Koda Kumi – JAPONESQUE

January 24, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – JAPONESQUE

1. Introduction ~JAPONESQUE~
2. So Nice feat. Mr.Blistah
3. Boom Boom Boys
4. V.I.P. feat. T-Pain (Album Version)
5. Slow feat. Omarion
6. Brave
7. Everyday
8. IN THE AIR
9. You are not alone ~acoustic version~
10. Interlude ~JAPONESQUE~
11. ESCALATE
12. Love Me Back
13. No Man’s Land
14. 愛を止めないで
15. KO-SO-KO-SO
16. Lay Down
17. Love Technique
18. Poppin’love cocktail feat. TEEDA
19. All for you

♦ ♦ ♦

JAPONESQUE is the tenth album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on January 25, 2012. The limited edition (CD + Photobook + Goods) comes with a B4-size photobook and 2012 diary. It is expected to be her last album before her hiatus due to her pregnancy.

Introduction ~JAPONESQUE~ is a super ethnic track and the title really suits it. It’s very Asian like, but also a bit more exotic like Middle Eastern music. I’m not sure if Kumi either sings ‘Follow me‘  or ‘Wanna be‘, but it’s a hot intro.

It leads into the next exotic track So Nice feat. Mr.Blistah. I remember their collaboration a few years ago on Candy, a song for one of her best albums, and it was a similar song so I really got Candy-vibes from this song. This song is actually a bit too short for me to fully enjoy it, I just wanna press replay all the time, and Mr.Blistah actually contributed to this song. I love how sexy this song is.

Things get a little heavier with Boom Boom Boys. I expected a beat heavy dubstep track or something, but this song is more rock orientated. Most of the time, I think Kuu’s rock songs aren’t half as good as her R&B tracks, but this really is an exception. It’s also a huge surprise after the exotic and sexy tracks before this one, this track throws a lot of her attitude at me.

I loooove V.I.P. feat T-Pain, especially because T-Pain is in it! I always liked this song since the first time I heard it on her single 4 Times, and I’m so glad she included an extended version on this album. It’s another sexy song with a heavy beat, great vocoder effects and T-Pain’s rap was short but so catchy. I think I like the ‘new’ V.I.P. even better than the old one.

Slow feat. Omarion fits its title, because it’s a nice and smooth mid-tempo song with a great R&B/Hiphop feel. The melody is very attractive and the brassy elements the strings take on is an original approach. Omarion’s contribution gives me goosebumps, I’ve always had a weak spot for R&B songs with rap collaborations.

The first ballad on the album is Brave and it instantly gave me ‘stay with me‘ vibes. It’s quite an emotional ballad with lots of strings and a soothing feel thanks to the nice background vocals. It’s definitely not the most original song on this new album, I probably won’t even tell the two songs apart when I listen to one of them without seeing the title, but it serves as a great track to take things a bit slower after some pretty pumping songs.

Unlike some other J-Pop listeners, I tend to enjoy the cute songs J-Pop artists make. Everyday is another R&B-ish song, but with a lot of cute pop elements such as high pitched synth effects. This song just really wants to make me chant along to the background vocals and it’s a really nice and happy track.

IN THE AIR was another favorite from the ‘4 TIMES‘ single, and I love the dreamy ambience in the song. It features a lovely piano and guitar arrangement with a pleasant, not too heavy beat. I have heard the craziest rumors about the meaning of the song (Kuu waiting for her husband to come home and make love to her..?) but thanks to the light-hearted ambience, I don’t care at all. Perfect song.

Ugh, the first song I like less than the others. I don’t understand why Kuu had to alter You are not alone ~acoustic version~, it was such a pretty and care free track! Now it’s more of a summer camp chanting song. I love her vocals, but the beat was waaaay too heavy to fit the guitar melody just right. It’s really a nice song, but just not in this version…

Interlude ~JAPONESQUE~ is just as epic as the introduction at first, but then this really crazy random heavy synth section starts and it leaves me like ‘….. the fuck?’. Literally all kinds of musical influences pass the revue and I just don’t get it. But oh well..

ESCALATE is a really heavy song with a lot of beats and synths, it’s another side of Kuu that I really like. It’s not the most rememberal track on this album, but also not a forgettable one. It’s very nice to see more attitude than actual sexyness from Kuu here.

When I first heard Love Me Back, I thought it was a Bond song gone wrong but I learned to love it (except the cheesy lyric ‘Diamonds and sapphires and you, oh my‘). This song really blows away the previous song in my opinion, and it’s one of the most solid songs on the album

Oh. My God. No Man’s Land sounds so pretty damn awesome with the heavier electric guitar elements and one of my guilty pleasures has always been Kuu’s singsong rapping. I remember Boom Boom Boys was pretty rock orientated, but this song literally kills every other song on this album. The crazy explosion of attitude is a real masterpiece by Kuu, this should have been a single! I love this track to death ❤

愛を止めないで came off as a little out of place at first, but when I got used to the ballad quality it felt like this was indeed the right place for the song on the album. It’s one of Kumi’s most emotional ballads ever if you ask me, her vocal performance is great and I love how she puts so much pathos in her vocals in the last part of the song. It’s almost like a power ballad with a lot of instruments that come together and explode in this pretty but gentle way.

This is probably the craziest comment I ever gave on a song, but KO-SO-KO-SO actually reminds me of sex ‘thanks to’ the raunchy PV xD It’s a short song and there’s a lot of repetition, but it’s an enjoyable song indeed. Not the best from the ‘4 TIMES’ single, but it’s sexy as hell!

Lay Down is like KO-SO-KO-SO gone all bad and dark. It’s an explosive and hot song with some nice vocoder effects on Kuu’s vocals, but I’ve heard songs like this before on this album and I feel like it’s been enough now. This song is the better ‘super dance track’ on this album though, the heavier elements work best on this song and it completely surpassed KO-SO-KO-SO‘.

I didn’t expect Love Technique to be a cute song, but still it’s not candy cane cute or anything. Kuu’s vocals tend to crack me up during certain parts of the song, but I guess it works for the song? It’s an alright song, nothing special but luckily the next song makes up for the past two/three.

Poppin’love cocktail feat. TEEDA !! My real guilty pleasure, eternal. It’s such a quircky and crazy song and it doesn’t mean a thing, but it’s so damn catchy that I’m even willing to take TEEDA’s bad parts in the song. Especially the adlibbing/chanting part near the end of the song did it for me, that really caught me and I just can’t help but loving the heavy, rocky elements in the song.

Kuu decided to end the album on a relaxed note with the acoustic All for you, and guess what: completely LIVE. No altering at all, the quality of the song is also a bit different from the rest of the album. It’s almost like a hidden bonus track, not a serious album track. I like the experiment, this approach makes the song so much more intimate and kind of personal. Some may dislike the idea, but in the light of the situation, I’d say it DOES work!^^

Damn, I’ve never hit the ‘Love’ button on Last FM as many times as now with this album, 9 times to be exact and for one album, that’s A LOT. I think I’ve found some of my new favorite tracks on this album, and I already had great expectations. I’ve been waiting for this album for about 7 months and it really doesn’t disappoint. Certainly, some songs aren’t that original but contrary to some other stuffed albums, this one proves of GREAT production value! I’d say other artist should have Koda Kumi as an example because she delivers a real masterpiece with this album, even with the totally wtf name ;-P

Favorite tracks: So Nice feat. Mr.Blistah | Boom Boom Boys | V.I.P. feat. T-Pain | Slow feat. Omarion | IN THE AIR | Love Me Back | No Man’s Land | 愛を止めないで | Poppin’love cocktail feat TEEDA

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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