BENI -CINEMATIC

July 26, 2019 at 3:50 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

cinematic1ALBUM REVIEW
BENI – CINEMATIC

1. Intro
2. Cinematic feat. SARA-J
3. MONEY
4. Chasin’ feat. IO
5. S.U.K.I.
6. Got A Feeling
7. CRY
8. Arigato
9. PULLBACK
10. CANDY
11. No one else like you feat. Michael Kaneko
12. Last Love Letter
13. READY25

♦ ♦ ♦

cinematic2CINEMATIC is the tenth studio album by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on November 28, 2018.

Intro features a piano and some traffic noise in the background, while BENI talks and adlibs over it. It leads perfectly into the first full length track Cinematic feat. SARA-J. It has a good R&B beat while the rest of the arrangement sounds very light. SARA-J raps her part very nicely and it fits the overall feel of the song. Good opening track/title track and a real earworm when it comes to the chorus.

For MONEY, BENI shows off more attitude than I’m used to of her, especially in the verses. I like the slightly jazzy vibe to the song and BENI adapted really well. I’m used to her delivering vocal performances always in the same manner, but this is a very welcome change.

Chasin’ feat. OI is a slow R&B ballad featuring rapper OI, of whom I’d never heard until now. They made a nice song together, but if I have to be honest I’d say it’s a bit too slow and laid back to my taste. It’s not very catchy or memorable for that matter.

S.U.K.I. is another slow song, but a bit more on the soulful side and it has more sass to it. Despite me craving an uptempo track by now (or at least midtempo), I find this one surprisingly good and BENI’s vocals are amazing.

The next song brings a bit more bounce back to the tracklist. Got A Feeling is a groovy midtempo track that sort of combines pop/R&B with an 80s touch (because of the synths). I like the touch the guitars give the arrangement, everything sounds so breezy and happy and I love BENI’s adlibs.

There’s something about CRY that makes me like it quite a bit, despite the fact that I think this has the ‘potential’ to be some kind of filler track. I guess I like the R&B beat and BENI’s vocals a lot, especially the chorus sounds very good. Still this is not one of my favorites because I think I’ll forget about this one by tomorrow.

cinematic3Arigato is the longest track on the album at five minutes. It opens beautifully with a guitar and piano, but when the chorus comes along they pull out all the stops with strings, bells, percussion and electric guitars. BENI’s voice sounds very real, as if she’s singing it live right in front of you. This adds to the idea that this is a very intimate song that is probably dear to her.

If there’s one thing I like about PULLBACK is that it explores a bit more of BENI’s vocal range. She hits pretty high notes which she hasn’t showed off before on the album. Other than that, this is pretty much a bland filler track.

Could this really be true?! CANDY is the uptempo track I’ve been waiting for for so long. It has a nice poppy dance beat to it and a nice sort of summer vibe. BENI sings about how she likes someone she shouldn’t, he’s like candy. Simple, but it proves effective in this case. One of the catchiest tracks on the album.

No one else like you feat. Michael Kaneko opens with BENI adlibbing over a soft guitar, which sounds really nice despite this being another ballad track. BENI and Michael sound really nice together, Michael does his verse nicely as well. I like that this track is completely in English. The arrangement stays minimal, but I think this is one of the album’s biggest surprises.

Another heartfelt ballad, a piano ballad this time, is Last Love Letter. I do think the album needed this track because I can hear the emotion BENI puts into her voice to deliver the lyrics the right way. Maybe not the most memorable track, but I have to give her credits for that.

So now the album’s coming to a close and BENI is finally ‘ready to go’? *justkidding* READY25 is so different from all the other songs on the album and I’m blown away by it completely.  I like what they’ve done to the percussion, not something you hear very often in songs. It’s an uplifting track with a lot of attitude to it and it’s one of my absolute favorites on the album.

Something I already feared happened again: BENI’s album is filled with ballads. Not that that’s a problem, it’s just a matter of taste in this case. When an album has both ballads and more uptempo tracks and balances them well, you got me. After quite a number of ballads my mind just wanders off, I can’t help myself. Luckily, BENI still managed to capture my attention every now and then. There are definitely some gems here and I can tell BENI tried some new stuff as well, but the magic of her first couple of albums under her stage name BENI is missing. At least she ditched the cover albums!

Favorite songsCinematic feat. SARA-J | MONEY | S.U.K.I. | Got A Feeling |  Arigato | CANDY | No one else like you feat. Michael Kaneko | READY25

OVERALL RATING
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3½ stars

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Namie Amuro – LOVE ENHANCED ♥ single collection

July 25, 2019 at 11:24 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

loveenhanced1ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – LOVE ENHANCED ♥ single collection

1. Say the word (New Arrangement)
2. RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE (New Mix)
3. NEVER END (New Vocal)
4. LOVE 2000 (New Mix)
5. PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (New Mix)
6. think of me (New Vocal)
7. SOMETHING ‘BOUT THE KISS (New Vocal)
8. lovin’ it (Namie Amuro & VERBAL)
9. I HAVE NEVER SEEN (New Arrangement)
10. HimAWArI (New Vocal)
11. no more tears (New Mix)
12. I WILL (New Mix)

♦ ♦ ♦

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LOVE ENHANCED ♥ single collection is the second compilation album by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on March 13, 2002. The album debuted at #3 on the Oricon weekly charts and charted for 10 weeks. It sold 305,040 copies, becoming the #62 best-selling album of 2002.

I was very curious about this album since it looks like it contains better versions of her songs that were released in the era in which Namie already started to improve. Say the word (New Arrangement) is one of the two newest songs and it already gets a makeover. It differs only slightly from the original, but it has more of that typical early 2000s beat and less high pitched synths. It made the song a bit electropop, but it’s still very catchy.

For RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE (New Mix), only slight alterations were made to the arrangement. It’s the second oldest single on the album, but I remember from reviewing it six (!) years ago that I liked the original quite a bit. I like the modern touches to the song and that it’s still that typical groovy late 90s track that it was.

I really like the new vocals on NEVER END (New Vocal), Namie handles the chorus much better than in the original. It’s still a very beautiful ballad with a more oriental feel to it and I still remember most of the song from the single review I did a year ago (to the day).

LOVE 2000 (New Mix) is still the energetic song it’s always been, with the heavy kick drum, synths and strings. The drums are a little loud in my opinion, taking attention away from the rest of the song. I do like that they relied less on the vocoder for this version, making it more genuine.

Most of PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (New Mix) is the same it was, but somehow it still sounds updated. I think it mostly has to do with effects that have been added to some of Namie’s vocal parts, especially the verses and the adlibs in the chorus. It makes this version better than the original, so it’s a good thing they made a new mix if you ask me.

think of me (New Vocal) is supposed to feature only new vocals according to the title, but the arrangement has been altered too. Besides the piano and percussion, high pitched synth notes and a snare drum have been added and Namie herself sounds much more in control as well. With the original she almost succeeded at making a heartfelt ballad for the first time, but this new version did the trick for me.

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Then there’s SOMETHING ‘BOUT THE KISS (New Vocal), a song I really didn’t like. However, they fixed everything that was wrong with it! Namie’s vocals sound less like she’s trying too hard and they dropped the annoying English background vocals while Namie was singing Japanese lyrics, so confusing. Now it’s all Japanese and it sounds much better.

Apparently I missed this song+nation single. lovin’ it (Namie Amuro & VERBAL) was one of a couple of singles that were made in honor of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. I think it lacks heart and basically it does nothing for me, totally forgettable.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN (New Arrangement) is a completely different song now, I don’t know what is happening here. At least they fixed one issue I had with this track, it’s obviously a ballad now. However, I might prefer the original over this one because this is just too quiet. Namie is whispering throughout the song and when it comes to the music there’s almost nothing left. I’m almost falling asleep… zzz…..

HimAWArI (New Vocal) wasn’t a single, but it’s become a fan favorite and apparently Namie was sick during the original recording (which explains why I hated her vocals on that version). Good thing she wanted another shot at it, this sounds so much better. It’s not a particularly special song that’s very memorable (basically I don’t understand the whole fan favorite thing), but it has a nice bounce to it.

I remember liking no more tears (New Mix) and it was stuck in my head for so long after reviewing the single last year. Not much has changed, to the music nor my opinion. It’s a mellow early 2000s R&B/pop track and I really don’t know what it is that makes me like it this much, but I’m glad it’s featured on this album.

Closing the album, there is I WILL (New Mix), Namie’s newest song on this album. It’s her first orchestral ballad and it’s a beautiful one, despite it’s length. It doesn’t drag, however, and I think Namie’s sound on this track is the best yet. It’s definitely my favorite song of Namie’s early years.

LOVE ENHANCED ♥ single collection is an interesting album since I already know all of the original songs, and it was nice to hear them in a kind of updated version. At this point it’s clear that, although her music can still be a hit or miss at times, Namie was on her way to becoming the Japanese Madonna she eventually became. Her music already became better she clearly had vocal training, which payed off in only two years time or so. After this album she ditched Tetsuya Komuro and took creative control of her own career, in which Dallas Austin would play a big part. Let’s see where that took her.

Favorite songsSay the word (New Arrangement) | RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE (New Mix) | NEVER END (New Vocal) | think of me (New Vocal) | no more tears (New Mix) | I WILL (New Mix)

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
3½ stars

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Namie Amuro – I WILL

July 24, 2019 at 11:29 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

iwillSINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – I WILL

1. I WILL
2. I WILL in L.A.
3. I WILL with piano
4. I WILL not sing

I WILL is the nineteenth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on February 14, 2002. This single reached #7 on the weekly Oricon charts, and sold 95,120 copies.

Now I WILL is a very long track at almost seven minutes, but here we go. It’s a ballad with a bit of an oriental feel to it while it’s still contemporary, which is nice. What caught me off guard most were Namie’s totally in control vocals. Her voice really soars over the strings and piano and I don’t think she had ever sounded this good up to this point. That alone makes this one of her best songs of her early career in my opinion, despite the length of the track. It’s beautiful!

I WILL in L.A. is pretty much the same song, even the arrangement sounds very much the same except for the choir that joins in. It does take the song to the next level. I WILL with piano strips the song of everything except Namie’s vocals and the piano arrangement. It’s still very pretty, but out of the three versions of the song I think I prefer the ‘in L.A.’ version because of the choir.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Namie Amuro – Say the word

July 24, 2019 at 11:17 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

saytheword

SINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – Say the word

1. Say the word
2. Let’s not fight
3. Say the word (Breeze House Mix)
4. Say the word (Instrumental)
5. Let’s not fight (Instrumental)

Say the word is the eighteenth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on August 8, 2001. It was used as the commerical song for KOSÉ Cosmetics Luminous line of lipstick. The single reached #3 on the weekly Oricon chart, selling a total of 183,840 copies.

Say the word makes clear that Namie’s vocals have improved very, very much since she started her career. Her belts are much more on key and her voice overall has a more pleasant sound to it. The music has a very catchy early 2000s sound to it and it’s very danceable, I quite enjoy it. The only issue I have with this song is Namie’s English (“say the world“).

Let’s not fight is the more mellow pop track of the single and Namie’s singing over a guitar and percussion arrangement. I find it a bit boring though, with a lot of repetition going on and the strange distorted vocals. Maybe this one will grow on me and I don’t think it’s a bad song, it’s just not special.

The beat in Say the word (Breeze House Mix) is very nice, it actually spices up the original. And for once a remix that features the word ‘House’ in its title is actually a house remix. This remix might even be better than the original song, it has a fuller arrangement that fits the overall feel better.

OVERALL RATING
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3½ stars

Summer ’19 update!

July 18, 2019 at 11:39 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hi guys,

What a pleasure to see that there was still a lot of activity during my absence, I totally love you for it!

By now I’ve accepted that I’ve kind of come and gone as I pleased for the past few years, updating mostly during my long summer vacation because that’s basically when I have the time to update. But that gives me all the more albums and singles to catch up on!

The past year was crazy. It was my first year working as a primary school teacher and I loved it. But when the school year just started, there were some private issues concerning my marriage. It was hectic and stressful, but all is fine now. However, that kind of took my attention away from the blog and pretty much everything else. But I fought for everything I wanted this past year and it payed off.

In the meantime, I turned 25. Can you imagine it’s been 9 years since I started Music Addiction when I was just a 16-year-old high school teen? Next year will be the blog’s 10 year anniversary and boy I hope we’ll make it! Thanks for supporting me, it warms my heart to see how many people are still around!

Love, Jolanda

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