Archive for December 9th, 2007

[Single] Hitoto Yo – tadaima

『ただいま』一青窈
hitoto.jpg
~Tracklist~
01. ‘tadaima’ (『ただいま』)
02. dondengaeshi (どんでん返し)
03. hitorideni (ひとりでに)

~Single Review~
This single was released on December 5, 2007 and peaked at number ten on the Oricon Daily charts.

“tadaima” is a soft ballad with piano, strings, a soft beat that all come together to create an elegant finale. This track never really becomes extraordinarily strong vocally or instrumentally, which is a bit of a problem. It’s soft nature, although endearing, leaves the listener wanting more, more emotion, more vulnerability, more of something. The one redeeming trait of this track, that makes it different from much of J-pop is the special vocal technique; the vocals waver and even “jump” from time to time in a very traditional way. That’s a great addition to average vocals otherwise, but I have seen this technique performed better. Still, Hitoto Yo fans should adore this song.

“dondengaeshi” is a decent upbeat B-side that lacks true power. It feels very happy, but I can’t help feel as though it lacks something to make it memorable and repeatable.

“hitorideni” is a piano ballad that simply makes me scratch my head. Why there are two very similar ballads on this single, I don’t know. At least they’re both above average, but still, the only real difference with this song is the use of only piano instead of a variety of instruments. In the end, this song is a notch below “tadaima.”

This single did not impress me in the slightest. It felt very average, but then again, I’ve never been a fan of Hitoto Yo’s music. I suggest passing it up unless you’re in desperate need of a more traditional ballad, or you’re a Hitoto Yo fan.

79% C+ 

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[Single] Eri Takenaka – masshiro na yuki, masshiro na mirai

『真っ白な雪 真っ白な未来』竹仲絵里
eri.jpg
~Tracklist~
01. masshiro na yuki, masshiro na mirai (真っ白な雪、真っ白な未来)
02. cherishing (cherushii or チェルシー)
03. setsunairo (セツナイロ) -acoustic live ver.-

~Single Review~
“masshiro na yuki, masshiro na mirai” was released on December 5, 2007 and did not chart in the Oricon top twenty. That shouldn’t discourage you from listening to at least the lead track.

“masshiro na yuki, masshiro na mirai” is impressive. The intro of the song is acapella with very strong solo vocals. These strong vocals continue even as the instrumentation picks up; the first verse is soft and acoustic sounding with a guitar, and eventually a piano and drums as the song hits the bridge. At the chorus, Eri Takenaka’s voice explodes in strength along with instrumentation. Very powerful and with a great hook – “masshiro na yuki, masshiro na mirai.” The end of the chorus has the instrumentation stop for mere moments, turning the spotlight on Eri Takenaka’s voice which is superb. By and far, the star of this track is her voice. The production is great, but her voice as the song crescendos is purely amazing. Honestly, I was surprised at the strength of this track when I heard it, it’s worth a listen.

“cherishing” has odd sound, where the guitar is sided towards the right. That’s very offsetting considering the only instrument in the beginning is guitar. The problem doesn’t really right itself until the middle of the song, where thankfully the track. But this B-side has nowhere near the power of the A-side, although “cherishing” does better showcase Eri Takenaka’s range.

“setsunairo -acoustic live ver.-” is better than the other B-side, but the acoustic nature of the track leaves it bare, with only a piano. It’s nice, but of course I’m still partial towards the lead A-side. Still, this song is a very pleasant, soft listen.

You needn’t look at the huge J-pop acts to find gems, this single shows that. Although the B-sides have somewhat poor production, the A-side is great. It weights the grade of the single towards an A in this case. My recommendation: Get it.

92% A

[Single] DOUBLE – nokoribi ~eternal BED~

『残り火~eternal BED~』DOUBLE

double.jpg
~Tracklist~
1. nokoribi ~eternal BED~
2. Winter Love Song -sweet Suite-
3. nokoribi ~eternal BED~ (D.O.I. Mix)
4. nokoribi ~eternal BED~ (instrumental)

~Single Review~
“nokoribi ~eternal BED~” was released December 5, 2007 and did not chart within the top twenty on the Oricon chart.

“nokoribi ~eternal BED~” is a powerful ballad with an R&B beat throughout. It features a strong string section alongside the synthetic production and piano, creating a very wintry feeling atmosphere. At the bridge and at the end of the chorus, a harp comes in to facilitate the transition which sounds great. DOUBLE’s voice is great throughout the song, though especially strong in the chorus which sounds great. The song does, however, drag a bit throughout the verses, extro, and crescendo, with DOUBLE being the only real light that leads the listener through the tunnel. Still, all-in-all, one of her better tracks.

“Winter Love Song -sweet Suite-” is a bigger song that “nokoribi ~eternal BED~” with bigger, louder instrumentation based off of an orchestra and in front of it all, a piano, and great background vocals. Early on, however, DOUBLE’s voice is fighting with the loud instrumentation until it overcomes the background in the chorus. Add in that the song is long and crecendoes late with a long extro, and the song is far from perfect. Still, a very pleasant listen.

If you’re more into DOUBLE’s R&B side, which I assume many fans are, they essentially added in a stronger beat for the D.O.I. remix. Go crazy.

Over all, a very solid ballad single. It’s a shame that DOUBLE didn’t gain any more traction with it. But then again, it is very hit or miss with her (SPRING LOVE aimed high and did not really pan out and SUMMERTIME ft. Verbal was a mess).

87% B

[Single] ZARD – Glorious Mind

jk.jpg
~Single Tracklist~
01. Glorious Mind
02. Sagashi ni Ikou yo (2007 Version)
03. Ai wo Shinjiteitai (2007 Version)
04. Glorious Mind (Instrumental)

~Single Review~
“Glorious Mind” is a posthumous single by the popular J-pop singer, ZARD, that was released December 12, 2007. The song received a high NINKI poll rating and should do well on the Oricon chart.

“Glorious Mind” is a very good ZARD track, mainly because it succeeds at capturing the pop-rock musical essence of ZARD at the same time as it gives the music an updated feel, something ZARD’s music has been in desperate need of. ZARD often feels dated, but here, the production doesn’t feel as terribly dated, which makes the track listenable. Add in a decent hook, a building bridge, an excellent chorus backed by a haunting melody, and an emotive ending, mix them together, and you have a respectable track that feels quite appropriate as a release after ZARD’s death.

“Sagashi ni Ikou yo (2007 version)” also succeeds as leaving behind that dated feeling to a certain extent. I assume the production team must have changed, as this single sounds very updated, which is especially relevant in new versions of songs. No complaints here – the song grows from a soft melody to a huge song with strong backing until everything fades in the extro.

“Ai wo Shinjiteitai (2007 Version)” probably feels the most angry / dark out of the three songs on the single, with raging drums, strong vocals, and great instrumentation. Again, the ubiquitous dated feel of ZARD tracks is gone, there’s even a synth effect on “Ai wo Shinjiteitai (2007 Version)” that feels very recent.

Over all, this single is a nice way to mark ZARD’s contribution to J-pop. Here we see her with a modern sound and with some great emotive music. Of course, ZARD was never a perfect musician, and her popularity lies with a generation before mine own, but she has certainly bridged that gap on this release, even it was after her death. A good single and look back at her music.

90% A-
I don’t think I skewed the grade high, but I’m just happy I didn’t have to give her a bad grade a I’ve never really been impressed by any of her music before… It isn’t right to criticize the dead, is it?

[PV] Ayumi Hamasaki – Together When…


~PV Thoughts~
Well, this PV has certainly renewed my love for the song. The PV focuses around three scenes, two of which take place in the same town setting. One is Ayu passing by, presumably, her lover; the second is her sitting on a bench in a very 1950s-esque outfit (it’s excellent costume design), and the third is the marionette scene, which may help connect “Together When…”‘s to that of “Marionette.” The two symbols that stood out for me were the breaking of the marionette and the thunderstorm that pervaded all settings. It felt as though Ayu was trying to say she felt like a puppet, which might be something we’ll see her explore on her album “GUILTY.” Over all, one of her better PVs in a while, much better than “talkin’ to myself”‘s or “glitter / fated”‘s.


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