Ayumi Hamasaki – TROUBLE

August 8, 2018 at 12:19 AM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | 2 Comments

trouble1.pngMINI-ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – TROUBLE

1. We are the QUEENS
2. æternal
3. WORDS
4. W
5. The way I am

♦ ♦ ♦

TROUBLE is the sixth mini-album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on August 6, 2018 (iTunes Japan). The album’s physical release will be on August 15, 2018.

I was really surprised to find out that We are the QUEENS would be on this mini-album, but it’s a very strong and epic intro track. I remember loving its bombastic intro with the orchestra and marching drums and even though it’s an oldie by now, it still doesn’t disappoint. It’s so catchy I still remembered the chorus after not having heard this song for a year and a half. A unique song in Ayu’s discography because of its heroic theme.

æternal couldn’t be more different from We are the QUEENS. It’s a mellow pop track with a smooth beat, nice piano melodies and lots of strings. There’s a bounce to the music that I like and basically the arrangement is the best thing about this track as a whole. Ayu’s vocals are decent, but she’s putting a little too much effort into this.

I like how WORDS starts off with a ‘cold’ piano melody before moving into a soft verse that has just the piano and Ayu. Halfway through the first verse it gets more and more interesting and I’m positively surprised that the chorus bursts with music from strings, percussion and guitars. It’s a very good and beautiful track that just sounds so appealing to me, I feel fulfilled listening to it.

Wow, W is fierce! At first I thought it was going to be like a sequel to We are the QUEENS due to the marching drums opening the songs, but then it turns into a kickass and upbeat rock song with so much fire to it. I really like Ayu’s vocals in the chorus, especially the chanting, and when the electric guitars bring it home in the bridge, I’m sold.

To close the album, there is the beautiful ballad The way I am. I had already heard this song performed acapella through Ayu’s Instagram a week ago and I was instantly smitten with their performance. To hear the song with a full musical arrangement, in all its powerful splendor, is like pure magic. I think this is one of the best ballad tracks Ayu has released in a LONG time and I can’t wait to put this on repeat. Or the whole mini-album for that matter.

That was AMAZING. I have to admit I was disappointed at first when I found out Ayu’s next album was going to be a mini-album instead of a full length studio album, but I must say Ayu had 5 borderline perfect songs here. And each of them also brings something new to the table. I think I’m going to keep this short and sweet: HELL YES. Oh, just one thing: I NEED THAT FULL LENGTH ALBUM AYU.

Favorite songsWe are the QUEENS | WORDS | W | The way I am

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

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Ayumi Hamasaki – MY STORY

August 6, 2018 at 4:32 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

mystory1ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – MY STORY

1. Catcher In The Light
2. About You
3. GAME
4. my name’s WOMEN
5. WONDERLAND
6. Liar
7. HOPE or PAIN
8. HAPPY ENDING
9. Moments
10. walking proud
11. CAROLS
12. Kaleidoscope
13. INSPIRE
14. HONEY
15. Replace
16. winding road
17. Humming 7/4

♦ ♦ ♦

mystory2MY STORY is the sixth studio album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on December 15, 2004. The album peaked at #1 on the charts and has sold a total of 1,132,444 copies, of which 574,321 copies in its first week.

The album starts true to Ayu’s style with a mostly instrumental intro with some soft chanting/singing. Catcher In The Light does preview the style of the album with its powerful rock arrangement, but it features some ethereal elements reminiscent of the ‘RAINBOW’ era. Cool intro.

About You is the first full blown rock song on the album with more aggressive singing from Ayu herself and an arrangement that is filled with electric guitars and percussion. The lyrics in the chorus are fast paced which fits the overall feel of the song well. I think it’s very memorable and a kickass start of the album.

Then one of the album’s singles/B-sides, GAME swoops in with its dark and cold ambience. That piano intro with Ayu singing softly puts you on the wrong foot before the arrangement explodes into another rock song. I actually like the computerized vocals in the verses for a change, it makes it a fierce track.

The title of my name’s WOMEN has always made me cringe, but I like the fact that it’s a woman empowerment song. It’s more poppy than the previous two tracks but still very strong in its own right, with a synth/electric guitar arrangement to accompany Ayu’s strong vocals. I really like this one as well.

WONDERLAND is one CREEPY interlude. It features that typical creepy carnival music that you hear in merry-go-rounds but soon it gets darker with thunder and evil laughter. I’m actually scared, WHAT IS THIS.

After that ‘interesting’ bit, we get a song that isn’t very well recognized among Ayu’s fanbase and she has never sung it live as far as I know. And although Liar is a more depressing and dark rock song, it is a good one. The verses are calm and brooding while the chorus explodes around you. It’s not special, but it is a well produced track that is solid and memorable.

HOPE or PAIN was my favorite track on this album for a long time because of the melody of the bell-like instrument in the song’s hook. It’s a rock ballad that packs a punch and yet sounds so simple and clean, still one of the best tracks on the album if you ask me.

Despite its title HAPPY ENDING is not a happy song at ALL. But it’s still worth a listen since it’s unique on the album, it’s more of a pop ballad and eases on the rock vibe. The chorus had potential for something more powerful, but the melodies are good enough for me to like it a lot.

Apparently this is the ballad section of the album, because the next one, Moments, is another rock ballad. It was released as the first single and although it’s the third ballad in a row, it’s so different from the others. I really like the instrumental bridge and the lyrics are among the best on the entire album, very poetic.

mystory3The next ballad is walking proud and it still manages to remain very original after that streak of ballads. It’s calmer but yet has an emotional touch to it. I especially like the intro that leads into the track, with the distant guitar. On its way to become a favorite of mine.

The final single of the album is CAROLS, and it’s unique since its a full on ballad instead of a rock ballad. The piano leads the way with Ayu singing along softly, and for once she sings rather happy lyrics instead of depressing ones. Still a bit on edge with some of Ayu’s notes in the chorus, but it doesn’t really matter since the rest of the song is so pretty.

Kaleidoscope is a very calm interlude with soft chimes, strings and synths and echoed effects. It’s just an interlude but it’s nice to have it included and it’s easy on the ears.

Back to the more uptempo stuff. INSPIRE was in my opinion the best A-side of this era with its more Middle-Eastern and sassy approach. Although it’s very different from the sound of Kaleidoscope, somehow both have that mysterious sound going on that I really like. It’s incredibly catchy and fierce, definitely one of the best on the album.

HONEY can be described with two words: poppy and cute. It’s energetic uptempo sugar pop complete with higher pitched vocals by Ayu to complete it. Somehow it reminds me a bit of ‘Trauma’ (on the ‘LOVEppears’ album), but that’s a good thing. This track gives the album a nice touch and it’s a step away from all of the more aggressive stuff.

Replace brings the tempo down a bit in the verses and it sounds a lot calmer, but the chorus is more powerful. It’s happy and along the lines of HONEY but not as sugarcoated and Ayu’s vocals are more mature as well. It does have that ending song vibe to it so maybe this should’ve been placed at the very end of the album.

The entire last section of the album is like an encore since winding road also has that ending song quality going on. It’s a midtempo pop/rock track similar to most of the other songs on the album, but again with a hopeful message to it and beautiful lyrics to match. A little hard to notice at first, but a good track for sure.

Finally, Ayu closes the album in the most original and fun way possible. Humming 7/4 is bound to catch you completely off guard with its aggressive and fast rock arrangement and it’s clear she’s having fun. It’s simple and yet so powerful and that chorus is one of the catchiest on the entire album. This SLAYS.

MY STORY is a VERY long album with a lot of full length tracks that last for four and a half minutes of more, so I had my work cut out for me this afternoon. But it was worth it, since this is one of the best of Ayu’s earlier works. It does feature a much heavier sound, which is why they made a classical version of it in 2005, but it works so well for Ayu. The first part of the album was a bit odd with some more aggressive songs opening, then moving on to a big rock ballad section. This made for a less balanced, but not less enjoyable album since pretty much every track here is solid. I know, each to their own, but I really enjoy this album a lot.

Favorite songsAbout You | GAME | HOPE or PAIN | Moments | CAROLS | INSPIRE | HONEY | Humming 7/4

OVERALL RATING
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4½ stars

mystory4

Ayumi Hamasaki – CAROLS

August 5, 2018 at 8:00 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

carolsSINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – CAROLS

1. CAROLS “Original Mix”
2. CAROLS “Criminal Tribal Mix”
3. CAROLS “Hammond B-3 Whisper”
4. CAROLS “Original Mix -Instrumental-”

CAROLS is the thirty-fourth single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on September 29, 2004. The single peaked at #1 on the charts and has sold a total of 309,128 copies. CAROLS was used as the Panasonic Digital Camera “LUMIX FX7” CM song.

CAROLS is the real ballad of this era and for once it’s a happy instead of melancholic one. It ‘s quite powerful and I like how the music swells from just a piano to a full blown orchestra with strings and percussion. The melodies are lovely and Ayu sings with so much passion, yet I feel that during some notes in the chorus she was straining. Despite that, it’s a beautiful winter ballad that I’ve come to appreciate more and more over time.

Oh why does a ballad need a remix.. Let alone TWO of them… The “Criminal Tribal Mix” butchers the beauty of the original by chopping up her vocals in the verses and not preserving anything from the original arrangement. It feels empty and like a total filler track.

The “Hammond B-3 Whisper” remix on the other hand is VERY different. It features a soft organ and sound much more like the original, but with an interesting spin on it. Still, it feels like something is missing. The original had more spice to it.

Because of the remixes, the overall rating is a bit lower, yet the original ‘weighs’ more.

OVERALL RATING
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3½ stars

Ayumi Hamasaki – INSPIRE

August 5, 2018 at 7:40 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

inspireSINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – INSPIRE

1. INSPIRE “Original Mix”
2. GAME “Original Mix”
3. INSPIRE “Original Mix -Instrumental-”
4. GAME “Original Mix -Instrumental-”

INSPIRE is the thirty-third single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on July 28, 2004. The single peaked at #1 on the charts and has sold a total of 329,145 copies. INSPIRE was used as the image song for a Fuji TV special about the Guggenheim Museum in New York as well as a tie-in for avex auditions 2004. GAME was used as the Panasonic 700MD CM song.

For this era, Ayu really delved into rock music and boy does it sound good. INSPIRE is a very interesting and edgy track with some Middle-Eastern elements cleverly hidden behind all the electric guitars and percussion. Ayu’s voice sounds fierce and full of fire during the catchy chorus, making it stand out in her singles discography and definitely the best A-side of this era.

The other strong rock track on this single is GAME, which is just as fierce as INSPIRE but completely in its own way. It’s a darker and colder rock song, but with a soothing intro that becomes more and more restless until it all explodes. Ayu’s vocals are computerized in the verses which makes it just a bit different and it adds to the heaviness of the track.

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

Ayumi Hamasaki – Moments

August 5, 2018 at 7:23 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

moments.pngSINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – Moments

1. Moments “Original Mix”
2. Moments “Acoustic Piano Version”
3. Moments “Flying humanoid Mix”
4. Moments “Original Mix -Instrumental-”

Moments is the thirty-second single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on March 31, 2004. The single peaked at #1 on the charts and has sold 302,923 copies in total. It was used as the KOSÉ “VISÉE” CM song.

At first it seems Moments is going to be a regular ballad, but after Ayu’s opening chant it becomes clear it’s more of a rock ballad with a bit more power to it. I’ve always liked this song, especially the lyrics and the bridge in which the electric guitars really get their time to shine. Ayu’s voice might be a bit thin in the chorus, but I still love pretty much everything about this.

Moments “Acoustic Piano Version” doesn’t feature new vocals, but it’s nice to hear that the original vocals fit both the edgier original as this pretty piano ballad. It’s nice and calm and captures the beauty of the song well.

Although the music in Moments “Flying humanoid Mix” is uptempo, the vocal track had to be slowed down to fit the pace and it just doesn’t seem quite right. It’s not very special and I’m not even sure the melody in the remix fit the vocal melodies, but it could’ve had potential.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Ayumi Hamasaki – We are the QUEENS

October 2, 2016 at 5:39 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

wearethequeens

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – We are the QUEENS

1. We are the QUEENS

We are the QUEENS is the eighth digital single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on September 30, 2016. The song was used as the theme song for the smart phone game CLASH OF QUEENS.

So basically this is ‘just’ a digital single, but hey, it’s October 2, happy 38th birthday Queen Ayu!

The opening of the song is very mysterious with some distant strings and an orchestra building up with slow marching drums. It suits the bombastic ambiance they were probably going for with the game. After a little more than a minute, the actual song starts, and Ayu’s style becomes more evident. It’s kinda like arena rock, and it’s actually very exciting with great and energetic vocals. That guitar solo in the bridge, followed by a heroic break with trumpets and strings, makes me want this track to appear on an album soooo much. All hail Queen Ayu!

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

Ayumi Hamasaki – M(A)DE IN JAPAN

September 12, 2016 at 3:25 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

madeinjapan1_zpsc7hizsdqALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – M(A)DE IN JAPAN

1. tasky
2. FLOWER
3. Mad World
4. Breakdown
5. Survivor
6. You are the only one
7. TODAY
8. Mr.Darling
9. Summer Love
10. Many Classic Moments (globe cover)

♦ ♦ ♦

madeinjapan2_zpsa1txra5tM(A)DE IN JAPAN is the seventeenth studio album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki. It was first released via the Japanese streaming service called AWA on May 11, 2016, and was released physically on June 29, 2016. The album debuted at #2 on the charts and has sold 40,609 copies to date.

After quite some years, Ayu throws in another ‘task’, but this time to open the album. Since the name of the album is M(A)DE IN JAPAN, the Japanese sound of tasky fits the album very well. Halfway through the intro, the traditional sound is mixed with some typical Ayu dance music that really spices things up. It gets me so excited for what’s to come.

FLOWER opens with a similar Japanese vibe, but whoever thinks this is a midtempo track needs to think twice. Near the chorus, the arrangement builds into this amazing rock track that easily fits right in with tracks like ‘Microphone’ and ‘WARNING’. Somehow it’s a bit reminiscent of her older days (‘GUILTY’, anyone?). Overall a great first full-length track.

I really enjoy Mad World, simply because it’s so straightforward Ayu. It’s powerful, but it has a more pop/rock sound than FLOWER had and the melodies in the chorus are very easy on the ears. I must say her vocals are a bit better than in the previous track, she sounds more at ease in her vocal range here.

Breakdown is the album’s big ballad and the way the arrangement is built it could easily be a winter ballad. It features a lot of piano melodies, bells and chimes, and there’s a sense of mystery to it. This song also takes me back a few years, like 6 or 7, back to when she did a couple more songs like this. Not the type of forgettable ballad, so this one will tend to stick.

Now Survivor is quite an interesting track because the opening sounds like it could be the opening to one of her concerts, before leading into a big chanting chorus. I don’t think many of the other songs on this album are as powerful and original as this one and I must say this is the one (together with Many Classic Moments) that stayed with me most of all. A must on the album.

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I like how You are the only one opens with bagpipes, I LOVE bagpipes. The rest of the song kinda takes the middle road between a ballad and a midtempo song, which is quite interesting to hear. The chorus does not fully appeal to me, but it’s far from bad. In the end, it’s a nice track in which Ayu delivers an emotional vocal performance to top it off.

I comparison to the experimental SurvivorTODAY sounds like a safe choice for the album. It’s an uplifting track and there’s some nice power in it, but it’s more mainstream than some of her other songs. That having been said, I think it’s also an underrated song on this album. Ayu’s vocals sound amazing and the arrangement is very nice.

Mr.Darling is a bit like ‘Life’ remastered, but fortunately it does not sound TOO much like it. It’s a pop song, balancing the album in a nice way. However, it does sound a bit generic and the repetition of the line ‘soba ni ite‘ in the chorus kind of annoys me after couple of listens. It’s not bad, but it’s not special either.

Ah, I thought we were missing something and here it is: an Ayu dance track. Summer Love is like ‘You & Me’ and ‘Merry-go-round’ with a lot of energy and synths, and today it feels like no Ayu album is complete without a track like this. It’s catchy, uplifting and suprising in its own way. I like it!

Now I’ve always been a bit on the fence with Many Classic Moments, I don’t know why. It’s nice and I like the fact that it flows nicely from Summer Love, but there’s something to it that just holds me back a little bit. Nonetheless, would this album be better without it? No. Ayu doesn’t do many covers, but when she does, she does them well. This is another example and maybe I need to get a bit more aquainted with it.

I’m very pleased with M(A)DE IN JAPAN, it’s like Ayumi has finally returned to her roots and releases stuff she is actually very good at. No experiments (except for Survivor, then), no goofy stuff as in ‘Party Queen’, just the sound that made her so great as an artist. It’s also not that long, so I don’t show any signs of fatigue after completing this review, haha. It’s a nice album, I have listened to it a couple of times already on my way to work and I don’t remember skipping anything. Good job, Ayu!

Favorite trackstasky | FLOWER | Mad World | Survivor | Summer Love

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

madeinjapan4_zpsubowtqop

Ayumi Hamasaki – sixxxxxx

November 6, 2015 at 3:05 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

MINI-ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – sixxxxxx

1. Step by Step
2. Summer diary
3. Sayonara feat. SpeXial
4. Sorrows
5. Shape of Love
6. Sky high

♦ ♦ ♦

sixxxxxx is the fifth mini-album released by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki on August 5, 2015. The album debuted at #1 on the Oricon charts and has sold 44,410 copies to date.

Ayu didn’t waste any time after A ONE, she released this only five months after that! Opening this mini-album, Step by Step kinda feels like it’s a bridge between A ONE and sixxxxxx, since it won’t sounds out of place on A ONE. It’s easily recognizable that this song is a theme song for an anime, it has that typical Ayu anime song feeling, but with a touch of summer. I needed to get used to it a bit, but I really like it now!

I have loved Summer diary ever since I first heard it and saw the (emotional) MV, too bad summer is over already and I should’ve played this on repeat all the time, but unfortunately I didn’t. Still, I can imagine doing so, because this bubbly summer song (with a little Ayu edge) totally slays everything.

Time to fire it up for the next song. Sayonara feat. SpeXial is a collaboration with a Taiwanese boy band, and it sounds pretty awesome! After some typical Ayu rock songs, they threw in some dance beats for this one and it actually works very well. After four and a half minutes it does get a bit monotonous, but the rest of the song is better than I thought. Also, Ayu’s English sounds so good!

Wow, I’m surprised by how dramatic Sorrows sounds (yes, even despite the title). The verses are quiet and even ominous, but I wasn’t expecting the aggressive chorus with the full arrangement. This is Ayu’s other side, more focused on heavy music and kicking serious you-know-what. I’m even more surprised that I find this one of the better songs on the album.

Shape of Love interestingly features a 6/8 beat, but that’s not everything. Where did that amazing mandolin come from?! I was about to think Ayu didn’t have any more tricks up her sleeve, but boy I was wrong. It makes the whole song much more interesting, and it’s less bombastic than the previous song too.

Last (but definitely not least), Sky high closes the album with an airy vibe. After two darker and more emotional tracks, this is a great way to end the album upbeat and cheerful. It has the same feeling that Summer diary also has, so I think that makes the song instantly likeable.

I wasn’t expecting to be so satisfied with the album. Ofcourse it’s going to need multiple listens because I basically remember only the first three songs (I know), but I was overall very pleased. I hear Ayu is going to release another mini in about a month, so it makes me even more curious if she can keep this up. I hope she can release more songs that do not sound to much like older songs.

Favorite songs: Step by Step | Summer diary | Sorrows | Sky high

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

 

 

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)

♦ ♦ ♦

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

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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