Tag Archives: UVERworld

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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“Lolitawork Libretto” – Kanon Wakeshima

NOTE: This is the European title for this release. The Japanese title is Shoujo Jikake no Libretto. (if these titles are incorrect, please let me know!)

Cover for the European (French) release

Japanese cover. The legs look awkward and she appears cross-eyed here.

Its been over a year since Kanon Wakeshima’s last physical release. Shinshoku Dolce, her last album, was released on February 18, 2009. Before you marvel at my “photographic memory,” I’ll inform you that the only way I remembered this was because February 18th is my fiance’s birthday. UVERworld’s Awakeve came out that day too, but I’d rather not immerse myself in such mediocrity right now. (LAST > Awakeve, yo.)

After thirsting for more Kanon for the last year and a half, my prayers have been answered and I have been quenched! I was beginning to grow afraid that Mana-sama had eaten Kanon, you know, like he ate Klaha. (its the only explanation!)

I’ll go ahead and warn you that this isn’t nearly as great as Shinshoku Dolce, but Kanon proved to me that she can hold her own and remain fresh and exciting after this long. Her vocals have not improved a bit, which is a slight bummer, but its okay. (so long as you steer clear of Princess Charleston)

Track List:
01 – Shakespeare no Wasuremono -Prologue-
02 – Kajitsu no Keikoku
03 – Heroine Syndrome
04 – Twinkle star!
05 – Toumei no Kagi
06 – Marmalade Sky
07 – Kuroneko to Pianist no Tango
08 – Princess Charleston
09 – Tree of Sorrow
10 – Celmisia
11 – Otome no March
12 – Shakespeare no Wasuremono -Epilogue-
13 – Lolitawork Libretto -Storytelling by solita-

Shakespeare no Wasuremono (both the prologue and epilogue versions) are heartwarming and powerful pieces that invite you in and gracefully escort you out of the album. Kanon’s cello playing is top-notch, and you can almost hear her saying “welcome” and “thank you for visiting. Come back soon.” in each respective song. Impressive! Both are a little longer than what you would expect, but I found that to be a nice touch.

I’d say most of us have heard bits and pieces of Toumei no Kagi somewhere. It was released sometime late last year and was featured in some video game. Finally, someone uploaded the track to YouTube but at 64 kbps quality, (at best) the song wasn’t even worth listening to. This song is fast, the cello sounds proud (if you could use that as an adjective) and the organ is a nice touch.

I have yet to understand what Kanon and Mana intended to do with Princess Charleston. Its like a song you’d hear in a Wild West Saloon. Either that, or some terrible throwaway ending. The vocals are, to be honest, terrible. Kanon’s rapid singing is cute, but not endearing. The song gets better, sort of, near the chorus. Still, the squealing vocals and horse-galloping beat confused me. Maybe this will grow on me.

Kanon’s back in her element with Tree of Sorrow. Sadly, this song sounds like several of her others. The chorus is pretty catchy, so its worth trying.

Otome no March starts out like it is going to be good, but winds up the total opposite. Much more squealing, oh joy. Kanon, you are better than this.

Finally, we come to the titular track Lolitawork Libretto ~Storytelling by Solita. The song is very well done, Kanon and Solita sound beautiful and calm together, and the tune is positively hypnotic. The PV is a little trippy, but at the same time one of the most fascinating PVs I’ve seen yet. Kanon is delightfully malicious while Solita… well, we can’t all look like Miss America. A standout track!

In Conclusion: Lolitawork Libretto is a solid album. The main problem I had was that it seems like Kanon is trying to shred the “creepy evil girl” image that I loved her for from the start in favor of something sugarcoated and adorable. Please don’t go that route, Kanon! I want to lie awake in fear that you will kill me in my sleep with a cello!

~Alisa~

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Only the Best: The Top 5 Songs of 2010

Hold it, Alisa! 2010 isn’t even halfway over!

Yeah, I get that. But! In the nearly five months that we’ve been in this new year, new decade rather, some seriously great music has come out. I’ll be talking about it right now! Yay! These are my top five favorite songs that have come out this year.

#5 Sakurabito – Sunset Swish: This is the second ending theme for Bleach that this group has done, the first being the strangely African-sounding My Pace. Sakurabito is a beautiful ballad with intense, heartbreaking melodies and traditional sounds. Very beautiful. Its a little strange that such a spring oriented song came out in January, but I’m not complaining.

#4 Rain – SID: Yeah, this song hasn’t even come out in full yet. See how little I care? Rain is the fifth and final (I think) opening theme for Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. I’m a big sucker for anime songs, ehehe. I think the reason why I have fallen head over heels for Rain is because of the breathtaking opening sequence from Brotherhood. If you haven’t seen it, WATCH it. The song just goes perfectly with the mood of the show. I’m going to cry my eyes out having to wait until June 2nd for the single. 😦

#3 GOLD – UVERworld: This song earns the number three slot from me simply because its so weird. It has about a thousand different beats and rhythms and takes a zillion different musical directions, but it works. So far, I’ve not seen anyone indifferent towards the song. Its either loved or hated. To me, its the third best UVERworld song after D-tecnolife and of course Colors of the Heart.

#2 Jealous – Jasmine: I am so impressed by Jasmine! She’s going to be a huge star in a couple years, I hope. Jealous is a relaxing yet powerful R&B tune. The vocals are fierce and sexy and I love every part of this song. There’s something regal about it.

AND!

#1 Kimi ni Furu Zetsubou no Ame – XodiacK: One word. “Duh.” This is visual kei, or galactic rock (whatever) at its best. I’ll miss this band.

Well, there’s my five! Comment me with yours! My next review will be Shoko Nakagawa’s Ray of Light. Seems like FMA Brotherhood themes are mandatory reviews for me. 🙂

~Alisa~

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“Last” – UVERworld

This is probably my favorite album cover from them!

01 – GOLD
02 – world LOST world
03 – Sparta
04 – Kokoro to Kokoro
05 – The truth
06 – Barrel
07 – Hai ! Mondaisaku
08 – Closed POKER
09 – Kanashimi wa Kitto (album ver.)
10 – CHANGE
11 – WANNA be BRILLIANT
12 – Kimi no Mama
13 – GO-ON (2nd mix)

(My favorites are in bold)

The UVERworld boys are back after their last album, Awakeve, which left me with mixed and bittersweet feelings. Last is a much better album just because the tracks all feel legitimate, and not as rushed as those on Awakeve did. While its true that the album is lacking powerful, enduring classics like Colors of the Heart or D-tecnolife, its an incredibly strong release because each track is SOLID.

Review time!

Last contains the singles GO-ON, Kanashimi wa Kitto, and Gold. All three singles were great, with Gold being my favorite. I’ll admit that it took me some time to warm up to Gold because the song is so “busy.” There are about a zillion different rhythms. But UVERworld has this unique quality about their music, to where they can layer rhythms and melodies and the finished product is just great. GO-ON is also a great tune, a bit reminiscent of their older stuff, but something about its chorus got boring and didn’t seem to match the intensity of the verses. Kanashimi wa Kitto, being my least favorite of the singles from the era, drones on and on and on, but Takuya sounds lovely and his performance is quite emotional and genuine. I’m just not too huge on UVER-ballads. You know how it goes.

As for the album-only tracks, they are just awesome. Some of them are boring, as you’d expect a vast majority of album filler to be, but Sparta and Barrel specifically are good enough to be a-sides on a single. Sparta is a almost punk-rock-miliary-ish song and Barrel is like a mix of GO-ON and Gold. They’re both fun songs and don’t get boring.

In Conclusion: I’m just sad that this album dropped the same week as Ayu’s Rock ‘n Roll Circus. Its one of UVERworld’s better albums, but I know its totally being overlooked. But I loved it, and I hope others feel the same.

~Alisa~

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“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.

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“GOLD” – UVERworld

I get Egyptian vibes from the cover

Before the review, just a bit of news! My Aquamarry album has shipped today, and that is NOT an April Fool’s joke. I am so pumped!

Okay, so this is UVERworld’s last single before their upcoming album. Honestly, I hate it when artists release singles in extremely close proximity to their albums because it feels rushed.

GOLD is a traditional UVERworld songs with a couple of unique spins put on it. There is some chanting, much like that from 99/100 blah blah blah but its in really awkward Engrish. Its something like “help yourself to fly, fly, make the boom, boom” or something really similar that just sounds wrong and stupid. As a big fan of Takuya’s voice and signature singing style, I was surprised to, for once, not find him to be the centerpiece of the song. The real treat to GOLD is the instrumentals, specifically the epic strings that come into play at some points. The arrangement is just a little sloppy but nothing unforgivable. This isn’t GO-ON for sure, and can’t even make a scratch in stuff like Colors of the Heart, but overall its a good listen for faithful fans of UVERworld.

Normally, UVERworld whips out b-sides that are at least halfway enjoyable, and no exception is made here. Change is like a mix of D-tecnolife and Shamrock; not as good as either but has some lovely harmony and classic UVERsounds. Closing out the single is the ballad Minori, a nice touch but nothing powerful or though-evoking. Takuya sounds nice framed by the piano, but I was bored before the song was halfway finished. You have to have patience and the right kind of mood to appreciate a song like that. But its very good if you’re trying to relax.

In Conclusion: Even though I prefer UVERworld’s older stuff, I recognize that all artists grow and change over the course of their careers. I was significantly impressed with GOLD and its b-sides. I loved the balance of the single and the quality of each track. I’m excited for the album, and crossing my fingers that its better than AwakEVE.

~Alisa~

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