1. Together When…
2. Together When… (Instrumental)
Ayumi Hamasaki has had quite a rough year. Post “BLUE BIRD” and post “Secret”, her sales have certainly taken a hit. Initial estimates for the combined sales of “A BEST 2” were high – around 2 million – but sales fell short by a whopping .5 million, setting her sales tone for the rest of her year. “glitter / fated”, Hamasaki’s summer single, sold about 100K less than her previous summer single effort, and what’s worse, her next single “Talkin’ to myself” was her worst selling single in years. It’s no wonder that Avex, whose stock is currently plummeting, took this opportunity to release Ayu’s first full produced digital single, a ballad titled “Together When…” Was the choice a good one on Avex’s part?
It’s hard to tell. You see, “Together When…” is by far Ayu’s best single this year. Time and time again, Ayu has shown us what an incredible ballad artist she is (see: Voyage, Rainbow, Jewel, Moments, SEASONS… the list goes on). “Together When…” is no different. Ayu pulled out all the stops on this rocky ballad. The song starts out slow, with only a piano and strings until Ayu’s voice enters the song. By the chorus, however, the instrumentation has built, to the point where the song breaks out into an emotive chorus that is both catchy and incredibly endearing all at once.
datte sore ja maru de eien no
sayonara mitai de kanashi sugiru kara”
I wanted to say thank you
I couldn’t say thank you
Because if I said it, it would be like
Saying good bye forever
The second chorus, and rocky bridge all peak in one moment where the guitarist ends the energy, leading us back into the soft ballad. But this moment is short-lived, soon enough, Ayu gives the audience her all, putting her heart into the music. And you can feel her emotion then. She’s done an excellent job with this ballad. The only bad thing I can think of is that it drags a bit in places, but then again, it’s meant to do so as a ballad, isn’t it? And those spots make the ending all the sweeter. If you haven’t gotten this song already, I suggest you do. It’s one of this year’s best.
The instrumental version just gives insight into the care taken in production of this song; I’d take a listen to just understand the ambience of the song. But if it comes down to purchasing it, it’s probably not worth your money unless you are head over heels for the single.
There… this single is one of the stronges Ayu’s put out since 2006. Japan is reacting to the song quite well, too, with the song quickly topping all the biggest download stores in Japan. Although Together When… probably would have been a physical success, it would have cost more money to go through the creation of the single, and let’s face it, digital revenue for this single will be very, very high – it might get to the point where it’s one of the biggest digital sellers we’ve seen since Utada Hikaru’s “Flavor of Life.”
Over all, this digital single is wonderful.