – Under PV

04. Suzuki Ami – ONE PV

05. Perfume – Macaroni PV

06. NEWS – 太陽のナミダ PV

07. Hey! Say! JUMP – Your Seed PV

08. Ito Yuna – miss you PV

09. Jyongri – Winter Love Story PV

10. Hamasaki Ayumi – (don’t) Leave me alone PV

11. Koda Kumi – anytime PV

12. alan – 空唄 PV

13. Tohoshinki – 呪文-Mirotic- PV

14. alan – RED CLIFF ~心・戦~ PV

15. alan – 風の手紙 PV

16. Koda Kumi – 秘密 PV

17. Hamasaki Ayumi – Marionette PV

18. Koda Kumi – Moon Crying PV

19. Arashi – Beautiful days PV

20. Otsuka Ai – クラゲ, 流れ星 PV

21.Tegomass – アイアイ傘 PV

22. Leah Dizon – Vanilla PV

23. NEWS – SUMMER TIME PV

24. Koda Kumi – 恋の魔法 PV

25. Koda Kumi – 甘い罠 PV

26. Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World PV

27. Arashi – One Love PV

28. DOUBLE and Amuro Namie – BLACK DIAMOND PV

29. Amuro Namie – Sexy Girl PV

30. AAA – Crash PV

31. Ishida Yuko – Changes PV

32. Morning Musume – Resonant Blue PV

33. aiko – KissHug PV

34. Tanimura Nana – SEXY SENORITA PV

35. Tanimura Nana – If I’m not the one PV

36. Shiraishi Kikyo – BLACK PV

37. C-ute – 涙の色 PV

38. Tohoshinki – Beautiful you PV

39. alan – 恵みの雨 PV

40. Suzuki Ami – can’t stop the DISCO PV

41. BoA – be with you. PV

42. Nishino Kana – I PV

43. Leah Dizon – Under The Same Sky PV

44. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION PV

45. Amuro Namie – WHAT A FEELING PV

46. Tohoshinki – Purple Line PV

47. ayaka x Kobukuro – あなたと PV

48. Koda Kumi – MORE PV

49. C-ute – 江戸の手毬唄 PV

50. Koda Kumi – あなたがしてくれたこと PV

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[Part Five] Oricon Year 2008 Top Albums

December 10, 2008 at 5:01 pm (AAA, aiko, Aira Mitsuki, Arashi, ayaka, AZU, Berryz Koubou, BIG BANG, BoA, capsule, EXILE, Hamasaki Ayumi, Ito Yuna, KAT-TUN, Koda Kumi, Kuraki Mai, Leah Dizon, MEG, melody., Misia, Morning Musume, NEWS, Perfume, Shimatani Hitomi, Stephanie, Suzuki Ami, Tiana Xiao, Tohoshinki, Utada Hikaru) ()

kingdom

Well there have been many albums released in 2008, some good and some bad. This is a countdown of the top 30 albums released this year. Who’s album reigned number one? Who made it onto the countdown? Continue reading to find out…

albums1It’s no surprise now which album takes the title of Album Of 2008. Just take a look at the picture above or to the right. Koda Kumi’s Kingdom was a fantastic album from start to finish and one really deserving the title of album of the year. It all started with the first single of the Kingdom era BUT / 愛証. BUT was my first Kuu song and the beginning of the love that would follow. It’s an absolutely addictive song and definitely one of her best songs to date! With each release, I became more excited: FREAKY, 愛のうた, LAST ANGEL (featuring Tohoshinki) and anytime all proceeded Kingdom and each single was another reason to make me anticipate the album. When I finally listened to it, I was blown away. Introduction For Kingdom is absolutely gorgeous and continues the trend of Kumi’s amazing introductory tracks. Some of the album gems are 甘い罠 (the traditional addictive Arabian number), Under (the hottest new track showing off that coolness that Kumi portrays so well), MORE (the best ballad with the emotions coming through clearly) and Black Cherry (full version of INTRODUCTION from her previous album and a fantastic dance track). Having a video for each track was also fantastic as we got to see sexy Kumi in the Under PV, beautiful Kumi in the MORE PV and we got another storyline (恋の魔法, 秘密, 甘い罠 and あなたがしてくれたこと). Kumi always makes wonderul storyline PVs ever since BEST ~second session~ so it was nice to see her do another one. This album is perfect from every angle since we really got variety. From the beautiful ballads to the upbeat dance numbers to the cute tracks which make you smile, Kingdom has it all and then some. It really helped Kumi shine this year and it sucks that promotion for the album was cancelled because of a comment she made. Nonetheless, Kingdom is a praise-deserving album and I can only wait to see what she has in store for us with her next album, TRICK (hitting Japan on 01.28.09).

Coming in 2nd place for album of the year is Supreme Show by Suzuki Ami. It’s no secret that Nakata and Ami make a suzuki-ami-supreme-showperfect team and Supreme Show is the perfect result of that chemistry. The single tracks and their B-sides are actually some of the album’s strongest material. ONE serves as the perfect album closer with its aggressive sleek instrumental and memorable vocals from Ami. Tracks 2 to 4 are can’t stop the DISCO, climb up to the top and SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08 S/ A Mix), all of which are extremely addictive. The album also made me love A token of love even more since it really feels like a part of Supreme Show. Some of the new tracks really shined though like TEN, Mysterious and TRUE. TEN is the opener and although it is very lyrically simple, the music is heaven and features a different sound from many of Nakata’s other productions. Mysterious is a return to that cool vibe with a dark atmosphere, which makes it one of Supreme Show’s most memorable songs. TRUE also proves that Ami can slow it down and still make magic. Supreme Show is the culmination of hard work beween the dream team of Nakata and Ami. I only hope they will continue to work together and produce even more strong tracks.

albums3If you want an emotionally charged album filled with strong rock tracks and touching ballads, look no further than GUILTY by Hamasaki Ayumi. Ayu went through a lot when she recorded the album. Her dear friend passed away; she broke up with her long-time boyfriend and she had to go through being deaf in one ear. So the emotions in her life really came to fruition on the album. Three of the four tracks released before the album: glitter, talkin’ 2 myself and decision are all strong and give the album the extra edge it needed to draw the listener in. The new tracks then made the listener addicted. Mirror, (don’t) Leave me alone, MY ALL, Marionette and untitled ~for her~ all stood out brightly. (don’t) Leave me alone was the perfect new rock track that showed Ayu’s attitude with strong lyrics about fake kindness. Marionette was a beatiful new ballad still holding some rock tints on the chorus that is a standout number. MY ALL was the other new happy song and with a similar sound to Replace, it’s definitely nice to her Ayu happy. The song is so sweet, it will make you cry. This album is really one of Ayu’s best and it sucks that it didn’t get the weekly number one spot on Oricon.

Well it should be very obvious that Suzuki Ami is talented. Two albums in the top 5 is no easy feat but then again, we can’t all be as talented as Suzuki Ami. Before she teamed up with Nakata exlusively, they albums4collaborated for only one single:  FREE FREE / SUPER MUSIC MAKER, which originally didn’t grab me but it really grew on me. She worked with various other artists to form the awesomeness that is our fourth place album winner, DOLCE. Two singles were released before the album: FREE / SUPER MUSIC MAKER and Potential Breakup Song.  Those three tracks alongside the B-side of the latter, feel the beat, really were some of DOLCE’s highlights. Some of the new tracks that stood out strongly were Bitter… (joining Studio Apartment), Stereo Love (joining Tomoe Shinahara) and アイノウタ (joining Rocketman). It’s actually nice to hear Ami’s voice without all the distortion (although she sounds better with it). The album had quite the diversity and definitely caught my ears with the various sounds. Even though some of the songs sounded kind of weak, it turned out to be a very cohesive package worthy of praise. However I still prefer Supreme Show so I’m hoping Ami will stay with Nakata because the two of them just make magic together.

albums5Spot number five may come as a surprise but this girl worked really hard and her efforts paid off big time. She said that each track was like revealing a new secret and it gives the listener that personal connection that makes it a little more special, which makes aiko’s 秘密, the fifth strongest album of the year. Two of the strongest tracks, シアワセ and 横顔, were released before the album and really popped on the album. However it was the new tracks that really made this album memorable. 星電話 is the best new track and the album’s best number overall as it shows off those wonderful aiko vocals with a laidback style that any listener can enjoy. Some of the other new enjoyable tracks are 秘密, キョウモハレand ウミウサギ. One thing that makes this album so strong is that aiko’s style comes across on each track, making it one of the most cohesive albums of the year. It’s one heck of an album and it’s definitely worth listening to if you haven’t heard it yet. Also, did I mention that the covers (particularly the one to the left) are absolutely gorgeous? Like seriously.

06. Morning Musume – Cover You

07. Leah Dizon – Communication!!!

08. ayaka – Sing to the Sky

09. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION

10. Tohoshinki – T

11. Perfume – GAME

12. MEG – STEP

13. Aira Mitsuki – COPY

14. AZU – AS ONE

15. melody. – Lei Aloha

16. Berryz Koubou – 5 (FIVE)

17. Arashi – Dream”A”live

18. BoA – THE FACE

19. Kuraki Mai – ONE LIFE

20. EXILE – EXILE LOVE

21. Misia – EIGHTH WORLD

22. Ito Yuna – WISH

23. NEWS – color

24. capsule – More! More! More!

25. Shimatani Hitomi – Flare

26. Stephanie – Stephanie

27. KAT-TUN – QUEEN OF THE PIRATES

28. BIG BANG – Number 1

29. AAA – CHOICE IS YOURS

30. Tiana Xiao – desTiny

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[Part Four] Oricon Year Top Singles

December 9, 2008 at 5:10 pm (AAA, Aira Mitsuki, alan, Amuro Namie, Angela Aki, Aoyama Thelma, Arashi, ayaka, Berryz Koubou, BoA, BONNIE PINK, Buono!, C-ute, Crystal Kay, Fukui Mai, GIRL NEXT DOOR, Hamasaki Ayumi, Hey! Say! JUMP, Hirahara Ayaka, Ishida Yuko, Ito Yuna, Jyongri, KAT-TUN, Kawashima Ai, KinKi Kids, Kitahara Aiko, Kobukuro, Koda Kumi, Kuraki Mai, Leah Dizon, MEG, MilkyWay, Misia, Morning Musume, Nakashima Mika, NEWS, Otsuka Ai, Perfume, Shibasaki Kou, Shiraishi Kikyo, SMAP, Suzuki Ami, Tackey & Tsubasa, Takasugi Satomi, Tanimura Nana, Tegomasu, Tohoshinki, TOKIO, Utada Hikaru, V6) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

mnsb2

Well there have been a lot of singles out this year. Some of them have been amazing and have made me fall in love with certain artists while others made me feel very disappointed. Which single took the number one spot? How many Johnny’s singles and H!P singles made the countdown? You’ll have to continue to find out.

mnsb1Hey! Say! JUMP has definitely impressed me this year, much more than I thought they would. I can’t even describe just how great their music has been but I’ll try anyway. The group’s fourth single, 真夜中のシャドーボーイ, wins title of “Single of Oricon Year 2008.” If there is one thing that these guys know how to do it, it’s make an upbeat single that makes the listener take notice. 真夜中のシャドーボーイ uses Spanish and Arabian themes to push their instrumentation over everyone elses. Except for Kei, Keito and Ryutaro, everybody has a real turn to shine. Yamada, Daiki, Nakajima and Chinen all have this center role (Yamada having the actual center role) since this song was used to promote their new drama Scrap Teacher so it was nice to see different people getting the time to shine. Everything about the song was perfect. With the constant repetition of the word “チェリー,” the listener is taken to another world. These boys really pull off the mature sound strongly and Chinen’s voice sounds different on this song than the others ones. Daiki, Nakajima, Yabu and Takaki all sound great too. With the multitude of live performances the song has gotten, the guys have looked hot and they sing the song with such confidence. It’s an amazing single that reigns above all the others so they should be very proud to have “Single of the Year.”

It was very hard to choose a first place winner and this single was so close to taking the top spot. Second place though kumitaboocddvdis something to be proud of too though and the runner up for “Single of the Year” goes to Koda Kumi with TABOO. After the controversy, Kumi went for a more conservative approach with MOON. However there’s something magical about Kumi when she does the sexy thing. She exutes confidence and it really makes for an enjoyable time when you can get up and move with Kuu. TABOO is the sexy anthem of 2008 as Kumi provides smooth vocals that lay over the hot instrumental. The verses are what make this song so addictive, particularly the last lines when she sings “drive away.” Kumi uses a certain cleverness with these lyrics using various metaphors to describe secret love and they come across to the listener perfectly. Plus I’m sure this single has given many others faith that Kumi will always have that sexiness in her because people have been worried that it’s been declining. Always is a nice compliment to the A-side even though it’s pretty forgettable. TABOO is the hot dance track that Kumi delivered and is just too good to pass up. Even the PV for the song was perfect. They really made sure this would be a strong single from all angles. This song single-handedly has me assured that TRICK will not be an album to forget.

cantstopthediscocddvdThird place was also really close to nabbing that top spot. The moment I heard the title track, I was instantly addicted and I knew the album that would soon follow would be amazing. That is why third place goes to Suzuki Ami with can’t stop the DISCO. It’s no secret that Ami and Nakata make a dream team because every single they release together just shines. I loved ONE but the moment I heard can’t stop the DISCO, I fell in love with the team. I first heard the chorus when it was used for the Mister Donuts CM and couldn’t get enough of it. But then when I heard the verses…I was blown away.  Ami really pulls off the cool vibe here and she’s given me one of the most addictive lines of 2008: me to me no kakehiki (love tactics). I can’t get enough of this song and it’s definitely one of the highlights of Supreme Show. Even the B-sides were amazing: climb up to the top and SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A Mix) were extremely strong numbers that helpe make this one cohesive single from start to finish (and that includes having each song have perfect transition into the next).

In case it wasn’t clear already, Hey! Say! JUMP has put out some fantastic music this year. So does it really come as a yssurprise that they have two singles in the top 5 best singles of 2008? I didn’t think so. Hey! Say! JUMP takes fourth place as well for their 3rd single, Your Seed / 冒険ライダー. It was with this single that I officially became a fan of these guys. Your Seed is the first time they really brought a mature song and the difference from Dreams come true shocked me. Everyone sounded great on this song and the rap section is absolutely infectious. I still haven’t found out who is doing that but the first person that came to mind was Nakajima. Was it actually him? Probably not but ya never know. It’s hard to really put my love for this song into words so let’s just say everything about this song was perfect. Not one thing could have made it any better. 冒険ライダー also had a kind of mature sound while having that fun-loving breezy atmosphere that just makes you wanna smile. I particularly like the chorus when all the boys come together and harmonize so perfectly. Also Yabu shines on his few solo lines before the final chorus so good job to him. So it’s the single that made me a Hey! Say! JUMP fan and one of the best releases of the entire year! The boys are on fire!!!

singles5Johnny’s Entertainment was definitely on a roll at the beginning of the year. NEWS’s first single of the year, 太陽のナミダ, comes in fifth place of Single of the Year. The title track uses Spanish and Arabian influences to really make the instrumentation addictive. Everybody sounded great on the song and personally, Massu’s voice stood out a little more than everyone else’s. Nonetheless, everyone sounded fantastic and their vocals really were smooth over the instrumental. バンビーナ and Lady Spider were also amazing, really catching my ear. It was actually Lady Spider that made me a real fan of NEWS because it just really sparkled in my eyes. It’s so catchy and one that could have been an A-side. バンビーナ really shows the sexy side of the boys. The lyrics have that dirty edge to them and they might even make you blush. Tegoshi can friggin sing and if you had any doubts about it, listen to バンビーナ. They did a magnificent job on this single and it’s certainly not one to pass up. As an overall package, it’s their strongest single to date so give it a listen if you haven’t already and fall in love with these boys like I did.

Suzuki Ami and Nakata really are the dream team. can’t stop the DISCO was amazing as was this year’s 6th best single, amisuzukionecddvdONE. The moment I heard ONE, I was addicted and I began following Ami thereafter. The song features a more aggressive instrumental with some perfect vocals from Ami to give it that extra flavor. When the song first opens, we are treated to the best part of the entire song: キラキラの the one. This one line makes the song fantastic but the rest of the song nicely follows this section. The chorus also stands out with the English phrases like “I love music and this world” and “I love your smile.” It’s absolutely perfect in every way so it’s the perfect way to introduce the formal come together of Ami and Nakata. Originally the B-side, A token of love, did not really impress me but after giving it some time, I fell in love with it. A token of love also features that aggressive sound that supports Ami so perfectly. I really like that last line of the chorus, the title of the song, because she says it with such edge and sleekness that it sticks in your head. Plus that ending instrumental sequence is fantastic, really standing out to the listener. Overall, this is definitely one of the strongest singles of the year, without question. It shows Ami’s cool side and is the perfect product of the dream team.

singles7alan has had a smash year with her Element Project. Each single repesented one of the 5 Godai elements and the best one to emerge of the five: 空唄. The title track is a beautiful upbeat song in which alan claims she can fly away. I think because this is the real upbeat number chosen to be an A-side, it stands out from all the other singles she has released. It really portrays the element of the sky well and lets the listener believe what she is singing. If you want even more amazingness, then turn to the B-side, My Stage. This is definitely alan’s most cheery and infectious song because the instrumentation is so light and heavenly, prompting the listener to just smile while listening. Honestly, I think I would have preferred My Stage to be the A-side since it’s a real standout in alan’s discography. I hope that she’ll be doing a similar song to this on her album…whenever that will be coming out. It shows the versatility of alan as an artist and proves that she can do music closer to mainstream music while still having that special touch that only alan can bring.

Perfume also had a strong year, releasing various singles that showed Perfume’s quirky and fun nature. However they singles8really stood out when they released Baby cruising love / マカロニ. They’re really the best examples of electrpop ballads as the instrumentation is strong and the girls’ voices suit them perfectly. Baby cruising love was nice because it still had traces of that unforgettable Nakata aggressiveness. However the real star of the single and the reason it placed so high on this chart was because of マカロニ. It is the prime example of how to slow down an electropop song and still maintain the quality. There is such a relaxing and natural atmosphere about this song that when I listen to it, I can just smile and drift off into another world. And having an emotional connection with a song just makes it all the better, which is why this is Perume’s best song to date. It was released at the end of the winter and I can see that there are some wintery traces hidden in the instrumentation. I’m hoping that the girls will bring another strong song like this for their next album, which looks to be strong looking at the singles released thus far. Good lucks girls and I hope the future brings you luck!

24If you want the best winter song released this year then you definitely have to look at 24 Xmas Time by Kuraki Mai. I was blown away when I first heard the song because there is something so natural and fun about this song that I can’t help but love. The song kind of goes back to her older style with songs like Love, Day After Tomorrow, which is always a good thing because I adore that song. Okay, let’s be truthful, the song isn’t that wintery or Christmas-like but that’s okay because it’s just a fantastic song. The verses are what make it so addictive and those moments where the instrumentation changes to set up Mai for a strong line (such as my favorite line in the whole song which translates to “kyou mo, watashi wa sekushii.” The B-side was nice, although a little generic but it compliments the whole wintery theme of the single nicely. I can’t believe Mai put out such a great single after a few that were questionable. I’m already anticipating her new album, touch Me!, because of this one song.

I love Tanimura Nana. She’s talented; she’s fun and she’s ready to go! Her 10th single, If I’m not the one / SEXY singles10SENORITA, featured two different songs that show off two different sides to her. If I’m not the one is a very beautiful ballad with Nana lamenting that she needs to know if she can’t be her admired’s one and only. She really portrays her emotions strongly and it keeps the listener focused and sympathetic towards her. However the star song on this single is SEXY SENORITA, a fun song that shows off Nana’s sexy and playful side. Her vocals here are strong and the chorus stands out proudly. She portrays attitude and sass, which is perfect for making the listener believe her. I really like the English phrases such as “call me, call me” and “crazy crazy.” I’m still waiting for an album to be released from her since I know I’m going to love it but she’s going to school (she’s attending one of the most prestigious law schools in Japan so go Nana!) so I can’t blame her. I just want any piece of news of a new release soon and it better be an album. Congratulations Nana for being such a threat with your fourth single, If I’m not the one / SEXY SENORITA, which rounds out our top 10.

11. Misia – Catch The Rainbow [Digital Release]

12. Morning Musume – ペッパー警部

13. Leah Dizon – Love Paradox

14. C-ute – 江戸の手毬唄 II

15. alan – 風の手紙

16. Perfume – Dream Fighter

17. Tohoshinki – 呪文  -Mirotic-

18. Arashi – One Love

19. Morning Musume – リゾナント ブルー

20. Ito Yuna – miss you

21. Koda Kumi – anytime

22. Perfume – love the world

23. Tanimura Nana – JUNGLE DANCE

24. V6 – 蝶

25. Kinki Kids – Secret Code

26. NEWS – SUMMER TIME

27. Leah Dizon – Vanilla

28. Aira Mitsuki – チャイナ・ディスコティカ

29. Berryz Koubou – 行け 行け モンキーダンス

30. alan – 懐かしい未来 ~longing future~

31. MEG – HEART

32. AAA – MIRAGE

33. Ishida Yuko – Changes

34. Hey! Say! JUMP – Dreams come true

35. Tohoshinki – Runaway / My Girlfriend

36. Tohoshinki – If…?! / Rainy Night

37. Tohoshinki – Purple Line

38. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION / Stay Gold

39. Tegomass – アイアイ傘

40. Takasugi Satomi – ありがとう

41. Ito Yuna – 恋は groovy x2

42. BONNIE PINK – Ring A Bell

43. Shiraishi Kikyo – again

44. Shiraishi Kikyo – BLACK

45. Shimatani Hitomi – 泣きたいなら

46. Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World

47. ayaka x Kobukuro – あなたと

48. alan – RED CLIFF ~心・戦~

49. Amuro Namie – 60s70s80s

50. Berryz Koubou – MADAYADE

51. Nakashima Mika – ORION

52. Crystal Kay – 涙のさきに

53. Jyongri – Winter Love Story

54. C-ute – 涙の色

55. Kuraki Mai – 夢が咲く春 / You and Music and Dream

56. Arashi – Step and Go

57. Arashi – Beautiful days

58. V6 – LIGHT IN YOUR HEART / Swing!

59. AAA – MUSIC!!! / ZERO

60. Aoyama Thelma – 守りたいもの

61. Koda Kumi – MOON

62. NEWS – Happy Birthday

63. Kitahara Aiko – その笑顔よ 永遠に

64. Shibasaki Kou – よくある話~喪服の女編~

65. Milky Way –  タンタンターン!

66. Kuraki Mai – 一秒ごとに Love for you

67. C-ute – FOREVER LOVE

68. Otsuka Ai – クラゲ, 流れ星

69. Aira Mitsuki – ロボットハニー

70. ayaka – おかえり

71. Utada Hikaru – Prisoner of Love

72. Shimatani Hitomi – WAKE YOU UP / 雨の日には 雨の中を 風の日には 風の中を / Marvelous

73. Hirahara Ayaka – 孤独の向こう

74. Milky Way – アナタボシ

75. alan – 恵みの雨

76. BoA – be with you.

77. BoA – VIVID

78. Fukui Mai – アイのうた

79. V6 – VIBES

80. Hirahara Ayaka – さよなら 私の夏

81. EXILE – LAST CHRISTMAS

82. Tohoshinki – Close to you / Crazy Life

83. Nishino Kana – Style

84. Arashi – truth / 風の向こうへ

85. KAT-TUN – White Xmas

86. GIRL NEXT DOOR – Drive away / 幸福の条件

87. GIRL NEXT DOOR – 偶然の確率

88. TOKIO – 雨傘 / あきれるくらい 僕らは願おう

89. Tohoshinki – Beautiful you / 千年恋歌

90. SMAP – そのまま / White Message

91. Angela Aki – 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ

92.Tackey & Tsubasa – 恋詩-コイウタ / PROGRESS

93. AAA – BEYOND~カラダノカナタ

94. Kawashima Ai – カケラ / Flag

95. SMAP – この瞬間, きっと夢じゃない

96. EXILE – The Birthday ~Ti Amo~

97. Buono! – ガチンコでいこう!

98. Berryz Koubou – ジンギスカン

99. Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

100. Buono! – ロッタラ ロッタラ 

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[Part Three] Artist Profiles

December 8, 2008 at 5:01 pm (AAA, aiko, Aira Mitsuki, Aladdin, Amuro Namie, Angela Aki, Aoyama Thelma, Arashiro Beni, ayaka, AZU, BIG BANG, BoA, BONNIE PINK, capsule, Crystal Kay, DOUBLE, Every Little Thing, EXILE, Hamasaki Ayumi, Ishida Yuko, Ito Yuna, Jyongri, Kobukuro, Koda Kumi, Kuraki Mai, Leah Dizon, MEG, melody., Mihimaru GT, Misia, misono, Miyavi, Nakashima Mika, Nishino Kana, Otsuka Ai, Perfume, Seamo, Shimatani Hitomi, Shimizu Shota, Shiraishi Kikyo, Stephanie, Suzuki Ami, Takasugi Satomi, Tanimura Nana, Tiana Xiao, Tohoshinki, Utada Hikaru, WaT) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

There have been so many artists this year that should be proud for putting out some fantastic music. From the boys to the girls, from the new artists to the veterans, they have made this Oricon Year one of strong music. Today, we’ll explore artists that have released this year (exluding those from Hello Project and Johnny’s Entertainment, who have already been covered).

suzukionecddvdLet’s start things off by covering one of my favorite genres, Japanese electropop. From Perfume to Aira Mitsuki to SAWA, there have been many different styles from electropop that stood out. But there is one producer who is the head of this genre: Nakata Yasutaka. And there is one person who reigns queen of J-Electropop 2008: Suzuki Ami. Nobody brought the heat like Ami. DOLCE was released at the beginning of the year and even though, it didn’t feature Nakata’s touch all over the album, FREE FREE and SUPER MUSIC MAKER were integral parts of that album. Then to commemorate her 10th anniversary, she continued to release. Both singles, ONE and can’t stop the DISCO, got me hooked on her. Even the B-sides,  A token of love and climb up to the top, were extremely impressive and it made me really anticipate Supreme Show. I was definitely not disappointed because tracks like TEN, Mysterious and TRUE are twinkling jewels of the Nakata and Ami team. She brought something new to the electropop scene: sexiness. Let’s face it, electropop is more on the cute and quriky side but it’s nice to see something new and that’s what Ami is. She has her own style that makes her stand out against the other girls of electropop. She did a fantastic job this year and definitely deserves high praise. Perfume, also produced by Nakata, impressed me this year. After releasing a fantastic single, Baby cruising love / マカロニ (マカロニ still holding the title as best electropop slow song), the girls came with GAME. It was a strong album featuring many impressive numbers such as Butterfly and シークレットシークレット which made me really take notice of them. However it was the following singles, which cemented me in fandom. Love the world and Dream Fighter were two excellent singles that really have me anticipating another album from them. They gamedefinitely bring that electropop flavor well. Aira Mitsuki also had some memorable tracks come through to make me a fan of hers. Swallowtail D.A.N.C.E. (Cherryboy Function Version), Beep Count Fantastic (featuring Terukado), チャイナ・ディスコティカ and Rock n’ Roll Is Dead are all addictive tracks and she has a habit of getting the best tracks with a focus on instrumentation rather than vocals. With these kind of tracks, it’s no wonder that she stands out in the electropop crowd. I know MEG isn’t the most popular product of Nakata’s work but she has gotten some standout songs like SUPERSONIC, MAKE LOVE and the amazingly fantastic NATALIE <FM 16 MIX.> That last song is one of my favorite electropop songs ever so it’s clear she can bring the magic. Although Nakata is the king producer of electropop, his group capsule wasn’t as strong as I was hoping for. There were some standout numbers on their new album, More! More! More! such as Phantom and e.d.i.t. but overall, they were definitely not the strongest electropop members. Electropop certainly stood out this year and with the growing popularity of Nakata, I look forward to seeing what he brings us in 2009 (particularly for Ami and Perfume).

kikyo_shiraishi1Let’s move onto J-Urban. The J-Urban scene has been pretty quiet this year with certain acts like EMYLI and m-flo not releasing anything but we did have some nice new songs. Newcomer, Shiraishi Kikyo, made waves with me. Both BLACK and again really hooked me because a new talented girl who was doing something upbeat with that sexy vibe was coming through. I thought she did a very good job and she should certainly be proud. Her third single was a little on the bland side but her fourth is already a step up. I’m not exactly sure why she’s changed to Nori Shiraishi but honestly, I think it’s kind of funny. I guess we’ll see what that does for her. Somehow, I still haven’t heard the full version of again and I don’t think a full PV was ever released (that’s nice guys…). I look foward to seeing what she’ll do in the future. DOUBLE stood out to me because she collaborated with superstar Amuro Namie for the sleek and catchy, BLACK DIAMOND. These two girls brought the heat on this new track and definitely set me up to see what she is going to do next. We also saw the Aoyama Thelma achieve massive success with second single, そばにいるね featuring Soulja (to my surprise and confusion). However it was her 4th single 守りたいもの (plus amazing B-side, MADONNA), which caught my attention. I know Thelma can make some very good songs but I’m hoping that her music will be more diverse in 2009 (how about some more upbeat numbers Thelma?). Crystal Kay had some enjoyable songs too as she released another album (Color Change!) and two singles (涙のさきに and ONE). 涙のさきに was pretty catchy and some of the songs on Color Change! were nice but I’m hoping next year, the music will be even better.

Now let’s talk about the boys of J-Pop (not including JE boys). It was obvious from the start that Tohoshinki would be tohothe real standout guys of the year. They’ve released so much material that it’s ridiculous. They’ve released a total of 9 singles and an album (also a Korean album) so they’ve been really busy. How did they reach such a high number of singles? The TRICK project. The song TRICK from their album T wsa a mashup of five different songs and so the group released those five seperate songs as singles and added their own solo number as well. Some went very well (If…?! / Rainy Night [Junsu] and Runaway / My Girlfriend [Yuchun]) while some fell flat (Two hearts / WILD SOUL [Changmin]). Overall though it was an enjoyable project. In addition to those 5 singles, four others were released: Purple Line, Beautiful you /千年恋歌‎‎,  どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう? and 呪文 -Mirotic.- That last single was amazing as was Purple Line so the boys should be very proud. The other two were okay and could have been stronger but hey, they can’t all be hits. Their 3rd Japanese album, T, also featured some great songs like CLAP! and LAST ANGEL -Tohoshinki Version.- These boys did a fantastic job this year and I can only anticipate what they’ll pull next year. Their next single, Bolero, has already been announced for a January release. Jaejong and Yuhno also really caught my eye because they were absolutely sexy during the Mirotic promotional time. It was…wow. Just look at the Mirotic and Wrong Number PVs. Another group of guys who stood out this year was EXILE, who released quite a bit themselves: three singles, three BEST albums and one studio album (released at the very end of 2007 but  believe it is counted in Oricon Year 2008). The singles weren’t as great as I hoped for but the album material was enjoyable from EXILE LOVE. The one amazing jaestandout track was Make Love, a hot and sexy number that really shows the boys’ mature side strongly. Atsushi has some wonderful vocals so I’m happy that he’s been given the chance to shine. Newcomer Shimizu Shota also made waves with me as he was a fresh new face with some great vocals (i.e. HOME). He released an album and even though I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to it, I will do so soon. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s good looking. BIG BANG was quite active this year, releasing in both Korea and Japan. G-Dragon has become one of my favorites because there’s something about his voice that really catches my ear. WaT released two singles this year and they were okay, nothing that really made me go wow but I still think they have some nice voices and hopefully the music will be stronger in the future. Although Kobukuro have not been very active this year, they did release the single あなたと with ayaka, which really stood out to me. I look forward to seeing more material from these guys in the future. In the world of J-Rock, Miyavi and Gackt did some releasing although Gackt wasn’t particularly impressive this year in terms of music (but he did look hot). Miyavi was a little better, releasing his album This Iz The Japanese Kabuki Rock. His voice is nice though so maybe he’ll do something stronger in the future. Seamo also caught my eye even though his singles were a little bit iffy. Again, he released an album that I haven’t listened to yet but I do want to hear it soon. So overall, the boys had some nice music (particularly Tohoshinki) and I hope next year it will be even better (because let’s face it, Johnny’s Entertainment music was a lot better than the other guys’ music).

kingdom1Now we go to the four female artists who I call my Fabulous Four: Koda Kumi, Amuro Namie, Utada Hikaru and Hamasaki Ayumi. There is absolutely nobody like Kuu. She’s fun; she’s free and she’s one of a kind. Kingdom was a fantastic album, filled with everything from sorrow to cuteness to sexy and it really showed how strong of an artist she is. Unfortunately, she made a comment about women’s rotting amniotic fluids which caused an extreme backlash. Contracts were cancelled and promotion for Kingdom was cancelled. Personally, I think the public over-reacted to the comment and it was totally undeserved for Kumi to go through all of that. But she continued to release in June with MOON, then TABOO. TABOO was just the song that make the public go Kumi crazy because it’s a return to her fun sexy dance side that we all love. stay with me will be released in a couple weeks (which will be counted on Oricon Year 2009 so I will not talk about that). I think she’s done a great job this year and I think next year will be even better. TRICK will be amazing and I know that from the bottom of my heart. Amuro Namie has had one hell of a year and everyone knows it. BEST FICTION was a smash hit, managing to almost take the crown of best selling album of Oricon Year 2008. Sadly it did not reach it but it’s okay because it was a million seller and it managed to stay at the number 1 spot for various weeks. Sexy Girl and Do Me More were amazing new tracks that made BEST FICTION worth checking out. She also released the hit single 60s70s80s, which achieved great sales, managing to outsell a slew of her previous ones. WHAT A FEELING was the star track on that single and it’s another one of Namie’s awesome tracks. I hope we’ll be getting some new material in 2009 but Namie deserves a nice long break so I hope she gets it. Utada Hikaru also had an amazing year seeing as HEART STATION is nearing the million mark and has outsold her previous album, ULTRA BLUE. There were some amazing new tracks on there like 虹色バス and Fight The Blues. The singleswere strong as well, which made me one of the most cohesive albums of 2008. Hamasaki Ayumi had a pretty good year herself even though she didn’t get wonderful sales. In fact, GUILTY became donther first album to not hit the number one spot…ever. Nonetheless, the album was good featuring tracks like (don’t)Leave me alone, Marionette and MY ALL. Well this was Ayu’s 10th anniversary so I was hoping she’d release a little more but what we got was Mirrorcle World and another BEST album. Her new single is set to be released very soon but it will count towards Oricon Year 2009. I wonder when we’ll be getting her new album but hopefully there will be a few more singles before that. Of course, she’s had her troubles during the year too. She officially announced that she is deaf in one ear; she broke up with her boyfriend who she has been seeing for a while and her friend passed away. You know, Ayu is a fighter and it’s one of the reasons why I respect her so much. I hope she has many years of happiness to look forward to.

So let’s move onto the female veterans of J-Pop. Well the term “veterans” can be disputed but I’m coining the girls that have been a while as “veterans.” Which veteran knocked it out of the park this year? Well that’s none other than aiko. 秘密 was one of the strongest albums of the year with many wonderful tracks that showed off aiko’s laidback and relaxing style. She also released KissHug, which was used as an insert song for the Hana Yori Dango movie. It didn’t aikoget the sales it deserved but I’m hoping she’ll have even more success in the future because her music is that good. Her talent is undeniable and that’s why she is “Veteran of the Year.” Kuraki Mai is incredible and if you want proof of that, just look at 24 Xmas Time. That was a fantastic wintery song that reached back to her old style. She released ONE LIFE, an album with some standout tracks such as ONE LIFE and Born to be free. She also released the following singles: 夢が咲く春 / You and Music and Dream as well as 一秒ごとに Love for you. They may not have been the strongest singles she’s released but they were actually pretty catchy. Mai will be releasing yet another album, entitled touch Me! in January so I can’t wait to see what she brings. Misia was another veteran who stood out this year. EIGHTH WORLD was a pretty good songs like 以心伝心 and Hybrid Breaks -Interlude.- She released various singles but none so addictive as digital release, Catch The Rainbow. It’s an absolutely fantastic track that will be seeing a physical release soon. Misia, good job this year for your 10th anniversary and I can’t wait to see what awaits us in 2009! BoA is definitely a force to be reckoned with. THE FACE was released early in the year and featured some new standout tracks like Girl In The Mirror, Style and AGGRESSIVE. Although it wasn’t as strong as her previous albums. She then released VIVID, which also was not up to BoA’s usual standards. However what makes her so strong is that she always tries new things. She’s mainow started her American career with the release of the hot single, Eat You Up. Her new song, Look Who’s Talking is even better and it makes me highly anticipate her debut album. Otsuka Ai did some nice releases as well. Even though ロケット スニーカー / One × Time was very forgettable (it ended up being the lowest selling single of her career for a reason), クラゲ, 流れ星 was a step up and already she’s set to release her 5th studio album, LOVE LETTER. It looks to be better than LOVE PIECE but I guess we’ll see when hits stores very very soon. Even though BONNIE PINK was largely inactive this year, she did stand out with the digital release of Ring A Bell and then physical release of its Japanese counterpart 鐘を鳴らして. Both songs were good (the English being the stronger version) and BONNIE should be proud of her accomplishments. I’m hoping she’ll put out an album next year because it feels like forever since Thinking Out Loud was released. Finally we come to Shimatani Hitomi, who could’ve been better. Her new album Flare did not live up to the hotness of its name but I’m hoping that next year, she will pull out the stops for her 10th anniversary.

Now we’ll talk about the newbies. These girls are still relatively new to the music scene but some of them have definitely taken no time in standing out from the crowd. Tanimura Nana has given us some fantastic music. Who could forget the incredibly addictive SEXY SENORITA or the smooth and sultry Ooh… or the catchy upbeat number nana3Place of Love? She’s taking on the sexy image just right and with each release, she gets better and better. I’m really looking forward to her debut album and I hope that it will be coming soon because I can’t wait any longer. Actually any new release from her will be welcome. It’s been a while. ayaka released her sophomore album, Sing to the Sky, early in the year and it was a huge step up from First Message. Songs like 愛も嘘も真実, ゴールドスター and POWER OF MUSIC really made a fan of hers. Her voice is incredible so it’s no wonder that the album shined like it did. ayaka definitely has the power to make it big so I wish her all the success in the world. In addition to an awesome album, she collaborated with Kobukuro again for あなたと, a beautiful ballad that blows their last single out of the water. She’s had a great year and definitely will be shining even more brightly in 2009. Leah Dizon certainly had an eventful year. She released two singles, her sophomore album, got married and is expecting a child in 2009. Love Paradox was her strongest single to date and Vanilla (LOVE SWEET CANDY included) was another memorable single from her. Communication!!! was also a pretty good album with great album tracks like Nothin’ to Lose, Step into my World and BxKxRxxx. I was very surprised to see that she was pregnant but I’m happy that she has found somebody and I wish them all the happiness together. I also wish they have a happy and healthy baby and she will be back better than ever next year, ready to show Japan just how strong of an artist she is. Ito Yuna has really impressed me this year, particularly with miss you and 恋は groovy x2. BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!! (the B-side of miss you) is her best song to date and one that definitely cemented my fandom. WISH wasn’t a bad album either, featuring some memorable songs like Power of Love. Hopefully her next album will be even better, shining strongly for all the fans. Even Jyongri had her time to shine with Winter Love Story, her newest single. All the songs on the single convinced me of Jyongri’s power. Her album may have been pretty weak but it looks like she’ll be on the path for strength. One other newcomer that caught my eye was Ishida Yuko with her wonderful new single Changes, which featured an addictive title track, I’ll be sure to look out for her in the future. She has a cool image and a great voice, worthy of celebration. AZU has had her time to shine as well with standout numbers like VIOLIN. She has the voice and talent to make it far so I hope she has more succes in 2009.  Other newcomers like Tiana Xiao, Nishino Kana and Takasugi Satomi have had some nice releases and even though they were not particularly engaging, I look forward to what they will do next year. Even Stephanie had some songs here and there.

Let’s go onto the girls who are neither veterans nor newbies. melody. has also done some nice work this year with the release of the beautiful andaaa calming Lei Aloha. The songs on that album really formed a cohesive one that emerged as one of the standouts of the year. I’m very sad to have heard the news that she will be retiring to focus on the fashion industry. I guess if she had to leave, I’m glad she left with a bang. Arashiro Beni has experienced some popularity this year with her collaboration with Dohzi-T. She also released three new songs for her BEST album, switched labels and starrred in a movie so she’s been quite busy. Mellow Parade was fantastic and hopefully she’ll do another song like this in the future. She has recently changed her name to BENI so I guess we’ll see how that goes for her. Other girls like Angela Aki, Nakashima Mika and misono have had their releases this year and it’s Mika who really impressed me with her most recent single, ORION. The B-side, FOCUS, stood out to me strongly and I have really got to listen to her new album.

Finally, we come to the groups which feature members of both sexes. To be honest, they haven’t been very impressive with the exception of one group: AAA. MIRAGE was absolutely addictive, featuring some Arabian sounds to push the track over the edge. Everyone sounded great on the track and it was really one to remember. Following a very unforgettable single, they released MUSIC!!! / ZERO. ZERO was wonderful, showing a dark atmosphere that the group really shined with. Other groups mihimaru GT, Aladdin and Every Little Thing failed to impress but hopefully they’ll step it up next year.

This year, some artists stepped up and some artists took a step back. But there are a lot of artists who should be proud for releasing such quality music. There is still one artist left though, an artist who will be crowned “Artist of the Year.” He/She will be announced in part 7 (the final part) of the Oricon Year 2008 Countdown.

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BoA – Eat You Up [Debut American Single]

October 19, 2008 at 6:34 pm (BoA) (, )

Well what’s one thing we can say about BoA? She’s ambitious. She first came onto the music scene in her homeland of Korea and soon came to Japan and took it by storm. Her next venture is the U.S.A. There have been rumors circulating about her debut for a while and I didn’t believe them at first or even want to believe them but she’s here and actually did a good job. Eat You Up was originally set to be released on October 7th but was then pushed back to October 21st.

The song starts off with a thumping and addictive dance instrumental that immediately catches the listener before BoA takes the first verse. The lyrics are pretty interesting and shows off a more flirtatious side of BoA as she sings “you feed my appetite in ways I can’t explain.” She continues onto the chorus, which is simple but extremely catchy. Repeating “I’ll eat you up” with the vocalizing, it makes for an easy-to-remember and ear catching section of the song that stands out very nicely. The focus comes to her voice especially on the second verse when the music is almost hushed. It’s my personal favorite section of the song for the following two lyrics: “Like I’ve become some demon in the night / You look so tasty I could eat you up alive.” BoA then repeats “I wanna take you to my room” and her vocals here are wonderful. The pure instrumental section near the end sounds really strong as it spotlights just how the song’s beat is. Closing the song is the repetition of “eat you up” in a tweaked voice. Eat You Up is a brilliant song and one definitely one worth taking notice of. Hopefully BoA will get success with this because it really is one of the best American releases of the year.

In order to promote the single, two PVs for Eat You Up were made. One was done by an American director and the other made by a Korean director. The Korean version features BoA getting with her friends and after doing some dancing in the streets, they enter a room with judges and blow their minds. Although there isn’t much of a plot, it’s definitely an enjoyable video because BoA shows off her attitude.

Single Ranking: A +

BoA is such a strong musical contender whether she’s in Japan, Korea or America. Eat You Up is a very catchy and addictive number that BoA brings to life with her special attitude and good vocals. Let’s see where BoA ends up and I hope she achieves success.

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BoA – VIVID [27th Single]

June 4, 2008 at 11:15 am (BoA) (, )

BoA’s 27th single, entitled VIVID, was released on 06.04.08. The single features three different songs: Kissing you, Sparkling and Joyful Smile. Kissing you received a tie-in as the theme song for the Japanese dorama 7 Female Lawyers. Sparkling was used in the Zespri Gold Kiwi CM.

Kissing you opens the single up as a light and cute spring track. The song opens up with an old sound that has a certain cute element to it that works before going into the real instrumentation with the chorus. BoA’s vocals sound nice and the finishing English line makes the chorus really pop in the end. The verses work well as BoA’s vocals follow the direction of the music to combine to make a light and cute feeling. The hook serves as a bridge between the verses and the chorus as the instrumentation varies slightly and carries the ears to the sweetness of the chorus. The pure instrumental section is nice as it spolights the wonderful instrumentation before finishing the song off with the chorus. Kissing you is a nice way to open up the single with an adorable instrumentation and good vocals from BoA.

Sparkling is an enjoyable poppy dance song. The song begins with a slow ballad sounding instrumentation accompanied by a piano before coming into the true uptempo pop sound that the song is all about. BoA’s vocals work well with the music on the verses so they really pop. The hook starts introducing an even catchier element that comes across in the chorus even more strongly. The English used only brings the cuteness forward even more. The pure instrumental section is great as it  highlights the cuteness of the song that makes it enjoyable.

The final song on the single is Joyful Smile. Following a sweet and poppy instrumental, the first verse comes in. The music is somewhat reminiscent of Kissing you but there is a certain element that works so well on this song that keeps it interesting. BoA delivers her best on the verses as her vocals work perfectly with the music. The chorus stands out for its arrangement as the first lines are sung with the ending note held out. It sounds great and the happy and poppy atmosphere comes across strongly. The pure instrumental section has almost a video-game quality to it that sounds wonderful with the song and spotlights just how interesting the music of the song really is. The song finishes just as strongly as it began as it fades into silence. Joyful Smile is the perfect song to end the single with as it is cheery and uptempo with an interesting and fun instrumentation alongside BoA’s great vocals.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Kissing you was made. Unfortunately, the video doesn’t match up to the song. The biggest problem is that BoA goes overboard on the cuteness act and it comes off as being forced and fake. The video begins with BoA writing a love letter to her admired but it’s obvious she’s not actually writing anything and it looks a little weird. After sending the letter, she helps a child retrieve a balloon from a tree and her reaction to seeing the child look exaggerated and fake. She then puts her umbrella over a bird’s nest to protect them from the rain and then goes back home to read a love letter sent from her beloved. Overall, the video left a lot to be desired and the whole video taking place on a revolving platform really didn’t work here.

A PV for Sparkling was also made to promote the single. The video uses more of a creative aspect to get the feeling of the song across. As BoA sings at her microphone, there are floating elements around her and she chooses various ones and then they come into her reality. There are other scenes which feature BoA just moving to the music and she looks great.

Single Ranking: A –

BoA’s 27th single, VIVID, features three songs while capturing an overall cute vibe. Kissing you is the perfect introduction to the single with such a sweet but relaxing instrumentation that goes with BoA’s vocals. The cute atmosphere is clear from the beginning of the single. Sparkling takes things in a cooler direction while still maintaining a certain cute feeling to it that works. Finally, Joyful Smile captures the cute feeling while keeping a perfect tone. VIVID shows off cute beats along with great vocals from BoA to make an enjoyable single.     

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BoA – THE FACE [6th Studio Album]

March 10, 2008 at 5:17 am (BoA) (, )

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BoA’s sixth studio album, THE FACE, was released on 02.27.08. BoA experimented with this album and because of it, some strong album tracks were born. BoA even took her hand at writing a song [ギャップにやられた!], showing a more personal connectin that she had while recording the album. The singles released before the album are Sweet Impact, LOVE LETTER, LOSE YOUR MIND and be with you.

BoA’s opening tracks tend to be one of the strongest and AGGRESSIVE is no different. The song opens up with a hot dance instrumental and segways into the opening line: “Let’s say I love you, it’s so easy!” Accompanying the beat are violins, which introduce the first verse flawlessly. BoA sails through the first verse with controlled vocals that blend perfectly with the music and once the chorus comes, the vocal strength increases and the true pop sound emerges. The use of English helps the words stand out during the chorus, properly seperating it from the rest of the song. Following the second verse and chorus pair, the music returns to its opening sound and BoA shows off her vocal range, perfectly hitting a note with power. During the following chorus, she flawlessly hits notes in the upper register and compliments the poppish beat wonderfully. The song ends with the chorus and by the end, a strong impression for the rest of the album is definitely accomplished. AGGRESSIVE wonderfully continues BoA’s tradition of powerful opening tracks.

Following AGGRESSIVE is Sweet Impact, the first single from this album’s era. To properly open up such a strong upbeat song, the English of the chorus kicks the song off as BoA sings “what you feel, what you see.” Opening with the chorus was a wise decision as the powerful vocals help it stand out strongly. While the music steps down a bit during the verses for a more mellow feeling, that poppiness still looms and keeps the arrangement interesting. This chorus ends with BoA singing “fall in with you baby” with a sort of techno-influenced moment within the music. The pure instrumental section really shows off a hot arrangement that begins low and transitions smoothly into the blaring beat accompanied by BoA’s vocal prowess. The song ends with BoA repeating “what you feel, what you see” and brings the song to an excellent finish. Sweet Impact, one of the strongest songs released beforehand, was a definitely an awesome follow-up after AGGRESSIVE.

After two uptempo tracks, BoA joins WISE for My Way, Your Way. A relaxing and sweet instrumentation opens up the song and soon more sounds are brought into the picture, supporting that cuteness factor even further. The first verse has BoA using softer vocals to really match the music and the approach of accentuating the first words of each line she sings definitely was a strong idea. The chorus is poppy and filled with so much sweetness that lies behind both the music and BoA’s vocals. Following the chorus, WISE delivers a fast-paced but sweet rap that works very well in the context of the song and creates a smooth transition for BoAs part of the verse. Following another chorus, WISE drops another rap but BoA sings alongside him on some lines such as “you made me feel special.” Having both of them performing some of the lines really solidifies the cute romantic element of the song and captures the atmosphere perfectly. The frequent of English phrases is present again and also adds to the whole cute vibe of the track. BoA’s vocals remain consistent throughout the song with its shining spots, making My Way, Your Way a song to remember from the album.

My Way, Your Way served as a clear bridge between the pop sound presented early on in the album to the fourth track, the beautiful love ballad, entitled be with you. The song opens beautifully with pure instrumentation alongside BoA’s soft vocalizing, blending into the first verse. Her vocals are seen as she holds the notes finishing each line. However it’s the chorus when BoA shows off her range both in terms of power and ability to reach notes in the higher register. The beauty behind the instruments comes out following the chorus in a small music section, which is able to capture the emotional presence of the song effortlessly. The third verse features a slightly different instrumentation, used to bring focus on BoA’s vocals, highlighting certain ones [such as the final line of that verse]. Similarily to how the song began, sweet instrumentation brings be with you. to a wonderful close.

LOSE YOUR MIND, which was released as the third single from THE FACE, is a return to hot dance songs. As a collaboration with Yukata Furukawa from DOPING PANDA, he lends master guitar playing to the instrumentation, which opens the song up. From the first line of the first verse, the vocal strength is clear and serves as a nice introduction to the rest of the song. The hook features some non-sensical lyrics [shoo-do-be-do you wanna bags, shoes and cosmetic?] but they give a cute feeling that works even in the context of a hot dance track. The chorus stands apart for its stronger vocals as well as the English phrases that begin each lyrical line. Following the second set of verse and chorus is a section comprised of pure instrumentation. Here Yukata Furukawa really stands out and the guitar plays more of a key role in the instrumentation. The final choruses really show off BoA’s range and as she sings the final “lose your mind,” she hits one of the most powerful notes on the entire album. LOSE YOUR MIND was the strongest song released as a single and it hasn’t lost any of its flavor in the context of the album.

Making perhaps the most flawless transition on the album, LOSE YOUR MIND is followed by Girl In The Mirror. This is without a doubt the most addictive and aggressive song on the album and an extremely addictive one at that. The song powerfully begins with the chorus and a very edgy instrumentation. The English used at the end of the chorus is always fun [“choose it: Crazy? Sexy? Kawaii?”] before she sings the title. The vocals during the verses follows a pattern of beginning of lower with finer vocals finishing the lines. The hooks in which she names three “professions” [i.e. “bad girl,” “Actress,” “supermodel”] uses a different vocal approach that sounds great in such a diverse instrumentation. The third verse features a slightly different instrumentation and powerful vocals that transition into a pure instrumental section. Finishing off the song is a repeat of both choruses. Girl In The Mirror is the edgiest song on the album and due to vocal strength and an interesting and aggressive arrangement and instrumentation, it’s one of BoA’s most memorable songs to date.

In contrast to Girl In The Mirror, Happy Birthday is a sugary pop song. It starts right off with the chorus, which has BoA singing more in the upper register. The little instrumental section following and it really is reminiscent of some of her older cute pop songs. The first verse continues the vocal approach of staying in a higher range and the transition into the chorus is absolutely flawless. During the verses, the instrumentation is very much present but some of the instruments are pushed back to really focus on the vocal prowess. They begin to return during the hook, which serves as a transition between the verse and chorus in terms of music. The longer instrumental section features a wonderful and welcomed change of instrumentation by bringing a new instrument to the forefront that compliments the overall atmosphere perfectly. Even though Happy Birthday may not be as strong as some of the other cute songs from her previous albums, it certainly is enjoyable and returns to that flavor BoA had in her older albums.

Although all of the B-sides from this era didn’t make it onto the album, Diamond Heart [from the LOVE LETTER single] thankfully did. Continuing the cuteness from Happy Birthday, Diamond Heart simultaneously takes more of a dance approach. The song opens up with an unidentified man speaking and then the chorus comes, whch features some strong vocals by BoA. During the verses, BoA delivers her lines at a somewhat fast pace in a lower register that comes off very slick and works well in the context of the song. Because of this approach, the verses actually hook me more than the chorus does and it serves as a good contrast to the cuteness of the chorus but still sounding cohesive. The third verse has BoA showing her range off and goes right into the chorus. The song ends with a fading of instrumentation and brings the song to a great close. Diamond Heart is a perfect combination of sweetness and more of a mature pop flavor that creates a fantastic dance song.

LOVE LETTER, released as the second single from the era of THE FACE, comes next. The song opens up with the chorus, which features brilliant vocals and a strong instrumental presence. The use of English [“love letter from my heart,” “love letter for your smile”] really makes it “pop” and makes it stand out. The vocals stay within a lower range during the verses, which serves as a perfect contrast to the power behind the chorus vocals. This is also supported by the instrumental that jumps out more during the chorus, making the entire song perfectly cohesive. The third verse changes things up a bit while still maintaining excellent vocals and making a smooth transition into a pure instrumental section that shows off the beauty behind the song. The ending of the song repeats the English lines and puts BoA’s range to the forefront by getting into the higher range. LOVE LETTER is a strong ballad that finds its home on the context of THE FACE.

Contrasting to the poppy songs [Diamond Heart and Happy Birthday] and LOVE LETTER comes BRAVE, the coolest sounding track on the album. Opening up the song is an amazing instrumentation that makes a great transition into the verses. BoA effortlessly delivers the lines smoothly with good vocals and slick sexiness to them that makes them extremely enjoyable. The use of English phrases [“brand new morning” and “silent sky”] also help the verses pop in support of the certain hollow atmosphere. A more uplifting feeling is achieved during the chorus, which features strong vocals that compliment the music clearly. The pure instrumental section features some impressive guitar accompaniment that smoothly transitions into the final choruses. For its powerful originality as well as dark and hollow atmosphere, BRAVE emerges as one of the strongest album tracks and most enjoyable songs off the album.

BoA decided to take her hand at writing one of the songs on the album and ギャップにやられた! was born. The opening is really strange and then the real beat comes in with a sugary light pop sound. The verses feature some poppy vocals that work well with the beat and stay to more of a higher register. Interestingly enough, BoA delivers one line before the chorus with a more distorted voice that packs attitude behind it. The chorus sounds really cute and pretty with wonderful vocals and the instrumentation works perfectly with it since it highlights certain notes that BoA follows through on. The third verse features lyrics entirely in English and helps it stand apart from the other verses in a big way. The song ends with pure instrumentation and brings the cute song to a perfect finish with a slightly funky ending. As BoA’s first attempt at writing, she definitely delivered a great adorable song.

The somewhat funky ending to ギャップにやられた! serves as a bridge to one of the most interesting tracks on the album: Style. The song opens up with a funky instrumentation that goes straight into the first verse. The vocals in the verses sound are more lower on the register and the lyrics are delivered with a slickness to them. The hook serves as a great bridge between the verses and the chorus and the cool arrangement during the “going on, going on” sounds great. The chorus is interesting as the words stand out because the phrases are so short and the vocals compliment them very well.  The third verse features a somewhat different arrangement and more power behind the vocals, which serves as a great transition to a small instrumental section. Following is part of the chorus with somewhat distorted vocals and then the regular chorus. The always edgy instrumentation ends the song with some strange sounds introduced but sounds great. Style definitely is one of the best album tracks and is memorable.

Another B-side to make it to the album is Smile again, from the LOSE YOUR MIND single. A beautiful piano opening introduces the song and then there is a transition to a fantasy-like instrumentation. The first verse returns to the piano alone alongside BoA’s deeper vocals and that fantasy feeling begins to come back as it introduces the chorus. The chorus features some amazing vocals that carry both power and emotion behind them. The pure instrumental section that is accompanied by BoA’s vocals in the upper register are definitely not to be forgotten. The song ends with that fairy-tale feeling and brings the song to a wonderful finish. Smile again is one of the beautiful ballads from the album and stands out for its strength and emotion clearly expressed in her voice supported by an absolutely gorgeous instrumentation that contributes to the wonderful atmosphere.

Like the other B-side from the LOVE LETTER single [Diamond Heart], Beautiful Flowers found its way to the album. The opening drum roll and following violins create an impressive introduction, which then melts into a strong instrumentation to create a fantasy-like feeling [somewhat similar to Smile again only in an uptempo form]. The verses feature a poppy dance beat with great vocals by BoA but it is really the chorus that stands out when the vocals get even stronger and the instrumentation jumps forward. BoA accentuates the beginning words [in English] with vocals that are highlighted by the music to make it catchy and memorable. The pure instrumental section mixes the violins with the poppish instrumental to make a wonderful sound and soon the drum roll momentarily comes back, bringing all the musical elements together. The song ends with the fading of the chorus to end the song nicely. Beautiful Flowers is a wonderful part of the album and bears somewhat of a resemblance to Beautiful Fighters by Hamasaki Ayumi. Adding Beautiful Flowers to the album was definitely a wise decision since it’s A-side material.

Best Friend, a midtempo number, was chosen to finish off the album. The vocals during the first verse are well-maintained in the lower range and compliment the music well. The chorus features cute English phrases [“you’re my best friend” and “I wanna be there for you”] and has more powerful vocals. The third verse is my favorite part of the song as the vocals reach new highs and the instrumentation becomes more involved. Following is the chorus and is somewhat remiscent of an acapella section since BoA’s vocals come to the forefront and the music takes a step back. The song ends with a nice instrumentation made for listening to. Best Friend is a cute midtempo song and a sweet way to finish off the album. I think Smile again would have been a better ending for the album but this track is still cute and friendly and relies more on a simplistic arrangement to find beauty.

Album Ranking: A

BoA’s sixth album, entitled THE FACE, features lots of strengths. From the beautiful ballads such as Smile again, LOVE LETTER and be with you. to the edgier and cool tracks such as Girl In The Mirror, AGGRESSIVE, BRAVE and Style, BoA offers such versatility and diversity with this album. From start to finish, BoA’s vocals show their true power and range as she belts out some notes [LOSE YOUR MIND] and sings primarily in the upper register [My Way, Your Way and Diamond Heart]. THE FACE is one of BoA’s strongest albums to date featuring strong singles and amazing album tracks to create a cohesive and enjoyable experience.

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