Archive for the ‘BoA’ Category

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BoA- IDENTITY

2010年 2月 12日

Not a fantastic cover, but I think she looks very stylish and trendy. It seems all the singles from this era (except for Eien) have a theme to them.

The album begins with This Is Who I Am. I was expecting an upbeat hip hop song (English version of “Girls On Top” anyone?! I bitch about this a lot to Kowezhi, but Girls on Top was my first BoA song ever, and she ruined it!), but instead I was pleasantly surprised with piano, strings, and a crossover between pop and jazz. The song is on the shorter side as it’s under 3 minutes, but it was nevertheless enjoyable. This song shows a more mature and versatile BoA.

Ok now here is the hip hop aspect of the album. Okay admittedly I thought of something less than savory when I saw the title EASY. Although the song isn’t too deep it’s better than what I was thinking. Anyway, heavy, heavy synth dominates this song. BoA definitely shows some coyness and attitude in this song. I could have done without the weird monotonous talking parts right before the chorus.

Kind of a weird transition here, but it’s BUMP BUMP! feat VERBAL. Here’s the first single on the album. Let me just say that this is a pretty sexy song. It shows BoA can create something hot without selling out to generic sexy songs that any artist can pull off. (*ahem* English album). Setting the tone for a jazzy album, BUMP BUMP! was a good addition to the album.

Next is one of my favorite songs on the album: LAZER. This song also exhibits a lot of synth, but opts for a more dance feel. This kind of song made me think of her older Korean stuff. This song is infectious and a good transition from the previous track.

Here’s interlude 1. It’s nine seconds of BoA walking and then opening up a door. Whoop-de-doo.

Things slow down a bit with Is this love. The melody is kind of a laid back crossover between R&B and jazz. I thought the song was a little dull for my tastes. Also, BoA sounded flat in the verses (I’m speaking of intonation and power).

Click here for a review of Mamoritai ~White Wishes~

Another interlude?? Interlude 2 is five seconds of camera flashes. Even more pointless than the first interlude.

I was expecting something reminiscent of Ai Otsuka when I saw the title Neko Love. Despite the cutesy title we don’t have an overly obnoxious pop song. I thought this song was adorable with its dance theme (this is something Mika Nakashima would produce). Yeah, she repeats “B-o-A” like a billion times, but it’s really not that bad.

Here’s something I wasn’t expecting: a new version of THE END soushite and…. For some reason when the song began with it’s muffled piano solo (which is gorgeous btw), I thought of Dir en grey’s Ain’t afraid to die. Ahh I’m weird. My feelings have grown warmer for this song since it was released as a single, and the newer, fresher, instrumentals probably. I now consider it one of BoA’s stronger songs.

Next is the long-anticipated duet between BoA and Miura Daichi: Possibility. The song begins with some synth that give this song a kind of Asian feel. A lot of people bitched about Eien not being on this album (and I agree, it should have been), but BoA does play with the song’s melody when she says “I never say bye-bye.” In truth this song is a response to one of her strongest singles to date. I loooved this song.

I didn’t like fallin’ at first. It showed a lot of promise with the the synth and upbeat mood in the intro. I did NOT like the autotune (of course =] ). But the song isn’t as bad as I initially thought it was. My only complaint is the lack of vocal diversity during the chorus. Also, about 80% of the chorus is the repetition of the word “fallin’.” Now that’s just lazy <_<.

Lastly we have the ever-generic title, My All (seriously, this is one of the most over-used song titles in Asia).  The beginning is very quiet with only some keyboard sounds. Like many of the songs this one has a jazzy feel. Is it BoA’s best ballad ever? Of course not.  But, I think it demonstrates her transition from the U.S. and back to Japan.

Overall: I was impressed with BoA’s new album. I found that this album had a lot more continuity than her other ones, and she’s become less generic IMO. BoA’s out of the hole (for now). Cons? WTF was with those interludes?!

Best songs:

  • LAZER
  • BUMP! BUMP! feat. VERBAL
  • Neko Love
  • Possibility duet with Miura Daichi
  • My All

Rating: 8.5/10

Track list:

  1. This Is Who I Am
  2. EASY
  3. BUMP BUMP! feat. VERBAL (m-flo)
  4. LAZER
  5. interlude#1
  6. is this love
  7. Mamoritai ~White Wishes~
  8. interlude#2
  9. Neko Love
  10. THE END Soshite and… (album ver.)
  11. Possibility duet with Daichi Miura
  12. fallin’
  13. my all


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Best of 2009: singles

2009年 12月 31日

Well I haven’t been reviewing on account of I’ve been on vacation =]. Anyway, now that I’m back and Kowezhi has decided to go party without me (<_<) I’ll spend my New Year’s Eve writing “best of”s. I’ll do singles holistically. I may add a category for b-sides or album-only tracks. None of them are in any particular order… just whatever comes to my mind. Also, no commentary since that would take way too long. Feel free to comment if you agree/disagree. It’s quite possible that I forgot some of the best. Mouse over the album pics to see the name of the artist/single.

Singles

Alright I really wanted this to be a “top 10” sort of deal… but 11 never hurt anyone =] If I *had* to pick a “number 1” I’d have to go with alan’s Kuon no Kawa. I mean come on.. that thing is EPIC (even if it rehashes the same two songs over and over). Also, even though I gave some singles better reviews than others I gave my top 10 based on musicianship, not necessarily the rating I gave. For example, although I enjoyed Miho Fukuhara’s Nande Nakitaku Nacchaun Darou tremendously, Hanabi Sky was clearly a more musical feat.

Honorable Mentions
Kana Nishino- Dear…/MAYBE
Onitsuka Chihiro- X/Last Melody
Lil’B- Tsunaida Te
Mika Nakshima- Overload
Salyu- Corteo ~Gyouretsu~
BoA- Eien


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Christmas Blowout Part III: Covers

2009年 12月 24日

So this last section of my X’mas blowout is dedicated to Japanese/Korean covers of traditional/Western Christmas song. Since these songs are so varied and not original creations of the artists I won’t be ranking them. I know it’s already Christmas for many of you, but for the rest of us it’s still Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas everyone!

Love,
Aoliwa and Kowezhi

BoA: The Christmas Song
Yeah I know, this is probably the most ubiquitous Christmas song of the season and you’re probably all tired of hearing it by now. BoA does a great job with this song though, and her voice is very strong. I’d say this is a bit more of a cutesy rendition of the original IMO.

K: Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas is a mini-album of Christmas covers that was released this past December. All songs are done a capella (kinda reminds me of glee club stuff). K’s English sucks when he speaks *cough* first track *cough,* but when he sings it it’s great. He covers songs like Wonderful Christmastime and This Christmas. Also, the final track is an a capella ver. of Only Human. Pretty… but WTF?!

CHEMISTRY: Winter of Love
This Christmas album from CHEMISTRY features both original songs and covers of older Japanese Christmas songs. Some of the songs are a little dated, but CHEMISTRY does a great job at bringing them back to life for the holidays.

Ayaka Hirahara: AVE MARIA (+Schubert ver.)
Ayaka Hirahara is the queen of classical covers. Since last year she has released to different versions of the ever-famous, Ave Maria. The original version was the B-side to Shinsekai. It approaches the song with a melancholy jazz feel (she even scats). It is stunning. The Schubert version was released this past fall, and it’s much shorter and lighthearted. It bears no resemblance to the former.

TVXQ: Christmas Gift from TVXQ
I looove this mini-album. The boys did a great job at doing a capella covers of classical Christmas songs. Standouts for me were Silent Night and Angels We Have Heard on High. This stuff is very soothing and great for listening during the night.

Nightmare: Akahana no Tonakai (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer)
I know what you’re thinking.. what?! But yeah, back in the day when Naito was a tiny little indies band they created a rock version of this kids’ classic. It begins with some charming xylophone, but it turns 180 degrees as soon as the guitars start up. It’s kind of a twisted version of the song, and despite the LQ sound, I still think this is sexy as hell. Plus at the very end you get a greeting from all the members wishing you Merry Christmas (and Ni~ya sounds a bit drunk). Enjoy =]

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas wotas... this is for you

Merry Christmas wotas... this is for you

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BoA- Mamoritai ~White Wishes~

2009年 12月 9日

BoA’s covers have been very different lately… to me they look kind of sloppy.

I was expecting a kind of Christmas song with the title… but Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ is a more upbeat R&B song. I hated this song when I first heard it, but it’s not as bad now that I’ve listened to it a few times. BoA was not in control of her vocals in this song. She was switching tones all over the place. The song was sloppy, and really didn’t stand out to me. I understand the winter vibe… and it’s a nice break from the copious ballads that we’re bound to hear this December.

Next is THE END soshite and…. is even weaker than the A-side. It opts for an R&B feel (with a hint of jazz IMO). The instrumentals are what kill this song. There’s faint piano in the background… but it’s mostly just a rhythmic that follows us throughout the shadow. So basically no musical variation in this song. BoA’s vocals are weak as well; sometimes I feel as though she’s just throwing notes in the air.

Overall: Some people will probably love this single, but I am holding her accountable for her releases after that horrible US album. It’s disappointing because she is capable of producing great songs, and these just don’t make the cut.

Rating: 5.5/10

Track List:

01 まもりたい [White Wishes]
02 THE END そして [Soshite] and..
03 まもりたい[White Wishes] [Inst]
04 THE END そして and..[Inst]

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Christmas Blowout Part I: Ballads

2009年 12月 2日

Christmas music wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have those sweeping ballads. So here I’ve compiled some of my favorite Christmas ballads. I’ve tried to pull from different genres so that there’s something for everyone. Just a note, not all of these are Christmas songs; I’ve included some songs that I associate with snow/Christmas etc. So here we have it, Aoliwa’s top 15 Christmas ballads.

15. Stay With Me- Koda Kumi
Kuu looks so pretty in this cover… and it’s perfect for winter. Be sure to check out both versions!
I love how this song opens with strings, harp and piano… all these musical elements are what make the ballad so stunning. We soon transition into a consistent ballad beat that continues for the rest of the song. The verses are pretty, with Kuu-chan alongside strings, piano, and even backup vocals. She really shines in the choruses and bridge though. The orchestration during the bridge is some of the best work I’ve seen in Kuu’s ballads. There’s so much power in the last chorus, but Kuu calms it back down when she utters the final, “stay with me.”

14. Harmony of December- KinKi Kids

This is one of my favorite winter ballads. This was actually my first KinKi Kids song, and I happened to listen to it on a whim. I’m so glad I got it though! We have a lot of traditional elements… the beginning opens up with an erhu (or some variation of it). The verses aren’t my favorite, as I’m not too much of a fan of KinKi Kids’ vocals, but the choruses are heavenly. I’d recommend this song to anyone looking for a new, ethereal, take on a Christmas ballad.

13. Yuki no Hana- Mika Nakashima
Despite Mika-chan’s poor makeup, I like this cover because it reminds me of a Northern aurora. Plus that dress is way ahead of its time =D
All you hear in the beginning is a melancholy xylophone, and you’re ready for something like Hitori. However, once the piano kicks in you get this sad, yet hopeful ballad. For a while all we have is Mika and piano… but it’s a beautiful combination because of her smooth voice. After the first two choruses we get the full affect of Mika and strings. We have the strength of a ballad paired with the delicateness of Mika’s voice… just perfect. By the end you can just imagine “snow flowers” falling from the sky.

12. Itsuka no Merry Christmas- Gackt and Ayumi Hamasaki
Yes this crappy pic is the only one I could find of the two together… and I didn’t feel like doing screen shots xD.
I was surprised when I first heard the combination of Ayu and Gackt. As a whole Gackt’s vocals are MUCH stronger than Ayu’s (still love her though ^_^). We’ve got Gackt and his intense vibrato and Ayumi’s “choppiness.” The two actually make a good pair on the B’z cover (you can also hear “Silent Night” duets from them as well). Unlike the B’z version, however, we just rely on piano to accompany the vocals. Good idea… because with such strong artists you don’t want the music to overpower them. Very delicate song… makes me think of sitting by the fire place by Kowezhi (baaaah he’ll kill me if he sees I wrote that xD).

11. Forever Love (Bell ‘n’ Snow Edit)- Tohoshinki
Anyone who’s a fan of THSK has probably heard this song. While I love the original very much, this edition is just flawless. Even if you’re not a fan of THSK, I’d recommend this song anyway because of the unique orchestration. The boys opted for a “church” feel by using church bells and an organ to accompany their seamless vocals. We also have some faint soldier-like drumming in the background throughout the song. Overall the feeling is romantic and gracious. Although this was a B-side to Together, this truly is strong enough to be a single on its own (buuuut no one likes re-cut stuff so…)

10. Winter Love- BoA
I’m a BoA fan in a loose sense of the world… definitely not die-hard or anything. I actually tend to find the majority of her vocals a little nasaly. She can, however, sing a damn good ballad. I don’t think this single got much reception when it first came out, but I instantly loved it (one of the B-sides, Candle Lights, is also nice). This is reminiscent of Kuu-chan’s Stay With Me, but about 10 times more epic. There a lot of chime-y bells, strings, and background guitar (which is what gives it so much power). BoA slows it down during the verses, but totally lets loose in the chorus. One of the strongest Japanese winter ballads IMO.

9. Konayuki- Remioromen
Taking a  diversion from Jpop land we have a classic ballad from band Remioromen. I’m not an experienced Remioromen fan, but I know enough to say that this ballad is amazing. Meaning “powder snow,” Konayuki creates the atmosphere of freshly fallen snow by using soft and progressive guitar rifts. Strings are gradually integrated into the chorus, but we never lose sight of the fact that this a rock band. You can definitely feel the “Asian-ness” of the ballad in the choruses. By this I mean that kind of subtle mix between sweet and sad… and no one creates that mix like the Japanese.

8. Bokura no Love Story- WaT
Look at that (poor quality) cover… tell me that’s not cute! I want one of those sweaters ._.
It’s a shame these boys aren’t too active anymore, because they have some of the best harmony I’ve heard in the Jpop world. Bokura no Love Story is WaT at its finest. Unlike many other Christmas ballads we actually get a little bit of brass in the beginning and during the choruses. Wentz and Koike have a great understanding of each others’ voices, and it shows in the way they can trade of verses, line-by-line. The chorus (surprise) is what makes the song shine. They don’t try to be bombastic or show off-y, they seem like they’re trying to tell a story after all (fitting eh?) Also, my favorite part of the song is the string run just into the final chorus… it’s the sex.

7. Meri Kuri- BoA
I love this cover so much… even the tulle skirt xD.
Ok… everyone knows that this is THE classic BoA ballad, and a Christmas ballad stable. Admittedly I didn’t like this song when I first heard it (I wasn’t too keen on “happy” ballads then). Now I’ve grown to appreciate what really makes this song so timeless. BoA’s vocals are actually quite nice in this song. While I still stand by the fact that BoA never really reaches full potential with her vocals during this song, she still shows a good deal of control over her voice. The electric guitar in this song works well to give this that “pop” factor. The background chorus gives this song a special “holiday” feel.

6. JEWELAyumi Hamasaki
Baaah this is one of the prettiest PV’s I have ever seen… please go check it out.
Anyway, the only reason why this song stops at no. 6 is because it’s not “technically” a winter song. This is probably my favorite Ayu song of all-time, though. Ayu stands alone with just a piano by her side. This song doesn’t have a sweeping climax like the other songs, but that’s where JEWEL gets its strength. The subtleties of the song give its finesse. It’s a very sad song, but extraordinarily beautiful. I don’t want to say to much because this song truly deserves a listen.

5. Cherish- Ai Otsuka
Like JEWEL the only reason Cherish doesn’t get a higher ranking is because it still isn’t a Christmas song. However, I remember this song was released on a tribute album for “Nana” and I discovered it back in December 2006. I don’t see how this song couldn’t be a winter one… we have these synth elements in the beginning that totally mimic winter wind. Harp is very prominent in this epic song, as is a strong drum beat. This is Ai-chin’s best song because it has some of the best orchestration I’ve ever heard in the Jpop world and Ai’s voice is very diverse. A sad song… but one of the best I own.

4. CAROLS (acoustic string ver.)- Ayumi Hamasaki
Ok I dislike this cover… sorry. I love that sky and I love Ayu on the swing… but the two images just don’t mesh well for me. The regular version of CAROLS is pretty, but this string version is just awesome. The orchestra in the background makes a good ballad great. The thing I love about Ayu’s string versions is that the orchestras always show a lot of variety (not the same string loop played over and over…) This is one of the more depressing songs here, but beautiful all the same.

3. Yume no Uta- Koda Kumi
I love these covers so much… looks like she’s getting married ._.
This song, and Unmei, are Kuu-chan’s best ballads of all time. This is around the time when Kuu started taking much more control over her music, as she wrote the lyrics to Yume no Uta and the other A-side, Futari De… Both songs revolve around the same melodic motif, but Yume no Uta, although the “sadder” of the two, is better. We open up with piano, which is present throughout the song. Drum beats, a chorus, and strings dominate the choruses. Yume no Uta also has a quartet version, which I highly recommend as well.

2. Ashita e no Sanka- alan
Baaah beautiful cover… her coat looks so warm… kinda reminds me of the wintery highlands.
Again… not technically a Christmas song, but I still think it works. For some reason this song (and the Orchestral Ver.) make me think of snow. Despite this being alan’s first single, it’s her best. Most people have heard alan by now, and if you haven’t just know that her vocals are jaw-dropping. Her Tibetan wailing dominates the choruses, giving this song an especial ethnic feel . Nothing much can be said about this song, except for “go listen now.”

1. White X’mas- KAT-TUN

Pretty cover, I love how it looks like snow is falling.

Yeah I know some people will probably bitch at me for putting a boy band first here, but honestly KAT-TUN deserves the hype with this song. It’s catchy and delicate (uses harp, strings, etc). The harmony during the chorus is so great. The lyrics are also easy to learn and understand. This song doesn’t appear outwardly “Christmas-y” but still manages to give off that kind of vibe.

Yay I’m done -_-“

Please comment… this took so much longer to do than I thought it would xD

–Aoliwa