Fukui Mai – MY SONG FOR YOU [Debut Studio Album]

March 6, 2009 at 10:32 pm (Fukui Mai) (, )

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Fukui Mai’s debut album, MY SONG FOR YOU, was released on 03.04.09. アイのうた, Lucky and Can Can / Promise You were the singles released before the album.

Can Can, an upbeat positive number starts off the album on a nice note. It’s nice that she chose to begin with energy and hope although the music is so basic throughout the whole song, it can feel like the song is dragging on a little bit despite not being a particularly long song. Her vocals are nice though and capture the emotions of the song very well.

Peace Song is the first new number. After a soft and calming instrumental, driven primarily by the guitar, Mai has her turn on the first verse. Her vocals are nice here and although they are a little rough, there is something very natural and likeable about them. What stands out the most though is the music, which takes on a more fragile and beautiful feeling that the listener can definitely appreciate. The guitar comes out more strongly again on the chorus and Mai shows off her vocals more, which make this section stand out from the rest of the song. One weird part of the song is when Mai is speaking in English. That part was completely unnecessary and should have just been left off of the song. It’s a good follow up to Can Can because the energy from the first track is still there and even comes through more strongly.

アイのうた, Mai’s debut single, is the next song to appear. There is a really personal feeling that arises from this song and it’s definitely one that the listener can connect with emotionally. Mai’s vocals are a bit deep here but they actually go with the music really well and help fortify the atmosphere. The slight orchestral elements that come through the pure instrumental section help the complexity of the song and definitely stand out. It’s a strong song and one of the best slow songs on the album.

Lucky is one of the worst songs on the entire album. Her vocals just don’t sound like her, which is really strange. What’s really sad is that the song starts off with a very pretty instrumental but from there, the song just goes downhill. It should have never been released as a single and it would have been nice if it was left off the album.

After two single tracks comes Plastic Girls. Opening the song is an upbeat and catchy beat and those kind of slick and low vocals that Mai provides are absolutely perfect for the atmosphere of the song. She brings the attitude on the first verse and there’s something absolutely addictive about her vocals. English phrases like “hey you pretty girl” pop and are very catchy. The chorus has kind of a model-like feeling, especially with that opening line “the perfect girl.” She holds her notes well and keeps the listener entranced all the way through. The pure instrumental section is nice because there is a jazzy feeling that can come through proudly. Plastic Girls is definitely one of the best numbers on the entire album.

Up next is 恋のゆくえ. It’s one of the slower songs on the album but unfortunately it just doesn’t have any particular emotional context that the listener can connect to. The insturumentation is really simple, a little too simple this time around and the vocals are nice, but nothing great. It’s just not a great song and probably would have been better being left off of the album.

青い絵 picks up the tempo a little bit. There is a very cool and cold instrumental that begins the song which gives the image of a cloudy sky. Then when the full selection of instruments come in, it’s as if the clouds separate and the blue sky is everywhere overhead. Mai sings peacefully and sweetly on the first verse as the vocals calm the listener and suit the image of a blue sky. What makes the chorus stand out is Mai’s more powerful vocals since there is virtually no instrumental change. Luckily, those vocals are enough to catch the listener’s attention and make the chorus stand out. It’s another enjoyable song and certainly an improvement over the last track.

I wanna be a Rock★Roll Star is the following song. The title is kind of misleading because you would think that the song would be an upbeat and sleek rock track but it’s actually a ballad. Luckily the theme of having dreams for the future is something that everyone can relate to and her vocals bring the emotions to the forefront for everyone to recognize. The music is beautiful and is also a driving force in establishing the emotional atmosphere that makes this song so memorable. I wanna be a Rock★Roll Star is one of the strongest slow songs on the album and stands out in the midst of eleven other songs.

Hate Myself is the ninth track on the album. This song has an interesting conflict in that the music is really pretty and has this soothing element to it that resonates with the listener. Normally it’s good to show off your vocal prowess but Mai’s vocals here are a little too powerful for the music and end up taking away from that relaxing sweetness. It’s too bad since softer vocals could have made the song a little more emotional and pretty.

Promise You is another enjoyable ballad with an emotional context to enjoy. It’s nothing extraordinarily different from other ballads but it’s still nice.

The longest song on the album is the semifinale, The Sound. It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly the fault of the song lies. The music isn’t particularly engaging but there’s something that pops up from time to time that works and catches the listener’s ears. The problem certainly isn’t Mai’s vocals because those are good as usual so it must be somewhere in the music (or perhaps the arrangement). Either way, The Sound just isn’t very fitting for one of the last tracks on the album.

Sometimes a little generic feeling works as seen in the case of the album’s title and final track, My Song For You. It has a very basic arrangement and the instrumentation is simple as a ballad can give but somehow, it just works. Mai’s vocals are strong, portraying emotion and strength, which reach the listener’s heart. Is it a pretty basic song? Yes but maybe that’s why it’s such a good closing number.

Album Ranking: B

Fukui Mai’s debut album is a bit of a mixed bag. She really shines on the upbeat numbers like Peace Song and Plastic Girls and on the emotional ballads like アイのうた and I wanna be a Rock★Roll Star but she kind of falls flat in the middle area. More upbeat songs could have balanced the album a little and could have given the album a little more fun edge.

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Fukui Mai – Can Can / Promise You [3rd Single]

February 22, 2009 at 12:43 am (Fukui Mai) (, )

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Fukui Mai’s 3rd single, entitled Can Can / Promise You, was released on 02.04.09.

Can Can allows Mai to try a more upbeat approach. The song starts off with Mai singing along in English to a simple acoustic instrumentation. She gives a very hopeful message as she sings “yes we can because we can, everybody say we can can do it.” Her vocals here are nice and have that naturalness to them that they always do. After a “1,2,3,4,” the instrumentation becomes more uptempo and the song becomes more interesting. On the verses, she provides ennjoyable vocals and although there is something slightly rough about them, it somehow works. Can Can is a nice song although it does sound a little samey since her vocals stay at the same level throughout and there is no real instrumental change.

The second A-side is Promise You. Mai’s voice is just better suited for ballads and this song is proof of that. There is a very magical feeling that comes through the instrumentation and her vocals during that section are heavenly. She hits the higher notes strongly and stays smooth throughout. This song definitely should have been the leading A-side because it’s a lot better.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Can Can was made. It was shot in black and white and just features Mai rocking at the drums. Honestly, the video was just plain boring and it would have been nice if more effort was put into it.

Single Ranking: B

Luckily, Mai picks up the slack from her last single with these two songs. Can Can does drag on a little despite not being a long song because there’s no particular diversity. Songs like Promise You are better suited for her type of voice and are a better indication of her talents. Hopefully her upcoming debut album will show that she can handle different sounds.

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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) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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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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Fukui Mai – Lucky [2nd Single]

November 23, 2008 at 7:19 pm (Fukui Mai) (, )

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Fukui Mai’s 2nd single, entitled Lucky, was released on 11.19.08.

Lucky is a simple emotional number. The song begins with a very pretty instrumental that has a certain sorrowful feeling to it while still having a clear beat to it. It almost sounds like Mai is rapping because the way she delivers her words sounds just like the way a rapper would but on Mai, it comes across as sounding very awkward and almost mannish. She then brings more power on the chorus as she portrays the emotions really strongly. Overall, the song itself isn’t bad but Mai’s execution does not do it any favors. Her vocals are so strange here that it makes the listener lose interest really quickly. It’s definitely not the proper follow-up after her first single.

Rain-bow is a far superior song as her vocals sound normal and the music is so pretty. There is a soothing atmosphere that comes out on the verses, perfectly supporting her vocals. On the chorus, she gives more vocal strength but it would have been even nicer if she belted out a little more. Overall, it’s a good song and should’ve definitely been the A-side of this single.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Lucky was made. The video features Mai wandering around in a deserted area so it’s not very enjoyable. It matches the song’s interest level.

Single Ranking: C

This single is a huge step down from her first single. The A-side sounds so strange since it feels like there is something wrong with her vocals. It’s true she does somewhat sound like ayaka but here she sounds like a hybrid of ayaka and Avril Lavigne. It just doesn’t work and they should’ve fixed that before they released it.

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Fukui Mai – アイのうた [Debut Single]

August 23, 2008 at 2:21 am (Fukui Mai) (, )

Fukui Mai’s debut single, entitled アイのうた, was released on 08.20.08. The title track was used as the theme song for the TBS dorama Koi Zora.

A very sweet and personal instrumental opens up アイのうた and the first verse begins. Mai’s vocals carry a certain deepness to them that really compliments the simplicity of the music, centered around the piano. She shows off a little more vocal power on the chorus, which makes it sound great. During the pure instrumental section, the instrumentation takes on a slightly more complex route as there are slight orchestral elements that stand out. Closing the song is a beautiful piano instrumental, similar to the one that opened it. Mai’s voice really compliments the simple music here as there is a real and raw elegance to it that makes her stand out strongly.

The B-side of the single is My Song For You. There is more of a beat on this song than the title track and her vocals are shown off a little more, making it a definite compliment to アイのうた. There is still that husky element that sounds so great, really capturing the listener’s ear.

In order to promote the single, a PV for アイのうた wad made. There is a certain simplicity that matches the song’s atmosphere as it features Mai in an open field as she sweetly sings the lyrics of the song. Dressed in a white dress, she looks very pretty and the naturalness of the video makes it one to watch.

Single Ranking: A –

Fukui Mai certainly makes a nice splash into the music world with her debut single. The title track really stands out as her vocals carry a rich deepness to them that serves as the perfect compliment to the simplicity of the music. She continues to shine on the B-side and her vocals are shown off just a little more. Her voice is somewhat reminiscent of ayaka and she certainly has the talent to continue to shine.

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