Ayumi Hamasaki – Memorial address

July 15, 2015 at 10:51 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

MINI-ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – Memorial address

1. ANGEL’S SONG
2. Greatful days
3. Because of You
4. ourselves
5. HANABI ~episode II~
6. No way to say (Original Mix)
7. forgiveness
8. Memorial address (take 2 version)

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Memorial address is the first mini-album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on December 17, 2003. It reached #1 on the Oricon charts selling 524,028 copies on its first week. It charted for 48 weeks and sold a total of 1,220,000 copies. It is currently the best-selling mini-album by a Japanese female singer, having sold over a million copies in Japan.

Only three new tracks, and ANGEL’S SONG is the first one. It opens in quite a dramatic way but then it develops into an uptempo dance/pop track with just a little hint of Ayu’s signature style. I was expecting a ballad, so this kind of blew me away. It reminds me a little too much of a song she released later on, but since this one was there first I don’t mind. Quite a nice opening for the album.

Because the first track was already uptempo, Greatful days and its bright summer sound comes out way better here than it did on the single. It’s very catchy and this should’ve been more popular during this era than it actually was. Uplifting!

Moving on to the more mysterious tracks on the album, there is the new song Because of You. Putting this on the album was genius because it spices it up with a kickass rock track that is on the heavier side. Ayu always nails these types of songs (just listen to ‘Microphone’) and this is definitely no exception. The standout track on this album.

Next are the four songs she released earlier, including the three major A-sides. ourselves comes out great right after Because of You, somehow it just fits while being on the more mellow side. Quite a typical sound for the year of 2003, but in Ayu’s discography this stands out so much. Love the works on the strings and drums.

Staying on the darker side, there is HANABI ~episode II~. By now I can’t really find anything to dislike about this track and it really starts to grow on me more. The use of electric guitars in the chorus while the verses are more on the quiet side is very cool and Ayu’s vocals are strong and steady. The male chanting adds something nice as well.

First we had a summer track, now we have the winter ballad No way to say. I think this was my favorite A-side of the era, most of all because of its dramatic winter sound and acoustic guitar and piano in the arrangement. It’s a bit ominous at times and you can almost feel the winter all around you, but that’s what I like about it. Recommended!

Followed by my least favorite A-side forgiveness. I still don’t know what it is, but I think it’s about the use of melodies, especially in the verses. This just isn’t my thing, while the song is actually quite good if you listen to it objectively. But writing reviews isn’t about being objective so…..

Is there a take 1 version of Memorial address (take 2 version)? Maybe it’s because this melody was already used in LOVER SOUND TRACK’s song “kumo” (both are composed by Tetsuya Yukumi). Anyway, this has always been one of my favorite tracks because after about a minute and a half of quiet piano music they go full out with drums, electric guitars and Ayu’s fierce vocals. This is a bit like Because of You, real Ayumi Hamasaki rock at its best. As a fan, I adore this.

After most of the singles proved a bit disappointing I was anxious for this mini-album, but eventually it turned out so much better than I expected! This is actually a pretty solid effort, I only dislike forgiveness for some strange reason I don’t really understand myself. I never really cared much for this era, but now I just have to remember myself of the fact that this mini is worth my time and there are some very strong tracks here that deserve more plays. Nicely done, Ayu!

Favorite songs: Greatful days | Because of You | ourselves | HANABI ~episode II~ | No way to say | Memorial address (take 2 version)

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

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Ayumi Hamasaki – No way to say

July 15, 2015 at 10:23 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – No way to say

1. No way to say “Original Mix”
2. No way to say “Acoustic Version”
3. SEASONS “Acoustic Version”
4. Dearest “Acoustic Version”
5. Voyage “Acoustic Orchestra Version”
6. No way to say “Vandalize-Realize Mix”
7. No way to say “Original Mix” -Instrumental-

No way to say is the thirty-first single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on November 6, 2003. No way to say was used as the Panasonic’s Portable MD Player “MJ57” CM song and theme song for TBS variety show “Koisuru Hanikami”. This single reached #1 on the Oricon charts and sold 242,473 copies in 2003, becoming the #32 single of the year. It charted for 15 weeks and sold a total of 371,171 copies.

Ah, a winter ballad. No way to say “Original Mix” definitely kicks ass more than ‘forgiveness’ did if you ask me, probably because I like the use of melodies and arrangement better and Ayu’s vocals are much stronger. It has this real winter feel to it that I love, like you can almost feel the ice cold wind blowing by (ooh, it’s summer as I’m writing this, so strange). I can’t really find anything that I don’t like about this!

Ofcourse No way to say “Acoustic Version” also slays because it’s the exact same song, but now with just an acoustic guitar accompanying Ayu. It suits the style of the song very well and usually I love Ayumi’s acoustic versions of songs, so I’m in for a treat with this single.

One of my favorite songs is SEASONS, so to find SEASONS “Acoustic Version” here is quite something. They changed the melodies quite a bit with this piano tune they incorporated, but together with the guitar and accordeon it sounds pretty awesome after all. Nice take on a wonderful song.

Another amazing ballad brought back to life, this time from the ‘I am…’ era. Dearest “Acoustic Version”. Although… wait. This is actually pretty cheap. This version was already on the single version of Dearest, only then it was called “Acoustic Piano Version”. Caught in the act, Ayu.

Voyage “Acoustic Orchestra Version” starts off in the exact same way as the original and it stays pretty much the same. The only thing they did to it is strip away the percussion and leave the orchestral arrangement, which already makes up the most important part of the song. Not all that new.

From the very moment No way to say “Vandalize-Realize Mix” started I was a bit anxious of what they changed, because the first thing I heard was a fast dance beat, synths and piano. If you ask me it’s often a big no-no to turn a ballad into a dance track and… this isn’t really an exception.

I gave this single this rating because I didn’t like the remix and there were two pretty cheap acoustic versions (one copied straight off an older single and one sounding too much like the original). I did like the first three tracks so… In case you guys were wondering…

OVERALL RATING
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Ayumi Hamasaki – forgiveness

July 15, 2015 at 10:03 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – forgiveness

1. forgiveness
2. ourselves “Kentaro Takizawa Remix”
3. HANABI ~episode II~ “HAL’s MIX 2003”
4. forgiveness (Instrumental)

forgiveness is the thirtieth single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on August 20, 2003. ‘forgiveness’ was used as the theme song for the dorama Kougen he Irasshai. This single reached #1 on the Oricon charts and charted for 12 weeks. It sold 222,194 copies, becoming the #36 single of 2003.

forgiveness is the main ballad of this era and it’s quite a mysterious and emotional one. I always found the melodies in the verses a bit off, but that’s just personal taste, it just doesn’t really sound all that appealing to me. Other than that, I really like the buildup and the full out use of the strings in the chorus. Vocals could’ve been better, but for a long track it flows very well.

Okay, so they repeat the ‘Gyuttoshite mitari // jintositari // shintoshitari‘ part of ourselves “Kentaro Takizawa Remix” way too much in the first part of the remix and it’s basically just a very fast beat and hardly any melody (the melody that is actually there hardly fits the vocal melodies). They stripped away everything that was appealing of the original. The only thing I liked were the alterations to the vocals, like vocoders and such.

Thankfully they stayed pretty much true to the original for HANABI ~episode II~ “HAL’S MIX 2003” and it isn’t too long. They added a soft lingering beat in the background and that’s pretty much it, but it gives it just the right touch-up. A very subtle remix and the better one on this single. The rest of the single… a bit of a pity.

OVERALL RATING
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2½ stars

Ayumi Hamasaki – &

July 15, 2015 at 4:26 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – &

1. ourselves
2. Grateful days
3. HANABI ~episode II~
4. theme of a-nation ’03
5. ourselves (Instrumental)
6. Grateful days (Instrumental)
7. HANABI ~episode II~ (Instrumental)

& is the twenty-ninth single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on July 9, 2003. The single reached #1 on the Oricon charts and charted for 16 weeks. It sold 591,481 copies, becoming the #8 single of 2003.

Years ago I was so much in love with ourselves because it was such an interesting an different song, I replayed it over and over again. I really like the use of strings and the hollow drums in the hooks, it makes it all very catchy and memorable. Also, Ayu delivers some strong vocals here, she makes it even more energetic and fierce.

Grateful days brings out the summer feel in this single, something ourselves didn’t do. It’s a much cuter track, which is also clear from Ayu’s vocals, but if you ask me this is quite fun. Ofcourse it’s not her best, but at least the melodies stick and I remember how the song goes long after it’s over.

Oh, a new ‘pairing’, this time a continuation of HANABI that was on the ‘RAINBOW’ album. HANABI ~episode II~ is even much better than the original in my opinion because it’s so much more out there. The electric guitars play a major role in the arrangement and I like the male chanting in the chorus as well. Ayu’s strong vocals have just the right amount of emotion in them. Upgrade of the original? Definitely.

theme of a-nation ’03 sounds very traditionally Asian with all these typical instruments. It’s almost like an alan song (at least that is what it makes me think of) with the erhu and such. When it comes to the vocals, Ayu blends in very well with the serene ambience, the true vocal cameleon that she is. It’s a long track, but very different from everything she usually does so it’s very appealing.

OVERALL RATING
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4½ stars

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