Tag Archives: Ai Otsuka

Fifteen Power-Packed Japanese Songs

I know that last night on Twitter, I said this would be the top ten most powerful Japanese songs. I changed it to the top fifteen! This is to keep my list from looking like a big mass of anime/GACKT songs. Just kidding. (Or am I?)
I define a powerful song not by how strong it makes me feel, but rather how weak it makes me feel on the very first listen. The first time I hear a powerful song, I want it to leave me in a cold sweat, breathless, thinking “what has just happened to me?” Then, I want to grow to make the song a sort of personal empowering anthem.
I assembled my list after much careful consideration. This was harder to do than anticipated, and may have been another contributor as to why the list turned out a little longer than expected. Enjoy!

15.) Alumina – Nightmare: This song isn’t just powerful, it’s very disturbing. The mournful tone in which Yomi sings the song is downright eerie. The first time I heard this song was on Death Note, naturally. It frightened me terribly, which is a big reason why I respect this song as much as I do.

14.) Border – Girugamesh: From the first notes of this song, I just knew it was going to be intense. I feel like the boys from Girugamesh are grabbing me by the hair and dragging me relentlessly through this song. It’s intense and brutal. The vocals and guitar are positively barbaric.

13.) Colors of the Heart – UVERworld: The most powerful part of this song is that it builds and builds and builds but all the while Takuya retains a beautiful, clear singing voice. His delivery is strong and melodic. (A big reason why this song left me breathless the first time I heard it was because my fiancé introduced it to me before he was even my boyfriend! I think a big part of my love for this song is that memory.)

12.) Bel Air – Malice Mizer: Hard to believe this song is as old as it is, yet its strength continues to rattle my skull (and the skulls of many other VK fans I’m sure) to this day. The music box playing at the beginning and middle of the song contrasts wonderfully with the hard guitars and drums found in the song. GACKT’s performance is outstanding and fierce.

11.) Rainbow – Ayumi Hamasaki: Made exclusively for her A Ballads album, Ayumi’s breathy ballad has been breaking hearts for years. This song has so much power in its simplicity, rather than any actual muscle. “No rain can get the rainbow.” Remember that.

10.) Passion – Utada Hikaru: Don’t you miss this Hikki? Utada, this is the one. Not your washed-up American crap that flopped horribly time after time. This. Passion is a song full of light and darkness at once. The beat of this song is indescribable.

9.) Hallelujah – Rurutia: Okay, so if hard guitars coupled with elegant violins weren’t powerful enough, you get the contrast of Rurutia and her famous whisper-singing. The opening of this song is like getting hit in the face with a shovel made of solid gold.

8.) Renon – M: This song is still relatively new to me, so I won’t pretend to be a seasoned listener. Still, its MUCC-esque guitar style and raw, untamed vocals floored me from the first listen. The vocalist has some serious charisma even though his vocals aren’t up to par with other VK singers by any means.

7.) Rain – GACKT: Do you ever hear a song that makes you hurt all over? This song fits the bill for me. I feel like I’m drowning in some kind of torrential, yet gentle wave during the verses. In the chorus, it all comes crashing down. I never hear much mention of this song, which is sad.

6.) Kingyo Hanabi – Ai Otsuka: I had to find a place for my favorite song on here somewhere! It’s not as powerful as other songs, per se, but it still packs a heartbreaking punch. The tortured desperation in this song is incredibly moving. This song can make me happy and sad at the same time, which is rare for a song to do.

5.) Rain – SID: As I mentioned on my “weekly babble” post, I have decided that songs titled Rain are predestined to be good. The chorus of this song is tragic with strong feelings of loss. I think the majority of this song’s power for me is how well it ties in with the Fullmetal Alchemist story.

4.) Lust for Blood – GACKT: This song is probably the most hateful song I have ever heard. The melancholy opening makes way for a heavy rock sound and GACKT’s intense, angry vocals. It’s a heart-stopping piece just because it is SO raw.

3.) Kimi ni Furu Zetsubou no Ame – XodiacK: I’m sorry to all of you who tire of hearing about XodiacK, but I just love this song so much. The first time I heard this song, I felt like it was repeatedly punching me in the stomach. Another way this song left me breathless was due to the fact that I laughed so hard at the terrible PV. (But you didn’t hear that from me, okay?)

2.) Mirrorcle World – Ayumi Hamasaki: Is it bad that I don’t think Ayu has released a single good thing since this dropped over two years ago? (Sparkle was okay, but not anything I couldn’t live without) Ayu is a powerhouse in this song, singing along with a military-style beat and angrily questioning the problems in the world today. The lyrics are expertly crafted and I love the energy.

1.) Jesus – GACKT: GACKT’s big comeback single after Returner was incredibly anticipated, and this single did not let me down at all. In fact, I think it is one of the greatest GACKT songs to date. The heavy rock sound, GACKT screaming, the lyrics, GACKT behaving in such a taunting manner in the PV… It’s incredible, and so unreal. This song sent me into a completely different dimension, where I felt as though I was standing face to face with something so much greater than myself, and I was trembling long after the song had finished. I’ll probably never have another song grip me as tightly as this has. I am proud to call this the most powerful song I’ve ever heard.

~Alisa~

Which songs do you consider to be the most powerful? Do you think ballads or rock songs are more powerful? How do you feel when a powerful song overtakes you?

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Shed Some Tears: The Most Touching Japanese Songs

Every once in a while, a song comes along that besides being a really good song, makes us feel something. Sometimes, we can be so touched by a song that it makes us cry, laugh, reminisce. Here are my picks for the top five most touching Japanese songs:

# 5 “Forgiveness” – Ayumi Hamasaki

(used the Memorial Address cover because the single cover is creepy as all heck)

Where did this Ayu go? This Ayu was creative and had awesome vocals. Its like the Ayu we have now is a completely different person! This song is perfectly calming because of the soft singing. It swells at the chorus into something bigger, more powerful than itself. I miss the old Ayu.

#4 “Tabidachi no Uta” – Mr. Children

Maybe I chose this song because I love Koizora and watched it three times in a row once. Its a bittersweet song and much like the movie it was in, is about moving forward.

#3 “Hoshi no Suna” – GACKT

A widely overlooked song, this b-side from G’s Tsuki no Uta single really makes you feel like he is singing the entire thing with tears in his eyes. The simple piano and GACKT’s soft voice couple well together and work wonders at giving the listener goosebumps.

#2 “Snow White” – D

When this song came out, it received a lot of criticism from die-hard visualists for being, well, a ballad. Others praised its beauty and emotion. I love this song because its simple and tragic. Plus, you get to hear Asagi’s voice shine in an area outside of snarling. His vibratto is excellent and this borderline opera song definitely made me cry. Truly touching.

#1 “Kingyo Hanabi” – Ai Otsuka

I really could have said “virtually every Ai Otsuka ballad” here, but this song is special. Its my favorite song ever. Ai’s lyrics are clever, almost childish, poignant. The melody is smooth and the instrumentation along with the sound effects create this almost ethereal mood. This song still gets me when I listen to it, and I’ll be happy to play this song at my wedding in a couple years.

There you have it! These five songs always make me well up, and sometimes even burst into tears. Which songs make you feel that way?

~Alisa~

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“Recreation 2” – Acid Black Cherry

This cover makes me a bit uncomfortable, but anything is better than a shot of Yasu and his horse-teeth.

Hey everyone! I’m back to reviewing! I know my special articles, random blurbs about Ai Otsuka’s marriage, and incessant tweets have probably been driving you bonkers, but I’ve been waiting for a special release to come out before I did my next review. Why? I’ve been waiting to do this review because it is my FIFTIETH REVIEW! *balloons and streamers fall from the ceiling* I am so happy that I have been able to stick with this project for this long. When I first thought “I’m going to write a music blog,” I honestly didn’t take that thought too seriously. But now, my blog is one of the most important things I have. Thanks to all my readers and friends. I’ll stop this teary-eyed yammering to actually do what I’m supposed to: review.

I chose to review this album because:
1.) I like ABC
2.) My fiance likes ABC even more
3.) There is a song on here that holds special meaning to me, we’ll talk about that in just a bit

Recreation 2 is the follow-up to ABC’s last cover album titled, you guessed it, Recreation. What, did you think there was going to be a trick question or something? I’m embarrassed to add that many of the tracks covered on this album are by artists I’ve never even heard of. I feel quite terrible to admit that. I’ll review the note-worthy tracks now.

Tenshi no WINK is a fun way to start the album. Its a fun song, not too rockish, but its sung very well. I have always been a fan of Yasu’s pure voice.

The only track from the album to get a PV (and making-of video!!!) is Aitai It starts out with a gentle melody that sounds like a music box being played in a dream. Its a touching and melancholy song, but unfortunately suffers from “epically long oh my gosh is it over yet?” syndrome like other ABC favorites such as Yasashii Uso and Nemuri Hime. I liked the song for about the first three minutes and I think the opening melody would make a cute ringtone. The PV isn’t worth watching. Its a collection of clips showing Yasu sitting back to back with a girl and then Yasu turns into a ghost (?), Yasu’s teeth, (ugh) and the girl crying awkwardly in a filthy bathtub.

Hershey is totally pop, and sounds like borderline Shibuya-Kei if you ask me. I don’t think Yasu’s voice was right for the song here.

Silhouette Romance is an ethereal style piece. Thankfully, it isn’t too long, and Yasu’s voice sounds so clear and calm. This song reminded me of the ocean at night. A great song to relax with.

The song I most anticipated was ABC’s cover of Mika Nakashima’s “Glamorous Sky.” (Hyde, who actually wrote the song, also recorded a version at one point, but I thought his voice was too deep for it..) This song has had a special meaning to me because I performed it in a talent show back in high school. Unfortunately, my cultural awareness was a bit too much for my peers, who booed at me relentlessly and teased me by asking why I didn’t sing in “American.” Seriously? Its tough to find people who appreciate foreign music, especially when you live out in the boondocks like me. This is probably the reason why I have given up singing.

Acid Black Cherry’s cover of this song exceeded my expectations. I don’t want to say it blew me out of the water, but it really did and I can’t lie to my readers. The arrangement was spectacular, not as hard as the original song, but it still contained the same energy, the same fire, the same intensity. This is the gem of the album and a track that no one should miss.

In Conclusion: If you’re just now hearing about ABC for the first time, then I do not recommend this album on the grounds that it is a cover album, after all. Go try some of their original material before you tackle this release. Seasoned ABC fans will probably find this album to be a hit-or-miss. The only songs that were memorable for me were Aitai and Glamorous Sky. Happy listening!

~Alisa~

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Ai Otsuka NOT Expecting, According to Article

This may be a worthless post, but it looks like Ai Otsuka will not be joining the ranks of Japanese celebs who simultaneously drop wedding and pregnancy bombshells. Regardless, congratulations to the blushing bride of SU!

You can read the article here.

~Alisa~

(I know I’m dodging reviews, I’m just waiting for some new releases!)

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Ai Otsuka is Married

This just in. Ai Otsuka is a married woman! She is now the wife of SU from Rip Slyme, who you’ll remember collaborated with her on Aisu x Time. This gives a whole new meaning to the song, don’t you think?

I wonder if there will be a pregnancy announcement in the future? (much like Leah Dizon, Kaela Kimura..)

~Alisa~

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Font-strosities: How Ugly Fonts Ruin Good Music

As promised, credit to Jin from Sora to Kujira for partial inspiration on this post.

It occurred to me that because we are brats and snobs, a lot of our faith in an album hinges on its cover artwork. Crazy, right? But you have to know its true. We nitpick covers like mad because they are normally the first part of an album or single you see. You get the cover long before you get the music. Thus, we tend to prejudge whether or not the release will be good or not depending on the cover. You can deny it all you want, but it happens.

While we wait for the release, we have nothing better to do than to criticize the covers for all they are worth. We critique the outfits, the hair, the cosmetics, the angle of photography, the facial expressions, the font. I’ve noticed font becoming a big issue lately on forums and other blogs and I can understand why. The text is what tells us “hey, this is a release by so-and-so!” Font is important! I’m assembled a collection of just a few covers with fonts that don’t even look good enough for MS Paint.

South Wind, a release from Sayaka Minami. (she was a member of BeForU, if you remember them)

Angel Trip by VAMPS

VAMPS are like the poster children for terrible fonts. Its a real shame because I like their music but their covers leave a lot to be desired. With the weird colored, massive text on this single, it takes away from the lovely lady with wings. I think this cover would have been better if the focus was on the woman, not the text.

Love Letter by Ai Otsuka

Allow me to beat a dead horse by rambling about this cover. Besides it being completely colorless, the font seems awkward and out of place. Poor Ai. Does anyone care about her anymore?

And now for the most infamous font of all time:

This Is the One (no it isn't) by Utada Hikaru

Auuuugh, take it away! Take it away! If this album wasn’t predestined for failure enough, it was given a cover like this.

When asked for comments on the preceding album covers, Roy Mustang provided us with this face.

Now, its your turn! Share with me some album covers with awful fonts! Do you agree or disagree with the covers I’ve posted? Is Roy Mustang ridiculously awesome yet irrelevant to this post? Also, share with me some covers with fonts that you liked!

~Alisa~

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Ohhhhhh, Spring!

My favorite season of all is here, bringing all manner of flora and fauna, as well as the Japanese music scene, back to life. Seems like all good things come in the spring; warmer temperatures, lifted spirits, and some of the year’s best music. Let’s take a moment to talk about this Spring’s releases that I’m most excited about!

First we have Ai Otsuka’s Zokkondition/Lucky Star. Ai has always been a favorite artist of mine but ever since her last “actual” album, Love Letter, her stuff has just been hit or miss for me. I predict this single is going to fare about as well as Ai’s other recent stuff, which is not too hot. The covers for the single are either loved or hated, no gray area here. Both PVs are wacky in their own right. Lucky Star is like a pseudo-GaGa acid trip, and Zokkondition has Ai adopting another hideous blonde wig reminiscent of AisuxTime’s PV. As for the songs, Lucky Star is great but Zokkondition makes me want to hurl a Piplup like a javelin. (OMG, Alisa, how could you hurt a Piplup!?) Her vocals are plain terrible and I hope I never hear that song again. Seriously. Lucky Star should have been the leading A-side, not this junk that makes me want to go jam out to Beckii Cruel’s Danjo instead.

Popular Visual-Kei band D is in full bloom with their newest album 7th Rose, which drops next week. If you read my earlier post about this, then you’ll know that I am skeptical of the album’s quality based on the tracks available at this point. Just let me say that this is the review I am most excited about doing, and part of me expects to be pleasantly surprised by the album. Let’s hope..

Another release everybody’s talking about is Perfume’s Natural Ni Koishite, their first release since the hit album Triangle. I’m loving this song because its sounds like Spring! Its poppy and fizzy and sugary! This song is like drinking a very fresh can of soda. Its not on the level of Night Flight, but its great in its own right and the PV is sweet and simplistic. I’m looking forward to the b-side because Perfume can usually crank out some good ones. (23:30!? Edge!?)

Last thing I want to talk about is the upcoming release from my favorite duo ever, Vanilla Beans! Witch Hunting, (title subject to change) won’t be here until May but I’m beyond excited. It seems as though Vanilla Beans are gaining popularity, as they have recently appeared in a CM for a Japanese deodorant. I haven’t heard any other news about the single other than the expected release date, so I have no idea what its going to be like, but I can only hope it is awesome!

These are the releases I’m most pumped about this Spring! What are yours?

Peace, Love, and Spinarak Webs,
~Alisa~

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