Tag Archives: Ayumi Hamasaki

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?

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Sakurayume's Collection, Special Articles

“Moon/Blossom” – Ayumi Hamasaki

I always have problems with her face, but I loved the softness of this cover. It fits well.

I still think this is Ayu's prettiest look to date. OH WAIT, THAT'S NOT HER. XD

Sometimes I wonder if Ayu ever sleeps. With her spewing out double a-sides left and right, one begins to ponder.

Naturally, when I saw that Moon was nearly six minutes long, I thought “oh crap.” The song has a captivating opening, and then suddenly begins to sound a lot like Izayoi by BeForU. (if you haven’t heard that song, look it up. Its quite good.) Ayu’s voice sounds much better in this song than it did in previous releases. The song itself is simply average with a sweet, forgettable melody. The 5:47 length wasn’t necessary and I began to get a little tired. Still, I made it through the song. Twice, I might add. The song is a good effort, but she could have cut this down to about four minutes and it would have been much better.

Blossom also has a lovely opening and Ayu sounds great again. I liked the energizing chorus, and the whole song is feel-good. I’m reminded of her “I Am..” era a bit with this song, which is nice considering that it was my favorite era.

The Lowbrows have provided us with a remix of Microphone which I already had enough of a love-hate relationship with. This remix pumps up the dark sound found in the original, while also making it a little bit gritty as well. I liked the remix very much.

In Conclusion: I’ve felt like Ayumi has been uninspired lately, and I had hoped this single would have taken the edge off of those feelings. It didn’t exactly do that for me. I enjoyed hearing improvement in Ayu’s vocals, but I just wasn’t feeling any of these tracks. I’m a little tired of multiple a-side singles as a whole, not from just Ayu so please don’t think I’m targeting her.

~Alisa~

What was your favorite Ayumi era? What’s your opinion on artists releasing a ton of double a-sides?

9 Comments

Filed under Japanese Pop, Sakurayume's Collection

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~

8 Comments

Filed under Sakurayume's Collection, Special Articles

“Rock N Roll Circus” – Ayumi Hamasaki

Track Listing:
01 – THE introduction
02 – Microphone
03 – count down
04 – Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~
05 – BALLAD
06 – Last Links
07 – montage
08 – Don’t look back
09 – Jump!
10 – Lady Dynamite
11 – Sexy little things
12 – Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~
13 – meaning of Love
14 – You were…
15 – RED LINE ~for TA~

The tracks I liked are highlighted. See any highlighted tracks? I don’t. Maybe this is proving my point.

Okay, before I lose any faithful Ayu fans as readers just let me take a minute to defend myself. I LOVE AYU. I love her image and her major influences over the Japanese music scene. But this album fails hardcore, to me at least. The entire mood of the album felt washed-up. I know that some people really like the style of music Ayu is pulling lately and that’s great. All I’m saying is that this album doesn’t speak to me all that well.

With the England-meets-Kanon-Wakeshima-styled covers, I expected Rock N Roll Circus to recapture the darkness and allure of Guilty. The only track which comes close is Microphone, which is like a mix of Marionette and Talkin’ 2 Myself, but with no real Ayu power. It feels strained. You also get her recent singles plopped onto the album. “Plopped” is the keyword, because none of them felt like they fit. Particularly BALLAD. That song seems like it should be from waaaaay back in the Secret era. A final track worth mentioning is Sexy Little Things, a really theatrical mess of a showtune, if you’d call it that, which is the only song that even gives me the image of a Circus in my head as I listen to it. Its a cute song, and really unorthodox given Ayu’s normal sound but it got old quickly. Still, I commend Ayu on being an artist who is ever-changing.

In Conclusion: I viewed Rock N Roll Circus as round two of the crap we got hit with from Next Level, but some people seemed to really enjoy the album. I respect Ayu, once again, for being a current artist who never sticks with the same sound for long, but I’m just a bit burnt out on her for now. Maybe her next album will be better on me. Who knows?

It really doesn’t matter what I say, she’s still going to outsell UVERworld. Haha.

10 Comments

Filed under Japanese Pop, Sakurayume's Collection

Rock and Roll Circus = The Fame Monster?

Why is it that anything Ayumi Hamasaki does has to leak a zillion years in advance? Check out this preview of her PV for “Sexy Little Things,” a track from her upcoming album “Rock and Roll Circus.”

Ok, so you’ve got a really strange song, a bit of vocoder sprinkled on, strange costumes, and what appears to be a clone of the white room where Lady GaGa’s “Bad Romance” video was filmed. Riiiiight. How original. (rolls eyes) Why does this little clip give me the feeling that this will bomb harder than “NEXT LEVEL?” I’m going to sound terrible for saying this and being so blunt but: I AM SICK OF AYU!

Leave comments about this freakish video clip! Let’s talk about it.

~Alisa~

11 Comments

Filed under Sakurayume's Collection, Special Articles

Early 2010 Report Card!

Don’t freak out. These opinions are subject to change, as it is only FEBRUARY for goodness sake. Here’s my opinions! Read them, comment on them, state your own opinions! Fun times!

In Detention: BoA, alan,  Ayumi Hamasaki, and Kumi Koda!

These girlies are selections for ASIAN MUSIC DELINQUENTS. Especially BoA. I’m mad at her. She has too much on her plate. I think before attempting world domination, she should try to maintain popularity in at least one country. She’s been falling out of favor everywhere, and she was just a blip on the American music radar. Asian artists never seem to cross over to American music well. This may be because many Americans are still convinced that Asia is a country rather than a massive continent. Uh… that was a little insensitive… gomen. Amid all the hoopla of trying to be super famous everywhere, BoA coughed up “Eien,” arguably her best song ever. I want more of that kind of stuff, not this messy “Identity” bullcrap. Chinese crossover alan has been working her butt off waaaay too much. TAKE A BREAK!!! WAAAAH! I’m okay with the fact that she has dabbled in electronica, more mainstream-styled pop, and the like but this is all we’ve been getting from her. She’s not Ayu, but she might as well be. I miss her more dramatic songs. That’s why I was so smitten with alan when she debuted in Japan. She was a fresh face and fresh talent who created art rather than just music. As for Ayu, I was disappointed with “You Were…/BALLAD.” It was uber weak. She needs to take it easy and stop cranking out double a-sides. This makes me feel like she’s rushing an album, and I’m sure that nobody wants another “NEXT LEVEL.” Kuu needs about a year’s worth of inactivity to redeem herself in my eyes. I’m sick of her.

Advanced Placement/Honor Roll: Namie Amuro, GACKT, and immi!

Namie didn’t do a lot last year. We got Wild/Dr. in March and PAST < FUTURE a zillion years later in December and that was it. I felt like the huge gap between releases built a greater anticipation for the album, allowed Namie plenty of time to create quality material, and kept her extreme popularity at the time from growing stale. I’m looking forward to her topping the charts some more this year. Oh, and is it just me or has she gotten prettier as she has aged? GACKT, unlike Namie, put out a crapload of singles last year. Maybe this annoyed you. Maybe you were irritated because RE:BORN didn’t have any new material on it. Still, you can’t deny that GACKT has so much thunder left in him that’s its not even a laughing matter. Even though he released a million singles last year, you can’t deny that it was all of great quality. Another thing about GACKT that makes me happy is the fact that he is having a lot of fun with this stage of his career and is experimenting with all sorts of musical styles. How else would we have gotten “Koakuma Heaven?” immi released the incredibly polished EPs “WONDER” and “ALICE” last year. She’s an electronica goddess with a great voice to boot. I have high expectations of her.

C-Students: Maki Goto and Ai Otsuka!

This ladies have the potential to be major flops or major hitmakers as this year progresses. Ai is releasing a double-a side in April. The first a-side, “Lucky Star” is already out and the PV dropped a couple days ago. It has a lot of promise as far as I’m concerned but others may see it differently. The PV is quite unorthodox and has a very Lady Gaga-feel to it. Seems like many artists are trying to use Gaga-inspired elements lately. Maki’s performance this year will be uncertain, due to her family tragedy. But, since her mother was her biggest fan, I hope Maki will channel the pain of her passing into new material. If she releases a lot of things this year, which is an iffy concept, I predict that she will break away from the straight R&B sound she has done with Sweet Black and focus on diverse musical styles.

The Drop-Out?: Utada Hikaru

OMG, where’s Hikki? I miss her so much! Please stop releasing terrible English music and make more stuffs like on “Ultra Blue!”

Well, there’s my long-winded speech about music and crap. Leave comments and your own report cards! By the way, before I go back to reviewing, I’ll be writing up a showcase of my favorite album filler tracks. Look forward to it!

~Alisa~

5 Comments

Filed under Sakurayume's Collection, Special Articles

“Diamond/Over the Clouds” – alan

Admit it. She's hawt.

Since crossing over to Japanese music, Chinese native alan has drastically changed her sound and style of music. She has gone from a prim and proper, highly conservative songstress delivering sweeping ballads (RED CLIFF OMG!!!) that stop your heart to becoming the next Ayumi Hamasaki. I figure her Japanese managers use this formula: Hot women + Great voices = lots of yen! A word of warning: If you like alan’s more traditional music then be wary!  Review time!

By the way, there is another great review of this single over at Aesthetic Rhapsody, one of my personal favorite blogs out there. Click the link in my blogroll or go here: http://aestheticrhapsody.wordpress.com/

Track 1: Diamond- This song is currently being used as the ending theme for InuYasha: The Final Act. To go a bit off-topic for a second, I love InuYasha but at the same time it bores me terribly. This song sounds a lot, stylistically, like the ending themes from the original InuYasha anime. This is winterpop at its finest. Rather boring, but pretty upbeat for the most part. I am very much reminded of Ayumi Hamasaki’s song “M’ and this, to me, is just a watered down version of that song. The vocals do not get much of a chance to shine, and if you have heard any of the so-called “wailing” from alan’s earlier work then you too will be yearning for the powerful and controlled voice that she’s got buried underneath this mainstream pop sound. I won’t be playing “Diamond” too much but the next song is a different story.

Track 2: Over the Clouds- Phew! This other a-side saved this single for me! It starts out with an aggressive dance beat and alan’s voice is autotuned briefly. You read that right. She gets the T-Pain treatment, so to speak. Hard to believe considering the way she started out her career. I love the overall progression of this song. Its a great beat to dance to or to blast while cruising about town in your car. Its a feel-good, dancetacular song and has some mean strings. Highly recommended!

(the single also contains instrumentals of both tracks)

In Conclusion- Skip Diamond and put Over the Clouds on repeat. I have to say that I miss alan’s soaring ballads like Red Cliff and Kuon no Kawa but I am glad to see that she is trying out other styles. I do hope that this is not a permanent thing though…

Hey, if anybody has a different opinion of this single of something you’d like to add, leave a comment! I would love to know your thoughts!

~Alisa~

2 Comments

Filed under Japanese Pop, Sakurayume's Collection