BoA – Copy & Paste

September 30, 2010 at 7:47 PM | Posted in BoA | 1 Comment


So this is actually not an album review for another BoA album. Quite logical, because she just released Hurricane Venus almost two months ago, and even she isn’t that quick to write a third album in just one year. This, dear visitors, is a repackaged edition of Hurricane Venus, believe it or not. Yes, I know, when you look at the cover, you’re expecting another IDENTITY, not the bionic album that Hurricane Venus is. But well, let’s get to the point.

The cover
Like I said, it doesn’t fit the whole Hurricane Venus theme. The other cover was perfect for it, a real eyecatcher and this… I think it would have been more suiteable for a more personal album with an entirely different musical theme. And what was she thinking when she changed the title of the entire freaking album? Hurricane Venus sounded so much better, more mysterious, a lot grander. Copy & Paste sounds so… boring, so common. BoA herself is looking a little plain as well.

Copy & Paste
Surprisingly enough, the title song for the repackage (and also the opening track for it) fits the rest of Hurricane Venus LIKE A GLOVE. The blazing dance beats and synths are very dominant here, so there hasn’t changed much. The chorus doesn’t have very original lyrics (‘B-o-A, D-N-A‘), but the chorus has an overall oriental synth theme in my opinion that makes it quite likeable.

I’m Okay (보고 싶더라)
The song that fits more on another album because of its overall sound, must be this one. It has a very cheerful pop arrangement with a lot of acoustic guitars, and it sounds a lot happier than the themes on Hurricane Venus, which had more of a ‘get up and dance’ vibe. Call me crazy, but if it was translated into Japanese, wouldn’t this song have fitted THE FACE? That doesn’t mean I don’t like ot ofcourse, hold on there! I love it actually! It just doesn’t go well with the rest of the original album, so I put some question marks here.

In conclusion
Basically I don’t get this project. Why would BoA put effort in something that might turn out to be quite useless? I mean… maybe most people haven’t even had the chance to buy the original Hurricane Venus yet, and she’s already releasing a repackaged version. I think she should’ve waited a couple of months before she tackled this project (and in that time she might have come up with a better fitting cover). I like the extra songs, I’m going to give them 3.5, maybe 4 stars. I’m Okay has to be the best out of them, but it has its share of problems concidering the blending. So… good try, it just didn’t work for me.

If you guys wanna see if I’m wrong about this, feel free to listen to these songs for yourself and make your own judgement. Feel free to share them here, and maybe somebody can convince me this is actually worth something. This is not to bring the promotion for the repackaged version down, this is just my opinion. Don’t forget: it wasn’t all useful, I’m Okay was actually a very good song!

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Ayumi Hamasaki – L

September 30, 2010 at 6:15 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – L

1. Sweet Season (Original mix)
2. Virgin Road (Original mix)
3. Last angel (Original mix)
4. crossroad (Orchestra version)
5. SEVEN DAYS WAR (Orchestra version)
6. SEVEN DAYS WAR (TK Acoustic Piano version)
7. Sweet Season (Original mix -Instrumental)
8. Virgin Road (Original mix -Instrumental)
9. Last angel (Original mix -Instrumental)

L is the long awaited fiftieth single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on September 29, 2010. It’s her last release of the three-part project to promote this single and it sold 34,796 copies on its first day!

The music of Sweet Season (Original mix) already starts off so happy! I don’t know, but it really sounds like ‘here it is, guys, my fiftieth single!!’, and she even includes some new elements she never used before as far as I know. Right after the chorus, it seems like the violin is playing in a country style! The rest of the musical background is composed of nice percussion, a piano, strings, an electric guitar, a choir and good vocals by Ayumi. Even the bridge is (finally) build upon a GOOD and different electric guitar solo! This entire song sounds all unique, with a great sense of proudness. And believe me, I’m proud of Ayu as well!

Wow, I think Ayumi and her composers were in a good creative mood for some new things, because Virgin Road (Original mix) doesn’t sound like a previous song either (and yes, I’m a bit judging on that because Ayu’s songs easily sound alike). Tetsuya Komuro’s influences are easily recognizeable, because he also worked on <em>crossroad</em> and <em>a song is born </em>among others. This track is another real ballad, and I love the verses and hook most of all because it’s really pretty with a lot of dramatic strings. I was a bit on the fence with Ayu’s vocals during the beginning of the song, but I dropped that judgement after a couple of lines. A pretty long song, but for me, these were some great 6 minutes (and the organ during the end was quite… soothing?)

Okay, I thought Last angel (Original mix) was another strings and piano based ballad, but I have never been so wrong in my entire life! This song is so full of styles, I stopped counting after 5 original transitions. It’s kinda like ‘sexy little things’, it features all kinds of beats and instrumental influences. This song has real pop based verses with a lot of bass in it, but the beat comes on every count during the rest of the song so the whole becomes all electro/dance. The chorus reminds me so much of the A Song for ×× era, so quite a good way to refer to that.

Is she gonna mix every single she releases? Great, because I was already curious about what she was going to do with the ‘crossroad’ songs in the future! But then again I must say I liked the original version for crossroad (Orchestra version) more, because I don’t see why her vocal melody and the musical melody mix together. To me, they just don’t blend. The orchestra version makes the song all blegh. Only the hook sounds like a real great section, but the rest… Now I only love the original version more!

Then I thought the original version of SEVEN DAYS WAR (Orchestra version) didn’t include any elements that were useful for an orchestra at all. The original is a bombastic and grand song, and now it has been toned down a bit to something quite pretty, yet very capturing during the bridge, where it takes on that bombastic and almost military theme again with some drums. I can’t stop loving this song and it’s melody, I adore it. So this song can do me no wrong at all!

Oh goodness, the same song all over again, but then another version. SEVEN DAYS WAR (TK Acoustic Piano version) features only a piano, and I must say it suits the song quite well. Both ‘remixes’ of this song are great, and I can’t choose which one is better. The previous track was awesome because it kept that military theme I already thought of during the original version, and I love this version as well because it’s more vulnerable and simple. And Ayu… including an organ in an acoustic piano song… that’s cheating xD And I bet TK stands for Tetsuya Komuro… I think I’ll never get rid of him xD

Okay, I think my attention has gone back to Ayu for the full 100%. I was doubting if she could present some new material that really appealed to me without sounding like the work she previously did, and with her last two singles, she finally did. The first single for this project, ‘MOON’, was a bit repetitive, so to me that doesn’t count. ‘crossroad’ was amazing and this was even better! And and and… I got TWO versions of my all time favourite Ayu song! How happy can a person possibly be?! I know some of you may disagree, but I think this era is turning out great, and I’m looking forward to Ayu’s next singles and studio album (which I hope will be released in the spring of 2011!). This single? Pure gold!

Favorite tracks: Sweet Season (Original mix) | Last angel (Original mix) | SEVEN DAYS WAR (Orchestra version) | SEVEN DAYS WAR (TK Acoustic Piano version)

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

Charice – Charice

September 28, 2010 at 8:01 PM | Posted in Charice | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Charice – Charice

1. Pyramid (feat. Iyaz)
2. Reset
3. In This Song
4. Nobody’s Singin’ To Me
5. Thank You
6. I Love You
7. In Love So Deep
8. All That I Need To Survive
9. Nothing
10. The Truth Is
11. I Did It For You (feat. Drew Ryan Scott)
12. Note To God

♦ ♦ ♦

Charice is the international self-titled debut album (and third overall release) by Fillipina singer Charice Pempengco. This second self-titled album was released on May 11, 2010 under Reprise Records. It debuted at number-eight on the Billboard 200, making Charice the first Asian artist to reach the Top 10 on the chart solo.

I fell in love with Pyramid (feat. Iyaz) since the first time I heard it, and I immediately wanted to know who this Charice girl is. Then I read she just turned 18, and I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes. Here is an R&B singer with the voice of a grownup and an even more mature vocal range! Accompanied by a smooth beat with a lot of bass and handclaps, strings and a piano Charice hits high notes that give me goosebumps all over, and Iyaz isn’t bad either. Good album opener, it really makes you wonder what she’ll have in store.

Reset is a lighter song, though the percussion is a little more extensive. It doesn’t let me down after the spectacular opening track, and Charice again sounds like she’s in her mid-twenties or something. I like her Fillipino lyrics in the bridge, it’s actually a really pretty language. Again, this song is mainly based on heavy R&B beats, a piano and strings. Could easily be released as a single.

The next song opens with a beautiful piano melody, and the lower key in the verse gives it just a little hince of a power ballad. In This Song is the first real ballad on this album, and it really is a power ballad à la Leona Lewis, just as I expected. The piano gets feedback from a lot of dramatic and bombastic strings arrangements, guitars and HUGE vocals by Charice. If Pyramid didn’t prove what she’s capable of, then this song definitely will!

The strings and beat for Nobody’s Singin’ To Me captured my attention from the start, and the melody isn’t bad either. Actually, it’s pretty good because it doesn’t sound like other tracks up until now. The tricky thing about R&B albums is that some songs easily sound alike, so I’m keeping my ears open. Again, Charice is giving me a lot of vocal acrobatics against a background of very heavy and pumping percussion, strings and a piano. Pretty decent track, I’ll bet no one ever falls asleep to this one.

Thank You is another ballad, but this time I think she’s gonna keep everything a little simpeler and less dramatic. The beat consist mostly of bass, handclaps and high-hat, lighter strings and even some synths this time! The lyrics are very recognizeable for, I think, everyone, and finally there’s a song with this name that hasn’t got all cheesy lyrics. Charice’s adlibbing in this song is the best adlibbing section on the entire album by far, love it!

Charice’s first note in I Love You was a pretty high and loud one, so that was pretty scary… It’s like *BOOM*: there she is! This song is more mid-tempo, and one of the better tracks on this album, mostly because of the catchy chorus (with backup singers!). The melody is very likeable and the beats and synths are very pleasant to listen to. I think this is one of my favourite songs on the album, it’s so different from the rest and so uplifting!

For the first time, and electric guitar is included in a song, so In Love So Deep immediately sounds a little more aggressive than the other songs on this album. But although the guitars are very dominant in this song (and the percussion as well), the song isn’t heavy at all. I wonder if Charice constantly thought of proving herself as an artist with this album, because she hasn’t given ONE simple vocal performance up until now. Not that I really mind… I mean… will the real Whitney Houston please stand up?

All I Need To Survive then is like a gift from heaven with vulnerability all over and finally that simple vocal performance I asked for. The guitar introduction was very fitting, and the strings again added a little drama to the song. Overall, this song has such a heartwarming and wonderfully beautiful melody, especially in the chorus. Her vocals get high-pitched again during the last choruses, but it suits the song so it’s okay with me!

One of the few real uptempo tracks is Nothing, a track influenced by synths and fast beats, so it has some pop elements as well. So it’s very nice to see even Charice dares to variate a little on her first mainstream album. Charice controls her good vocals very well this time so they fit the genre a little more, but the rest of the song doesn’t appeal to me like all the previous tracks. Least favourite until now.

The introduction for The Truth Is reminds me of something, but I just don’t know what. Maybe it’s a cheesy way to open a song, maybe it’s a cover, I guess I’ll never know. I have to admit I love Charice’s vocals and what she can do with them in a song, but after ten songs everything will get too much and they just don’t stand out anymore (how big is the content of her lungs? o.O). Another random ballad, nothing more to say about it.

I got the Drew Ryan Scott version of I Did It For You, and it seems he has some pretty vocals as well so Charice has to share the stage again, more than like she did with Iyaz. Drew gets an entire verse and chorus for himself, but he sings ‘you did it for me‘. It’s good he’s featured, or else the song would probably pass without me noticing it. The whole ‘featured artist’ thing makes this song more interesting (hmm… maybe the good beats and electric guitar riffs add a little spice as well…).

So apparently Note To God is a cover of the exact same song by American singer JoJo, and I can easily imagine her singing this. The track is filled with emotions, mostly because it’s a prayer song, and for that reason a ballad. Percussion and strings work together on giving this song extra pathos and dynamics, and it’s a good way of ending this album. The song is very interesting, and the choir at the end of the song is enchanting… And what kind of note… was THAT??? She ends like whaaaaaah o.O

Charice prepared the world for a new star in town! All of her songs show what a great perfomer she is, with vocals that surpass her age, music that appeals and… I just don’t even have the right words for it. She’s one of the few R&B artist that puts a little variation in her music, adds other instruments to her music to give tracks just that little extra to them and can hits high notes (live as well!) without cracking up. Whitney Houston had a meltdown, as we all know, but who did we get in return? Yes, this beautiful and talented Fillipina singer! I think we’re gonna hear much more from this girl, and a sophomore album is guaranteed!

Favorite tracks: Pyramid (feat. Iyaz) | Reset | In This Song | I Love You | All I Need To Survive | Note To God

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

Koda Kumi – Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. ~ Anata Dake ga

September 27, 2010 at 8:53 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. ~ Anata Dake ga

1. Suki de, Suki de Suki de.
2. Anata Dake ga
3. walk ~to the future~

Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. ~ Anata Dake ga is the 48th single released by Japanese singer Koda Kumi on September 22, 2010. The single includes a re-arranged version of her song walk for its tenth anniversary.

I know this is Koda Kumi review number 1000000, but I have to keep up with current releases. So… let’s get started.
I love the way Suki de, Suki de, Suki de. starts off with a lot of dramatic percussion and strings and a nice etherical synth sound. This is quite a long ballad song, which has outstanding verses most of all. There’s something about the chorus that I just don’t know. It’s pretty, but it doesn’t capture me for the entire 100%. This track is one biiiig drama song, just like the PV. It’s decent, it’s likeable.

Anata Dake ga sounds so much better! Not that I hated Suki de, but this track is more appealing if you ask me. First of all, I like the percussion more. I have a weak spot for those real R&amp;B beats with a lot of bass and handclaps, and mixed with a piano it gives off such a nice ambience! The singing melody in this song is very nice as well, and I really love Kumi’s voice here. I think it’s one of the better songs Kumi did after she released UNIVERSE.

I had to listen to the original version of walk before I could start on walk ~to the future~. Vocally, the original song is very good and strong. Musically I don’t give a *beep* about it, maybe the chorus a little. The new version is a lot less bombastic than the original with a piano and a lovely choir. A little change in Kumi’s vocals are noticed, but nog a huge one at all. She improved, that’s for sure. Now about the music, I like this simpeler version so much better! It’s more effective than the original, with its beautiful strings in the chorus and a piano. Later, percussion and guitars drop in. This is definitely so much better, I don’t even remember the original one! This is one of the best ballads Kumi has ever done! ❤

This was a pretty good single, even after I was totally addicted to the song ‘Lollipop‘ off her single Gossip Candy. I thought she wasn’t gonna beat that, but with this single she almost did! I must say she did a pretty good job on the new version of ‘walk‘, it shows off her improvement as an artist in her 10-year-career. ‘Suki de, Suki de, Suki de.‘ was quite decent, not ugly, better than the fishbowl songs to say the least. But I like ‘Anata Dake ga‘ sooooo much more! ❤  I’m curious about her 49th and 50th single, probably released within a not too long period of time.

Favorite tracks: Anata Dake ga | walk ~to the future~

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

Ayumi Hamasaki – crossroad

September 26, 2010 at 8:48 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – crossroad

1. crossroad (Original mix)
2. SEVEN DAYS WAR (Original mix)
3. blossom (Clockwork yellow remix)
4. blossom (Orchestra version)
5. MOON (Orchestra version)
6. crossroad (Original mix -Instrumental-)
7. SEVEN DAYS WAR (Original mix -Instrumental-)

crossroad is the 49th single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released, as the second single of a three-part project to celebrate her (yet unreleased) 50th single <em>L</em>, on September 22, 2010. It debuted at #1 on the Oricon Daily Charts, selling 69,746 copies in its first week.

I’m very curious about which road Ayu is going to take for (probably) her next studio album. I must say the music for crossroad (Original mix) sounds very interesting for the use of acoustic guitars, bass and a lot of strings to add a tad of drama to it. It’s very dramatic indeed, but not too heavy and certainly not overdone. Ayumi’s vocals are very good in this track, much better than in some other songs she did before. It’s very good to see and hear she teamed up with Tetsuya Komuro on this one, because they also worked together on one of my favourite Ayu tracks, ‘a song is born’.

Ayumi takes a rather interesting turn with SEVEN DAYS WAR (Original mix), which has a very interesting melody first of all. Second, I almost didn’t recognize Ayumi’s vocals on this one, she sounds more mature than ever! Yes, I know she’s a 32-year-old woman, but hey, we all know Japanese singing voices sound a little… different. I like her ‘revolution’ and ‘communication’ lines, as well as the hook in this song. The bridge is very lighthearted, something you just don’t expect from a song that has the word ‘war’ in its title. Very catchy and ‘Ayu’, this track, even though it’s a cover.

Wow, they really fixed up blossom (Clockwork yellow remix), and made it less of a rock ballad. On the contrary, it’s a rocky dance track now, and I must say I like what they did to the track for this remix. They kept the rock elements with the electric guitars and non-electronic beats, but they added a little more spunk to it with heavily altered vocals and a LOT of synths. I might even like this a little more than the original, since that track is almost too similar to its fellow A-side track MOON.

Then blossom (Orchestra version) sounds very interesting as well. The beautiful chorus melody of the original song comes back better than ever with a lot of classical strings and most of the time only a piano. I didn’t really remember a song like ‘blossom’, even though I reviewed it last month, but then the melody has something I recognize, and immediately I know the song is so much better than what she gave us on the MOON/blossom single. It’s variated, it fits all styles, and she proved it with this track as well as the previous one.

Yeay, another classical version with MOON (Orchestra version), this time with other instruments, such as a beautiful harp and even a flute. This version is again better than the original, since those tracks were a bit Ayu stereotyped and looked alike a lot. Now both tracks really stand out with their own unique orchestral arrangements. I don’t know if Ayu did a vocal re-take on this song for this version, but she sounds flawless!

I am very surprised by how good this new single was, especially when I look at the covers and then listen to the songs. I thought crossroad was going to be a bit like Rule/Sparkle, but on the contrary! The song crossroad was more pop/rock, and even though it was a little faster, it was neither a ballad or an uptempo song. SEVEN DAYS WAR, all the same. Every track stunned me, and the new versions of ‘blossom’ and ‘MOON’, both off her previous single, have had a very nice tune-up as well. I’m very pleased, and I’m awaiting L!

Favorite tracks: SEVEN DAYS WAR (Original mix) | blossom (Clockwork yellow remix) | blossom (Orchestra version)

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

Koda Kumi – UNIVERSE

September 21, 2010 at 5:49 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – UNIVERSE

1. Step Into My World
2. Can We Go Back
3. SUPERSTAR
4. You’re So Beautiful
5. Lick me
6. Work It Out!
7. No Way
8. Stay
9. Comes Up
10. Physical thing
11. ECSTASY
12. UNIVERSE
13. It’s all Love! (Koda Kumi x misono)
14. Alive
15. Moon Crying Live ver. In Taiwan

♦ ♦ ♦

UNIVERSE is the 8th studio album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi. The album was released on February 3, 2010 in Japan and the album shifted 222,000 units within its first week, becoming the #1 album on the Oricon weekly charts. It’s released simultaniously with BEST~third universe~, Kumi’s third best off album.

INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK, anyone? Step Into The World almost sounds a little too much like the introduction track for Kumi’s previous studio album, but that track was very good as well so I really have no problem with that at all. The bass in this track is very heavy and the synth beat is very bouncy, making this one of the smoothest intro tracks (of some kind, since it’s 3 minutes long) Kumi has ever done. Although it’s simple and not much variated, I like it.

Moving on to another aggressive track, though more rock-ish. Can We Go Back is a cover of a 2009 Kelly Clarkson song, and although no one can beat Ms. Clarkson, Kumi does a pretty good job on the raw vocals. Kumi can do all kinds of genres, like pop, R&B/Urban Hiphop, cute synthpop and, like she proves here, heavier rock tracks. She even hits all the high notes well without using her head voice at all, which is quite an accomplishment.

SUPERSTAR then features more of a pop arrangement with a lot of funky acoustic guitar riffs, uptempo percussion and even some cute synth chimes. Hmm… is this album going to be a random blend of styles? We’ll see in a while. Back to this track, and it has such a happy ambience it makes me all bouncy! The background vocals in the chorus chanting ‘I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna be‘ over and over again are very cute, as are Kumi’s main vocals. Still she has that certain mature quality.

I love the R&B beat in You’re So Beautiful, a very cute song with lovely lyrics and a very nice melody. It’s so simple, yet the message reaches me for sure. In fact, I think anyone who is insecure about him/herself MUST look up the translation of the lyrics of this song. It’s so uplifting and for that I’m gonna give Kumi some bonus points, hehe. One of my favourite songs on this album, if not her entire career.

Yeaaaah, it’s Lick me ♥ again! The song that ‘sounds dirty but truly isn’t’, since it’s another cute synth pop track. Very upbeat, funky, summer-ish and too short in my opinion. This song is so likeable I can play it over and over again, just like the cute PV, with Kumi as Mango, Chocolate and Strawberry girl in an ice cream store.

The next new track on this album is Work It Out!, which mixes rock elements with bouncy synth pop. The chorus is my favourite part, since it features heavier instrumentation and more aggressive vocals, one of Kumi’s better qualities. The electric guitar in the chorus gives the entire song a certain bit of spunk to it, and the short synth section in the bridge is very catchy as well. Speaking of catchy, entire song is catchy! Period!

A nice piano melody, synths and soft high hat percussion open No Way, the longest track on this album (when the live version of Moon Crying is not counted). This ballad is heavily inspired by western Urban and R&B with it’s smooth and dominant percussion with hard bass lines and a lot of handclaps. This isn’t much of a standout track, but still it’s very pretty, especially the chorus. The piano is the nicest thing about this track, it gives it just that little extra something.

Of all ballad songs, Stay has got to be the best up until now. Just like No Way, this track features a piano, soft synths and handclap percussion most of all, and I know how I always love that combination of instruments. I always sing along to this song, because of its lovely melody. Kumi’s vocals here are top notch, and the line ‘I like you, will you please come back to me‘, sung by Kumi (through layered vocals) is the cutest line in the entire song.

Comes Up is the first uptempo track since Work It Out!, and it’s a hell of a catchy song although the percussion should have been a bit heavier in the chorus in my opinion. Still, I can forgive this song that fact since it’s so lighthearted, and heavier percussion might not have fitted the cute synths, piano and chimes.

Physical thing is another upbeat song with a lot of beats and synths in it, but it’s a lot more energetic than Comes Up! I remember loving this track so much when I reviewed it as a single. It’s more of a dance track, I know, but does that have to mean I’ll be hating songs like this all the time? No =D  Hell yeah, I have to admit I like this fierce song a lot!

So Kumi’s throwing another upbeat song at me, ECSTASY is great! She should do tracks like these a lot more, rock orientated music (electric guitars), but still heavily influenced by synthpop/dance beats and vocoder effects. I think Kumi is at her strongest since track 9, Comes Up, because she just sound so sure of herself and so energetic.

Now… let’s get down with title track UNIVERSE! If any title track displays the entire ambience and genre of the album, it would be this one. I’ve heard a lot of bad title tracks on other albums, even by other artists, and they were all kinda so-so or totally crappy, but this one, my gosh! The synths and beats in this song are all thrown together to blow you away completely. Kumi has definitely grown, as this track shows.

It’s all Love! (Koda Kumi x misono) is thrown in as the next track, and this track is even heavier than Can We Go Back. Both sisters get their share of music best to their taste, but Kumi also flows really well with misono on this rock tune. Or should I say it’s the other way around? Although misono sounds a lot better on this collaboration than on her own solo songs, Kumi’s vocals are best. A bit of Kumi’s signature R&B/synth beats are played in the bridge, and in the PV the Koda sisters are really breaking it down at that point. More please!

Finally another ballad after five beat heavy tracks, and Alive is even better than ever before when placed after an aggressive track like It’s all Love!. It’s truly Kumi’s best song to date in my opinion, because I’ve always loved epic music with a lot of woodwinds and strings. This song always reminds me of a beach during sunset and calms me down so much… I can go on praising this song, but let’s just keep it to the point. LOVE IT! <333

I remember liking Moon Crying off her previous album, and this Live ver. In Taiwan is a very nice extra on an already awesome album. Kumi’s random adlibbing, accompanied by a lone piano, is done so well, and she sounds so mature while doing so. The rest of the song is performed in a 7 minutes long track, and it’s a bit slower than the original. Doesn’t matter, since it’s just so pretty and her vocals sound so good when she’s singing live. One of the few singers that actually sounds the same live as on her studio albums!

People are talking about a TRICK vs. UNIVERSE debate, and that there isn’t even a debate because TRICK (2009) is a lot better. Well, I agree that there isn’t a debate at all, because the results are pretty clear from the start. BUT, my own result stated that UNIVERSE wins this debate by far! There wasn’t a single track on this album that I didn’t like. True, one or two tracks weren’t standout track, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t notice them and didn’t love them all the same. Kumi again throws a lot of different styles to me, varying from synthpop to rock and R&B, which shows what a great performer she is. She also didn’t release her over-sexual image on this album, which is also a very good point. To keep things short: this album is so great I can’t even wait for her next one (that will hopefully include Lollipop off her Gossip Candy single)!!

Favorite tracks: Lick me ♥ | Stay | Physical thing | UNIVERSE | Alive | Moon crying Live ver. In Taiwan

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

Katy Perry – Teenage Dream

September 20, 2010 at 4:19 PM | Posted in Katy Perry | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Katy Perry – Teenage Dream

1. Teenage Dream
2. Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
3. California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)
4. Firework
5. Peacock
6. Circle The Drain
7. The One That Got Away
8. E.T.
9. Who Am I Living For?
10. Pearl
11. Hummingbird Heartbeat
12. Not Like The Movies

♦ ♦ ♦

Teenage Dream is the second mainstream studio album and third album overall by American singer Katy Perry, and it was released on August 24, 2010. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 192,000 copies.

I have a weak spot for second single Teenage Dream, a very very nice midtempo pop song with Katy using her head voice a lot in the verses. This song has been stated as a ballad, but to me it certainly isn’t because of its heavier use of percussion, guitars and synths and also more dominant vocals by Katy in the chorus. I love the melody in this song and her way of singing in the chorus (” You!… Make!…Me! etc.)

Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.), the first new track on the album,  has some pretty funny lyrics from the start! DJ passed out in the yard, oh my gosh. I noticed right away that Katy’s vocals have matured a lot since her album One Of The Boys (2008). The instruments in this song never get too bouncy and dominant, so this is more laid back yet very energetic. Pop with a lot of synths, it kinda suits Katy more than her previous pop/rock songs!

What the heck is Snoop Dogg doing on a song like California Gurls? Oh well, Katy just used Wikipedia with ‘West coast artists’ in the search box before selecting Snoop Dogg. She added a little funk to this song with a cute guitar playing riffs throughout the song. This song is a lot of fun, and so is the video! Cute, candy-like, and a bit of that synth spice to the music. What do you get? A very goooood single!

Firework is a lot more dance-like with very heavy bass in the percussion on each count, but also uses classical instruments, such as a lot of strings in the hook of the track. Katy belts out the high notes in the chorus pretty darn well, I must say, without singing even a bit out of key, and again she sounds a lot better than ever before. The lyrics can get a little cheesy sometimes (“Boom, boom, boom, even brighter than the moon, moon, moon“), but this is a hell of a hot song, she nailed it!

Why do I have the strange feeling Peacock isn’t about fowl at all…? (“I wanna see your peacock, cock, cock“) Regardless…. what a synth heavy song this is, but it’s pretty fun when everything’s blended together. Nothing special, the melody isn’t hard to follow at all, and it can get a little repetitive after a while, but again, because of the ‘wtf’ lyrics and the nice synth arrangements, this song is pretty funny!

Katy gives electropop a rocky tune with Circle The Drain, another synth heavy song with a lot of dominant electric guitar riffs. Her vocals are altered sometimes, and echoes are added a lot, varying from higher to lower when altered. The chorus is repeated over and over again, so this makes a nice song a little less good, just like Peacock.

I wonder when a ballad will finally drop in, but I get another uptempo track with The One That Got Away. At least, it’s uptempo but not all over the place. No synths this time but regular pop instruments like a cute piano melody and pumping percussion. The lyrics are very pretty, especially when she sings about talking about the future with someone who was probably her boyfriend. I like this track a LOT better than Circle The Drain, especially since the melody is more likeable.

We’re going futuristic with E.T., just like the title already says. I really love the beat in this song, it gives it just a hince of dubstep with the handclaps between all those synths. Katy’s vocals are very deep this time, especially in the chorus, the part I like the most (with it’s catchy lyrics!). She uses her head voice again in the bridge, and I already noticed many times that that doesn’t sound bad at all, either! Never expected I liked this song so much.

What Am I Living For? opens with some random but yet very nice adlibbing by Katy, and again she mixes synthpop/electropop with a kind of R&B beat, which make such a nice song together, just like E.T. already proved. In the chorus, Katy sounds so matured I didn’t even recognize her voice at first, but what the heck is this? Finally I get a ballad track of some sort, but she displays such great vocals on wonderful music! Love the strings part at the end of the song as well =D

Pearl uses a heck of a weird drum pattern in the chorus, it’s way too soft to actually be a Katy Perry song for this album and too hard to be a ballad. I don’t like third person sung lyrics about a certain ‘she’ or ‘her’, so the lyrics aren’t a good point as well. The rest of the music is at least a bit good, and thank god the beat’s a little more dominant during the last chorus. No, this song actually does nothing for me…

Do I hear more rock elements involved in Hummingbird Heartbeat? Yes, finally some variation! This song is so filled with the energy of the percussion mixed with the electric guitars it almost sounds kinda brassy in the verses. Katy almost goes back to the roots of her first mainstream album with this track, and the lyrics are very cute as well. All I miss is an electric guitar solo…

Right at the finish line a beautiful heartfelt ballad with just a piano for the majority and later just a bit of percussion and strings (and wow, even a choir of Katy’s own vocals). Not Like The Movies has been talked about a lot before the album was released, so I was pretty curious about this track. Couldn’t have known that it would be the best track on this album! Katy perry florishes well in heartfelt ballads, as she shows here. I’m in love with the song…

All I can say is that Katy Perry has grown a lot since the time she kissed girls and insulted ex-boyfriends by saying they’re gay and stuff… She’s actually a great performer, combining pop with electro, elements of rock and even fits in a ballad without getting an all stereotyped synthpop singer. Though this is actually a summer record, some songs can played very well any time of year. Not Like The Movies is more like an autumn song if you ask me, but that’s just my crazy way of thinking.
Although some songs may sound a bit alike, each track is unique in its own ways and I was hardly bored by this album. Firework is said to be the third single, and that was a very good track, so Katy is full speed ahead with her career!

Favorite tracks: Teenage Dream | California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg) | Firework | E.T. | What Am I Living For? | Not Like The Movies

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

Koda Kumi – Can We Go Back

September 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Can We Go Back

1. Can We Go Back
2. Good☆day
3. Can We Go Back (Instrumental)
4. Good☆day (Instrumental)

Can We Go Back is the 46th single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on January 20, 2010, and the fourth single for her 8th studio album UNIVERSE. The single reached #2 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 31,078 copies.

So yes I’ve been reviewing three Kumi singles these past two days, because I though I should work up to review UNIVERSE, and I’ve been wanting to do so for quite some time. So… Can We Go Back is actually a cover of the exact same song originally recorded by American singer Kelly Clarkson, only this features Japanese lyrics. I already knew that version and it was quite awesome, and I love both Kelly’s and Kumi’s songs, so I was very curious. What I knew as well, is that Kumi can do both R&B and rock songs very well, so this version of that heavier rock song isn’t that bad at all. Her vocals are very good, and some of her high notes as well, although sometimes it’s just around the edge…

Then Good☆day is more lighthearted and euphoric than the previous song, and it’s a sort of mixture between cheerful pop and dance with a lot of hot percussion, synths and even some chimes. This song is very likeable to me because of that happy boost it has, and it truly gives off that boost. Kumi’s vocals are top notch here, she hits all notes and never oversings her lyrics at all. Very good B-side to say the least.

So although the cover is gross as hell, the single surely isn’t! Both songs are very well done, and again Kumi shows that she has different sides and musical tastes as a performer. The first song is much heavier and maybe a bit melancholic, while the second song just blows away your fears with a lighthearted melody and cute music. I don’t think I dislike anything of the UNIVERSE era so far, sooo…. let’s just get on with the album next time, really!

Favorite tracks: Can We Go Back | Good☆day

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

Koda Kumi × misono – It’s all Love!

September 19, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Posted in Koda Kumi, misono | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi × misono – It’s all Love!
1. It’s all Love!
2. faraway
3. Tenbin: Tsuyogari na Watashi x Yowagari na Kimi (天秤~強がりな私×弱がりな君)

It’s all Love! is a collaboration single by Japanese singer Kumi Koda and her younger sister misono. The single was originally set to be released on March 4, 2009, but was pushed back to March 31, 2009. The single reached #1 on the Oricon daily and weekly charts.

What do you get when you mix two completely opposite family members together? It’s all Love! We all know misono is a true rock artist and Kumi makes more R&B and pop music, so… this is one hot mess of a song! It’s a heavy rock song, and maybe a bit similar to Kumi’s Ningyo-hime off her studio album Black Cherry (2006). Heavy guitars and synths are heard when the two sisters play off each other, and they do it in such a great way. I’ve never really LIKED misono’s vocals, but here she sounds as great as her sister, although Kumi will always sound better and a bit more mature. The random R&B dancebreak in the bridge is very smooth, and I remember there actually was a dancebreak in the PV. Break it down, Koda’s!

Each sister has a solo song on this single as well, and Kumi is first with faraway, a pop ballad with a lot of strings and chimes. The percussion has been kept very background-ish, so it’s heardly heard until the second verse. Thank god it got better with that part, because for me a Kumi ballad isn’t complete with a smooth fingersnapping beat! Her vocals are good, but I think they were better on It’s all Love!, because Kumi tends to get a bit over-emotional at some points, as in all ballads by the way. Love the synth part before the bridge! Pretty decent song, good B-side.

Oh gosh, misono on the move… I’ve never liked her voice, it’s so… I don’t even know! Tenbin: Tsuyogari na Watashi x Yowagari na Kimi (天秤~強がりな私×弱がりな君). Like her sister, she also recorded a ballad, an acoustic one with just a guitar. And how TERRIBLE this is! She just shouts out her lyrics and she makes me wanna jump off a building with this one!! Her vocals are even worse than ever, I don’t know how the heck that girl managed a fanbase! No offense to fans, but her vocals just ruin what might have been a good ballad because of it’s good melody! *mental breakdown*

So this just proved to me once again why I picked Kumi over misono. It explains all. The collaboration between the two of them was wonderful, a chaotic rock song with very good vocals and a lot of fun! I think I can’t even imagine how strong they felt while recording this together, but it shines through, definitly. Then Kumi’s solo ballad is decent, I thought it was pretty good for her but it could’ve been better. But hey, I don’t think we will EVER hear something like Ai no Uta again. misono’s ‘ballad’? Don’t even THINK about asking me about that mess…

Favorite tracks: It’s all Love! | faraway

OVERALL RATING

3½ stars

Koda Kumi – 3 Splash

September 18, 2010 at 10:48 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – 3 Splash

1. 09:00 A.M. [Intro]
2. Lick me♥
3. ECSTACY
4. 12:35 P.M. [Interlude]
5. Hashire!
6. 04:20 P.M. [Interlude]
7. Lick me♥ (Q;indivi-Yusuke Tanaka Remix)
8. ECSTASY (Caramel Pod E Remix)
9. Hashire! (420 Remix)
10. 12:00 A.M. [Outro]

3 Splash is Japanese singer Koda Kumi’s 44th single, and it was released on July 8, 2009. It’s a triple A-side single with songs that were later to appear on her 8th studio album UNIVERSE. The single is certified Gold for shipment of 100,000 copies. The song “Lick Me”, was nominated for a Japan Record Award at the 51st Japan Record Awards.

So basically I’m going to review an album right now? 09:00 A.M. [Intro] sounds a lot like a tuning radio before a funky guitar introduction is heard. The 45 seconds are a bit too short, this could easily be a good introduction to a catchy funk song!

Moving on already to Lick me ♥, and even though it sounds like it, this isn’t a dirty song at all! It’s a cute summer pop song, just like the cover already showed. It’s very upbeat, fun, it features heavy synths and finally some very good and dosed vocals. I saw the PV just a week ago, and it was very cute as well with Kumi dressing up like Strawberry, Mango and Chocolate girl. This song is too short as well, everything went too fast for me!

ECSTASY is more rock orientated, but still with a bit of a bouncy dance beat in it. Sometimes a vocoder adds distortions to Kumi’s vocals, and it suits her voice pretty well. This track is that typical sexy Koda Kumi song that blows your mind, and it really shows off her edgier and more agressive side as a performer. The music features even more synths than the previous, and I believe even the guitar has been given a few distortion effects. Very hot song!

12:35 P.M. [Interlude] has a nice R&B/Hiphop beat to it, and lasts for only 25 seconds. Again, might have been a good full length song with a real melody and some vocals.

The next song is a complete opposite from that genre. Hashire! bursts with heavy electric guitars, and even though Kumi’s vocals have been criticized a lot in this track, I think she did a pretty good job, especially on the higher notes during the chorus. This whole song is just bursting with energy, and is the better song on this single together with Lick me ♥.

Another random interlude… What was the idea behind all those freaking interludes?? 04:20 P.M. [Interlude] just features a radio on the background, while Kumi’s possibly driving around Tokyo in a car. One minute, wow, that makes this the longest interlude! *Freaks out*

Then we have the three remixes, and most of the time I’m not fond of them. At all. So… let’s just go over them right away. Lick me♥ (Q;indivi-Yusuke Tanaka Remix) is a lot like the original, because the beat is exactly the same. The only difference is the funky synthesizer addition in the overall musical arrangement. Not a bad remix, but that’s just because it sounds like the original track a lot.
ECSTASY (Caramel Pod E Remix)> is so much longer than the original song, which was only 3:28. This remix is 5:54… A bad sign for me, especially when it’s all very dancehall orientated with Kumi shouting overall lyrics in the introduction (“K-U-M-I” , “RRRRRRRemixxx!“). I don’t know who the heck destroyed this track, but just wait till I get my hands on him. What a total annoying mess this remix is! Caramel’s supposed to be sweet, not irritating…
So the introduction into Hashire! (420 Remix) is almost as irritating as the whole track before it, but at least it has a nice beat. Kumi’s vocals are overruled by the synths, so they’re hardly heard, which truly is a shame. They’re also distorted way too much, and her high notes is stretched way too long to even sound pretty. The rest of the chorus is pretty nice with it’s new beat, but I don’t think I like this…

The single ends with 12:00 A.M. [Outro], another random interlude of a car starting, with a little sample of Lick me♥ in there as well. A good way to end this single with a little backcasting to the first full-length song.

I was a bit irritated by the fact that my version of this single featured all those crappy remixes. Except for the Lick me♥ remix, which was quite alright, I hated them! The original songs though have been gems piece by piece! The original A-sides are truly material for an album, and Kumi must have thought of that too, because she put all three of them on her latest studio album. She shows all those different sides of her on each song, variating from cute pop to dance and rock orientated tracks with a lot of energy, attitude and that good old sexyness of hers. Man, I should’ve gotten hold of the original CD single instead of the CD+DVD version…

Favorite tracks: Lick me♥ | ECSTACY | Hashire!

OVERALL RATING

3½ stars

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