BENI – Shiki Uta summer
1. Summer Lovers
2. Natsu no Omoide
4. Eien marriage ver.
5. Baby Blue
7. Summer Night Fever
8. OUR SKY
9. Zenryoku Shounen
10. Natsu ga Owaru Koro
♦ ♦ ♦
Shiki Uta summer is the first concept album by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on June 29, 2016.
The opening track, Summer Lovers, is quite cheery and upbeat and it sets the mood for the rest of the album. It sounds like a summer celebration with strings and brass elements, even a little flute hidden in there. It’s fun, and it makes me wonder about the rest of the album.
BENI covers Ketsumeishi’s Natsu no Omoide and its more mellow than the opening track, but it has a very nice bounce to it that captures me. I like that this is an English cover, and since BENI is bilingual, there are no weird ‘Engrish’ pronunciations. Everything about this song fits the summer concept, that little guitar solo in the bridge too.
I keep hearing something that sounds like the opening to Phil Collins’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” whenever that first beat opens Forever, it’s so funky and funny that I hear a resemblance. Anyway, this song is probably already one of my favorites on the album since it’s so catchy and I have loved it from the moment she released it as a single last year. I could listen to this song multiple times in a row and still not grow tired of it.
I really like the original version, I have always thought it was magical, and Eien marriage ver. has just that little extra. It’s sweet, and when I listen to the strings-filled arrangement, I can imagine a summer wedding. BENI’s vocals are the highlight of this track, she puts so much emotion into her voice and it’s so real and raw. Love it.
Baby Blue is a completely new song, right? I didn’t know it until now. From what I can tell from the lyrics, I know it’s a sweet song, and the arrangement fits that perfectly. Still, even though it’s nice, it doesn’t do all that much for me in the end.
The next song, Hanabi, is the next ballad on the album, and the addition of acoustic guitars makes it very summer-proof. It was co-written by BENI and Dohzi-T (to my surprise), and I like the slight build-up in the arrangement. However, BENI is a bit pitchy and loud here at times, especially in the chorus.
Summer Night Fever brings back the funky vibe that was present in some previous songs on this album, and I believe this is also a new song. It’s quite catchy, and although I do have to get over my dislike for ‘let’s-have-a-party songs’, I think I can handle this eventually since it’s not that bad. Clap clap.
Ah, OUR SKY, one of BENI’s songs that I know very well. I remember saying this is like a summer anthem, so I wasn’t surprised to find it here. It’s upbeat, fun, and filled with beats and synths for a true summer song. Still one of her better songs.
Zenryoku Shounen is obviously not about a ‘powerful boy’, but it’s still powerful since it has the same ambience that OUR SKY has. It’s fully in English, and it’s from ‘Covers 3’ as well, so we already know this one. It still slays, and I love that it’s on the album.
Closing the album is the new song Natsu ga Owaru Koro, translated to Around the End of Summer, how fitting. It’s a tad slower, and again co-written by BENI and Dohzi-T. Not too exciting for me, it just flows along very well, but I think I will forget about it soon enough.
Usually, BENI’s releases are a hit or miss for me. Her singles are usually awesome, like Forever and OUR SKY, but her new material can be somewhat bland and forgettable. Again, this was the case. True, every song had something I like, but remember I write while I listen to the album. As soon as those songs are over, I have completely forgotten what they were like. Unless it has that certain quality to make it stick. That’s why, sadly, I have to give BENI a lower rating, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy most of the album.
Favorite songs: Natsu no Omoide | Forever | Eien marriage ver. | OUR SKY | Zenryoku Shounen
BENI – Undress
2. DO IT RIGHT
6. Kimi no Kakera
9. DEEP SWEET EASY
14. Fun Fun Christmas
♦ ♦ ♦
Undress is the ninth studio album by Japanese/American singer BENI, and her sixth under the NAYUTAWAVE RECORDS label, released on November 25, 2015. The album ranked at #14 on the Oricon weekly charts, selling 7,281 copies in its first week.
INTRO is just a very serene track with BENI chanting in the background, kinda leading you into the feel of the album. DO IT RIGHT flows straight from it and it sounds very Western, like this is BENI’s American roots speaking. The track is similar to a mix between Selena Gomez and Kygo, a smooth R&B flow with laid back tropical deep house beats and high synths. Not very bombastic, but very nice as the first full track on the album!
BFF opens with soft acoustic guitars, but for the chorus the arrangement swells with percussion, electric guitars and strings. It gives the song just the right touch, and the melodies give it a very sweet and uplifting vibe. When you call a track ‘BFF’, this is what it should sound like. It’s a bit too long, but still very pretty (especially the vocals).
Ahh, there it is, Forever. I loved it on the single and it comes at the right time on this album, making it sounds even better than it already was. The opening still reminds me a bit of “You Can’t Hurry Love”, that same funky vibe, but BENI made this her very own unique and fun song with stellar vocals. I don’t think she has ever done anything like this before and I love her for releasing this as an A-side.
Interesting to call a track MEOW, but oh well. At least the arrangement sounds very interesting, modern and Western again, something that is probably her style for this album. This track is all over the place, and with that I especially mean the chorus, drawing inspiration from types of hardstyle music. I don’t know where she was heading with this, but it’s very quirky and I’m sure some people will hate this x’D
Kimi no Kakera is an R&B midtempo ballad, which is her signature style, but still BENI managed to make this different and in the style of this album, in contrast to what her songs were like back when ‘BITTER & SWEET’ was released. Despite that, and despite me really liking the track, I bet I will soon forget how it goes.
For Yokogao, BENI went for a more soulful and minimalistic approach, singing to a piano and strings only (with some soft percussion). I feel the vocals are a bit too loud, making her sound unstable at times, but on the other hand the emotion in her vocals is well done.
Opening the second half of the album is the midtempo song PAPA, a sweet song for BENI’s daddy. I like the arrangement, very smooth and fitting for this kind of song, and although I can’t understand the lyrics, I get the feeling she sings a sweet song to her father about how much she loves him. Just for that, I would love this.
DEEP SWEET EASY is a drawback for BENI if you ask me. Not that there’s anything very wrong with the song, but it just lacks something outstanding to make it memorable. Despite that, the arrangement is indeed beautiful. It just doesn’t live up to its full potential.
I like the uptempo quality of BABY, it’s like R&B on steroids. It could have had a smoother arrangement, but I feel like I understand the flow of the song more now than I did back when I reviewed it on the ‘Forever’ single. Now I also notice how the music develops throughout the song, adding more fun touches and making it more memorable. BENI, now I feel you.
SAYONARA incorporates more dance influences in its arrangement, and somehow I feel the beats, deep synths and handclaps make it sounds like a 90s dance song will there is still something modern about it. Interesting, and although usually I wasn’t into songs like this, I like this one. I would like to hear BENI do more of this in the future (despite some of the too simple lyrics).
In that same style (albeit a bit more like 90s house), this is the perfect time to cue in TATTOO. I liked this on the ‘Forever’ single for being another song that was not typical for BENI, and I mean that in the best way possible. BENI has always been about the smooth midtempo R&B ballads, but this girl can do uptempo dance and house tracks too and honestly, I like this better on her! One of the most kickass tracks on the album.
Alright, BENI, have it your way, one more midtempo R&B to close the original tracklisting. ZERO is kind of predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. I would have liked this better earlier on the album, though. One thing: did BENI just sing “I don’t give a f***” right before the first chorus??! 😮
CHRISTMAS! Fun Fun Christmas is what it says on the tin: a fun, uptempo song about Christmas, BENI style. Not something you would expect on a regular album, but it’s just a bonus track anyway. I do like the addition of this, it makes me happy! 🙂
At first I was very excited about this album, I loved the first couple of tracks and I had high hopes, even when that weird piece MEOW came along. This is BENI doing something different for a change, and I could get used to that. Weren’t it for the fact that she always manages to add some more generic songs to her album to spoil the fun a bit. Now I would like to make clear that I still have to hear the first bad BENI song, but some of her songs just fail to capture my attention and that’s just too bad because I know what she’s capable of. Luckily, there are some new gems on this album, and I will definitely give it another chance in the future!
Favorite tracks: DO IT RIGHT | BFF | Forever | PAPA | BABY | SAYONARA | TATTOO | Fun Fun Christmas
BENI – Forever
4. CAT’S EYE
Forever is the twenty-sixth single by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on August 12, 2015. The single sold 765 copies.
Well, that’s not much, only 765 copies… And to think this is the first single for her new album ‘Undress’ (TBR 2015.11.25). Anyway, Forever does not sound like anything BENI has done before AT ALL. The song is very funky and the beginning reminded me a bit of ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, it’s actually the best part of the entire song. BENI herself also sounds amazing, belting out high notes in the chorus. I’m in love with this ❤
The beat in BABY sounds a bit off to me, it’s not a bad thing that it’s uptempo but when I listen to the instruments I would imagine something a bit smoother, like in the bridge. It does have some nice R&B elements that BENI always pulls off nicely, but I think this song needs a little more time to get used to before I love it (and besides, I’m not going to love any song as much as Forever).
There’s something about TATTOO that sounds very 90s house, while it’s also modern. One thing is for sure, this is the third song in a row that is not typically BENI, in a good way! It’s very interesting that BENI tried this and her vocals work very well for this genre too, it leaves me wanting more!
CAT’S EYE is a cover, but I don’t know the original (as with most cover songs). The song has a mysterious ambience in some way, perhaps because of those piano notes throughout the arrangement. I must say this is the song I like least of all, although it doesn’t completely lack potential.
Well, if I wasn’t excited for ‘Undress’ already, I certainly am now!
BENI – KIRA☆KIRA☆
2. Zutto Futari de DJ HASEBE REMIX
3. Koi Kogarete CLUB MIX
4. KIRA☆KIRA☆ (Instrumental)
KIRA☆KIRA☆ is the thirteenth single by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on November 4, 2009. The titular track was used as an ending theme song for the NTV series Futtonda. The single reached #94 on the Oricon weekly charts, where it charted for a week and sold 792 copies.
Wow, I know this is a re-cut single (fans chose this song to be released), but darn, only 792 copies sold? KIRA☆KIRA☆ is such a cute song! I think it was the perfect A-side to be released during this time of year, it’s like ‘Bitter & Sweet’ Christmas edition! True, there’s not much variation in the song, but it has a nice flow and just the feeling of a Winter song already makes it a bit more special.
My favorite A-side of the era got an amazing make-over for Zutto Futari de DJ HASEBE REMIX. DJ HASEBE created another amazing effort by taking this midtempo track and giving it a bouncy R&B vibe with some beats and guitars, I love it!
Koi Kogarete CLUB MIX almost starts off exactly the same as the original, but it’s faster and there are some nice brassy elements put in to make it really sassy. I was afraid they made a dance mix of this song, which would’ve gone terribly wrong, but luckily it isn’t that kind of club mix. This really spiced up the original midtempo song and it’s one of the most unique remixes I know.
BENI – Zutto Futari de
1. Zutto Futari de
3. With U
4. The Boy Is Mine feat. Tynisha Keli
Zutto Futari de is the twelfth single by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on August 12, 2009. The titular track was used as a commercial theme song for Recochoku, as well as the POWER PLAY song for the NTV program Ongaku Senshi MUSIC FIGHTER. The single reached #67 on the Oricon weekly charts, where it charted for two weeks and sold 1,251 copies.
Zutto Futari de used to be my absolute favorite BENI song back when it was released and it’s still one of my favorites on the ‘Bitter & Sweet’ album. The way she uses her voice, the percussion rolls, the strings, everything about this sweet song just feels right to me. This is the one single of this era that plays in my head at certain intervals, in regular life. That’s how much this stayed with me.
The first B-side stardust also appeared on the album after it was released on this single, and once again it’s a more uptempo track accompanying the midtempo A-side. There are some electronic R&B influences in the beat that remind me of the pattern in Koda Kumi’s ‘TABOO’, but don’t worry, that’s where the comparisons stop. BENI herself sounds very enthousiastic and comfortable in this song, I really like it.
The next B-side is With U, which doesn’t appear on the album and is unique to this single. It’s just an enjoyable track, not that fitted for an album after all if you ask me, but the bright pop ambience is very cool. It’s a bit like a summer song, as far as BENI does any. I need some more warming up to this.
How funny is it that BENI decided to do a cover version of this song? I really like the original, and The Boy Is Mine feat. Tynisha Keli definitely comes as a surprise. Now this Tynisha girl is an American R&B singer who was very popular in Japan at the time, so I guess that’s why she appears here. She has a more nasal voice than BENI, but she doesn’t bother me and the girls actually sound sassy together. Move over, Brandy and Monica!
BENI – Koi Kogarete
1. Koi Kogarete
2. CRUISE the WORLD
3. FOREVER 21
4. Koi Kogarete (Instrumental)
Koi Kogarete is the eleventh single by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on June 10, 2009. The titular track was used as the commerical theme song for Recochoku as well as the POWER PLAY song for the NTV program Ongaku Senshi MUSIC FIGHTER. “FOREVER 21” was the image song for the FOREVER 21 clothing line collection. The single reached #70 on the Oricon weekly charts, where it charted for two weeks and sold 1,266 copies.
Koi Kogarete is not as uplifting as ‘Kiss Kiss Kiss’ was, but it has its own appeal. I like the acoustic guitar arrangement and little synth chimes, especially in the chorus. It’s one of BENI’s midtempo songs again, but one with its own memorable elements and I give her extra praise for her vocals (and background vocals).
BENI decided to go an entirely different way with CRUISE the WORLD, which is definitely not her regular midtempo R&B song. It’s more futuristic electropop and BENI is usually good at performing uptempo tracks. I like the A-side better because this track sounds a little flat at times. I do like the electronic distortions in her vocals, though.
Yes, FOREVER 21 is meant for the shop with the same name. It’s the cuter pop song on this single with a lot of chimes and higher pitched vocals by BENI. It’s a catchy song and I quite like it, but it’s not the best BENI song out there. I had to get used to it and listen to it a second time before I could fully appreciate it.
BENI – Kiss Kiss Kiss
1. Kiss Kiss Kiss
3. Mou Nido to… DJ HASEBE REMIX
4. Kiss Kiss Kiss (Instrumental)
Kiss Kiss Kiss is the tenth single by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on April 8, 2009. The titular track was used as the commerical theme songs for Kao’s “Biore Body Deli” and Recochoku. It was also used as the ending theme songs for TV TOKYO’s Ryuuha-R and JAPAN COUNTDOWN, and THK’s Ageten. The single ranked #1 on the weekly Chaku-Uta chart and #40 on the Oricon weekly charts, where it charted for six weeks.
Kiss Kiss Kiss is one of my favorite BENI songs, probably because I’ve grown so used to it (not much variety to it) but it’s also just a very good track. It has that Western R&B influence again a lot of her songs in this era eventually would have and I love it, the chimes, the snapping beat, the synths and piano arrangement.. BENI’s singing melodies are also very catchy, especially in the chorus. Even though I liked her avex trax stuff, this wipes the floor with that.
I was surprised by Signal, and I really think this should’ve been on the album ‘Bitter & Sweet’. It’s more on the aggressive R&B side with a lot of attitude and edge, BENI herself contributed perfectly to that with her husky vocals. It’s the perfect B-side for Kiss Kiss Kiss with a much faster approach and a variety of beats, I love this!
By now I know most of DJ HASEBE’s remixes are very good. This time he gave Mou Nido to… DJ HASEBE REMIX a whole new flavor and he turned the pop ballad into a faster paced R&B song. I really like what he did to it, the beat is so smooth and it doesn’t take away anything that’s pretty about the original. BENI’s vocals come out even better now, strange huh? Another great effort.
BENI – Mou Nido to…
1. Mou Nido to…
3. Mou Nido to… (Instrumental)
4. STAY (Instrumental)
Mou Nido to… is the ninth single by Japanese singer BENI (the first under her new stage name and new label Universal Music Japan), released on December 10, 2008. The track was used as an ending theme song for the MBS program ‘Hz’. The single reached #20 on the Oricon weekly charts, where it charted for seven weeks.
I loved the original Dohzi-T feat. BENI song ‘Mou Ichido…’, to which Mou Nido to… is the answer song. It’s so sad and BENI’s singing melodies were so beautiful! Now in this answer version she sings in a lower pitch and the arrangement is different, the acoustic guitar and piano play a much bigger part here and the beat is more subtle. The original was more R&B/hiphop and BENI made it more like a pop ballad for her version. The original had more impact if you ask me, but this isn’t too bad either!
With the previous song, but also with STAY, BENI proved that leaving avex trax was probably the best thing she ever did. And even the albums she released under that label were good IMO. This song is more Western R&B styled and it has this little electronic sound to it as well, very smooth. It gets a little repetitive after a while, but it’s decent enough. Her vocals were very good, though.
BENI – COVERS 3
2. Namida no Kiss
3. Ai Uta
5. Zenryoku Shounen
6. Wine Red no Kokoro
8. WON’T BE LONG
9. RUN AWAY
10. Shimanchu nu Takara
11. WOW WAR TONIGHT ~ Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement
♦ ♦ ♦
COVERS 3 is the third cover album released by Japanese/American singer BENI on December 18, 2013. The album debuted at #2 on the Oricon Charts.
Konayuki was released as a single last month and I think it’s perfect to start the album with this song, since this made me wonder if the rest of the songs on the album would be as good as this one. The song is a midtempo winter ballad, perfect for this time of year with the little chimes in the background. Still it has a little edge to it with the synths and beats and BENI’s powerful vocals.
The second song is Namida no Kiss, and just as with the rest of the songs on the album I have to admit I’m not familiar with the original. This track is very smooth and slow, with a groovy tempo. I love the bass and guitar here and how they influence the overall sound, but BENI’s vocals are a little too harsh for this ambience. True, she sounds lovely, but her volume was a little too much.
Ai Uta might be the third ballad in a row, but this is the first one with a more emotional touch that really gets to you. BENI’s vocals and input are perfect here, softly singing along with the piano melody. The emotional feeling in the song builds up, leading it into a highlight with more powerful vocals as well.
Hana really got me surprised from BENI’s very first note. There’s more edge to this song than to the previous three, with synths softly building up in the background before unleashing an amazing percussion beat that I adore. The little piano notes in the background make it a little groovier and very catchy, I can see myself loving this song even more in time.
Apparently we headed into a little uptempo section on the album, since Zenryoku Shounen incorporates a lot of synths and beats in its arrangement. The lyrics that BENI wrote probably bring up an entire new subject for the song since it doesn’t talk about a ‘powerful boy’ but more about herself finding a new beginning. Still, it all fits together and this song really kicks ass!
Ah, if I’m not mistaken Koda Kumi also has her version of Wine Red no Kokoro and if I remember it well I didn’t really like it because it was dragging like hell. BENI on the other hand really made this her own again and made it an acoustic guitar influenced ballad that is way more accessable for me. It’s not the best song I’ve ever heard since it’s very simple, but still, BENI wins. Again. *thinks back to Chiisana Koi no Uta*
Kaede is one of the longest songs on the album at a little over six minutes, and although it takes its time to start up it gets really interesting once the chorus comes along. It’s better than Wine Red no Kokoro and it gets even better when the song reaches the bridge. The real highlight kinda stays out, but the arrangement is very enjoyable and close to perfection. It just flows a little too well, if you know what I mean.
ARE YOU SERIOUS??! Omfg. WON’T BE LONG, the song that Koda Kumi made two versions of for her Black Cherry album in 2007 and apparently now it’s BENI’s turn. I can’t take this seriously, but okay, I’ll try. It bears a lot of similarities to Kuu’s version, but BENI’s version is higher and solo for that matter. I must say this version is much better than the Kuu version I have known for years, so this just proves one thing: Kuu can pack her bags, plz don’t make another cover album and just leave it to BENI to slay everything.
When I saw the title, I was afraid this was going to be the RUN AWAY that was also featured on the Satsuki Ame single. I can’t remember why I gave that single five stars, since I don’t think this song was perfect or anything. Okay, it has a lot of sass and edge to it with those swirling synths and fast beats, it’s playful, but there’s just so much missing in the chorus. I don’t like the melodies. Anywayz, not a disaster but still.
Shimanchu nu Takara takes it down a notch with a softer ballad approach. This just screams BENI’s personal style because of the fingersnaps in the beat and soft synths and bass luring in the background. This could have been just another ballad that passes me by without me really noticing it, but I like the melodies in this song and BENI’s soft vocals. Her lyrics are amazing as well, they actually have meaning!
WOW WAR TONIGHT ~ Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement closes the album, and it has a very appealing sound from the start. It has a clear R&B sound with some minor hiphop influences in the beat. Later on, some synths and even better percussion join in to make it perfect. BENI’s vocals show a certain amount of energy throughout the song, really dragging you into it. It’s a song with an interesting pattern, but it’s soooo good. One of my absolute favorites. BUT WTF WAS THAT STRANGE YELL AT THE END O.O
Most of the time, I’m not much into cover albums, especially not if I don’t know any of the songs. Well, I knew three out of eleven (xD), and this is BENI’s best cover album out of the three she has released up until now. It’s a little ballad heavy, but songs like WOW WAR TONIGHT and Zenryoku Shounen tried to balance out the album. I liked her other COVERS albums too, but those songs never really stayed with me, and I think this album definitely has the potential to be more memorable to me personally. I’d like to see BENI release some more original music soon though, since RED wasn’t what I was craving for this past year. If she would release something like this with original compositions, I’m sold.
Favorite tracks: Konayuki | Ai Uta | Hana | Zenryoku Shounen | WON’T BE LONG | WOW WAR TONIGHT ~ Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement
BENI – Konayuki
2. Konayuki instrumental
Konayuki is the twenty-sixth single by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on November 20, 2013. The song is a cover of the Remioromen song of the same name.
Konayuki will appear on COVERS 3 (to be released on December 18, 2013), so ofcourse this is the English version of the song. BENI made the song into a real winter midtempo ballad. I like how the arrangement incorporates both synths to make it a bit poppy, while in the background you clearly hear some chimes and later strings for more ambience. BENI’s vocals are very solid and her belting in the chorus is very controlled and appealing. She made some beautiful new lyrics for this song as well. Can’t wait to hear this again on the album and I really want to know now if the other songs will be as good as this one!