July 29, 2018 at 4:14 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

benicoverscity1ALBUM REVIEW

1. Shin Takarajima (original: Sakanaction)
2. Umi no Koe (original: Kiriya Kenta)
3. Koi Oto to Amazora (original: AAA)
4. Nandemonaiya (English ver.) (original: RADWIMPS)
5. Himawari no Yakusoku (original: Hata Motohiro)
6. Heavy Mellow (original: SPITZ)
7. Mahoutte Itteii Kana? (original: Hirai Ken)
8. Sugar Song to Bitter Step (original: UNISON SQUARE GARDEN)
9. Kazoku ni Narou yo (original: Fukuyama Masaharu)
10. Zutto Suki Datta (original: Saito Kazuyoshi)
11. R.Y.U.S.E.I. (original: J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE)
12. Mou Ichido… (original: Dohzi-T)

♦ ♦ ♦

benicoverscity2COVERS THE CITY is the fourth cover album by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on September 13, 2017. The album peaked at #11 on the weekly charts and has sold 6,379 copies.

I’m glad to hear BENI’s version of Shin Takarajima is much easier on the ears than the original, already starting with that nice chanting intro. It doesn’t differ too much from the original but it has more of a J-pop/funk sound and it’s quite catchy, a good opener for the album.

Not sure where I stand with Umi no Koe. BENI’s version is a nice and slick summer pop song with pretty translated lyrics (all of her covers are always English). But I’ve also heard the original which is a beautiful ballad. It’s short, just when I got into it it stopped, but I’m giving BENI the benefit of the doubt since this one improves every time I listen to it.

BENI changed Koi Oto to Amazora by AAA into an R&B/pop song and slowed the tempo down to make it a more mellow track. Did I say mellow, I actually meant boring. Knowing the original and how much variation it had in the overall arrangement, this version by BENI is just too much of the same, dragging along for almost six minutes. I’ll take AAA’s version over this one, and by the way I’m going to check up on their music because they made me curious!

I LOVED the melody in the original ballad Nandemonaiya by RADWIMPS, but I must say BENI made it into something interesting that’s definitely worth listening to. All of the magic that was missing in Koi Oto to Amazora, she makes up for it with this one. It’s like an electropop ballad but I can’t really place it. Anyway, good one!

The first official ballad on the album is Himawari no Yakusoku. BENI took the original guitar ballad and made piano the leading instrument. The beauty of the original song is preserved and BENI delivers some amazing vocals to it. I like the build-up in the arrangement without overdoing it on the emotions.

The only big difference between SPITZ’s Heavy Mellow and BENI’s version is that BENI’s version has a lighter approach and her vocals are better (no offense to SPITZ fans). I like the prominent role of the guitars in the middle of the song and the handclap beat. Not my favorite, but definitely a nice and happy track.

benicoverscity3Hirai Ken’s original version of Mahoutte Ittaii Kana? is a ballad, but BENI turned it into a midtempo. Now I know Ken has a lot of fans, but I don’t really like his voice. BENI makes this song more attractive for me, a bit lighter with the same nice melodies the original has. In my opinion, this is better than the original.

UNISON SQUARE GARDEN’s Sugar Song to Bitter Step is all over the place and the perfect anime song (is it also really an anime song? I don’t know). The pop/rock of the original is more funky pop in BENI’s version with just a bit of R&B, which makes for an interesting arrangement. It gets catchier every time.

Kazoku ni Narou yo, originally a guitar ballad, has more of a bounce to it in BENI’s version. Despite that, it doesn’t really do anything for me. BENI’s vocals are a bit monotonous and there are no highlights to the song.

Luckily, the groovy vibe of Zutto Suki Datta is still there in BENI’s version, although it’s much slower. I’m not sure about this one. I like the vibe, the melody and the arrangement, but it needs just that little bit of magic for me to really like it. Maybe I need to listen to it a little more.

The original R.Y.U.S.E.I. is a real club banger, but when I heard BENI’s version I was wondering if it was really based on said song. Eventually the chorus made sure it was, but this deep house version is sooo different. Mostly I’m not a dance lover, but I’ll take J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE’s version over BENI’s any day.

BENI had an old trick up her sleeve with Mou Ichido…, and she nailed it! It’s the umpteenth version of it, but the first in complete English with BENI doing both the singing and rapping. I love what they’ve done to the arrangement and BENI sounds so comfortable singing this oldie. What a way to end the album!

I’m not sure where BENI wanted to take this album, but it’s not really city pop. It’s more a combination of regular J-pop, tropical, R&B and deep house and as always with BENI, it’s either a hit or miss. Now there were some songs of which I clearly prefer the original (Kimi Oto to Amazora, R.Y.U.S.E.I.), but other times BENI took the original to a whole new level and improved it. The second half of the album was a bit more boring than the first, but overall I’m satisfied with this album and its production value. NOW RELEASE AN ALBUM WITH YOUR OWN ORIGINAL SONGS GIRL.

Favorite songsShin Takarajima | Nandemonaiya (English ver.) | Himawari no Yakusoku | Mahoutte Ittaii Kana? | Sugar Song to Bitter Step | Mou Ichido…

3½ stars


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