C-ute – SHOCK! [11th Single]

February 12, 2010 at 11:54 pm (C-ute) (, )

C-ute’s 11th single, entitled SHOCK!, was released on 01.06.09. It is the group’s first single without Umeda Erika, who decided to pursue a modeling career.

While the last single was actually pretty catchy, SHOCK! fulfills the need for anything catchy in a hot dance track about a two-timer. The song starts off with a coool spy-like instrumental that then builds in some Russian sounds a la Morning Musume’s last single. Then Airi delivers the first chorus with powerful vocals that take the listener’s attention by force. Right before the instrumental break, she makes a cute little noise that each member gets to do once during the course of the song. Tsunku decided Airi would be the leader on this song and thus she is the only one to carry a solo line and nearly sings the entire song herself. Everyone does get a chance to sing together on the chorus and everyone gets their cute sound (in the order of Chisato, Mai, Saki and Maimi). The pure instrumental section continues the coolness before the chorus comes back in. Even though many have complained about Airi getting so much attention on the song, it is undeniably catchy and will hook you in on first listen.

The B-side of the single is the fun and funky number, 生きようぜ! The song begins with an addictive dance instrumental that will have the listener out of their seats in second before Airi comes in for the first verse. This song follows cues from the A-side seeing as only Airi and Maimai have solo lines, the other three girls only coming in for the chorus. The fact that there are so many sections of pure instrumentation really bring the song’s strengths out for all to hear. It may be a little simple but it’s so addictive that the listener won’t even notice.

In order to promote the single, a PV for SHOCK! was made. The video’s core is dancing, which was a smart move since these girls really know how to move. The choreography really fits the style of the song and always has the attention of the viewer. The close-up scenes don’t really do much for the video so the dance version is the best version to look for.

Single Ranking: A +

This is definitely C-ute’s best single in a while and it’s good to see them step it up. It would have been nice to see the other three girls have more of a presence in this single but Airi (and Maimi) definitely prove why their up front.

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C-ute – EVERYDAY 絶好調!! [10th Single]

September 14, 2009 at 4:00 pm (C-ute) (, )

EVERDAY

C-ute’s 10th single, entitled EVERDAY 絶好調!!, was released on 09.16.09. It will be C-ute’s final release with Umeda Erika as she will go to study to be a fashion model.

EVERDAY 絶好調!! is a fun end of the summer relaxing track. The song begins with a fun groovy instrumental that carries a summery feel to it, catching the listener’s ear quite nicely. Then comes the first verse and the vocals support the breezy atmosphere perfectly, establishing a strong and natural sound. The chorus is sweet and fun, following the verse smoothly and keeping the listener interested. The pure instrumental section has kind of different style, which makes it really stand out before moving back into the chorus. After their last single, C-ute bounces back with a fun and sweet number that shows their true colors.

The girls bring the heat even more with the B-side, 甘い罠. Beginning the song is an aggressive poppy rock instrumental that definitely demands attention at the first moment. On the verses, the girls provide strong vocals that portray attitude and suit the music very strongly. The chorus keeps the coolness going as they come together with Maimi and Airi standing out as they usually do. The sound at the end is always fun and gives the song a slightly breezy feel. The pure instrumental section stands out nicely before moving into the chorus. This is definitely stronger than the A-side and should have been promoted as such.

In order to promote the single, a PV for EVERYDAY 絶好調!! was made. The video is quite simple, featuring the girls dancing on a rooftop. The dance sequence actually fits the sweet atmosphere of the song well so nothing intricate or too flashy is needed although it’s always nice to see.

Single Ranking: A

After a disappointing last single, C-ute steps it up for Erika’s last one. EVERDAY 絶好調!! is a fun breezy track that captures the feelings of the end of summer quite well while 甘い罠 features a more aggressive song that one can dance to. It’ll be interesting to see how the girls take things with only five members.

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Hello! Project – チャンプル①~ハッピーマリッジソングカバー集~ [Special Cover Album]

July 13, 2009 at 3:23 am (Berryz Koubou, Buono!, C-ute, Morning Musume) (, , , , , )

H!P Album 1

A special Hello! Project album, entitled チャンプル①~ハッピーマリッジソングカバー集,~ was released on 07.15.09. The album features various newly updated shuffle units from the various groups in Hello! Project: Morning Musume, C-ute, Berryz Koubou, Buono! and some eggs. All the songs on the album are covers.

The opening track of the album is ダイアモンド, sung by High King (Tanaka Reina, Takahashi Ai, Shimizu Saki, Yajima Maimi and Maeda Yuuka). The song begins with a cool sounding instrumental that soon quickens in pace and then the happy and sweet real sound of the song comes in, making the listener smile. There is kind of a wintery atmosphere to it which makes it all the more special. On the first verse, the vocals sound good with Reina really standing out. Everyone sounds good on the chorus with Reina and Ai shining the most although everyone definitely holds their own. It’s a great way to start things off with the leaders of the group along with front-girl and leader of High King, Reina as well as one of the stronger Hello Project Egg girls.

The girls of C-ute team up with Mano Erina for the second song, 愛は勝つ. Starting things off is a sweet instrumental driven by the piano. Everyone sounds so happy and cute when the first vocals come in and it really does fit the album’s theme. On the verses, the vocals are good although there are a little too many vocalizations that are held too long and the constant vocalizing in the background do grow to be annoying. Overall it’s sweet and cute although not as interesting as hoped.

Aa! is revitalized with a new line-up for the third song, YES-YES-YES! The new line-up features both Suzuki Airi and Natsuyaki Miyabe, who were in the original line-up. However Tanaka Reina was replaced with Akari Saho. The song starts off with a very pretty and simple instrumental that just feels very romantic. Those vocals are very smooth and suit the atmosphere of the song perfectly. The emotions just pour out on the chorus as they give stronger vocals and the music sounds more intense. The three girls did a great job on this one and it definitely is one the jewels of the album.

Mini Moni is given new life and a new line-up (Linlin [leader], Fukuda Kanon, Akari Takeuchi and Karin Miyamoto) for their song, てんとう虫のサンバ. The song opens up with a really cool upbeat instrumental that will make the listener want to dance along with everyone. On the first verse, the vocals carry such happiness and sweetness that will make the listener smile. It’s kind of hard to notice when the chorus comes in but once it does, it sounds quite nice although not as strong as the verses. It’s a shame that the song is so short because it’s definitely one of the strongest songs on the album. Plus it’s nice to have Linlin as leader of the group and get the attention she deserves.

Pucchimoni V (Nakajima Saki, Hagiawara Mai and Mano Erina) for the fifth song, 君がいるだけで. The song kicks off with a very pretty instrumental and then the chorus comes in, carrying the same sweetness like the other tracks. It does have a nice wedding feeling to it. On the first verse, there is a relaxing feeling to it that sounds nice. Basically it’s a nice track although it was just a little dull.

Tanaka Reina gets the chance to shine with her solo track, 部屋とYシャツと私. The song starts off with a really cool instrumental that has a sort of lulling effect to it. She sounds great on the first verse, her vocals supporting the beautiful sounds of the harp perfectly. The sound of water drops is also a nice touch and somehow gives the song a slightly more personal feeling. The chorus is so sweet and cute that the listener can’t help but love it. It’s a very pretty song and Reina brings it to life, giving something extra to make it feel more personal.

Niigaki Risa and Eri Kamei (of Morning Musume) team up for the next song, 守ってあげたい. Those opening vocals on the chorus sound angelic and really stand out to the listener. English phrases like “you don’t have to worry” and “cause I love you” really shine here. Then the instrumentation becomes slightly more diverse with the addition of a few new sounds and spices things up. Risa and Eri both sound very good here with the emotions definitely staying in their voices. It’s a very enjoyable song and only good have come with two of the strongest members of Morning Musume came together for a duet.

Takahashi Ai gets a solo song with 秋桜. A very enjoyable and pretty instrumental starts things off and there is a real connection to nature here that stands out nicely. Ai’s vocals carry a lot of emotion when she comes in on the first verse and it’s clear she understand the story of the song. She really sounds great on the chorus as she gives stronger vocals and the magic of the instrumentation meets her voice soothingly. She definitely brings her personal charm on the song and makes the listener want even more.

ZYX-a (Niigaki Risa [leader], Umeda Erika, Tsugunaga Momoko, Tokunaga Chinami, Maasa Sudou, Kusumi Koharu, Ayaka Wada and Saki Owagi) steps up to the plate with 未来予想図II. The song begins with a very pretty piano opening that easily catches the ear. Everyone sounds nice on the opening vocals although it would have been nice to have some solo parts. The chorus fits with the marriage theme very nicely and sounds very emotional, even somewhat sorrowful. Although there are a lot of girls in this unit, it would have been better if there were solo parts, mostly from Risa as leader.

ONLY YOU is delivered by Zoku Biyuuden (Michishige Sayumi, Junjun and Sugaya Risako). It’s one of the cooler songs with some rock influences to bring out the girls’ interesting and clever style. Although it’s not one of the stronger songs, it’s still a nice listen and it does get points for stepping away from the general sound of the album.

The fourth generation of Tanopopo (Eri Kamei, Mitsui Aika, Kumai Yurina and Okai Chisato) take on 赤いスイートピー.  Beginning the song is another sweet and calming instrumental that stands out nicely. All the girls of this unit sound great with their vocals suiting the sweetness of the music perfectly. It’s particularly cute when they sing “I will follow you” on the chorus and it really does fit the atmosphere of a wedding.

It was surprising to see Linlin get a solo but that’s exactly what she got with for you…The music is pretty and her vocals show a lot of vulnerability and emotion for the listener to hear. She really bring the song to its magical peak and with vocals like that, it’s a wonder why she doesn’t get more solo parts in Morning Musume songs.

Mano Erina teams up with another group, this time Berryz Koubou for 関白宣言. The instrumentation feels a little empty and the vocals aren’t anything particularly wow-worthy so the track just doesn’t stand as strongly as it should have.

Such a romantic song, 世界は二人のために, sung by Michishige Sayumi, Kusumi Koharu, Mitsui Aika and Junjun closes the album off nicely. It’s such a beautiful ballad and everyone brings their best to the table, letting the emotions of a wedding shine through. The title of the song fits it well since it feels like a song that was perfectly made to suit two people.

Album Ranking: B

Overall, this album was a nice package with the stars of Hello! Project coming together and switching up the usual groups to sing happily. It was nice to see the return of High King; Linlin got quite the attention she deserves, Reina and Ai shined on their solos and it was just an overall cute album. A little more variety in the songs they chose to cover would have been nice but still a good package.

Most Memorable Songs: ダイアモンド [High King] / てんとう虫のサンバ [Shin Mini Moni] / YES-YES-YES! [Aa!] / 秋桜 [Takahashi Ai] / 部屋とYシャツと私 [Tanaka Reina]

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C-ute – 暑中お見舞い申し上げます [9th Single]

June 28, 2009 at 12:07 am (C-ute) (, )

C-uteNew

C-ute’s 9th single, entitled 暑中お見舞い申し上げます, was released on 07.01.09. 暑中お見舞い申し上げます is a cover song of the Candies’ song of the same name and was used as the Nippon Post image song. Like the last single, Kanna Arihara is not present on the single due to medical reasons.

暑中お見舞い申し上げます is a change from C-ute’s streak of mature songs, going for a cute atmosphere. The song opens up with a happy cheery instrumental that has a truly summer vibe about it. Then comes the first verse and the girls sound really  cute here, perfectly fitting with the sweet and upbeat instrumentation. It’s kind of hard to tell when the chorus comes in because there is no real instrumental or vocal change. Nonetheless, once it’s found, it’s nice although it could have been stronger. The part that stands out the most is when they sing the chorus. It’s nice and cute, fitting perfectly with summer, but it’s kind of disappointing after a streak of such amazing A-sides.

Suzuki Airi gets the chance to shine with her solo song, 残暑 お見舞い 申し上げます。. The song opens up with a pretty instrumental that is cute. She sounds great when she begins with those vocals, hitting the higher notes with strength. On the first verse, there is a relaxing feeling that Airi brings to life. Right before the chorus, there is a moment of edgy pure instrumental that really shines. Even though the chorus isn’t breaking any barriers in terms of creativity, it’s enjoyable and keeps the song going quite nicely. This B-side is surprisingly addictive and actually is stronger than the A-side.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 暑中お見舞い申し上げます was made. The video is a perfect fit for summer, featuring the girls enjoying themselves on a beach. They eat watermelon, take pictures with a camera and write notes to remember the amazing summer memories. Also are included are close-up shots and dance shots. All the girls look really cute in their red and white outfits and even though the choreography isn’t anything spectacular, it’s fun and peppy just like the song.

Single Ranking: B +

After a continuous streak of amazing A-sides, it’s a little disappointing to have C-ute deliver this. Nonetheless, it’s a good summer song with the A-side being a nice cover of the Candies’ song and getting the listener ready to have some fun at the beach. Actually, 残暑 お見舞い 申し上げます。arises as the more memorable song on the single with Airi delivering great vocals over a much more engaging instrumental. Hopefully, C-ute will go back to delivering those mature songs again since that’s where they really shine.

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C-ute – Bye Bye Bye! [8th Single]

May 2, 2009 at 5:02 pm (C-ute) (, )

byebyebye

C-ute’s 8th single, entitled Bye Bye Bye!, was released on 04.15.09. Due to a medical problem with her foot, group member Kanna Arihara was not present on the single.

Bye Bye Bye! is a fun dance song, which features that traditional C-ute mature sound. The song begins with a really cool dance instrumental with some disco influences along with some distorted vocals to really catch the listener’s attention. Then comes the first verse and Chisato and Mai step up for their part, sounding great. What particularly stands out is the “get it on” since the vocals carry a certain cuteness to them. On the hook, there is some distortion on the girls’ vocals and they actually help the song’s cool level and make the listener really take notice. Right before the chorus is a background voice saying “take control” and it’s definitely one of the best parts of the song. Much like FOREVER LOVE, the chorus has more of a cuteness to it but it feels more natural with the song’s overall vibe. The pure instrumental section is funky and fun although it could have been stronger has there been some sort of more aggressive moment of pure instrumentation. Bye Bye Bye! continues the streak of perfect C-ute A-sides and hopefully Kanna will be back in no time to have a part in the song.

The c/w track of this single is Go! Go! Go! Beginning the song is a very pretty and sweet instrumental that will make the listener want to smile. There’s a sort of beach feel to it that makes it such a good summery song. The girls sound great throughout the whole song but there’s something natural and likeable about the chorus, which really captures the listener. There are certain moments in its instrumental that go lighter and the girls follow suit vocally. The pure instrumental is free and sweet just like the rest of the song. Go! Go! Go! is the group’s best B-side and really is a good compliment to Bye! Bye! Bye!

In order to promote the single, a PV for Bye! Bye! Bye! was made. Unfortunately, Kanna was not feeling well in time to have a part of the video so the group was one member down. The video is simple, featuring the girls dancing in a dark room with the title of the song running across the middle of the back wall. Usually, C-ute nails their choreography and makes the listener sit in awe as they own the stage. However the same sleekness did not come through on this video and it’s probably because the choreography is so simple. It would have been cool to see some complicated routines and have the girls nail it.

Single Ranking: A +

C-ute nailed it again with this single and shows consecutive talent with their mature sound. While the A-side has the girls sleek and dancing, the B-side has a sweeter and soft sound that the listener can enjoy. They’re showing no signs of slowing down and their next single has a lot to live up to.

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C-ute – ④ 憧れ My STAR [4th Studio Album]

January 26, 2009 at 5:01 pm (C-ute) (, )

cute_syokai

C-ute’s 4th studio album, entitled  ④ 憧れ My STAR, was released on 01.28.09. The album was released after the following singles: 涙の色, 江戸の手毬唄Ⅱand FOREVER LOVE.

憧れ My STAR is the album’s opening track and definitely a strong one. The song starts off with the hook, which is extremely addictive as the girls sing somewhat rapidly over a relaxing upbeat pop instrumental. On the verses, the girls continue to give strong vocals and there are just certain moments when the instrumenation takes a slight change and even though it is only slight, it really catches the listener’s ear. Before the chorus, there is more fast-paced vocals, which always sound great. There is also one moment where a part of the instrumentation is emphasized to move with the girls’ vocals and it sounds fantastic. The chorus is really catchy as it feels like the instrumentation is a little more sparkling as the girls’ vocals all come together strongly. This is an amazing title track and opening number that really sets the listener up for excitement.

The first shuffle song is One’s LIFE, sung by the trio of Erika, Chisato and Mai. Opening the song is a very cutesy and natural instrumentation which is quick to establish its atmosphere. The girls’ vocals on the chorus are nice and there are a few notes here and there which stand out despite not being that different. They just have a certain magic that is ear catching. The verses have a cute attitude and the little rap sections show that they’re trying something new, which actually works here strongly. One’s LIFE is a good follow up to the first track and shows the girls trying off a new style with pride.

Airi Suzuki gets her chance to shine on her solo song, Yes! all my family. There is something very cool about this song, primarily given by the instrumentation, which reflects a more mature sound. There is something slightly offputting though about the combination of the music and her vocals. She does a good job but it there should have been more of a vocal presence to really bring the coolness of the music to life. Nonetheless, she doesn’t fail the song and the music remains strong enough to carry any slips particularly on the verses. The guitar part right before the chorus sounds great and is one of the standout points in the song. The chorus is a little weak because it sounds a little too cute for the mature vibe previously established. It’s a pretty good song and even though it could have been stronger, it is still enjoyable.

涙の色, released prior to the album, comes as the fourth song on the album. The song begins with the Spanish guitar carrying a certain pretiness before the beat comes through and the instrumentation becomes more danceable and diverse. The girls then dive into the first verse and the vocals here are great, portraying emotion and keeping with the total atmosphere of the song. Before the chorus, the instrumentation takes on a more light and sparkling sound as the vocals themselves get lighter too. Then comes the chorus, which is extremely catchy and powerful as the girls come together to give a great vocal performance. The pure instrumental section gives new life into the music and has a feeling of grandeur and importance to it which will make the listener take notice. 涙の色 is a wonderful song and one of the album’s best offerings.

Saki and Kanna team up for the fifth song, 愛してる 愛してる. It’s a slow song and a bit similar to Yes! all my family, there is a kind of natural atmosphere about it which works. However this song is much more slow-paced and relaxing. The girls’ vocals are good here and having these two particular girls sing together was a smart idea since they compliment the other well. However, there is something lacking in this song. It’s just not the type of song that grabs you at first listen and it ends up dragging on as the song goes on because the pace is so slow. So this one might take some time to grow on the listener but it’s not nearly as impressive as it should have been.

Maimi gets her solo song with 青春ソング. Faithful to its title, the song is very high-energy and youthful. It has a sort of a pop rock feeling to it, which suits Maimi’s vocals strongly. The verses are definitely the song’s strongest part as Maimi shows us her cool side through her usual great vocals. During the pure instrumental section, the guitar gets a nice spolight and it does fit with the overall feeling of the song but it would have been nice to see a more mature danceable sound at that time. Generally though, this is a good song and proves how great a singer Maimi is in case there was any doubt.

The girls take on a tropical feeling with the next song, Big dreams. A twinkling and fun instrumental begins the song before the chorus comes in. After the shuffle songs, it’s nice to hear the girls together again and when they reach slightly higher, it sounds great. On the verses, that true relaxing tropical feeling comes through the instrumentation and the girls trade off showing off what they can do. Everyone sounds really good here since there is this unmistakeable chemistry between the vocals and the music. Right before the chorus, there is this light and very pretty instrumental part that sounds great and makes for a enjoyable new introduction. The pure instrumental section is very dreamy, taking the atmosphere of the song to the next level. Big dreams is a wonderful song, definitely one of the album gems worth checking out.

Next is SHINES, a fun song that will have the listener moving. The song begins with a great instrumental which definitely is ear-catching and sounds somewhat like a theme for a sports game. Then we have the vocalizations which support that sound even more. On the verses, the girls sound good but it feels more cute than what you might think from listening to the opening instrumental. Nonetheless, the song continues on a strong note. The chorus is enjoyable although the constant vocalizations do come to be a little tiring after a while. SHINES is a fun song that might seem a little misleading but is still enjoyable.

The album’s semifinale is the girls’ third and final single from this era, FOREVER LOVE. The song starts off with a hot instrumental that has some rock flares supporting the fun dance sound. Soon the instrumentation makes a nice segue into the first verse. On the verses, the vocals are great as Maimi and Airi provide smoothness and strength to support the instrumentation. The hooks stand out particularly because the vocals are a little faster and the other girls get a chance to shine, if not only momentarily. Even though the “my darling” and “I love you” are not the most fitting for the cool image of the song, they do make the chorus different from the rest of the song. One section of the song that reallystands out is the pure instrumental section as the rock elements remain but there is a real dance break feeling that works well with C-ute. It’s also interesting because the guitar gets the chance to shine the most. It’s a great song that hasn’t lost any steam since its single release.

江戸の手毬唄II is the perfect way to close off this album as its one of C-ute’s best songs to date. The song begins with the girls singing the chorus and there is a really cute atmosphere that somehow comes together with a mature vibe to form a cohesive sound. Their voices come together very strongly and they hit that last note perfectly. On the verses, the girls trade off getting a couple lines and although some are better than others, everyone manages to sound pretty good. However it’s the changing choruses that make the song so addictive and they are truly the high points of the song. The pure instrumental section is wonderful, allowing time for a nice breakdown and putting a spotlight on some of the more traditional sounds of the song. Overall, 江戸の手毬唄II is a great way and gives the listener the perfect track to end with.

Album Ranking: B +

C-ute’s 4th album was a much better package than their last one. As usual, the singles tracks were the ones that were the album’s strongest offerings. 涙の色, 江戸の手毬唄II and FOREVER LOVE are all fantastic songs that show off C-ute’s mature sound. 憧れ My STAR and Big dreams though come onto that level and are album gems as well. It would have been better if some of the new songs had that same danceable mature vibe as the singles but it was expected that it wouldn’t.

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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 Four] Oricon Year Top Singles

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

mnsb2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Misia – Catch The Rainbow [Digital Release]

12. Morning Musume – ペッパー警部

13. Leah Dizon – Love Paradox

14. C-ute – 江戸の手毬唄 II

15. alan – 風の手紙

16. Perfume – Dream Fighter

17. Tohoshinki – 呪文  -Mirotic-

18. Arashi – One Love

19. Morning Musume – リゾナント ブルー

20. Ito Yuna – miss you

21. Koda Kumi – anytime

22. Perfume – love the world

23. Tanimura Nana – JUNGLE DANCE

24. V6 – 蝶

25. Kinki Kids – Secret Code

26. NEWS – SUMMER TIME

27. Leah Dizon – Vanilla

28. Aira Mitsuki – チャイナ・ディスコティカ

29. Berryz Koubou – 行け 行け モンキーダンス

30. alan – 懐かしい未来 ~longing future~

31. MEG – HEART

32. AAA – MIRAGE

33. Ishida Yuko – Changes

34. Hey! Say! JUMP – Dreams come true

35. Tohoshinki – Runaway / My Girlfriend

36. Tohoshinki – If…?! / Rainy Night

37. Tohoshinki – Purple Line

38. Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION / Stay Gold

39. Tegomass – アイアイ傘

40. Takasugi Satomi – ありがとう

41. Ito Yuna – 恋は groovy x2

42. BONNIE PINK – Ring A Bell

43. Shiraishi Kikyo – again

44. Shiraishi Kikyo – BLACK

45. Shimatani Hitomi – 泣きたいなら

46. Hamasaki Ayumi – Mirrorcle World

47. ayaka x Kobukuro – あなたと

48. alan – RED CLIFF ~心・戦~

49. Amuro Namie – 60s70s80s

50. Berryz Koubou – MADAYADE

51. Nakashima Mika – ORION

52. Crystal Kay – 涙のさきに

53. Jyongri – Winter Love Story

54. C-ute – 涙の色

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

56. Arashi – Step and Go

57. Arashi – Beautiful days

58. V6 – LIGHT IN YOUR HEART / Swing!

59. AAA – MUSIC!!! / ZERO

60. Aoyama Thelma – 守りたいもの

61. Koda Kumi – MOON

62. NEWS – Happy Birthday

63. Kitahara Aiko – その笑顔よ 永遠に

64. Shibasaki Kou – よくある話~喪服の女編~

65. Milky Way –  タンタンターン!

66. Kuraki Mai – 一秒ごとに Love for you

67. C-ute – FOREVER LOVE

68. Otsuka Ai – クラゲ, 流れ星

69. Aira Mitsuki – ロボットハニー

70. ayaka – おかえり

71. Utada Hikaru – Prisoner of Love

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

73. Hirahara Ayaka – 孤独の向こう

74. Milky Way – アナタボシ

75. alan – 恵みの雨

76. BoA – be with you.

77. BoA – VIVID

78. Fukui Mai – アイのうた

79. V6 – VIBES

80. Hirahara Ayaka – さよなら 私の夏

81. EXILE – LAST CHRISTMAS

82. Tohoshinki – Close to you / Crazy Life

83. Nishino Kana – Style

84. Arashi – truth / 風の向こうへ

85. KAT-TUN – White Xmas

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

87. GIRL NEXT DOOR – 偶然の確率

88. TOKIO – 雨傘 / あきれるくらい 僕らは願おう

89. Tohoshinki – Beautiful you / 千年恋歌

90. SMAP – そのまま / White Message

91. Angela Aki – 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ

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

93. AAA – BEYOND~カラダノカナタ

94. Kawashima Ai – カケラ / Flag

95. SMAP – この瞬間, きっと夢じゃない

96. EXILE – The Birthday ~Ti Amo~

97. Buono! – ガチンコでいこう!

98. Berryz Koubou – ジンギスカン

99. Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

100. Buono! – ロッタラ ロッタラ 

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[Part One] From The Girls Of H!P

December 6, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Berryz Koubou, Buono!, C-ute, MilkyWay, Morning Musume) (, , , , , )

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Well it’s been another year of ups and downs, hits and misses from the girls of H!P. We’ve had albums, singles and DVD releases and there has been some amazing music to come out. So which group reigned the queens of H!P? Well just take a look at the picture above.

hip2This year, Morning Musume wins the title of “Queens of H!P.” They’ve released two singles and one cover album, standing out above all the rest. Both リゾナント ブルー and ペッパー警部 are addictive tracks that show that cool mature side of the girls, which always makes for good moments. Even though these singles did not garner particularly strong sales, they definitely deserved them since these two singles are some of the best the girls have ever released. Their recently released cover album featured some fantastic songs such as 渚のシンドバッド, どうにもとまらない, 居酒屋 and UFO. These songs really made this album stand out and Pink Lady should be proud as the girls definitely did them proud. I was hoping that the girls would release an original studio album but I suppose we’ll have to wait next year for that. This year has been good to MoMoSu in terms of PVs. Each video nicely showed off the girls’ mature side and featured some awesome dancing. I can’t even anticipate what we’ll be getting next year but I hope there continues to be strong videos. I’ve really enjoyed Reina Tanaka, who officially takes the spot as my favorite Morning Musume girl. She was the looks, the voice and the personality, all of which really make her a star. I look forward to seeing her grow even more as a person in this group. But it wouldn’t be the same without all of these girls and all of them come together to form the amazingness that is Morning Musume. They are definitely the stars of the year and I can’t even anticipate what they will bring in 2009!

The runners-up for “Queens of H!P” are without a doubt, C-ute! These girls released four fantastic singles and one c-utealbum. The three singles released after the album were all fantastic: 涙の色 (which took on a Spanish twist), 江戸の手毬唄 II (which took on the sweet and fun sound, emerging as the group’s best single) and FOREVER LOVE (which featured a mature rock sound). Their A-sides continue to prove that C-ute is a very talented group of girls who can definitely take on different styles with ease. Although their B-sides are a little similar in that they go for the cute traditional H!P sound, they’re not going to be on the album so it’s okay. So why don’t they get title of “Queens of H!P?” The album wasn’t as strong as hoped for. With all the mature songs they’ve been doing, I was hoping that the album would be in a similar vain but sadly I was wrong. Hopefully the girls’ next one (which is set for a January release) will feature that sound that made me fall for them in the first place. The album is packed with fantastic singles and the title makes me think we’ll be getting one strong album so I hope I’m right. As for PVs, this group has had some strong ones but what it all boils down to is that these girls can dance. Each video (涙の色 and FOREVER LOVE in particular) showed off these girls’ dancing skills. Hopefully next year will feature even more strong dancing from C-ute to match some strong songs.

bzThird in line is Berryz Koubou. Well they had some amazingly catchy songs this year such as 行け 行け モンキーダンス, HAPPY! stand up, REAL LOVE, MADAYADE and  フラれパターン, which made me pay attention to these girls. I think that if you’re looking for a fun and happy group to listen to, Berryz Koubou is it. And perhaps that’s why they didn’t take the crown this year. These girls have more of a young and happy image rather than putting out those strong mature numbers that make me stand up and really see diversity. However I can say that their album this year was stronger than C-ute’s so perhaps next year, they will pull ahead for the title. Berryz Koubou’s videos…well they’re…fun. They weren’t as engaging as videos from MoMoSu or C-ute but they did show off the girls’ personality, which is always a good thing. When these girls really dig deep to bring those mature songs, they shine so I’m hoping that their next release features this kind of style. They don’t have anything set to be released in 2009 yet (while other groups do) but I’m guessing that we’ll be hearing official word from Tsunku in no time at all. I think it’s nice that these girls are having kind of a different sound than the other groups at H!P but at the same time, I hope to see a little more variety and mature music coming from them in 2009. However I suppose that request should be aimed at Tsunku rather than the girls so Tsunku, make everyone see the true power of Berryz Koubou!

Fourth place goes to Milky Way. Why you ask? Well to be honest, it’s pretty much based off of ガムシャララ (the B-side of the girlsmilky_way_002‘ second single). This song is extremely addictive and definitely should have been given A-side privileges. The girls’ other songs have been enjoyable too but none so like ガムシャララ. アナタボシ did a nice job of bringing Irish sounds into the mix, which definitely stands out from the rest of the H!P music this year and タンタンターン! is a very enjoyable song with a more relaxing feeling. Well there really isn’t much to say about these girls since they debuted this year and only released two singles. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them in the future and I really do hope the other two girls get a little more attention because as of now, Koharu has been getting all the spotlight. Okay, she is the leader but that doesn’t mean everyone can get a fair part. It honestly feels Koharu featuring the other two girls, when it should be all three girls together. Nonetheless, I look forward to what they will be bringing in the future and I hope it will be as awesomeness as ガムシャララ.

buonoFinally we come to fifth place with Buono! Truthfully, the music the girls have been putting is a little too similar for my tastes. All their singles are related to the anime series Shugo Chara! so maybe they should stray away from that in order to have more variety to their music. If you’re looking for that cute traditional H!P sound, then these girls are your ticket. It’s kind of a shame because these girls do have some nice voices but it gets really annoying to feel like once you’ve heard one of their songs, you’re listening to their discography. If Tsunku is reading this, then I’m asking you to give these girls some more variety. One thing that I can about these girls is that they are active. In the course of the year, they’ve released 5 singles and an album, which I believe makes them the group which was released the most this year from H!P. Had this been Morning Musume of C-ute, I would have been even more excited. Let’s hope we get some diversity in 2009 from these girls.

Oh H!P, you’ve been good to us this year, particularly with Morning Musume and C-ute. It’s no surprise that Morning Musume won the title “Queens of H!P” since they put out two fantastic singles (three overall) as well as a strong cover album. I’m very much anticipating their new single, which is set to be released the last week of January. C-ute and Berryz Koubou also did well this year and had thir albums been stronger, they would have been closer to that title (especially C-ute who was really close). Milky Way and Buono! did okay but hopefully they’ll show to me their real skills in 2009. This has been all from the girls of H!P in 2008! Let’s look forward to an even stronger year in 2009!

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C-ute – FOREVER LOVE [7th Single]

November 23, 2008 at 6:57 pm (C-ute) (, )

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C-ute’s 7th single, entitled FOREVER LOVE, was released on 11.26.08. This single continues the girls’ string of more mature songs and this time they even take on some rock sounds.

FOREVER LOVE is a fun uptempo track that shows off the girls’ mature side yet again. The song begins with a hot instrumental, almost sounding like theme music to some sort of spy movie. Then the first verse comes in and the twinkling sounds provide the music with a little lightness as the girls’ vocals sound perfectly natural. When the hook comes in, Morning Musume’s recently covered version of ペッパー警部 comes to mind as the rapidity of the girls’ lyrics definitely gives off a vibe like that song. If there’s one weak point of this song, it’s the chorus. The song is pretty mature on the whole but the “my darling” and “I love you” parts come to that cuteness that kind of clashes with the mature atmosphere. Luckily the pure instrumental section is fantastic (as it tends to be in C-ute songs) as the rock tints come out strongly and the guitar is spotlighted. FOREVER LOVE is absolutely addictive (although not as addictive as the girls’ previous single) and it’s definitely another hit from the girls.

The B-side of the single is セブンティーンズ VOW. It’s always interesting (and somewhat frustrating) to see that C-ute tends to put their mature songs as the A-sides but then the single comes down on the B-sides when they go into cute mode. Luckily this song isn’t that bad and it doesn’t go too cute. It has that kind of nice summer day kind of feeling with some rock tints sprinkled around to make the instrumentation a little more interesting. It may not be great but it works.

In order to promote the single, a PV for FOREVER LOVE was made. The video is simple, featuring the girls dancing in a room with two different sets of outfits. One set consists of the suits from the cover while the other set features more casual clothes. If there is one thing these girls can always nail, it’s dancing. They bring energy and strength to their dance moves in order to match the excitement of the song. The one flaw of this video is that the close-up shots are not very flattering (save for one or two girls) and they definitely should’ve been done away with.

Single Ranking: A –

C-ute does it again with FOREVER LOVE, a fantastic upbeat song that treats us to the girls’ mature side. They could use some work on the B-sides but they are very smart for keeping the mature stuff as the A-sides and thus the ones that will make the album cut and leave the cute stuff for the singles. Since the release of their album, these girls have not slipped once and it makes the wait for their newest album all the more suspenseful.

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