Ayumi Hamasaki – A

March 24, 2012 at 9:26 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki -A

1. monochrome
2. too late
3. Trauma
4. End roll
5. monochrome “Keith Litman’s Big City Vocal Mix”
6. too late “Razor ‘N Guido Remix”
7. Trauma “Heavy Shuffle Mix”
8. End roll “HΛL’s Mix”
9. monochrome (Instrumental)
10. too late (Instrumental)
11. Trauma (Instrumental)
12. End roll (Instrumental)
13. End roll “NEURO-mantic Mix”
14. monochrome “Dub’s full color Remix”

A is the tenth single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on August 11, 1999. This single reached #1 on the Oricon charts, attaining that position for a total of three weeks (one, and then two more in a row after skipping a week), and sold 1,622,320 copies in 1999, becoming the #3 single of the year. It charted for 18 weeks and sold a total of 1,630,540 copies, making it Hamasaki’s highest selling single to date.

Am I reviewing a freaking ALBUM here?! Oh well, at leastmonochromeis a great track. It took me a while to get used to it, but as soon as I heard the chrous, I was sold. The music concentrates more on the percussion than on synths for a change, and for me that’s a huge plus. It’s a dominant song, but it’s pleasant it features the piano in the arrangement as well. Ayu doesn’t shriek all that much in the song either, her vocals are very good! The electric guitar in the bridge completed the song, it’s a really good start (except for the sudden and weird ending).

too late‘s arrangement is a combination of synths and guitars which sounds awesome. Pretty much like what a good rock/trance song from the late 90s should sound like. It’s like a crazy hybrid covering all aspects of both rock music through the electric guitars and trance and dance music because of the heavy use of synths and bass. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a song that doesn’t show Ayu shrieking her high notes, but she did pretty well this time too.

I’ve come to know Trauma‘s lyrics by heart, all because of my growing interest in the song since her disastrous performance around that time (couldn’t find the vid anymore on YouTube…). It was hilarious! Anyway.. I really like Trauma because it’s also a nice rock/dance mix which is an interesting combination. Ayu really nails her high notes, especially when she sustains the last one in the chorus. The guitar solo in the bridge is my favorite part, love this song.

End roll has to be the most unique song of the entire single because of its laid back  pop/rock sound. It’s a slower song with some great percussion and elecric guitars, and a minimum of synths. This song totally balances the single. The first part of the song reminded me of her first album ‘A Song for ××’, and I actually liked that idea pretty much.

monochrome “Keith Litman’s Big City Vocal Mix”. So this is where the remix craze starts, and this one is a ten minute long house remix. It isn’t really something special until it reaches the 1:30 minutes mark, and then the synth riffs take a really interesting turn. Ayu herself is heard first about two minutes later, after a nice slowed down part. This remix sounds almost like a tribute to the original song, it’s the first time I seem to love a remix, including the synth parts. Crazy huh?

Then too late “Razor ‘N Guido Remix” comes in and it just LACKS. Ofcourse they had to repeat random parts of Ayu’s lines over and over, including distorted vocals. If there’s something I hate… *silence*. This remix is over 8 minutes in length and most of the time it’s like 8 minutes of complete suffering. Still the music is strong at some points, combining the synths with some really interesting tribal-like percussion.

It takes some time again before Trauma “Heavy Shuffle Mix” really takes off but then it also becomes one of the most interesting remixes on this single. It’s not as heavy as the others, but still it’s very upbeat. I like the high-hat in the percussion and the pattern it follows, and the synth arrangement miraculously fits the original singing melody. And it not so damn long, that also counts for something. A breath of fresh air after the previous remix.

It’s always a bit strange when they make a remix for a ballad, and because of that End roll “HΛL’s Mix” sounds really off at some points when Ayu’s vocals are very soft and the fast beat just keeps going on autopilot. HΛL is totally off here, especially when some kind of rapper is thrown in and the song becomes this weird dubstep hybrid. Don’t you ever turn a ballad into a remix AGAIN, HΛL

One more time… another remix for that track. End roll “NEURO-mantic Mix” is definitely, without a doubt, the better of the two because it actually slows down in the verses (which suits the vocals better) and builds up slowly from that. No strange vocal repetitions, so this remix has just made me very happy. I like the high synth melody in some part of the song, while other parts sound heavily like dynamic trance music. Great remix.

Ugh, vocal repetition… Still monochrome “Dub’s full color Remix” features some very nice synth melodies at some points. Those parts are sometimes completely disturbed by other parts of the remix that simply sound empty, but luckily the ‘colorful’ sound returns in the choruses. Having bit of a struggle here.. I like the remix for its vibrant synth melodies that really fit the original song, but other parts are so meh… Okay, benefit of the doubt!

If this single only featured the four original A-side tracks, it would’ve definitely received 5 stars. But as you can see, it’s a little less because some of the flaws in certain remixes (or simply because of the disasters some remixes were). Still most of them weren’t completely bad, for there’s always something left of the original song in there. I can understand why this is her best selling single to date, it features four of her most amazing songs from the second era! I’m not disappointed by this one!

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

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