Nishino Kana – もっと… [7th Single]

October 29, 2009 at 4:48 pm (Nishino Kana) (, )

Motto...

Nishino Kana’s 7th single, entitled もっと…, was released on 10.21.09. The title track was used as a Rekochoku CM song.

もっと… is a laid-back midtempo number that catches the ear. The song begins with part of the first verse and it’s basically just Kana with the beautiful sounds of the piano so it makes for the perfect opening combination. It sounds heartbreaking when she sings “I’m just crying cause of you” and the following moment of pure instrumentation really stands out. Then the instrumentation becomes more diverse to bring chorus before moving back into the first verse. Her vocals carry a certain fragile quality on the verse that suits the music very well and brings the emotions out. When she hits the higher notes, she absolutely angelic and it fits the light atmosphere of the song. It’s a very enjoyable song from Kana that shows off her vocals and style wonderfully.

The first B-side is missing you. Opening the song is a very pretty instrumental that is established by the sorrowful sounds of the piano. Kana then comes in on the first verse and her vocals carry a lot of emotion. In fact, at points, it sounds like she’s going to start crying. The chorus is a little flat and sounds a little generic so it doesn’t capture the strength of the build-up from the verse. Although her vocals are nice, the song could have been nicer overall.

Dear my friends serves as the second B-side. This song has a happier and more cheerful atmosphere than the other two songs. After a cute and fun instrumental, the chorus comes in and it sounds very cutesy. The most interesting part of the song is the instrumentation, which carries different sounds it to make the listener pay attention. The vocals are nice as well but they aren’t as strong as the music, which is a shame since it’s so interesting.

In order to promote the single, a PV for もっと… was made. The video basically features Kana spending the day checking her cell phone for new messages in hopes that the one of her dreams has sent her another one. It fits with the lyrics of the song so it was a good idea to incorporate the phone theme into the video. There is also scenes from the single’s cover and Kana looks so pretty here. Overall, the sweetness of the video fits with the sweetness of the song so it’s a perfect fit.

Single Ranking: B +

It’s another good single for Kana. もっと… is one of her more memorable songs and definitely shows what she can do. Hopefully her next single, which was already been announced, will be as strong as this.

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Nishino Kana – LOVE one. [Debut Studio Album]

June 24, 2009 at 3:39 am (Nishino Kana) (, )

LOVE one

Nishino Kana’s debut album, entitled LOVE one., was released on 06.24.09. The singles released before the album are as follows: I, glowly days, Style, MAKE UP, 遠くても featuring WISE and 君に会いたくなるから. 君の声を was the album promotional track and had a video to support it.

The album begins with *Prologue* ~Kirari,~ a shortened version of Kirari from the MAKE UP single. It begins on a very peaceful and angelic note and Kana’s vocals really support that sweetness as there is a beautiful innocence in her voice that will strike the listener immediately. The chorus has a kind of toy soldier feel with the drum beats and this really stands out and catches the listener’s ear. It’s such a dreamy song that is the absolute perfect way to open up this album.

Kana and WISE team up for the first full track, 遠くても. The song takes off with a midtempo instrumental and some vocalizations from Kana that sound wonderful. With the chorus, she sounds very pretty and the emotion is definitely in her voice, particularly when she sings “always love you.” On the first verse, she continues the strength of the song with more good vocals and the sweetness of the instrumentation stands out nicely. WISE talks a lot throughout the song and it’s kind of annoying. The part when they switch off singing “love” sounds really weird because WISE doesn’t really give the emotion to make it believable. Luckily his rap section is a lot better and surprisingly suits the song’s overall sound very well. This is one of the more memorable singles from the group and is a welcomed addition to LOVE one.

doll really takes things in a different direction for Kana. The song starts off with a cool dance instrumental with some distorted vocals in order to catch the listener’s attention. On the first verse, her vocals are great because they give that attitude that makes the listener fall in love with the sleekness of the song. The chorus is sparkling and cute while still keeping that awesome dance instrumental so it comes out as the perfect combination. Without a doubt, doll is one of the stronger songs on the album and it’s a shame that a song like this didn’t make it to single status or even album promotion.

It’s another new track up next with Girlfriend. Opening the song is an actually pretty obnoxious line from Kana as she sings “I wanna be your girlfriend” Her vocals just sound so whiny and awkward that it definitely does not make a strong first impression. After that though the instrumentation comes in and the listener can slowly movve into the song’s core. Again, her vocals give attitude and the instrumentation is just so trippy that one can’t help but feel it. Although she does sound a little whiny on the chorus, it does stand out. Lyrically, it’s definitely a story that a lot of people can relate to, wanting to more than a friend with someone. If the chorus was stronger then Kana would be set for this song but it’s a little annoying at points.

This time Kana teams up with VERBAL for 君の声を, chosen as the album promotional track. The song begins with the usual midtempo piano driven instrumental with great vocals from Kana, showcasing emotion for the listener to feel. The first verse has that natural R&B feel to it that suits Kana’s vocals quite well. The chorus doesn’t change much from the verses but it sticks to the magical formula so it works. VERBAL sounds a lot better when he can deliver his lyrics with rapidity and unfortunately he can’t do that here since he’s keeping with the tempo. So his section could have been stronger but it’s still nice. This is a pretty enjoyable song and it’s choice to be the album promotional track could be understood.

Up next is Style, released as the third single before the album. Opening the song is a relaxing and cool instrumental that will stick in the listener’s mind. Then Kana makes things even better when she comes in on the first verse with some great vocals. What really makes the song shine is the chorus as she brings even better vocals and the instrumentation becomes sparkling and cute. Since its release on the single, it has come on a long way and sounds even better on the album.

Life goes on… is a ballad about moving forward. The song begins with a pretty instrumental with a different feel than the others. She sounds very nice on the first verse, providing smooth vocals that just melt over the music. The chorus is nice and the sound of water drops is a very nice touch but this section of the song just doesn’t grab the listener like the choruses of other songs. It’s just not very engaging, leaving the listener wanting a little more. It’s a little boring and doesn’t stand out.

Her debut single, I, is the eighth song on the album. The song starts off with an interesting instrumental and her vocals sound a little strange at the beginning, as if they’re missing that certain magic that is clear in her newer songs. There is kind of a poppy rock sound that makes the listener want to dance along with her. The chorus stands out primarily because of the higher-pitched vocals and at some points, she sounds like she is straining. Honestly, it’s not a very strong but at least this song proves that Kana has really come far vocally and the producers have found music to support her voice.

We’re back with a new song with candy, sung primarily in English. It opens up with a very interesting and cool instrumental so immediately the listener knows something wonderful is about to come through. She sings in all English with “It’s like candy, candy, there’s so many, I can’t get enough.” Like in a few of her other songs, her voice really brings that attitude that makes the song so addictive. It was surprising to hear “cause the boys look so good and I gotta make a choice” and it’s clear that there is a sexual atmosphere surrounding the song. This song definitely has one of the most interesting and addictive instrumentals on the entire album, making it one of the standout songs. It would be great if Kana pursued this genre further because she really adapted to it well.

MAKE UP was the strongest A-side from the batch of singles and it still shines on the album. The song starts off with a cool sleek instrumental that will make the listener want to get up. Then comes the story of the song with the first verse and there’s something very likeable about her vocals. They just sound so natural and relatable somehow. The chorus is what makes this song stand out with great vocals from Kana. She reaches those high notes very nicely and there are those moments when the instrumentation goes up in tone for just a moment but it’s very noticeable and strong. On the third verse, her vocals are distorted slightly but they really sound amazing here and fits with the music even more strongly than before. With its electronic sound embraced wondefully, Kana really sparkles on MAKE UP.

glowly days, the second single, follows. It starts off on a pretty and sweet note. Her beginning vocals are very nice and show improvement from I. The instrumentation really sounds nice with the various strings of piano notes catching the listener’s ear. On the first verse, it loses that same prettiness although Kana continues to bring great vocals. On the chorus, there are still moments when she sounds like she is straining to hit those higher notes but she still sounds pretty good. It’s one of the weaker tracks on the album but it’s still worth a listen.

One of the B-sides, celtic, appears next. That opening instrumentation of piano notes is really pretty and it sets up Kana for a strong introduction. It almost feels like a ballet when she sings that first verse, giving vocals that will stand out to the listener. The chorus could have been stronger since it feels like she packed on the cuteness a little too much. Nonetheless, the instrumentation keeps its sweetness so the listener’s attention is kept throughout the song. It was a wise choice to include since it suits the overall album atmosphere well.

君に会いたくなるから is the final full track on the album. Unfortunately, it’s one of the weaker songs and it doesn’t grab the listener like the others. It’s another midtempo number but it just lacks that magic that the other songs like 遠くても and 君の声を have. Kana’s vocals are nice but the instrumentation doesn’t demand attention from the listener.

Closing the album is *Epilogue* ~LOVE one.~ Like the prologue, the song Kirari is used. An instrumental version is used while Kana speaks over it. She sounds so cute and kind of like a kid, which is only brought out by the lullaby-like sound of the instrumentation. It actually would have been a cool idea just to have the pure instrumental play as the ending track but either way, it ties the album together and it was a great way to do so.

Album Ranking: A

I was pleasantly surprised by how strong Kana’s debut album was. With a whopping six singles included on the album (as well as one B-side and two tracks featuring parts of a B-side), the new tracks found their way to the listener’s ear. doll, candy and Girlfriend all stand out strongly. A few of the singles: MAKE UP, Style and 遠くても all sound great as well. The prologue and epilogue both use one of her best songs ever so they shine as well. It’s a fantastic album and definitely worth the listen and purchase.

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Nishino Kana – 君に会いたくなるから [6th Single]

June 11, 2009 at 5:32 am (Nishino Kana) (, )

Kimi ni...

Nishino Kana’s 6th single, entitled 君に会いたくなるから, was released on 06.03.09.

君に会いたくなるから is a sweet love song. The song begins with a pretty midtempo instrumental that will definitely catch the listener’s attention. On the first verse, the piano comes to make the music sweeter and to suit Kana’s vocals better. She does go a little high at points when she doesn’t need to but generally, her vocals are very nice and flow with the music perfectly. The chorus is memorable because of the way the syllables are pronounced. Some are slow and some are fast but they all come together to form a cohesive section of the song. It’s a good song and although it could have been stronger at points, it’s still a nice listen.

Kana teams up with WISE again for the first B-side of this single, 失恋モード. The song starts off with a nice R&B instrumental with WISE saying “la la la life goes on” and it gets really annoying really quickly because it just doesn’t suit his voice. Luckily Kana comes in on the first verse and her vocals fit the twinkling sweet instrumental perfectly. What makes the chorus stand out are those vocals that Kana holds, showing her vocal strength. Once again, WISE doesn’t really fit into the song as well as he should have but it was a nice thought to have him on the track. Overall, this is a nice song and it would have been even better without WISE.

Again is a natural song that will stay in the listener’s mind. Opening up the song is a nice and relaxing instrumental driven by the sounds of the acoustic guitar. Kana provides some nice vocalizations here and there to catch the listener’s ear. On the first verse, there’s something very sweet in her voice that stands out. It’s not particularly powerful but it’s enjoyable and it fits with the feeling of instrumentation. The chorus shines because the instrumentation becomes more diverse and Kana keeps up with every beat. On the third verse, her vocals become fragile and even angelic, sounding wonderful and delicate on the listener’s ears. It’s a very enjoyable song and one that suits Kana’s vocals very well.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 君に会いたくなるから was made. The video is pretty simple, featuring Kana walk through a record store and then through town, passing by an old love. They both long to see each other although they never end up meeting. It may not be complicated or the most visually impressive but it suits the song’s theme quite well.

Single Ranking: B

Overall, the song is “nice” but it’s nothing too great. Again is definitely the best song on the single and it should have been the A-side since its the most memorable. It’s nice and sweet song that showcases her vocals wonderfully. Both 君に会いたくなるから and 失恋モード are good too but they could have been stronger.

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Nishino Kana featuring WISE – 遠くても [5th Single]

March 19, 2009 at 9:44 pm (Nishino Kana) (, )

kana

Nishino Kana’s 5th single, entitled 遠くても, was released on 03.18.09. The title track is a collaboration with rapper WISE.

Nishino Kana and WISE team up on 遠くても. The song starts off with a midtempo instrumental with a few vocals from Kana and a few words from WISE before the actual singing of the chorus. Kana’s vocals are very pretty and sweet, helping to establish the cute atmosphere perfectly. She sings “always love you” before a little section of pure instrumentation comes in and there’s something very natural and likeable about it. She continues to sound in touch with the emotions of the song on the verses and she brings more sweet vocals. The repeating “love” part is kind of weird because WISE doesn’t really give the emotions and Kana sounds too fragile. Surprisingly, WISE’s rap section fits into the song perfectly and really catches the listener’s ear. It’s a great song with a cute atmosphere that the listener can really fall for.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 遠くても was made. The cute and loveable vibe of the song is reflected in the video. It consists of Kana hanging out with her friends and just being girls. The simplicity of the video really works with this song so it’s a good fit.

Single Ranking: A –

After her last single, Kana had to bring something good to continue such good quality and that she did. She teamed up with WISE for the sweet song 遠くても and the listener can really relate to the cuteness of the song.

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Nishino Kana – Make Up [4th Single]

February 1, 2009 at 4:53 am (Nishino Kana) (, )

kana

Nishino Kana’s 4th single, entitled Make Up, was released on 01.28.09. Both the title track and B-side, Kirari, are featured in the theater adaptation of the cellphone anime Chocolate Underground.

Kana shows her cute and girly side on Make Up. The song begins with a sweet midtempo instrumentation with some electric influences that relax the listener. Kana’s vocals on the first verse are smooth and carry a certain cuteness that makes her irresistable. The first high note she hits sounds angelic but the following ones do sound a little shrill. The chorus is very enjoyable as there’s just a light-hearted and cute girly feel to it that the listener can really get into. There are these moments in the instrumentation when the music goes slightly higher and even though it might be hard to catch, they are ear-catching once they are realized. The instrumentation takes on a fabulous feeling as her vocals are distorted and honestly, it sounds absolutely incredible. The whole should have been done in this tone as her distorted voice really matches the electronic influences that propel the song. Make Up is a very enjoyable song and probably Kana’s best song to date so it’s definitely worth the listen.

kana2Kirari is the single’s first B-side. There is the first verse, which is very pretty. Her vocals are very sweet and show emotion, complimenting the sweetness of the music. Things take an interesting tone for the chorus as it sounds a bit like a toy march as a clear beat comes in and provides more flavor to the twinkling instrumentation. This song follows a very straight-forward pattern and it supports Kana’s vocals perfectly. Everything about this song is angelic and it could have definitely stood on its own as an A-side.

We come to a more upbeat song, Sherie. The music has a true coolness about it while still keeping that fun spirit that is Kana. Her vocals are wonderful and the combination of the two give a feeling of floating away. Although the chorus does get a little tiresome with the constant repetition of “Sherie.” Overall though it’s a nice song, despite not being a particularly blow-away track like the previous ones.

Included on this single as the final B-side is Make, which was the original version of Make Up. Honestly, there was no real point in adding this onto the single since it basically sounds exactly like Make Up. There are slight lyrical changes along with a few vocal changes as well. There is no reason for the song to be here but Make Up is nice so I suppose it’s no harm, no foul.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Make Up was made. Fitting with the girly atmosphere of the song, the video features Kana and various girls just being girls and having a party. There are also scenes of Nana singing into a microphone and looking very fashionable. Although not a very eventful video, it certainly fits the atmosphere of the song well.

Single Ranking: A

Without a doubt, this is the most solid single release from Nishino Kana. Make Up and Kirari are both amazing songs that show a new side of Nana, one definitely worth getting acquainted with. Sherie is nice and Make was un-necessary but if anything, the first two songs seal this single as a memorable one.

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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 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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Nishino Kana – Style [3rd Single]

August 12, 2008 at 10:50 pm (Nishino Kana) (, )

Nishino Kana’s 3rd single, entitled Style, was released on 08.13.08. The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime series, Soul Eater.

Style is a sweet pop track. The song begins with a somewhat relaxing atmosphere coming through the instrumentation and then the first verse starts. Kana’s vocals are very smooth here and go with the music nicely. The chorus stands out even more as she delivers more powerful vocals that hold a cuteness to them, making the listener feel the song’s magic. It’s a cute song so it’s definitely worth checking out.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Style was made. It’s pretty simple, consisting of a scene of Kana sitting in a chair as well a few other scenes of Kana in settings with what look like tetris blocks. The dancing scene during the second and third choruses was pretty cool and the most standout part of the video. Overall it’s not a great video but it’s nice.

Single Ranking: B +

Style is a very fun song with an upbeat cute sound that the listener needs to listen to. With cute vocals and a fun sound, it’s an enjoyable song worth listening to.

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Nishino Kana – glowly days [2nd Single]

June 12, 2008 at 1:58 pm (Nishino Kana) (, )

Nishino Kana’s 2nd single, entitled glowly days, was released on 04.23.08. The title song was used as the ending song for Tokyo Broadcasting System’s CDTV during April.

glowly days is a breezy and fun pop song. The track begins with a happy and light-tempo feel. During the first verse, Nana shows off her range as she hits the high notes wonderfully and works well with the instrumentation to capture the atmosphere of the song. The track’s pure instrumental section does a nice job of spotlighting the piano, which is an integral part of the music. glowly days is easily the best song on the single and is A-side material.

celtic is the B-side of the single. The song begins quite nicely with a romantic and slow instrumentation and when her vocals come into the picture, they work very well with the music. The chorus gives Kana a chance to let her vocal power shine but the transition from the verse is pretty abrupt and could’ve definitely used some smoothing. However her voice sounds nice and the instrumentation remains its pretiness. The song was pretty nice and could have been a lot stronger but it was fairly nice.

The second B-side of the single is Yami Yami Day, an cute uptempo track. The song begins with a fun and exciting instrumentation before giong into the song’s more relaxing feel with distorted vocals. Soon the chorus starts and the distortion vanishes and there is a certain childish element to her voice that sounds a bit weird. Despite that, she manages to show off. The instrumentation is pretty interesting but the vocals somewhat clash for being so cutesy and high-pitched thus the song becomes monotnous. Overall the song was not very enjoyable and wasn’t even B-side material.

Single Ranking: B –

Nishino Kana’s second single features three songs. glowly days is a nice and breezy pop track. celtic is aa romantic song that is okay but could have been stronger while Yami Yami Day was a weak track that should not have been released. While it is not the most cohesive effort, Kana shines on glowly days and hopefully she will shine on her next single.

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