Koda Kumi – DNA

August 22, 2018 at 1:26 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 1 Comment

Koda Kumi – DNA

1. Introduction ~My music is designed from my DNA~
3. Dangerous
5. ScREaM
7. Aenaku Naru Kurainara
9. Guess Who Is Back
11. Kokorokara I love you
12. Work That

♦ ♦ ♦

dna2DNA is the sixteenth studio album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on August 22, 2018.

Introduction ~My music is designed from my DNA~ is a good intro track, not over the top and it’s like a teaser for the album. The music is electronic and mysterious, with Kumi’s vocals sounding like they’re from a robot or something.

The intro leads perfectly into HUSH, the second of Kumi’s latest three singles and this one was apparently saved for this album (the other two are on ‘AND’). Kuu sings ‘I bring the fire‘ and she couldn’t be more right. It’s a fierce and sassy track, a mixture between pop and soft hiphop and I’m instantly enthousiastic.

Dangerous has the same style as the intro track, more electronic than HUSH. It’s a busy track with lots of sound effects and it’s all over the place, but it works. It’s both fierce and fun, with a nice bounce to it.

With WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~ Kuu took it a bit too far. Take HUSH, mix it up with Dangerous and put it on steroids, then you get this track, but I don’t mean that in a good way. It could’ve been a solid track but it’s only giving me a headache.

Very funny Kumi, ‘I ScREaM‘ sounds like ice cream.. ScREaM is a normal track again, thankfully. It has a nice high hat beat and piano notes and leans towards the hiphop genre, so in that sense it’s like a track from ‘W FACE ~outside~’. It’s nice, but not the best, some parts just didn’t work for me, yet it’s so much better than WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~.

CHANCES ALL reminds me of ‘Okay’ off her album ‘Dejavu’, so that’s nice. Despite Kumi oversinging at some points, it’s a good track and more mellow than the other tracks so far. I find that I enjoy it very much and its chorus is so catchy.

Aenaku Naru Kurainara is the first ballad on the album’s tracklist and it’s a soft piano ballad as well. Eventually strings and percussion join in and the longer I listen to it, the more I start to like it. Kuu controls the emotion in her voice so well so she sounds perfect as well.

dna3Oh boy… I saw the PV for HAIRCUT when it was released and I didn’t know what to think except ‘WTF’. Some parts sound almost like Kuu wanted to make her own version of ‘Hair’, but I can’t take this seriously tbh. It’s not terrible or anything, just a weird little filler track.

Guess Who Is Back came as a big surprise because, wow, it has a fierce rock arrangement with lots of electric guitars and fast percussion, and a darn catchy chorus as well. I haven’t seen this side of her in a while, so it’s a welcome surprise as well. Guess who is back? It’s Kuu circa ‘Can We Go Back’!

HOT HOT is a very interesting track in a good way. It mixes rocky elements with an oldschool sounds that I really like while not making it over the top. It’s less in your face than the previous track was, but it might be even more memorable. This belongs to some of the best tracks Kuu has released in the last few years.

Then another ballad shows up, and from the start I liked this one even more than Aenaku Naru KurainaraKokorokara I love you reminds me of Kuu’s older ballads which were always good back in the day. It also has a more emotional touch to it but not too much, just right. I like the addition of the soft electric guitar in the arrangement as well. Amazing track!

Work That starts off almost acapella before the arrangement starts coming in piece by piece, and eventually it turns into a very danceable pop track. I’m a bit on the fence with Kuu’s vocals, they sound nagging and off key at times, but other than that it’s a decent track.

Kuu breaks it down one last time with PIN DROP, a sassy bop with a dance/pop arrangement. I like the addition of the brass instruments, haven’t heard that on the album, like, at all. Too bad Kuu’s vocals have been altered at points, mostly during adlibs, which is annoying, but other than that it’s a good track. Just not really an album closer, I need something epic like ‘WALK OF MY LIFE’.

With DNA, Kuu is almost back on her pedestal. ALMOST. It has so much more to offer than ‘AND’, which had only dance tracks and one ballad. There is much more variation on DNA and with that it appears to be a more solid and cohesive album. I forgive her the two missteps that WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~ and HAIR CUT are, they are outshone by most of the other tracks on the album. I was wondering whether Kuu will ever return to her former glory circa ‘Kingdom’, but with this she is one step closer.

Favorite songsHUSH | Dangerous | CHANCES ALL | Aenaku Naru Kurainara | Guess Who Is Back | HOT HOT | Kokorokara I love you

4 stars


Koda Kumi – AND

August 11, 2018 at 3:48 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 3 Comments

Koda Kumi – AND

4. WHO
8. LIT

♦ ♦ ♦

and2AND is the fifteenth studio album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on February 28, 2018. The album peaked at #2 on the charts and has sold 18,946 copies.

PARTY kicks off the album in an amazing way with a good summer tune. There’s an explosive instrumental hook that I really like and it’s almost trap/dubstep but not quite, very interesting and definitely worth it. Kuu’s English pronunciation is also very decent for a change. Amazing way to open the album.

After she gave us ‘TABOO’ back in 2008, she comes with SWEETEST TABOO now. It’s not its sister song, but it almost makes you think it is because of the title. From the start this track is pure fire with Kuu rapping the verses before moving into something a bit lighter and poppier. It’s the perfect balance and even though this track is quite busy, it’s FIERCE.

GOT ME GOING’ brings down the tempo and is more of a midtempo urban track. Despite that, there’s still enough attitude to go around here. I’m just missing some more melodies in the chorus, it was a bit too constant. At only 2:40, this is a very short track (but not the shortest..).

The next uptempo track WHO is a very interesting one to say the least. Again Kuu shows off some of her rapping skills, but some of it is very heavily autotuned. Luckily not all of it, so it’s just right. I like the fierce drop in the chorus with the saxophone, very sassy and a great addition to this edgy track.

I think OUTTA MY HEAD is one of the slowest songs on the album, but it’s still not a ballad. There’s still a lot of heavy bass synth and it’s hard to find another instrument to provide any kind of melody. We all know Kuu is good at putting a lot of emotion into her vocals, but what she’s doing her pushes it way too far. Not a bad track, but also not her best.

and3NEVER ENOUGH is Kumi’s latest single and luckily it proves me wrong because I thought this album wasn’t going to feature any decent ballads. This one is really good, a piano ballad with a soulful vibe to it and very good vocals and it was the perfect choice to be an A-side. Only one thing wrong with it: it’s too short!

At 4:06 minutes, ALL RIGHT is the longest track on the album (were there budget cuts at avex trax or something?). It’s a poppy feel good track with a breezy sound that fits well behind NEVER ENOUGH, also a welcome break from the party songs. It’s like a throwback to some of her earlier songs and something I’d like to hear from her more often.

On to the first A-side for this era, LIT. It’s like a watered down version of ‘Cherry Girl’ with that same vibe going on. The arrangement is very pleasant with the piano notes, guitars and synths and Kuu and her background singers sound like they’re really having fun. Not the best song on the album, but well worth it.

Here we have the shortest track at only 2:33 minutes. BRAIN should’ve been a bit edgier to really work, but what we get isn’t bad either. I like the bouncy quality to it, it’s a playful track and basically… it’s just there.

Closing the album, IT’S MY LIFE is a bit heavier again and like the other party songs on the album. What I really like about it is the prominent role of the low piano notes in the arrangement in combination with the trap high-hats, very mysterious and it makes it stand out among the other tracks. The arrangement is basically what makes me like it so much, but NEVER ENOUGH would probably have been a better closing track.

Kumi should have named this album ‘PARTY’ and made the opening track the title track as well, because that track probably had the entire vibe of the album in a nutshell. Most of the tracks were uptempo and real party songs, especially the first four of them, which is nice but I like some more variation. Also, the songs were very short and the album is only half an hour in length, which makes it feel rushed. Despite that, a lot of the songs were actually very good and it shows off the talent Kuu has for making uptempo danceable music. I’m curious about what ‘DNA’, the sister album, will bring next week.


3½ stars


Koda Kumi – W FACE ~outside~

July 19, 2018 at 9:29 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

outsideface1ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – W FACE ~outside~

2. Ultraviolet
3. insane
4. Damn real
5. Heartless
6. Bassline
7. Shhh!
8. Bangerang
9. Wicked Girls
10. Cupcake feat. AKLO

♦ ♦ ♦

outsideface2W FACE ~outside~ is the fourteenth studio album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released simultaneously with W FACE ~inside~ on March 8, 2017. The album has sold 28,065 copies and peaked at #1 on the Oricon Charts.

Wow, W FACE is all up in your face, pardon the pun. It clearly draws inspiration from Western music and Kuu didn’t hold back with the attitude. This could serve as the intro track to both albums since it talks about the entire concept of her being both the person you see on stage and the person behind the music. By now I’ve already gotten used to this track so it’s sort of a guilty pleasure.

Ultraviolet is another track I like while I hear so many bad things about this album, I’m almost ashamed to admit it. The entire song is almost literally on fire, Kuu never had more confidence than here. If her objective was to show us she will do whatever she wants and nobody is able to stop her, she definitely succeeded.

It’s like Kumi didn’t take herself too seriously while recording insane, but I’m not blaming her for anything. Another track that’s all over the place but in a completely different way than the previous tracks were. A blend of hiphop, dance and rock music, it truly IS insane in the best way.

Despite still being uptempo, Damn real slows things down a bit and tones down the attitude. A very contemporary track that deals with more mature relationship struggles, it comes at the right time on the album and I can really enjoy the clever trap arrangement.

Things really slow down with Heartless, a stripped down ballad consisting of just Kumi’s vocals and a lone piano. Initially this is the gut-wrenching, raw Kuu ballad that is featured on most of her albums, but the emotion she can use so well in her voice spirals out of control here.

outsideface3Bassline is more about that groovy sax, but there’s definitely a catchy a bassline in there somewhere. This is a fun song and even Kuu’s rap is something I don’t mind, the song as a whole is just very sensual and groovy.

Kuu channels her inner Christina Aguilera in the intro to Shhh!, but it’s good to hear she doesn’t take it too seriously. If Bassline was a song that screamed ‘fun’, this one screams even louder. I like the handclap beat and catchy melody in the chorus, it all definitely shows her more playful side.

The sax is back for Bangerang, a song very suitable for a night at the club while still having a slow and groovy side to it. It’s about letting go of all seriousness and just having fun, so it continues the playful side of Kuu we have been hearing for the past few tracks which I think is a good thing.

Of all the ‘let’s have fun’ type of songs on the album, I think Wicked Girls interests me least of all. The verses are better than the chorus, which is just a bit messy and meh. The short length is a good thing for multiple reasons, but let’s just say it wouldn’t have been good if this song was longer than 2:41.

Cupcake feat. AKLO is even shorter at only 2:14. It needed to grow on me a bit, but now I think it’s a decent track and even AKLO’s parts are pretty good. It’s a darker track than some of the others, which is a welcome change. Wicked Girls would’ve been a better closer though.

I know one should never be ashamed of their taste in music and I definitely encourage everyone to be proud of what you like, but since I hear so many bad things about the W FACE albums I’m almost afraid to admit that I actually like most of this album. True, usually I prefer songs with more depth to ‘let’s party’ tracks, but I think that when it comes to Kumi the latter genre just fits her better. In comparison to the ~inside~ disc, this album is more versatile with tracks that stand out more and are more memorable. This is the better release of the two and also a much better album than WALK OF MY LIFE was. I wonder what’s in store for us next.

Favorite songs: W FACE | Ultraviolet | insane | Bassline | Shhh!

4 stars


Koda Kumi – W FACE ~inside~

July 19, 2018 at 12:34 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 2 Comments

insideface1ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – W FACE ~inside~

2. Bring It On
3. Yorokobi no Kakera
4. Stand By You
5. Sukideshite
6. Kimi Omoi
7. On My Way
8. What’s Up
9. Promise You
10. My Fun

♦ ♦ ♦

insideface2W FACE ~inside~ is the thirteenth studio album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released simultaneously with the album W FACE ~outside~ on March 8, 2017. The album has sold 27,900 copies to date and peaked at #2 on the Oricon Charts.

Starting the album with BRIDGET SONG gives it a hopeful direction when it comes to how the music sounds. A lot of strings, piano and a bouncy drum beat and Kuu’s vocals sound nice too. It’s very catchy and I think it’s going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Bring It On is a song I would’ve expected to be on the ~outside~ album, but here it is. The arrangement reminds me of a faster paced version of FREAKY, it has the same rock ambience and attitude. Despite the bad English in the chorus, I really like this one.

Yorokobi no Kakera is the kind of song I expected the entire album to be filled with: a strings and piano based ballad, a true heartfelt J-pop slow song. By the time we get to the chorus, it’s like the arrangement takes flight. If you ask me, Kuu’s at her best on tracks like this and I won’t mind hearing more of this.

On to the longest track on the album at almost six minutes length: Stand by you. Also a ballad, but even more stripped down than Yorokobi no Kakera and with a more emotional touch. To me it sort of feels like a sequel to MOON, which is one of her most beautiful songs to date and I don’t think she can ever top that one again. StillStand by you is very nice.

I was hoping to something with a little more bounce to it and Sukideshite is exactly that. But despite that, it feels a bit empty and it doesn’t really capture me. It’s a fun song and the melody is memorable, but there’s something about it that just doesn’t really stick.

insideface3A piano and guitar lead the way into Kimi Omoi and of course here come the strings again. Maybe I wasn’t wrong about this being a ballad-stacked album after all. After the first chorus it gets more interesting though with added percussion for a bit more power. Could be one of the hidden gems on the album since it’s one of the most enjoyable ballads so far.

On My Way is more midtempo with the same feel the ballad tracks on this album have. The typical arrangement with strings, piano and percussion that is the album’s signature style, or so it seems, but it doesn’t seem to do anything for me.

What’s Up is the uptempo track I’ve been waiting for with blazing electric guitars, fast percussion and attitude. It’s a real wake-up call after so many quiet ballads and the complete opposite of On My Way. Kuu really let her inner rock goddess out this time.

Promise You is the perfect song to close a tour setlist with, despite it needing a little more fire to really succeed. Yet I really like what they did to the arrangement and there’s a quality to it that makes it one of the better songs on the album. Love the chanting after the chorus.

The final song on the album, My Fun, starts off a bit strange if you ask me and the odd feeling remains as soon as the children’s choir comes in. I expected something a bit more powerful and also quirky in a different way. In other words: nope.

Kuu pulled a Beyoncé on us and released a double album, with this side being the more personal and ballad-stacked one. There are some good tracks here, but mostly I was waiting for a more uptempo track that really stood out between the monotony of strings and piano. All this album does is leave me wondering what happened to the Kuu we used to know, and I’m almost scared to start my review on the ~outside~ disc (which I haven’t heard many good things of). It’s a decent album, but I need Kuu circa ‘BEST ~second session~’ back.

Favorite songsBRIDGET SONG | Bring It On | Yorokobi no Kakera | Kimi Omoi | What’s Up | Promise You

3 stars



Koda Kumi – TABOO

October 9, 2016 at 3:25 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Koda Kumi – TABOO

2. Always
3. TABOO (HOUSE NATION Sunset In Ibiza Remix)
4. TABOO (Instrumental)
5. Always (Instrumental)

TABOO is the forty-first single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on October 8, 2008. The title track was used as the theme song for the Women’s Wrestling Championship 2008, the commercial song for music.jp and for the Nintendo DS Game Saihai no Yukue. The single reached #1 on the Oricon weekly charts and has sold a total of 88,405 units.

After a ballad A-side on the previous single, TABOO brings back Kuu’s dirty sex appeal in the best way you can imagine. It’s like ‘BUT’ 2.0, a good dance track with some pretty good beats. Her voice is vocoded again, but somehow that always works out very interestingly in tracks like this one. Catchy!

Oh my, it’s been YEARS since I last heard Always, and I remember loving it back when the single was released. It’s the mellow pop track to balance the single, sweet and with a lot of acoustic elements and bells. It might seem a little misplaced with a sexy A-side, to have a cute B-side like this, but personally I don’t mind because I love this a lot.

Something called TABOO (HOUSE NATION Sunset In Ibiza Remix) must have a house sound and must be fit for a party on Ibiza, and luckily, it has and it does. It upgrades the original and gives it a touch that makes it a great party song. The original is always better, but this didn’t disappoint me either.

4½ stars

Koda Kumi – MOON

October 9, 2016 at 3:03 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Koda Kumi – MOON

1. Moon Crying
2. That Ain’t Cool feat. Fergie
3. Once Again
4. Lady Go!
5. Moon Crying (Piano Arrange Version)
6. Moon Crying (Instrumental)
7. That Ain’t Cool feat. Fergie
8. Once Again (Instrumental)
9. Lady Go! (Instrumental)

MOON is the fortieth single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on June 11, 2008. “Moon Crying” was used as the theme song for the Japanese drama Puzzle. The single reached #2 on the Oricon weekly charts has sold a total of 140,743 units.

If I have to pick one favorite Koda Kumi single, this would be the one. It starts off lovely and vulnerable with Moon Crying, with Kuu’s voice filled with emotion. The piano opens the song, but eventually strings and soft percussion join in. The result is a beautiful power ballad that I have loved from day 1, and probably always will.

Even though Fergie seems to be the main artist in That Ain’t Cool, it’s still a nice effort and a collaboration I did not expect at the time. It fits right in with songs like ‘Cherry Girl’, with the same badass girlpower. However, there’s no Kuu (‘That Ain’t Kuu’, LOL), and her ‘Engrish’ is pretty bad. Still, guilty pleasure at times.

Kumi teamed up with reggae artist PUSHIM for Once Again, one of my absolute favorite songs on this single. It’s kind of watered down reggae, but still it’s very enjoyable, especially in the summer. This song takes me back to the summer of 2008, when I listened to this single all the time on vacation in Spain. I can’t stop loving this ❤

Lady Go! ends the single on a happy and poppy note, and it’s probably the catchiest song on the entire single. It’s an explosion of beats and synths, very vibrant and even though Kuu’s vocals are heavily vocoded, it all fits. Back in the day it took me a while to really appreciate this track, but now I can’t imagine not doing so.

Basically, this is a gem if you ask me. Some might not agree, but to me, this single has something for everyone. Also, it seems like it encompasses the four seasons a bit (with Moon Crying being the winter ballad, and Once Again being the summer single, etcetera).

5 stars


Koda Kumi – SUMMER of LOVE

July 22, 2015 at 3:39 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

Koda Kumi – SUMMER of LOVE

4. I’ll be there
5. With your smile
7. girls
8. Lick me♥
9. Once Again
10. Lady Go!
11. Lollipop
12. Poppin’ love cocktail feat. TEEDA
13. V.I.P.

♦ ♦ ♦

SUMMER of LOVE is a summer collection album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on July 22, 2015. The album features three new songs and the summer songs released from her ‘4 hot wave’ single on.

So excited that there are three new songs on this album! EX TAPE is the first one and I already heard it in its entirety somewhere last week and I thought it was extremely catchy. After only one listen the chorus was stuck in my head. It’s one of the typical Kuu urban tracks with a very smooth beat and nice flow to it, I hope this track will be featured on more releases from now on.

HURRICANE is the uptempo dancefloor track of the three new ones and I instantly recognize this song is all about the chorus. There aren’t really verses, or I just missed them, but that’s fine with me because this has such an amazing power and sass to it. Kuu sings ‘I’ll blow you away‘, and she actually does!

Very fitting for the album, NO ONE ELSE BUT YOU is a summer song with a nice mellow vibe to it. It’s kind of funky with the guitars in the background, but the brass instruments give it its real standout quality. Kuu compliments the relaxed ambience of the track perfectly with her vocals. At first, after I heard the preview, I thought I wouldn’t like this one that much, but I was so wrong!

On to the older songs, and ofcourse I know all of them since I’ve been a Kuu fan for 9 years now. I’ll be there is from 2006, but the style isn’t that different from her new songs so it’s not a shocking transition. I really like this one for its relaxed verses and poppy choruses, it has this real pop band sound. It fits perfectly on the album with its uplifting summer vibe.

When I reviewed With your smile on the ‘Black Cherry’ album, I already said this was a typical summer song and here it is! You haven’t heard uplifting until you heard this one, although it’s less on the pop but more on the dance side. Kuu gives a great vocal performance in this one, very energetic and not as monotonous as she would sometimes during that era.

I wouldn’t really call FREAKY a summer song because of its darker rock sound, but oh well. I just reviewed this both on its own single and on the ‘Kingdom’ album and it was one of the best songs of that era because it was so different from the rest. I allow this song on this summer compilation because of its amazing energy, quite nice to hear it in this context.

I already predicted girls would be among the songs on this album. I don’t think it’s that well known, but it is almost like a twin song to With your smile! I never noticed how much these songs sound alike until now. I think practically everything I said about With your smile also applies to this one, simple.

Ahhh, ofcourse, Lick me♥ ! This was probably the best song on the 3 SPLASH single and I loved the MV in which Kuu dresses up as Strawberry, Mango and Chocolate Girl, very summer-ish. It’s very fast paced, with electric guitars and synths spicing everything up in the arrangement. Kuu keeps her vocals under control so she isn’t all over the place. Still love this one.

OMG, I’m screaming now. Once Again, probably the most undervalued of all songs on the MOON single, is here too!! This was my absolute favorite after ‘Moon Crying’ and this just takes me back to the summer of 2008 when I listened to this song all the time. I love the reggae vibe provided by PUSHIM, and she delivers some nice backing vocals complementing Kuu’s amazing performance. FAVE!

Lady Go! is off the same single as Once Again and it has appeared on probably every best album since it was released. No wonder because it’s so darn catchy and it has an explosive pop/dance sound with lots of variation in the beats. From beginning to end it’s very vibrant and another gem in her discography.

I still hear ‘I touch your booty, booty // Baby boy we’re gonna party‘ instead of the correct lyrics in Lollipop, shame on Kuu for her Engrish xD  Luckily it’s not just me. This was the only song on the ‘Gossip Candy’ single that I liked (can someone kill the fishbowl songs please?), it shows off Kuu’s slutty side more or less and secretly I love her for it. Nice R&B influenced summer pop song.

Fast forward to 2012: Poppin’ love cocktail feat. TEEDA and the rap contributions by TEEDA still crack me up (‘You looks like horny‘..?). The arrangement however is extremely good with its heavier rock sound and this was always one of my ultimate guilty pleasures. It still is, I can’t possibly sit still to this quircky and crazy song!

V.I.P. is my go-to sexy song and I know it by heart because I listen to it, like, all the time. I love its heavy beat and great use of vocal distortions and autotune, and I don’t even mind Kuu moaning in my ear in this case. I extract points for not including the version with T-Pain here, that was just too sassy (and funny).

2013 got much better when Kuu released her smashing LALALALALA, an amazing rock inspired summer pop song with extremely catchy hooks. I was instantly in love with this and I still think it rocks (pun intended). I’m afraid I won’t be able to get this one out of my head for a couple of hours.

TOUCH DOWN has grown on me a LOT. In fact, it’s like V.I.P., my go-to sexy R&B/hiphop song. It’s much more laid back than LALALALALA is and instead of thinking it’s boring, I love the deep beats and synths and use of vocal distortion effect sooo much now. Now this is what I call a song with an attitude.

Closing the album, there is the 2014 song HOTEL, Kuu’s most recent single to date. I love the Western Urban vibe going on and even though Kuu sounds a bit nasal in the verses, I like her half-rapping style (and I know I probably shouldn’t). I played this on repeat for quite some time and I still want to whenever I hear it again, so please excuse me while I listen to this again… and again… and again…

Okay, I’ll stop fangirling now. This album is probably the best thing Kuu has released this year because ‘WALK OF MY LIFE’ was kind of a crappy album in my opinion. This makes everything alright. There are many older songs on this album, but all together everything sounds very cohesive and it really has an amazingly cool summer ambience. The new songs were all fantastic, so I’m going to put this album on repeat every time there’s good weather around (and that happens a lot lately so…)

Favorite songs: EX TAPE | HURRICANE | NO ONE ELSE BUT YOU | I’ll be there | FREAKY | Lick me| Once Again | Lady Go! | Poppin’ love cocktail feat. TEEDA | V.I.P. | LALALALALA | TOUCH DOWN | HOTEL

5 stars

Koda Kumi – Kingdom

July 14, 2015 at 3:23 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

Koda Kumi – Kingdom

1. Introduction For Kingdom
3. Amai Wana
4. Himitsu
5. Ai no Uta
6. anytime
7. Under
8. BUT
9. Koi no Mahou
10. Aishou
11. Anata ga Shite Kureta Koto
12. Wonderland
14. MORE
15. Black Cherry

♦ ♦ ♦

Kingdom is the sixth studo album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on January 30, 2008. Despite the controversy surrounding the release (because of a comment Kuu made on a TV show), the album peaked at #1 on the charts, selling 750,000 copies.

I’m still wondering if that Mariah Carey note at the beginning of Introduction For Kingdom is really Kuu, but I think it is. Darn, that was high. Ofcourse this is just an introduction and intros usually don’t do anything for me, but this was kind of sparkly and inviting.

Then follows a strange transition into the dark LAST ANGEL feat. TOHOSHINKI, which isn’t really what I wanted but oh well. I still feel like the production of this song is rushed and the vocals don’t go well together. The deep bass and music is a plus, but despite that this will never be my favorite, nor will it be among my favorites.

Amai Wana has always been an interesting song with its sensual Arabian influences and Kuu always pulls these kind of songs off in a great way. Mainly because she’s singing in her lower register Kuu is giving this song something mysterious and sexy, and I find this first new song on the album very enjoyable.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Himitsu is oldschool R&B and it has such a laidback sound to it. Both the music and Kuu’s vocals have been toned down for this and the result is a very nice and smooth new track. Some may not like it, but maybe I like it because I know it so well by now.

Time for Ai no Uta, and it has a nice spot on the album after Himitsu. This is probably the strongest ballad on the album when you put everything together and Kuu deserves some praise for controlling the emotion in her vocals. Everything is just right and it’s clear to me why this is one of her more popular songs.

anytime follows, so that makes two ballads in a row but this is a completely different one. Where Ai no Uta brought along the emotion, this is more lighthearted and reminds me a lot more of summer. This used to be my absolute favorite back in the day but now I wonder if that will ever change, this is such a sweet song and it lifts my spirit, taking me back to 2008 #nostalgia

Under used to be among my favorites as well, but people kept bashing me for this. Somehow I couldn’t help but liking the heavy hiphop influences and deep beats and I still do. True, the song in itself is quite empty and it lacks a lot of depth, but it gets pretty catchy after you listen to it for a while.

On to the next single, we’re moving fast through them. BUT was the second best A-side in my opinion and I totally love the sass of it all. It comes out even more appealing right after Under and in some way it continues the deeper sounds on the album in a nice way. It makes for a really nice flow and it makes the song stand out much better. Love it!

As soon as I hear the first notes of Koi no Mahou I completely remember how this song goes after forgetting about it for a while. It’s one of those bubbly, fun pop songs and Kuu displays some cuter vocals as well (singing in her higher register). I love how catchy the chorus is, I can imagine this being stuck in my head now that I’ve heard it again.

Although I have gotten more used to Aishou now and I really like the electric guitar music in the arrangement, I think there are better songs on the album. Nonetheless, this is a powerful track that has more production value than some of the others and the album really needed a grittier song like this one.

Anata ga Shite Kureta Koto never did much for me and it still doesn’t despite that lovely little guitar riff in the background. It’s quite bland and it tends to repeat itself throughout the entire 4 minutes. I’ll never avoid this track, but this is not a recommended one.

Ah, my guilty pleasure, Kuu goes Mario Kart on us. Wonderland is kind of amusing and it reminds me so much of Rainbow Road in said game, it’s just so overly cute and it totally doesn’t fit the feel of the album but it’s sooo much fun. Bring on the dancing mushrooms and bows, I’m all for it.

From cute to sassy and energetic, FREAKY is the next trick Kuu has up her sleeve. I thought it was a pretty strong A-side because of its darker and edgy ambience and the electric guitars really drive this forward. Kuu herself puts in the right amount of energy as well and she delivers a great vocal performance.

MORE is probably the biggest surprise on the album since it’s (one of) the first time(s) Kuu performs a jazzy/bluesy song. She does it quite well, her vocals prove well fit for this genre and although I’m not rooting for her to do this more often, it brought along a nice change. I used to skip this all the time, but now that I’m older I like this more.

I love Black Cherry, the full version of the introduction to her previous album of the same name. The newly added verses blend in very nice with the rest of the song everyone already knows, it’s just now that I’ve listened to it for years and years that I notice how badly they blended in the last rap part. That was kind of abrupt. But still, deep bass and nice melodies make up for everything. SASSY!

Surprise surprise, I love this album. Probably more than I should because most of all this album brings back so many memories of the time when it was released. I used to listen to it on repeat all the time, especially anytime and Wonderland (because that’s what 13/14-year-olds do haha). I still notice the variation on the album, Kuu shows a lot of different sides of herself with all these different types of music and if there’s one thing I love on an album… Those of you who have been here for a while don’t need an explanation. If you don’t agree with me that’s fine, I know I’m probably giving this a higher rating than it deserves but this is just pure nostalgia for me okay?

Favorite songs: Amai Wana | Himitsu | Ai no Uta | anytime | Under | BUT | Koi no Mahou | Wonderland | FREAKY | MORE | Black Cherry

4½ stars

Koda Kumi – anytime

July 14, 2015 at 2:16 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

Koda Kumi – anytime

1. anytime
2. Bounce
3. anytime FreeTEMPO Remix
4. anytime (Instrumental)
5. Bounce (Instrumental)

anytime is the thirty-ninth single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on January 23, 2008. The title track was used as the commercial song for Kirin’s “Kirin Chuuhai Hyouketsu” and “music.jp”. The single reached #4 on the Oricon weekly charts and charted for 5 weeks. It sold 43,051 units in it’s first week and the most recent figures show that it sold a total of 53,189 units.

I have always liked anytime and for a long time it was my absolute favorite of the Kingdom album. I still like it nowadays, even though my musical taste has developed even more. What I like so much about this song is that it’s so sweet and airy, even like a summer song (while it was released in January). This was supposed to be on the ‘FREAKY’ single, but thankfully they deleted it and gave it its own release (it wouldn’t have fit on that single anyway). I’ll even take Kuu’s pitchy vocals (which she tends to have at times).

Bounce is a Rosette cover, I don’t know the original but Kuu ‘Japanesed’ it apparently. It spices up the single with its fast paced rhythm and catchy hooks and it gets better the longer I listen to it. Sometimes it reminds me a little of Kuu’s earlier days when she was just getting started, it has this slight turn-of-the-century sound. Quite nice.

Oof, a remix of over seven minutes. They sped up anytime FreeTEMPO Remix a lot so the vocals sound a little unnatural and it takes a little longer for things to get really interesting, at first its just Kuu and a piano. Later on they add strings and a dance beat. It kind of kills the sweetness the original song had and that isn’t a problem per se, I just don’t dig what they did to it.

3½ stars


July 14, 2015 at 2:03 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment


2. Dear Family
3. LAST ANGEL feat. TOHOSHINKI (Instrumental)
4. Dear Family (Instrumental)

LAST ANGEL feat. TOHOSHINKI is the thirty-eighth single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on November 7, 2007. The title track was used as the image song to the Japanese release of the movie Resident Evil: Extinction and also “music.jp” commercial song. The single reached #3 on the Oricon weekly charts and charted for 12 weeks. It sold 57,310 units in it’s first week and the most recent figures show that it sold a total of 91,620 units.

In the past I never really liked LAST ANGEL feat. TOHOSHINKI, but it has gotten better over the years. It’s still not my favorite song, but at least I can appreciate it a little more now. What I still don’t like is the fact that the vocals just don’t work well together. There is a clear difference in style and approach and the TOHOSHINKI boys tend to overshadow Kuu. The music is better with its dark and gritty theme.

The idea of Dear Family is very sweet, since it really is a song for Kuu’s family. It’s a slower song, quite mellow and I like the slight Caribbean influence in the music (I believe it’s steelpans). Not very special, but I’m getting used to it more and more now and I’m also starting to like it better.

3½ stars

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