Ayumi Hamasaki – A Classical

January 11, 2013 at 8:02 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – A Classical

1. M
2. Love song
3. SEASONS
4. You & Me
5. BLUE BIRD
6. Days
7. Voyage
8. Song 4 u
9. Missing
10. Dearest

♦ ♦ ♦

A Classical is the second classical album and 25th remix album overall by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on January 8, 2013. It is the third release of the special 5 consecutive months releases event to commemorate her 15th anniversary. The album debuted at #1 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 17,643 copies to date.

What a cheap cover. Period.

In November 2012, the members of Ayu’s official fanclub, TeamAyu, were asked to choose their favorite songs from any release (including singles, digital singles, albums, mini albums, remix albums and best albums). It was later announced that the chosen tracks would be remixed in A Classical. Personally, I’m glad with the songs they picked because they are indeed some of Ayu’s best songs ever. Some of the songs are a bit older, like M, SEASONS, Voyage and Dearest, but I was definitely surprised to find newer songs like You & Me and Missing here so soon after their release.

At first I didn’t have my hopes up for the songs that are originally either very powerful or very uptempo and edgy, because to me orchestral/classical music is a bit more serene than that. It wouldn’t have been a match made in heaven. Yet these songs still surprised me, and the perfect examples were the first two tracks M and Love song. M is a very epic song by heart, and they managed to put in a lot of crescendo’s near the end of the song when the tension builds. Speaking of tension, Love song is the definition of tension but they made it into some kind of army theme in my opinion.
You & Me is a dance song, but apparently perfectly suitable for a classical remix. They turned it into a very happy song that sounded very magical to me. Still some of the songs in this uptempo/tense category can get a little too bombastic, which was the case with Love song for example, but another great example of this is Song 4 U, which almost sounded a bit like a soundtrack sometimes.

That’s a little issue on this album, some tracks being a little too bombastic, but luckily they found a way to tone it down with some tracks. Ofcourse, Days will always remain one of my favorite Ayu ballads (if not the all-time favorite) and it exceeded all my expectations. As one of the lightest and most relaxing classical ballad on this album, it’s a recommendation, so please check it out if you have the album. BLUE BIRD was a welcome surprise too with its light sound, one of the first to not be a bombastic classical remake.
You’d think Voyage hadn’t changed much, but that only counts for the strings parts. They put in a nice harp and violin to replace the piano and the effect it had was amazing, luckily these instruments returned for the beautiful classical version of Missing.

Ofcourse there was also a track that was less good than some others, but it’s a good thing that it was only one track on this album instead of more. I had imagined SEASONS to be a little different. True, they included that lovely intro, but it was a little too loud for me when the brass instruments came along. In the end, the chorus was very enjoyable but it had some minor elements that I didn’t instantly like. Not a complete disaster though.

To have Dearest as the closing song on the album was an obvious choice, you just know everyone loves this song and it had to have a new remake. The lovely piano part of the original song was replaced by strings here, and it had such a serene effect on the overall sound of the song. The piano does return in the arrangement, but in a totally different way than in the original. Very creative!

In the end, this A Classical is really worth it and I would definitely give it a try if I were you. Classical music is not my favorite genre, on the contrary even, but Ayu makes it more accessible for people like me who are more used to her usual sound (and pop music in general). The songs are very popular, you probably know them all, so the recognition of those songs and the realisation of the things that have changed in the arrangements is an experience on its own. I rarely do reviews like this, but I hope it will help people who don’t know if they should give this album a listen.

Favorite tracks: Love song | You & Me | Days | Voyage | Missing | Dearest

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

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