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

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

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

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

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

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

Single Ranking: A

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

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Koda Kumi – 3 SPLASH [44th Single]

July 18, 2009 at 3:20 am (Koda Kumi) (, )

3 SPLASH

Koda Kumi’s 44th single, entitled 3 SPLASH, was released on 07.08.09. Lick me ♥ was used as the SANKYO CM insert song for FEVER LIVE IN HALL II.

09:00 A.M. [Intro] is the opening track of the single. It starts off with some static as channels are flipped through and then a fun and funky instrumental comes in, grabbing the listener’s interest. This introduction is only a little over 40 seconds so there’s no real time to enjoy it but it’s nice and cool, ready to introduce the first full song.

Lick me ♥ is an upbeat pop song that shows off Kumi’s cute side. The song begins with part of the chorus and the slight rock elements add a little spice to the music. English lines like “everything all right” and “don’t be afraid” shine nicely and let the listener into the lyrical theme of the song. The verses feature a slightly more relaxed atmosphere that still remains catchy and leaves the listener wanting more. After the first full chorus comes the hook when Kumi repeatedly sings “da da da” and this is actually one of the catchiest parts of the entire song. During breaks of pure instrumentation, the listener can hear these slight distortions in the music and that gives it a slightly cooler feel. It definitely fits the sweet happy atmosphere of summer and stands out as a strong song.

3 SPLASH Picture 1Then Kumi takes on the sexy route with ECSTASY. Opening up the song is some distorted vocals with that sort of slight electric edge similar to TABOO. Up next is the first verse and Kumi’s vocals are sleek and smooth, coating the instrumental with her sexiness. The hook is catchy, primarily for the repeating “so” and it makes a good introduction for the chorus. It’s the English lines that really make the chorus stand out. Phrases like “make me hot,” “de-de-de-de-deep” and “give me in ecstasy” really sparkle over the hot intsrumental. The pure instrumental break features a repeating distorted “burning up” before moving back into the chorus. ECSTASY gives 3 SPLASH a touch of sexiness in a way only Kumi could deliver.

12:35 [Interlude] is the fourth track on the single. Much like the introduction, this short track has a funky feel. A voice says “it’s time for showdown” and the track ends, barely passing the 20 second mark. Much like the first track, it’s nice but there’s no real time to enjoy it since it’s so short.

走れ! is the third A-side of the single and is a summery rock song. The song kicks off with a funky cool instrumentation that will make the listener want to get up and dance along with Kumi. On the verses, Kumi gives that cool edge in her vocals while having this looming cuteness run through. The chorus is nice although Kumi’s vocals are a little strange at parts. Unfortunately, it’s not as memorable as hoped. The same can be said for the full song because while it is nice, there’s something lacking and holding it back from being amazing. Perhaps a more aggressive instrumental would have made the song shine more.

The next four tracks are only available on the Jacket B version of the single (CD + DVD), beginning with 04:20 3 SPLASH Picture 2[Interlude]. It’s the longest of all the short tracks and basically just features a bunch of sounds such as police sirens and what sounds like a time bomb counting down to explosion. It’s pretty weird but it’s definitely interesting and leaves the listener wondering what the concept behind it was.

Lick me ♥ (Q;indivi-Yusuke Tanaka Remix) doesn’t really have that much of a difference from its original except for an aggressive electric touch running throughout the song and a really pretty piano addition. Surprisingly the two forces sound together and make the music sound really cool. At some points, it does shine over the original but the simplicity of the original version does work overall somewhat more strongly than that of this one.

ECSTASY (Caramel Pod E Remix) adds a more of an electronic edge to the original, which can sound pretty cool. However, the sexiness that pours from the original is lost here because the old sleek and cool instrumental is replaced. The whole sexiness of the song is what makes it stand out and this remix took that away, which makes it definitely weaker than the original.

走れ! [420 Remix] does the same thing as the other remixes, adding an electric flavor to the song. Although those opening distorted vocals sound really cool and definitely start things off on the correct foot, those screaming vocals in the background get really annoying really quickly. Plus the overal instrumental feels a little empty in comparison to that of the original.

The single closes with 12:00 A.M. [Outro], available on all versions of the single. It takes part of the instrumentation from Lick me ♥ for its base and since there are no instrumental versions of the songs, it’s nice to hear just what a pure instrumental part of the song sounds like.

In order to promote the single, three PVs were made: one for each A-side. The video for Lick me ♥ is cute and fun, just like the song. It features scenes of Kumi as a waitress in an old-styled ice cream parlor, complete with colorful roller skates. The three different Kumis of the video are Vanilla Girl [who goes bowling with her friends], Mango Girl [who rides the bus along with some little kids and her friends] and Bitter Chocolate Girl [the prettiest one with Kumi sitting in a chair and looking cute]. It’s very fun and it suits the song perfectly. The ECSTASY PV shows Kumi in a photoshoot as well as in a room covered in a sticky white substance that alludes to the song’s sexual lyrics. There are also dancing scenes featuring Kumi in a blue tape outfit and Kumi riding a motorcycle wearing the outfit from the cover that corresponds to ECSTASY. The 走れ! PV is fun and summery, like the song. Kumi and her friends just enjoy a nice summer day. There’s some dancing, some basketball and some rocking out while looking cool. It’s a really good fit for the song and everyone looks very into it. All three PVs provide a good look at Kumi and they suit their respective songs very well.

Single Ranking: A –

With 10 tracks, this single certainly does have a lot to go for. Well, perhaps not as much as you might think. The four short tracks [intro / interludes / outro] seem somewhat un-necessary. They weren’t really needed to this single and they weren’t as memorable as the ones on 4 hot wave. The remixes were okay although they weren’t as strong as the originals. Anyway, the three A-sides all have a side of Kumi to enjoy. Lick me ♥ is cute and fun, definitely shining for the listener to hear. ECSTASY is a return to Kumi’s sexy side and is an anthem for those who are longing for sexual satisfaction. 走れ! has a cool summery Kumi that fits the season well although it’s the weakest of the A-sides and doesn’t really catch the ear of the listener. Overall the single was enjoyable and although not as strong as Kumi’s usual releases, it worms its way into the listener’s heart.

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Koda Kumi and misono – It’s all Love! [Collaborative Single]

May 5, 2009 at 10:17 pm (Koda Kumi, misono) (, , )

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A collaborative between sisters Koda Kumi and misono, entitled It’s all Love!, was released on 03.31.09. The song was written and composed by the two girls. Koda Kumi’s solo, entitled faraway, was used as the theme song for Dance Subaru starring Meisa Kuroki and was written and composed by Koda Kumi herself. misono’s solo song appears as the third track.

In the true spirit of a collaborative song, the entire track is a switch-off between Kumi and misono. The song starts out with Kumi saying “You ready?” before the rock-filled instrumentation comes in and the girls introduce each other and themselves as “Super Sisters K.” It’s a very interesting concept to have each girl trade off singing and on the first verse, the story begins with Kumi asking misono what’s wrong and the rest of the song has them going back and forth about boys and love. The English lines throughout the song such as “Where is love and where does it exist?” and “Not gonna happen if you only think about yourself” give the song that extra punch and catch the listener’s ear nicely. Misono says “Oh I give up, don’t bother me” before the girls jump into the energetic and addictive chorus. What makes the chorus so entrancing is just the sheer speed of it as the girls trade off lines so quickly, it’s amazing. Both girls deliver strong vocals and the last line, “Oh no we can’t live without love” sounds awesome. The third verse is calmer and soft before the song goes into a cool dance break, introduced by Kumi saying “You ready?” It’s actually a nice little breakdown and it’s funny how Kumi says “Damn” in the middle of it. It’s all Love! Is a great song and a great way to bring the sisters together.

Slowing things down is Koda Kumi’s solo song, faraway. Opening the song is the chorus, which stands out and catches the listener’s ears as Kumi’s voice is calm and relaxing, suiting the music perfectly. The music is also very pretty, giving the image of a twinkling night sky. On the first verse, she sings “everyday, you can do it,” giving a sort of inspirational feel before moving on with more great vocals. On the pure instrumental section before the third verse, the music takes on a slightly different sound, which gives the music a little more diversity. She sounds great at the end of the song when she sings those fantastic adlibs that sound like they belong in one of her tours. faraway is a magnificent song with a beautiful message that Kumi brings to life.

misono’s song, 天秤~強がりな私×弱がりな君,~ rounds out the single. The song begins with misono singing along with the guitar and there’s something nice and natural about the song at this point. misono stays in the lower range so her voice is more bearable than it is when she’s singing very loudly. The song continues in this fashion and it’s actually nice to have misono staying in the lower range and suiting the instrumentation very well. Vocally, she does a very good job but the music does remain the same so it would have been nice to spice things up.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made for the single: one for It’s all Love! and one for faraway. The video of It’s all Love! features three scenes. The first scene has kind of a futuristic feel to it with both girls in black and silver, singing in a room. The second scene has the girls dancing in a different room, which is used during the song’s dance break. Unfortunately, the dancing was pretty disappointing but it was kind of cute how they danced together. The third scene features the girls in colorful outfits and being cute, although misono does look a little strange. Although the video for faraway doesn’t have many scenes, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Kumi is seen flying through the sky as well being outisde in a gorgeous secluded area. She looks amazing throughout the video as does the scenery so it emerges as the most visually appealing video.

Single Ranking: A +

The Koda Sisters come together for this single and definitely do a great job. The collaborative song, It’s all Love! features a rock sound that both girls bring the heat on, really getting into the story of the song. Kumi delivers a beautiful and inspirational ballad with faraway while misono takes on a natural route with her solo song. misono’s song wasn’t extremely memorable but it was better than her usual material, which is something. The first two tracks are both awesome so the single is a definite success.

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Koda Kumi – TRICK [7th Studio Album]

February 7, 2009 at 11:43 pm (Koda Kumi) (, )

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Koda Kumi’s 7th studio album, entitled TRICK, was released on 01.28.09. Kumi explores various sounds with this album, centering around the theme of a show. The album comes after previously released singles MOON, TABOO and stay with me.

Kumi’s albums always start off with a bang and TRICK is no different with the aptly titled INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK. The introduction really establishes the whole show theme as it begins with the performers getting ready for the show. A man quickly rushes them onto the stage as he says “ladies, what are you doing, let’s go!” As they get ready, you can hear Kumi say “ladies, you look fabulous” and after the announcer introduces them to the crowd, the song comes in full effect. The music is additively aggressive and Kumi’s vocals support it wonderfully, particularly on the “party people bounce.” The song is a combination of English and Japanese and the one part repeats twice before a few final repeats of “trick.” Once again, Kumi delivers an extremely solid introductory track and it emerges as one of the most memorable numbers on the album.

Keeping the energy from the introduction comes the first full track, TABOO. The song starts off with Kumi saying a few English lines that introduce the whole atmosphere of the song nicely: “baby come with me I’m a show you something you’ve never seen before.” Then a little sequence of pure instrumentation follows that carries an addictive dance beat before she goes into the first verse. Her vocals are smooth and keep the sexual vibe of the song flowing through the listener’s ears. All of the English phrases of the verses also pop nicely such as “escape” and “drive away.” The chorus features a more involved instrumentation and the vocals help this section stick out from the rest of the song. She also gives a little more vocal attitude and strength in the third verse, which precedes a nice instrumental breakdown. TABOO was an absolutely fantastic track when it was released as a single and it hasn’t lost any of its steam on its current position.

trickiishow girl was chosen to promote the album and it makes sense as it returns to the show theme. Opening the song is a fun instrumentation that soon turns into a good dance beat after Kumi says “break it down now.” There are some backing vocals and some talking on Kumi’s part while the instrumentation runs through and this part nicely captures the show element as well. Her vocals on the verses are very enjoyable and portray the whole energy of the song and what makes the verses memorable are the English phrases such as “follow me” and “hurry up.” The chorus takes on a slightly different sound with more of a cute and fun atmosphere. This is achieved as the instrumentation becomes lighter and Kumi reaches higher with her notes, holding them with strength. The “I’m a show girl” is the focal point of the chorus and having it be the final line was definitely a strong idea. On the third verse, she sings various fashion points in katakana before a very cool-sounding second half. Furthering the show theme is the ending instrumental section which sounds like it actually belongs in a circus show. It’s kind of surprising to hear that very last “thank you” but it fits as she is closing out the show. show girl is a very enjoyable song and a true album highlight.

Your Love is the first song of few songs to take on a cute vibe. The song begins with a very natural and calming midtempo instrumental, highlighted by the piano alongside some vocalizing from Kumi. On the verses, Kumi’s vocals are very sweet and portray a lot of emotion and the last two lines right before the chorus feature a more grand instrumental to really catch the listener’s ear. She really brings out the cuteness on the chorus with English phrases like “Baby, thank you for your love” and “baby, nobody but you.” The third verse is amazing with the slight instrumental change because it enhances the prettiness and the last English phrase, “baby, nothing can defeat love” is so representative of what the song is all about. Your Love does a great job of slowing down the pace while still maintaining the listener’s attention.

Following the slow pace is the gorgeous winter ballad, stay with me. A very pretty instrumental, very appropriate for the time of year, begins the song and there’s something very magical established. Then comes the first verse and Kumi’s vocals carry so much emotion that the listener can’t help but be overcome by them. The English phrase “I remember you with all your smile” is really reflective of the nostalgia that is the message of the song. What makes the song so memorable however is the chorus as Kumi brings even more vocal strength and emotion. That final line “stay with me” is sung with a fragileness that really stands out. The pure instrumental section following the second verse is absolutely brilliant and a real standout part of the song and it introduces the grandeur of the third verse perfectly. She finishes the song off with the chorus and a little more pure instrumentation for a perfect close. stay with me is absolutely amazing and definitely one of the album’s jewels.

Kumi comes back to the hot upbeat tracks with the very aptly titled, This is not a love song. The song starts off with trickiiiattitude as she says “don’t sing along because it’s not a love song” and suddenly, a hot dark instrumental comes through, entrancing the listener. Kumi’s vocals on the verses are sleek and smooth, carrying a certain sexual atmosphere to them to fits with the music. The small hook features some vocalizations and the English name “Maria.” The chorus brings us back to the attitude of the song. She sings “I need a love song” and there is a slight desperation in that line that soon comes to anger and a disregard for the feeling as she continues until “this is not a love song.” Easily the most impressive part of the song is the little breakdown before the final chorus. She softly sings “this is not a love song” before belting out the same line with power and emotion. This is not a love song is absolutely fantastic and shows Kumi taking on a new sound and working it.

Driving shows Kumi trying out a new electric sound. A man starts the song off by saying “back off” before a very cool and different instrumental comes in, catching the listener’s ear. On the first verse, Kumi sounds very comfortable and manages to show off her vocals without belting out. The last two lines have a very cool and calculated feel to it as she sings. The chorus features a much more involved instrumentation to make it stand out and there’s something about it that is slightly reminiscent of GIRL NEXT DOOR. Even more new and interesting instrumentation comes out on the pure instrumental section and there is a very video-game like atmosphere to it. The song finishes with the sound of a car driving off to really solidify the atmosphere of the song. For tying in techno and electronic sounds, Driving shows Kumi’s willingness to experiment with different sounds even if it’s not as strong as some of the album offerings.

Kumi teams up with AK-69 for the addictive and harmlessly materialistic Bling Bling Bling. The song begins with the chorus and Kumi sings it with such a fun personality that it really catches the listener’s ear. English phrases like “baby all I want is that bling bling bling” and the laugh at the end make this section stand out strongly. She continues that on the verses with more personality and without a doubt, one of the best lines of the entire song is “all that money money money make it to cash” because Kumi sings it so cheekingly. The hook features a darker sound that is somewhat reminiscent of Under from previous album, Kingdom. After a repeating of “blinga linga linga linga linga,” Ak-69 comes in for his rap section and he really brings more attitude to the song and all the English is a nice touch. Bling Bling Bling is definitely an album jewel and stands out as it shows Kumi tackling hip-hop sounds, albeit lightly, but with absolute fun.

Both collaborations are grouped together as Fergie joins Kumi for That Ain’t Cool. The song starts off with the chorus with Fergie having a more prominent vocal presence although you can hear Kuu if you listen closely. Fergie has her turn on the first verse and she really portrays the attitude of the song through her lyrics such as “when you hurt me, you really hurt yourself.” The hook features one line sung repeatedly “what you gonna do about it?” again with Fergie having the louder vocals. Kumi then has her turn on the second verse and she sticks mainly to English with a few Japanese phrases thrown here and there. Her first line “did you really think I was really that easy?” shows her ability to bring attitude to the track. This is a pretty simple song and Fergie definitely got more of her fair share on the song and it’s an enjoyable addition to the album.

kumitrickivKumi explores the sounds of rock on the addictive fast-paced Hurry Up! The song starts off with Kumi saying a few lines over the cool rock-influenced instrumentation in English that excite the listener such as “let me give it to you all night” and “come on party people all night.” She then dives into the first verse and her vocals here perfectly capture that coolness and the electric guitar really gets the chance to shine. Soon the instrumentation becomes more diverse and Kumi steps up a little vocally to make for a perfect introduction to the chorus. The repeating English phrases such as “get away boy” and “not anymore” really spice up the song and that final “tell me” lingers on the listener’s mind. Following the second chorus is a line with a very different sounding instrumentation that has an almost angelic feeling, which nicely contrasts with the following line supported by more rock instrumentation. Then Kumi busts into a rap section and her voice sounds so cool and brings so much attitude that it really stands out. After a few more lines, the pure instrumentation section comes in and the listener gets another chance to really hear the music on another level. Hurry Up! is an album jewel as Kumi strongly embraces the sounds of rock again to produce a memorable number.

Things then slow down for the emotional and sorrowful ballad, Moon Crying. The piano opens up the song on a strong note and immediately, the emotions of the song come rushing into the listener’s heart. These are only amplified when Kumi sings the first verse. Her vocals are so fragile and perfectly communicate the emotions of the song. Soon, the piano becomes slightly more powerful to signal a change for the chorus. Kumi’s vocals are wonderful here and the element of magic really comes out. That magic comes out even more strongly on the pure instrumental section following the second chorus, really bringing out the tears in the listener. That final line is sung with such emotion that it is only fitting for the ending of the song. This song definitely is memorable and although not as strong as stay with me, it’s one Kumi should be proud of.

Even though there aren’t that many cute songs on the album, Kumi definitely had to have a couple and she brought the very best with the adorable JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. The song centers around the theme of friendship and was the perfect choice to promote the album. Opening the song is a very sweet poppy instrumental that will make the listener just want to smile as the atmosphere becomes crystal clear. Her vocals are cute and there’s something very natural and endearing about them that stand out the listener. The chorus is definitely the best part of the song because of the English phrases “I like you, you are my best friend” and “I like you just the way you are” since they really are representative of the song’s message. The third verse is sung with great vocals and it’s a real standout part of the song. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE is an amazing song and listening to it will make the listener think about memories with the friends.

Quite reminiscent of WIND from BEST ~second session~ comes the next track, Joyful. She starts the song off on a trickvhappy note as she sings “and joyful, joyful la la la la la” to make the listener pay attention. The use of the electric guitar really connected the track to WIND but it manages to stay unique. On the verses, there is a very relaxing and natural atmosphere that the listener can enjoy and as it goes on, it reaches the point when the instrumentation becomes slightly more varied in time to introduce the chorus. Her vocals are very enjoyable and carry a certain element of hope to them and it sounds great when she reaches high. The pure instrumental section is nice in that it starts off with the very simple sounds of the acoustic guitar before diving into another level with the electric guitar. Joyful is a very enjoyable cute number that keeps the listener feeling a sense of hope for the future.

愛のことば is the final song available on the CD Only version and the semifinale for the CD + 2 DVD version. The piano starts the song off and there is a nice atmosphere established here before Kumi comes in with the first verse. Her vocals are pretty good here although there is just something that doesn’t come across as first. It slowly trickles in as the violins really show a magical feeling arising. Then comes the chorus and she shows off her vocal chops as she delivers more emotion, particularly on that last phrase. The pure instrumental section is a little lacking and it probbaly would have been nicer without the backing vocals. Overall, this song was the weakest song on the album but it wasn’t too bad.

Kumi’s cover of Venus is included as the bonus track on the CD + 2 DVD version. Kumi brings so much life and personality into the song that it actually ends up being an album gem. Her pronounciation is pretty good since it’s very easy to understand what she sings almost the whole way through. The best part of the song is the chorus, particularly the “she’s got it” line since Kumi sings it so perfectly. Although a full version of Introduction For Kingdom would have amazing (like what was rumored), the inclusion of Venus was a pretty good choice too.

Album Ranking: A +

TRICK was a fantastic album from start to finish. The whole show theme guaranteed a lot of great upbeat tracks and she sure delivered. Just listen to the introduction and you’ll see just how strong she brought it. This is not a love song, Bling Bling Bling, TABOO, Hurry Up! and show girl are all addictive dance numbers that will keep the listener entranced. It’s all smiles on the cuter numbers Your Love, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE and Joyful. And of course she delivers the overflowing emotions on stay with me and Moon Crying. Overall, TRICK was perfect and it shows that Kumi’s albums are consistently full of amazing material.

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Koda Kumi – show girl + JUST THE WAY YOU ARE [PV Review]

February 7, 2009 at 11:43 pm (Koda Kumi) (, )

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Available on the 1st DVD of Koda Kumi’s new album, TRICK, are two album PVs for show girl and JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

kkshowgirlThe first new PV is for show girl. The video begins with a black and white scene of Kumi and her boyfriend. She pleads him not to go but he does anyone, which prompts the absolutely hilarious scene of Kumi crying (as seen to your left). She sees the majestic show girls on stage and with a flyer that states the company is looking for new dancers, Kumi forms a plan. After impressing the judges with her sexy moves, she gets accepted and prepares for the show. On the chorus, she appears with the other girls and shows the crowd what she’s got. The other primary scene of the video is of Kumi sitting in a chair, wearing a fur coat and being fabulous and she is adored by everyone. Seeing the new Kumi, the old boyfriend comes into the crowd and tries to get her back. However she remembers how cold to her he was and gives him the “no finger.” An old man then appears in the crowd and offers her a gorgeous necklace, which she gladly accepts. They begin to walk off together but Kmi fakes a trip so that the people come rushing to check if she’s okay, pushing the man to the back. During that final instrumental sequence, the video’s credits roll and it’s hilarious that almost every single aspect of the video is done by Kuu. Every single thing you can name, she did it: editing, lighting, costumes, casting, makeup designer, nailist, etc. In fact, the only thing not done by her is the choreography and her dancers.

The PV for JUST THE WAY YOU ARE is much more simple but that’s why it’s a perfect fit for the song. Scenes from this video include Kumi and her friends chatting a restaurant, the group walking through an amusement park, the girls having fun one of the rides (which is a very fun ride) as well a scene of Kumi on a merry-go-round. The video is absolutely adorable and it really communicates the whole theme of friendship. It will make the viewer want to smile along with Kumi and her friends.

PV Rankings: A +

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Koda Kumi – stay with me [42nd Single]

February 5, 2009 at 8:57 pm (Koda Kumi) (, )

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Koda Kumi’s 42nd single, entitled stay with me, was released on 12.24.08. The title track was used as the au Lismo CM song as well as the Sony Ericsson CM song.

stay with me is a beautiful and emotional winter ballad about being separated from the person you love. The song begins with a very pretty instrumentation that immediately evokes an emotional response in the listener. Then Kumi tooks the reign for the first verse and her vocals are so smooth here, complimenting the music perfectly. The English line “I remember you with all your smile” stands out very nicely as does the last phrase “never end,” which introduces the chorus perfectly. The chorus is definitely what makes this song so memorable as Kumi gives even more vocal power and emotion, making sure the listener understands the story of the song. She sings “stay with me” and surprisingly in those three words, come so much emotion. One part of the song that truly stands out is the instrumental section that follows the second chorus since it’s just absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and really captures the winter feeling. Following a similar instrumental pattern is the third verse, sung with more great vocals and emotion. stay with me is another one of Kuu’s fantastic winter ballads but manages to separate itself from the pack and catch the listener’s attention.

kumistay1Keeping with the wintery theme of the single is the more cheerful B-side, Winter Bell. Beginning the song is a sweet relaxing instrumental and when Kumi comes in to sing, she supports the atmosphere very well. Her vocals are kind of on the cute side during the first verse and there is just something about the song that will make you smile. Overall, Winter Bell is more of a generic song but it does support the overall feeling of the single well and it is a nice contrast to the A-side by providing a sweeter and more upbeat atmosphere.

In order to promote the single, a PV for stay with me was made. The video is simple but absolutely beautiful. It starts with Kumi awaiting a call or message from her boyfriend and after she grows impatient, she sends him a message asking him what he’s doing. He responds very apathetically, which leaves her feeling bad. The scenes of Kumi standing at her window, watching the snow fall, are wonderful as she really portrays the emotion of the song. Then she goes to the train station and waits for him and she continues to show emotions wonderfully as the snow decorates the sky. Various times, she thinks that he is there but he ends up disappearing (similar to the scene in Moon Crying). In the end, he finds her waiting on a bench and greets her, making her happy. Overall, the PV is a great visual portrayal of the emotions in the song and is successful in communicating them to the viewer.

Single Ranking: A +

Kumi continuously delivers quality material with stay with me. The title track is a wonderful winter ballad that shows emotion and longing, perfect for the time of the season. Winter Bell takes on the more cheery approach and although it’s a little generic, it’s still enjoyable. She definitely stepped it up with the final single before TRICK.

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Koda Kumi – Live Tour 2008 ~Kingdom~ [DVD Release]

December 31, 2008 at 5:18 am (Koda Kumi) (, )

kingdomtour

In 2008, Koda Kumi embarked on the Live Tour 2008 ~Kingdom~ Tour and delivered one heck of a show. One concert was released onto DVD, giving many of us the opportunity to see Kuu in action. From hot dancing to sweet and tearful moments to fun and cute Kuu moments, this DVD really shows how great Kumi not only as an artist but as a person.

Our first scene is the Opening Movie, introducing us to the first set of songs very nicely. In this little scene, a grandmother comes to read her granddaughter the story of Princess Kumi. One day, she meets a prince who comes by on a little boat and she falls in love at first sight. Kumi then goes to see the devil in order to plead that he spare the prince’s country. He agrees but only if she becomes a devil himself. Because she loves the prince and she becomes a devil, smoothly transitioning into the hot dark atmosphere of the next song.

The doors of the kingdom open and we see four male sorcerers conjuring up a spell. As the smoke transcends, the spell is activated and Kumi comes flying into the sky from underground and the music starts. She descends onto the stage, wearing a leopard print coat (matching her dancers’ outfits). As for the actual performance itself, it was a fantastic way to open up the tour. Her vocals are strong and smooth, matching the CD quality of the song. One thing that was a bit strange though was that she used a lower register for some of the lines on the chorus. It wasn’t bad and it probably would have been better if she stayed with the way that it was but it wasn’t bad by any means. I thought the dancing could have been a little better overall but then again, the PV for Under didn’t have much choreography so that was to be expected. That is for the part while she was singing. We get a nice little dance break that she newly adds to the performance to give it even more spark. During this part, her dancers and her all did a great job, really keeping in with the mood of the song. The set was absolutely fantastic for this song, featuring smoke and on the big screen at the back were bats and darkness and a woman with intense red lipstick to give it that devilish charm. Kumi’s performance of Under gets 5 stars and really is a memorable way to begin the tour.

Following is the second song on the setlist, FREAKY. Once again, Kuu delivers an energetic and fun performance of the song worthy of seeing. Because she was able to rely a little more on the backing track, the dancing was stepped up on this performance. Once again, we get a nice little dance breakdown and the stage goes darker so that only the dancers can really be seen. They did a really good job of bringing the energy and expertice needed to pull it off. Soon, Kumi is seen as she holds onto a rope-like thing that pulls her up onto the castle. She takes off the coat, revealing a blue Arabian style outfit and continues the performance. I liked how she continued to bring new and inventive ideas to the performances to make them more than just singing the song. One thing that I did really like about the set was that there was Kumi in a black outfit on that screen and she looked gorgeous here, portraying that dark element of this section of the tour. Once again, a 5 star performance that was very memorable.

Up next is the fan-favorite and always peppy song, キューティーハニー.  Because this performance is more of a sweet but quite flirtatious song, the dancers don new outfits to reflect that. Ditching the leopard coats, the girls now are adorned in hot black outfits and the guys are now shirtless and wearing black pants. As usual, her vocals were fantastic and there was not one mis-step in that department. One part that really stood out during this performance was the during the pure instrumental section following the first chorus, Kumi and the girl dancers do some really sexy dancing that is what this song is all about. Unfortunately, I found this performance to be a little bit of a let down. I remember back when the single first came out and around the time Butterfly came out, Kumi pulled off the performances of this song with perfection. I felt like there should have been more interaction with the guys like she used to do during those little moments of instrumentation before the chorus. Then we have another breakdown and it didn’t come off nearly as well as the others. Kumi shows us her pole dancing skills but just having this whole slow and mellow atmosphere doesn’t really fit in with the traditional sound of キューティーハニー. It was a nice idea but it just could have been executed better.

Well I didn’t expect there to be dancing in the next performance but I think it was well worth it for 秘密. The performance starts off with the dancers giving us a great little dance interlude that has a sort of ballet feel to it and there’s something about the dancing that tells a story like the song. As always, Kumi’s vocals were great, really telling the emotion of the song and you could tell from watching her that she was very happy as she smiled and waved to her fans. There isn’t much to say about this performance but it was absolutely wonderful, easily one of the best on the entire setlist. Again, the dancing was unexpected but very welcomed and it gave the song even more life than before.

She then performs the emotional love ballad, MORE. This performance is pretty simple as she stands and sings into a sparkling microphone that hangs from the sky. She delivered the song with emotional and beauty, just like on the CD so that was very impressive. Also having the fire burn behind her was a nice touch since it kind of solidified that romantic and intimate atmosphere that the song exutes. It’s a very well pulled off performance that really reflects the song’s meaning well.

Well I still think LAST ANGEL works better with both Kumi and Tohoshinki doing it together. Kumi should always do the first verse, the boys should always do the second verse and the third verse should be shared. That’s how a perfect performance would go in my eyes. It was by no means a bad performance because you could tell Kuu was having fun while she was doing it. Her smile was infectious and even the dancing was pretty good. It just felt weird not having Tohoshinki do the second verse. I did really like the Kumi on the back screen, who was wearing what she wore in the LAST ANGEL PV. That was a pretty good touch. Overall, it was an okay performance and she probably should have picked a different song to perform instead.

Next is the Interlude Movie 1, continuing the story from Opening Movie. In this segment, the prince frees Princess Kumi of the devil inside of her, returning her to her original beautiful state. The grandmother then says Princess Kumi embarks a journey herself, hoping that her song wil reach the prince.

Accompanied by a piano man, she rests on top of the piano for the great performance of 愛のうた. Dressed in a beautiful white gown and a matching white hat with what looks like a veil, she looked absolutely gorgeous and her actions actually make it feel kind of like the story of a song as if she’s looking for him but he’s nowhere to be found. As always, her vocals were great. The only complaint I have with this song was that during the chorus, when she sang the title of the song, she went softer on the last word rather than keeping the same power. On the one hand, it does have a certain fragility to it that communicates the song’s meaning but I think that the emotional presence of the song could have been expressed more had it been louder. One thing I will say about this song which made me adore this performance. While she sang the chorus, she had backing vocals and it’s hard to put my finger on why they make the song better but they just do. In fact, I think they should have had these backing vocals in the studio version of the song. Anyway, this was a fantastic performance, definitely one of the best of the entire night.

The performance for hands features Kumi and a guy dancing behind some smoke. However the guy is only an image so everytime she reaches for him, she can’t touch him or he disappears. I think this was an absolutely fantastic way to communicate the song visually and it made for one hell of a performance. This time, she stuck to the studio version in terms of vocals, managing to basically sound exactly like the song on the CD, which is very impressive. She wore the emotions on her face perfectly and the whole atomsphere of the song came to life before the audience’s eyes, which always signals a strong performance. Overall, she did a great job with this song and she should definitely be proud.

Truth be told, Someday has never been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s my least favorite song on BEST ~second session~ but something about this performance was very likeable for me and it even made me like the song a little more. It was probably because Kumi just looked so happy and excited while performing it, that it made me smile. Generally, this performance allowed Kumi to see her fans more close-up as she walked around the stage, holding the microphone to the audience allowing them the chance to sing along. I really enjoyed the performance of Someday and think it was a very sweet and memorable one.

Surprise Surprise, she performed ふたりで…, which is always a nice chance from its leading A-side partner. The performance of the song was pretty simple, just featuring Kumi sitting in a chair as she sang the song. Maybe it’s just me but the song sounded even more fragile and doll-like to me than it usually does. Her vocals were really nice although there was a little too much adlibbing. I thought this was an okay performance, nothing that was really amazing or anything.

Following that performance, a member from the audience would be brought up to the audience and he/she would get to choose 1 from 5 songs and Kumi would sing that song. Yuko was lucky enough to make the DVD and she chose the emotional love ballad, you. The thing I liked about this performance was that you could definitely tell Yuko was honored to be sitting beside Kumi and the emotions were on her face the entire time. Vocally, this was an absolutely fantastic performance as her vocals easily matched the clarity and smoothness of the CD version. The only thing about the performance that threw me off a little was that the song is a very sad and emotional ballad but when she was singing it, it just didn’t have that same emotional presence that makes the song so unforgettable. However, excluding that one nitpick, it was amazing.

I think the most uninteresting performance of the night was 奇跡. It definitely wasn’t a bad performance but there was just no significant change or any story that came alive while she was performing it. She just sand on the couch, accompanied by the one backup singer and the two musicians. Her vocals were great although I didn’t much care for the live sound of the song as opposed to the studio quality, where there really is a magical feeling that suits the lyrical atmosphere much better. And once again, there was too much vocalizing at the end.

WIND has never really gotten any particularly amazing performance since it mainly features Kumi singing to the audience with a smile on her face and the audience singing along with a melody in their hearts. This performance was no different. Her vocals were good but I didn’t like the backing vocals because they felt pretty un-necessary. Again, not a bad performance, just not a very interesting one.

The next installment of the little movie, Interlude Movie 2 follows, transitioning us from the ballad section of the tour. She awaits her prince to return for her but he never does. So then she decides to search for him. Before she can finish the story, the little girl falls asleep and the grandmother leaves. We then see the story unfold further as we come into the little girl’s dreams. Princess Kumi turns into a flash of light and enters the picture.

We’re then perfectly set up for the adorable performance of the always cute and catchy Wonderland. Kumi comes popping out from the stage, strapped to a harness so that it can look like she is running across the lit up screen behind her. It is very reminiscent of the PV for Wonderland, even featuring a dangerously similar outfit so that was nice. Her dancers come back as well, providing some very cute and girly dancing that will make the viewer smile. Kumi’s vocals were capturing here, sounding just like CD quality. I think this was a great way to start off the kawaii segment of the tour.

Having a performance of It’s A Small World as a part of the tour surprised me and I suppose it was a nice addition because it does really fit in with this section of the tour. In fact, this was probably the most adorable performance because the dancing was just so cute and fun and everybody had a smile on their face. Also, I think Kumi’s pronounciation was pretty good here since I could make out everything she was saying. I also really enjoyed the little rap section because it was cutte but it maintained that Kumi attitude that shines through. Even though I was initially hesistant to have It’s A Small World included on the DVD, I think it was a good idea.

I absolutely loved the peformance of 恋の魔法, mostly because the dancing was adorable and reflected the song’s meaning strongly. Admittedly, the part of the song when she sings “darling you’ll always be my baby,” features a dance that is very strange but cute nonetheless. During the first verse, there’s a cool part where the girls and a one boy have a little love tug of war as they pull a heart on the screen back and forth. That was a great idea because it provides a little spice to the performance. Then there is the part where she fires an arrow of love that hits the boy on the screen. Overall, a very cute and strong performance worth checking out.

Within the cute section, the best performance is easily the one of anytime. Even though the performance of the song is very simple, it’s very effective in communicating the meaning of the song. Kumi swings back and forth on a giant swing, just singing her heart out. I think because there is more of an emotional presence behind this song, it stands apart from all the other cute songs she performed. The strings of the swing were really pretty, adorned by beautiful flowers and the bubbles that surrounded the stage were fantastic as well. Certainly one of the best performances of the night and one that shows cute Kumi perfectly.

I love Run For Your Life and I’m glad she performed it. The performance was adorable, really telling a story similar to the lyrics of the song. Her vocals were on point and the dancing was funny and cute yet again. We also get to see another Kumi on the screen, this time dressed very casually and fashionably. There isn’t much to say about this performance that hasn’t already been said but it’s definitely worth checking out.

I didn’t expect Come Over to make it onto the setlist and it’s not a bad thing that it did. The performance wasn’t anything that you wouldn’t have seen from the previous cute songs. Vocals were good as always and the dancing was cute as always too. But she looked like she was having fun and no matter how many cute songs she could have gone through, if she is having a good time then the viewer will have a good time as well. One thing I will say about this live version of the song is there is a slight instrumental change during that little part right before the hook and even though it may not be much, it definitely stands out, to me at least.

Of course the closing number had to be the crowd-pleaser, girls. With the energy and excitement of the performance, there is no way you could forget this song. Kumi’s vocals were strong as always and she even switched it up a little bit on that small part before the chorus with her singing technique. Truthfully, I prefer the CD version but this one has more fun spirited energy pushing it. We have Koda Gumi on the screen dancing and the lovely little dancing with the bags to just make this a very catchy and enjoyable performance. In my opinion, a great way to close the tour.

But wait! She’s not done yet! Now we delve into the encore performance, beginning with the Single Medley. I think this was one of the best singing performances of the night as she brought together some of her best songs. Newly dressed in a big blue shirt, shorts and overalls, Kumi starts off with Shake It Up. Her vocals weren’t much like they were on the CD and the music sounded very different, nowhere as good. Well this part was okay but it could have been better. Next we move onto the addictive track. BUT. She never delivers a bad performance of this song and this one was no different. Great vocals and the dancing was enjoyable as well. Once again Kumi, fantastic job! Then she moves into the (extremely short) part of real Emotion. This part was so short, that it was really surprising but she did a nice job on it. Next comes the chorus of hit song, Butterfly. Vocally, she did a great job although it would have been nice to have some dancing too. Finally we come to Crazy 4 U. I am in love with this song and was disappointed she didn’t bust out the moves from the PV but I could tell she was enjoying herself throughout the entire thing and that mkaes me love the performance. Also, how badass was the last part of the medley when Kumi licked her finger and put it up in the air? Genius. I loved this medley and the only thing that sucked was that all these songs would have been great if they were performed in full. However this is the Kingdom Tour so the new songs do get the focus.

Up next was my favorite part of the entire tour: the Dance Battle. So the boys teamed up against the girls and each gender troupe did their own thing. In terms of the boys vs. the girls when they were dancing together, that round goes to the girls no question. They provided sexiness and sass as well as a strong dance routine which made them stand out. In addition, each individual dancer got their time to do their thing. For this round, the boys definitely outshined the girls as they got some real talent. Best goes to the guy before Kaichou (I couldn’t see his name), who came out doing flips! He absolutely killed it and definitely made you want to see him do more. Kaichou did a great job on the girls side and I think she was really good because she did more than just be sexy, she had an actual fluid routine. Now of course, this is Kuu’s Tour and she had to have her own dance solo. I’m not exactly sure why but I laughed when her name came up on the screen. She did deliver a solid routine though that showed off that sexiness and edginess perfectly. Plus I love how the sirens go off when she’s performing, signaling she’s about to turn up the heat even more. Overall this section was perfect and you definitely don’t want to miss this. The music that ran through was so addictive; I hope she releases it as a song or something sometime in the future.

The next encore performance is of Moon Crying. Her vocals were very strong here, portraying the sorrowful emotion of the song perfectly. The magic of the song on CD came to life here and that’s always a good thing. Not much to say but it was a very good performance.

Finally we come to the actual closing performance, of a Kuu favorite, walk. Of course it’s a concert staple so it’s no surprise that it comes as the last song although I wish she would swap it out for something different. It was a good performance but not one that I would’ve chosen to end with.

Concert DVD Ranking: A +

Live Tour 2008 ~Kingdom~ had a multitide of reasons why you should buy it. Kumi was sexy; she was cute; she was beautiful.  The only one nitpick I have with the concert as a whole was the choice of songs. After all, this is the Kingdom Tour so where were Introduction For Kingdom, 甘い罠 (how is there gonna be an Arabian inspired outfit but no Arabian song?) or even 愛証? It was kind of annoying to have so many good songs left out but aside from that, it was a very strong tour. If you wanna see Kumi bring the heat, then buy this DVD.

Top 5 Performances

01. Dance Battle

02. Single Medley: Shake It Up, BUT, real Emotion, Butterfly, Crazy 4 U

03.  愛のうた

04. FREAKY

05. anytime

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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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