Suzuki Ami – KISS KISS KISS / aishiteru [32nd Single]

October 28, 2009 at 9:15 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

Kiss Kiss Kiss

Suzuki Ami’s 32nd single, entitled KISS KISS KISS / aishiteru, was released on 10.28.09. The extended version of the A-side appeared on the Aquamarine HOUSE NATION compilation CD.

KISS KISS KISS is a mellow number inspired by taking a drive at night. The song begins with a soft instrumental and then Ami sings some of the chorus and the English stands out nicely. Ami’s vocals show some nice emotion and takes the listener off on a nice start before the first verse starts. Here, the vocals flow even more strongly with the first verse and the meloow atmosphere is almost lulling for the listener. It’s a little repetitive but nonetheless, it’s a nice and calm song. It is sort of like Bitter… from DOLCE although not nearly as strong.

The second A-side is aishiteru. Beginning the song is an interesting and sleek instrumental that instantly makes the listener wonder about what’s coming next. On the first verse, it has a sort of magical feeling to it as if Ami is wandering through a magic garden as she sings. The combination of the music and her vocals proves to be a potent mix in bringing a visual association. On the chorus, the energy comes blasting through but the transition is very smooth so the whole song is quite sleek. This is definitely the stronger of the two A-sides and should have been the main one.

In order to promote the single, a PV for KISS KISS KISS was made. The video takes on a similar style to the ONE PV with the various colors. This time, fitting with the inspiration of the song, the video takes place in and around a car. Ami looks very pretty and it’s a nice and relaxing fit with the atmosphere of the song.

Single Ranking: B +

This single is definitely a large step up from Reincarnation. aishiteru has the cool energy that suits Ami perfectly and should have been promoted as the lead A-side. KISS KISS KISS is nice as well with its laid-back style but upbeat songs are Ami’s forte so hopefully we’ll be getting some more aggressive stuff from her. It would be nice for her to revisit working with Nakata soon for more fantastic material like Supreme Show.

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Suzuki Ami – Reincarnation [31st Single]

February 26, 2009 at 9:45 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

reincarnation

Suzuki Ami’s 31st single, entitled Reincarnation, was released on 02.25.09. After joining forces with Nakata Yasutaka to produce the amazing album Supreme Show for her 10th anniversary, she puts away the vocoder and teams up with Taku of m-flo.

Reinarcanation is a departure from her recent electropop style with Nakata to a mellow club track that shows her true voice. The song starts off with an interesting instrumentation that has a sort of dark feeling and then Ami comes in on the first verse. After a whole album of Nakata produced material, it’s so strange to not have that same cool electropop atmosphere and Ami’s voice meshed together with a vocoder. Her vocals are much deeper here although there is a slick smoothness to them that works. However it doesn’t come across as smoothly when she reaches to the higher register because there is no connection between them and the lower notes. The transition into the chorus is extremely awkward because it doesn’t really sound like there is one. All of the sudden, Ami is singing louder and the instrumentation becomes more energetic. Well after the amazing tracks on Supreme Show, Reincarnation is an absolute letdown. The song isn’t necessarily bad but it’s definitely messy. There are no real transitions between the softer parts and the louder parts. Also, having this song shows that Ami’s voice vocoded just has a certain magic that cannot be replaced.

amireThe B-side is a cover of Dub-I-Dub by Me & My, familiar to many people as a song from Dance Dance Revolution. Something comforting about this song is that is that it kind of takes on a similar sound to her Nakata-produced tracks on Supreme Show. The vocoder is back and it proves that the combination of that vocoded voice and an electropop instrumental can prove to be a dangerous combination. There is still a certain “messy” element about the music but somehow it works in the context of the song, unlike in Reincarnation. The pure instrumental section is interesting is that there is a really spacey and relaxing feeling that is very representative of the song as a whole. Dub-I-Dub is definitely the superior track here and Reincarnation doesn’t even hold a candle up to it.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Reincarnation was made. The song may have been messy but the PV had some amazing visual effects that made it an enjoyable watch. There are scenes of Ami in a rainbow-colored cosmos and the water effects only add to the gorgeousness. The moments of telekinesis also add to the video’s coolness such as when the covers come over her or the papers magically fly up. It’s somewhat disappointing that the song can’t even live up to the interesting nature of the video.

Single Ranking: B

As a whole, this single was a disappointment. Dub-I-Dub was what really saved this single from getting a lower grade as it sticks to the familiar eletropop formula that helps Ami shine. Reincarnation just is too messy of a song and her vocals aren’t anything to write home about. It’s not a bad single but after Supreme Show, this quality isn’t just going to cut it.

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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 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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Suzuki Ami – Supreme Show [7th Studio Album]

November 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

Suzuki Ami’s 7th studio album, entitled Supreme Show, was released on 11.12.08. In order to celebrate her 10th anniversary and her recent work with Nakata Yasutaka, Supreme Show was produced entirely by him. It also comes as her 2nd album of the year (as DOLCE was released in January). Both singles: ONE and can’t stop the DISCO (as well as their respective B-sides) as well as a new mix of previous song SUPER MUSIC MAKER were included on this album. The first track, TEN, was used in a Honda Cars CM.

TEN opens up the album on a strong note. The song is quite simple lyrically speaking but that simplicity in conjuction with the addictive instrumentation makes for a catchy opening number. Opening the song is a fun and cool electropop instrumental that takes the listener into a whole other world and soon the striking part of the music comes in, the piano. Having the piano run through really sets this song apart from various other Nakata songs and it makes this song a standout number on Supreme Show. Getting back to the lyrics, during the verses, it is generally a list of things that Ami can relate to such as “daydream,” “setback” and “lonely.” The chorus stands out as her vocals stand out and show that Ami edge as she sings “dream a happy dream, which way shall we take?” and the final line is so perfectly apt for this song as she chants “transcend the TEN.” TEN really introduces the listener to the genius production of Nakata and the unmistakable flavor of Ami. Although the vocals are heavily distorted, it works very nicely with the music to make TEN an electropop paradise.

supremeshow1The second song on the album, can’t stop the DISCO, is a maginificent sleek electropop wonderland. The song was perfect when it was released as a single and it sounds wonderful on Supreme Show. The song takes off with a mysterious and cool instrumental that takes the listener on a ride and straight into the first verse. The verses are the strongest part of the song as they give off that cool vibe that only Ami can bring. English phrases such as “feel my heart” and particularly “love tactics,” give the verses that special edge. Transitioning smoothly into the hook, the vocals become a little more strong as she holds her notes with flawless ease. The hook really does a good job of connecting the cool verses to the lighter chorus. Ami brings a fun atmosphere for the chorus as she sings primarily in English with phrases like “time trip, time slip” and “No! None of your tricks!” making the listener stand up and notice. The song finishes with more of that dreamy instrumentation that just sounds so great and makes a perfect transition into the next song. can’t stop the DISCO is a perfect Nakata and Ami match and it stands out strongly on the album.

Much like the transition on the single, cimb up to the top follows can’t stop the DISCO perfectly. This song is one of the funnest songs on the album as she sings in all English and it almost sounds like shouting but it works well in the context of the song. Opening the song is a cool instrumental with the sounds of a woman moaning here and there, fueling that sexual atmosphere that makes the song have a little more edge. The English phrases are a little nonsensical at times like “whoop it up, blow one’s top” “what is you up to? out of control!” but they only enhance the song’s fun atmosphere. Similar to some of Nakata produced B-sides (i.e. feel the beat or edge by Perfume), the emphasis is really on the music here since the actual singing is only of the chorus. Luckily the music is so addictive that the times just flies by. There are certain points when the music becomes dark and aggressive and others when the music is light and fun, which makes for a very strong song as the transition between them is flawless. climb up to the top is a great song, one definitely worth checking out.

Up next is SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A mix), which was also released on the previous single. climb up to supremeshow2the top perfectly flows into this song just like on the single. Since its release on the can’t stop the DISCO single, it hasn’t lost of any of its magic. That opening instrumental really grabs the listener in and prepares them for the amazingness to come. Soon Ami comes in cutely saying “yeah! hey you, yeah!” and then the first verse follows. Her vocals here really match the laid-back element of the music and keep the listener intrigued for what is to follow. The chorus is easily the most addictive part of the song as the music becomes more diverse and the “hey you!” line really pops and catches the listener’s ear. This new version of SUPER MUSIC MAKER definitely finds its home on Supreme Show and is another product of the perfect team of Ami and Nakata.

Mysterious is home to a dark and almost creepy atmosphere that makes it one of the best songs on the album. That spooky instrumental begins the song and there is almost a video-game like element to it that really makes it extremely enticing. Ami comes in on the first verse with sleek vocals that support the music strongly, showing off that cool flare. Following each couplet is a couple English lines such as “dance dance dance dance follow me, back step next step give me a beat.” It appears many times throughout the song but it’s so catchy that the listener won’t mind. One line separates the verses and the chorus, beginning with “grab a chance” and it is at this moment that the instrumentation rises high to build up for what is next. The chorus is fantastic, primarily for the drawn-out “mysterious” that Ami sings, separated by that repeated “dance” line. Following the chorus is a small pure instrumental section that takes a listener on a ride through this mysterious world, perfectly representing the song’s meaning. Without a doubt, Mysterious is a knockout on Supreme Show and one of the best Ami and Nakata creations for its infectious instrumentation and cool sexy edge.

supremeshow3Picking up the energy and the mood is the next song, change my life. The instrumentation takes off and instantly the listener feels that lightness. On the verses, Ami gives a very good vocal performance as the distortion on her vocals perfectly fits with the music. The chorus actually is very memorable, primarily for the interesting twinkling world of the instrumentation. Ami’s vocals are pretty good here too, though they could have been a little stronger. English phrases such as “change my heart” and “up to date” do a nice job of popping and catching the listener’s ear. The pure instrumental section is great and has a certain warm feeling about it that just works within the context of this song. It’s a good song and although it may not be one of the most interesting offerings on the album, it’s worth a listen.

It wasn’t the smartest idea to place the next track, LOVE MAIL, right after change my life since they are a little too similar in sound to be next to each other. Similar instrumentation opens this song up but there is something unmistakably different about it, which is hard to describe. On the verses, Ami gives some good vocals again, nicely supported by the instrumentation. Generally it’s the music that makes this song a good listen and there are certain sections of the song (such as right before the chorus), which sparkle in the listener’s ear. The chorus is nice but having Ami constantly reach higher to sing becomes a little much for the song and doesn’t sound as strong as she did on the previous song. One interesting point about this song though is that on the first verse, she sings with a certain rapidity that sounds so fresh and gives the song a nice little edge.

Although A token of love didn’t strike me when it was released as a single on the ONE single, it has shined more considerably since then. The opening instrumentation catches the listener as it’s almost like they are entering another world as it shifts from being light to agressive to a cool. After some vocalizations from Ami, the first verse and there’s somewhat of a cute feeling to it as Ami sings along to the sleek instrumental. The chorus is what makes this song stand out with all English lyrics, she sings phrases such as “make a happy” and “you and me.” When she sings the title of the song, the music also has a momentary change that makes for one perfect split second that is still noticeable to the listener. Closing the song is a fantastic instrumental that takes on more aggressive qualities. A Token of love finds a nice niche on this album and actually sounds better here in the context of the album than its release as a B-side.

TRUE is definitely an album gem as Nakata takes a more relaxing approach with the synth leading Ami supremeshow4through the song. Ami effortlessly follows, showing off her vocal prowess and coolness. The opening instrumentation immediately makes the listener want to follow as it opens the doors to a new world. On the verses, Ami manages to slickly hold her notes and staying in the lower tone allows her to keep that cool edge that she is so good at keeping. The chorus stands out as Ami gives a little more vocally and the music doesn’t have to do anything but remain strong (which it manages to do no problem). This song is truly one to remember and it is a wonderful addition to Supreme Show.

Our last track is flower, an electropop ballad of sorts, which Ami brings to magical life. There is such an immediate draw to this song once the instrumentation begins the song so that the listener cannot escape. She holds her notes wonderfully and there is a layer of aggressive instrumentation that runs through the lighter and more fragile level, perfect for forming unforgettable music. On the chorus, Ami reaches higher but here it works so perfectly with the beauty of the music that the listener could just sleep into a dream while listening. She sings “come into flower,” enticing the listener to hear even more. flower is fantastic and it’s the perfect way to slow things down while still keeping the listener addicted.

Ironically ONE is the album’s last track. It was such a strong song when released as a single and it still maintains that perfect edge. The song begins with Ami singing the hook, probably the most addictive part of the entire song. She sings “number one” over an absolutely fantastic instrumental that catches the listener’s attention. The last line of the hook is the most memorable line of the entire song as she holds the last note with strength. On the verses, there is a very relaxing feeling as Ami’s vocals remain in the lower pitch and they really work with the certain dark spacey atmosphere about the instrumentation. If you listen closely, you can hear her saying “smile and music and this world” at certain moments of pure instrumentation and it’s a very nice touch that adds flavor to the song. Closing the song is addictive music, that makes for the perfect finish for this album. ONE is one of Ami’s best songs to date and certainly an album jewel.

Album Ranking: A

Supreme Show definitely shows the true power of the Ami and Nakata team. All the songs from the singles (ONE, A token of love, can’t stop the DISCO and climb up to the top) sound fantastic here, maintaning their strength from single release. As for the new tracks, Mysterious reigns top jewel with TEN, TRUE and flower closing following. The album provides many different sounds, all of which show Ami’s versatility and appeal, making Supreme Show an album to remember.

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Suzuki Ami – can’t stop the DISCO [30th Single]

September 27, 2008 at 5:08 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

Suzuki Ami’s 30th single, entitled can’t stop the DISCO, was released on 09.24.08. It comes as the second single of Ami’s 10th anniversary and like previous single ONE, it was produced by none other than Yasutaka Nakata. The title track was used in a Mister Donuts CM, promoting the collaborative CD between avex and the Mister Donuts franchise.

While previous single ONE had more of a sexy vibe, can’t stop the DISCO takes on a more cool route that Ami really brings to life. The song starts off with an absolutely addictive instrumental that has an out-of-this-world quality to it, immediately catching the listener’s ear. There is a small hook, consisting of two lines, but it really stands out as the music becomes a little higher. Strangely, that little instrumental change really makes a difference and entices the listener, introducing the chorus perfectly. Following, Ami steps up on the first verse and the low-tone of her voice really works to give the lyrics that kakkoi feeling. The chorus is where the vocal distortion comes in as she sings all in English and it stands out strongly from the rest of the song. Lyrics like “come in to the disco” and “you can’t fool me” really do the song justice and make the chorus just too addictive. The song closes with more fabulous pure instrumentation, which actually makes a flawless transition into the B-side, climb up to the top. can’t stop the DISCO is another fantastic song from Nakata and Ami with its cool vocal qualities and addictive instrumental.

One word to describe the B-side, climb up to the top, is fun. The opening instrumentation takes a cue from the closing music of can’t stop the DISCO. Structually, the song isn’t like her other recent songs in that it isn’t formed as by verse and chorus. That’s because the focus of this song is clearly on the instrumentation and for good reason too since the music here is absolutely sensational. Interestingly enough, the darker atmosphere of the music meshes with the happy vibe of the lyrics. Basically it’s like there are two parts that form a chorus and those two parts are repeated throughout the course of the song. Despite being so simple, it’s actually very addictive. The lyrics are sung all in English with phrases that show the light-hearted energy of the song as she sings “whoop it up, blow one’s top” and “what is you up to? out of control.” Nearing the five minute mark, the song takes on a lighter sound as the instrumentation reaches higher and this makes for a smooth introduction into SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A mix). It’s another great song that makes this single so enjoyable and it’s a huge step up from the previous B-side, A token of love.

In order to promote the single, a PV for can’t stop the DISCO was made. Strangely enough, the video cuts about two minutes from the song so it leaves the viewer wishing there was more. The video is pretty simple as it features Ami wearing a fur jacket and a black and white ensemble and she is consistently seen in yellow circles (these circles function as an “O” when the title of the song is written out on the screen). There is another scene featuring Ami in more colorful clothes in a silvery box and she looks very pretty here (the eye makeup really standing out). The final scene is of Ami dressed in a hoodie with the lights on and off. When the lights go off, Ami’s face is covered with colorful glow-in-the-dark symbols like stars. The video is enjoyable although it definitely would have been nice to see the entire song instead of having an entire two minutes be cut off.

Single Ranking: A +

It’s another single from Ami and Nakata as both songs are absolutely addictive. can’t stop the DISCO has that kakkoi atmosphere that makes the listener fall in love with it. climb up to the top then goes for the more fun sound and it really works well. Following ONE, it keeps up that hot electropop vibe that keeps Ami the reigning queen of electropop.

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Suzuki Ami – ONE [29th Single]

July 2, 2008 at 12:58 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

Suzuki Ami’s 29th single, entitled ONE, was released on 07.02.08. With Ami’s 10th anniversary in the music industry, she returned to work with Yasutaka Nakata, with whom she worked on her previous album DOLCE. ONE was used as the support song for the 28th Senior High School Student Quiz.

ONE follows Ami’s recent style of work by retaining a more electronic sound. The song opens up with Ami singing “number one” over a strong and funky techno beat. Once the first verse comes, the vocals are lowered to focus on the beat but still remains enjoyable. The chorus features the more uptempo techno sound that really makes the song what it is. Her vocals, although distorted, sound fantastic with the beat and at the end, she hits the note perfectly as she sings the word “one.” The pure instrumental sections are wonderful because they spotlight just how wonderful the music sounds. The ending song features an addictive beat that is a perfect finish for the song. ONE is one of Ami’s best songs within her new music era of exploring techno sounds and it is the perfect beginning for a new album era.

The B-side of the single is A Token of Love. The song starts off with a cool instrumentation that takes the listener into the world of the song. The music features an aggressive beat and then a lighter one before Ami’s vocals begin. The first verse features some vocals, which don’t feature as much distortion as some of her other songs but they work with the music. The chorus features a certain cute element that works, especially with the English phrases. The song is pretty long, hitting a mark just above six minutes and it does feel a little long points but it’s still a great song.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ONE was made. The video is relatively simple as it features Ami singing the song and just being sexy and fun. The use of color definitely hooks the viewer as they take a ride throughout the colors of the rainbow that make up this PV. Her hair looks great throughout the entire video and matches the sexy vibe perfectly. The best scenes of entire PV are of Ami when she is wearing the black and white dress. The outfit matches the flourescent white lights and black walls and the silver eye makeup that encircles her eye looks amazing. One interesting section of the video features multiple copies of Ami arranged to spell out “ONE.” Overall the PV was pretty simple but very enjoyable.

Single Ranking: A

Suzuki Ami’s 29th single continues her work with Yasutaka Nakata very strongly. ONE is an excellent track that features an incredible beat and Ami’s vocals move perfectly with the sound. The song is definitely one of Ami’s best and comes through to the listener strongly. A Token of Love features a more cute side and although the song is long, reaching slightly over six minutes, it is certainly enjoyable.

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Suzuki Ami – Dolce [6th Studio Album]

February 15, 2008 at 8:38 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

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Suzki Ami’s 6th studio album, Dolce, was released on 02.06.08. This album is her second of the “Ami joins…” series as every track has her joining someone new to create a highly techno-influenced album. Along with this new sound came a more sexy image that compliments her new musical style. Songs like feel the beat (album version) and MUSIC really capture the essence of her techno experimentation. Other songs such as Bitter… and Stereo Love give some needed variety to the album. Only two songs were released before the album: FREE FREE / SUPER MUSIC MAKER and Potential Breakup Song.

FREE FREE, the opening track, finds Ami joining Nakata Yasutaka (capsule) for a synthesized techno track. The sounds of this song are a good representation of Ami’s new sound and image and are good for the opening track. In order to compliment the highly techno music, her vocals are highly synthesized and truthfully it’s not very appealing. They’re so synthesized, they don’t really even sound like her. There’s no real power behind them so the instrumentation quickly comes to the forefront. The sexiness that Ami is currently using in her image comes across especially through the moments where her breathing is heard. The song clocks in at a little over five minutes and because of the monotony of the song, it does drag on. Although her new sound really is clear in this opening song, it’s not particuarly captivating in any way.

Ami joins Sugiurumn for the second song, feel the beat (album version). The style of the song is somewhat similar to that of FREE FREE with lower-pictched vocals and a strong instrumental presence. Ami repeats “I feel the beat” repeatedly throughout the song, which adds a nice flavor to it and compliments the instrumentation. There really isn’t music lyrical variety and because of the low pitch of the vocals, the instrumentation once again comes to the forefront. Strangely enough it works in the song’s favor since the instrumental is a very hot techno beat with a more relaxed vibe than that of FREE FREE and works with the vocals better. This song should have been the opening track since it displays the new techno flavor and is a strong track at that.

The third song, Potential Breakup Song, has Ami joining Aly & AJ for this poppy track. Although it maintains a very similar flow to the original, the lyrical flow is so smooth, it gives the song its own flavor. The sexiness comes through as she whispers some of the lyrics during the hook and flows perfectly into the chorus. The chorus is easily the most addictive part of the song with stronger vocals and her softer vocals perfectly compliment the techno-influenced beat. Her English pronounciation is pretty good as she sings “this is a potential breakup song…” The guitar that plays a fair role in the instrumentation really brings out the instrumental but doesn’t overpower Ami’s vocals. Overall this is a very enjoyable listen and brings an interesting Japanese twist to an American song.

The album’s fourth song, Bitter…, finds Ami joining STUDIO APARTMENT in a smooth track with energy. A very mellow piano introduction introduces this song but after roughly half of a minute into the song, the instrumentation changes. Synthesizers come into play and give the song more of an uptempo feel while still maintaing the mellowness that. Ami’s vocals stay within the lower range during the verses and blend well with the music. The chorus sticks out to me more as her vocals show some more range and the catchiness factor increases. The chorus is repeated quite a few times just so in that regard, some might perceive it is somewhat monotonous but I don’t think it detracts from the overall feeling of the song until the end when two choruses could have been cut out. The song finishes on pure instrumentation and is an excellent way to end since it opened the song as well, creating a cyclical effect. Bitter… is one of the songs that stands out most on the album and is definitely worth the listen.

Ami joins RAM RIDER for SWEET DANCE, the fifth song on the album. The song opens up with some English in very hushed English vocals and introduces the overall feel of the song very well. Soon her slightly synthesized vocals come into play and and blend well with the mellow atmosphere of the techno beat. There is a very continuous flow throughout the entire song so the chorus doesn’t truly seperate itself from the verses in terms of instrumentation but the feel is established well. The instrumental sections of the song prove to be very enjoyable and show off the techno flare that Ami is capable of. This song is one of the album’s strong tracks with a relaxed sound but is still uptempo with a certain poppish element to it.

CAPTAIN FUNK joins Ami for The WeekeND. The instrumentation of the song is very catchy and is has a wonderful techno influenced sound. Ami repeats “it’s the weekend,” which gives the song a cute element but it’s slightly annoying because of the number of times it’s repeated. The overall atmosphere of the song is cute and her vocals reflect this perfectly using a lower register to go with the beat. The instrumental sections really brings the song’s strength to the forefront. It’s one of the album’s most addictive songs but it’s so long that it’s somewhat distracting. If it were cut to somewhere around four minutes, then the song would be perfect.

Ami joins Nakata Yasutaka (capsule) again for SUPER MUSIC MAKER. With a hot techno flare and a hidden sexiness hidden behind an electronic voice speaking in English, the song emerges as a stronger counterpart to FREE FREE. Like the first track, her vocals are highly distorted but in the context of the song, they work amazingly well. They don’t sound foreign and have some more power behind them. It’s a very enjoyable listen and is one of the strongest songs on the entire album.

Track number eight, MUSIC, has Ami joining RAM RIDER on a hot dance song. It opens up with a very “cool” techno instrumentation and then makes a jump into a second layer where Ami’s sings “music,” while extending the notes of “-ic.” The vocals are a bit simplistic in order to keep up with the instrumentation so it kind of falls to the background while the various nuances of the instrumentation come through. In fact, it is when the pure instrumentation sections come in that the creativity of the song is truly displayed. The second verse has alternating vocals from both singers and the distortedness of their vocals blend together very well. One problem that the song faces is that there is no real distinction between the verses and the choruses so it feels somewhat monotonous. However the instrumentation is brilliant and because it’s in the forefront, the catchiness comes through. The song ends similarly to how it opens with the word “music” repeated various times and finishes on a instrumental bang. Although it’s a bit simple in vocal presence, the instrumentation is so creative that the song is memorable.

Stereo Love, in which Ami joins Tomoe Shinohara, is the cute ninth song on the album. Opening up with a strong techno beat and a feminine sigh, it quickly blends into the true instrumentation. The vocals during the verses are pretty mellow and work well with the music. English phrases such as “happy as joy” really bring home the cuteness vibe the song exudes and this comes across even stronger during the chorus. The chorus opens up with “need and want your love” and from there continues a cute but addictive uptempo section. Her vocals come into a higher register and the rhythm following it has a very child-like cute feeling that works very well. To really end the song with the same atmosphere, Ami’s giggling brings the song to a close. Stereo Love stands out from the album by showing Ami’s cute side and is a wonderful part of the album.

アイノウタ, the tenth song on the album, has Ami joining ROCKETMAN featuring YOU THE ROCK for one of the most creative songs on the album. Using a hot dance beat and a summery sound, the collaboration is not one to be forgotten. What’s interesting about this song is that Ami’s only section of the song is the chorus, which emerges as the strongest part of the song as well. The verses are all raps from ROCKETMAN and still compliment the music. The contrast between their voices is actually what makes them stand strongly apart from each other. It’s a pretty short song but is definitely an enjoyable one as well. This is one of the strongest songs on the album for its catchiness and creativity.

Ami joins Hoff Dylan for 人はPOP, the eleventh song on the album. The song opens up very immediately with Dylan Hoff singing in a somewhat nasally voice. Truthfully, his voice is slightly reminiscent of Otsuka Ai and sounds slightly strange within the context of the song coming from him. The chorus is so basic and the word “pop” is repeated so often that it gets annoying really quickly. The biggest problem that the song faces is over-simplicity. The verses maintain a very basic rhythm that isn’t very catchy and the choruses are very monotonous. The instrumentation is simple as well but there are moments (during pure instrumentation sections) when there is something special hidden behind it. Overall this track is way too basic and monotnous to really catch on but it gets points for having a fun summer sound.

新しい日々is the semifinal track and features Ami joining YO-KING for a guitar driven midtempo song. The atmosphere of the song is very relaxing and has an end-of-summer feel that is perfect to close your eyes and listen to. The only problem is that Ami’s vocals get a little loud during the chorus and don’t mesh as well with the beat as they could have. The verses are more enjoyable as Ami sings in a lower key that creates a balance.The instrumental section is probably the strongest part of the song as without the vocals, the instrumental is able to truly be appreciated. Although the music is very enjoyable, the vocals get kind of annoying and at times seem to strong and deep and act in counterbalance to the music.

The final song on the album, if, is unique in that nobody joins Ami. As the solo song and first press bonus, it’s an okay way to end the album. In this poppish midtempo number, there is a cuteness element to it that fits perfectly with that almost fantasy-like atmosphere of the song. I can’t put my finger on it but there’s something holding this song back from being stellar. I would have preferred another song finish this album but it is by no means a bad song.

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For further promotion for the album, a PV for Bitter… was made. Overall the PV is very simple and consists of few scenes. One of the strongest parts of the video was the color contrast between the dreary rain and black she wore in the telephone booth to the bright pink dress she wore in other scenes. Although there could have been a little more excitement in the PV, the atmosphere perfectly matches that of the song and is very strong.

Album Ranking: A –

Ami’s sixth album is notable for showing off her new techno flare and a new sexier image to accompany that sound. The three strongest tracks on the album are as follows: feel the beat (album version), which is the perfect blend of mellowness and her techno flavor, Stereo Love, which shows off her cuter side in an amazing pop track and Bitter…, which shows that Ami can tie in a poppishness with a bittersweet ballad. The biggest problem that this album faces is the lack of overall cohesiveness. It does a wonderful job of flow between the early techno tracks but then the techno magic is lost in the later half of the album. If there was a larger balance then it could have made the album so much stronger.

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