Archive for the ‘YUI’ Category

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YUI- to Mother

2010年 6月 14日

awww she looks so sweet =]

Alright, I just want to say that I LOVE everything about this single. to Mother hits close to home for me because I feel the same way about my mother, who has worked so hard as a single mother. Musically, we have NO GUITARS. That’s right, we’ve got a piano acoustic song. Well our YUI is multi-talented, so I say go for it! This is a gorgeous ballad in every sense of the word, and one of her best tracks to date.

Tonight is a complete contrast to the a-side. This is probably YUI’s most rock-fueled track because of the aggressive electric guitars. If I were to place this song into one of her era’s I’d probably put it in the “Can’t buy my love” era because of its sass and attitude. While I wish this song were longer (it’s only 2 min 39 sec), YUI uses every second to the fullest.

While I don’t think we necessarily need an “acoustic” version of GLORIA, GLORIA ~YUI Acoustic Version~ takes a great song and quiets it down a little. Since GLORIA is such a strong song it can handle the toned-down instrumentals. Still a great song, so I’m not complaining!

Overall: Amazing work from YUI. Everyone go buy this now!
Rating: 10/10

Track list:

1. to Mother
2. Tonight
3. GLORIA ~YUI Acoustic Version~
4. to Mother ~Instrumental~

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Kpop vs. Jpop: The Epic, Part I

2010年 6月 5日

As you all have probably realized Tsuki no Ai has begun featuring Kpop artists on the blog. There are a number of reasons for this addition. First, I am trying to learn Korean (along with Mandarin and Japanese) as part of my major for East Asian Studies. I’d like to attain complete fluency in all three languages so I can have the freedom of living in most places in East Asia (heh Vietnamese will have to come later). Listening to Japanese music has been instrumental in my progression of the language because it helped me become accustomed to its sound and nuances. I’m trying to recreate that same affect with Korean music. Secondly, I want to warm up to more Asian cultures, aside from my Japanese “comfort zone.” Even though I’ll be reviewing Korean from now on (in addition to Japanese and perhaps the occasional Chinese), my heart still belongs with Japanese music. Why is that? Well that’s an issue I want to explore in my first ever EDITORIAL (zomg yaaaaay O(≧∇≦)O). Let’s get started.

The Lyrics

The first major distinction between Kpop and Jpop lies in the lyrical content of a song. While there are exceptions in each case, let’s take a look at two “typical” songs (English translations). I tried to choose upbeat songs from two artists (after all it wouldn’t be fair to choose an upbeat song for one and ballad for the other).

Ayumi Hamaski- excerpt from “Rule”

I don’t want to be imposed on
By the same old stupid Rules
Let’s start first, you and me
By breaking the Rules

Since the moment my strength turned into tenderness
And my tenderness turned into strength
I have nothing to fear any more
I’m feeling so

4minute- MUZIK

Let’s move within the rhythm that’s drawing us in
Let’s move within the non-stop raining music
I like the music, like, like, like the music
Listen to my song, not that boring beat

More sexier and tastier, I like it, I like it
Add more booty and do it more stylish, I like it, I like it
Now let’s fire it up with me, party tonight

Noticeably difference right? Now of course there are exceptions… you will find slutty lyrics from Koda Kumi and touching lyrics from Younha. However, what I’m trying to focus on is the general trend of lyrics. Jpop tends to focus on life- love, pain, parties, depression, childhood, parents, a journey, being sexy, happiness, anxiety, nervousness, etc. etc. Kpop’s sphere, while it can embody all of those I just listed, usually encompasses sexiness, parties, and love. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me a good slutty song, but I do like a little variety in my music. Now you most certainly can find deep Korean lyrics (especially in the ballads), but here I’m just trying to distinguish between upbeat songs.  I’m not trying to stereotype either Kpop or Jpop, I’m just noting some observations I’ve made by listening to all sorts of Asian music for 5+ years.

The Music

Now let’s focus on the instrumentation of each group. The vast majority of Kpop is sexy synth, aggressive hip hop, bubblegum pop, or moving ballads. Rarely are real, tangible instruments regularly used (with the exception of Younha, the TRAX and a few others). Japanese music on the other hand is much more diverse. We have acoustic goddesses like YUI, synth queens like Koda Kumi, pop mavens like Namie Amuro, techno bitches like Ami Suzuki, rock demons like OLIVIA… the list goes on endlessly. Japan suffered from a relatively stale music environment for quite a few years until X Japan (then just X) surfaced in the 80s. Now I’m not even concerning myself with Jrock here… purely Jpop. If I were to included Jrock into this mix the list of musical styles would expand enormously. The reason I won’t include Jrock right now is because there really isn’t a “Krock” scene to speak of. Yes there have been a few successful rock bands in Korea, but the charts speak for themselves. Korea wants pop, not rock. Now perhaps I’m not being totally fair here. The Japanese music market has had decades of history. Japan has had ample time to produce well-rounded artists of all different genres. Korean music hasn’t  been around as long (in terms of mass marketing), so it’s natural that the market is more limited. It’s not to say that Korea can’t produce talented artists, because it certainly can, it’s just that most of these artists belong within one or two genres.

Also of importance is song length. It is very rare to find a Korean song over 4 minutes long- even if it’s a ballad. In Japan it’s not unusual to see a ballad go for 5 or 6 minutes… X JAPAN’s epic, “Life of Art” rocks out for 30 minutes (ok yeah that’s rock, but you get the point). Personally I don’t think that you can make a well developed ballad in under 4 minutes… even upbeat songs need time for exposition, development, and recapitulation. Yeah Kpop songs are infectious, catchy, and dance-friendly, they’re just not long enough for my tastes. Often I find myself listening to a song and loving it but then feeling like “wait… it’s over already?” Now there are long songs that drag on, but for the most part the longer Japanese songs are well constructed.

The Vocalists
Here’s the trickiest category of them all- the singers that make it all happen. Koreans *tend* to have deeper, richer voices than their Japanese counterparts. This is especially true when it comes to male vocalists. I’m going to go right out and say it- Korean male singers a bit better. Sorry Japan =/. But here’s the thing… they know how to do vibrato, they’ve got pretty good intonation, they can phrase well. While Japanese men can certainly do all of those things, the tendency (particularly with JE boys) is to have a more nasal-y and higher-pitched sound. Japan has a much more difficult time promoting male artists that aren’t from Johnny’s Entertainment. I adore KAT-TUN and Arashi, but when you’ve got JE backing you up there’s no way in hell you aren’t going to chart well on the Oricon. Now we do get a breath of fresh air with Yuya Matsushita, who has done a superb job in the solo male department. Now you might say that JUNE and K have great voices… but remember, they’re KOREAN.

Now let’s talk about the girls. For the most part I’ll give this award to Japan (not including the travesty of H!P vocalists). There’s a lot of diversity in terms of vocal style for Japanese women… you’ve got everything from Rie fu’s soft spoken voice to Koda Kumi’s raspy vocals. Now Korean ladies can sure belt it out… my favorites being LENA PARK (phenomenal voice), Ivy (though I wish she’d do more ballads), and SeeYa’s Lee Boram and Kim Yeonji. Now I do think that Korea has a larger stock of female rappers, but I don’t think you can compete with Japanese veterans like SOULHEAD.

So this concludes the Kpop vs. Jpop Epic Part I! This was my first shot at an editorial so if you have comments or suggestions please, please, please let me know. Coming up next: international appeal, style, promotion, groups, triple threats, and more.

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Poll: Prom King and Queen

2010年 5月 27日

So we had a little bit of a “prom court” on Tsuki no Ai. I thought it would be fun to host a shallow popularity contest, so here are the results.

Queen

Namie Amuro- 9 votes, 41%
BENI- 3 votes, 14%
Kanon Wakeshima- 3 votes, 14%
YUI- 2 votes 9%
Yuna Ito- ”
Ami Suzuki- ”
Ai Otsuka- 1 vote, 5%

I figured Namie would win… after all, she is the REAL queen of J-pop! I think I would vote for Kanon… she is releasing a new album this July!!

Now for King results… I was pretty surprised with this outcome actually…

King
Hero (DBSK)- 10 votes, 48%
HYDE (L’arc~en~Ciel)- 4 votes, 19%
Ruki (the GazettE)- 2 votes, 10%
Keita Tachibana (w-inds.)- 2 votes, 10%
Gackt- 1 vote, 5%
Jun Matsumoto- ”
Yuya Matsushita- Lex (okay I’m guessing on this, but I’m pretty sure it was he)
K- 0 votes =[

I did not expect Hero to win at all… didn’t expect there to be that many DBSK fan(girls) that read my blog. THEY’RE JUST ON HIATUS THEY’RE JUST ON HIATUS. I thought HYDE would win, even though he’s a bit old for prom king  =p. I would have voted for Ruki… there’s my boy!

So… that was fun. In the meantime be sure to vote in the new poll and check out our formspring!

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YUI- GLORIA

2010年 1月 17日

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Daaa YUI looks so pretty here! Mm and her jacket looks so warm ._.

Truth be told I wasn’t excited for GLORIA. I thought it would be some light-hearted guitar mix unsuited for the season. Fortunately I love this song. It takes assumes the rule of a melancholy yet up-beat pop song. Lots of acoustic and piano in the background. The verses are fine, but it’s the chorus that makes this song so amazing. I love YUI’s repeating of syllables in the words (cry-y-y-y etc). Short but powerful song. This song is totally infectious and a new style for YUI. This song is an example of an artist branching out while sticking to her roots.

I was expecting muffler to be a heavier rock song (honestly I was thinking JASMINE’s Clubbin’). Well I was totally off with that one. Muffler is a slow paced acoustic song. Honestly this song was great because it reminded me of her older work (Spiral and Escape, Tomorrow’s Way, Simply White).

No YUI single is complete without an acoustic version of the previous single. I wasn’t too much a fan of It’s all too much, but the acoustic version is actually better than the original. I think acoustic guitar better captures the Spanish sound and wandering atmosphere of the song. The simplicity of the instrumentals makes this song more enjoyable.

Overall: A huuuuge step from her past single. I really can’t think of anything I’d want to change besides giving muffler a more appropriate title.

Rating: 9.9/10 (I couldn’t give two 10/10s in a row so I’m docking points for the whole muffler thing).

Track list:

  1. GLORIA
  2. muffler
  3. It’s all too much ~YUI acoustic version~
  4. GLORIA ~instrumental~
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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: 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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[single]YUI- It’s All Too Much/Never Say Die

2009年 10月 10日

It’s All Too Much/Never Say Die is YUI’s  15th single, released on October 7, 2009.

I think the cover’s a little weird in my opinion… Looks like it’s taken in an awkwardly decorated hotel room. Not one of my favorite YUI covers… but at least it’s unique.

It’s All Too Much reminds me very much of songs from her second album, Can’t Buy My Love. Its intro is slightly reminiscent of songs like Umbrella and Ruido. I like YUI’s occasional homage to latino music. Personally though, after the release of Again It’s All Too Much seems a little anticlimactic. The chorus doesn’t wield the same kind of power as it should, even though it has a fine melody. The bridge is a little better though, since it adds some variety to the song. It begins with a guitar solo and eventually a YUI solo of the chorus. The strings are more pronounced her than in the rest of the song.

Never Say Die was the stronger song for me, personally. It’s pure fun… from the PV to the adorable chorus (“Baby, never mind, never say die.”) The song is on the short side, only 3:18 min, but it packs a lot of power. It’s a light-hearted rock song with an overall positive feel. In the PV it wavers between a soccer fight duel and an energy-filled YUI concert. During the concert portion of the PV the audience members are beating their fists in the air to the song, and quite frankly that’s exactly how this song makes you feel. Never Say Die was easily the stronger song.

I LOVE the acoustic version of Again. I generally love all of YUI’s acoustic versions though xD. Although it doesn’t have the same “fire” of the original, it’s more relaxing. It lacks the lyrics “I’m on my way,” probably because they use a type of voice editing that wouldn’t be suitable for an acoustic version. Overall… still amazing!

Overall: Both songs are enjoyable, but Never Say Die wins by a long-shot.

If you liked It’s All Too Much try: Ruido, Umbrella, Again

If you liked Never Say Die try: No Way, OH YEAH

Rating: 8/10