Archive for the ‘Koda Kumi’ Category

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Koda Kumi- Gossip Candy

2010年 6月 24日

Weee colors 😀

Yes I finally have it. Gossip Candy. I’m still waiting for my copy to come in the mail, but until then this will suffice. Anyway, on to the review! This is a pretty “typical” Koda Kumi release in terms of single structure. We don’t really have an “a-side,” but we’ve got lots of new work to listen to. Lollipop is definitely the dirtiest song on the single, with lots of fun synth and edge. This song is comparable to lots of her other dirty summer songs, but I think this one stands out because it’s so damn catchy. Idk how I feel about Kuu rapping during the verses, but hey, not bad!

I think I was looking forward to the “fishbowl” tracks the most when I listened to the previews. Inside Fishbowl has a great summer flavor, but instead of the hip-hop of the first track we listen to more of her pop side. The chorus and the bridge are the highlights of this song. Great song!

We kind of have a Yume no Uta/Futari de thing going on with the fishbowl tracks, as they’re the same melody and lyrics. Outside Fishbowl is very similar to its counterpart, but a lot of the notes are inverted (a term for all you classically trained musicians). Basically this song is a bit deeper than Inside Fishbowl, and IMO a little edgier.

For You is a smooth R&B ballad that pays homage to Kuu’s earlier years. While I’m not a huge fan of this style, I think this song is very well done. It’s the right type of song for this single… chill and laid-back. Sometimes Kuu’s voice sounds a little whiny, but not too bad overall. Also, sometimes she dabbles into the upper vocal register, which doesn’t always work for her.

Last but not least, the highly anticipated Got to Be Real, a cover of Cheryl Lynn’s classic. Actually, this is a great cover for a couple of reasons. One: You can immediately tell it’s a cover. Two: You can recognize the original song, but Koda Kumi made it her own. I was a little worried at first because I was unsure if Kuu could match Cheryl’s soulful voice, but Kuu holds her own here. Of course I still prefer the original, but this is as close to Cheryl that you can get from Kuu.

Overall: I’m thoroughly impressed. There’s something for everyone on this single. Kuu’s vocals could have used some tweaking on songs like For You, but otherwise this is a great single.

Rating: 9.5/10

Track list:

  1. Lollipop
  2. Inside Fishbowl
  3. Outside Fishbowl
  4. For You
  5. Got to Be Real (Cheryl Lynn cover)
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Poll: Best album thus far (2010)?

2010年 4月 26日

oh hay kuu chan…. you look so cute but you didn’t win!!

So we’re a third of the way through the year.. how are we doing album wise? Personally there hasn’t been a one single album to fully grab my attention as “perfect.” Sure there have been great tracks on every album, but as a whole there hasn’t been one that is so outstanding that it shames all others (last year? alan’s Voice of Earth). However, the year is nascent and we’ve got some time. Let’s hear it again for Kalafina, shall we?

Kalafina- Red Moon– 13 votes, 46%
Ayumi Hamasaki- Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus– 6 votes, 21%

Sayuri Sugawara- First story- 3 votes 11%
Rie fu- at Rie sessions- 2 votes, 7%
KOKIA- REAL WORLD- 1 vote, 4%
Abingdon Boys School- ABINGDON ROAD- 1 vote, 4%
Tokyo Jihen- Sports- 1 vote, 4%
SuG- Tokyo Muzical Hotal- 1 vote, 4%

The following earned 0 votes:

Koda Kumi- UNIVERSE
D- 7th Rose
Morning Musume 10 MY ME
Aya Kamiki- INDIVIDUAL EMOTION

Let’s analyze the votes. Red Moon was the most anticipated release AND the “best” according to you readers. I thought the album was pretty good, but Kalafina isn’t a group I listen to too often. For me I’d either say Rie fu, KOKIA or Koda Kumi’s was best. Rie fu resonates with the kind of folksy sound I love. KOKIA opened up a new door in music for me. And Koda Kumi is just my little Kuu-chan. (What?? I work out to her stuff!) I should have added salyu’s maiden voyage to the mix! Well that’s what I get for making polls after midnight.

Now I haven’t listened to Tokyo Jihen before (though I’ve heard good things about them) and I haven’t listened to SuG in ages (I can’t really get into oshare-kei sometimes). I was surprised at how many votes Ayumi Hamasaki (what with all the bashing on the blogosphere lately). I think that she has more fans in Japan (relatively speaking) than across the globe. I think Ayu is highly talented, but I don’t think her album is quite “the best of 2010.” To each her own.

So… what do you think of the results? Are they a fair representation of the best musicians or do we have some stans in the house? You tell me.

~aoliwa

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Poll: Favorite Koda Kumi look?

2010年 4月 17日

Recently we asked what everyone’s favorite Koda Kumi look is. Kuu-chan has a lot of different styles, but they can mostly be categorized into: sexy, trendy, elegant, kawaii, and WTF. The results are in!

  • Trendy-strut-yo’-stuff-Kumi (TABOO, Ima Sugu Hoshii, But/Aisho)- 17 votes, 59%
  • Elegant~ (Moon, Alive, Yume no Uta/Futari De…)- 7 votes, 24%
  • Super kawaaiiii ❤ (Lick Me, Anytime, Koi no Tsubomi) 2 votes, 7%
  • Sexpot Kumi! (Freaky, JUICY, Star, Hot Stuff)- 2 votes, 7%
  • I prefer her WTF?! moments (Can We Go Back, Maze, Come With Me)- 1 vote, 3%

Everyone obviously prefers her trendy looks! Me? I love Kuu-chan in every shape and form, but I have to say that her elegant moments are my favorite!

Sexpot Kumi didn’t get very many votes… perhaps not enough guys are reading this blog? 😛

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Koda Kumi- UNIVERSE

2010年 2月 3日

Kuu-chan looks so cute! I like how she’s holding a photo from her last best album. Kuu’s hair looks fantastic IMO.

Let’s get right into it. We were all waiting for it… a full length version of the TRICK intro! Step In To My World is a sexy mess and I love it. The lyrics and soft format have been changed since the intro, but it’s even better. The only drawback is that this song seems to be like an extended intro instead of a full song (maybe it’s because it opened the album w/o an intro xD).

See here for review of Can We Go Back.

Next new track is SUPER STAR. Ok baaad choice of song to fallow Can We Go Back. This song is kinda like sora or some acoustic-sounding Kuu-cutesy song. When I listened to the sample of this song before the album was released I hated this song. I was like “blehh cheesy and unoriginal.” While it’s not exactly something new I don’t hate it.

SUPER STAR transitions well into the slower-paced You’re So Beautiful. I love this song a lot. It is a sweet song without being bubblegum pop. Kuu’s voice pairs well with the strings and guitar that dominate the instrumental portion of the song. Things get even better at the end because Kuu ad-libs and lets the emotions of the song take over her vocals. Excellent track.

Now it’s time for Lick Me<3. This was a song from her triple A-side, 3-Splash. Everyone seemed to boo this song because of its cute nature. Yeah the song is a little bubblegum, but it’s still so adorable. If you aren’t convinced, just check out the 50s themed PV!

Next is one of my new favorite tracks Work it Out! Although judging by the beginning it seems like a typical Kuu song with the light guitar beats and layered vocals. The chorus switches gears and focuses on a more synth aspect. This song is infectious and I’m glad that she’s continuing the themes of TRICK songs.

Next we have another new track, No Way. Like many others, I adore this song. It incorporates some of the older R&B music Kuu used to do as well as some new synth elements. No Way is one of those pleading love songs, in minor key. The lyrics represent a more mature side of Kuu.

Continuing with R&B style music is Stay. I swear every time this song starts to play I think it’s BENI (I just got a bunch of her stuff). The background has kind of a heartbeat rhythm, slightly reminiscent of salyu to me. This was one of my least favorite songs off of the album though, mostly because I thought it lacked variety and the chorus was a little conservative.

If Koi no Tsubomi and Koda Kumi had a kid it would be Comes Up. This song has the plucked strings (which I adore btw) and a lot of similar beats to Koi no Tsubomi. Dis song is cuuuuute.

I’m not sure what Avex was thinking, but somehow Physical Thing is next on the track list; worst transition ever. I’ve already reviewed the Nosheen cover here.

The transition into ECSTACY is a little more fluid, as both are of the “sexy” type. I was actually surprised at the lack of songs like this on the album. Although this song has an upbeat, club-type feel to it, it really doesn’t evoke too much emotion. For many people this was the favorite track off of 3-Splash, but for me I think Koda Kumi can do better.

Another sexy song, but much darker, is the title track UNIVERSE. There’s this upward synth scale that keeps repeating over and over, and it reminded me a little of a Missy Elliot song I heard a few years ago (Lose Control I think?) Either way, this is a pretty original song. It features traditional sexy elements (think Get it On, Candy). The chorus has some musical resolution and it takes off the edginess of the verses. I wish it were longer.

Alright bitches here it comes. I know I am the one person in the entire world that will say this, but I F-ING LOVE THIS SONG. There, I said it *goes and hides.* When I first heard it back in Spring I like many thought it was crap. In truth I still think the verses could be better, but the badass chorus makes up for it. I am not a fan of misono’s voice at all, but at least she’s familiar in the rock element and knows how to harmonize well with Kuu. Of course the song could use some tweaking and there are a few awkward moments, but I love it anyway. Okay I’m done ._.

Another poor transition, we have the ballad Alive, which I reviewed here.

Lastly, we have a live-from-Taiwan version of the gorgeous ballad, Moon Crying. Kuu and piano begin the song with ad-libbing and graceful melodies respectively. Kuu’s voice is nasaly at times, but for the most part she has good intonation . This is a nice, peaceful way to end the album.

Overall: Kuu still has yet to create an album as good as Black Cherry, but this one comes as its closest rival.

Rating: 9/10

Best Songs:

  • You’re So Beautiful
  • Work it Out!
  • No Way
  • It’s All Love
  • Moon Crying -live ver-

Track List:

1. Step Into My World 3:01
2. Can We Go Back 3:25
3. Superstar 4:05
4. You’re So Beautiful 3:42
5. Lick Me 3:29
6. Work It Out! 3:48
7. No Way 5:41
8. Stay 4:12
9. Comes Up 3:55
10. Physical Thing 3:01
11. Ecstacy 3:28
12. Universe 3:35
13. It’s All Love (featuring Misono) 5:02
14. Alive 3:43
15. Moon Crying (Live in Taiwan)
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Koda Kumi- Can We Go Back

2010年 1月 17日

So we have grunge-tastic Kuu-chan. I kind of like this covers… even if Kuu’s wearing porn star makeup.

Since I don’t listen to American music I didn’t know that this was a cover of a Kelly Clarkson song. I definitely thought this was going to be a ballad xD. Anyway, this song is a powerful rock song. Most people don’t like Kuu’s voice in rock songs, but I actually like it. Kuu’s voice is raw and raspy… it reminds me of the way Nana’s voice should have been in the movies. I did listen to Kelly’s version on Youtube to compare. First of all I’ll acknowledge that in terms of vocals Kelly kicks Kuu’s ass. Kelly has a powerful voice and the instrumentals in her version are much heavier. Personally I think Kuu does a better job during the verses than does Kelly… Kelly is a bit breathy for my style. Kuu does a more sexy impression, but hey, that’s her. Unfortunately for Kuu her vocals just cannot compare with Kelly’s strong voice. IMO, the lyrics in Kuu’s version are better. The Japanese is less clunky than the English. Kuu’s redeeming point perhaps? Lastly… shut the fuck up Kelly Clarkson fans. I saw so many comments on youtube that were like “Kelly > Kumi Koda” “Kelly has more talent in her pinky finger than Koda Kumi has in her whole body.” Honest to God people. Yes Kelly does a better job and yes she has a better voice, but the the hell over it. Kuu did not “fuck up this song.” Kuu’s version is well done, but it is definitely different from Kelly’s style. If you don’t like it, then don’t listen to it, stop flaming, and GET A LIFE.

When I saw the title Good☆day I knew it was going to be another bubblegum song. Great. Actually this song is kind of fun. It reminds me of something Yuna Ito would do. Yes it does err on the side of bubblegum, but I think Koda Kumi can do these kinds of songs very well (example? Twinkle). Better than her other bubblegum singles of this year.

Overall: STFU flamers, Can We Go Back does not suck. But really, no more covers Kuu.. original material is always better. Good☆day makes you want to dance ^_^.

Rating: 7.5/10

Track list:

  1. Can We Go Back
  2. Good☆day
  3. Can We Go Back (inst)
  4. Good☆day (inst)
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Best of 2009: Album Artwork

2010年 1月 8日

I’ve been looking forward to this part of the “best” awards. This will probably be my last installment of the “best of”s, because I’m going to have a gigantic “worst” of post out this weekend. So here, in all their glory, are what I thought were the best album covers of 2009.

RURUTIA: Seiros
For a while I thought that this release was part of 2008 because it was released so long ago!. Anyway, RURUTIA’s music is very ethereal and reminiscent of Final Fantasy music. This cover reflects the magical element so present in her music. This cover is like a cross between reality and fantasy.

Namie Amuro: Past<Future
Plagiarized or not, this is one hot cover and it represents Namie’s moving forward with her musical career. The cover came under suspicion when it greatly resembled an image in a Korean magazine. Although it seems like the case is valid, it probably wasn’t Namie’s idea. In truth what really makes this cover amazing is Namie’s coy expression. Even if it wasn’t her idea, her cover is ten times sexier.

alan: Gunjou no Tani
This cover is one of alan’s finest. She looks so peaceful. She dons traditional garb, and it really pops compared to the dark background behind her. In this cover we have tradition and nature- the two most important aspects of alan’s music. I hope we see more of this soon!

OLIVIA: Sailing Free
Everything about this cover is so “OLIVIA.” She’s just kind of floating there, looking completely serene. Although it’s a lot of pink, all of the detail keeps this cover from being boring.

Koda Kumi: Alive/Physical Thing
Regardless of what you think of the single, I think its cover is astounding. Kuu-chan’s covers have gotten progressively better over the years. She went from looking almost like a trashy porn star to looking like more of an artist. I love the juxtaposition of this cover: Kuu looks like an angel while the environment around her is clearly rugged. Her outfit looks really high-fashion and her make up looks class. This cover is sexy without being over-the-top.

Nana Kitade: Tsukihana
Not only was this an outstanding musical feat for Nana, but its cover is a work of art too. Nana looks great in a traditional kimono. Since Nana is a model for a lot of lolita clothes, she knows how to wear an outfit. Her posture and expression make this otherwise traditional setting a little more modern.

Tohoshinki: Stand by U
The reason I like this cover so much is that it makes the boys look more “real” to us. They usually wear flashier clothes in staged and tempered environments. Here though, things look a little more candid and realistic. This kind of comforting image fits the A-side as well because the song projects a kind of intimacy.

Ayumi Hamasaki: Rule/Sparkle
This is one of my favorite Ayu covers to date. The tight-fitting outfit, silver high-heels, and bold covers give this image a futuristic look, perfectly representing the songs on the single. This single came out with many cover editions, as is common for Ayu nowadays, but this one was my favorite. Her makeup looks great too… not overdone, but still foxy. =]


Minami Kizuki: Shiroi Tsuki
I discovered Minami’s music kind of late in the year. For those of you who don’t know her, she has a voice uncannily similar to Hajime Chitose’s (she did the 4th ending to Blood+). This single happens to be a ballad, and the cover kind of reminds me of something alan would do. Minami really stands out from the black background. I really do think of the moon when looking at the cover.. maybe it has something to do with her reflection.


Miliyah Kato: WHY
This single represents one of Miliyah’s strongest releases to date. This cover lacks the glamor of a lot of these others on the list, but it perfectly reflects the raw emotion of the song WHY. Miliyah is known for her more “Diva-esque” covers, so this vulnerable side from her is something to look forward to.

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Best of 2009: B-sides and other stuff

2010年 1月 3日

Here’s the 3rd part to my 5-part “Best of 2009” installment! This time I’m focusing on B-sides and album-only tracks.  There are a couple more bonus categories I didn’t know where else to put (best collaboration and such). Again, nothing is in any particular order.

  • Gunjou no Tani (acoustic ver.)- alan (Gunjou no Tani)
  • SYOUKUBENI (shot in one take)– Dir en grey (Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami)
  • mute– Mihimaru GT (Torokechau Dandy)
  • Pied Piper– Plastic Tree (Sanatorium)
  • I– salyu (extension)
  • KISSES– stephanie. (Pride ~a part of me~)

  • Shiroki Yuu Utsu- the GazettE (DIM)
  • suki– Rie fu (Urban Romantic)
  • Akizakura (cosmos)– Ikimono Gakari (Hajimari no Uta)
  • Driving– Koda Kumi (Trick)
  • Drella– alice nine. (Vandalize)
  • COPY THAT– Namie Amuro (Past<Future)

There were a number of new artists this year… but as the title suggests I’ve only considered the artists who had the strongest debuts (I chose 5). I don’t consider artists like alan to be “new artists” since her work was well known way before her debut album. Artists like Mao Denda (who apparently released stuff about 9 years ago) are eligible because they made themselves known in 2009.  It’s a bit confusing, but it makes sense in my mind ._.

  • JASMINE
  • MiChi
  • Kana Nishino
  • Kizuki Minami
  • Lil’ B

Those where my three “main” categories. Here are the other ones (basically I was just too lazy to make graphics for categories with only one or two winners).

Best Collaboration: Ima Demo Aitai Yo– Yuna Ito feat. Spontania

Best Revival: UnsraW
Best appearance on anime: Again– YUI
Best Instrumental/Interlude: —anten.– Plastic Tree, Tenyou ~Interlude~– alan, INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK– Koda Kumi
Best Remix: romantic (strings ver.)– Rie fu, Days 8-bits of tears YMCK remix– Ayumi Hamasaki

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Best of 2009: Albums

2010年 1月 1日

Best albums of 2009 (not necessarily in order) from left to right

  1. alan- Voice of Earth
  2. Yuna Ito- Dream
  3. Ayumi Hamasaki- NEXT LEVEL
  4. the GazettE- DIM
  5. alice nine.- Vandalize
  6. Namie Amuro- Past<Future
  7. Nothing’s Carved in Stone- Parallel Lives
  8. rie fu- Urban Romantic
  9. Mai Fukui- My Song for You
  10. Girugamesh- Now
  11. Younha- Growing Season (Honorary Korean Masterpiece)

Honorable Mentions

MiChi- UP TO YOU
Ikimono Gakari- Hajimari no Uta
Koda Kumi- Trick
Ayaka Hirahara- My Classics
Perfume-

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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

h1

[single] Koda Kumi- Alive/Physical Thing

2009年 10月 5日

“Alive/Physical Thing” is Koda Kumi’s 6th double A-side, released on September 16, 2009. “Alive” is being used as the theme song for the film adaptation of  “Kamui the Ninja.” “Alive/Physical Thing” is Kuu-chan’s 8th #1 single. Yaaay for Kuu-chan.

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Can I say that I love these covers? I think she looks angelic in these (probably due to the white, feather-y outfit). I love the juxtaposition of the delicateness of Kuu and the roughness of the terrain around her.

Alive took me by surprise when I first heard it. I was expecting one of her “sexy” songs like Juicy. However since “3 Splash” she’s been making some interesting title choices (I’m pretty sure we all thought the same thing when we saw the song title, Lick Me.) Alive, however, is a slow song in a major key. I would go so far as to call it a ballad, and I think that term is used too liberally these days. Alive doesn’t have the kind of climax or the sweeping phrasing used in her ballads (her best being Unmei and Yume no Uta). Alive makes use of a lot of baroque elements, such as the harpsichord. Alive is a “pleasant” song, but nothing much to brag about. I don’t think it’s a complete failure, and I actually kind of like it. However, this isn’t up to her typical standards. I think I would have liked it more had it been longer, giving room for more variation and a climax.

Physical Thing has a lot more presence than Alive. It’s an upbeat, sexy track that commands more attention. I can’t help but laugh every time Kuu tries to sing “keep it real simple.” Her English is at the same level it was for That Ain’t Cool. Not my style, but some people like it. I don’t have much to say about Physical Thing, mostly because I think she could have done better. I’ll keep my hopes up for her next single.

Overall: If you are one of the few who has never heard a Koda Kumi song, this isn’t your place to start. Had this single been tweaked a little, I think I would have enjoyed it a great deal.

If you liked this, try these by Koda Kumi: Ai no Uta, Juicy, Under

Rating: 6/10

Tracklist

1. “Alive”       3:43
2. “Physical thing”       3:01
3. “Alive (Instrumental)”       3:42
4. “Physical thing (Instrumental)”       3:00
5. “TRICK (Live Version From Trick Tour 2009) (CD Only First Press Bonus Track)”       3:06
6. “Joyful (Live Version From Trick Tour 2009) (CD Only First Press Bonus Track)”