BENI – Girl 2 Lady

April 5, 2013 at 1:57 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

BENI – Girl 2 Lady

2. wake up
3. Heart 2 heart
4. Cherish
6. Hikari no Kazu Dake Glamorous
7. into the sky
9. Taiyou ga Tsuki wo Terashite
10. Koi Meguri
11. Give me up
13. Come Close to Me

♦ ♦ ♦

Girl 2 Lady is the second album by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on February 22, 2006 under the name Beni Arashiro. The album reached #93 on the Oricon weekly charts, where it charted for two weeks.

THE POWER pretty much lives up to its title, and it’s one of the most original tracks I’ve found in BENI’s discography until now since it’s a very edgy and agressive pop/rock track. She usually does the urban R&B stuff so this is a very welcome opening track, also because she instantly shows another side of herself she didn’t let out on her debut album. I’ve heard of some people calling this song awkward at certain moments, but I certainly disagree. This is amazing!

From pop/rock to a dance-infused pop/R&B hybrid. wake up takes it down a little bit, but it still displays a lot of energy in its own way. I like how the strings accents match the synths and drum machine in the background, it makes the song a little bit more interesting and at first it reminded me of American R&B music, with just a little twitch. BENI’s vocals are amazing here: she even raps the bridge! What a hidden talent.

For Heart 2 heart, BENI probably opted for something that was a bit similar to wake up when it comes to the musical influences, but it approaches that dance/pop sound from a whole different angle. I find the drum pattern in the background a bit different from what you’d expect in a song like this, a simple and calmer song than the previous two, but on the other hand that’s what makes it stand out more than I’d initially thought. It’s a typical BENI song, you could call it slightly generic, but it has its charm.

Cherish heads more into the midtempo ballad-ish style, and I think it would’ve worked as a full ballad as well. But the mild R&B/pop touch they gave it made the song beautiful enough on its own. The strings and drum machine make it typical R&B while the background bells make it somewhat cuter. The background choir actually fits in pretty well, it’s not what you’d expect perhaps but it works. I’d like to hear some more emotion in BENI’s vocals though.

It’s funny how FLASH (feat. KOHEI JAPAN) starts off slowly with an Arabian influence that is a welcome change at this point, but later other instruments mix in to make this an exotic uptempo song. Although the lyrics might come off as a little cheesy, it’s a plus that this song is in English. BENI is one of the few Japanese artists that can pull off an English song, because of her background ofcourse. KOHEI JAPAN’s rap comes out of nowhere and it doesn’t really fit into the song all that well, the song would’ve worked without him but oh well. Ditch him please.

Hikari no Kazu Dake Glamorous features a sound that reminds me of Latin American music in some way, and the brass instruments are a very interesting addition. This is the first A-side that was released in this era, along with Cherish, and although both songs are very differen they feature the same issue: BENI’s vocals, or actually the dull way she uses them. This is a happy song for crying out loud, I would have loved to hear some more cheer coming from BENI.

Another English song on this album, and I’m always glad to hear these kinds of songs from BENI. Into the sky sounds like a song that could be featured in a fashion show of some kind, smooth and calm dance influenced music that I’d recommend when you’re actually busy doing something and you need some background music that doesn’t distract too much. On the other hand that could work against BENI since it’s the dullest and emptiest song on the album yet, and it’s also 6 and a half minutes long.

SECRET LOVER was saved from being generic by some amazing brass instruments in the chorus and the smooth flavor throughout the track. BENI herself doesn’t sound too bad either, she finally left the dullness behind and threw some energy into the song. True, this again might not be her best effort, but everything is better than the previous track to be honest. It needed just a little bit more to keep me interested for the full 100%, but I’ve heard much worse.

At first I raised an eyebrow over the opening of Taiyou ga Tsuki wo Terashite, which was pretty bombastic, and the fact that I first felt like this was another generic song didn’t help much either until the song developed. From the first verse on, this song proved to be a lot different than the rest of the tracks with its unique arrangement and nice bounce to it. I loved how BENI sang this as well, playing around with the melodies and beats. Finally a great track on the second half of the album.

I’ve heard lots of good things about Koi Meguri, and indeed it’s another very nice twist on a midtempo ballad. It’s far from generic, and I can’t quite put a finger on it now but the overall sound is appealing and different from other songs on the album. It’s calm, mostly because of the strings and BENI’s lovely and harmonious vocals, but the drums make it just a tad bouncy. Indeed a pretty good track, better than the other slow song Cherish.

There are some bonus songs for the album, and the first is the follow-up to FLASH, aptly named FLASH FLASH (feat. KOHEI JAPAN). The only difference: this version is sung in Japanese. I’m always happy when BENI decides to sing a song in English, but this isn’t a bad version either. On the contrary, this version (which I can’t understand) removes the issue the English version had with the cheesy lyrics. They’re probably there, but at least they don’t bother me now.

I didn’t expect Come Close to Me to be the English version of Hikari no Kazu Dake Glamorous. Although it’s still not great, it’s way better than the original because BENI doesn’t sound like a lifeless drone in it. Her vocal melodies just lack, and that’s not necessarily her fault but more the fault of the guys that composed the song and made her sing the chorus like she did. It’s never gonna be the best song, but at least it’s not as disappointing as the original.

Give me up initially was a bonus track on her first album, but I think it fits better on this album because of the overall sound. Being a dance track, it certainly has its charm after the other two bonus tracks (they brings some variation onto the album for sure). The track is quite catchy, some might call it repetitive but in this case that’s what makes it so memorable to me. It’s just a happy tune that is perfect to end this album on a more positive note.

Not expecting too much of it, I went into reviewing this album with a feeling like ‘I don’t know, we’ll see, it’ll probably suck because that’s what I hear mostly’. True, it’s not the best album I’ve ever heard, and although many of you might disagree I think this album is a huge step forward from her debut album. The songs are more versatile, BENI shows multiple different styles here and there are no songs that sound alike. Sometimes her vocals lacked a little expression, but her overall sound is already so much better since she’s more in tune with the music now. The second half of the album is the ‘stuff of avoidance’, but the first half and the last couple of tracks should not be skipped.

Favorite tracks: THE POWER | wake up | Cherish | FLASH (feat. KOHEI JAPAN) | Taiyou ga Tsuki wo Terashite | Koi Meguri | FLASH FLASH (feat. KOHEI JAPAN) | Give me up

4 stars


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