Leah Dizon – Everlasting Love + You [New Song]

August 29, 2009 at 11:27 am (Leah Dizon) ()

Leah Dizon New

A new song from Leah Dizon, entitled Everlasting Love + You, was included in the Katamari Forever Soundtrack. This compliation was released on 08.19.09.

The song starts off with a cool 8-bit instrumental that catches the eye and really does give off a video game atmosphere, perfectly fitting with the theme of the song. Then comes the first verse and Leah sounds pretty great here, her vocals really suiting the cool and relaxing feel of the song. Admittedly, the chorus does fall a little flat for the expectations from the verses but it is cute. After Leah whispers and there is kind of a sexual energy there that really works for her. It’s sweet and it’s cute, nothing that is amazing but worth the listen. Hopefully Leah will have everything settled soon and will be making a return to music with her own career.

Song Ranking: B

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[Part Six] Oricon Year 2008 Top PVs

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

tabooplayroom

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

01. Koda Kumi – TABOO PV

02. Hey! Say! JUMP – 真夜中のシャドーボーイ PV

03. Koda Kumi – Under PV

04. Suzuki Ami – ONE PV

05. Perfume – Macaroni PV

06. NEWS – 太陽のナミダ PV

07. Hey! Say! JUMP – Your Seed PV

08. Ito Yuna – miss you PV

09. Jyongri – Winter Love Story PV

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

11. Koda Kumi – anytime PV

12. alan – 空唄 PV

13. Tohoshinki – 呪文-Mirotic- PV

14. alan – RED CLIFF ~心・戦~ PV

15. alan – 風の手紙 PV

16. Koda Kumi – 秘密 PV

17. Hamasaki Ayumi – Marionette PV

18. Koda Kumi – Moon Crying PV

19. Arashi – Beautiful days PV

20. Otsuka Ai – クラゲ, 流れ星 PV

21.Tegomass – アイアイ傘 PV

22. Leah Dizon – Vanilla PV

23. NEWS – SUMMER TIME PV

24. Koda Kumi – 恋の魔法 PV

25. Koda Kumi – 甘い罠 PV

26. Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World PV

27. Arashi – One Love PV

28. DOUBLE and Amuro Namie – BLACK DIAMOND PV

29. Amuro Namie – Sexy Girl PV

30. AAA – Crash PV

31. Ishida Yuko – Changes PV

32. Morning Musume – Resonant Blue PV

33. aiko – KissHug PV

34. Tanimura Nana – SEXY SENORITA PV

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

36. Shiraishi Kikyo – BLACK PV

37. C-ute – 涙の色 PV

38. Tohoshinki – Beautiful you PV

39. alan – 恵みの雨 PV

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

41. BoA – be with you. PV

42. Nishino Kana – I PV

43. Leah Dizon – Under The Same Sky PV

44. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION PV

45. Amuro Namie – WHAT A FEELING PV

46. Tohoshinki – Purple Line PV

47. ayaka x Kobukuro – あなたと PV

48. Koda Kumi – MORE PV

49. C-ute – 江戸の手毬唄 PV

50. Koda Kumi – あなたがしてくれたこと PV

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[Part Five] Oricon Year 2008 Top Albums

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

kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

06. Morning Musume – Cover You

07. Leah Dizon – Communication!!!

08. ayaka – Sing to the Sky

09. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION

10. Tohoshinki – T

11. Perfume – GAME

12. MEG – STEP

13. Aira Mitsuki – COPY

14. AZU – AS ONE

15. melody. – Lei Aloha

16. Berryz Koubou – 5 (FIVE)

17. Arashi – Dream”A”live

18. BoA – THE FACE

19. Kuraki Mai – ONE LIFE

20. EXILE – EXILE LOVE

21. Misia – EIGHTH WORLD

22. Ito Yuna – WISH

23. NEWS – color

24. capsule – More! More! More!

25. Shimatani Hitomi – Flare

26. Stephanie – Stephanie

27. KAT-TUN – QUEEN OF THE PIRATES

28. BIG BANG – Number 1

29. AAA – CHOICE IS YOURS

30. Tiana Xiao – desTiny

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[Part Four] Oricon Year Top Singles

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

mnsb2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Misia – Catch The Rainbow [Digital Release]

12. Morning Musume – ペッパー警部

13. Leah Dizon – Love Paradox

14. C-ute – 江戸の手毬唄 II

15. alan – 風の手紙

16. Perfume – Dream Fighter

17. Tohoshinki – 呪文  -Mirotic-

18. Arashi – One Love

19. Morning Musume – リゾナント ブルー

20. Ito Yuna – miss you

21. Koda Kumi – anytime

22. Perfume – love the world

23. Tanimura Nana – JUNGLE DANCE

24. V6 – 蝶

25. Kinki Kids – Secret Code

26. NEWS – SUMMER TIME

27. Leah Dizon – Vanilla

28. Aira Mitsuki – チャイナ・ディスコティカ

29. Berryz Koubou – 行け 行け モンキーダンス

30. alan – 懐かしい未来 ~longing future~

31. MEG – HEART

32. AAA – MIRAGE

33. Ishida Yuko – Changes

34. Hey! Say! JUMP – Dreams come true

35. Tohoshinki – Runaway / My Girlfriend

36. Tohoshinki – If…?! / Rainy Night

37. Tohoshinki – Purple Line

38. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION / Stay Gold

39. Tegomass – アイアイ傘

40. Takasugi Satomi – ありがとう

41. Ito Yuna – 恋は groovy x2

42. BONNIE PINK – Ring A Bell

43. Shiraishi Kikyo – again

44. Shiraishi Kikyo – BLACK

45. Shimatani Hitomi – 泣きたいなら

46. Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World

47. ayaka x Kobukuro – あなたと

48. alan – RED CLIFF ~心・戦~

49. Amuro Namie – 60s70s80s

50. Berryz Koubou – MADAYADE

51. Nakashima Mika – ORION

52. Crystal Kay – 涙のさきに

53. Jyongri – Winter Love Story

54. C-ute – 涙の色

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

56. Arashi – Step and Go

57. Arashi – Beautiful days

58. V6 – LIGHT IN YOUR HEART / Swing!

59. AAA – MUSIC!!! / ZERO

60. Aoyama Thelma – 守りたいもの

61. Koda Kumi – MOON

62. NEWS – Happy Birthday

63. Kitahara Aiko – その笑顔よ 永遠に

64. Shibasaki Kou – よくある話~喪服の女編~

65. Milky Way –  タンタンターン!

66. Kuraki Mai – 一秒ごとに Love for you

67. C-ute – FOREVER LOVE

68. Otsuka Ai – クラゲ, 流れ星

69. Aira Mitsuki – ロボットハニー

70. ayaka – おかえり

71. Utada Hikaru – Prisoner of Love

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

73. Hirahara Ayaka – 孤独の向こう

74. Milky Way – アナタボシ

75. alan – 恵みの雨

76. BoA – be with you.

77. BoA – VIVID

78. Fukui Mai – アイのうた

79. V6 – VIBES

80. Hirahara Ayaka – さよなら 私の夏

81. EXILE – LAST CHRISTMAS

82. Tohoshinki – Close to you / Crazy Life

83. Nishino Kana – Style

84. Arashi – truth / 風の向こうへ

85. KAT-TUN – White Xmas

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

87. GIRL NEXT DOOR – 偶然の確率

88. TOKIO – 雨傘 / あきれるくらい 僕らは願おう

89. Tohoshinki – Beautiful you / 千年恋歌

90. SMAP – そのまま / White Message

91. Angela Aki – 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ

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

93. AAA – BEYOND~カラダノカナタ

94. Kawashima Ai – カケラ / Flag

95. SMAP – この瞬間, きっと夢じゃない

96. EXILE – The Birthday ~Ti Amo~

97. Buono! – ガチンコでいこう!

98. Berryz Koubou – ジンギスカン

99. Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

100. Buono! – ロッタラ ロッタラ 

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[Part Three] Artist Profiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Leah Dizon – Communication!!! [2nd Studio Album]

August 26, 2008 at 5:02 pm (Leah Dizon) (, )

Leah Dizon’s 2nd studio album, entitled Communication!!!, was released on 08.20.08. Only two singles were released prior to the album: Love Paradox and Vanilla (including their respective B-sides). Leah explores new sounds such as rock on Lost At Sea and BxKxRxxx and reggae on LOVE SWEET CANDY, giving this album a little more versatility than her last and allows her to try out new things.

The album’s opener is the cute and fun song, Step into my world. There is a twinkling sound reminiscent of a cradle toy that begins the song before the chorus comes in. Leah’s vocals are very cute here as she sings “step into my world baby” and “step into my world tonight” over a fun upbeat instrumental. On the verses, there is a more calming feeling as Leah gives some very nice vocals. The hook features a lot of English that really shows the happy and sweet atmosphere of the song, particularly when she sings “I’ll spend everyday the rest of my life to bring you the happiness you’ve brought to me.” Repeating English phrases from the chorus then bring the song to a close. Step into my world is so light-hearted and cute that it serves as a great album opener.

Love Paradox, a hot dance track, comes in as the second song. Opening the song is a strong dance beat with an American flavor, really catching the listener’s ear. Then the first verse begins and Leah sounds very strong as her voice perfectly compliments the music. English phrases such as “oh no, thank you” and “no time for love” pop nicely and communicate the song’s meaning really well. Every other line during the chorus is sung and it’s a strong way to make it stand out in the listener’s mind. She continues to deliver good vocals and phrases like “why can’t I let it go” and “am I falling in love” connect the chorus strongly. The third verse is particularly impressive with the English lines such as “sometimes love just ain’t enough” pushed to the back and Leah bringing the best vocals of the song. Finishing off the song is the chorus, which then fades for a perfect finish. Love Paradox was a fantastic single and it’s still amazing in the context of the album.

Leah then explores the sounds of reggae on the next track, LOVE SWEET CANDY. A twinkling reggae instrumental begins the song, which introduces a very light and fun atmosphere. On the first verse, Leah’s vocals are soft but carry a sweetness that is unmistakeable to the listener as she follows the direction of the music perfectly. For the hook, the English line “my love’s like candy” repeats and Leah gives a little more vocal power, which allows for a perfect introduction to the chorus. The chorus is insanely catchy as she sings in a higher pitch and the English words “kiss” and “wink” pop cutely. Longer English phrases “the sweetest ice cream” and “the taste of a dream” stand out to the listener sweetly as well. There is a small pure instrumental sequence that leads the listener from its start to end and then the chorus is re-introduced with Leah singing in a higher octave than before. Closing the song is more pure instrumentation to make LOVE SWEET CANDY a fantastic song and a great way for Leah to explore new sounds.

Things slow down for the fourth song, Without a good-bye. The opening instrumentation really presents an emotional atmosphere that stands out to the listener, allowing for a good transition into the first verse. Leah’s vocals carry emotion here and she is able to hold them out strongly. There are slight rock tints that come out on the chorus and although Leah expresses the emotions powerfully, her voice seems somewhat different. Perhaps she is singing in a different octave in order to communicate the song’s true atmosphere. However she does close the chorus strongly as she sings “without a good-bye.” This song is nice in that it shows Leah’s ability to bring the emotions to the table although it is the weakest song on the album.

The sweet pop song, Vanilla, is the fifth track on the album. The song begins with a funky pop instrumental that leaves the listener wanting more and then she comes in with the hook as she sings “just groovin,’ have a celebration, step with me, yeah yeah yeah.” Then the first verse starts and Leah sings with somewhat deep vocals that actually stand out nicely and the English phrase “I don’t need no silly promises” pops strongly. Soon, Leah begins to sing a little higher and to follow suit the instrumentation takes on a lighter tone. The chorus is extremely cute and catchy and the English phrases help convey that “pure and simple love” as she sings “celebrate my love for you” and “I just wanna be with you.” For the verses, the second verse stands out even more than the first as there is a real cool sleekness about it that Leah definitely brings strongly. After the chorus comes back in, she says “step with me now” and the pure instrumental section appears. There is a real funkiness about it that leaves the listener wanting so much more. Closing the song is the hook, making a perfect and clean finish. Vanilla is another great song released before the album that hasn’t lost any of its magic on Communication!!!

Nothin’ to Lose, a song sung entirely in English, is a sleek dance song that emerges as one of the most addictive songs on the album. Opening the song is a hot dance instrumental and then the first verse begins. Leah sings with attitude and slickness, really catching the listener’s ear. The hook continues its strength and the final line “the stakes are high but he’s one of a kind” really introduces the chorus strongly. She sounds great here and the final two lines “cause when you got nothin,’ you got nothin’ to lose” is absolutely fantastic. There is an element of sexiness about this song that is wonderful, allowing Leah to sound very comfortable. After a small section of pure instrumentation, the chorus comes back in and continues to entice the listener. Much like Love Paradox, the song has an American quality to it that Leah brings out strongly, which makes this one of the absolute best songs on the album.

Leah explores rock sounds on Lost at Sea, a powerful and emotional song. A nice acoustic-guitar-driven instrumental begins the song and then there are some vocalizations that hold a naturalness that matches the song. Leah’s vocals during the first verse are somewhat deep and move with the music fantastically. She then comes in with the hook, sung in English that really catches the listener’s ear. There is more of a beat as the guitar becomes a little bit more powerful and the English communicates the song’s emotion strongly as she sings “I’m a fiend and you’re a drug” and “as long  as you exist I’ll never stop.” The rock sounds come out the most strongly on the chorus and Leah delivers some of the best vocals on the entire album here, filled with emotion and strength. The hook is what finishes off the song after some repeating English phrases. As her first foray into the sounds of rock, Leah passes with flying colors on Lost at Sea for so successfully bringing all the emotions of the song and displaying them through powerful vocals.

The title track, a cool dance song, is up next. The song takes off with a very interesting and sleek instrumental, moving into the first verse strongly. Leah sings with attitude to match the edginess of the music. English phrases such as “surrender your inhibitions” and “we’ve been using body language” are what make the hook pop nicely. She brings more sexiness on the chorus with lines such as “you wanna know what turns me on?” There is a nice pure instrumental section perfect for a dance break that really catches the listener’s ear as the music of this song is what really makes it so catchy. She whispers the title of the track to bring it to a close, making Communication!!! both a hot dance song and an fantastic title track.

With a sound that makes it somewhat of a slow-jam, Not Too Bad appears as the album’s ninth track. This song features quite a bit of English, roughly being equal to the Japanese. The chorus starts off and the English phrases such as “hair cut” and “baby you’re not too bad” really pop. Leah sounds very sleek on the verses, delivering a certain attitude to her vocals and the phrase “you’re looking so damn fine” that closes the verses really stands out to the listener. Once again, it’s the English that fuels the third verse and there is a slow coolness to it that is memorable.

She comes back to the sounds of rock for BxKxRxxx. There is a certain element of fun that comes through the introductory pop-rock instrumental. She then sings the first verse and her vocals sound very pretty here, moving over the music strongly. Then the rock sounds really come full-force on the chorus and Leah delivers more good vocals to match with the English phrase “out of sight, out of mind” really sticking out in the listener’s mind as well as her ability to deliver the lyrics with such rapidity. There is a section of vocalizations over a cool and sleek aggressive rock instrumental that sounds fantastic and then the chorus comes back in. The same vocalizations close the song perfectly. BxKxRxxx takes the more poppier side of rock and once again, Leah shines here, perfectly capturing the song’s attitude.

The album’s semifinale is the sweet ballad, Under The Same Sky. A very soothing and pretty instrumental that gives off the feeling of a hidden paradise begins the song and then Leah sweetly sings the first verse. Her vocals carry a vulnerability that allows the listener to really feel what she is singing. Instrumentally, the chorus is more diverse than the verses and Leah’s vocals continue to carry emotion, making this section really catch the listener’s ear. Certain notes are spotlighted and Leah holds the last note of the chorus with such prettiness that the listener follows a smooth finish each time. Finishing the song is more beautiful instrumentation, which is the absolute perfect way to close it. Under The Same Sky is a wonderful song that finds a spot on this album perfectly.

Leah closes the album on a strong note with the cute song, Thank You. She sings “oh happy days for you and me” over a sweet instrumental with a clear beat, really standing out to the listener. Then the full chorus comes in, which features a few other English lyrics that show Leah’s gratitude for the person she is singing to. On the verses, she sounds very pretty and the instrumentation matches by creating a very friendly atmosphere. More pretty instrumentation then brings the song to a close, then finishing off the album. Thank You is a very memorable track and it’s a great way to end Communication!!!

Album Ranking: A

Leah takes a different route on this album then she does on Destiny Line. Communication!!! takes Leah through the sounds of rock, hot dance sounds and sweet soft numbers. Both of her attempts with the sounds of rock are pulled off strongly as Lost at Sea and BxKxRxxx both sound fantastic. The two strongest songs on the album are Love Paradox and Nothin’ to Lose, bringing that hot American style that she sounds so perfectly comfortable with. She also brings strength to the cute songs: Step into my world, LOVE SWEET CANDY, Vanilla and Thank You. Although there are only two real slow songs on the album, she steps up for Under The Same Sky (although Without a good-bye is the worst song on the album). Overall, she brings everything on this album and there is that magic that only she can bring that makes this album a success.

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Leah Dizon – Step into my world [PV Review]

August 26, 2008 at 5:02 pm (Leah Dizon) (, )

In order to further promote Leah Dizon’s latest album, entitled Communication!!!, a PV for Step into my world was made. The video was not included in the CD + DVD edition of the album however.

The video begins with a record being played on a record player, which attones for the scratching sound as the twinkling instrumentation is introduced. Leah is then seen behind a black background with yellow stars spread out throughout the black. She is dressed very nicely here and looks very pretty. The rest of the video features two Leahs as they interact with each other from different places. This includes one Leah taking off her bracelet and dropping it to the other Leah so that she may use it as a hula-hoop as well as one Leah dropping a ball to the other who plays with it and then returns it. Other scenes include the two Leahs dancing, the two singing as well as the two eating chocolate. It’s actually a really cute video and is a good fit for the song. The only mis-step with this video is the animated Leah who repeatedly winks which does not look so cute. It should have definitely been removed but otherwise, the video is cute and worth checking out.

PV Ranking: B +

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Leah Dizon – Vanilla [5th Single]

June 28, 2008 at 6:52 pm (Leah Dizon) (, )

Leah Dizon’s 5th single, entitled Vanilla, was released on 06.25.08. When the single was first announced, the name of Vanilla was titled Let’s Groovin,’ which makes sense as a similar line appears in the song. Vanilla is meant to convey a “true, simple and pure love” and it does a nice job of portraying that feeling. Leah explores with reggae on LOVE SWEET CANDY and the overall atmosphere of the song fits perfectly with the feel of Vanilla. The CD Only version of the single features 悲しみと笑顔の中で, which has a sound somewhat similar to previous songs Softly and Missing from her debut studio album, Destiny Line. Leah co-wrote all three songs present on the single, just as she did for both songs from her Love Paradox single. Vanilla is a great single following Love Paradox and Leah’s new album, which has been announced for an August release according to HMV, looks to be strong with these songs.

Vanilla is a cute dance song with a little funky side to it that makes it really catch the listener’s ear. The song starts off with a sort of funky instrumental before the catchy hook comes in. Leah sings in all English and the first phrase, “just groovin” is where the original title for Vanilla was derived. Then the first verse starts and Leah’s vocals are somewhat deep but they are delivered with enough attitude to really make them pop. The English phrase “I don’t need no silly promises” stands out being surrounded by all Japanese phrases. Once that part of the verse finishes, Leah sings higher and the instrumentation takes on more of that cute sound, just in time for the chorus. The chorus is highly catchy with its kawaii sound and the English phrases that finishes off the line such as “celebrate my love for you” and “I just wanna be with you.” The final line of the chorus, “just having fun and being in love” stands out nicely and transitions nicely into the hook. The second verse features vocals similar to the first but they sound even softer with a certain slickness that works. The English line “I hide my jealousy like a pro” is a nice line that pops. The pure instrumental section really is a standout as the funkiness and fun of the song is spotlighted with a little vocalizing from Leah that sounds great. The hook serves as a perfect close for Vanilla as an addictive section that makes the listener want to get up and dance. Vanilla is a wonderful dance song with cute elements that make it pop and the use of English is strong as Leah sounds perfectly natural singing it. It’s definitely another great A-side after Love Paradox.

Leah experiments with the sounds of reggae on LOVE SWEET CANDY and the experiment definitely worked. The song begins with a twinkling reggae beat that introduces the song nicely and really does evoke a fun atmosphere. The first verse sounds great as Leah’s vocals follow the instrumentation perfectly. They are soft enough to match the sound of the music but show enough power to keep the energy of the instrumentation. The hook before the chorus continues the song’s strength as Leah shows off a little more vocal power and an English line echoes in the background. Leah sounds great on the chorus with even stronger vocals that reach higher and the instrumentation becomes slightly more varied and the sounds after she sings “love sweet candy” really stand out to the listener. The English lines “the sweetest ice cream” and “the taste of a dream” are nice and make the chorus really pop. The final chorus is sung even higher than the other choruses and Leah’s vocals here still sound great and move with the music well. Pure instrumentation brings the song to a great close. LOVE SWEET CANDY is an excellent song from start to finish and is a nice change of pace as Leah successfully explores the sounds of reggae.

悲しみと笑顔の中で is a B-side only present on the CD Only version of the single. The song has a similar sound to songs like Softly and Missing from her debut album, Destiny Line. A twinkling soft instrumentation starts off the song that immediately captures the atmosphere of the song. As the sequence ends, the listener can hear elements of traditional Japanese instruments, which are a very nice touch and add a little spice to the instrumentation. The first verse features some soft and sweet vocals from Leah that sound perfect with the music. The chorus sounds great as the instrumentation really stands out and Leah’s voice mixes with the music to capture the feel of the song nicely. The English line “I’ve been trying to hide my heart” pops very nicely as well. The last few words of the chorus are spotlighted as the music goes softer for a moment. The third verse stands out as Leah sings a little bit stronger and the difference is notable to the listener. Following, she sings in all English and the lyrics are very pretty. She sings “when your heart is lost in your fears, don’t let darkness destroy your hope.” The song is an excellent addition to the single and is a very pretty soft track that should not be skipped.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Vanilla was made. From the moment the video opens, the fun atmosphere is established. The dancing that Leah does with her female dancers fits perfectly with the cute and happy atmosphere of the song. The opening dance sequence features some dancing that resembles putting on make-up and is a great opening for the video. Color is definitely one of the video’s strong suits as the colorful look matches the colorful feeling of the song. The dancing sequences match the funkiness perfectly as Leah and her dancers do some nice dancing. The second verse features a more sexy Leah with a glamorous touch to really make it stand out. Another part of the video features Leah in the kitchen with two other girls and there dancing resembles making a cake. One girl gets a message on her cell phone and after Leah adorably sticks her tongue out, a dance sequence begins. Chairs are a integral part of this dance routine and also display the song’s funkiness. Another scene includes Leah lying on her bed and she sings with a happiness in her eyes. The PV for Vanilla is highly enjoyable and certainly worth watching as it is a perfect visual for the audio.

Single Ranking: A

Leah Dizon’s 5th single is a great follow-up to her hot single Love Paradox. The title track is a wonderful dance track with enough cuteness and funkiness to make it sparkle. Vanilla really does represent a “true, simple and pure love.” Leah experiments with reggae on LOVE SWEET CANDY and the result is absolutely wonderful. The B-side on the regular edition, 悲しみと笑顔の中で, is a sweet ballad that Leah sounds absolutely great on. From start to finish, Vanilla is a strong single and all three tracks are worth listening to. From Love Paradox to Vanilla, Leah’ sophomore album looks to be extremely strong.

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Leah Dizon – Under The Same Sky [PV Review]

May 13, 2008 at 7:21 am (Leah Dizon) ()

Under The Same Sky is the B-side to Leah Dizon’s latest single, Love Paradox. Soon after the single’s release, it was announced that Under The Same Sky would be the theme song for the drama Tokyo Prom Queen, which Leah would be guest-starring in. In order to further promote the drama, a PV was made for Under The Same Sky.

In keeping with the atmosphere established from the song, the director decided to play on a “pretty” theme. One scene includes Leah sitting on a flower made of crystals and her look along with the beauty of the flower combines to make a gorgeous scene. Falling stars only amplicate the scene’s beauty and capture the feel of Under The Same Sky perfectly. There are also many face shots of Leah that focus particularly on her eyes and her lips. She is also seen standing behind a window looking out on a terrific view as rain falls upon the window. In order to also promote the drama, scenes from Tokyo Prom Queen are also intertwined within the video. The PV for Under The Same Sky is very pretty and is the concept behind the video, although simple, works very well in the context of the song.

PV Ranking: A –

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Leah Dizon – Love Paradox [4th Single]

April 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm (Leah Dizon) (, )

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Leah Dizon’s 4th single, entitled Love Paradox, is the first single following her latest album Destiny Line. After rumors of her retirement from the music industry, Love Paradox really shows how much of a threat Leah really is. Both songs on the single feature lyrics written by Leah, which gives them a nice personal touch. This single was released on the same day as her new photobook Pure Leah! and her first overseas live in Taiwan. Originally, the CD Only version was set to include Love Paradox (Bach Logic Remix) but for unknown reasons was taken off. Love Paradox is an American-style urban track that is Leah’s strongest to date. Leah mentioned that Under The Same Sky is one of her favorite songs that she has written thus far.

The title track of the single, Love Paradox, is Leah’s best song to date. The song opens up with a hot American-styled instrumentation that blends perfectly into the first verse. Leah’s vocals stay in the lower register during the verses and compliment the music well, allowing her to deliver her lyrics with slick ease. The small hook between the verses and chorus really serves as a bridge as the instrumentation begins to contain higher notes that come into play during the chorus. The English used, “don’t need no one” and “no time for love,” really capture the lyrical message that the song presents: a woman searching for a love that isn’t there. The chorus is the most poppy part of the song featuring other English lines such as “I just can’t stop” and “why can’t I let it go?” and add a nice energy to the song. The chorus also stands apart because there is more strength in Leah’s vocals and this is best seen at the end of the chorus. The third verse continues the hotness of the song but with more vocal strength and a slightly different instrumentation that makes it addictive. The song then finishes with the fading out of the chorus, which is a perfect way to end it. Love Paradox is Leah’s strongest song and is a perfect introduction of a new album era after Destiny Line.

Under The Same Sky, the B-side of the single, is a sweet midtempo track that Leah has mentioned as being one of her favorite songs from her discography. The song begins with a relaxing instrumental that gives the imagery of a hidden paradise before beginning the first verse. Leah’s softer vocals work compliment the music perfectly and make a transition into the chorus. The arrangement of the chorus accentuates certain notes, which Leah’s voice follows. She holds the final note well as she sings “under the same sky.” The little section of pure instrumentation that sounds similar to the opening of the song is enjoyable and spotlights just how pretty the music really is. Under The Same Sky is another great song from Leah and it serves as a good contrast to Love Paradox.

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In order to promote the single, a PV was made for Love Paradox. With both dark and light imagery, the PV is a definite strength within the single. The strongest element is undoubtedly the dancing. When Leah and her dancers dance inside of the dark warehouse and when she dances with her female dancing in a very light and poppish atmosphere, both places capture the heat behind the song itself. Other scenes feature Leah within a large and spinning black cube, which is very creative as well as a scene of Leah at home looking into a mirror. The PV is definitely one to remember with a great budget and directed with finesse

Single Ranking: A

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Leah Dizon’s fourth single, entitled Love Paradox, is her strongest single to date. Love Paradox, described as being urban and American-styled, is her best song to date. Her vocals are good, the instrumentation is edgy and it suits her perfectly. Under The Same Sky is a soft and sweet midtempo track that features a beautiful instrumentation supported by Leah’s vocals. This single features two great singles and the supporting PV was great as well. Love Paradox is a perfect way to begin a new album era.

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