Koda Kumi – Black Cherry

August 18, 2010 at 11:46 AM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Black Cherry

1. INTRODUCTION
2. Get Up & Move !!
3. Ningyo Hime
4. Yume no Uta
5. Tsuki to Taiyou
6. Puppy
7. Koi no Tsubomi
8. WON’T BE LONG ~Black Cherry Version~
9. JUICY
10. Candle Light
11. Cherry Girl
12. I’ll be there
13. Unmei
14. With your smile
15. ミルクティー (Milk Tea)
16. Twinkle ~English Version~
17. GO WAY!!
18. WON’T BE LONG ~Red Cherry Version~

♦ ♦ ♦

Black Cherry is Koda Kumi’s fifth studio album, and it hit Japanese stores on December 20, 2006. This is Kumi’s highest selling studio album and is her only studio album to be certified million, due to 502,426 sold copies in the first week and 1,460,000 total amount of sales. It climbed to #1 on the Oricon Charts instantly.

INTRODUCTION follows the same line as her previous albums: Hiphop/R&B. A beat led by cool synths and Kumi singing in English (or ‘Engrish, because her pronunciation is pure baaaaad). The percussion beat is very bouncy and danceable, and it’s a pity this didn’t last longer because it’s a very good intro that leads very smoothly into the next track.

The first full length track is Get Up &; Move !!, a very good track to say the least. Aggressive sythns lead this track, and already in the very beginning Kumi’s lyrics make me laugh so hard (‘You got me really horny‘) xD. Not only that sentence but an entire part of the song is in her well known ‘Engrish’, but nonetheless, this is a very good track for dancing indeed.

All songs from the maxi-single 4 Hot Wave are on this album, and Ningyo Hime is the first to appear. This is a complete opposite from the other two tracks: this is a heavy rock song, an aggressive and dominant track which is all over the place, a heavy electric guitar solo in the bridge included. Strangely enough, this suits Kumi’s voice pretty well, and her vocal acrobatics seem to surprise me everytime again. She just changed her vocal style, and she can pull it off really good.

The first ballad on this album is Yume no Uta. This album brings along some really good ballads, and this is one of those good ones for sure. In the chorus, this powerballad features instruments like a piano, soft percussion, strings and bells. In the bridge, Kumi’s vocal pitch goes up quite well, but sometimes she’s still hesitating too much so it seems she doesn’t know what to do with those high notes she has to belt out. She does get a little plus for her well produced adlibbing.

Tsuki to Taiyou received a lot of negative reviews due to it being ‘boring’, but in my opinion, this ballad deserved a good spot behind Yume no Uta on this album. It’s almost intimate, that’s how simple everything has been kept for this song. From the soft R&B-styled percussion, synthesizers and strings to her singing abilities, nothing is really energetic, but that’s in a good way, because energy wouldn’t suit this song at all. One of my favourite songs because of her vocals in the bridge, the sound effects of water drops and the beautiful lyrics.

This next song sounds like fun all over: Puppy. It has a bit of a rougher vibe, but still it’s funny and cute. To me it just seems like a filler track because nothing really stands out, and however this track does sound sassy, in my opinion the bridge is very off and it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the song. Still it isn’t terrible at all and it’s truly worth a couple of good long listens.

Koi no Tsubomi is a very cute, fluffy and upbeat pop song, and fits in with tracks like ‘WONDERLAND’ from the album ‘Kingdom’ (2008) and ‘Birthday Eve’ from ‘BEST ~second session~’ (2006), although her vocals aren’t that overly cute. The strings in the hooks sound very uplifting and positive, and the xylophone is very well chosen too. This track also receives some negative comments once in a while, but I think that Kumi proves that she can actually SING here!

The entire song Won’t Be Long ~Black Cherry Version~ just doesn’t feel right. The verses are pretty boring, and the expectations of Kumi hitting it with the chorus don’t come true. The big GOOD energy stays out, and the male vocals in the background are just plain annoying. Lyrics like “Where my shorty’s at” don’t work for me. After only two minutes of dance/R&B beats and synths I fall asleep. Epic failuuure.

The beat in the song JUICY sounds very unclear in the beginning, so that I couldn’t follow it entirely, but after a while things start to make sence. Though I think I’m pretty lucky that I don’t speak a single word of Japanese, because the lyrics are said to be very dirty and oversexual. On the other hand, the music is actually very good to say the least! JUICY is a terrific track, period. And it’s from the 4 Hot Wave single, too!

Candle Light is a piano ballad, and Kumi’s vocals are fantastic in the verses, but in the chorus she tends to throw a little too much drama in her voice. This causes that the track seems all rushed and hasty, while it could have been so good. She starts off so pretty, unbelieveable, but then she lays too much emotion in her vocals (yes, too much is possible too). After only two words it seems like she’s already gasping, and the result isn’t that pretty. Bummer.

Yes! Cherry Girl sounds like a Bond Girl song in rock style. The percussion style is hard to describe, but truuuuly fierce, and ofcourse the electric guitars are part of this track too. Especially in the bridge for a fantastic solo, and Kumi herself really pulls of her adlibbing right afterwards.

Another song from 4 Hot Wave and acoustic pop at it’s best: I’ll be there. The verses are musically as well as vocally very calm, and the chorus pops in a little more energetic. The things I could understand from the lyrics sound very cute and uplifting, and sometimes you just need something like that. The entire song has this cunning quality all over, maybe because of the notes the guitar plays (oh how I love that instrument).

Unmei, which means ‘fate’, is another calm pop ballad. Kumi is accompanied by a guitar, synths and later on some percussion as well. The music and vocals blend very smoothly, and I adooore the bridge. I don’t understand why I never gave this song a chance. Maybe it’s because of the anticipation for a musical high, that doesn’t show up until that bridge.

The fourth and last song from the 4 Hot Wave single is With your smile, which sounds very summer-ish and features a dance sound. It’s like Kumi’s very into this song, because she doesn’t sing monotonous and really lays a good amount of emotions in her vocals, which she doesn’t do that often to be honest (or it’s overly emotional). Either you love this song, or you don’t, and in my opinion you have to listen to it on a certain time of day with beautiful weather, to like it.

What Kumi does with her vocals in ミルクティー (Milk Tea)? I don’t know, I just don’t like it. She sings a lot through her nose and tries a little too hard to sound cute. A good thing is the music, and especially the fact that this is the very first time she composed some music of her own. I like it! If you ask me, she can do this more often, since it really sounds like her own personal style: cute and still a bit edgy. It almost sounds like a base for ‘Introduction for Kingdom’!

Oh God, an English song, and we all know Kumi can’t pronounce or speak English, so I wonder if she even knows what she’s singing about when I hear Twinkle ~English Version~. ‘Clap your hands’ becomes ‘crap yho whands’, and her bad English really destroys the entire track. The good fact is that the music sounds a bit like ‘Koi no Tsubomi’. Is there a Japanese version of this song? I’d like to see if it’s better.

What’s the title of GO WAY !! about? It makes me think of a spelling failure (like.. isn’t it ‘go away’?). The Brazilian music is very funny, but on the other hand this song annoys the crap out of me. Maybe that is because of the fact it comes from a Shin-chan movie, and I truly hate Shin-chan. This track is kinda forgettable.

Oh no, not again. Here comes Won’t Be Long ~Red Cherry Version~. Why would someone place two entirely equal tracks on one album? As a filler? This is exactly the same song as the Black Cherry Version, though this doesn’t feature the annoying DJ yells. The music follows the style of Go Way !!, a bit funky, but the arrangement from the Black Cherry Version suits this song a bit better though.

About 70% of this album features pure gold! From the introduction all the way through Koi no Tsubomi, this album gives me such a happy boost. But then Won’t Be Long ~Black Cherry Version~ comes along, and it just bursts my bubble. Tracks 9 to 15 (JUICY to ミルクティー (Milk Tea)) brings me back to happiness again, while the rest of the album afterwards annoys me again, so it’s a pity she didn’t leave the last three tracks out.
Still, I can say Black Cherry is a rather interesting album, since a lot of music styles can be heard: from ballads to R&B, from pop to Brazilian dance. The 18 tracks indicate that there may be some bad material in there, ofcourse, but it can be forgiven. An album with 12, 13 or 14 tracks may have been better here. Maybe it could have been more personal, with more depth and effort put into it. For the first album after her Kumi’s popularity increase, the album has some disappointing tracks, but most of it is very good indeed.

Favourite tracks: Get Up & Move !! | Tsuki to Taiyou | Koi no Tsubomi | I’ll be there

OVERALL RATING

3½ stars

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