BoA – WHO’S BACK?

November 29, 2014 at 8:48 PM | Posted in BoA | 5 Comments


ALBUM REVIEW

1. First Time
2. Shout It Out
3. Only One
4. FUN
5. Message
6. WOO WEEKEND
7. Milestone
8. I SEE ME
9. MASAYUME CHASING
10. The Shadow
11. close to me
12. Call my name
13. Baby you..
14. Tail of Hope

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WHO’S BACK? is the eighth Japanese album by South-Korean singer BoA, released on September 3, 2014. The album charted at #7 in Japan and has sold 17,000 copies.

Opening the album is the only new track (I know, right?), First Time. It has a nice bounce to it and I loved BoA’s vocals. I think it fits in well with most of the other songs on the album because of its uptempo feel. It also leads nice into the next track. For the only new song, it’s indeed a good one and the perfect promo track.

Shout It Out is just a catchy track that stays in your head all day long. I like the piano accents in the background while the rest of the arrangement is again upbeat. I remembered wishing this would appear on an album, that’s how good I thought it was when it was released as a single. One of BoA’s best dance inspired singles to date.

So this was actually the 3rd single in this era even though it was released in Japan after a major break.. Anyway, Only One is one of my favorite BoA songs mostly because it’s just so her. It’s midtempo pop/R&B with some synths in the background and a piano playing a lovely little melody (something that has been my alarm clock melody on my phone for months). This could have been a bland song, but BoA’s vocals are too magical and she really spiced it up.

FUN was the B-side for MASAYUME CHASING and it’s definitely not as good as said song, but also not as good as most of the other songs on the album. It’s a funky summer song that served as a nice addition to the single, but that’s where it should’ve stayed if you ask me. It’s not a bad song, but not quite album material.

Kumbaya! Message is such a huge step away from her usual sound with its acoustic guitar, handclaps and drums. Still, I really like it since it brings a lighter tone to this point of the album and her vocals are top notch. It’s all about positivity, a real feel-good song and short but effective.

I have to admit I haven’t had the chance to review WOO WEEKEND yet and that also means I haven’t heard this song in like forever so excuse the lack of recognition here. So this takes us back to 2010 (darn..) and that’s probably what’s wrong with this song. I mean, I love the whole 80s vibe with the synths and bass, it’s really good! It just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the songs on the album, don’t you think?

2011 then: Milestone, the single commemorating her 10th anniversary in Japan. A ballad at this point might seem iffy, but this ballad is probably one of the best she has ever done. Consisting of just a piano, chimes and strings, it has a magical vibe to it, and the choir adds even more to that. BoA’s light vocals give me goosebumps.. AAH ❤

I SEE ME was the B-side for Milestone and already an old song then, but oh well. It’s probably more ‘Hurricane Venus’ material due to the slightly jazzy groove to it, but it’s lovely anyway. It’s another ballad so no big culture shock after the last lovely song, but let’s face it: it doesn’t matter how good I SEE ME is, it will never be as good as Milestone.

Probably one of my favorite songs on the entire album, even though it has a strange kind of personal meaning to me now. MASAYUME CHASING is the catchiest and most lively song she has released in a long time, it’s very breezy and strong at the same time. I even loved that little rap part further along in the song. Repeat please.

I like the attitude in The Shadow, one of BoA’s self-covers and the B-side to Only One. It might come off a little mechanical at times, but it’s well produced and packs a punch. Not too aggressive, just good enough to notice it and enjoy it, but not the best song on the album.

Can I please have an English version of close to me.. This is such an emotional ballad and so well performed I can’t even. This is the first time of the album BoA genuinely touched me and brought a tear to my eyes. Acoustic guitars, piano and drums, with BoA just going for it. The formula for pure perfection, one of my absolute favorites *sobs*

Call my name was a bit lacking when it was released as the B-side for Message and now after 11 other songs it just can’t hold my attention all that long. It’s not bad or anything, it’s actually quite nice but tomorrow I will have forgotten all about it.

Baby you.. was the B-side for Tail of Hope, more about that one next, and what I like about this song is that it’s actually quite sweet and mellow. BoA knows how to release R&B midtempo songs, and although it might have lost some of its shine next to songs like MASAYUME CHASING and close to me on this album, I will stand by my original remarks.

Closing the album after what feels like a zillion songs, there is Tail of Hope, another favorite of mine that now feels like a sister song of MASAYUME (or actually vice versa but well..). BoA’s 2013 summer song is catchy, funky and sometimes even ethereal and it feels perfect to have it as the album closer. BoA gives ’em hell one more time with her amazing performance, standing o’ for this one.

WHO’S BACK? was already an interesting title for an album (not much inspiration to it if you ask me), but the content is also quite interesting to say the least. Come on, only one new song to promote the album and the rest is more like a best album of her latest Japanese A-sides and B-sides. Is that a bad thing? Not particularly no, most of the A-sides were bomb, especially her latest couple of singles slayed everything. Some of the B-sides that I wouldn’t really have liked to see here were there as well and that was a bit of a bummer. They weren’t bad songs, but not so special to be put on an album. Still, looking at the overall picture and the way this album sounds without looking at the details, it’s a very good album. Just give us something with more production value next time, girl. I’ll be gentle now. Very gentle. I know I’m nice.

Favorite tracks: Shout It Out | Only One | Message | Milestone | MASAYUME CHASING | close to me | Tail of Hope

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

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Kalafina – believe

November 19, 2014 at 11:47 AM | Posted in Kalafina | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kalafina – believe

1. believe
2. in every nothing
3. lapis
4. believe ~instrumental~

believe is the sixteenth single by Japanese group Kalafina, released on November 19, 2014.The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime series Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works].

believe almost started off as a winter themed song with its soft chimes in the background, until it all starts to take flight and it becomes more of a power song. Some parts reminded me slightly of to the beginning, it has about the same energy and I adored that song so this comparison is a good thing. The best Kalafina songs in my opinion combine two things: harmonic vocalizations and epic guitar driven music. Double check!

How lovely is the beginning of in every nothing, I love the strings combined with a soft swelling percussion in the background. Every once in a while, Kalafina releases an atypical epic track and this must be it for this release, it even has more power than the A-side if you ask me. Loved the electric guitar solo in the middle of the song and WAKANA nailed it with her vocals.

Darn, is that KEIKO opening lapis? She sounds amazing with higher pitched vocals than usual, so different. To balance the single, I already expected this last track to be on the softer side and it definitely is. The focus is entirely on the vocals, softly harmonizing with piano music in the background. Later on, an electric guitar gives a little edge to it, but it all stays in the ballad category. Seventh Heaven, anyone?

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

SHINee – I’m Your Boy

November 18, 2014 at 8:38 PM | Posted in SHINee | 2 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
SHINee – I’m Your Boy

1. Downtown Baby
2. LUCKY STAR
3. Everybody
4. Picasso
5. 3 2 1
6. 365
7. Sunny Day Hero
8. Perfect 10
9. Bounce
10. Dream Girl
11. Colors of the season
12. Boys Meet U

♦ ♦ ♦

I’m Your Boy is the third Japanese album by South Korean boy group SHINee, released on September 24, 2014. The album debuted at #1 on the charts and has sold 54,524 copies.

Finally SHINee decided to bundle all those great single they have released. First there is a new song opening the album, Downtown Baby, an uptempo track that immediately shakes things up. SHINee always creates the perfect formula for catchy songs and this one is no exception with its brassy and funky elements. Special compliments to Jonghyun.

LUCKY STAR was the group’s latest single and I remember adoring it for its use of funky guitar riffs, piano and beats. The second verse is a rap section this time, which in my opinion always brings much more fun and spontaneity to a song. Each of the guys does an amazing job, but I especially loved Onew’s vocals here. I always underestimate him a bit so…

This Japanese version of Everybody was one of the B-sides on the 3 2 1 single but I first heard this in Korean last year. Well guys, it completely blew me away then and it doesn’t fail to do so now. In their entire discography there probably isn’t another song that comes this close to kicking ass and I love how SHINee explored some dubstep here. The production might be a little artificial at times, but bring on the robots!

Picasso is one of the new treats on the album (which is rare because there are only four new songs). It’s placed perfectly right after Everybody since it continues that danceable agressive style. It’s a very good song and it would’ve been another complete homerun if it wasn’t for the other side of the coin: the fact that it just falls a little bit short when compared to Everybody. Nonetheless, very good.

3 2 1 explores a different musical style, but SHINee probably slays anything so they outdid themselves again with this catchy pop/rock song. The fun thing is that they still manage to add some dancy elements to it, so I don’t know quite how to place this song. Anyway, the great vocals and the fact that this song has me awkwardly bouncing around in my chair makes for bonus points.

A nice guitar riffs opens the next of the new songs: 365 (we stay in the number zone I guess). It tones everything down a bit after five uptempo songs, not that this is a ballad though but despite the little uptempo groove it sounds much more relaxed. It doesn’t do very much for me, they have made better and catchier songs than this one.

I once said I would love to see Sunny Day Hero on an album and it looks like I got my wish. I have always thought this song would be perfect in the Summer with its groovy ambience and guitar riffs. It draws my attention a lot more than the previous track did, it’s catchy but controlled too at the same time. Love it.

Perfect 10 is the last one of the new songs and it’s also the shortest song on the entire album at only 2:44 minutes. By now I can conclude that I’m not too fond of the new songs on this album, this one doesn’t live up to its title either. Still it’s not terrible, I just can’t get into the vibe of this track. It lacks a lot of things, even the vocals could’ve been so much better.

Oh how uplifting, it’s Bounce! This is probably the biggest surprise SHINee has ever given their fans, there isn’t a single song in their entire discography that sounds like this one. It’s jazzy, brassy, original and, as always with SHINee’s music, catchy as hell. I’m developing a soft spot for this song.

Dream Girl is very close to my heart because there hasn’t been a moment where I didn’t enjoy this track for the full 100%. It’s perfect in any language, Korean, Japanese, I don’t even care, I can listen to this energetic track all the time. It’s the perfect example of how original SHINee can stay after releasing a lot of songs with the same sound.

I can’t say much about Colors of the season, just that this is pure perfection and more about feeling it than just listening to it. This ballad touches me even though I don’t understand a word, now that’s what I call good music. Don’t you dare skipping this one.

Closing the album is the amazing Boys Meet U, which I think would’ve been the perfect Summer song for 2013 (when it was released as a single) since I can almost see the beach listening to this song. It’s short but one of the most memorable songs on the album and definitely one of my absolute favorites ❤

SHINee has had some amazing singles leading up to this album, nothing below 4 stars so that should also count for something. I was occupied (and stupid) enough so I didn’t even notice the existence of this album up until a few weeks ago. I had some catching up to do and I’m glad I did, since this just proves over and over that SHINee are the kings of both J-pop and K-pop in the category of ‘boy groups’. The new tracks aren’t that memorable in my opinion, but I’m curious about what you guys have to say about it. For me, the singles featured on this album are what makes this album another feast for the ears.

Favorite tracks: Downtown Baby | LUCKY STAR | Everybody | 3 2 1 | Sunny Day Hero | Bounce | Dream Girl | Colors of the season | Boys Meet U

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

imyourboy4

Namie Amuro – BRIGHTER DAY

November 11, 2014 at 2:14 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – BRIGHTER DAY

1. BRIGHTER DAY
2. SWEET KISSES
3. Still Lovin’ You
4. BRIGHTER DAY (Instrumental)
5. SWEET KISSES (Instrumental)
6. Still Lovin’ You (Instrumental)

BRIGHTER DAY is the forty-second single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on November 12, 2014. The title song was used as theme song for the Fuji TV’s drama First Class.

Namie couldn’t care less that Winter is coming, with BRIGHTER DAY she released another great song that could easily be more of a Spring theme. I love how the music swells and a strong beat comes in accompanied by a piano and chimes. Her vocals never disappoint and again she uses them in all the right ways. No English/Japanese hybrid, she’s back to her old ways. A very uplifting feeling in the music with a more than fitting title.

SWEET KISSES does bring back the English into Namie’s music. It’s a short song at just under three minutes in length and it upholds the vibrant theme this single apparently has. I’m just not that excited by this song as a whole, it lacks depth and it’s more of the same throughout.

Still Lovin’ You slows things down which is a good thing, I always like it when a single is a bit balanced. The beats are still there, but compared to BRIGHTER DAY the focus is more on the synths and piano. It’s cute and adorable, with Namie’s vocals powerful but sweet. A very catchy tune that is definitely better than the previous track.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Update

November 7, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Hi guys,

As you know I have been making comeback promises for a while now, but lately I just couldn’t keep those promises for some unexpected reasons. I now think it is finally time to explain myself, since a lot of you apparently keep coming back to MA hoping for some new updates. And no, I don’t mind opening up at all.

First of all, 3rd year in University is killing, that’s a fact and I can deal with that. What I couldn’t deal with for a while was the fact that my (now ex-)boyfriend was a lying cheater that played me for an entire year. For a little while my world was crushed when he broke up with me because he ‘wanted to see what’s still out there’ after I gave him everything I had. I had to pick myself up all over again and my priority was school ofcourse. That’s why I was absent for so long; I had to make sure not to throw away my studies and my future for a stupid liar that broke my heart until there was almost nothing left. And in case you’re wondering: ofcourse I hate his guts right now.

As for now, I pretty much have my life back on track and I’m living my life in the best possible way. I have a week off from school, so I have PLANS to catch up with some music releases. Can’t promise anything like I said, but I still feel like I have to keep MA up and I can’t let it go. Thank you all for your support, without you I would’ve probably given up on the blog a while ago. Keep it up and take care!

Love, Jade

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