Koda Kumi – HOTEL

September 12, 2014 at 7:25 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – HOTEL

1. Introduction ~Check IN~
2. HOTEL
3. Interlude ~Secret Room~
4. MONEY IN MY BAG5. Interlude ~Last Night Dream~
6. TURN AROUND

HOTEL is the fifty-seventh single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on August 6, 2014. It peaked at #5 on the charts and has sold approximately 21,915 singles to date.

Oh, no. Let’s just pretend that introduction and those interludes aren’t here. Introduction ~Check IN~ is just plain terrible. Thank God, HOTEL makes it all better. It has a Western Urban groove going on that I absolutely adore. Those brassy elements are wonderful. I like her low half-rapping vocals very much, while further along in the song she displays great singing abilities and adlibs. I used to play TOUCH DOWN on repeat, but I think I’ve found my new repeat song for the next couple of days (weeks?). Kuu always does these kind of songs so well, she should do them more often. Best song on the entire single.

Interlude ~Secret Room~ is just a tiny little musical introduction to MONEY IN MY BAG. This is a little song of just 2:30 minutes and it’s right up HOTEL‘s lane, but then again it’s faster and edgier. Still I feel it’s more rushed and it has less production value than HOTEL, as if it was recorded in just one take. Still, it’s quite catchy in its own way.

The irritating guy from the introduction is back again for Interlude ~Last Night Dream~, so luckily that one’s over quickly so we can get to TURN AROUND. Surprisingly, it’s the ballad of this single, and I already thought I was missing one. It’s an R&B ballad that has a little throwback vibe to it since it reminds me a bit of Kuu’s earlier days. I think it has to grow on me because I notice it has potential, it just doesn’t grab me as much as it possibly could and should. Maybe this single is not her best single anywayz.

OVERALL RATING
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3 stars

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Koda Kumi – Bon Voyage

February 23, 2014 at 10:34 AM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 1 Comment


ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Bon Voyage

1. Introduction ~Bon Voyage~
2. SHOW ME YOUR HOLLA
3. LOADED feat. Sean Paul
4. Winner Girls
5. Imagine
6. Koishikute
7. LALALALALA
8. Let’s show tonight
9. Interlude ~Bon Voyage~
10. TOUCH DOWN
11. CRANK THA BASS feat. OVDS
12. LOL
13. Go to the top
14. Dreaming Now!
15. On Your Side
16. U KNOW

♦ ♦ ♦

Bon Voyage is the eleventh studio album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on February 26, 2014. The album came in four editions: a regular CD+DVD edition, a regular CD+Blu-ray edition, a regular CD only edition, and a limited Fan Club CD+ LIVE DVD edition.

Introduction ~Bon Voyage~ starts off with some sea shore sounds after which a very catchy dance beat follows with some hiphop influences mixed in. It’s just an introduction but I think this one is very sexy and I definitely enjoy the sound of it. It’s better than the introduction to JAPONESQUE or any other album.

As soon as I saw the PV for SHOW ME YOUR HOLLA and heard the song, I was completely sold. This song is way too short for me to fully enjoy it to the max, so I’d like to play this one on repeat to be honest. I love how this song is both sexy and quircky with its brassy undertone, while continuing the feeling that the introduction has. Kuu’s vocals fit the sassy and confident ambience that rules this song. One of my absolute favorites.

LOADED is a collaboration with Sean Paul, something I definitely didn’t see coming. But then again this just needed to happen because Kuu and Sean Paul complement each other perfectly when it comes to musical style. The track is a very nice uptempo pop tune with some amazingly catchy hooks and perfect vocals. It has so much to enjoy for anyone who has been a long time Koda Kumi fan, and the addition of Sean Paul’s smooth vocals is just pure perfection. I totally love this track.

The next new song (wow, so many new songs on this album) is Winner Girls, and after some pop/R&B inspired tracks this track with pop/dance influences spices things up in a totally different way. For a Kuu song, this one may come off as quite generic, but her vocals are top notch because she doesn’t hold back on the fierce tone she sometimes has.

Imagine marks the first ballad on the album, and it’s a ballad with a nice R&B ambience when it comes to the background beat. The piano takes the lead, something I needed to hear at this point on the album. I was already expecting this song to be a ballad since that’s almost always the case on Kuu’s albums, but this track has some spice to it. The male background vocals are nice for a change, I think Kuu finally released a ballad that doesn’t sound too much like something she has done before.

Ah, Koishikute, it has been a while. I was quite surprised to see this song on the tracklist, but still it fits. I always thought this wasn’t Kuu’s most original ballad ever, but the way the beautiful acoustic arrangement eventually builds up always touched me in some way. This song is the first one on the album that shows the other side of her vocals, the more vulnerable and emotional side instead of the sassy stuff. Because of that, I’d still like to say this song is a recommendation.

LALALALALA is the second single we encounter on the album and it has been one of my favorite songs over the summer of 2013, it just has that fantastic summery feel you can’t get out of your head. The aggressive and rocky ambience in the song brings another exciting side of Kuu to the album, and if you ask me these pop/rock songs have always done her good. This kicks some serious ass.

Do we get two interludes right behind each other…? I would have loved Let’s show tonight to be a full length song since it has such an exciting burlesque sound. I’d love Kuu to release a full length version, this was just too catchy to be only one and a half minutes long!

Interlude ~Bon Voyage~ picks up where the introduction left off by including even more deep beats and electronic influences. Turn this into a full length as well please, make this another ‘Black Cherry’-ish song.

TOUCH DOWN is perfect behind the interlude, and in this context I can appreciate it so much more than I did when I heard it on her summer single. When compared to LALALALALA, it’s very laid back and therefore I thought it was more boring. But now the deep and sexy synths and beats come fully to the front and I find myself falling in love at second sound.

After a bit of a weird introduction, CRANK THA BASS feat OVDS surprised me a lot by not only including a big fat bass in the background, but also a lot of electric guitars to make it a little rocky. Kuu takes her quirckiness to the next level with this amazing track, it’s so weird in a positive way. I loved OVDS’s raps, I don’t know who he is but he definitely knows how to spit it. Great combination of rock and house music.

Ofcourse Kuu had to be the next artist to release a song called LOL, and to be honest I really was ‘LOL’ when I heard her sing “HAHAHA laughing out louuud“, what the heck was THAT. I guess this album has its fair share of songs that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Still, it seems as if Kuu has improved her English, or it could just be the way she sings her lyrics. Anyway, it was actually bearable for once! Funny and catchy, oh well, I’ll just go with it.

Go to the top is another song I have been missing for quite a while, in fact, this one is even older than Koishikute. But it’s a very special song indeed, since it’s her comeback single after her pregnancy. I remember loving the musical mix in the arrangement very much since it combines rock, dance and even some dubstep. Kuu displays some fierce vocals, showing the world that she hasn’t lost her groove. An amazing song and it couldn’t have been in a better spot on the tracklist.

From the oldest to the newest single, Dreaming Now! continues the uptempo portion of the album. Even though I still can’t get over the words ‘I wanna dreaming now‘, Kuu manages to keep up with the musical style that has been popular lately. Deep beats, many synths and a dubstep drop in the bridge, this song has everything to make it memorable and even a little addictive.

On Your Side is a fairly short track at only three minutes and by now I was expecting another ballad, but it isn’t. Funny enough, this track is midtempo with a kind of smooth vibe that puts the focus on synths. This track is quite okay, but it would’ve been even better if more melody was present in the chorus, that just feels a little empty this way. Other than that, borderline filler.

Closing the album, U KNOW continues the sling of uptempo tracks that rules the second half of the album (of not the entire album), and this is so much better than On Your Side. Being a real club banger, this is Kuu at her best. Synths, deep beats, electronic vibes and Kuu’s amazing vocal range. This track just breathes fire, its hot and it has an amazingly good flow. The catchy chorus is bound to stay in your head the entire day. Great way to end the album.

I was so excited for Bon Voyage and I got so much more than I thought I would get. When JAPONESQUE was released, I was sold completely and I have listened to that album a LOT. Now, this follow-up album has taken its place and I am going to play this album on repeat for days. It’s uptempo with a lot of fun and catchy songs, showing yet another side of Kumi. Definitely on its way to becoming one of the best album of 2014 already!

Favorite tracks: SHOW ME YOUR HOLLA | LOADED feat. Sean Paul | Imagine | Koishikute | LALALALALA | Let’s show tonight | TOUCH DOWN | CRANK THA BASS feat OVDS | Go to the top | Dreaming Now! | U KNOW

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

Koda Kumi – Dreaming Now!

November 11, 2013 at 11:12 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Dreaming Now!

1. Dreaming Now!
2. XXX
3. Ai no Uta (LIVE @ a-nation stadium fes.2013)

Dreaming Now! is the fifty-sixth single released by Japanese singer Koda Kumi on her 31st birthday, November 13, 2013. The title song ‘Dreaming Now’ is used as the theme song for NTV’s ‘Volleyball World Grand Champion Cups 2013’.

Dreaming Now! is actually very catchy and summer-ish for a song released in the Fall, it has a very uplifting and danceable attitude. Kuu always seems to catch up with the more popular tunes of this time, and judging from that awesome little dubstep break in the bridge she nailed it again. This A-side is filled with beats, synths, catchy melodies and very good vocals. Minus the epic failure in English, ‘I wanna dreaming now‘, this is some reaaaally good stuff right here.

Everyone seems to totally adore XXX, and I can’t agree more. The lyrics are a bit cheesy, but I really don’t care, this track kicks some serious ass. It’s even heavier on the dance sounds than Dreaming Now!, throwing the beats, synths and autotune all around. This track also has a lot of those ‘drop-the-beat’ moments and another amazing dubstep break. For a B-side, this is pretty awesome!

This is the first time I ever heard Kuu sing this next song live, or I’ve heard it before and I just couldn’t remember it. Ai no Uta (LIVE @ a-nation stadium fes.2013) sounds great live, Kuu always had a gift for delivering powerful live performances and this another one of those breathtaking live versions. Ai no Uta is a beautiful song and to hear it live just makes me sit here and listen, completely stunned. Oh and Kuu is so cute when she shouts ‘Arigatou!!’ to her fans, this is perfect.

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

Koda Kumi – Summer Trip

August 18, 2013 at 3:36 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Summer Trip

1. Radio Show Start ~LALALALALA~ 【Intro】
2. LALALALALA
3. Show Time ~IS THIS TRAP?~ 【Interlude】
4. IS THIS TRAP?
5. Show Time ~TOUCH DOWN~ 【Interlude】
6. TOUCH DOWN
7. Radio Show End 【Outro】

Summer Trip is the fifty-fifth single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on July 31, 2013. The single debuted at #6 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 21,290 copies to date.

It’s so funny how Radio Show Start ~LALALALALA~ 【Intro】 actually sounds like a radio introduction (on ‘9.3 Koda Radio’) to a new single, the guy that announces everything is a bit weird but w/e. Very original, haven’t heard this before.
LALALALALA is the first full song on this mega summer single (that must be the 2013 version of 4 Hot Wave and 4 Times and such), and the song is a very energetic and rather rocky one, while the chorus brings in that summer feel. Since this is the first new full song Kuu has released in a long time I was hoping it would kick some serious ass, and luckily it does. The melodies are very catchy, Kuu’s vocals are amazing and this just fits perfectly on a summer single.

Show Time ~IS THIS TRAP?~ 【Interlude】  announces the next song and just tells what the song is about (the good and the bad in Tokyo).
The title IS THIS TRAP? is a bit vague since to me it just sounds like bad English, but it kicks in immediately. It has more of a dance approach to it, which Kuu also does very well. In fact: if it’s not an overly emotional ballad, it’s automatically almost always good stuff. Just like the previous song, this one is very catchy and aggressive with a lot of synths and beats. I’m thinking about keeping this one on repeat.

9.3 Koda Radio continues with the introduction of the next track with Show Time ~TOUCH DOWN~ 【Interlude】 (mostly the guy just says you ‘gotta check out the video’).
TOUCH DOWN has an amazing R&B sound to it, which was the only style that was missing from this single until now. The popping beat and synths make the music stand out from the other songs, but the rest of the song sounds rather empty to me. Such a shame because I have a weak spot for Kuu’s R&B songs. It’s not bad, but I definitely heard better.

Closing the single with Radio Show End 【Outro】, which actually has nice background music if it wasn’t for that weird guy again. 9.3 Koda Radio, over and out.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Koda Kumi – Cherry Girl / Unmei

June 17, 2013 at 7:49 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Cherry Girl / Unmei

1. Cherry Girl
2. Unmei
3. Cherry Girl -Space Cowboy Remix-
4. Cherry Girl (instrumental)
5. Unmei (instrumental)

Cherry Girl / Unmei is the thirty-fourth single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on December 6, 2006. The single reached #3 on Oricon charts and charted for 10 weeks. It sold 61,817 units in its first week and the most recent figures show that it sold a total of 100,275 units.

At first way back, when I was just getting to know Kuu’s music in 2007 or so, I was totally in love with Cherry Girl because of its fierce sound. I thought this totally kicked ass and she almost couldn’t do better than this. Even when I reviewed the album I thought this song was pretty amazing, but by now this track is like faded glory to me. Now when I think of it there isn’t a single dynamic element in this entire song. I just wish the chorus had more impact, but apart from that this still isn’t half bad.

It’s nice to see that Kuu had Unmei accompanying Cherry Girl on this single since this is the soothing ballad of the two. It’s a song I had long overlooked, I never thought it would give me that musical high. Unfortunately that doesn’t show up until the bridge, but the rest of the song isn’t bad either. The melodies are lovely and I like the arrangement (strings, synth riffs, guitars, piano and later on some soft percussion), so the parts of the song leading up to the perfect bridge deserve some attention as well.

Cherry Girl -Space Cowboy Remix- finally is a remix that has an arrangement that FITS THE VOCAL MELODIES. Space Cowboy, good job. Furthermore, that arrangement finally does kick ass since it gives me a bit more funky and brassy version of the original song. It’s not the version I know by heart so this is a welcome change for me. Very original remix, definitely worth a listen.

OVERALL RATING
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3½ stars

Koda Kumi – Yume no Uta / Futari de…

June 17, 2013 at 7:36 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Yume no Uta / Futari de…

1. Yume no Uta
2. Futari de…
3. Yume no Uta ~Quartet Version~
4. Futari de… ~WHOOSH MIX~
5. Yume no Uta (Instrumental)
6. Futari de… (Instrumental)

Yume no Uta / Futari de… is the thirty-third single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on October 18, 2006. The single reached #1 on Oricon charts and charted for 16 weeks. It sold 175,643 units in it’s first week and the most recent figures show that it sold a total of 301,169 units.

Yume no Uta takes Kuu’s ballads to the next level. It’s more of a power ballad that starts off soothing with just a piano, but as the first chorus approaches more instruments like drums, soft synths and guitars mix in to make everything complete. It seems as if Kuu is a bit hestitant when it comes to her vocals, but later I give her some extra points for those perfect adlibs near the end of the song. There’s something about this song that makes it all so magical, while at the same time its theme is about a sad breakup. Yep, I can get used to this.

It’s funny to hear that these two songs are actually the same when it comes to the sound and melody, the only things different about Futari de… is the arrangement and the lyrics. It’s the cuter version of the previous song with the arrangement toned down to just a keyboard/synth and soft percussion. The lyrics are about the joy of growing up now, so there’s also a sense of change in Kuu’s vocals (less dramatic and overly emotional). It only lacks the impact the previous song had.

Both songs also have a remix, so I’m basically listening to the same song four times in a row. Anyway, Yume no Uta ~Quartet Version~ has an arrangement that, ofcourse, consists of a strings quartet. Comsidering the theme of the song and Kuu’s emotional vocals, this version tends to be a real tearjerker for all you emotional people out there, so I’m just warning you in advance. Other than that, nothing wrong with this, it’s actually quite nice.

Futari de… ~WHOOSH MIX~ is the first and only song to turn things up, but still not that much. By now I’m pretty much fed up with hearing the same melody all the time, so I don’t think this version made the impression it should have. I mean, it’s not bad, the background vocals in this version actually add something to the song and the little beat gives another take to it, but still… Not my favorite.

OVERALL RATING
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3 stars

 

Koda Kumi – 4 hot wave

June 17, 2013 at 7:19 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | 1 Comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – 4 hot wave

1. INTRODUCTION ~I’ll be there~
2. Ningyo-hime
3. I’ll be there
4. INTERLUDE ~JUICY・Ningyo-hime
5. JUICY
6. With your smile
7. OUTRODUCTION ~With your smile~

4 hot wave is the thirty-second single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on July 26, 2006. The single reached #2 on Oricon charts and charted for 17 weeks. It sold 207,484 units in it’s first week and the most recent figures show that it sold a total of 390,685 units.

This is the CD+DVD version of the single, which explains the extra tracks. One of those is INTRODUCTION ~I’ll be there~, which ofcourse is an opening track that uses the elements from one of the four main songs (I’ll be there). It’s pretty short, but for me it always makes me want to have the main track right now.

So it doesn’t flow well into Ningyo-hime, the first main track on the single. It’s the heavy rock song of the bunch, and also one of Kuu’s most rock influenced songs in her discography (together with ‘Can We Go Back’ and such). Although it comes as quite a shock after a relaxed guitar influenced introduction track, this song is a very good example of what good rock should sound like. Kuu gives a great vocal performance and it’s definitely putting her in another perspective. As an individual track this just works and it’s pretty fierce.

And there it is, then: I’ll be there. The main version features the same laid back acoustic guitar arrangement, along with some drums and synths, but there’s even more life in this song. It’s light and sweet, and I always like to think there’s a sense of hope coming from this song. It took me a while to recognize what a gem this song actually is, but now I fully appreciate everything this song is. One of the recommendations on this single.

INTERLUDE ~JUICY・Ningyo-hime is very interesting since it mixes JUICY and Ningyo-hime together, two very different songs, and it sets the songs to a nice hiphop beat. Especially Ningyo-hime comes out great with that beat, but it fits together quite well.

The main song JUICY is a song that is a little bit on the edge, if you know what I mean. Like, this song is about sex. Let’s make that clear, ok. But besides the moaning in the background, the sultry music and its Arabian elements there is no emphasis on the ‘dirty’ concept. In fact, if you look past it, this is just a good song and it’s even the most laid back song on the single. It’s controversial, but I always say ‘Ima Sugu Hoshii’ is much worse.

With your smile is the happy party song on the single, and now when I think of it it’s like a combination of songs like ‘real Emotion’ and ‘COME WITH ME’. It’s very danceable and summer song material, the lyrics can get a little weird sometimes but I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. This is one of those tracks I always tended to overlook, until I heard it on this single. It got a little bit more of my attention after that, so now I can say I really like this track!

To close the single (the CD+DVD version that is), we have the cute OUTRODUCTION ~With your smile~, which is mostly a instrumental version of the last main song. It only lasts for about a minute though, which is a bummer. Another bummer is that a minute of silence follows, like, what’s the point in that. A very bad synthesized version of Ningyo-hime comes up after that. There’s nothing wrong with the sound of the synths, they just don’t fit the vocal melodies. Bummer.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

 

Koda Kumi – Koi no Tsubomi

June 17, 2013 at 6:56 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Koi no Tsubomi

1. Koi no Tsubomi
2. Koi no Tsubomi (A Cup Of Milk Tea Bossa Nova Version)
3. Koi no Tsubomi (Instrumental)

Koi no Tsubomi is the thirty-first single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on May 24, 2006. The main track was used as the theme song to the Fuji TV dorama “Buzu no Hitomi ni Koishiteru” as well as the image song to the Japan release of the movie “Cars”. The single reached #2 on Oricon charts and charted for 21 weeks. It sold 140,269 units in it’s first week and the most recent figures show that it sold a total of 273,060 units.

Actually, Koi no Tsubomi is the perfect cute song in J-pop music. It’s fluffy, but not overly cute and Kumi doesn’t emphasize the cuteness in her vocals either. I definitely think some singers need this song as an example (like, Ai Otsuka). Anyway, I really love this song and I have done so ever since it came out. It just makes me very happy and I always want to sing and dance along to it. The arrangement is very uplifting and breezy, just the perfect cute summer song.

Koi no Tsubomi (A Cup Of Milk Tea Bossa Nova Version) always makes me think of the airplane lounge music style, if you know what I mean. Maybe it’s a little far fetched, but just have a listen and I’m 90% sure you’ll agree. The cuteness is all gone in this version, but instead there is a very laid back and relaxed version in its place. There’s not really a highlight since even the chorus is pretty much toned down, but for the diehard lovers of the original song this can’t be a problem.

OVERALL RATING
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4½ stars

Koda Kumi – Someday / Boys♡Girls

April 20, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Someday / Boys♡Girls

1. Someday
2. Boys♡Girls3. Someday (Instrumental)
4. Boys♡Girls (Instrumental)

Someday / Boys♡Girls is the thirtieth single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on February 22, 2006. “Someday” was the TV Show “Shin Kyoto Meikyuu Annai”‘s theme song, whereas “Boys♡Girls” was the movie “WATERS” theme song. The single reached #3 on Oricon charts and charted for 9 weeks, selling a total of 89,413 units.

Someday is one of the typical songs that need a couple of plays for me to really like it, and ever since the single came out, that’s exactly what happened. For the past 7 years I’ve been playing the album a lot, and because of that this song grew on me too. It’s a bit funkier than some of the other songs on the album it appears on, but that’s what makes it a little more special than it appears to be at first. I like how the strings and piano work out in this song, very funky.

The B-side then, Boys♡Girls approaches the dance/pop style in a funky way too. It’s as if she made it one of her main styles during this era, but anyway. It’s more uptempo than the A-side however, so that counts for a major difference. Other than that, both songs fit together on the same single. If I had to pick one as my favorite it would’ve been the A-side though. This song seems to be missing something, although I don’t know what. Other than that, the vocal performance is amazing though.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Koda Kumi – No Regret

April 20, 2013 at 3:43 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – No Regret

1. No Regret
2. Rain (Unplugged Version)
3. No Regret (instrumental)
4. Rain (Album Version Instrumental)

No Regret is the twenty-sixth single by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on January 25, 2006. The main song was used as the opening theme song for anime “Law of Ueki”. The single reached #4 on Oricon charts and charted for 12 weeks, selling a total of 131,348 units.

No Regret always reminds me of songs like ‘Cutie Honey’, and I actually consider them to be unofficial sister songs of some kind. Just listen to this tack and you’ll hear the songs sound alike when it comes to the arrangement. Still it makes up for a fun track with some spice to it, different from the rest of the songs released in the ’12 days of Christmas’ release special. A little bit repetitive after a while, true, but still fun!

Rain (Unplugged Version) is actually a live version of one of Kuu’s older songs (this song is officially on her third album ‘feel my mind’). It’s nice to hear her bring back this oldie, and personally I think this is one of her best ballads with the most character too. The chorus is breathtaking, even if Kuu doesn’t relly hit the high note all that well, but she tried well enough for me to like this live song. She gave it her best shot.

OVERALL RATING
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4½ stars

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