Perfume – ⊿ [3rd Studio Album]

July 7, 2009 at 1:47 am (Perfume) (, )

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Perfume’s 3rd studio album, entitled ⊿, was released on 07.08.09. The singles released before the album are as follows: love the world, Dream Fighter and ワンルーム・ディスコ. NIGHT FLIGHT was used in a Pino CM.

The album opens up with the introductory track, Take off. The song begins with a very spacey instrumental that takes the listener into an alternate world. Then the instrumenation becomes more aggressive and the girls count down. There are also a few background vocals that add to the whole spacey vibe of the song. It’s very short but really should have been extended into a full song because it commands attention and leaves the listener wanting more.

Then comes the cute song, love the world. Beginning the song is a sweet upbeat instrumental that will make the listener want to smile. The first verse follows and the vocals here sound great, complimenting the music perfectly and keeping the listener interested. As the song nears the chorus, the instrumentation takes a slightly new sound and the vocals are held strongly. The chorus is what really makes this song memorable with its slightly more upbeat and almost funky kind of dance sound. The girls’ vocals are slightly stronger and it ends very strongly with “chu chu chu, love love the world.” love the world is a very enjoyable track and it hasn’t lost any of its magic from its single release.

Up next is Dream Fighter, which picks up the energy a little bit. The song opens up with a part of the chorus and the girls’ vocals here sound awesome, really suiting the coolness of the music. The slightly higher notes are handled well and when they sing “Dream Fighter,” it really stands out, catching the listener’s ear. Then the instrumentation takes a sort of spiraling aggression, which spices things up a little more. The verses feature a more relaxing atmosphere but the listener still is hooked by the girls’ vocals. Dream Fighter is still one of Perfume’s strongest singles and it fits very strongly on this album.

edge (⊿-mix) is the album’s fourth track. It opens up with that cool instrumental that it used to and the listener can hear where certain parts were added that vary from the original. It kind of gives the song another level and since the main focus of the song is the instrumentation, it only adds to the enjoyment. When the first verse comes in, everything is like it used to and that’s a strong decision since their vocals here are great, particularly Kashiyuka. Basically, at every opportunity of pure instrumentation, there is some sort of change that really surprises the listener since some parts sound extremely aggressive while others sound cool and spacey. This new mix of edge gives the song a litle more energy and really brings that addictive instrumental to life, renewing the listener’s interest in the song.

NIGHT FLIGHT is the strongest song on ⊿ so it’s no surprise that it was chosen in a Pino CM. The song begins with a really cool instrumental with the girls saying “make a night flight” and “have a nice flight.” Then the excitement comes out even more when the first verse arrives. Here, the vocals are excellent and really catch the listener’s ear. It has a sort of cute vibe to it but a mature cute vibe that will leave the listener wanting more. The repeating “3,2,1” section really stands out and is one of the most memorable parts of the song. The chorus sounds awesome with every line beginning with “make a night flight” or “have a nice flight.” Without a doubt, this is one of Perfume’s strongest songs and it really shines on this album.

Now things slow down for Kiss and Music. The song starts off with a very trippy instrumental that is very ear-catching and slowly the beats creeps in. When the first verse starts, the girls’ vocals sound great and just looming behind the instrumentation is a slightly sexual atmosphere and it’s somewhat stimulating. It’s almost a feeling of gradually melting and just falling into the song. What really stands out in the chorus is the line “your eyes, your hands, your lips, love me.” There is almost a pleading in their voices so the listener can really believe the emotions in the song. It’s a shame that the song is so short because it definitely is one of the album’s strongest tracks.

Zero Gravity is one of the album’s true gems. Opening up the song is the sound of waves and then the instrumentation comes in, staying very much spacey and fitting with the title. The chorus then follows and it has a cute feeling to it, reminiscent of love the world. Like that song, the music and vocals really catch the listener’s ear and demands attention. The following instrumentation has a sort of video-game feeling to it which stands out proudly before the first verse. With its relaxing atmosphere, the music here carries an element of magic and the girls shine along. Zero Gravity is such a good song and shows Nakata and the girls’ true power.

I still love U is the eighth song on the album. The song starts off with a really cool instrumental that has kind of an old school vibe that has been brought back to life. Then the music becomes more diverse and introduces the listener to a whole new level. On the verses, the girls sound great and they fit with the music perfectly. The chorus has a cute feeling to it and it really stands out when they sing “I still love you.” It sounds really good and a strong way to promote the album with a PV.

The best thing isn’t as strong as the preceding songs.A really cool instrumental begins the song and it gives the image of falling into a wonderland and a brand new world unfolding in front of the listener’s eyes. Finally the first verse comes in and unfortunately, it’s not as engaging as the instrumentation so the music kind of pushes the girls to the background. This continues onto the chorus with the music overpowering the girls. After a string of such amazing songs, it’s kind of disappointing.

Speed of Sound is one of Nakata’s usual songs where the focus is on the instrumentation rather than the vocals. Here, the track is almost entirely instrumentation with the girls popping to say a few words here and there. Luckily the music is so good and it really carries the listener effortlessly from beginning to end. It’s very enjoyable and it’s nice to hear this song pick up the listener’s interest after the last song.

The album’s semifinale is ワンルーム・ディスコ. That opening instrumental is just so amazing and it really should have been the basis for the whole song. The rest of the song has more of a cute vibe to it. It sounds slightly better here in the context of the album than from its single release. It’s cute and sweet but it’s just not as strong as it could have been.

Closing the album is 願い (Album-mix). What makes this different from the original version is the addition of the piano, which actually softens the song up and gives it a slightly more emotional feel. When this was released as the B-side of Dream Fighter, it didn’t really stand out but the piano really gives the song a new life that makes it much more enjoyable. It’s a good way to close the album and leave the listener with a dreamy feeling.

Album Ranking: A

Although I was hesistant to see the final product of this album after hearing the previews, they did not do the full songs justice. It’s true that Perfume slowed things down from the album and a little more upbeat aggressive songs would have been nice. Nonetheless, songs like NIGHT FLIGHT, love the world, Dream Fighter and edge (⊿-mix) all have their special appeal to them that keep the listener satisfied in that department. Kiss and Music, I still love U and Speed of Sound also shine as new tracks and fill in the magic for the slower songs. Nakata brought some very strong material on this album and the girls bring the songs to life, making ⊿ a succesful final product.

Most Memorable 6 Songs: NIGHT FLIGHT / Kiss and Music / Zero Gravity / edge (⊿-mix) / Dream Fighter / love the world

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Perfume – ワンルーム・ディスコ [15th Single]

April 30, 2009 at 4:26 pm (Perfume) (, )

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Perfume’s 15th single, entitled ワンルーム・ディスコ, was released on 03.25.09.

ワンルーム・ディスコ features an upbeat sound with a cute sound to it. The song begins with a really cool aggressive electropop instrumental that draws the listener in. It’s really mysterious and interesting  but then the vocals come in and it loses that special edge that was so appealing in favor of a slightly  more cute sound. They repeat “disco” various times  in a sort of broken way that sounds nice and fits with the beat of the song before moving into the first verse. As always, the distortion is there and  the vocals sound pretty good with the music although there is just  something missing and it doesn’t catch the listener’s attention as well as the girls usually do. The chorus stands out mostly because  the girls reach a little higher and it’s something fresh for them. Other than that element, it’s pretty basic  and follows the usual formula. Eventually the repeating “disco” gets to be a little annoying since it pops up so much and ends up making the song sound repetitive. One Room Disco does fall flat in comparison to the previous singles (love the world and Dream Fighter) but it does have that distinct Perfume sound, which may or may not be a good thing.

23:00 is the soft and relaxing track. The song starts off with a very mellow and sweet sound and the electropop elements actually don’t come full force right off the bat, which is a nice change of pace. Then the girls come in and there doesn’t seem to be much distortion on the vocals, which is new, but unfortunately the girls come off as sounding  bored and like they’re dragging out those notes. The entire song just sounds very monotone and because it’s over five minutes long, it really feels like it’s going on way too long. This is definitely not one of the group’s better songs and it kind of feels like a watered down of their last B-side.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ワンルーム・ディスコ was made.  The video is quite simple, just featuring the girls dancing in what looks like a large dollhouse. They each dance in separate rooms but there are also scenes of them dancing together. One thing that can be said is that the dancing doesn’t look very original for them and it would have been nice to see a little more creativity in the choreography since it doesn’t look like anything special.

Single Ranking: B

It’s sad to see the group deliver this quality when it’s obvious that they can really stand out. ワンルーム・ディスコ is easily the least interesting A-side post GAME but it does have its moments. The main problem is that it sounds so repetitive that it doesn’t sit well with the listener. 23:00 is probably the worst song released after their last album and it just sounds unemotional and long, which is not a good thing. Hopefully the girls will redeem themselves with a much needed album release, full of songs that showcase their true talent.

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

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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) ()

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Misia – Catch The Rainbow [Digital Release]

12. Morning Musume – ペッパー警部

13. Leah Dizon – Love Paradox

14. C-ute – 江戸の手毬唄 II

15. alan – 風の手紙

16. Perfume – Dream Fighter

17. Tohoshinki – 呪文  -Mirotic-

18. Arashi – One Love

19. Morning Musume – リゾナント ブルー

20. Ito Yuna – miss you

21. Koda Kumi – anytime

22. Perfume – love the world

23. Tanimura Nana – JUNGLE DANCE

24. V6 – 蝶

25. Kinki Kids – Secret Code

26. NEWS – SUMMER TIME

27. Leah Dizon – Vanilla

28. Aira Mitsuki – チャイナ・ディスコティカ

29. Berryz Koubou – 行け 行け モンキーダンス

30. alan – 懐かしい未来 ~longing future~

31. MEG – HEART

32. AAA – MIRAGE

33. Ishida Yuko – Changes

34. Hey! Say! JUMP – Dreams come true

35. Tohoshinki – Runaway / My Girlfriend

36. Tohoshinki – If…?! / Rainy Night

37. Tohoshinki – Purple Line

38. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION / Stay Gold

39. Tegomass – アイアイ傘

40. Takasugi Satomi – ありがとう

41. Ito Yuna – 恋は groovy x2

42. BONNIE PINK – Ring A Bell

43. Shiraishi Kikyo – again

44. Shiraishi Kikyo – BLACK

45. Shimatani Hitomi – 泣きたいなら

46. Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World

47. ayaka x Kobukuro – あなたと

48. alan – RED CLIFF ~心・戦~

49. Amuro Namie – 60s70s80s

50. Berryz Koubou – MADAYADE

51. Nakashima Mika – ORION

52. Crystal Kay – 涙のさきに

53. Jyongri – Winter Love Story

54. C-ute – 涙の色

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

56. Arashi – Step and Go

57. Arashi – Beautiful days

58. V6 – LIGHT IN YOUR HEART / Swing!

59. AAA – MUSIC!!! / ZERO

60. Aoyama Thelma – 守りたいもの

61. Koda Kumi – MOON

62. NEWS – Happy Birthday

63. Kitahara Aiko – その笑顔よ 永遠に

64. Shibasaki Kou – よくある話~喪服の女編~

65. Milky Way –  タンタンターン!

66. Kuraki Mai – 一秒ごとに Love for you

67. C-ute – FOREVER LOVE

68. Otsuka Ai – クラゲ, 流れ星

69. Aira Mitsuki – ロボットハニー

70. ayaka – おかえり

71. Utada Hikaru – Prisoner of Love

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

73. Hirahara Ayaka – 孤独の向こう

74. Milky Way – アナタボシ

75. alan – 恵みの雨

76. BoA – be with you.

77. BoA – VIVID

78. Fukui Mai – アイのうた

79. V6 – VIBES

80. Hirahara Ayaka – さよなら 私の夏

81. EXILE – LAST CHRISTMAS

82. Tohoshinki – Close to you / Crazy Life

83. Nishino Kana – Style

84. Arashi – truth / 風の向こうへ

85. KAT-TUN – White Xmas

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

87. GIRL NEXT DOOR – 偶然の確率

88. TOKIO – 雨傘 / あきれるくらい 僕らは願おう

89. Tohoshinki – Beautiful you / 千年恋歌

90. SMAP – そのまま / White Message

91. Angela Aki – 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ

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

93. AAA – BEYOND~カラダノカナタ

94. Kawashima Ai – カケラ / Flag

95. SMAP – この瞬間, きっと夢じゃない

96. EXILE – The Birthday ~Ti Amo~

97. Buono! – ガチンコでいこう!

98. Berryz Koubou – ジンギスカン

99. Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

100. Buono! – ロッタラ ロッタラ 

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[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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Perfume – Dream Fighter [13th Single]

November 18, 2008 at 6:49 pm (Perfume) (, )

Perfume’s 13th single, entitled Dream Fighter, was released on 11.19.08.

Dream Fighter has that element reminiscent of their previous song, edge, while maintaing a light atmosphere. The chorus opens the song on a strong note that keeps the listener entranced as the girls’ vocals go perfectly with the music. It’s the end of the chorus when the girls hold the notes on certain words that stands out the most. Following is a small section of pure instrumentation that is very ear-catching, putting a spotlight on the prettiness of the song. On the verses, there is a relaxing feeling as the vocals are somewhat soft and more gentle, fitting with the angelic image of the covers. The closing vocalizations actually are a nice touch, smoothly transitioning pure instrumentation. Dream Fighter is a wonderful electropop song that nicely gets the girls into a sweet atmosphere the listener can fall in love with.

The B-side of the single, 願い, nicely slows things down for the listener to really feel. The song begins with the first verse and there is such an intimate and relaxing feeling about the music that the listener falls into a dreamy state. The chorus stands out thanks to a momentary instrumental set-up and the girls’ voices are a little more strong here so it makes this section stand out. This is a wonderful song and it’s a very nice compliment to the upbeat Dream Fighter.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Dream Fighter was made. The video is very simple, merely featuring the girls in a black space dancing. They do a very nice job of keeping that certain cuteness style of Perfume and they pull off some quite tactical moves. Although the video is quite simple, the camera angles provide the video with a nice interesting look.

Single Ranking: A +

Keeping the strength from their previous single, love the world, the girls of Perfume nicely team up with Nakata to bring gold. Dream Fighter is a fun and upbeat number that is electropop paradise while the B-side is sweet and relaxing, sure to melt the listener’s heart. It’s a fantastic single and makes me look forward to the next album from these girls.

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Perfume – love the world [12th Single]

July 7, 2008 at 5:50 pm (Perfume) (, )

Perfume’s 12th single, entitled love the world, was released on 07.09.08. The single is the group’s first after their studio album, GAME. The B-side, edge, was used for a Kose CM.

The single opens up with the title track, love the world. Interesting and fun instrumentation opens the song up before the first verse starts. The girls’ voices suound great here as the distortion is a perfect fit with the music. The chorus picks up a certain energy and possesses an element of cuteness that works in the song’s favor. Finishing off the chorus is a very catchy “chu chu chu” before they sing the song’s title. The song ends with pure instrumentation to finish the song off just as nicely as the song began. love the world is an excellent number that still shows off Nakata’s flare and Perfume’s charm.

The B-side to the single is edge. The song starts off with a mysterious sound reminiscent of the wind before a hot and interesting instrumental comes in. Repetition of lyrics starts off the song very nicely as the vocals sound great and have a certain energy that captures the listener. Soon the song takes off into a slightly different instrumentation that is heavier and the vocals still keep up with the music. The song finishes with pure instrumentation with the girls’ vocals repeated to bring the strong song to a great close. Although the song is quite long, clocking it in at over six minutes, the listener is taken into the world of the song from start to finish so that it doesn’t feel long at all.

In order to promote love the world, a PV for the title track was made. The video was done in all black and white and features some strange sequences such as a rubix cube with their faces on it, the girls crumbling images of themselves among other things. The main point of the video is visual repetition and it is a nice and interesting way to convey the song.

Single Ranking: A –

Perfume’s 12th single features love the world and the B-side, edge. love the world is a fun track that does have a certain cuteness and charm to it that stands out to the listener. edge is an excellent song that continues to show off Nakata’s strength at producing and Perfume’s voices really bring the song alive. love the world is another excellent release from Perfume and shows that they are still going strong.

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Perfume – GAME [Debut Studio Album]

June 10, 2008 at 9:51 pm (Perfume) (, )

Perfume’s debut studio album, entitled GAME, was released on 04.16.08. Technically this album is Perfume’s second as their first was a best collection but this is the group’s first studio album. Three singles were released prior to the album release: Fan Service (sweet), ポリリズム and Baby cruising love / マカロニ.

ポリリズム opens up the album as a fast-paced techno wonderland. The song opens up with the sound of wind before going into the true electronic sound of the song. The voice distortions work well with the music to really make the listener enter the world of the song. There is quite a lot of repitition in the song and lyrically, the song is very basic but the interesting instrumentation overpowers and makes the song very memorable. The song’s release as a single was wise and the choice to place it as an opening song was smart too as it introduces Perfume’s techno sound with a fun and cool atmosphere.

The first new track is up next, plastic smile. The song begins head-on with distorted vocals over a very cute and uptempo beat. As the song moves on, the vocal strength is pushed into the background and the spotlight is put on the instrumentation, which is strong but sometimes the vocals are barely audible. The focus soon goes onto the music and it becomes a bit hard to distinguish the chorus from the rest of the song but it becomes clear as the song goes on. Overall plastic smile is a nice new track and although the music overpowers the vocals at some points, it’s still an enjoyable song.

GAME, the title track, is up next. A more cool and low-pitch instrumentation opens up this song, which is a nice change from the previous two tracks. Soon the girls’ vocals come in and the vocals work perfectly well with the music. In the beginning, there is a lot of focus on the techno beat as there are long sections in which the girls do not sing. The instrumentation is definitely something to be spotlighted as it sounds very cool and edgy but the effect the song has is that the girls don’t really enhance it to make it their own. They are just riding the strength of the instrumentation for enjoyment so the track could have been stronger had there been more of a vocal presence with a little more strength.

Baby cruising love appears next and was released prior to the album as one of the songs on a double A-side single. This song is a techno track fueled by the sounds of winter but it’s one of the weaker songs released before the album. There is a certain child-like innocence to the song that actually makes it enjoyable but the song lacks the element of variety, which makes the song seem a bit monotonous. Overall it definitely could have been stronger but it is by no means a bad song.

チョコレイト・ディスコ is the fifth track and the second in a slew of singles on this album. Opening up the song is a fun and uptempo techno instrumentation with the girls repeating the title of the song. The first verse comes strongly with the girls’ voices working strongly with the fun music to create an enjoyable listening experience. Although the chorus merely consists of the girls singing the title of the song repeatedly, it doesn’t sound reptitive and is a very nice part of the song.

The sixth song on the album is マカロニ, which was released as one song of a double A-side single before the album. This song is an uptempo track that manages to evoke a true relaxing feel. It’s definitely a very enjoyable track with some great vocals that compliment the music perfectly. It really evokes a sense of “home” that stands out strongly on the album as it channels a different sound than many other tracks. マカロニ lost absolutely no steam from its release on the double A-side single and it found its home on this album perfectly.

A new track after three single tracks comes in the form of セラミックガール. The song begins with the girls singing the title of the song over a nice uptempo techno beat. The first verse features the girls delivering the lyrics with a certain rapidity that works so well with the music and keeps the listener engaged. The chorus keeps the song interesting with a fun atmosphere that the girls do a good job of keeping throughout the song. This song is definitely a good album track and follows the previous song well.

The girls sing on a more slower song on Take me Take me. The song begins with that slow instrumentation with techno sounds and it takes a while until the girls start actually singing. The chorus has a certain relaxing instrument that is found in the soothing sound of the girls’ voices. The vocals do a good job of capturing the atmosphere of the song from soothing to somewhat commanding to showing off strength. Overall, the song is pretty simplistic and doesn’t have much variety so it can get a little boring after a while but there is something about the song that makes it fun to listen to.

Up next is シークレットシークレット, a techno-land paradise. The track starts off very mystical and mysterious with soft vocals. The instrumentation is particularly strong as it takes the listener on a voyage through the world of this song. The vocals sound great and the changes in the instrumentation keep the song fresh and interesting. The happiness element that comes through the girls’ vocals combine with the music to make a wonderful listening experience. シークレットシークレット is easily one of the best tracks on the album and an amazing new album track.

The next track is Butterfly, another song that take the listener on a voyage. The song opens up with the sounds of the jungle before a wonderful techno explosion comes in. The girls repeat “butterfly” with heavily distorted vocals to make a fun and happy feeling be established. The instrumentation on this song is so interesting that it carries the listener away to a fantasy world while still maintaing those elements of the jungle that opened the song. The chorus is pretty simple as it is in many other songs on this album but it works in this song. Overall the instrumentation is one of the album’s best and following the previous track makes it stand out even more as a combination of perfect tracks.

Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow appears as the next track and was released prior to the album. With a more relaxed techno sound, the song works the cute angle again. The instrumentation is actually quite nice and the girls sing well on it. However there is something lacking in this song that prevents it from being as strong as it could have been. Perhaps its placement after two very strong tracks make it sound of even lesser quality.

Puppy love finishes off the album. The track begins with an acoustic sound that is new to this album. Although there is a new interesting sound for the album, the vocals sound a little bored at first. Slowly, they pick up and the song becomes more interesting. It may not be the perfect song to hook the listener at first listen but with some time, it becomes a grower.

Album Ranking: B +

Perfume’s debut album features a techno-sound which they sound very comfortable on. Songs like シークレットシークレット, Butterfly and マカロニ really show off Perfume’s skill for singing alongside techno beats as well as Nakata’s skill for making them. The biggest flaw on Perfume’s album is that sometimes the songs get monotnous and lack variety, however certain songs really take off and capture the listener from the beginning. Approaching different styles of techno, Perfume is definitely a group to watch out for.

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Perfume – Baby cruising love / マカロニ [11th Single]

June 10, 2008 at 1:59 am (Perfume) (, )

Perfume’s 11th single, entitled Baby cruising love / マカロニ, was released on 01.16.08. Currently the girls’ highest selling single, the single comes in the format of a double A-side before the release of their studio album GAME.

Baby cruising love is a soft song combined with the a true electronic sound. The song begins with a techno sound alongside a beautiful instrumentation that evokes a winter-time feeling. The chorus is so sweet and fun that it can’t not be loved. The first verse comes in and there is a certain child-like element to the vocals that make it all the more special. Overall the song is pretty simple and there isn’t much variety offered from the song so it just stops at being nice. A little more variety in the vocals would have made the song even stronger because the instrumentation was wonderful.

マカロニ is the other A-side of the single. The song starts off with a cool and funky instrumentation that evokes a true relaxing feel. The first verse opens and the vocals work perfectly with the music to make an enjoyable experience for the ears. The chorus shows off a bit more vocal strength as the girls go for slightly higher notes and it works well with the music. There is a slight change in instrumentation with the third verse that keeps the song fresh. Overall マカロニ is a much stronger song and is such a relaxing song that the girls do perfectly on.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Baby cruising love was made. The video plays around with light in addition to the dance sequences that the girls perform. There are beautiful scenes that take inspiration from the cover with the girls surrounded by gorgeous twinkling ice crystals. The dancing has a certain cuteness element that works with the atmosphere of the song and makes it all the more enjoyable. It may not be anything mindblowing but it works with the image set forth by the song and promotes the song well.

A PV for マカロニ was also made to promote the single. The video is much different from the PV for Baby cruising love as this one is much more simplistic. There’s a certain home-video element to the PV that fits perfectly at home with the songs atmosphere. The video features the girls walking around town on a beautiful autumn day. Although there may not be much to it, it shows a natural and real side to the girls that makes for a perfectly enjoyable PV.

Single Ranking: A –

Perfume’s 11th single features two songs that compliment each other nicely. Baby cruising love is a soft but slightly uptempo track with the sounds of winter in the instrumentation. マカロニ is the much stronger A-side as a relaxing and beautiful track.

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