Archive for December 16th, 2007

[News] Ayumi Hamasaki – Album Preview “GUILTY”

To be honest, my heart dropped when I heard these previews. There is one pop track on the album, besides “glitter,” and that’s “My All,” which doesn’t sound that good. I like Ayu’s rock, but I sincerely believe she needs to move away from it to get to the next level of her music, or her popularity will dwindle. I hope to see this album outsell “Secret,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t. This album is rock and feels like “Secret” all over again, down to the glitter – My All vs. BLUE BIRD – Beautiful Fighters comparison. Then again, there’s some hope left; we haven’t heard the full album yet. I hope there’s more to these tracks then this. I really do.


[Single] Stephanie – Winter Gold


01. Winter Gold
02. Life
03. Kimi ga Iru Kagiri (Acoustic Version)

~Single Review~
This is Stephanie’s 3rd single and first non-ballad single. She released this single on December 12, 2007, and “Winter Gold” peaked at number 37 on the Oricon daily charts before falling out of the top fifty.

“Winter Gold” is a fun pop song written about first love and the trouble in expressing yourself to the other person. Stephanie’s vocals and production aren’t necessarily anything special – unless you adore the fact that she can hit that envious whistle note. Nevertheless, “Winter Gold” seems to realize this and not take itself too seriously. As a fun song, nothing more, “Winter Gold succeeds.” The song has a memorable melody, despite sounding like an anime song out of a run of the mill show. The song has a catchy hook, despite not being anything special lyrically. Once you get past the fact that the song is just pop, it should be very enjoyable. If you’re looking for depth, unique production, or stellar vocals, look elsewhere, because frankly, Stephanie has none of them. But if you’re looking for a song that’s just plain enjoyable, look no further. Defying explanation, “Winter Gold” will stick with you.

“Life” is the incarnation of the rock B-side Stephanie has included on all of her singles. She sounds like she’s enjoying the different sound, but rock isn’t really her strength. These songs are really just testing the waters in my mind. The choruses are decently catchy, but undeniably powerful. Stephanie puts herself behind her voice, and the background vocalists give her footing. Besides a piano bridge that shakes things up a bit, this song really isn’t very notable and ends the same way it came in.

Oftentimes, a song’s true strength will be revealed when it is turned into an acoustic version. Without production covering the singer, they’re left exposed, ready for the listener to judge. “Kimi ga Iru Kagiri -Acoustic Version-” doesn’t completely strip of background vocals. Stephanie sounds pretty fantastic, even with those whistle notes that drive many away. However, the choice of instrumentation hurts the song a bit. “Kimi ga Iru Kagiri” is not meant to be sung with a guitar at that temp. It sounds hearing a gospel-sounding song sung with acoustic guitar. A nice listen in the end that shows Stephanie can sing.

85% B

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December 2007
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