Beyoncé – I Am… Sasha Fierce

August 30, 2010 at 7:08 PM | Posted in Beyoncé | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Beyoncé – I Am… Sasha Fierce

1. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
2. Diva
3. Ego
4. Halo
5. If I Were A Boy
6. Smash Into You
7. Sweet Dreams
8. Broken-Hearted Girl
9. Scared Of Lonely
10. That’s Why You’re Beautiful
11. Hello
12. Radio
13. Video Phone (Extended Remix featuring Lady Gaga)
14. Ego (Remix featuring Kanye West)
15. Me Why Don’t You Love
16. Honesty
17. Save The Hero
18. Satellites
19. Disappear
20. Ave Maria
♦ ♦ ♦

I Am… Sasha Fierce is American artist Beyoncé’s third solo studio album, and it was released on November 18, 2008. This dual disc album displays her more vulnerable side on disc 1, while on disc 2 Beyoncé’s stage alter ego Sasha Fierce takes over. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 482,000 units in its first week. The Platinum edition was released in September 2009.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) is a very good way to open this very long album . It’s a groovy R&B song with synth influences and it’s sooo fierce and danceable. I can’t keep still, honestly. It’s a sort of Independent Women Part 3, energy is all over with this track, and it grew on me in these two years so now I really love it.

I still have a hard time figuring out the beat in the intro to Diva, as well as in the hook. But again, this is another strong track by ‘Sasha Fierce’. I don’t get the random lyrics though, it may be a little too much, but it’s the cute beat I’m after. It’s a bit like hiphop, and I think the voice crying out ‘Imma a diva’ is actually quite funny once you get used to it. I used to dislike this song a lot, but the more I listened to it, the more I appreciate it.

Ego has a bit of a 60s nightclub ambience, and the piano tones are pretty nice and sophisticated now and then. The brassy elements are a very nice addition as well, and Beyoncé’s vocals are toned down a bit. She’s holding it back a little, and still she gives me that positive energy. My favourite part must be the bridge, where she ‘don’t need no beat, she can sing it with piano’. Her raw adlibbing is so awesome, goosebumps all over. One of my fav Sasha Fierce songs.

Halo has always been one of my favourite tracks, even before it was announced as a single. Beyoncé used so much elements in her music she’s never used before, like a soothing choir, and the strings and piano go wonderful with the bouncing soft R&B beat. Her voice suits these kind of songs so well, I think she should make more songs like this. The adlibbing in the bridge is so thrilling as well (omg, those high notes).

The first single off this album, If I Were A Boy, is a song I can’t imagine the world without. It starts off so calm with an acoustic guitar and strings, but when the beat drops in, I know it’s like nothing we’ve ever heard from her before. The lyrics are so strong and heartfelt, and anyone can identify with it. It’s such a fresh track for Beyoncé, and she puts so much effort and emotion in her voice.

I love the melody of Smash Into You, which displays another perfect vocal performance by miss Knowles (or Mrs. Carter, whatever you like). It’s another laid back track with toned down adlibbing and music. Mostly led by guitars and a strong beat, it’s powerful near the end and it really got me. I should’ve noticed this song before.

Sweet Dreams has a bittersweet title, but the musical arrangement isn’t bittersweet at all. Performing one of her first R&B songs with real electro influences, Beyoncé finds her way into this genre very well to be honest. It kinda reminds me a bit of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ in some sort of way, and since I adore Michael to death, it’s such a good thing to compare this song with one of his. The synths in this song are so groovy, and it’s another standout track.

A piano and strings lead into heartfelt song Broken-Hearted Girl, and from the start it’s really a piano-and-vocal ballad with beautiful lyrics and emotiona vocals. In the second verse, a little beat comes in, and even some synth riffs in the background. I can identify with this song very well, so it has a special place. It’s like Halo, but again totally unique, and so beautiful!

Scared Of Lonely is from the ‘Sasha Fierce’ disc, but I simply can’t see why. Well okay, Beyoncé’s vocals are a bit more dominant and even a little aggressive, but the music definitly isn’t too much like her alter ego at all. The strings in the music are one of the parts I like best about this song, just like the sort of clavecimble opening the song.

For a song on the ‘I Am…’ disc, That’s Why You’re Beautiful can actually be quite dramatic and bombastic for a ballad type of song. It’s not a real ballad, but more of a dramatic slow beat track, heavily influenced by guitars. The percussion can be a little too dominant at some points compared to the strongness of Bee’s voice, but as a whole I like this song pretty much to say the least.

Beyoncé’s pronunciation of the title word in Hello can get a little weird at some points during the chorus, but gosh, that beat! ❤  And the piano as well, this track has some awesome music indeed! It took me some time to understand the beat pattern, but after that it really got me. That piano in this track is awesome, as well as Beyoncé’s layered vocals.

Radio is more of an energizing uptempo R&;B song with more 80s synthpop, Europop and even some techno influences. I must say Beyoncé’s voice is even good for these types of songs, because it’s still a bit R&B, yet new for her to go along with. I have no problem at all with this track, it’s reasonable, yet enjoyable.

Then we have Video Phone (Extended Remix featuring Lady Gaga), the typical kind of women moaning song. This song is more Beyoncé than Gee-yoncé (Lady Gaga’s persona for this song), so… I think I like the original version more, though this song is not one of my favourites at all. I like that fast beat under it, but the melody is kinda bland.

Okay, uhm… Big laugh? Ego (Remix featuring Kanye West) appears a little weird to me, already from the start with that develish laugh. Kanye’s rap in the intro is way too long and his lyrics are plain weird. This song is one minute longer than the original, and for most parts quite the same, but Kanye West just blew it if you ask me. Beyoncé’s part, on the contrary, is flawless again! Hell with Kanye, folks, in his own songs, he sounds so much better!

It’s clear Bee’s little sis’ Solange worked on Why Don’t You Love Me, because of it’s real funky elements. It’s actually quite a reasonable track. The only disadvantage is Beyoncé’s vocals, because personally I don’t like too agressive vocals, which she has at some points during this song. The track as a whole may come of as a little monotonous and blad, but at least the beat and vibe is sexy and catchy.

Honesty is a cover of the 1979 Billy Joel song, and from the moment I heard Beyoncé starting the first verse, I was sold. She toned her voice down a bit again, and what comes out is simply sincere. The piano and guitars accompanying her sound wonderful with her voice, and even this is something she can make entirely her own. I love her version of this song.

A piano leads into Save The Hero, a ballad song with a bit more aggressive vocals than in other song from the original disc 1, though it’s all well placed. The lyrics are deep and the choir is a wonderful invention to make this song stand out. Even some male vocals are featured in this song, so it seems like a song with a featured artist or male group. I like the melody in this song, and the drama it brings along.

Satellites may not be a grand standout track, but the way Beyoncé sounds with only an acoustic guitar and some strings is simply awesome. This track has some deep lyrics too, if you listen well, so it’s clear to me Bee writes very good lyrics to her own songs. If I come to think about it, her vocal performance in this song is top notch as well, and it’s all been kept very laid back.

In Disappear the whole ambience has been kept simple as well, with only Bee’s great vocals, an acoustic guitar and a soft, smooth beat. Everything blends in very well, such as Bee’s layered vocals in the chorus, so this is actually a very pleasant song to listen to. It surely caught my attention, though the structure for the bridge is a little off, but I don’t give a beep at all in this case =)

At first I was kinda cautious with Ave Maria (people who know the original opera version by name know what I mean), but this isn’t a stiff song at all! It’s another good R&B ballad with a beautiful piano and some guitar notes. Beyoncé’s voice is pretty and soothing, and the lyrics she sings are beautiful to say the least. In the last chorus she sings at a higher pitch though, but she can handle it ofcourse.

Wow, this review took me so darn long, about two days! But it was worth it, at all costs. I’ve come to appreciate the artist that Beyoncé is so much more because of this album, and because she portrays both a vulnerable side of herself with her ballads as well as her wilder side with the uptempo R&B and electro songs. She shows she’s still developing, even though she’s been in the business for quite some time. Most of these songs are songs I know by heart and I’ve listened so much to them in these past two years. I’m all used to them already, and I must say that the more I listened to them, the more they grew on me. There are a few tracks that had to get to me with more difficulty, but most of the time I loved it. I wonder what she’ll be doing with her new album, probably in 2011!

Favorite tracks: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) | Ego | Halo | If I Were A Boy | Hello | Honesty

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars


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Miliyah Kato – HEAVEN

August 28, 2010 at 3:27 PM | Posted in Miliyah Kato | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Miliyah Kato – HEAVEN

1. BYE BYE
2. Last Love
3. I miss you
4. X.O.X.O.
5. HEAVEN
6. Baby I See You feat. VERBAL (m-flo)
7.
8. WHY
9. FREE
10. Endless Love
11. Sweet Angel
12. Destiny
13. B.F.F.
14. Don’t wanna let go
15. Silent Ocean
16. 終わりなき哀しみ

♦ ♦ ♦

HEAVEN is Japanese singer Miliyah Kato’s fifth studio album, and it was released on July 28, 2010. It contains three singles “WHY”, “BYE BYE” and “Last Love”, and was released in two editions: a CD and a CD+DVD edition. The album debuted at number-one on the Oricon weekly album chart selling over 151,000 units, making it Miliyah’s first studio album to debut at the top position on the Oricon charts.

I have to admit this is my first time listening to Miliyah’s music, and I instantly hear her voice has a certain quality you don’t find often in J-Pop music. BYE BYE is the first track, and finally a J-Pop artist knows how to open an album with an uptempo song. It was not what I expected, with it’s synths and heavy beat, I was expecting more of a R&B midtempo song (kinda like BENI). Still I like the strong elements in this opening track, and the strings at the end are not a bad addition either.

Last Love opens with a beautiful piano, and now I’m getting used to Miliyah’s voice. When the soft percussion drops in, this song develops into a nice ballad. Miliyah sings the lyrics with a good amount of emotion in her voice, and I adore the way she sings soft an high in the chorus after the bridge. Nothing is really overdone in this song, it’s all been kept quite simple, yet it appeals.

Finally a J-Pop singer that doesn’t have a baby voice while talking in a spoken introduction. In I miss you, Miliyah has a really grown-up western voice, and in the intro her dialogue is accompanied by a piano. But no, this is not a ballad at all! It’s a bit like BYE BYE, according to the quick beat. No synths, but more classical instruments like strings and that old piano from the intro. Her vocal performance stands out most in this track, though the music isn’t that bad as well.

I’m still hoping for a good high on this album, and for the first time X.O.X.O. goes more of an R&B way. I noticed none of the tracks so far offered me that high, and X.O.X.O. is no exeption. The song flows too well, there’s no variation and I’m just anticipating too much. I think I just didn’t have the patience for this track, the synth music is pure repetition.

The introduction for HEAVEN got my hopes back up because of the lovely piano, strings and soft percussion sound in the back, and an electric guitar as well! As the song flows on, I discover it’s not good, but not bad either. The good part is the music, such as the unexpected guitar in the back, and the smooth drum pattern. Miliyah sounds pretty good herself, too. But then there’s that musical pattern again, the song doesn’t give me much variety to listen too. But! It’s the best track up until now.

I looove the piano melody that starts Baby I See You feat. VERBAL (m-flo), it’s so different (finally!) from the rest! The strings, percussion and soft guitar riffs in the chorus add a little sense of drama to the track, and Miliyah gives me such a pristine vocal performance! VERBAL totally ruined his parts (omg, uglyyyy!), but regardless, Miliyah was born to do this track. VERBAL is so much better in uptempo tracks, not beautiful power ballads like this one here. Still, I love it! I don’t even mind this song being over 6 minutes in length!

, strangely enough, really does have that sky-ish effect in the music. I think it’s the high piano notes and a little bells effect (almost sounds like pixie dust) that achieve this sound, yet the beat and synths make it all modern and earthy all the same. Miliyah’s higher voice seems so vulnerable at times, it’s so soft and soothing, and still it fits into the song together with her raw adlibbing.

Again a song that starts off as a soft ballad like thing, but evolves into a more aggressive song. This is what happens with WHY, a song with more aggressive vocals from Miliyah, as well as more rock orientated music with a heavier beat and a dominant electric guitar through the whole track. I think this genre suits Miliyah just as well as R&B, she pulls this off so well!

It’s clear the section since the song HEAVEN got me on the edge of my seat, since all tracks from that one on sounded so good and different! FREE is another song that makes me think ‘oh hell yeah!’ because of the catchy heavy beats and Miliyah’s even catchier singing melody in the verses. Another fierce song that caught my attention.

Endless Love got the minor of my attention, since it sounds the same, musically, as BYE BYE and I miss you. The beats and synths are heavier again, but in a way it’s almost like the dance genre and everyone who reads this blog frequently know that I dislike dance a lot. True, the track is quite strong and even fierce, but it simply does nothing for me personally.

Then, Sweet Angel gets things back on track again concerning genres. It’s a song with a bit of a dreamy element, soft beats, strings, bells and that pixie dust effect I liked so much in. Nothing special, this track, but it has that certain quality I can’t help but like. It’s laid back, relaxing and even has a little oriental effect in there somewhere. Good song to fall asleep to (in a good way, like… when you’re lying in bed).

Destiny is another midtempo R&B song, and again it’s pretty, but it offers me nothing. The chorus misses that little extra that will make it stand out much more, but the synth pattern never changes and the percussion stays too laid back in the chorus. If that percussion pattern changed a bit, this song could’ve been much more already than it is right now. Miliyah’s layered vocals are a major plus, though.

Back to the aggressive aspects with B.F.F., but it’s so ‘there’ the whole track seems too rushed! Goodness, a song about a best friend shouldn’t be like this, it’s almost like a dancefloor song. Miliyah, you gotta be kidding me. Only the R&B-like bridge appeals to me (for half of it), the rest is just plain UGH!

The combination of beats and synths in Don’t wanna let go makes me think of some 80s song with a new modern flavour. It’s quite okay, her vocal performance is pretty good and the music isn’t boring. It’s not one of my favourite tracks, but there’s actually a smooth-bit-not-bland transition between verse and chorus so that it has this appealing quality that I must like.

Silent Ocean is definitly an acoustic piano ballad with heartfelt vocals my miss Kato. I like her vocals more in the verses though, because the vibrato in her voice sometimes gets the better of her in the chorus. Only some soft strings and a guitar fall in during the second verse, but in my opinion this is a little too relaxing. Meaning, it’s kinda boring, nothing special.

終わりなき哀しみ is a more upbeat song, and also the last track on this album. The beats are very smooth, as are the acoustic musical instruments she used for this song. it’s likeable, it’s decent, but not that special. Yet it’s better than it’s preceeder, but still not a real ‘album ending song’. But then again, what is? I’ve heard enough from Miliyah by the time this track is halfway through.

Such a shame that there were only a few tracks on this album that I liked so much that I wanted to go on listening. The first four tracks were blegh, then track 5 to 9 were so terrific I thought someone talked Miliyah some sence back into her, and from track 10 on, only one or two songs are good enough for me. Too much tracks left me unsatisfied, it just wasn’t all that, it missed that little extra flavour. I don’t know how much effort Miliyah put into this album, but it sounds like it wasn’t nearly enough. So many tracks needed that little something more, and she left those elements out. I congratulate her with her better tracks, but I wonder if her other albums are as bland as this one.

Favorite tracks: HEAVEN | Baby I See You feat. VERBAL (m-flo) |</em> <em>空 | WHY | FREE

OVERALL RATING

2½ stars

Beyoncé – If I Were A Boy

August 27, 2010 at 8:37 PM | Posted in Beyoncé | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Beyoncé – If I Were A Boy

1. If I Were A Boy
2. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

If I Were A Boy is Beyoncé’s 12th solo single, and the first off her album I Am… Sasha Fierce. The single was released on October 8, 2008 and has topped many international charts, and it’s Beyoncé’s best selling single in the UK with 610,000 sold units.

If I Were A Boy is so different from what we were used from Beyoncé, since it’s not the traditional R&B song. It’s a pop song, that Beyoncé tried to make her own. The song is mostly led by an acoustic guitar, percussion and handclaps, and it sounds so fresh for her. This song is really strong and emotional, with heartfelt lyrics. I think every girl can identify with the idea of thinking about what they’d do if they were a man for just one day. Beyoncé sings this song so good, she really lays emotion in her voice and doesn’t go all yelling and stuff. Eevn my sister, who is 21 years old and doesn’t like Beyoncé very much, thought this song was her very best ever!

Back to Beyoncé’s alter ego Sasha Fierce. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) is fierce indeed, phew! How I like the beat to this song, it’s so danceable, and it’s nice to hear some synths in this song as well. This typical uptempo R&amp;B song has such a catchy hook, it’s women empowerment all over, and it’s actually kinda groovy to me. Does it sound weird that this song reminds me of something? At first I was single, then I started a relationship with the boy who is now still my boyfriend, and only six days later I was walking around with a ring around my finger! Not the thought behind the song maybe, but maybe it’s another extra besides the good beat and vocals why I actually LIKE this Sasha Fierce song.

Beyoncé had her ups and downs and I have an on-off relationship with her music. There are some songs I truly loooove (<3), and there are also some songs that almost hurt my ears (</3). This single, with both tracks, belongs to the kind I love. The first track shows off Beyoncé’s softer side, while the second instantly sends us back to her stage alter ego, in a very good way. I still have a trauma from ‘Ring The Alarm’ off her studio album B’Day because of her yelling that was really killing me and I HATED it, so it’s awesome to hear a Sasha Fierce song that can appeal to me. This single is Beyoncé at her best!

Favorite track: If I Were A Boy | Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

Sugababes – Change

August 27, 2010 at 8:17 PM | Posted in Sugababes | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Sugababes – Change

1. About You Now
2. Never Gonna Dance Again
3. Denial
4. My Love Is Pink
5. Change
6. Back When
7. Surprise
8. Back Down
9. Mended By You
10. 3 Spoons Of Suga
11. Open The Door
12. Undignified

♦ ♦ ♦

This is the fifth album by English girl group The Sugababes, and the first to present new member (who is replacing original member Mutya Buena) Amelle Berrabah. The album was released on October 1, 2007 and debuted at #1 on The Official UK Charts Company. It was certified platinum in England and Ireland and sold 370,000 copies in three months time.

The first song, About You Now, is clearly a very catchy pop song with great vocals from the girls. Amelle’s lower voice suits pretty well for the verses, while now lead singer Keisha is taking over the chorus. Heidi can, as always, be found in the bridge with her more sophisticated vocals. The beat, together with an acoustic guitar and some synths, is really appealing and it’s actually one of their best singles, also from this era.

Then Never Gonna Dance Again has something to it that I just don’t feel. It’s a little monotonous to me, the lyrics aren’t all that and it’s just… Gee, I don’t know, it leaves me kinda bored! This is more of a pop/dance song, featuring more synths and a beat on every count. In the beginning I thought this song might work, but then the chorus comes along and it’s just bland. The vocals are good, true enough, so that makes things up a bit. For the rest, nah, I don’t know.

But Denial was already one of my favourites before it was even confirmed as a single. The verses have a nice bounce and rhythm to them, and it has this kinda rocky effect because of the electric guitars. In the verses the girls sing beautifully in harmony with each other, and the second verse is all about Amelle. It’s just really hers.

My opinion-device was going crazy about My Love Is Pink, another song quite like Never Gonna Dance Again considering the overall pop/dance sound, because I just don’t know what to think of it. It’s like the bridge is too boring this time, even for Heidi. The vocoder on her divine sophisticated voice just doesn’t work. But then again, this has a little more spice to it than Never Gonna Dance Again.

Change is like a breath of fresh air, and it gives me goosebumps everytime. This must be the best Sugababes ballad ever. Led by a piano, soft percussion and strings, this is, no doubt, the best song on the album. People can easily identify with the pretty lyrics, and the higher notes by Amelle (and killer notes by Keisha o.o) are such a surprise. Yeayz for Change!

Back When starts off with a little humming and chanting, and then the percussion accompanies Amelle when she sings the first verse. The percussion rhythm kinda reminds me of the army, yet it still sounds very modern. I like the bridge in this pop song very much, but the transition from the chorus to the bridge doesn’t flow that well. It wás good the other way around afterwards, so no complaining. The lyrics are very heartfelt and the girls belt them out lovely!

This next song has a little bass in the back, Surprise. The percussion rhythm is very smooth and and this makes this track one of the best uptempo songs on this album. The music transitions well into new parts of the song, and I love how Keisha sings in harmony with herself in the second verse. The lyrics were kinda weird once I really started to listen to them, though.

Finally a real R&B/reaggae vibe with Back Down, a 180 from Change. The melody and rhythm go very well together, and it surprises me Heidi found her way into this genre as well. I love that ‘uh!’ in the background during the verses, it’s so… I don’t know, it kinda makes me go like ‘yeaaah’ while listening to this track. Love this song!

Mended By You is a ballad with strings and a piano, and it’s very laid back compared to the rest of the album. The lyrics were very deep, and sounded like they actually had a message (that came over, it really did). It’s not the best song on the album, but I still like that relaxing aspect. Maybe it’s because of Heidi’s soothing voice, that starts the song. During the second verse, Amelle’s part, a bit of percussion drops in, and it adds that extra flavour to the song.

I had to download 3 Spoons Of Suga since it’s a bonus track and it’s not on my CD version, but it was worth it! It’s more of an Amy Winehouse vibe with little elements of pop/rock, and it’s Keisha written all over it. Amelle has a verse as well, but in the chorus Keisha is heard most of the time. Is it just me, or does the title of the song refer to the Sugababes themselves?

The song Open The Door starts off with only a percussion beat and some adlibbing by the Sugababes. I like this song, it gives this kinda tingling in my tummy. Reminds me of a car ride to Brussels, Belgium in October 2007, early in the morning, when I was on my way to the airport. This album was blowing out of the car speakers, and it still reminds me of that today. But back to the song: I love the music, and others may think it’s bland, but the different parts of the song flow easily into the next and they’re playing each other off very nicely.

Undignified is a ‘dignified’ way to end this album (har-har-har). It’s like a full circle feeling, you know you have to enjoy this one last song, and every second of it. It’s more of a midtempo pop song, with a little bit of synths in there somewhere. It’s really getting to me, and the few seconds of silence near the end of the song makes me scream for an encore.

Since the moment it was released, I instantly loooooved this album to death. I’ve been listening to it for almost three years straight now, and I know the track list and all the melodies of the songs by heart. A big advantage of this album is that it’s playable on multiple occasions: during doing your homework, lying in the sun or even on a rainy day. In my case, it gives me that boost I need to face the day’s toils. Another advantage is the way the Babes played off the different genres on this album: pop, R&B and dance. Lucky for me, the first two overrule. There’s something here for everyone, and to me it’s definitly their best album to date.

Favorite tracks: About You Now | Denial | Change | Back Down | Open The Door

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

BENI – Bitter & Sweet

August 23, 2010 at 1:17 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
BENI – Bitter & Sweet

1. Bitter & Sweet: Intro
2. Kiss Kiss Kiss
3. Zutto Futari de (ずっと二人で)
4. Koi Kogarete (恋焦がれて)
5. Dakishimete feat. Dohzi-T (抱きしめて feat. 童子-T)
6. Anything Goes!!
7. stardust
8. KIRA☆KIRA☆
9. GO ON
10. Shinjisasete (信じさせて)
11. nice & slow
12. STAY
13. Beautiful World
14. Mou Nido to… (もう二度と・・・)
15. Kiss Kiss Kiss DJ HASEBE REMIX

♦ ♦ ♦

Bitter & Sweet is BENI’s 4th studio album, but her first after she left Avex Trax and signed up with Universal Music Japan. It’s also her first album under her new stage name BENI (previously it was Beni Arashiro). The album was released on September 2, 2009 and reached #5 on the Oricon Weekly Charts with 104,501 sold copies. It’s BENI’s highest ranked and best sold album to date.

I’ve never listened to any music by BENI before, but I must say she has a voice that I really like! The short Bitter & Sweet: Intro showcases that from the start, with it’s stormy elements and R&B influences. Her adlibbing background vocals are doing their job as well, and this introduction certainly represents the album’s midtempo R&B genre at it’s best.

Chimes, snapping, a few synths and a piano are featured in the first full length track: Kiss Kiss Kiss, in which BENI’s vocals in the chorus are so catchy when she sings the title words. I love the melody in this midtempo R&B song, it’s so smooth and well flowing, and even though there isn’t much variety, it’s hard to say not to like this song. It seems to have that typical American sound to it, and I think it will totaly blow similar songs away like hell!

Another ballad right here, with Zutto Futari de (ずっと二人で), and I instantly don’t understand the negative comments I read about this track. I hear elements that are hard to find in any song to date, such as the way BENI uses her voice and the melody in the chorus, the heavier percussion right after the chorus (and sometimes in the verses as well)… I love the way BENI presents a more aggressive side of her vocals as she belts out this song.

The more dreamy Koi Kogarete (恋焦がれて) is another midtempo track of the same sort as the two songs before it, and another single out of the bunch. I like the little synth chimes in the song, mostly throughout the chorus, and this track uses more of an acoutic guitar in it’s arrangement. Another midtempo, but unique in it’s own way, and the melody can totally get stuck in your head.

Dakishimete feat. Dohzi-T (抱きしめて feat. 童子-T) is the first non-single track, and has more of a bounce to the chorus compared to the previous songs. I remember Dohzi-T as the guy who totally ruined Ayumi Hamasaki’s debut EP (NOTHING FROM NOTHING) with her, but I’m glad he left this song alone a little more. He actually has some catchy raps in the bridge, but the real vocal stair remains BENI, who really puts something good into the chorus. As for the music: yeays for guitar riffs!

Finally BENI throws an upbeat and more aggressive track on me, Anything Goes!!. A track with more heavy synths and harder percussion is fairly placed after four tracks of the slower kind, and I wonder why this wasn’t a single. No smoothness this time, but more of a showcase for BENI’s other sides, as well as for her ability to reach short higher notes. The guy in the background annoys me, but hey, it’s a catchy song so why would I cry about that?

The next track, stardust, is another upbeat track, and it reminds me of Koda Kumi’s TABOO because of the electronic R&B influences. BENI sounds like she really found her spot in this genre, she’s so enthousiastic. And what’s with the high notes later up in the song? Hey BENI, keep on going like this, and your fanbase will grow… and grow… and grow xD

KIRA☆KIRA☆ is another midtempo track again, and it brings the smoothness right back again with snaps and all R&B beats. To me this track has more of a winter ambience to it, mostly because of the echoed chimes in the chorus, and I can imagine listening to this song in December. Some parts stand out very well, they really do, but overall this song is pretty bland compared to the rest of the bunch. It’s not variated and more of the same.

I like the guitar introduction that leads into GO ON, and if I’m not wrong it features some piano melodies as well. In this more of an upbeat kind of track, BENI throws in some dominant synth riffs that make the R&B verses flow into a danceable chorus. BENI herself has some nice vocals in this song, and a constant beat accompanies her while she’s singing the title words over and over again.

What a stupid way to begin Shinjisasete (信じさせて), and I’m not talking about the piano melody. I’m talking about that short synth-like string riff that you keep hearing throughout the verses and it totally distracts from BENI’s vocals. In the chorus the focus luckily goes back to her, since the midtempo R&B beat takes over with a more likeable soft synth melody in the back. The piano stays featured all the way as well, and the whole adds something to this unvariated song.

What’s up with nice & slow? Back to that stardust quality with more electronic synth influences, yet it’s still a slower paced R&B track. The percussion is also a little heavier than usual, so this is another track that stands out a bit. I like her lyrics, especially when she sings ‘put your arms around me, nice and slow‘, and her voice sounds pretty well blended with this track too.

Disonant strings and some kind of electronic sound lead into STAY, midtempo song #1,000,000 on this album. Yet there’s a certain appealing quality that wasn’t on this album before, and even the guy yelling ‘eyyyy’ in the background isn’t annoying to me. To be honest, it adds a kind of smoothness again, and the melody of the chorus keeps playing inside my head.

Then there’s Beautiful World, and yes, I agree with other reviewers that this is the best track on this whole album because of the first-timer elements in this song. The guy singing with BENI, can someone tell me who he is? They sound wonderful together! The track has such a flair to it, and BENI’s belting works very well too. Her voice works very well with the background adlibbing and layered vocals.

Mou Nido to… (もう二度と・・・) is the response song to Mou Ichino… feat. BENI by rapper Dohzi-T. This song is more acoustic based, and there isn’t really a beat in the first part apart from some snaps and a little bass once in a while. Later up a beat drops in to accompany the piano and acoustic guitar, and this is indeed a pretty song to be released as a single.

It’s funny to hear some Spanish counting before Kiss Kiss Kiss DJ HASEBE REMIX starts off. I’m glad to hear this is not just some electronic dance crap, but actually a song remixed into a little more complicated arrangement. There’s variaty in the percussion and the song is transformed, while the basic melody remained. It’s not very different from the original, except for the beat and tempo, but the original appealed to me a little more. Still, I don’t hate this, I actually like it!

So, basically… Bitter & Sweet isn’t a recordbreaking album to me. It truly has some good stuff, it really does, and BENI rolls along smoothly with everything she does. The individual tracks can all appeal to me, but when I have to listen to the same influences too many times in a row, the album as a whole gets kinda bland. I was very into the first half of the album, since I hadn’t listened to any music of this kind today. But as this review progressed, my interests failed a bit. It’s such a waste, since all the material is good, but there’s no variety in BENI’s music at all. I know she just released a new album, and I definitly wanna hear if she improved even more. I keep my hopes up, because I know BENI is good.

Favorite tracks: Kiss Kiss Kiss | Zutto Futari de (ずっと二人で) | Koi Kogarete (恋焦がれて) | Beautiful World

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

Ami Suzuki – can’t stop the DISCO

August 22, 2010 at 4:13 PM | Posted in Ami Suzuki | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ami Suzuki – can’t stop the DISCO

1. can’t stop the DISCO
2. climb up to the top
3. SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A mix)

can’t stop the DISCO is Ami’s 30th single, her 15th under Avex Trax, and it was released on September 24, 2008. It’s produced by Yasutaka Nakata of capsule, and on it’s first day the single debuted at #27 in the Oricon Daily Singles Charts.

I think I’ll be getting back to Ami Suzuki’s music after a year of listening hiatus, and the can’t stop the DISCO single will be the first out of the bunch. I almost forgot how nice the sound of her voice is, even with the vocoder all over it. This electropop/house song relies all on beats, and less on synths, but they’re still dominant. Her voice is at it’s smoothest in the verses, my favourite parts of the song concerning her vocals. As for the music, I can totally dig this hot melodies and beats. The only thing is: it’s a little too long for me at 5:24 minutes.

The style of the previous track transitions veeery smoothly into climb up to the top, and is it just me or do I hear a woman moaning in the background…? As for the rest of the song, I don’t think I like this very much. The track is mostly based on heavy beats and synths again, and Ami’s vocals aren’t prominantly there this time. More of a musical song this, almost an instrumental. When she does sing, she kinda screams out her lyrics. What a crazy track this is, gosh, it’s so aggressive!

Let’s see if I like SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A mix) more than that. The first thing I noticed was her vocal improvement (she sings in a lot lower pitch) and the little more of a laid back dance style compared to clim up to the top. I love the verses, mostly because of Ami’s vocals in it, and it makes the song a bit more poppy, yet still dancehall orientated.

I really had to get used to Ami’s music again, since I listen to other kinds of music most of the time, and not this electro/dance shizzle. And I have to say: if I’m in a good mood for this genre, I can actually appreciate it. Maybe this means it’s time to wipe the dust off Ami’s singles and albums, especially her album Supreme Show (which features all the songs above), and get off my lazy behind to give them a chance again. And if you ask me, I don’t even know why the heck I threw her off my iPod. Her songs are fierce, my gosh, and she’s definitly one of the better artists in this genre.

Favorite track: SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A mix)

OVERALL RATING

3½ stars

alan – Diamond / Over the clouds

August 21, 2010 at 10:22 PM | Posted in alan | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
alan – Diamond / Over the clouds

1. Diamond
2. Over the clouds
3. Diamond (Instrumental)
4. Over the clouds (Instrumental)

This is Tibetan singer alan’s 12th single, released on February 3, 2010. Diamond was used as the ending theme song for the NTV anime Inuyasha Kanketsuhen, while Over the clouds was used as the opening theme song for the PSP game God Eater.

I agree with fellow reviewers, that Diamond is another episode of alan’s Ayufication. And yes, it also reminds me of Ayumi Hamasaki’s song M. Some of alan’s old vibes are still in there in the use of instruments, like chimes and disonant, ambient synths, but the ‘cold’ melody and electric guitar solo (and sometimes even alan’s own vocals) make me think twice: alan or Ayumi? But hey, I like Ayumi, and I like M, so why wouldn’t I like this?

alan’s signature style turns around for about 180 degrees for Over the clouds, but I have to admit this ambient track with both dance and R&amp;B influences is hot, hot, hot! Keep on going, alan, and I may even stop talking about comparisons with golden album Voice of EARTH! I like this style on alan, as she still sticks to her old vocal abilities with fairly high notes while the music features more heavy synthesizers, beats and strings. Gimme some more, maybe on your next studio album, alan!

A good single, really. I’m going to stay away from all those prejudices that alan is trying to be all Ayumi Hamasaki 2.0 (because Avex Trax appears evil, muahaha). alan has a right to develop her style more, maybe to get through to more people? Then, she may be right. I wonder what her next studio album will be like, and if she varies it just like she did with ‘my life’. Put these tracks on it, alan, and you got me listening for sure.

Favorite track: Over the clouds

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

Michael Jackson – Thriller 25

August 21, 2010 at 8:34 PM | Posted in Michael Jackson | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Michael Jackson – Thriller 25

1. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
2. Baby Be Mine
3. The Girl Is Mine (feat. Paul McCartney)
4. Thriller
5. Beat It
6. Billy Jean
7. Human Nature
8. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
9. Lady In My Life
10. Voice-Over Sessions By Vincent Price
11. The Girl Is Mine 2008 (feat. will.i.am)
12. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) 2008 (feat. will.i.am)
13. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008 (feat. Akon)
14. Beat It 2008 (feat. Fergie)
15. Billie Jean 2008 (feat. Kanye West)
16. For All Time

♦ ♦ ♦

The original album ‘Thriller’ is American singer Michael Jackson’s sixth album, and it was released on November 30, 1982. It became the world’s best selling album ever, topped charts worldwide and sold 25,000,000 copies across the globe! Now, a second chapter is released on February 8, 2008: Thriller 25, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this record breaking album.

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ throws in some funk with a bass guitar, electric guitar and a percussion beat you can feel run right through your veins. The brassy elements in this song finish it off, and don’t get me started on Michael’s vocals. That man had a voice, oh my gosh, he can sing in such a high pitch. I love the chanting at the end of the song, it’s so funky.

Lone percussion starts Baby Be Mine, and Michael’s signature instrumentarium is used again, but in such an original way to create an entirely other melody for this track. This time, a synthesizer is featured as well, and I like the way Michael sings in harmony with himself and the way he sings his own backup in the chorus.

One of my favourites, The Girl Is Mine (feat. Paul McCartney) is next. Ofcourse everybody knows Paul as a former member of the band The Beatles. This song is a soft rock/soul ballad, and you can really distinct each voice since Michael’s is higher than Paul’s. They play off each other very well, and the discussion (a spoken dialogue) is so funny, I just gotta love it. It gives that little extra something to the meaning of the song.

Thriller: need I say more? Good, better, best! The best song of the entire album (also the title track, so… coincidence?), since it’s all mysterious, frightening and funky at the same time. I don’t have to keep on blabbering about this, it’s all clear: this is one of the best songs ever released in the history of mankind!

Beat It is actually the first rock song I get to hear on this album. The electric guitars are very strong and Michael’s vocals are more aggressive than usual, so the entire track has a bit of an angry character. Michael’s adlibbing in the verses are very funny, and I can’t help but screaming along to the ‘ooh’s’ and ‘brrr!’s’. Oh how I’m enjoying this…

Another one of those best tracks ever: the one and only… Billie Jean! It starts off with just a bass guitar and percussion, but synths find their way in pretty soon. I can’t get enough of Michael Jackson’s catchy vocals, I can really feel his identity flowing through the song. The brass instruments are a nice addition as well.

After a while I fell in love with Human Nature, a synth pop ballad with a beautiful melody and even more beautiful lyrics. To be honest, things CAN get a little repetitive after a while, but then again: this is Michael Jackson, folks! Can he do any wrong? In my opinion, that’s a definite no. As I said, you get to love this ballad…

I haven’t listened to P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) a lot, but I love it all the same. A dancehall/funk song fills my ears, and I can imagine hearing this in an 80s roller disco (a bit like ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’). I like the girl’s chanting near the end of the song, the aping, when Michael and the girls sing ‘nananana’. The bass in this song is so dominant, it gives me all goosebumps.

A good closing song to the original album is  The Lady In My Life. If I’d say I love this song, I wouldn’t have said it all. A very calm verse leads into one of the most appealing choruses ever made in human history, it’s like a total wake up call. The melody gets more likeable every second, and more synths are featured after the song developed a little more.

Voice-Over Sessions By Vincent Price: 27 seconds of pure creepyness! OMG, the devilish laugh almost scares the crap out of me…

The new tracks start of with a new R&B sound brought in by will.i.am for The Girl Is Mine 2008. will.i.am replaces Paul McCartney for this version, and totally edited the music as well. It’s more uptempo, Michael himself sings Paul’s parts and will.i.am raps a newly added bridge. will.i.am and Michael Jackson roll well together!

And probably they noticed that as well, so they teamed up again for P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) 2008. This song isn’t as good as the original, but still I can listen to it. This is kind of an R&B/dance version of the funky dancehall original, and I think it’s a little bland compared to the rest of the album.

A lone piano opens Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008 (feat. Akon), and Akon himself finds his way right in with newly written lyrics for this version. After about a minute, that good ol’ beat drops in again, and I’m bouncing on my seat even before Michael sings his part. From here, it begins to sound a bit like the original, though Akon has more vocal parts in this song, so it should be Akon featuring Michael Jackson in this case.

Beat It 2008 (feat. Fergie) seems so have more synth and bass elements in it than the original, and Michael’s vocals are the same as in that version. Fergie just replaced some of his lyrics. She doesn’t pull it off as well as he does, her vocals sounds too forced, like she’s trying too hard.

I looove what Kanye West did to Billie Jean 2008, it’s like the original version, but then a little slower paced and with more beats and bass in it (my boyfriend proved it: his music installation almost blew itsself up on this song). Kanye West doesn’t have a singing or rapping part in this song though, he just produced the music for it.

The last track is a never before released one, it’s called For All Time. It’s so beautiful and emotional, I get all goosebumps and tears in my eyes. The lyrics are so wonderful, like poetry, the music moves me like never before and even Michael’s vocals are flawless and better than ever. This is my #1 song on my iPod, my summer evening anthem!

I’m over-enthousiastic about Michael Jackson’s best album ever. I have come to appreciate him over the past seven years, since I was only nine years old, so not only because of his sudden death last year on June 25, 2009. This man was a legend, his music is of all times, for all ages, all races, and his albums and songs are unforgettably beautiful and meaningful. He kept on proving himself over and over again, every song kept me going on singing and dancing along and every track had something unique. I can only honour Michael Joseph Jackson and say: rest in peace, you were the one and only true performer. I bet everyone’s gonna say this with me: we love you =)

Favorite tracks: The Girl Is Mine (feat. Paul McCartney) | Thriller | Billie Jean | Human Nature | The Lady In My Life | Billie Jean 2008 (Kanye West Remix) | For All Time

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

Koda Kumi – TRICK

August 21, 2010 at 6:11 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – TRICK

1. INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK
2. TABOO
3. show girl
4. Your Love
5. stay with me
6. This is not a love song
7. Driving
8. Bling Bling Bling feat AK-69
9. That Ain’t Cool feat Fergie
10. Hurry Up!
11. Moon Crying
12. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE
13. Joyful
14. 愛のことば (Ai no Kotoba)
15. Venus

♦ ♦ ♦

TRICK is Japanese singer Koda Kumi’s seventh studio album. It was released on January 28, 2009 and debuted at #1 on the Oricon Daily Charts with 100,000 sold copies on the first day. TRICK sold 253,000 copies in it’s first week, earning Kumi her 3rd #1 album after Kingdom and Black Cherry.

INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK immediatly introduces an anticipating crowd. The sound builds up and then the music explodes like BAM! Here she comes! The low synths in combination with some fierce percussion set up a strong introduction for this album, and Kumi’s pronunciation of the word trick (‘tlick’ or ‘twick’) makes me laugh my ass off xD

The next track TABOO is just as uptempo as the introduction, even though this is more of a dance track. A mix of synthesizers, vocoders and percussion drags you through this song, and I can tell Kumi knows how to sport these sexy upbeat songs. In the verses, a sort of xylophone is more prominent, while in the chorus and synthesizer takes over the entire ambience. Even though I usually don’t like most dance tracks, I can actually listen to this easily.

I always love show girl, which could fit in the Moulin Rouge because of it’s brassy elements. The synths may appear a little repetitive after a while, but it’s Kumi’s flawless vocals that keeps things on track. I like the fact she introduces a dance break after three and a half minutes with a trumpet solo and a sudden ending while Kumi modestly says ‘Thank you’.

The piano, guitar and cute synth melody instantly make me fall in love with Your Love, a typical cute ballad with a little R&amp;B beat in it. The emotion Kumi lays in her vocals draws my attention, and so does the percussion (I have a thing for beats, yeah). This song reminds me a bit of an older song by American singer Christina Aguilera, ‘Blessed’. Kumi’s adlibbing is very pretty and never unnecessary.

stay with me is a real winter ballad. Strings, soft percussion, bells, a piano and some pretty vocals represent that special winter ambience. The musical arrangement is very beautiful, and the transition between verse and chorus makes me think of Christmas. Kumi uses the dynamic in her voice pretty well, but she has to struggle to tone the stress in it down a bit. Doesn’t stop me from liking this song ofcourse.

This is not a love song is quite boring in my opinion. It’s very repetitive and there’s very little variety in the way Kumi uses her voice, the musical instruments or the melody. This typical urban track has more of a dark theme all over, and though there’s a little variation in the bridge thorugh the use of strings and a piano, this track mostly relies on it’s bland elements.

Everyone is so enthousiastic about Driving, so back off! This is indeed a nice and catchy upbeat track, that ‘drives along’ on a fast beat and catchy synthesizer melodies, and Kumi’s own backing vocals are very nice and obvious this time. The bridge keeps things neat after a little repetition in the parts before it, and a nice addition is an altered male vocal in the background. Kinda like this!

Oh. My. Goooood. That’s all I can think of whenever I hear Bling Bling Bling feat AK-69. The synth melodies and Kumi’s vocal pitch don’t blend at all, her pronunctiation is worse than ever (‘bring bring bring’) and her voice is almost whiny! I’m not exaggerating, she’s really whining. AK-69 ruines a part of the song as well, with even a worse pronunciation. What is this? xD

The second single off this album is an unexpected collaboration: That Ain’t Cool feat Fergie. Actually it should be the other way around, since Fergie is more dominantly featured in this song. The music is good and unique alright, but sometimes the overall arrangement relies a little more on repetition. Still, it’s true an urban track fits both girls nicely!

Hurry Up! scared me a little at the beginning, because it’s quite an aggressive song on this album. Kumi uses many handclaps and a lot of strong electric guitars this time. Her vocals are very energetic and the bridge puts some urban on me by synth echoes. The song as a whole may not be very interesting, but it’s fun to give it a listen.

One of the best power ballads ever is next: Moon Crying. It’s a big emotional track, and the piano stands out of the instruments most of all. It shows the drama and emotion the track needs to get through to me. Kumi’s voice sounds a lot better and less stressful as in stay with me, and the musical arrangement gets some orchestral influences and more of a beat when it flows into the instrumental bridge.

JUST THE WAY YOU ARE has a very interesting introduction to say the least, and the strings give me this happy feeling all over. In the verses, it seems like the strings come from a radio. For a person that doesn’t dig repetition, this song is quite appealing. It’s a very cute and catchy pop song with some good vocals in it.

What kind of lyrics are ‘Joyful, joyful, lalalalala’?? Well… it kinda sucks xD Joyful sounds a lot better when she sings this song live on stage, how weird it may seem, but when the electric guitar shows up after that horrible introduction, the whole thing gets back to something that sounds alright. It develops into another cute pop song that you can listen to, but all the while it’s not that interesting. I like the chorus most of all, it’s all happy so it’s kinda joyful after all.

Another ballad, and the piano melody that leads into 愛のことば (Ai no Kotoba) is very beautiful. Kumi starts to sing very suddenly, but what she does, doesn’t sound bad at all. The strings bring some emotion into the track and in the second verse I like the electric guitar. It adds something to a track that, without it, would’ve sounded bland, but this develops into one of the prettiest songs on this album.

Venus is, in one word, hilarious! Kumi’s singing all English lyrics this time, need I say more (it seems Japanese)? The arrangement of synths and a funky electric guitar make the music the high of this song, but I have to admit that, though her English is very bad, Kumi sings the lyrics with a sense of fiyaaah!

TRICK was a reasonable album by Koda Kumi, Kingdom (2008) was better, but not much better though. She gave her music another twist: she went from R&B with a hince of hiphop to synth pop/dance with a little urban. A nice change in her carreer, and in the case of a few tracks is a darn good change indeed! She does have to work on that bit of stress in her voice (or overexaggerated emotion), and some English lessons may be of use as well. Nonetheless, it’s a nice album.

Favorite tracks: TABOO | show girl | Your Love | Moon Crying | JUST THE WAY YOU ARE | Ai no Kotoba

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

Namie Amuro – Past < Future

August 21, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – Past < Future

1. FAST CAR
2. COPY THAT
3. LOVE GAME
4. Bad Habit
5. Steal my Night
6. FIRST TIMER feat DOBERMAN INC
7. WILD
8. Dr.
9. Shut Up
10. MY LOVE
11. The Meaning Of Us
12. Defend Love

♦ ♦ ♦

Past < Future is Japanese singer Namie Amuro’s 8th album, and it was released on December 16, 2009. She considers this album as a new start after the ‘Best Fiction’ era. The album sold 310,323 copies in only six days after the release in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

RETRO! The brassy elements in FAST CAR remind me a little of the introduction of The Muppet Show, but that’s a little too far fetched xD But this a very fierce and good track to say the least, since I can finally hear Namie can actually sing (in comparison to her debut album). Her sound appeals to me very much, and she gives the track such a sense of fire.

Back to the roaring 50s with COPY THAT. This song sounds almost like tribute to 1950s spy series: electric guitars, handclaps, aan addictive percussion beat and sweet vocals all over. Namie proves to be a singer for a reason with some crazy adlibs. It’s only that sometimes her singing is so soft compared to the music, and I could swear I heard her say ‘copy cat’ instead of ‘copy that’…? I must be going all deaf.

Namie’s hip-pop returns with LOVE GAME, so it sounds similar to some work she released before. She sets some good vocals here, but this isn’t a standout track for me. The rhythm tends to get a little flat sometimes, though her vocals appear to be swell again. This seems like a ‘Past’ song to me, since I didn’t like all of her previous songs from the past.

Wow, Bad Habit starts off strange, funny, weird and nice all at the same time! The beat is all fun, and if you’re doing other stuff while listening to this song, it’s the beat you’ll still remember (believe me, I tried). Namie throws in some of her rhymes from the ‘Style’-era (2003), so this definitly brings back some good memories (since I like the song Namie’s Style from that album). The vocoder additions on her voice are cool as well.

Steal my night displays more of a Latin feeling in the introduction, before it transitions into more of a hip-pop/synth pop style. Once in a while the Spanish guitar returns in the chorus, but in general this track sticks to the genre of the previous two songs. I really like that, since it shows this style really fits her and this is her identity as a singer and performer.

Then FIRST TIMER feat DOBERMAN INC. is pure chaos concerning the musical arrangement. I can’t feel the beat, and if they had added a little more bounce to it, this could truly have been a good song. In the verses, this DOBERMAN INC. person sounds quite okay, but in the chorus, he screws everything up entirely. The bridge is terrible, so no, I’m not digging this.

Yeaaaaah. WILD is bursting with energy after the terrible previous track, and this pulls me right off my lazy behind again. Pretty vocals, classy even, bouncy synths, a good uptempo beat that’s not too quick and some perfect effects in the music that remind me a bit of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face! This is a make up for Namie after FIRST TIMER.

What the hell is going on with Dr.? The synthesizers in the verses are pretty cool, really, but then the chorus… OMG, is this Bohemian Rhapsody 2.0? It really seems like it because of the variety of styles, instruments and musical arrangements in this track. The verses are synth pop with a little piano in the back, with a bouncy perucussion beat, but the chorus is a total 180 from that with bombastic drama and some… weird lyrics… Playful, I feel guilty for liking this xD

Shut Up is one hell of a catchy song! I call the chorus ‘typically likeable’, because the melody instantly appeals to me, and I’m proud of Namie for that. It’s the living example of her improving herself all the time. Synthesizers, vocoders, a sexy percussion rhythm, guitars and sometimes an electric guitar blend this song into one of the best tracks on this album.

The hip-pop is back for a moment with MY LOVE. A smooth R&B track with a reaaaally likeable beat construction. It’s the typical kind of beat that appeals to me, and this is almost like a daydream song. I have nothing more to say here, it’s all so clear: this song is pure AWESOME.

Finally a ballad on this album: Meaning of Us is a definite surprise from heaven with an ambient piano sound and the most perfect vocals from Namie you can imagine. I’m getting all goosebumps here, gee! The feeling and emotion really get to me, even though I don’t understand a word she’s singing. Singing qualities can make or break a singer, and this truly MADE Namie. If you ask me, Avex can throw this on us as her signature song!

Up out of my seat with Defend Love one last time, a track that can easily be played in a disco. It’s kinda cathcy, but is a little less interesting after all the previous standout tracks. Still, this isn’t a bad song. The bouncy and poppy musical arrangement from the first two songs return for an encore, and it closes the whole with a big BANG.

Past < Future is an album that can easily be played any time you want. All tracks have their own value they can add to this album, and although Namie experimented with styles here and there, like synth pop, her ol’ reliable hip-pop returns now and then. She sticks to her roots, but is also willing to take risks for a new sound. So the title for this album is in one word perfect. All of the tracks, FIRST TIMER feat DOBERMAN INC excluded though, are very good, in other words: almost the entire second part of the album. I think I’m going to sit down to review more of her work as soon as possible!

Favorite tracks: FAST CAR | WILD | Dr. | Shut Up | MY LOVE | Meaning of Us

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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