NEWS – 恋のABO [11th Single]

May 6, 2009 at 7:59 pm (NEWS) (, )

koi-no-abo

NEWS’ 11th single, entitled 恋のABO, was released on 04.29.09. The title track was used as the new RUSS-K CM song. Unlike many of their previous singles, this single comes with a DVD.

恋のABO has the boys taking on a 80s dance style to get the crowd dancing. The song begins with that hot dance sound and then Koyama saying a line before the group moves into the hook. They basically repeat the title a few times and then it’s the first verse. Koyama is up first and his vocals are very good here, giving personality and attitude for everyone to hear. It’s pretty fun when the guys call out “hey A!” or “hey B!” because it gives the song that extra bit of magic. Ryo is then next and the tone of his vocals are perfect since they naturally give a cool vibe. Everyone comes together on the chorus and it surprised me to hear Koyama have such a voice so it’s good that he’s getting his chance to shine. That last line of the chorus is sung with great vocals. Massu sounds awesome as always and that kind of low tone to his voice helps capture a sort of sexual atmosphere which the song gives off. Shige does a good job on his part too although at some points he sounds a bit strange. As usual, Tegoshi is given his own verse and he belts out his notes unlike anyone else. It’s very obvious why he’s given those solo parts because he can deliver in his special way. The song closes with the hook again followed by Tegoshi giving one more great vocal to really stay on the listener’s mind. It’s a great upbeat tune that the boys bring to life.

ラビリンス is the B-side on both editions of the single. Opening the song is an absolutely gorgeous instrumentation, highlighted by the sounds of the Spanish guitar, reminiscent of one of the group’s best songs, 愛のマタドール.  Then comes the first verse and Koyama sounds extremely good and the combination of the rapidity and the slightly whispering effect he gives makes him sound very sexy, catching the listener’s ear. Yamapi holds his own as well while the music continues to sound addictive. That first word of the chorus stands out perfectly and they continue with strength. It’s that Spanish guitar though that remains unforgettable. Just like Koyama, Tegoshi gives the same sexual energy that just makes him shine. That pure instrumental section is amazing, just sounding so awe-inspiring and pretty that the listener can’t not love it. This song is actually probably better than the A-side and it would have been a perfect double A-side.

OPEN YOUR EYES is the B-side present on the limited edition of the single. Enter the sounds of the Wild West, if not only mildly. The song starts off with a cool sound and slowly an older Western styled instrumentation enters, giving an element of mystery. Then the first verse starts and it’s strange not hearing Koyama begin off but Ryo does a good job nonetheless. Tegoshi follows and as usual, he carries that cool element perfectly. The chorus kind of shifts gears and has a more cute feeling to it so it doesn’t fit as well it should have. I like that Massu was given the solo third verse and he shines perfectly on it. It wouldn’t be complete without stellar vocals from Tegoshi near the end. OPEN YOUR EYES is a nice song but not as good as the first two.

The Live version of SHARE is also included on the limited edition of the single. We all should give these guys credit because they hand in writing and composing the songs themselves so that’s something they should be proud of. A very pretty piano starts the song off and soon the beat comes in and gives a more happy and upbeat feeling. Overall, it’s definitely the weakest song on the album and doesn’t particularly have any moment of climax. Everyone sounds nice but the music isn’t particularly capturing.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 恋のABO was made. Well…what can I say about this PV…it was certainly interesting. First, the dancing was pretty weak. They could have channeled the 80s style and give more intricate choreography. Second, I suppose the crowd of people is nice for the whole club scene but I think Johnny’s PVs are better with just the guys…or at least no girls. Summing up the guys, there wasn’t that much to be impessed with. Shige made strange faces, Yamapi had ugly hair (seriously, it was extremely distracting), Ryo looked weird, Koyama actually looked pretty good and normal, Tegoshi was…Tegoshi and Massu was adorable. Also, the camera angles were very strange and kind of ruined the video.

Single Ranking: A

After a somewhat disappointing studio album, NEWS stepped up their game. The first two tracks are absolutely stellar. 恋のABO features those cool 80s disco sounds to dance to and ラビリンス takes on those Spanish elements that make Johnny’s groups sound amazing. Hopefully they’ll be able to follow suit with such good material and they will be more active than they have been this year so far.

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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 Two] From The Boys of JE

December 7, 2008 at 5:02 pm (Arashi, Hey! Say! JUMP, Kanjani∞, KAT-TUN, KinKi Kids, NEWS, SMAP, Tackey & Tsubasa, Tegomasu, TOKIO, V6) (, , , , , , , , , , )

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Without a doubt, the “Kings of JE” title belong to Hey! Say! JUMP. I have fallen for these boys and am amazed at how far they’ve come since their debut single in 2007. These guys have released three singles this year and each single got better and better. Dreams come true was a very catchy and upbeat pop number that really showed the boys’ personality and made it an enjoyable listen. After that, the boys really impressed me with Your Seed / 冒険ライダー. It was with Your Seed, that I really got hooked on this group as they showed that mature sound that they do so well with. Even 冒険ライダー featured a slightly mature sound while still having that regular boyband feel. It was a perfect single and I couldn’t have asked for any better. But then they released 真夜中のシャドーボーイ and I fell in love all over again. The song featured a Spanish twist to bring out the boys mature side yet again (I think it should be manditory for all JE groups to have a Spanish influenced song since it always goes well). Along with falling in love with the music, I fell in love with the members of the group. Yamada is my absolute favorite and I’m glad he’s been the center of attention. He’s a good singer, great actor and is really hot. Yabu is my favorite BEST member and he’s extremely sexy. Thanks to both Sensei wa Erai! and Scrap Teacher, I’ve fallen for Nakajima and Daiki as well and I look forward to seeing more episodes of Scrap Teacher with them. Chinen and Takaki have considerably grown on me as well. Basically, Hey! Say! JUMP has done everything right this year except for one thing…AN ALBUM! If JE does not give them an album soon, I will go crazy so here’s to hoping we get an album in the first three months of January…

Coming in second for the “Kings of JE” is one of my favorite boybands, NEWS. The boys have released three heat1singles and one album this year, having their ups and downs. The boys’ first release of the year was with 太陽のナミダ, an absolutely fantastic dance song with Spanish and Arabian influences that sounds absolutely fantastic. Two of the B-sides on that single (バンビーナ and Lady Spider) also helped me fall for these guys, particularly Lady Spider. It is these types of songs that NEWS shines at so they really should continue exploring them. They followed up with SUMMER TIME, a sweet and cute summery number with that fun pop atomsphere that is perfect for that time of year. Once again, two B-sides (EASY COME, EASY GO and Liar) hooked me onto the single. Then came Happy Birthday, which was the weakest single from this era but still a nice enjoyable song. GAME of LOVE, which was the second B-side, was very strong and could have been the A-side. Then the album came and that’s why these boys don’t win the title of “Kings of JE.” After the amazing album, pacific, I was hoping that this album would be just as good, if not better. Unfortunately, this album was filled with forgetttable songs that just made me so disappointed. The one amazing new standout number was ケセナイ, sung courtesy of the man to your right, Tegoshi (Ryo and Shige were there too but it was Tegoshi leading). He definitely wins the “Prince of NEWS” title because he’s done everything right this year. He’s brought killer vocals to each song and he has looked since day one of this year until now (and before of course). I absolutely love Tegoshi and he’s one of my favorite members (alongside Massu) so it’s no surprise that he would deliver. Also the boys brought a concert DVD, which was absolutely entrancing. Certain performances such as SHOCK ME vs Devil or Angel. 愛のマタドール and ゴメンネ ジュリエット really made the DVD a perfect watch because the boys really bring the heat (i.e. see Yamapi perform his solo song…it’s…wow). I hope the boys are able to deliver strong material next year but I don’t doubt them. All the singles leading up to the album were fantastic so I’m hoping next time around, they put a little more effort into making the album as varied as the singles. On a related note, Tegoshi and Massu teamed up again as Tegomass and released their third single, 相合傘, which is a beautiful ballad about being unable to tell your feelings to the one you love while sharing an umbrella. It was an adorable single and I’m glad that they did this, which leaves me ready for an album from them next year.

ohnoWell I’m sure people will diasagree with this position but I give Arashi third place for “Kings of JE.” They’ve have been some very busy boys this year, releasing four singles and an album, which makes them the most active releasers of the year in Johnny’s Entertainment. They released Step and Go in February and that was my first taste of these guys and it caught my attention. It’s definitely the type of song that gets stuck in your head. Then they released Dream”A”live, an album packed with enjoyable uptempo numbers to keep the listener moving. It was pretty enjoyable and I would crown it “Johnny’s Entertainment Album Of The Year” (even though that may not be much of a prize seeing as only NEWS, SMAP and KAT-TUN were released an album besides Arashi but they get it nonetheless). But it was One Love, which really made me interested in these guys. This song is absolutely fantastic and is definitely the best song they have released thus far. It’s so pretty that it could even make me cry. Following was truth / 風の向こうへ, which everyone seemed to eat up. Honestly though, I didn’t really see what was so fantastic about it. Luckily Beautiful days was a step up and stood out to me. If you want proof that people love Arashi, just look at the sales. They have absolutely smashed the charts and stomped people out from the top spots. I was really surprised but I congratulate them and hope their success continues. My favorite member is without a doubt Ohno. The first thing I noticed about his him was his face and how it kind of had a sadness to it, at least to me anyway. I think he’s a good leader and look forward to see him grow and sing in the future.

It was a close call for third place but ultimately I gave it to Arashi. So fourth place (but still really close to taking kenthird) is V6. The guys’ first single of the year was 蝶, which immediately caught my eye. Well it wasn’t so much the title track as the second B-side, SHOW ME, that made me fall for these guys. SHOW ME is amazing and fantastic, definitely worth being an A-side. It’s the real reason that I came to follow these guys music. However all the songs on that single were fantastic, including the two other B-sides (Keep a Chance and Twlight emotion). 蝶 was a great title track, taking on Spanish sounds to push the instrumentation over the edge. VIBES, a DVD single, was released soon after and it was kind of like a mini album since there were so many new tracks. VOLTAGE, サンキュー! ミュージック! and DIVE were the three standout songs on this single and definitely kept the group’s momentum of strong songs. Next they released LIGHT IN YOUR HEART / Swing!, which was a very catchy single worth listening to. I didn’t really get to know these guys very well but I’ve chosen my favorite member, who we can take a look at to our right. Let’s take a big thanks to Raid at Raid My Mini Bar for pointing out Ken Miyake to me. There is a picture of him on the website (a random picture in a group appears at the top) and that’s how I got introduced this very hot guy. I tried to find that picture but to no avail. I hope these boys will be putting out an album soon so I can see just how talented these boys are and I hope they continue to deliver hot uptempo tunes.

kokiIt was also hard to choose who would get the 5th spot for “Kings of JE” but I chose to give it to KAT-TUN. With three singles and one album under their belt for the year, KAT-TUN definitely had their share of releases. Let’s be honest, T∀BOO is the reason that these boys got this spot. They’ve released LIPS, DON’T U EVER STOP and White X’mas but none of those songs could hold a candle to that amazingness that is T∀BOO. It’s a sleek and sexy number that is not only one of the best opening tracks of the year but one of the best opening tracks ever. It is addictive and worth the listen if you haven’t heard it. QUEEN OF THE PIRATES was a nice album although a little too focused on rock and not strong enough ballads. Keep the faith was a strong follow up to the introductory track and was another album highlight. Who is my favorite member of KAT-TUN? Tanaka Koki of course. He always stands out to be when I watch their PVs and his voice catches my ear when I hear their songs. Plus he has such a different look from the rest of his bandmates, it’s hard not to see him. Even though the singles could have been a little stronger and a little more aggressive, I would say KAT-TUN did a good job this year with their releases and I’m excited to see what they bring next year. Also their tour DVD comes out next year and I’ll be waiting to see T∀BOO  live.

The rest of the groups I’ll be counting down did not release very much in comparison to their counterparts so I’ll just tackey1review them as one paragraph. 6th place goes to Kinki Kids, who actually only released one single. But what a single it was…Both Secret Code, the title track, and the B-sides made me really fond of these guys. It’s such a shame that they only released one single because I was looking forward to hearing more. While Secret Code takes on the cool jazzy route, strategie uses Spanish influences with Fu Fu Fu and ビターショコラ following the jazz suit. Plus I found out about Domoto Koichi, who is hot beyond belief. Up next is Tackey & Tsubasa, who take 7th place. Much like Kinki Kids, they only released one single but it was pretty good. 恋詩 – コイウタ- was really pretty so it was worth the listen while PROGRESS was a nice uptempo number. The 8th spot goes to SMAP, who released two enjoyable singles: そのまま / White Message and この瞬間, きっと夢じゃない. These guys have some really nice voices so I’m glad I was introduced to them. They also released an album entitled super.modern.artistic.performance, which I haven’t gotten around to listening to but I will soon. Kanjani∞ comes in 9th, mostly for Wahaha. That single was pretty catchy although not the most memorable song I could have hoped for. This group is just okay for me so I hope they release some material to really make me like them because I think that it’s just their style / image that just doesn’t suit me very well. Finally 10th place is TOKIO, who only released one single, 雨傘 / あきれるくらい僕らは願おう. It was nice although it didn’t really catch my attention like the other groups. I hope that these groups (Kinki Kids in particular) will be more active next year so I can really experience what they’re like.

Johnny’s Entertainment certainly has the talent to back up their big name. Many people associate JE with boys who rely on looks rather than talent but that is absolutely not true. Of course these boys have the looks but they have extreme talent to match. Hey! Say! JUMP brought some amazing material this year, winning them title of Kings of Johnny’s Entertainment 2008. NEWS and Arashi also brought some very nice material and had NEWS made a stronger album, they might have taken the crown. Arashi had a very big year as the most releasing group of JE so I wonder what next year will have in store for them, seeing as it is their 10th anniversary. The other groups all had their own special touch even if some weren’t very active. I look forward to seeing what Johnny Kitagawa plans for in 2009…it better be an album from Hey! Say! JUMP at the beginning or I will be pissed.

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NEWS – color [3rd Studio Album]

November 30, 2008 at 6:34 pm (NEWS) (, )

color

NEWS’ 3rd studio album, entitled color, was released on 11.19.08. The singles released prior to the album are as follows: weeeeek, 太陽のナミダ, SUMMER TIME and Happy Birthday. Much like their previous albums, there are some solos, the trio songs as well as one KoyaShige duo.

The album starts off with the boys’ first single off this era, weeeeek. With its fun and light-spirited sound, it’s the perfect album opener. The guitar brings the song to a strong beginning and the boys come in singing the chorus with that fun atmosphere coming through powerfully. On the verses, some of the boys doing some rapping and it works well with the overall feeling and everyone’s voices sound nice. The hook is a little cleaner as the boys with the softer voices sing their way through smoothly. That pure instrumental section definitely stands out as there is a very grand feeling to it and following is Tegoshi, who tends to give the best vocal performances. The song finishes with more exciting and upbeat music to bring this song to a close. weeeeek is one of the album’s strongest songs and a very memorable way to begin the album.

Following is STARDUST, a midtempo rock number. The song starts off with a calming rock instrumental that gets a little more aggressive as times goes on before the first verse. On the verses, the vocals are okay and they fit with the music well but they’re nothing very special. The chorus picks it up a little more as the instrumetnation becomes more interesting and the boys’ vocals are a little stronger. When they sing “stardust,” that is a pivotal moment in the song and it gives it a little more flavor. The pure instrumental section is all right and is nice because the guitar gets the spotlight but it’s nothing that great. Overall STARDUST is a nice track to listen to when you’re in the mood but they could have (and should have) done a lot better than this.

SUMMER TIME, which was the second single of the color era, is the third track on the album. A very pretty and twinkling instrumental starts the song off before the chorus arrives strongly. Everyone sounds great and they perfectly capture that summer light-hearted atmosphere with the combination of the vocals and instrumetnation. English phrases such as “I want you to know my sweet emotion” and “beautiful days” really pop and make the chorus all the more enjoyable. There is a more relaxing feeling on the verses and everyone sounds good with Massu’s vocals being the real standout. The rap section allows Koyama and Shige to shine a little more and it gives the song even more of that fun flavor. SUMMER TIME is another one of the album’s best tracks and one to look for.

The next track is SNOW EXPRESS, which was recorded previously and even appeared on the boys’ latest tour DVD. Now the song has a physical release on color. The song starts off with a very pretty instrumental that touches the listener’s heart. Surprisingly, the boys’ vocals are a little stronger than usual on the verses (notably Massu’s) as they smoothly move with the music. The chorus is what makes this song so addictive as everyone sounds good together and when they sing “snow express,” it’s heaven. It also stands out because the guitar is spotlighted there for a moment, which sounds fantastic. Yamapi then delivers his rap sequence and it’s a little surprising to hear but it has that Yamapi sexiness which just works so well for him. SNOW EXPRESS is a fantastic song, one that definitely deserved a physical release.

The next song is the sweet ballad track, Forever. From the moment the instrumentation opens, the listener should know that the boys are going to pour on the emotions. The first part of the chorus where they sing quickly is what stands out particularly because of Tegoshi’s vocals but then it doesn’t sound as good. The English is also a nice touch On the verses, the vocals aren’t bad but the instrumentation gets very old very quickly so the listener can’t really get hooked on it. Massu actually provides some strong moments during his part of the verse as does Tegoshi but overall the verses aren’t very impressive. What saves this song is the chorus with Tegoshi being the real star as there is a certain cuteness about this song that really stands out. It could have been much stronger though.

Up next is MOLA, which is Yamapi’s usual solo number. This track sounds so much like an American song that it’s a little strange to hear Yamapi doing something like this. To connect back to the American idea, the song is entirely sung in English and his pronounciation is actually pretty good despite the music interfering to the point when he is somewhat inaudible at points. The song opens up with “lady” and it sounds so much like T-Pain and his vocoder that it’s ridiculous. The lyrics show off the dirty flare as he sings “everybody feelin’ kinda naughty.” Much like his previous song, ゴメンネ ジュリエット (on the pacific album), there is a girl who sings a couple lines and although she provided some pretty vocals on the first song, she is too present here. Luckily for this song, the pure instrumental section is addictive and really shines. Overall, Yamapi’s vocals are so distorted that it doesn’t even sound like him and the sound is so American, it just comes off as annoying. This solo track doesn’t even come close to ゴメンネ ジュリエット.

Luckily, there is one new track that shines above all the other new ones and is even on par with the single songs and that is ケセナイ, sung by the trio of Tegoshi, Ryo and Shige. From the moment the instrumentation starts, there is such a beautiful and peaceful feeling that is instilled with the listener. Tegoshi then comes in on the first verse and provides smooth and calming vocals that match the music perfectly. There is a moment right before the chorus where the instrumentation goes a little higher and even though it’s only for one moment, it has that sparkling feeling that just hits the listener’s heart. Tegoshi then provides powerful and beautiful vocals on the chorus, showing off just how fantastic a singer he really is. On the second verse, Ryo and Shige have their moments to sing (although Tegoshi still is the leading singer here) and both boys sound great too. There is something about the overall feel of the song that just evokes memories of the one you love so the emotions definitely come to the forefront. Although this is a trio song, Tegoshi is the clear star (much like 愛なんて from pacific) and this is easily the best new track for providing the listener with a gorgeous and calming song to listen to.

Ryo’s solo, ordinary, is the next song to arrive. Much like code (on pacific), this song takes on a midtempo rock sound. After some pure instrumentation, the first verse comes in and Ryo provides some nice vocals although the music quickly gets old. The chorus is nothing special as the music doesn’t paricularly change and neither do Ryo’s vocals. One part of the song that does shine though is the pure instrumental section, in which the guitar is put on display for the listener. Overall, this isn’t a bad song and it is a step up from code as it gives us the opportunity to hear Ryo sing instead of scream but it’s not a very memorable one. I think they should give Ryo some different sounds next time instead of the same old rock number (that or give the solo to someone else…).

みんながいる世界をひとつに愛をもっと Give & Take しましょう features Massu as the lead with Koyama and Shige as the backups. The opening instrumentation actually sounds pretty cool like there is going to be a cool and dark rock following but then the chorus comes in full of happiness and cuteness and it’s a little disappointing. The boys’ vocals are good here and the repeating words stand out but not exactly strongly. On the verses, the instrumentation calms down so the focus can be on the vocals. Again, the vocals aren’t bad but the instrumentation and overall feeling of the song isn’t particularly interesting. That pure instrumental section is nice as the music gets that pretty spotlight and there are some elements reminiscent of TEPPEN (from their last album). Overall this song is just nice, nothing spectacular but nothing horrible.

KoyaShige team up again for ムラリスト and this track sounds so identical to their last duet チラリズム (from pacific) that it’s absolutely ridiculous. In fact, the title of that song is even mentioned in this one. The moment the song opens, the chorus comes in and there is such a fun beach feeling to it. Then the verse comes in and Koyama sounds pretty good here since his voice has a certain lightness to it. Shige has a little more trouble since his voice is deeper and when he reaches really deeper, it just doesn’t sound good (Koyama also does this too at points at the song). This song is one of those that you can’t take seriously to enjoy. Unfortunately it loses major points for basically being a carbon copy (and a worse one at that) of チラリズム. If anything, they should have tried to a song more similar to their other duet, アリバイ.

太陽のナミダ is another song released before the album and yet again, one of the album’s strongest numbers. The opening instrumentation features Arabian and Spanish influences to push for an absolutely perfect instrumentation. Following is the first verse and everyone provides the song with that dark coolness that suits the music perfectly. Massu and Koyama stand out since their voices are lighter compared to the rest of the members. The chorus is absolutely fantastic as they come together and harmonize fantastically, with the last word being held with strength. Overall this song is amazing and is one of the best (if not the best) on the album.

Smile Maker is up next and honestly, it sounds like a watered down version of Happy Birthday then tweaked to be a little more upbeat. It’s not that the song is bad but it’s just not interesting. Vocals are okay throughout but the music is just not there. Truthfully, this song’s one grabbing point is the ending when the instrumentation sounds fantastic. Had the song taken on this sound the whole way through, it would have been far more enjoyable.

The next song and semifinale is Happy Birthday. This relaxing pop number is pretty nice although it’s pretty weak compared to the other singles. One thing that stands out from this song is during the chorus when they sing “happy birthday.” It’s a very sweet song and worth the listen and surprisingly, it fits with the overall feeling of the album (and that can be argued as being a good thing or bad thing).

Closing the album is FLY AGAIN. It definitely was not the way to finish the album since it’s just so boring. It’s mostly due to the instrumentation being so simplistic and it just feels like it’s already been done before. This is possibly the worst song on the album so having it be the last one was not a smart idea.

Album Ranking: B –

The thing that makes this album so disappointing for me is that their last album, pacific, was fantastic. The album had upbeat numbers you can dance to (a la 愛のマタドール or サヤエンドウ), the sweet ballads (i.e. 思う夜 and 星をめざして), Yamapi did a wonderful job on his solo and the album tracks were on par with the single ones. On color, the solos were an absolute mess; the single tracks were extremely better than the album tracks; the KoyaShige was a rip-off of their last one and overall the album tracks were not that memorable. The new jewel of this album, ケセナイ, is absolutely fantastic though and is the perfect example of why Tegoshi belongs in this group. The album was definitely lacking in dance songs so I sincerely hope they pick it up on the next album to make up for this one.

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NEWS – Happy Birthday [10th Single]

October 7, 2008 at 7:24 pm (NEWS) (, )

NEWS’ 10th single, entitled Happy Birthday, was released on 10.01.08. The title track was used as in the HAPPY BATH DAY CM for Kose.

Happy Birthday is a sweet pop song that has a relaxing atmosphere to it. The song starts off with a very pretty upbeat instrumental that dives right into the first verse. Ryo’s voice works really well with the music here and there’s something almost soothing about the combination of his voice with the music. The vocalizing section following Ryo’s part gets a bit annoying since it lasts so long but then comes to chorus to the rescue. There’s something indescribably catchy about the chorus as the way the boys sing the lyrics in a way that holds that sweetness so well. They sing “happy birthday” and it’s a part of the chorus that stands out very strongly. Of course Masssu and Shige sound very smooth on their parts of the verse before Koyama and Shige have their little part singing together. Happy Birthday is a very catchy song with a sweeter sound that the listener can fall in love with.

ガンガンガンバッテ is the B-side present on both editions of the single. Opening the song is an instrumental that has a sort of video-game like quality to it, carrying some cool edgy sounds. However, once the chorus comes in, there is more of a cute atmosphere. The music actually accentuates certain notes like the final one and the final “come on” in the set of three as the boys sing a little higher and this makes for certain parts the listener can listen for. The pure instrumental section nicely spotlights the guitar, putting back some of the edge in the instrumentation. It’s an enjoyable song with a fun atmosphere that just keeps the listener enticed.

The limited edition is home to GAME of LOVE. This song has an atmosphere similar to older American songs but the boys’ voices suit it perfectly. The song begins with part of the hook and the slight distorted feeling really works in establishing a sexual atmosphere. The chorus then follows as they sing “give me one more kiss, take me higher sky.” On the verses, each member provides smooth vocals that go perfectly with the music and the certain note that they hold momentarily longer than the others always stands out. The full chorus is addictive with more English lyrics and more sexiness. There is one real star of this song and that is Tegoshi as he provides stellar vocals, overshadowing the others. His pronounciation during his part is quite impressive. During the final choruses, Tegoshi does some vocalizing and once again, he shines as his vocals really catch the ear. Closing the song is the hook, which makes for a perfect finish. This song is infectious with its catchy sexual atmosphere and Tegoshi’s fantastic vocals.

Push On! is found only on the regular edition of the single. It’s the slowest song on the single as well as the most boring. The song starts off with a pretty and sweet instrumentation but once the verses come in, it loses that spark. The vocals aren’t bad but the telephone sounds that run through the instrumentation get really annoying. The hook gets a little bit better for the “ring ring ring ring” and “1 2 3 4” and the following line allows Tegoshi to shine once again with great vocals. Unfortunately the chorus is pretty forgettable and just doesn’t capture the listener. Push On! certainly isn’t a great song but it’s one to listen to.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Happy BIrthday was made. The video is amazingly cheesy with the boys singing in a fake kitchen. They are dressed like they are on the covers so at least they look good. It’s not a very interesting video because of all the fake special effects but the dancing part was quite enjoyable with all six boys lined up.

Single Ranking: A –

Although this single isn’t as strong as previous singles that NEWS has released this year, it’s certainly one to listen for. The title track and the first B-side both carry a certain sweetness that works well with the boys’ voices. Of course they bring a little more sexy on GAME of LOVE and Tegoshi is absolutely wonderful here. Push On! is actually pretty dull and really not worth checking out. Nonetheless, it’s a good single but hopefully the boys will take on more dancey stuff in the future.

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NEWS – SUMMER TIME [9th Single]

May 11, 2008 at 1:14 am (NEWS) (, )

NEWS’s 9th single, entitled SUMMER TIME, was released on 05.07.08. The A-side was received a tie-in as the Crymson/RUSS-K CM song. The single follows the format of their previous single with one B-side present on both editions (EASY COME, EASY GO). Each edition then features another B-side that is exclusive to the specific edition: Liar (Limited Edition) and Baby! Be My Baby! (Regular Edition).

SUMMER TIME is the A-side of the single and is perfect for the summer. The song begins with a sweet instrumentation before the chorus comes in with the singing of “this is the summer time.” Although the lyrics are primarily are in Japanese, a few English phrases really pop, particularly the ending chorus line as the boys sing “beautiful days” with great harmnonization. The verses feature nice vocals and the fun atmosphere is strongly established. The third verse is a rap that sounds fun and has a cute element that makes it so enjoyable. The same sweet instrumentaion finishes off the song as the boys sing “this is the summer time” for a strong finish to a great song. SUMMER TIME is a nice and fun song that was made for summer and the boys did an excellent job on this one.

EASY COME, EASY GO is a B-side that is found on both editions of the single. An upbeat and breezy atmosphere is created with the opening chorus as they open with “easy come, easy go” and finish with “have a nice day.” The verses are mellow and the vocals go perfectly with the instrumentation, which establishes the feel of a lazy and relaxing summer day. The third verse draws more attention to the music and the central instrument: the electric guitar. The pure instrumental section is highly enjoyable as it puts emphasis on the strong instrumentation. EASY COME, EASY GO is definitely another song perfect for summer and finds a perfect home on this single.

The limited edition of the single features the rock track, Liar. The track opens up with a cool rock sound before booming louder. The verses features lyrics are delivered with a slickness that comes off as very cool. The chorus is easily the most addictive part of the song as it begins with the English phrase “you are lying.” The vocals show power and control here as they mesh well the instrumentation. As the boys sing “liar,” that cool feeling returns when there is a greater instrumental presence and the note is drawn out well. The short third verse features English lyrics as there is a slight instrumental change that spotlights the words. A hot rock beat finishes off the song perfectly, making Liar an excellent track that shows the true versatility behind the boys’ voices.

Baby! Be My Baby! is only present on the regular edition of the single. The song opens up with instrumentation that also seems to channel a summer sound before diving into the first verse. The vocals are at their usual consistency and work well with the music. The chorus is nice and fun as they sing “baby, me my baby” repeatedly throughout this section and their harmonization is great as usual. It’s a pretty short song but it’s still enjoyable and a perfect compliment to the single.

In order to promote the single, a PV for SUMMER TIME was made. The PV opens up with Massu coming to an abandoned beach house and his imagination comes forward as he finds and opens a pop-up book. The rest of the video shows his daydreams of having the rest of the group at the beach house with him. The use of computer graphics were a great touch as they helped capture the overall mood of the song. The other scenes in the song also show the feel of the song: Pi cleaning a surfboard, Tego making smoothies, Ryo and Massu washing clothes, etc. It’s very enjoyable and although simple, it’s cute and fun, just like the song.

Single Ranking: A

SUMMER TIME is a single that offers a lot from NEWS. The A-side is a fun and poppy song that captures the element of summer perfectly. EASY COME, EASY GO is continues the summer sound that is more mellow but still great nonetheless. Liar strays away from the summer sound to a rock sound that comes off very strongly. Baby! Be My Baby! comes back to the summer atmosphere with a fun and poppy sound. SUMMER TIME is an excellent single that features some great tracks.

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NEWS – 太陽のナミダ [8th Single]

February 25, 2008 at 6:19 am (NEWS) (, )

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NEWS’ 8th single, 太陽のナミダ, was released on 02.27.08. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Kurosagi. In order to offer something on both the editions of the singles, different B-sides were featured. 美しすぎて is one B-side that was left on both versions but the second B-side is different. On the limited edition, バンビーナ is featured while the regular edition features Lady Spider.

The single opens up with 太陽のナミダ, an Arabian-influenced addictive song. The first verse opens up with lower-pitched vocals that have a certain breathy quality that intermittently appears to give a sexy quality to the vocals. The chorus shows off stronger vocals and blend well with the instrumentation without overpowerig it. The second verse is similar to the first however the vocals are a little stronger and set it apart more. In the case of this song, the instrumentation really accentuates certain notes and sections in which the vocals follow perfectly, creating a true balance. The chorus is a perfect example of this as the boys sing the title of the song at the chorus’ finish. The various pure instrumentatal sections following the chorus really bring the music to the forefront and because of the addictive beat, creates fantasy-like imagery. 太陽のナミダ is an extremely strong A-side and shows off a strong instrumental and smooth voices that harmonize amazingly.

Track number two, 美しすぎて, is present on both the limited and regular editions. The song opens up with a very cute and upbeat instrumentation that introduces the overall feel of the song perfectly. The first verse maintains the same atmosphere as the opening while accompanying a more mellow instrumentation and soft but beautiful vocals. The chorus is very enjoyable with a cute element found within the music and the perfect harmonization of the boys’ vocals. The phrase “beautiful eyes” stands out especially and is sung with perfect pronounciation. The second verse presents even more vocal strength while keeping the same instrumentation as the first verse. The slight change in the instrumentation sets the third verse for such strength and in vocal terms, they delivered. The song ends with beautiful instrumentation and creates an amazing finish.

バンビーナ, song number three, is only present on the limited edition. From the opening of the song, it’s clear that there’s going be some hot upbeat energy in the song. The first verse opens with smooth vocals that compliment the beat amazingly with a hint of sexiness in them. The chorus is addictive and stands out from the rest of the song with stronger vocals that still compliment the music. The second verse is very similar to the verse and because of their similarity in vocal terms, it gives the song perfect low. The third verse takes the song in a slightly techno direction that is addictive on its own level. The vocals show such strength on this song, it blows the others away in that department. Pure instrumentation was the perfect way to close such an amazing song.The instumentation is very directional in this song as well, highlighting certain note(s) that the vocals follow. This track is one of the best and the inclusion of it on the limited edition was definitely a smart decision.

The third track to the regular edition, entitled Lady Spider, has a summery feel to it. The opening of introduces a hot dance beat that prevails throughout the song. The boys really step it up on the vocal department on the verses, showing off some impressive talent that blends well with the beat. The instrumentation really hihglights certain notes that the boys hit effortlessly and the nuances of the arrangement contribute to the perfect sound. The way they sing “lady spider” shows a certain playful sexuality that keeps the song interesting. This song was another amazing addition to the single and placing it on the regular edition was a smart move.

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The PV for 太陽のナミダ is one of the strongest PVs for Johnny’s Entertainment of this year as of yet. It features the boys in what appears to be a medieval castle scene. The rain is a very nice effect that perfectly compliments and reflects the overall atmosphere of the song. The choreography is also very impressive. The boys look in sync and show a true mastery of the moves.

Single Grade: A +

All the songs on this single are amazing. The A-side and title track uses the looming Arabian sound to create an addictive song. The B-side present on both editions is cute and creates the atmosphere without going overboard. The two other B-sides placed on their respective editions of the single are both A-side material and are certainly not to be forgotten. The accompanying PV for the single is also amazing, proving that the entire single was well-done. As my introduction to NEWS, it’s one I won’t forget.

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