Tag Archives: Jpop

“Makenai Kokoro” – AAA

Thank you, Ven, for your patience! Same for everyone else.

I’ll tell you right now, between school and work, I’m wiped. I could go into full detail and whine a lot to play up the drama but I won’t. It’s unfortunate but it seems as though I’ll be limiting my activity for a while. No, I’m not talking about a hiatus, and I’m especially not talking about closing down the blog. For now, though, it looks like the bulk of my activity is going to take place on the weekends. I guess we take what we get, right?


If this cover oddly reminds you of Perfume’s Triangle album, please comment so I won’t feel all alone in the world.

Usually AAA songs make me want to dance. What I liked about Makenai Kokoro is that it keeps the dance sound to minimum and instead showcases the vocals. It showed me that this isn’t purely a dance group, but that these people are actually talented singers and rappers. There was something about the way this song was performed that I liked. I think it was the way that the female singers held their notes in places. The rap was energetic and my only wish is that there had been a little more of it.

For everything I loved about Makenai Kokoro, I loved ten times more in Day by Day. It’s bouncy guitar pop, more centered around the male vocals. That was a cool aspect to this single; that the females were more prominent in the first track and the males were more prominent here. It’s like the flip-side of a very shiny yen coin.

WOW WAR TONIGHT ~Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement~ is a reggae-type song that I couldn’t get into. It’s a neat “end-of-summer” feeling set to music, but I couldn’t find myself yearning for a second listen.

In Conclusion: Success! AAA did a great job with this single. I liked it much better as a whole than the last one. A nice listen!

~Alisa~

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“Naked Arms / SWORD SUMMIT” – T.M. Revolution

Takanori can see inside your soul.

T.M.R hasn’t been around for a little while. Takanori himself has been active with abindgon boys school and the field of being awesome, but he hasn’t “made revolution” since 2008’s Resonance, which was a fantastic song. I am still a relatively new T.M.R fan so I’ve had his entire discography to tide me over during the wait for this single. Seasoned fans probably found the wait to be tougher since they had heard it all before. Man, I have good timing.

Naked Arms picks up right where Resonance left off. It’s got attitude! Takanori’s vocals are out of this world. This man can seriously sing. I really liked the unpredictable melody that the songs boasts as well as the fact that the energy never dies out during the song. There isn’t a dull moment. Naturally, the PV for this song is delightfully camp (Takanori seems to really enjoy being on camera, okay?) with an interesting usage of color, or lack thereof. This song wasn’t as good for me as Resonance but it’s still a fresh track and a great reminder that even after two years T.M.R is still going strong.

I still don’t know exactly how I feel about SWORD SUMMIT yet. I like it, but there’s something too perky about it. I’m just waiting for this to turn up on Dance Dance Revolution (alongside GACKT’s Koakuma Heaven, hehe). I definitely dig how the flute was integrated into the song at the instrumental break. This song is DDR-meets-Pokemon-battle. Yep.

In Conclusion: I was blown away by this single. T.M.R is just brilliant, simply put. Naked Arms is an epic win for sure and SWORD SUMMIT grows on me with each listen. Highly recommended!

~Alisa~

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“GOLD” – Jasmine

I definitely appreciate that the album's title calls attention to her now-famous cover color schemes.

Here’s a shout-out to my buddy Steph! Hello! 🙂

Tracklist:

01 – PRIDE
02 – SAD TO SAY clip paroles
03 – L.I.P.S.
04 – JEALOUS
05 – BAD GIRL
06 – DEAR MY FRIEND
07 – STAGE
08 – THIS IS NOT A GAME
09 – CLUBBIN
10 – KOI
11 – WHAT YOU WANT?
12 – NO MORE
13 – DREAMIN
14 – WHY

Notably absent are her Gospel tunes.

Jasmine is an up-and-coming Japanese pop artist who many are comparing to Utada Hikaru. She has celebrated moderately great success for a newcomer to the pop scene. GOLD is her debut album. Shall we see if it lives up to the title?

Pride is a confident opening track. It’s not very long and I wish it had been. I love the rhythm of this piece, and for some reason it gave me the same feeling that Get Up & Move!! did on Koda Kumi’s Black Cherry album.

Don’t even talk to me about Sad To Say. I’m sorry guys, but if this was my first Jasmine song I would have never listened to her again. I’m lucky I started with Jealous. This song is plaintive and whiny with completely unnecessary usage of the eff bomb. I am glad she had time to grow though. Listening to this mediocre song just serves to prove how much she has gotten better since.

Jealous of course is fierce as all heck.

I had hoped that Bad Girl would sound a little more, well, bad than what it was. This song was bad in the wrong sense of the word. I felt like the song went nowhere and that Jasmine sounded bored. You can’t be a bad girl and be bored with it. You can be a bored girl. I vote we change this song title to that.

I loved that ~stage~ Interlude came directly before This is Not a Game because Jasmine says “this is my stage” quite a bit in it. It definitely is her stage and she makes the song hers perfectly. I love the harmony in this song. It’s so catchy!

Koi is an adorable song reminiscent of late 80s/early 90s pop music. It has a really great beat but Jasmine’s voice falls flat.

I didn’t like the title What You Want? because it just looked weird. This follows Koi’s old-style pop sound. It’s not as good as Koi but it’s a solid pop tune.

In Conclusion: Mehhhh. I think I am falling out of love with j-pop because this album failed to impress me. The best tracks on it had already been released as singles. I’m not hating on the album because it was pretty good. I think I’m just starting to become a full-time Visual Kei fan. Don’t blame it on me. Blame XodiacK. Take it easy, guys.

~Alisa~

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“Holidays In The Sun” – YUI

She looks so pretty! We've got a serious font-strosity going on, but its beyond forgivable.

Track Listing:
1. to Mother
2. again
3. Parade
4. es.car
5. Shake My Heart
6. GLORIA
7. I do it
8. Please Stay With Me
9. SUMMER SONG
10. Cinnamon
11. Driving Happy Life
12. It’s all too much
13. Kiss me

I loved the placement of To Mother. Such a gentle song.

Again is still just as good as always.

Despite being short, Parade is a bright and happy song. Perfect for this time of year. I’ve never heard her do anything as light as this cute little song.

I don’t understand es.car at all. It makes me think of MegaMan for no reason. I liked the melody but I just wasn’t feeling anything in YUI’s voice. I will give this one a few listens because its not bad at all. I just don’t feel any energy in her delivery.

Shake My Heart is an interesting, gospel-sounding piece. I haven’t heard YUI tackle something this soulful before. (I like that this album has so much experimentation, by the way) Her voice is so full of air and… well, soul! The people singing along with her on the chorus all sound happy so I feel good listening to this! The horns are also a nice touch.

GLORIA sounds so good coming right after Shake My Heart.

I was excited from the start when I heard YUI would be doing her own version of I Do It, originally written by her for Stereopony. Its like she rips Stereopony’s rendition apart saying “this is how it was meant to be done!” The arrangement of this song rocks, to say the least. The guitar and drums sound epic and YUI sings it with such power that you begin to feel a little afraid of her greatness. Wonderful.

Please Stay With Me is terribly sad, yet relaxing. I would play this long late on a summer night. You can feel the plaintive sadness in this song from the first few notes on. YUI has created an excellent song here because it literally breaks my heart. *sniffle*

Forgive me if this sounds bad or mean, but the fact that Summer Song is on this album reminds me of how long its been since YUI released an album! The fact that Summer Song is on an album that, in fact, came out in the summer and has a very strong summer theme is great though. It fits here perfectly.

Cinnamon, like Parade is very short. This song doesn’t cut corners, partly because it doesn’t have enough time to! I like that the song maintains a steady pace throughout. I feel energized!

From reading the title alone, I had pegged Driving Happy Life to be a total throwaway song. Sadly, it is. Its happy-go-lucky but it doesn’t have much else going for it. Its still nice on this album.

Its All Too Much is back! YUCK! Why didn’t she put Never Say Die instead? Seriously? I never liked Its All Too Much, and that’s something I’ve always felt sort of bad for.

Kiss Me is a wonderful way to round out the album. Its considerably more sultry than any other song on the album and makes you feel like you just listened to the greatest album in the history of the world.

In Conclusion: Without a doubt, this is YUI’s magnum opus, her best album to date. Every track, save for a couple, is pure gold. Dare I even say that ALL of these tracks can be considered a-side material? YUI has done things right by waiting so long to release a new album. She’s proven she’s still fresh. Brilliant brilliant brilliant. I have a feeling this album will be making up a major part of my summer soundtrack. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

~Alisa~

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“Break It/Get Myself Back” – Namie Amuro

Everybody says this, but this looks so much like sifow's Rule cover.

Decide for yourself.

Namie Amuro, the Queen of Hip-Pop (does she still use this title, or was it just for that one album?) has been riding a wave of renewed popularity since her phenomenal 60s70s80s release. Break It/Get Myself Back is the first single in a new Namie era, following PAST>FUTURE which is, correct me if I’m wrong, currently the highest-selling album on the Oricon this year.

Break It is a dance track, to say the least. I was digging the funky guitar playing throughout but something about the key Namie was singing in was weird. I don’t know if it was like she was singing too high or what but the vocals are just weird. This song is surely good for dancing, but so is WILD and I’d choose WILD over this any day. Oh, and why is this song so short? I couldn’t even get into it before it was over!

Get Myself Back is a ballad that starts out with a simple piano intro. Its quite pretty. This is the better track of the single because Namie sounds good and the tune is sweet and catchy. The chorus is especially relaxing and cool. Good work!

In Conclusion: This single was a little lopsided. I like it that Namie tried to balance a dance track with a ballad but they weren’t on the same level.

~Alisa~

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“Welcome to Sa-World” – SAWA

This is Sa-World... and I am just visiting!

Track List:
1. Opening Ceremony ~Sa-Worldへようこそ~
2. Merry Go Round
3. Stars
4. NightBus
5. Chocolate Zone ~野生のSAWA~
6. Throw him away!
7. ManyColors
8. I’m a President
9. Danger Zone ~逃げろ!危うしSa-World!~
10. Swimming Dancing
11. Friday Night
12. Planet-T
13. Eat It All ~Live in Sa-World~
14. I Can Fly
15. あいにいくよ
16. Dream about…
17. Thank you for visiting ~My name is…~

After what seemed like a darn long wait and sixty billion (yet another one of my famous rough estimates) hit-or-miss mini-albums, we finally get this album. Its full length, holy cow! I’ll go ahead and say that the carnival image on the cover is absolutely fitting for the album. When I listened to Welcome to Sa-World, I could totally see a carnival, summer, golden warmth.

Merry Go Round is a cute song to kick off the album because it has that summer carnival feel I’ve been raving about. I am one of those people who likes to create music videos in their head while listening, and I can see the cover image being acted out when I hear this song.

Stars…. oh… Are there words to even describe that song? We’ve all heard it before, so I’ll not say much.

Something about the sequencing of NightBus coming after Stars just worked. The song is a little dull though.

Throw Him Away! is my favorite song on the album, despite being a wee bit short. Its done in a Shibuya-kei style, which I adore and the whole song makes me think of strawberry ice cream. I am sure that with today being our 26 month anniversary, my fiance would be a little hurt at me liking a song with such a title, but its nothing personal, darling. I’d never “throw you away!” Ever. And I’m being serious.

If you’ve heard ManyColors you’ll probably agree that SAWA’s pronunciation of the word “color” is interesting, to say the least. Fun song.

You already know how I feel about Swimming Dancing. Its my favorite song by SAWA because its so far-out and spacey. You feel glued to the song from the start. Its like an outer space roller coaster!

Friday Night is an R&B track. I was doubtful at first but SAWA pulled it off very well. I totally see the carnival imagery again too. ^_^

Planet T is a fun party song. You have to give it a few listens to warm up to it because otherwise it makes little sense.

A lot of people are saying that I Can Fly works a lot better on the album. I agree with said people, but it doesn’t make me like the song any more than I used to.

I have to say that I feel a lot better about Ai ni Ikuyo. When I first listened to it on the mini-album, I thought it was cuteness overload and that I was about to bleed sugar from my eye sockets. The song falls into place better here and I can appreciate it ten times more.

Dream About… has a sweet melody but the vocals don’t work. SAWA downright wails at points, and its not the good kind of wailing you hear from alan either. Great song if you turn it down pretty low..

In Conclusion: As of today, I am changing my citizenship to Sa-Worldian. I have my bags packed and I’m waiting to catch the train to take me to my new home. Okay, not literally. SAWA is not by any means the greatest singer in the world. GACKT is. (ouch, kidding kidding kidding! Put down the pitchforks!) BUT! SAWA can make some fun music which is fitting. When you think summer, you think of fun music! SAWA is surely delivered with this album because she’s experimented with several styles without becoming a mess. Not a lot of artists can do that. So, who wants to come with me to Sa-World?

~Alisa~

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“Boko wo Sagashini” – Sana

I don't like that she was photographed in the Every Konami Photoshoot Ever room. I think they even filmed BeForU's Ki-se-ki PV in this room. At least she looks cute.

I am going to feel fifteen all over again in writing this review. Please bear with my overwhelming nostalgia.

I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of Sana (full name Sanae Shintani). She is an artist who has worked on Konami’s line of Bemani music/rhythm games a la Dance Dance Revolution, pop’n music, and the like. We can’t all be like me, a person with a playlist of three hundred or so Bemani songs on their iPod. Sana is one of the more popular artists from Konami’s Bemani games and aside from BeForU, my favorite.

Review ahoy!

I won’t be mentioning every song, so I’ll include a track list for you:
(recommended tracks in bold)

01 Infinity of Our Love Jp version
02 雨音メランコリー
03 Liebe ~望郷~
04 神秘の森
05 ボクをさがしに
06 紅蓮の焔
07 シーサイド・スプリング
08 冬眠しよう
09 未来天国
10 Indigo Bird ! ! ! !
11 雪に願いを…
12 White Eve
13 Loveholic -Love Syndrome MIX-

14 Miracle Halloween(disconation J-EURO mix)

I found myself impressed to an extent with Liebe ~望郷~. It reminds me of something Kalafina would put out, only less operatic. Sana’s voice falls a little flat at times, but the song has an interesting and medieval melody. I haven’t heard her perform any songs like this one, so it was a nice change of pace.

神秘の森 is so incredibly soft that sometimes I couldn’t even hear Sana! Its quite relaxing but a little too quiet.

紅蓮の焔 ~原題:紅蓮心中~ (good grief, I hope that’s the entire title) was the worst track on the album. The music is about six thousand times (rough estimate 😛 ) louder than the vocals. The tune is dissonant, to say the least, and Sana seems out of breath and desperate to keep up with the music’s tempo. What a mess!

Oh my goodness, I love Indigo Bird! Relaxing, oceanic, tribal, its like what would happen if the Beach Course from Pokemon Snap was given lyrics. This song is wonderful and so full of life an happiness. Best track of the album, for sure.

I didn’t understand the placement of White Eve on this album, as it already appeared on Sana Mode II. Still, being one of my favorite Sana tunes, I wasn’t too unhappy to see it again. This song is, as the name would probably tell you, a nice piece of winterpop. Its got a chilling melody and a beat that just sounds like a blizzard.

Make sure to give the remix of Loveholic a try. Its well-done, not as good as the original, but does a good job of highlighting the tune without being techno overkill.

In Conclusion: Sana has redeemed herself, somewhat, after that awful mess of an album Honeymoon. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’ve already listened to the jaw dropping Sanative, Sana-mode, and Sana-mode II. Overall, an average album with a couple amazing tracks. At least listen to Indigo Bird if nothing else.

~Alisa~

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