MusicAddiction In The Mix: Michael Jackson

September 28, 2012 at 9:00 PM | Posted in !InTheMix!, Michael Jackson | Leave a comment

I decided to add a new kind of post to MusicAddiction to spice things up a bit: MusicAddiction In The Mix. In these posts, I’m creating 6 minutes mixes including songs with a certain theme. That theme could be an artist, a word, feeling or even a season, but the mix eventually forms one big song. It’s really fun so I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do!

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of his seventh studio album Bad, the first theme of the Mix is Michael Jackson. Since I’m not only including songs from that album (the album review will come soon, a ‘Bad-overflow’ would be too much), this mix will include songs from the last 30 years of his career. That is, the Off The Wall era (1979) to one song from Thriller 25 (2008). These songs are the ones I enjoy most out of his entire discography, and I’ll explain to you why for each individual song below.

Listen to the mix here:

One More Chance
(00:00 – 00:30)

Opening the mix, we have the song One More Chance, which was the new song on his greatest hits album Number Ones (2003). Ever since I first heard this song I fell in love with the genuine lyrics and the softness of the music. It’s so much more melodic than Michael’s usual disco/pop style, and with that it actually was quite a breath of fresh air. Being a ballad, it’s almost autimatically one of his best tracks since Michael wasn’t only the King of Pop, he was also the King of Ballads to me. I included this song in the mix because it’s one of his most underrated songs in my opinion.

Whatever Happens (feat. Carlos Santana)
(00:30 – 01:00)
Another underrated song in Michael’s discography is from the likewise underrated album Invinceable (2001). That album features some very nice songs, some which feature a great oldschool beat and others being heartfelt. This one stays inbetween, since it’s a midtempo song with a nice beat but it’s lyrics are very pretty too. The best thing about this track is that it features the best guitar player ever: Carlos Santana. The magical chemistry between that man and his acoustic guitar is amazing, it gives the song such an unexpected Spanish flavor.

Rock With You
(01:00 – 01:30)
Being one of Michael’s most-loved songs ever, this one had to be included ofcourse. Released in November 1979 it definitely reflects the musical hype of that time: disco. With some influences of rock it creates one of the best tracks on his 1979 album Off The Wall. The arrangement includes bass, beats, synths and even some low pitched brass instruments every now and then to add a little extra to an otherwise standard Jackson song. Definitely one of his most enjoyable tracks.

Billie Jean
(01:30 – 02:00)
Do I have to explain myself with this one? I mean, it’s quite obvious why Billie Jean is featured here. Apart from that addictive bass line being some kind of a Hall and Oates copy (I Cant’t Go For That (No Can Do)), it’s one of the best songs in the category of simple arrangements. There’s simply the same music all the time, but something happens that makes it special. Groovy guitar riffs, that bass line and Michael’s vocals make Billie Jean an unforgettable addition to this mix.

Bad
(02:00 – 02:30)
Ofcourse, there’s the title track to this year’s big anniversary edition of Bad. The story behind this song is a startling one, since it’s about a boy from the hood that went to public school, returned during Thanksgiving and got killed by his jealous friends. His quote: ‘I’m bad, you’re bad, who’s bad, who’s the best?’ led to Michael writing this track. It became one of his best agressive tracks with a lot of oomph to it, and I love the fire that goes on.

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
(02:30 – 03:00)
I don’t think I’m gonna have to tell you guys what this song is like. Everyone that has heard a couple of Michael Jackson songs in his or her life knows this one, his first big break as a solo artist and therefore a milestone in his career. One of the best disco-funk songs ever, there’s no way I can ever get enough of this one. Michael displays his vocal tics a lot if you know what I mean, but that makes it even groovier.

Thriller
(03:00 – 03:30)
Probably his most original concept to date, and that includes the amazing short movie clip (definitely look it up on YouTube, it blows your mind). It’s so creepy with all the grizzly nighttime effects and Vincent Price’s scary vocals as he claims that ‘creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize your neighbourhood’. I literally get shivers from this track but it’s in a good way, Michael’s music has never been better. Thriller was his definite peak.

Man In The Mirror
(03:30 – 04:00)
Michael’s own favorite song had to be included ofcourse, and it’s one of mine too, naturally. One of his gorgeous ballads, the message in this R&B/gospel inspired track is beautiful: ‘If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change’. As the song progresses into this big arrangement with a lot of beautiful background vocals, I get some serious goosebumps and sometimes even a tear in my eye.

Earth Song
(04:00 – 04:30)
A song that can even loosen some more tears is the socially conscious Earth Song, a song everyone can sing along too thanks to the simple yet effective chorus. This is Michael’s plea to God about all the wrongs in the world, in which he sings about ‘this crying Earth, its weeping shores’. It has been my favorite Michael Jackson ballad ever since I was just a toddler, I remember always wanting to watch the video when it came up on MTV so this brings back some personal memories as well.

Smooth Criminal
(04:30 – 05:00)
My favorite uptempo, no doubt about it. The lyrics are pretty lame, true, I mean… Annie is not okay Michael x] BUT. The song is funky dance/pop at its best with a lot of hard beats and catchy basslines. Michael hits some amazing notes near the end of the song, and his overall vocals are simply the best. I can’t help but being a fangirl about this one. Not even the lyrics can ruin that, haha.

Scream (feat. Janet Jackson)
(05:00 – 05:30)
Michael didn’t do many collaborations, but when he did them they featured some of the best artists in the business: Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and ofcourse his own sister Janet Jackson. The latter is featured in this song, and since they’re siblings their vocals sound so stunning together. Both felt right at home in this track, made during a difficult time when Michael had a bad relationship with the tabloid, that started calling him ‘Wacko Jacko’. I’d say: TELL EM MICHAEL. Tell em how it really is.

For All Time
(05:30 – 06:00)
Ending the mix, there is the beautiful ballad from the Thriller 25 album. I still can’t see why Michael didn’t feature this track on the original Thriller album, it’s so beautiful, sincere and emotional! I know some only love the Jackson songs with a lot of beats and bass, but don’t underestimate his ballad qualities. They come out best in this one and I’m so glad we eventually got to hear it on the anniversary edition of Thriller. I’d like to dedicate the addition of this song in the mix to Michael himself, the world misses him.

So these were my absolute favorites, ofcourse this wasn’t everything, there are too many Michael Jackson song to choose from. Yet these aren’t just my favorites some of them were very important songs in his career and they deserved their spot in this mix. I united them all to show the relation between them, Jade style. Is this a personal mix? Yes, it is. Everyone’s mixes can be different. This one shows how I generally feel about Michael’s music. Listen and feel for yourself to see if you agree with me or not ❤
As for Michael: rest in peace fellow, you were amazing.

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Cover and tracklist for BENI’s ‘COVERS 2’ released

September 27, 2012 at 10:11 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

    
CD Only // CD + DVD Version

Artist: BENI
Album: COVERS 2
Release Date: 2012.11.07
Price: TBD
Preorder:

~Tracklist~
1. 歌うたいのバラッド
2. Lovers Again
3. 白い恋人達
4. クリスマス・イブ
5. Squall
6. 楽園
7. チェリー
8. 小さな恋のうた
9. I LOVE YOU
10. PIECES OF A DREAM
11. 永遠(とわ)に
12. はじまりはいつも雨
13. 接吻

P!nk – The Truth About Love

September 14, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Posted in P!nk | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
P!nk – The Truth About Love

1. Are We All We Are
2. Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
3. Try
4. Just Give Me A Reason (feat. Nate Ruess)
5. True Love (feat. Lily Allen)
6. How Come You’re Not Here
7. Slut Like You
8. The Truth About Love
9. Beam Me Up
10. Walk Of Shame
11. Here Comes The Weekend (feat. Eminem)
12. Where Did The Beat Go?
13. The Great Escape
14. My Signature Move
15. Is This Thing On?
16. Run
17. Good Old Days

♦ ♦ ♦

The Truth About Love is the sixth studio album by American recording artist P!nk, released on September 14, 2012. So far, the first single Blow Me (One Last Kiss) reached #6 on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as charting inside the top ten in several other countries.

Are We All We Are starts off with a lot of cheering and percussion before a rather catchy song drops in, one that has a certain sound that surprises me because this is not at all what I was used from P!nk. She just took all the energy she is known for and put it in another type of rock song, harder and more oldschool. I like the background vocals chanting the title words with a funny singing melody. Good opening song to set the tone.

One of my favorite songs from the past couple of months has to be Blow Me (One Last Kiss) for multiple reasons. For one, it has such infectuous music, a rock song with dance influence always works (just like Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger, to which this bares resemblance). Then there’s the amazing key change in the chorus, P!nk starts to sing a lot higher and harder and almost blows me away, only a singer like her can pull that off. And ofcourse there are these amazing siganture P!nk lyrics, e.g. ‘No more sick whiskey dick / No more battles from me’ […] ‘You think I’m just too serious / I think you’re full of shit‘. Amazing haha.

Try will be the second single from the album, taking on a more laid back tempo but still incorporating strong rock influences. ‘Why do we fall in love so easy / Even when it’s not right‘, P!nk sings to a solid electric guitar melody in the verses, the percussion taking it to another mor powerful level in the chorus. Later in the song, P!nk again exposes her amazing vocal range by doing these amazing belts only she can do. I think this is a very good choice to be the second single from the album.

Nate Ruess, the vocalist from the band fun. (I bet you all know their song We Are Young), is featured in the next song, Just Give Me A Reason. The collaboration between these two amazing singers turns out to be one of the most amazing P!nk songs I have ever heard on her albums, and it’s even more special since she rarely does collabs. I like how they turned the music into something that has the qualities of a power ballad, but the percussion gives it something more fierce. Definitely a favorite already.

And then there are three collabs on one album, yeah! The next one is True Love (feat. Lily Allen) (I thought Lily stopped singing…?). This track is one of the catchiest since Blow Me because of the bouncy percussion, chanting and adlibs. P!nk is perfect for doing tracks like these, just getting a little silly when still singing serious lyrics. Lily Allen is only featured in the bridge and she barely adds anything to the song with her soft voice, P!nk overpowers her. Still, pretty damn catchy overall.

How Come You’re Not Here has an amazing sound, you just gotta hear it if you love the older types of rock. The verses have a great vintage sound with P!nk singing through a vintage microphone to a lot of electric guitars, but then the chorus features that silly P!nk sound again with some random bell/whistle sounds added. It’s a tough song, pretty loud but a lot of fun and it’s great to see her try out another rock sound than before.

Coming from P!nk, a song called Slut Like You MUST be a good one. ‘I’m not a slut, I just loooove love!‘, she shouts before the song starts. It’s not at all like the track Hooker on her 2003 album Try This, it’s a looooot better with more fun added to it and a lot of cheering in the chorus. P!nk is using a little more of the sing-song style in this track, but it fits the overall sound. Unexpectedly, there’s a great hiphop break in the bridge in which she raps her lyrics a bit, I can’t help but like everything about this silly song. ‘I’m a slut like youuu-ooooo!!’

So I talked about some songs sounding a little oldschool and a bit vintage, but the one that just screams oldschool is the title track, The Truth About Love. It sounds like something that could’ve come straight from the 60s of 70s, and although it’s a little empty for a title track I really like that sound. Practically every song on this album has a different sound than her songs released in the past, but this one perfects it.

Beam Me Up is a ballad…? Okay, great! The album needed a good ballad by now, and I know how good P!nk is at singing ballads with her deep, raw voice. It’s an acoustic ballad with a lone guitar and P!nk’s emotional and soulful vocals. When some strings drop in later in the song and P!nk starts harmonizing, it gets even better and more emotional sounding. It’s like a perfected version of all her previous ballads, and I really recommend this one.

Walk Of Shame is the shortest song on the album at barely three minutes, but it’s just enough time to bring back the sound of Blow Me and the fun of Slut Like You. So yes, P!nk swears a lot in her lyrics, but the way I see it she’s allowed to when she makes the songs so funny like this one! The whistles in the background makes it a lot catchier even, and although 2:44 minutes is way too short it may be just enough time to put in all those blazing electric guitars for one heck of an energetic song.

So the most anticipated collaboration must be Here Comes The Weekend (feat. Eminem), and the two have worked together before so this is gonna be good. It already combines P!nk’s rock music with some of Eminem hiphop influences through the bass percussion, which leads to a great overall sound of the music. P!nk shouts out her lyrics in a very energetic way, putting in everything she has, and when Eminem comes in I definitely feel this song. He sounds a bit different, more laid back, but his rhymes are fitting for the song.

For a song named Where Did The Beat Go?, it has a pretty sick beat in the background (but ofcourse that’s not the beat P!nk mentions in the song’s lyrics). It’s still uptempo but a lot more laid back than most songs on the album, so actually it’s a bit like Try. I think it’s a nice song when you look at it individually, ut it’s easily overshadowed by the more energetic tracks like the previous one so that’s a pity.

The last song on the original tracklist is The Great Escape. This is the song you get when you mix Adele’s Make You Feel My Love with Kelly Clarkson’s Don’t You Wanna Stay, at least those are the songs this pretty piano ballad reminded me of. With this, P!nk perfected her very own piano ballads like Glitter In The Air big time, with better vocals, belting and adlibbing and a more emotional and fuller sound to the piano music. She can be proud of herself!

If you get the deluxe edition, you get four amazing bonus tracks on top of an already great album! The first one is My Signature Move, which is ofcourse much more energetic than th previous ballad track and it has its share of great oldschool percussion and electric guitar riffs, but when compared to other tracks it stays a little in the middle. It’s catchy, has a great vintage sound to it, it’s fun, in short: it’s awesome, and a bonus track needs to be awesome, let’s be honest.

Is This Thing On? starts a little softer with some more strings in the arrangement for a change, the percussion swelling from a soft into a stronger pumping sound in the chorus. Being an uptempo song, it has both ballad qualities and energetic influences, creating an interesting blend which is ofcourse great for a bonus track on a deluxe edition. The music has an amazingly infectuous sound, mostly becauseof the percussion, and I think this one is even better than My Signature Move.

Run is one of the most original and unique tracks on the entire album, because it doesn’t have either a modern rock or classic rock sound, but it’s R&B (really??). It doesn’t exactly take you back to the old Can’t Take Me Home days, but it definitely perfects it (it’s almost like P!nk wanted to perfect everything with this album!). The handclaps, bass, piano and background choir work perfectly together to create on of the prettiest and most appealing songs with the best melody ever. I adore this ❤

She’s taking it up one last time with Good Old Days, a fun song that will definitely have you clapping along to the catchy guitar melody and percussion beat. P!nk shows she has some fun singing this song as well, adlibbing most of the time singing how ‘these are the good old days‘ accompanied by background vocals. I think it’s a great way to end the album’s tracklist, making everything come full circle and giving me the feeling this album is gonna bring some ‘good old days’ along!

Just take a look at my favorites list below. ISN’T THAT CRAZY?! I listed like 14 out of 17 songs as my favorites, I think that’s a new record! As you can see, the first 7(!) tracks are really worth listening to, so the album kicks off in an amazing way. The 3 tracks I didn’t list as my favorites were not unlikeable, they just lacked a tiny little bit when compared to how catchy the other tracks were, so I didn’t dislike a single track on that darned long tracklist! I’d say P!nk is gonna take her career to a whole new level with this, this is better than anything she has ever done and she’s sure gonna get some good feedback on this one. From me at least!

Favorite tracks: Are We All We Are | Blow Me (One Last Kiss) | Try | Just Give Me A Reason (feat. Nate Ruess) | True Love (feat. Lily Allen) | How Come You’re Not Here | Slut Like You | Beam Me Up | Walk Of Shame | Here Comes The Weekend (feat. Eminem) | The Great Escape | My Signature Move | Is This Thing On? | Run

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

Covers and tracklist for Koda Kumi’s ‘Go to the top’ released

September 10, 2012 at 7:17 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 1 Comment

         

CD Only // CD+DVD // Premium Night ~Love & Songs~

Artist: Koda Kumi
Single: Go to the top
Release: 2012.10.24
Price: ¥1,050 (CD Only) // ¥1,890 (CD+DVD) // ¥1,890 (Premium Night)
Pre-order:

~CD Tracklist~
1. Go to the top
2. darling
3. Go to the rop (REMIX)

~CD+DVD Regular Edition DVD Tracklist~
1. Go to the top (MV)

~CD+DVD Total Eclipse Edition DVD Tracklist~
1. Total Eclipse OP

alan – Xin De Dong Fang

September 6, 2012 at 8:39 PM | Posted in alan | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
alan – Xin De Dong Fang

1. Tian Nu
2. Ai Kan De Jian
3. Fei Xing Zhi
4. Xi Jie
5. Jia You! Ni You ME! (feat. Wei Chen)
6. San Sheng Shi San Sheng Lu
7. Ming Ri Zan Ge
8. Xin•Zhang ~RED CLIFF~
9. Chi Bi〜Da Jiang Dong Qu〜
10. sign
11. Ai Jiu Shi Shou

♦ ♦ ♦

Xin De Dong Fang is the second Chinese album by Tibetan singer alan and her first Chinese non-indie studio album, released on July 22, 2009. The album features Mandarin Chinese sung versions of her previously released Japanese songs.

Tian Nu is the exact same introduction song that was featured on the album ‘Voice of EARTH’, but I don’t really mind it since it was so damn epic and it really gives the idea of this album being a tie-in to said album. This one never gets old, alan’s wailing to the erhu music was so pretty I can’t be negative about this.

Ai Kan De Jian is the Chinese equivalent to ‘Gunjou no Tani’, one of alan’s more agressive and uptempo songs that sounds more like contemporary pop than her usual traditional music. alan sings very well in her own language, it was kinda strange at first (I prefer Japanese tbh), but it turned out fine. I can’t really if her singing in Chinese is better or worse than in Japanese, all I know is that she nailed this track and it’s a good first full vocal track.

Fei Xing Zhi : the Chinese equivalent to ‘Sora Uta’, another one of alan’s non-ballad tracks. Isn’t it crazy how she all uses them to open this album when she does ballads most of the time? Anyway, the language fits the ambience of the song even better now, complementing the Asian strings and bringing forward her Tibetan roots. It’s pretty energetic too, with some additional English lines which she pronounced even better this time.

I was so surprised to find Xi Jie here, since the Japanese version was a B-side on the ‘Hitotsu’ single and it remains one of my favorite alan songs, it’s so unique in her discography. It’s fun, it’s bouncy, it reminds me a bit of Irish folk music and that flute part was just amazing. The guitar in the bridge made it a little funkier, so there’s a little genre crossover here which I love.

Jia You! Ni You ME! (feat. Wei Chen) is the only original track on the album and another one of my favorites, although I don’t really know why since it’s so cute and bubbly for alan. It features an acoustic guitar, percussion and some kind of high unnatural sounding instrument that makes up the cute part, while it sounds a little R&B as well (in which Wen’s rapping doesn’t sound very much out of place). I guess I like it because it’s so uplifting!

Another B-side here, the equivalent to ‘Sakura Modern’ from the ‘Ashita e no Sanka’ single: San Sheng Shi San Sheng Lu. It’s playful and yet quite toned down and serious at the same time, so that makes up for an interesting sound. The arrangement features an erhu, a xylophone, strings and percussion, another interesting combination. Overall I think it’s not her best track, but still appealing and original enough for me to really like it.

We had the B-side, now we get the A-side from that single and the one that started it all: Ming Ri Zan Ge. It’s such a shame she ruins the entire song with that wail in the chorus, it was so terrible I couldn’t believe my ears. I mean, I love the song, the original that is, but I should just skip this Chinese version because it ruins everything.

Ofcourse she had to include a Chinese version for the next one. Xin•Zhang ~RED CLIFF~ is ofcourse alan’s big epic song that has become her signature song in some ways. It’s not only epic, but extremely tense and haunting as well as it builds up towards a dramatic strings section. This is the first equivalent that shows more natural vocals from alan than in the Japanese version.

‘Kuon no Kawa’ has its own Chinese version as well, Chi Bi ~Da Jiang Dong Qu~, but then a lot higher pitched than the original Japanese version and alan sounds like she’s singing some kind of operette. Musically, this is RED CLIFF part II, just as epic and dramatic, but with a little less tension and more highlights throughout the song. This just doesn’t sound all that natural, the lower pitched Japanese version has more character.

Even though it’s more of an instrumental interlude track, I always loved sign. It’s not entirely instrumental ofcourse, alan is singing in Tibetan in the background with either very ethereal or altered vocals, but her vocals are more sensible this time. The focus is on the synths and the very deep bass that surprised me so much. But that’s why I love this song: alan’s vocals and the amazing beat!

Surprising how ‘Shiawase no Kane’ gets its own Chinese version here with Ai Jiu Shi Shou, I never seem to be able to remember it and it was just a B-side on the ‘BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~’ single. Now please don’t think I’m saying this song isn’t pretty or that it’s nothing special, I like it and it has its share of beautiful vocals and moving piano melodies, it’s just that there are better songs, more memorable ones.

When I compare this album to ‘Voice of EARTH’, said album is the winner for sure, by FAR. Everything about that album was perfect, everything was right about it. This album had some issues, especially when it comes to the fact that it’s a lot shorter and has only one original track. That’s not bad, but please make all the translated versions so that they’re pure perfection. With some tracks, like Min Ri Zan Ge, that wasn’t the case. That was just a big epic failure, I can’t even.
As for the rest of the album, it wasn’t that bad. If I stop comparing and start listening to the individual album there are definitely some gems on this one.

Favorite tracks: Tian Nu | Ai Kan De Jian | Fei Xing Zhi | Xi Jie | Jia You! Ni You ME! (feat. Wei Chen) | Xin•Zhang ~RED CLIFF~ | sign

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

alan – Voice of EARTH

September 5, 2012 at 8:07 PM | Posted in alan | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
alan – Voice of EARTH

1. Tennyo ~interlude~
2. Ashita e no Sanka
3. Sora Uta
4. Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~
5. Hitotsu
6. Kaze no Tegami
7. BRAVE
8. Yume no Garden
9. Gunjou no Tani
10. my friend
11. Liberty
12. Tsuki ga Watashi
13. RED CLIFF ~Shin・Sen~
14. Megumi no Ame
15. Together

♦ ♦ ♦

Voice of EARTH is the Japanese debut album by Tibetan singer alan, released on March 4, 2009. The album reached #15 on the Oricon chart, where it stayed on the chart for 10 weeks. It has sold approximately 23,568 units.

The album starts with an instrumental interlude, Tennyo ~interlude~, which really sets the tone for the entire album. It already starts with alan’s amazingly high Tibetain wail, after which an erhu and a nice pop beat drop in. The music is very traditional, and yet there are some hints of contemporary music. This goes on for about three amazing minutes, perfect intro.

Which leads perfectly into alan’s Japanese debut single Ashita e no Sanka, a winter ballad with a piano melody, chimes, echoes and strings. It’s a very good continuation of the introduction track because she immediately takes out her wailing talent again in the chorus. Her vocals in the verses are a lot deeper and softer, while she belts it all out in the chorus. It was a very strong debut and it still comes out as one of the best tracks on this album.

It was a very good move to make Sora Uta the next track on the album since it’s a little more uptempo, and alan’s uptempo’s are kinda rare. This track also has both traditional and contemporary influences. The traditional feel comes from the Asian strings while the electric guitars, synths and percussion make it a bit more modern. Just a couple of wails from alan here to not overexpose her talent for it, her normal vocals are beautiful too.

I still feel that 懐かしい未来 ~longing future~ is one of her best songs ever, it’s been one of my personal favorites for the past 3,5 years. It’s such a peaceful ballad/midtempo track with a euphoric feel to it, strengthened by the children’s choir later in the song. alan does a couple of her perfect wails again in this track, but these are the only ones that gave me goosebumps yet. The erhu in the bridge gives the perfect ambience for the entire track, it’s pure perfection.

Then we have alan’s second Japanese single, Hitotsu, a song that I have come to appreciate more and more over the years. It’s one of the softest ballads on the album with the most traditional influences from the erhu and strings, just like Megumi no Ame (but more about that one later). The piano creates the lovely atmosphere best of all the instruments, adding a sense of dreaminess to the track that I really love. I underestimated this one for so long, should be over by now.

5th A-side in a row. Kaze no Tegami just so happens to be the next agressive track on this album that is a little more uptempo, and it features the best electric guitar arrangement in any alan song to date. This single represented the element Wind, which is pretty obvious since it has a nice ethereal sound with the strings and echo effects. I love it how alan can sound both peaceful in the verses and fierce in the chorus, just like the music in those parts.

BRAVE is one of a kind, both on this album and in alan’s entire discography. It’s an agressive song like the previous track, but even more heavy on electric guitars and explosions of other instruments. alan does some of her amazing wails in the hooks again, and they sound very different and unique because they’re auto-tuned, which I don’t think is a bad thing since it’s very original. She’s close to having a dance track here, but not quite. Still pretty cool.

The next new track actually sounds just like its title. Yume no Garden sounds like a flower garden full of butterflies if I have to think of a scenery that goes with the music. It’s slow, with just a piano, chimes and another ethereal sound I don’t quite know but it sure sounds epic. It’s a very breezy and beautiful song, with just a couple of electric guitar chords sometimes to balance it. It’s lovely, really.

Gunjou no Tani has to be alan’s strongest uptempo A-side ever since it’s also her most agressive song when it comes to both the music and her vocals. She just puts everything she’s got into her performance, belting out her lyrics, using less wailing and more of the higher head voice notes later in the song. The percussion and strings are very heavy this time, creating a fierce sound that I really love. She should do this more often.

So I know alan has a lot of ballads on this album, but in her case that’s what I love about it. This next one is pretty unique on this album, and it’s a new track as well. my friend puts the focus on the acoustic guitar and alan’s harmonized vocals, and although it’s the most simple track around, it’s also one of the prettiest and most memorable if you ask me. Strange, right? Well, just wait till you hear it if you haven’t already.

Another new ballad track is Liberty, a piano/strings ballad with soft bells and percussion, that has the chorus as the real highlight in the song. There, the music crescendos to eventually soften during the verses, it gives the feel of something that is some kind of power ballad. It’s not her most appealing track, but still it’s quite a pretty creation and it fits the rest of the tracks (that are mostly older A-sides) very well.

Apparently alan chose to make the new tracks mostly ballad, since Tsuki ga Watashi is another one. In a sense it’s like the garden song, Yume no Garden, mostly because of the chimes and the fast piano melody in the verses, but it’s a pretty serene song that starts to stand out as soon as the chorus comes in. Now I see that when you mix Yume no Garden and Ashita e no Sanka together, you get this.

I can be pretty short about this one since everyone probably knows this as alan´s signature song. RED CLIFF ~Shin・Sen~ is mysterious, dramatic, and yet still inviting because of alan’s pretty vocals and the genius arrangement with the strings, harp and very soft percussion in the background. The music crescendos near the chorus to add the drama even more and what comes out is probably alan’s very best track to date in my opinion. I love it to death ❤

Megumi no Ame is the beautiful A-side track that makes everything on this album come full circle somehow. It features an erhu, a piano and strings for most of the time, and the instruments alternate each other perfectly, they’re very complementary and complete a melody seperately. Everything in this song just works together to create the most perfect and balanced sound on this album. Definitely among my favorites.

Together stands out already because I know alan was the one to create the beautiful arrangement for it, so because of this it’s immediately the most special song on the album. It has the most traditional sound of all with the soft tribal percussion and a feel that is just so full of Chinese heritage. What’s even more special is that alan included a part in which she speaks Tibetan to the sound of strings, very beautiful and I can’t think of a better way to close the album.

Voice of EARTH brings all the elements together in the tracks, they all represent Water, Wind, Fire and Earth in their very own way and the last two tracks bring everything together in harmony. I know that may sound like some spirital crap but it’s actually true when you listen to the album, it’s just so feng shui, everything is balanced and I can’t think of a reason not to love this. This album caused me to love alan’s songs, her style, everything about her. Because of this, I’m the fan I am today. So I recommend this album to everyone who can stand listening to ballads, traditional Asian music and a lovely, soft, strong voice belonging to a talented girl named ALAN.

Favorite tracks: Tennyo ~interlude~ | Ashita e no Sanka | Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ | Hitotsu | BRAVE | Gunjou no Tani | my friend | RED CLIFF ~Shin・Sen~ | Megumi no Ame | Together

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

AFTERSCHOOL – Lady Luck / Dilly Dally

September 4, 2012 at 5:30 PM | Posted in After School | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
AFTERSCHOOL – Lady Luck – Dilly Dally

1. Lady Luck
2. Dilly Dally
3. SLOW LOVE
4. Lady Luck [Instrumental]
5. Dilly Dally [Instrumental]
6. SLOW LOVE [Instrumental]

Lady Luck / Dilly Dally is the fourth Japanese single by South-Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL, released on June 13, 2012. The single debuted at #3 on the Oricon charts, selling a total of 17,572 units.

I haven’t heard a cute song from AFTERSCHOOL in quite a while, and actually I never heard one in their Japanese discography, so Lady Luck is a first-timer. It’s such a fluffy, cute and uplifting song, but you’ll probably like it when you’re a girl like me, this is definitely no guy stuff.  I really like the melody in the chorus and the way A.S.’s girly vocals sing it, everything fits together and the synths make it a little poppier. I really enjoyed this.

Dilly Dally isn’t a cute song at all, it’s a little more fierce and quite like ‘Rambling girls’ toned down a bit. This song fits their album ‘PLAYGIRLZ’ a lot more than Lady Luck did for example, but this is an entire new era and they’re free to experiment. After hearing the fluffy track before this one, Dilly Dally is pretty enjoyable too, putting the group in a completely different perspective.

SLOW LOVE takes the single to a slower spot, it’s a smooth and soft R&B ballad with light and vibrant vocals by the girls to make it a little airy. I like the percussion in this song, consisting of bass kicks and handclaps, it goes very well with the very light synth sound as well. The piano plays light notes in the background and the bridge even features an acoustic guitar. The music is more sensible than audible so I can really appreciate this arrangement.

Lady Luck / Dilly Dally is veeeery close to perfection, so close I’m just gonna give it 5 stars right away. The first track will remain my favorite, but the other two tracks weren’t less amazing or anything. It’s a well balanced single, it feaures everything a good single should have. We have a cute uptempo, a sexier uptempo and a smooth R&B ballad, everything these girls are actually good at. I can’t be more proud of them.

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

AFTERSCHOOL – Playgirlz

September 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM | Posted in After School | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
AFTERSCHOOL – Playgirlz

1. Rip off
2. Rambling girls
3. BROKEN HEART feat. Jung-A, Raina, Nana, E-Young
4. Diva [Japan Ver.]
5. Just in time
6. Shampoo [Japan Ver.]
7. Because of you [Japan Ver.]
8. Gimme Love
9. Miss Futuristic feat. Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie, Lizzy
10. Bang! [Japan Ver.]
11. Tell me

♦ ♦ ♦

Playgirlz is the Japanese debut album by South-Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL, released on March 14, 2012. The album debuted at #6 on the Oricon charts, selling 28,489 units to date.

This is the original version for Rip off, but I already knew the Korean version from their later single ‘Flashback’. It’s a little bit different since there’s actually a solo singer in the chorus this time and I really think they should’ve sung everything together there but oh well. The song is still pretty fierce and is a great continuation of their electropop style of the past months. Great opening track to draw attention.

Ramling girls had to follow since it’s one of their best Japanese A-sides, the first original (non-translation) one too. I love everything about this track, from the deep synths to their ~la la la~’s in the chorus, everything is pretty damn catchy. The song as a whole just has more punch to it than some of their older material and it’s like a complete 180. Gotta love this.

Apparently they split up two songs between the 8 members, and Jung-A, Raina, Nana and E-Young got BROKEN HEART. I think it’s great they did this, especially since these four girls sound pretty hot together. The music accompanying their lovely vocals is also electropop, but a bit more relaxed than the previous two tracks. The synths are less dominant but the beat is still pretty heavy and it has even deeper synths that almost sound like low electric guitars.

I love my boy, I love my boy‘, yes I know that by now. That line still doesn’t make sense. What DOES make sense now is the new arrangement for Diva and I’ve loved it since I first heard it in the new Korean version last year. It’s such an improvement from that simple ‘school girl version’ they did a couple of years ago. Now, the vocals are better and the ~diva, diva, di- di- di- diva~ in the chorus is finally ‘sung’ by an altered voice instead of some cheerleading A.S. members. It couldn’t get any better than this, really.

Just in time slows things down a little bit with a more R&B/pop influenced sound instead of the danceable electropop ambience. It’s a super cute song in the style of, well, pretty much what they did before their Japanese debut. It features some high pitched synths, bells and even the line ~twinkle twinkle twinkle~, how fluffy. It’s not one of the best songs on the album but still it’s extremely enjoyable at this point.

Shampoo [Japan Ver.] is, doh, the Japanese version for the Korean song ‘Shampoo’, featured on their Korean debut album released in April 2011. It was one of my favorites on that album and I’m pretty sure it will be among my favorites on this album, but still there is something iffy about the vocals. They are a little too cute when compared to the Korean version, really. A.S. on helium? Anywayz, I still think this is one of their strongest songs when it comes to the music.

I still think this version of the song Because of you [Japan Ver.] is way better than the original since it’s way more balanced and the vocals are fuller. The Korean version was very agressive to me because of Kahi’s fierce rap in the slow ballad part and some other vocal problems, in this version all of those issues are gone and what’s left is a very nice vibrant song, very light too.

Gimme Love takes us out of the cute songs and back into the fierce dance sound that dominated the first part of the album. Heavy beats and deep synths make up this track, incluing some altered vocals from the girls in the pre-chorus as well. It’s not overused, they just used it in a very smart way. If it wasn’t for the language, this song would really have a K-pop vibe, love it.

The second split song is Miss Futuristic by Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie and Lizzy, LET THE BATTLE BEGIN. This song just dropped right in and it has a lot of auto-tune going on which I don’t really get… This is also the first song that felt a little too empty to me, I mean it’s there but it doesn’t have a very special sound to it so I must give the prize to the other four girls.

Ahhhh, Bang! [Japan Ver.] is already here to save the day. I love this track as you all probably know by now and although the Korean version is the freaking QUEEN this one is pretty hot as well. I can’t even talk about this track without acting like a complete fangirl, so I’m gonna keep it short with three words: recommended, sexy, perfect.

Tell me has definitely got the most unique sound on the album, following a clear and smooth R&B flow. It’s pretty cute but not overly, it’s just the perfect way to close this album in a sophisticated way. Even though these songs aren’t always best for a large group, the girls nailed it with their light vocals and they almost made it a bit angelic. Loved this as well.

Playgirlz was a way better album than I initially thought. I already knew half of the songs on the album, so that gave me enough room to form my opinion about the other half consisting of new tracks. I felt like they outdid themselves with this album, taking older songs and re-arranging them, while also adding some new complementary tracks. The ambience as a whole was perfect, it felt like one complete concept because some of the older songs were altered to fit their new style. I loved that, and I think I’m becoming more and more of a fan now. All I need to do is learn how to tell those chicks apart…

Favorite tracks: Rip off | Rambling girls | Diva | Shampoo [Japan Ver.] | Because of you [Japan Ver.] | Bang! [Japan Ver.] | Tell me

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

AFTERSCHOOL – Rambling girls / Because of you

September 2, 2012 at 8:31 PM | Posted in After School | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
AFTERSCHOOL – Rambling girls / Because of you

1. Rambling girls
2. Because of you [Japan Ver.]
3. Because of you [Korea Ver.]
4. Rambling girls (Instrumental)
5. Because of you [Japan Ver.] (Instrumental)

Rambling girls / Because of you is the third Japanese single by South-Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL, released on January 25, 2012. The single debuted at #6 on the Oricon charts and has sold 14,437 units to date.

Their first original Japanese song! It’s clear by now that these girls are tackling the synthpop and electropop style for their Japanese career, and they completely nailed it. Rambling girls is amazing, it’s like this isn’t AFTERSCHOOL at all, they sound so different and totally not like cute school girls anymore. The lyrics in the chorus are mostly ~la la la la la~, but it’s so damn catchy I really don’t mind. For their first Japanese song that isn’t a translation, this was more than just good.

Amazing they featured a translation of one of their prettiest songs. Because of you [Japan Ver.] is like the Korean version ‘Neo Ttaemune’ gone down the perfection road. This Japanese version is way better balanced and sounds more vibrant and lighter. Kahi’s rap finally isn’t out of place, because she does it with a lighter voice instead of instantly putting all of her energy in it right after an emotional opening section. I still don’t know what this is though, a ballad or an uptempo… It’s both. Done.

I don’t know if this is a newly recorded version (it probably is but I’m not sure since it sounds so different and exactly like the original), but Because of you [Korea Ver.] features all the hitches the Japanese version didn’t have. Kahi’s rap is way too fierce again, the balance is gone a bit and the vocals sound so different I bet this is the older generation of the group. Don’t get me wrong, besides those little details I still think this is one of their best songs for its use of both a slow an emotional piano section and a dance/pop orientated chorus.

Rambling girls / Because of you featured everything a good single should have in the case of AFTERSCHOOL: a sexy new track and an old reliable returning in a new form. This single deserved its double name because both tracks are amazing and they fit together perfectly on one release. Rambling girls was the amazing new single to show the audience how they matured, in both image and sound, while Because of you brought back an oldie in an even better form than it already was. The new version definitely tops the older Korean Version, I’m not saying that one’s bad but the Japanese version is just…  better.

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

AFTERSCHOOL – Diva

September 2, 2012 at 8:10 PM | Posted in After School | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
AFTERSCHOOL – Diva

1. Diva [Japan Ver.]
2. Ready to love
3. Diva [2011 New Korea Ver.]
4. Diva [Japan Ver.] (Instrumental)
5. Ready to love (Instrumental)

Diva is the second Japanese single by South-Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL, released on November 23, 2011.

Even though I still hate that opening line ‘I love my boy, I love my boy‘ (it just doesn’t make sense in this context), the ambience of Diva [Japan Ver.] is so much better than the original Korean version, it’s much more mature. The arrangement follows a more synthpop style instead of the cute pop style it used to have, and the ~diva, diva, di- di- di- diva~ chanting is done by an altered voice instead of the girls as well. The vocals are more confident, everything about this version just screams that these girls have grown up.

Ready to love is the B-side on this single, and even though it has the same musical style as the A-side and it’s uptempo too, I think it’s a bit more chill and it shows off both a cute and fierce style of the group. The music reinforces their confidence and they sometimes sound even quite sexy when singing their lyrics in a husky voice, but their high pitches and the bells in the background make it rather cute. Nice hybrid and definitely a good song.

And then there’s the version that was featured on their Korean debut album: Diva [2011 New Korea Ver.]. It’s exactly the same song as the Japanese version, except for the language ofcourse. I always say singers sound better when singing in their own language, and this is no exception. The vocals just sound a lot fuller and better, bolder. Still, when you put everything together, I can’t help but putting this language together with the older arrangement and the Japanese language with the new arrangement.

With Diva, AFTERSCHOOL had a strong sophomore single and I think they really proved they were ready to take over the Japanese music world. It’s great they gave the original song a makeover to fit their contemporary style a lot more, they’re not really the cute girls they were back then anymore. They are more experienced now, ready for a new sound and this was the first time they actually got it since ‘Bang!’ never really changed. The B-side complements the A-side perfectly, using the same musical sound but with a slightly different feel. Good single!

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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