Aimer – Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Kasetsu Touka~ / Hoshikuzu Venus

October 3, 2018 at 3:35 PM | Posted in Aimer | Leave a comment

anatanideawanakereba.pngSINGLE REVIEW
Aimer – Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Kasetsu Touka~ / Hoshikuzu Venus

1. Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Kasetsu Touka~
2. Hoshikuzu Venus
3. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (Neil Sedaka cover)

Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Kasetsu Touka~ / Hoshikuzu Venus is the fourth single by Japanese singer Aimer, released on August 15, 2012.  Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Kasetsu Touka~ was used as the ending theme song for the anime Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Hoshikuzu Venus was used as the theme song for the drama Koi Nante Zeitaku ga Watashi ni Ochite Kuru no Darouka? The single reached #26 on the Oricon charts.

Despite being another ballad, Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Kasetsu Touka~ has sooo much more power to it that I instantly pick this as my favorite Aimer A-side so far! The arrangement has extended to more than just piano and strings with guitars and percussion joining in. The PV is also very moving, it adds to the overall experience of the song so definitely recommended to watch. This song alone is worth 5 stars.

Hoshikuzu Venus is a good track on its own but when placed after the previous song, it becomes this slow unoriginal meh song. That having been said, I like the verses a lot and Aimer’s vocals are very pleasant and light. There’s a little electric guitar solo wedged somewhere in the bridge, very nice but I just wish it was more prominent.

I’m surprised by how much I actually like Breaking Up Is Hard To Do! The vibe of the original 1962 song can still be heard very well and Aimer shows she CAN nail a more bouncy pop/rock song instead of just ballads. Short, but sweet.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

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Aimer – Yuki no Furu Machi / Fuyu no Diamond

October 3, 2018 at 3:17 PM | Posted in Aimer | Leave a comment

yukinofurumachiSINGLE REVIEW
Aimer – Yuki no Furu Machi / Fuyu no Diamond

1. Yuki no Furu Machi
2. Fuyu no Diamond
3. ORION (Mika Nakashima cover)

Yuki no Furu Machi / Fuyu no Diamond is the third single by Japanese singer Aimer, released on February 22, 2012. Yuki no Furu Machi was used as the ending theme song for the series Ghost Whisperer. Fuyu no Diamond was used as the ending theme song for the TV program Rock to the Future. The single reached #72 on the Oricon charts.

The synths in the instrumental parts of Yuki no Furu Machi instantly capture my attention, it’s a nice touch to the arrangement. Basically this song fits right among RE:pray and Rokutosei no Yoru, which isn’t automatically a bad thing but I’m waiting for Aimer to be more original. The chorus is a bit boring if you ask me, but the rest of the song is quite good and I’m sure it will grow on me more.

Fuyu no Diamond is like Yuki no Furu Machi part two but then slower. It starts off monotonous, but this time I like the sound of the choruses so much better. It really helps to look up the lyrics, it’s so sad but it plucks on your heartstrings in a way that makes it more beautiful. It’s a long track, but while listening on it I already like it more and more.

ORION is a cover of the original by Japanese singer Mika Nakashima. Originally, it’s a pop ballad with a bit of pop/rock to it, but Aimer made it even slower and turned it in the jazz direction. Although I like Aimer’s vocals better than Mika’s, the original arrangement had more that I liked. This is just too much of a lullaby.

Aimer, just give me something other than a ballad already!

OVERALL RATING
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3 stars

Aimer – Re:pray / Sabishikute Nemurenai Yoru wa

September 9, 2018 at 3:23 PM | Posted in Aimer | Leave a comment

repray.pngSINGLE REVIEW
Aimer – Re:pray / Sabishikute Nemurenai Yoru wa

1. Re:pray
2. Sabishikute Nemurenai Yoru wa
3. Poker Face (Lady Gaga cover)

Re:pray / Sabishikute Nemurenai Yoru wa is the second single by Japanese singer Aimer, released on December 14, 2011. Re:pray was used as the ending theme song for the anime BLEACH. Sabishikute Nemurenai Yoru wa was used as the ending theme song for the TV programs Mu JackPS and Kimama ni LB. The single reached #41 on the Oricon weekly charts.

Re:pray is a lovely ballad with a bit more going on this time, like fingersnaps, strings and percussion instead of just piano. The further it progresses, the more I like it (despite its very sad PV) and the more I like Aimer’s vocals, which were a gamble in the beginning of the song but get better eventually. As with all of her songs up until now, she gives this a very memorable spin.

So I think Aimer is a real ballad performer because guess what, Sabishikute Nemurenai Yoru wa is another one. At first it’s just Aimer and the piano, but strings and percussion join in after about 1:30 minutes. At first I thought Re:pray was the more memorable song of the single, but Sabishikute develops into an equally memorable track eventually. This girl really has a talent for performing beautiful ballads.

I was so surprised to see Aimer has covered Poker Face! Her ‘Engrish’ is more apparent here, but oh well more Japanese deal with that issue so I’ll just let that be. It’s a fun cover, maybe a little bit empty but still interesting because she turned it into a sort of cool jazz song. It’s entertaining, maybe a little humorous, but bonus points for originality.

OVERALL RATING
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3½ stars

Aimer – Rokutosei no Yoru / Kanashimi wa Aurora ni / TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR

September 9, 2018 at 1:33 PM | Posted in Aimer | Leave a comment

rokutosei.pngSINGLE REVIEW
Aimer – Rokutosei no Yoru / Kanashimi wa Aurora ni / TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR

1. Rokutosei no Yoru
2. Kanashimi wa Aurora ni
3. TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR

Rokutosei no Yoru / Kanashimi wa Aurora ni / TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR is the debut single by Japanese singer Aimer, released on September 7, 2011. Rokutousei no Yoru was used as the ending theme song for the anime NO.6. Kanashimi wa Aurora ni was used as the ending theme song for the TV program Pika Pika☆Choice!. The single reached #28 on the Oricon weekly charts.

I discovered this singer by chance so I decided to review her music starting with this debut single. Rokutosei no Yoru is a piano ballad and I was immediately surprised by Aimer’s gritty and deep vocals, kind of similar to ayaka but a bit lighter. It’s a beautiful song and I love the melodies, the chorus is perfect and I think I’ll find myself listening to this more often.

Aimer seems to have a little less control over her vocals in Kanashimi wa Aurora ni, but it doesn’t bother me that much. Another ballad but there’s a bit more going on with the strings, bells and soft percussion. Despite that, and despite this also being a good track, I enjoyed the first one a bit more.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR is exactly what you think it is, but then set to a slow synth/percussion arrangement. Aimer’s English pronunciation is satisfying and she gave the song an interesting twist, but there’s a lot of repetition which gets kind of boring and borderline annoying after a while. Still, not half bad.

OVERALL RATING
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3½ stars

P!nk – Beautiful Trauma

August 29, 2018 at 12:00 PM | Posted in P!nk | Leave a comment

beautifultrauma1ALBUM REVIEW
P!nk – Beautiful Trauma

1. Beautiful Trauma
2. Revenge (feat. Eminem)
3. Whatever You Want
4. What About Us
5. But We Lost It
6. Barbies
7. Where We Go
8. For Now
9. Secrets
10. Better Life
11. I Am Here
12. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
13. You Get My Love

♦ ♦ ♦

beautifultrauma2Beautiful Trauma is the seventh studio album by American singer P!nk, released on October 13, 2017. The album was certified multi-platinum in several countries and has sold over 3 million copies worldwide.

Beautiful Trauma is the perfect opening song for the album with its ballsy sound. It’s the typical P!nk “I love you, but I hate you too” track with bouncy vibe and amazing vocals. I also really like the intro and outro to this track with its strings and bells.

It leads very well into Revenge (feat. Eminem), the most playful track on the album and it brings back the magical combination of P!nk and Eminem. P!nk’s raps are surprisingly good and I love the lyrics in Eminem’s, it made me laugh so hard. This is easily one of my absolute favorites on the album and every now and then I listen to it non-stop.

Whatever You Want is so catchy and another favorite of mine. It’s a more typical pop track but her vocals are the most powerful on the album yet, with P!nk belting out some of her lyrics. Some say the lyrics in the chorus are full of clichés, but for me it works and basically I don’t care what she sings as long as it sounds this good.

The first single, What About Us, was also P!nk’s comeback single after ‘The Truth About Love’ was released back in 2012. I remember it was so refreshing to hear her return with this pop song that also leans towards dance with its subtle synths. I love its sound and the message in the lyrics, definitely a track worthy of being her comeback.

Which brings us to the first ballad on the album, But We Lost It. It’s a piano ballad reminiscent of a Sia track and it shows P!nk can pull of different kinds of songs. She pours out her heart singing about not being able to bring back the spark in a relationship that has gone wrong. It’s not the only ballad on the album, but it might be the strongest and most captivating one.

Barbies is such a relatable track for me. Another ballad, but led by a guitar and soft strings this time, this one is about dealing with the troubles of growing up and looking back at the times you did not have responsibilities. ‘Oh I wish I could go back to play with Barbies in my room, they never say that you gotta grow up quite this soon‘. Whether you played with Barbies or not, this track can touch anyone and have you think about ‘back when’.

Despite being a very good track, Where We Go is probably the track I remember least of all. And that should say something since it’s actually a nice pop song with the guitar and piano notes playing a prominent role in the arrangement. It’s midtempo, it flows very well and I like the lyrics. I think there are other tracks on the album that captured my attention more.

beautifultrauma3I love love LOVE For Now! This soulful slow track isn’t the first song to deal with a bad relationship, but the arrangement just has me in complete awe. The verses are very low key, while the chorus brings the power that turns it into a power ballad of sorts. It always has me singing along and it’s another one of my absolute favorites.

Secrets is filled with typical playful P!nk moments while it’s not trying to be funny. I’m talking about the catchy ‘da-da-da-da doo-doo-doo‘ bits in the hook and ‘…that we always speak the truth……-ish‘ (that -ish is sooo her). It’s not the best track but definitely memorable and I guess it works as a re-cut single.

Better Life fits very well on the album lyrically while musically it’s one of a kind. It’s the most low key track on the album with its laidback and breezy style, it’s like the P!nk equivalent of a campfire song. It’s not special, but somehow it just works very well and it’s quite catchy.

P!nk drops a sort of Lumineers track on us with I Am Here, one of the highlights on the album. It’s loud, fast and folky and let’s P!nk’s vocals shine, especially in the second half of the song. That choir that joins in in the chorus takes it to the next level and in the end this is just pure magic.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken could have been the perfect album closer. It’s an emotional ballad with a piano, lots of strings and epic lyrics (‘There’s not enough rope to tie me down, there’s not enough tape to shut this mouth‘). P!nk’s vocals are perfect, especially 2:30 minutes into the song. Should have been the final track, but we get one more.

I’m not that impressed with You Get My Love and it feels like a filler to me. Another ballad, and a long one at over 5 minutes in length, it doesn’t do much for me. Okay, it shows what kind of powerhouse she is and that she can provide a track with amazing raw vocals, but that’s basically it and this explains why I think the previous track should’ve been the last one.

Beautiful Trauma is the P!nk album I’ve been waiting for for so long, when it dropped last year I put it on repeat for the entire week. It’s a worthy comeback and shows a completely different side of P!nk we don’t see that often. This mother of two has abandoned her ballsy and tongue-in-cheek attitude a bit for this album in favor of more mature material that also works very well for her. It’s more adult contemporary than her previous work, but somehow she still stayed true to herself.

Favorite songsBeautiful Trauma | Revenge (feat. Eminem) | Whatever You Want | What About Us | Barbies | I Am Here | Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

OVERALL RATING
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4½ stars

beautifultrauma4

Koda Kumi – DNA

August 22, 2018 at 1:26 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 1 Comment

dna1ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – DNA

1. Introduction ~My music is designed from my DNA~
2. HUSH
3. Dangerous
4. WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~
5. ScREaM
6. CHANCES ALL
7. Aenaku Naru Kurainara
8. HAIRCUT
9. Guess Who Is Back
10. HOT HOT
11. Kokorokara I love you
12. Work That
13. PIN DROP

♦ ♦ ♦

dna2DNA is the sixteenth studio album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on August 22, 2018.

Introduction ~My music is designed from my DNA~ is a good intro track, not over the top and it’s like a teaser for the album. The music is electronic and mysterious, with Kumi’s vocals sounding like they’re from a robot or something.

The intro leads perfectly into HUSH, the second of Kumi’s latest three singles and this one was apparently saved for this album (the other two are on ‘AND’). Kuu sings ‘I bring the fire‘ and she couldn’t be more right. It’s a fierce and sassy track, a mixture between pop and soft hiphop and I’m instantly enthousiastic.

Dangerous has the same style as the intro track, more electronic than HUSH. It’s a busy track with lots of sound effects and it’s all over the place, but it works. It’s both fierce and fun, with a nice bounce to it.

With WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~ Kuu took it a bit too far. Take HUSH, mix it up with Dangerous and put it on steroids, then you get this track, but I don’t mean that in a good way. It could’ve been a solid track but it’s only giving me a headache.

Very funny Kumi, ‘I ScREaM‘ sounds like ice cream.. ScREaM is a normal track again, thankfully. It has a nice high hat beat and piano notes and leans towards the hiphop genre, so in that sense it’s like a track from ‘W FACE ~outside~’. It’s nice, but not the best, some parts just didn’t work for me, yet it’s so much better than WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~.

CHANCES ALL reminds me of ‘Okay’ off her album ‘Dejavu’, so that’s nice. Despite Kumi oversinging at some points, it’s a good track and more mellow than the other tracks so far. I find that I enjoy it very much and its chorus is so catchy.

Aenaku Naru Kurainara is the first ballad on the album’s tracklist and it’s a soft piano ballad as well. Eventually strings and percussion join in and the longer I listen to it, the more I start to like it. Kuu controls the emotion in her voice so well so she sounds perfect as well.

dna3Oh boy… I saw the PV for HAIRCUT when it was released and I didn’t know what to think except ‘WTF’. Some parts sound almost like Kuu wanted to make her own version of ‘Hair’, but I can’t take this seriously tbh. It’s not terrible or anything, just a weird little filler track.

Guess Who Is Back came as a big surprise because, wow, it has a fierce rock arrangement with lots of electric guitars and fast percussion, and a darn catchy chorus as well. I haven’t seen this side of her in a while, so it’s a welcome surprise as well. Guess who is back? It’s Kuu circa ‘Can We Go Back’!

HOT HOT is a very interesting track in a good way. It mixes rocky elements with an oldschool sounds that I really like while not making it over the top. It’s less in your face than the previous track was, but it might be even more memorable. This belongs to some of the best tracks Kuu has released in the last few years.

Then another ballad shows up, and from the start I liked this one even more than Aenaku Naru KurainaraKokorokara I love you reminds me of Kuu’s older ballads which were always good back in the day. It also has a more emotional touch to it but not too much, just right. I like the addition of the soft electric guitar in the arrangement as well. Amazing track!

Work That starts off almost acapella before the arrangement starts coming in piece by piece, and eventually it turns into a very danceable pop track. I’m a bit on the fence with Kuu’s vocals, they sound nagging and off key at times, but other than that it’s a decent track.

Kuu breaks it down one last time with PIN DROP, a sassy bop with a dance/pop arrangement. I like the addition of the brass instruments, haven’t heard that on the album, like, at all. Too bad Kuu’s vocals have been altered at points, mostly during adlibs, which is annoying, but other than that it’s a good track. Just not really an album closer, I need something epic like ‘WALK OF MY LIFE’.

With DNA, Kuu is almost back on her pedestal. ALMOST. It has so much more to offer than ‘AND’, which had only dance tracks and one ballad. There is much more variation on DNA and with that it appears to be a more solid and cohesive album. I forgive her the two missteps that WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~ and HAIR CUT are, they are outshone by most of the other tracks on the album. I was wondering whether Kuu will ever return to her former glory circa ‘Kingdom’, but with this she is one step closer.

Favorite songsHUSH | Dangerous | CHANCES ALL | Aenaku Naru Kurainara | Guess Who Is Back | HOT HOT | Kokorokara I love you

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

dna4

Ariana Grande – Sweetener

August 18, 2018 at 3:02 PM | Posted in Ariana Grande | Leave a comment

sweetener1ALBUM REVIEW
Ariana Grande – Sweetener

1. Raindrops (An Angel Cried)
2. Blazed (feat. Pharrell Williams)
3. The Light Is Coming (feat. Nicki Minaj)
4. R.E.M.
5. God Is A Woman
6. Sweetener
7. Successful
8. Everytime
9. Breathin
10. No Tears Left To Cry
11. Borderline (feat. Missy Elliott)
12. Better Off
13. Goodnight n Go
14. Pete Davidson
15. Get Well Soon

♦ ♦ ♦

sweetener2Sweetener is the third album by American singer Ariana Grande, released on August 17, 2018.

Raindrops (An Angel Cried) is an acapella intro track and it’s a cover of The Four Season’s song ‘An Angel Cried’. Only a little part of the song is used, but it shows off Ariana’s amazing vocals and sets the tone for the album.

Blazed (feat. Pharrell Williams) is bound to become a hit because everything Pharrell touches becomes instant gold. It has his typical sound too with a nice beat and a breezy vibe to it. I like how Ari uses the more husky side of her voice for this one, it makes it a very relaxed track. It’s catchy, not the best from her but a good one.

The promotional single The Light Is Coming (feat. Nicki Minaj) is something I did NOT expect from Ari. Nicki opens the trip/hiphop track with her raps and I have a weak spot for her so I don’t mind at all. Then it goes in a whole other direction and I don’t know whether I find it catchy or annoying. The sample of the male exclaiming ‘You wouldn’t let anybody speak for this and instead!‘ is repeated way too often. Maybe this will grow on me.

R.E.M. keeps the hiphop vibe but moves into a more sultry and sexy vibe. Ariana can do slow jams like no other so this is a welcome change. What really draws attention here is Ari’s layered vocals which always sound good. Other than that, this is just a basic track although not unpleasant.

The album’s second single and a big hit is God Is A Woman, a track filled with confidence, femininity and sexuality. It’s actually the first track on the album that I really like. It has an amazing hiphop/pop arrangement, even some influences of reggae and trap, and that last bit where Ari’s vocals are multiplied so often she sounds like a whole choir makes it magical. I could see myself listen to this more often!

Sweetener, the album’s title track, is an interesting one. At first I thought it would be an uptempo track, but it turns into this hiphop slow jam that fits the previous tracks well. It’s got that ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ vibe going on and the computer game sound effects and the ‘sneezes’ make it a bit quirky (they might have overdone it a bit but at least it’s not a boring track, in fact it’s one of the better ones so far).

It’s nice to hear that Successful is a bit more funky and bouncy. The lyrics are a bit cocky at times, even though it’s meant to be a song of empowerment but it just doesn’t feel like that. It’s a song with a very constant vibe so it’s almost a bit too constant, but in the end the sort of steelpan addition makes it better.

There’s something about Everytime that I really like. It’s another midtempo hiphop/R&B track, reminiscent of the early 00s, but it’s in a very likeable key I haven’t heard that often on the album so far. This is the kind of music I’d love to hear from Ari more.

sweetener3Breathin is the first track that moves the album into another direction with a synthpop approach. I’m instantly attracted to it, perhaps because it’s not that experimental. It has a nice ethereal quality and those layered vocals I love so much.

FINALLY the lead single No Tears Left To Cry is here. The lyrics ‘I’m picking it up‘ get a whole new meaning on the album since she’s actually picking up the general pace with this one. The dance-pop/disco style fits Ari so well and she sounds amazing, which she deserves praise for since this song is about the Manchester Arena bombing and it’s great to hear she can’t be defeated.

Borderline (feat. Missy Elliott) is a fun little track that combines the hiphop style from the first half of the album with the synthpop from the past few ones. Missy’s influence is way too small, but somehow producer Pharrell made the arrangement in a way that makes her presence a bit easier to feel.

Better Off is another nice slow jam and actually one of the oldest songs on the album, and it almost didn’t make the cut. I’m glad it did because it has an interesting arrangement, especially on the chorus, and I like the lyrics (‘If we’re being honest, I’d rather your body than half of your heart‘).

I like how Goodnight n Go features a sample of Imogen Heap’s song with the same name. Ari left enough of the original to be enjoyed, but made it her own with a trap production and and arrangement that is among the best on the entire album. Definitely one of the best tracks.

One moment Ari was in a relationship with Mac Miller, the next she’s enganged to a guy named Pete Davidson. Whatever floats her boat. This is an interlude dedicated to Pete and although it’s short it’s also sweet and happy, filled with strings and a nice beat.

Saving the most emotional track for last, Get Well Soon deals with Ari’s anxiety she experienced after the Manchester Arena bombing. It’s a soulful track with mostly just a piano and fingersnaps, focusing on Ari’s vocals and the lyrics. It’s also a nice support track for her fans and people who have lost loved ones in said attack. Quite a long track, but the album just needed it. Note that the track is followed by 40 seconds of silence for a total running time of 5:22 minutes; the attack happened on May 22.

I hate to say it, but I’m not as impressed by this album as I hoped I would be. No Tears Left To Cry is easily the best song and it soooo does not represent the overall style, which is too bad. Ari experimented with this, but in my opinion she should just stick to what she has always done because that just works best. Many tracks just weren’t that memorable, only a few were catchy or original enough to stand out. It’s still decent, but her previous work is what made me love her, not this.

Favorite songsGod Is A Woman | Sweetener | Everytime | Breathin | No Tears Left To Cry | Goodnight n Go

OVERALL RATING
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3 stars

sweetener4

AOA – Jjalbeun Chima

August 13, 2018 at 12:10 PM | Posted in AOA | Leave a comment

jjalbeunchimaSINGLE REVIEW
AOA – Jjalbeun Chima

1. Gonna get your heart
2. Jjalbeun Chima
3. Garodeung Buraraeseo
4. Jjalbeun Chima (Inst.)

Jjalbeun Chima is the fifth single by South Korean girl group AOA, released on January 16, 2014.

Gonna get your heart is the intro track with a slick hiphop touch and some adlibs by the girls. There is also a male introducing the track, but it doesn’t really do anything. It’s very short but it does lead nicely into the next full length track.

I think funky music is AOA’s specialty because Jjalbeun Chima is exactly that. It’s also a very seductive song and playful, but not overly. I do like the chanting in the chorus, it makes it even more memorable and catchy. Another short song but it’s just right.

Garodeung Buraraeseo is a slower song that brings back the slick vibe the intro song had. It’s more inspired by old school hiphop instead of funk and I’m surprised how good it all sounds. This time the rap fits the overall style of the music so it’s a nice touch. Not as catchy as the title track, but still a very good song.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

AOA – RED MOTION

August 13, 2018 at 11:57 AM | Posted in AOA | Leave a comment

redmotion.pngSINGLE REVIEW
AOA – RED MOTION

1. Heundeullyeo
2. Nikkeo Naekkeo

RED MOTION is the fourth single by South Korean girl group AOA, released on October 15, 2013.

What I like about AOA is that their group is basically a band and that can be heard in their music. Heundeullyeo is a funky pop song about someone sending mixed signals. The music is very nice with the bass guitar and the catchiness of the melody in the chorus. I just wish that bass guitar was more prominent, but nonetheless it’s still a kickass track with amazing vocals.

To balance the single, Nikkeo Naekkeo is a completely different song with a completely different vibe to it. I love the whistle intro and the fact that it sounds like a mixture between a 60s song and modern K-pop. It’s not too cute, just right. The rap doesn’t really fit the song, but it’s not that long anyway so enough focus on the other musical elements.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

KOKIA – trip trip

August 12, 2018 at 12:34 PM | Posted in KOKIA | Leave a comment

triptrip1ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – trip trip

1. Chouwa
2. Jikau Toki wa
3. Say Hi!
4. The rule of the universe
5. Princess EHIME
6. Tenshi
7. Pink no Zou
8. Hello passing days
9. Hana
10. Ningen tte Sonno Mono ne
11. Ashioto
12. tomoni
13. a gift

♦ ♦ ♦

trip trip is the second album by Japanese singer KOKIA, released on January 23, 2002. The album did not chart on the Oricon weekly charts.

Chouwa is a magical and epic opening track with such good vocals by KOKIA, I fell in love with it as soon as I heard it. It’s like, with this track, KOKIA inspired singers like alan, since this song made me think of her music. Four and a half minutes of mystical drums, strings, and epic singing.

Jikau Toki wa tones it down again with a relaxed acoustic guitar arrangement and hushed singing by KOKIA. I like the addition of the accordeon halfway through the first verse, it makes it stand out more. Otherwise, it would have been a regular pop song. Two minutes into the song it takes off and becomes a bit more powerful, but it should have been a bit shorter.

Could Say Hi! be KOKIA’s first uptempo song ever? I remember her debut album ‘songbird’ being filled with ballads so this is definitely a first. It’s a pop/rock track with nice percussion and guitars and it’s very nice to hear KOKIA heading in this direction. The chorus is also completely in English and the lyrics make you happy (“Having ice cream with extra whipped cream“, haha).

If Say Hi! was original for having an English chorus, The rule of the universe gets extra bonus points for being completely in English. Most of the time I can understand KOKIA and she really does her best. Its sort of like a pop/rock power ballad and I love how there is even an electric guitar solo in the bridge. A very powerful and nice track.

For the first part of Princess EHIME, I can’t really follow the music. It’s a weird piece with whispered vocals by KOKIA and soft percussion, synths and sound effects of bubbles and birds. It doesn’t get any different as the song progresses so I think this is my song of avoidance.

Tenshi opens with a soft piano melody and KOKIA’s small voice, but becomes more powerful as soon as it gets to the chorus. It’s similar to The rule of the universe when it comes to that pop/rock power ballad style, but it has a bit less impact. Still I like it pretty much.

I have the feeling Pink no Zou is going to be a quirky song since it translates to ‘pink elephant’.. It instantly channels some kind of Bollywood genre combined with piano music. I was right, this is weird, just like Princess EHIME, and I don’t like the high pitched vocals (a bit childish). “Paohhn paohhn”, or whatever.

Back to the normal songs, and I hope KOKIA stops doing that to me. Luckily, Hello passing days is a nice bouncy pop song with a catchy piano/guitar hook that instantly captures attention. It’s just a regular track but made so much better since Pink no Zou preceeded it. It becomes catchier the longer I listen to it.

Hana is a beautiful ballad with an airy quality to it, the harp is such a nice addition. Somewhere along the bridge there are also some flutes, but very subtle. I think this is exactly what I needed at this point on the album, so fresh and enjoyable and different from all the other tracks.

Ningen tte Sonna Mono ne brings back the pop/rock ballad ambience that is very prominent on this album, but it’s a nice track. I like KOKIA’s mature and controlled vocals a lot, and despite this being a good solid track on its own it disappears among the other similar songs on the album. Despite that, definitely worth your time.

The accordeon opens Ashioto and together with KOKIA’s interesting chant it makes for a nice intro. The prominent role of the accordeon instantly makes it a very original song and I must say I quite like it. Probably one of the best songs on the album and one of the most memorable ones.

There’s something Middle Eastern about tomoni with the soft drums, chimes and strings. KOKIA uses some interesting vocal techniques as well and it suits the song perfectly. It comes off as very mysterious, but it just needs that little bit of extra epicness to really soar. Despite that, it’s definitely one of the most interesting and original tracks.

a gift opens with an English monologue by KOKIA and her voice sounds so cute. Then the actual song begins with a piano melody and soft strings. KOKIA’s chanting along with the background singers sounds so angelic and peaceful. It’s a very quiet track, but it captures me and it just feels like a good track to close the album.

trip trip is an interesting album. Again, as with ‘songbird’, I don’t understand why it didn’t chart, because there are worse albums out there that did. There are quite some original songs on this album like Chouwa and tomoni that deserve some attention and it’s good that KOKIA finally put some more uptempo stuff on her album. Yet only the first and final part of the album are REALLY good, the middle is just meh with the two oddballs (Princess EHIME and Pink no Zou) and a lot of pop/rock midtempo ballads. Still, I think this is a very decent album and I’m glad I know it now.

Favorite songsChouwa | Say Hi! | The rule of the universe | Hana | Ashioto | tomoni | a gift

OVERALL RATING
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3½ stars

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