Ayumi Hamasaki – poker face

August 18, 2011 at 12:02 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – poker face

1. poker face “Original Mix”
2. FRIEND “Original Mix”
3. poker face “KM Marble Life Remix”
4. poker face “NAO’S ATTITUDE MIX”
5. poker face “D-Z Spiritual Delusion Mix”
6. poker face “ORIENTA-RHYTHM CLUB MIX”
7. poker face “Original Mix -Instrumental-”
8. FRIEND “Original Mix -Instrumental-”

poker face is the debut single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on April 8, 1998. poker face was used as the opening theme song for CDTV during March. The single reached #20 on the Oricon charts, charted for six weeks and sold a total of 43,140 copies. The single was re-released in 2001 on a 12cm format with extra remix songs. This time around the single reached #31 and charted for two weeks.

Ayu never performs poker face live because her grandmother passed away during the first day of recording, so she now dislikes the song. But I actually like her debut single, even though her voice wasn’t as well trained yet as it is now but it certainly has its charm. Over time I have come to appreciate her entire first era thanks to, a.o., this song. The synths sound very uplifting, even though the message in the song isn’t like that.

In my opinion, FRIEND is the better song of the two, but just slightly. The chorus’ melody especially appeals to me, including the more mellow sound to this song when compared to the A-side. Also because of the use of the basic instruments in the song, I think this song is much more like her other songs in the ‘Song for ××’ era. Very nice track.

An extended piano introduction leads into poker face “KM Marble Life Remix”, and I think the only difference with the original song is the type of percussion. Where there was a typical pop percussion in the original mix, now there is a dance beat (and some of the strings and synth melodies are slightly different). But this remix resembles the original most of all four.

I wasn’t always into remixes, dance/trance/house music and such, but Ayu’s remixes showed me there’s a lot more to it than just BOOM BOOM all the time. In fact, I think poker face “NAO’S ATTITUDE MIX” was also a very modern (for that time) version of the original song. There’s not much of a melody in it, but thanks to some random synth riffs that turns out alright. The agressive remix of the bunch.

Just like the “KM Marble Life Remix”, poker face “D-Z Spiritual Delusion Mix” sounds pretty much like the original, but it has an extended synth part. It’s like all the instruments have blown up a bit in their sound, it’s much stronger and it also seems a little bit slower than the original (but still club ready ofcourse).

poker face “ORIENTA-RHYTHM CLUB MIX” is much faster and, contrary to the title, not something what I’d call oriental but rather a bit Latin. Even though the song still focuses a lot on the dark synths, this version includes some nice Brazilian-like tribal drums. Kinda like a samba beat actually.

For a debut single (actually I reviewed the re-release here), this one was pretty good if you can resist to compare this to her contemporary works. I usually compare her first era’s to the NOTHING FROM NOTHING album, Ayu’s pre-avex debut back when she was still rapping (AYU? REALLY? Yes.). Compared to that, almost everything sounds good and this single certainly has something to it. Even the remixes didn’t bother me here (that will come later when her singles feature 9 of them on one disc). Good debut for Ayu.

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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