alan singles discographyDecember 2, 2010 at 8:16 PM | Posted in alan | Leave a comment
So I was in a bit of an alan mood today, but then I found out that I still haven’t reviewed all of her previous released works. I started with the ‘my life’ era, because that album had just been released, and now there are so many singles and such left that I haven’t reviewed yet. So to not plunge you into a total alan madness with fifty posts or some about her music, I want to treat them all in just one post.
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The title song is a typical winter song, including echoes, chimes, a piano and strings. The entire ambiance reminds me of a cold, wintery landscape somewhere way up north. This is alan’s first official single, and she really shows some guts by immediately exposing her wailing talent in the choruses. In my opinion, this is one of the best songs she ever released as a single.
The B-side, Sakura Modern, is entirely different. This track features an erhu, as well as a xylophone, and even some percussion. The entire character is different and less mysterious. I like her singing melody in the chorus, it’s a playful song yet still quite serene, though she breaks it down with some pumping beats in the bridge.
Hitotsu is a lot more emotional than the previous single, since it starts with only a soft piano and the strings are added later on. I HATE the cover for this single since alan looks like freaking Medusa (</333), but the song itsself makes up for it. The arrangement is simple, just those two instruments and percussion, yet it really takes me along, especially alan herself when she hits her power notes.
I was totally blown away by first B-side Kimi Omou Sora! The song made me think of Irish folk music with a beautiful flute part and it also sounded a lot happier and funkier (thanks to the guitar in the bridge). I think alan was already very good at variating her style at this point of her carreer, because Tokyo Mimei is another ballad, but then with more focus on guitars, a violin and an erhu. This song actually just passes me by after the previous, yet it’s still verry pretty and relaxing. sign is a Tibetan song and features, to my surprise, some very heavy bass. It’s almost like an instrumental track, alan’s wailing and singing is only heard in the far background. It’s one of the better B-sides, really.
Natsukashii Mirai has been my favourite alan song of all time, since it features her best wailing EVER. I love the choir, the chimes, the piano and soft beats as well, she track as a whole is very soothing and still it stands very strong. It sounds like a message. The erhu part in the bridge is very pretty.
B-side Seed of Green is a lot simpeler, which is a good thing in my opinion because two grand songs on one single just won’t fit well. It takes a while, but in the second chorus the song is starting to grow on me and I like it pretty much. The ambience is almost the same as in the previous track, so it’s a good follow-up, and it features some of the same instruments (chimes, strings, piano etc.).
Gasshou is actually Natsukashii Mirai all over again, but then with only a piano and it’s sung entirely by the Suginami Children’s Choir. They sing pretty, but I can’t stand their pronunciation. Kinda sounds like Japanese for dummies, so phonetic. True, these children are talented, and it’s a pretty track, but I’ve never heard a Japanese pronunciation like THIS o.O
While ‘Natsukashii Mirai’ represents Earth, Sora Uta represents Aether or Air. It’s a combination between modern and traditional music, and the outcome it quite impressive. This is also alan’s first uptempo A-side, which is an interesting fact as well. The modern instruments are booming percussion and sometimes a sort of synth sound, but this track also has it’s ethnical side with guitars, Asian strings and a tribal effect. alan’s voice fits in very well with this type of pop music.
This next track My Stage sounds sooo not like her when compared to most of her songs. This is more of a Koda Kumi song with cute synth riffs, little bells and a kind of quirky instrumentation. It’s also uptempo, but not as bombastic as Sora Uta. Nonetheless, it’s a cute song, but Ive heard so much better from this girl.
The next element is Wind, and it has quite an ethereal sound. But then the instrumentation… Ayu anyone? Maybe this is where the secret Ayufication of alan started? Who knows. This song is filled with strong percussion and electric guitars, but also with the old reliable chimes and strings. I love the solo ❤
Kagome is a sort of Kaze no Tegami part II with the same agressive sound, but it’s softer than the previous track. I think it’s also better than Kaze no Tegami, believe it or not. The bridge was pretty mysterious and foreboding with the electrical guitar and some wailing in the background, so that was a fun addition. This track saved the single, also because of alan’s vocals, which sound more mature than usual, a huge plus.
This really has to be alan’s most dramatic and mysterious song to date. It already starts with her humming during the first part of the song, which I truly love to hear. It’s a tense track, and it keeps on building up during the next few minutes with hauting strings and beautiful vocals. The bridge is tremendous when alan does her siganture wailing again. This is the perfect epic alan song!
Xin Zhàn ~RED CLIFF~ is the same song, but then sung in Mandarin Chinese. alan sounds more natural when she sings in Chinese, more like herself, but then it’s a pity that this version doesn’t feature the wailing in the bridge.
I think Ashita e no Sanka ~Orchestra Version~ is a bit of a mess during the first parts, since I don’t really like grand orchestra versions of songs, but it starts to grow on me a little. The big string arrangement still disturb the softness of the song in my opinion, but alan’s wailing was even better this time. AND it fits the sound of RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~.
Megumi no Ame
Released: 12 November, 2008
Oricon charts position: #30
Finally the erhu returns in alan’s music in a song that reminds me of ‘Anna and the King’, a 1999 movie or so. It’s another traditional song with a lot of strings, chimes and a piano and this time’s element is Water. It’s one of alan’s most soothing and pleasing songs, and she builds up her vocals until she really lets go in the last part. It was already one of the best songs on Voice of EARTH, and by now I have come to appreciate it even more.
alan uses a beat in Namida that I haven’t heard in her music before, it’s quite R&B-ish and I like it very much. It fits perfectly into her discography because of the similar sound, but still this track reminds me of another and I can’t find out which one…
At first I thought Gunjou no Tani was another ballad, it started out so simple, but then alan spices it up a lot with percussion and guitars to make it uptempo. Her singing is flawless on this record, and that’s a pretty good achievement; just listen to the chorus, my gosh! I recon it’s her most agressive song and vocally one of her best.
Let’s go back to epic alan, where we have Gunjou no Tani Acoustic Version. This time she’s only accompanied by a guitar most of the time, a shaker and sometimes even my good old favourite erhu. alan’s vocals are still strong but softer because of the acoustic music. This is a very nice alternative version of a song that rocks!
Kuon no Kawa
Released: 8 April, 2009
Oricon charts position: #3
Yeahz, we finally passed the ‘Voice of EARTH’ era, let’s move on to ‘my life’. Again another song with a very traditional feel to it, she keeps on coming back with those wintery songs including strings, chimes and piano, doesn’t she? It takes until the chorus to make me actually feel this track, but then it really hits me. At the very end, during the last wail, I’m almost sad it’s over! alan kept on getting better at this point…
Next is the Chinese version of the song, the original actually, and it’s a lot higher pitched than the Japanese version. I like the lower pitched version best, it’s more appealing and has more character, this sounds more like soft opera. She hits her high notes flawless, but it just ain’t natural.
What was alan thinking? ‘Oh well, I’ve just released another bombastic song, so let’s bring RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ back. Oh, what a coincidence, Kuon no Kawa is for part II of the movie RED CLIFF, how about bringing back part I?’ Yeah right. But okay, I admit, I’m not complaining since I’m in looove with RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~!
My god, what a dreadful cover to start the new era with, it doesn’t even fit the ambience of the song itsself, let’s be honest. So, to bring you some shocking news, the title track is another winter ballad (NOOO, really??), but it’s a darn good one! I think it’s even better than Ashita e no Sanka, that must mean something. This whole track is stuffed with cute chimes, strings and such, and is all traditional again.
Shiawase no Kane may not be a very original song concerning the melody at some points, but it’s still a very pretty ballad (yes, another one, care?). It might even be a bit short to my taste. It’s a real piano track and a very decent one, but I forgot about it once the track was over.
Released: 4 November, 2009
Oricon charts position: #35
Maybe this single is the first to insinuate the huge step back for alan at some points. On ‘my life’, her songs become a bit duller and she lets go of the epic side she is known for so well. This track is still likeable for me, I like the strings and bass and her vocals still remind me of that ‘golden age’ (‘Voice of EARTH’), but it doesn’t mean anything. I know I used to like this song, but now I’ve listened to it again and now I think it’s just ‘meeeh’.
Finally more of a ballad with Beauty. Okay, still not a ballad but it’s a little more back into the comfort zone. This track is much better than Swear itsself, it brings back some musical elements of her previous album which is a pretty awesome thing here. I think this track saved the single, especially because of the nice additions such as an acoustic guitar (verse 2!). alan’s vocals? *snores*
So this is where I stop, I had my catch-up with alan’s discography. It’s great to see how an artist has developed himself or herself, even if it’s all about singles this time. alan herself had her big time ups and her rare downs, she had a bit of everything, she took a bite of almost every musical genre and a variated discography followed. This was one of the biggest and yet most fun posts I have ever made, I had a great time with this ‘timeline’, as it were. Her best singles in my opinion were definitely Ashita e no Sanka, Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~, RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~, Megumi no Ame and Gunjou no Tani, all from the ‘Voice of EARTH’ era. Don’t forget ‘my life’ has some pretty awesome tracks too, but they just weren’t singles (sadly…). I should do this kind of posts more often, don’t you think? This was an aweful lot of work for two/three days, but I enjoyed every minute!