Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
What a Great CD!
Nik | London, UK | 06/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is little more I can add to the other reviews - this CD is definitely one of Ayumi's BEST. All of the songs are uplifting, and are also sufficiently diverse. Ayumi amazes me with the number of songs and CDs she manages to come up with in this incredibly short time. And over 80% of her music IS top notch. Even when some of her songs use music parts of European/American songs, she (or rather her producers) still manages to turn it around and make it classy and original. Hats down.
If you are into JPop, chances are you are well acquainted with Ayu's music and already past the 'cheesy' and 'weird' first impressions of JPop in general. My recommendation is then - hesitate no more, you will LOVE this CD.
If you are new to JPop, then I'll first give you a little context. The two biggest JPop stars are Ayumi Hamasaki (Ayu) and Hikaru Utada (Hikki). Personally, I think Hikki is more prolific singer (in terms of quality) - her songs are always original whilst Ayumi's tend to regurgitate the same music themes. However, if we take into account all aspects of each of these two stars, Ayu takes the prize easily. She simply delivers more - not only in terms of quantity, but 'show' wise. Therefore I would urge you not only to stop at this CD, but to check out her videos, her concerts and some general programmes on her (and her effect in Japan) - Ayu is simply a furore to be behold! Plus the videos will help you with the transition to JPop. I think JPop is as much a feast for the eyes as is music to the ears.
If you want more quality, have limited tolerance to cheesy stuff and want something that pushes Pop boundaries, you will not regret getting as much of Hikki's as you possibly can. Especially, if you haven't had good encounters with JPop yet, Sakura Drops is bound to change your mind about the genre.
To get back on the CD, I am not going to evaluate every single track as this has been done already several times before me and my opinion generally matches the previous reviewers'. The only songs where my taste diverges (maybe because I am a guy) are Bold & Delicious, Ladies Night, and STEP you - they didn't grow on me.
In contrast, my favourite song from the album is (miss)understood. I am lost for words to describe the sheer emotion and determination that pour from this song. I also love the fact that it there is no repeated chorus (no 'standard hook') - just the style of singing. It's very original and very refreshing. Alterna is also hellishly good rock tune!
So get this CD and form your own impressions. And then perhaps come back and share them with us."
Better than MY STORY
Sheldon | 05/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At first I was very disapointed by this CD. But after a while it grew on me. It's a great CD to listen to while you go for a walk (as long as it's sunny out!)
(and just to let you know, I can't really give an in-depth description, so if you really want to know more, just listen to it yourself!)
Bold & Delicious - when I first heard the clip for this song, I felt betrayed. I though "How could you do this to us, ayu?! Turning on us like that..." But it ended up growing on me. 9/10
STEP you - loved it at first, not now, but still a good song. 8/10
Ladies Night - one of my favourites on the CD. It was a cover of SWEETBOX, and I've never heard the original, but I really love this version. Part of the lyrics aren't in the booklet though, which really bugs me. 10/10
is this LOVE? - hated it at first, but now I love it. It's as rock as she get's. Great verse, great chorus, and I've even come to like the guitar solo. 10/10
(miss)understood - not really much happening in this song... it has an alright chorus. A weak track. 6/10
alterna - is spanish for "choice". My feelings for this song change frequently. I currently love it. 10/10
In The Corner - another SWEETBOX cover. It's kind of R n B sounding. It's alright, nothing special. 8/10
tasking - a good interlude, but not as good as the other one on here. 9/10
criminal - a slow type of song that get's really loud (but still slow) at the chorus.I like it. 9/10
Pride - at first I didn't like it, but it grew on me, and now I consider it a strong track. 10/10
Will - and we get to hear some more music composed by ayu! Yay! The music at the beginning and the verse remind me of that movie Amelie, and "Anne of Green Gables" or something. Another strong track. 10/10
HEAVEN - her best ballad to date, and my number one favourite song from this album. Love, love, love it. 11/10
Are You Wake Up - yes, the title doesn't make sense, but it's still a very happy sounding interlude. Would go well with any slide show. Hmmmm, that gives me and idea... 10/10
fairyland - what can I say? Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. Right now, I give it a 10/10
Beautiful Day - this song makes me happy no matter what's going on in life. 10/10
rainy day - a great way to close the album. Her voice is at it's best here, and the music box is so pretty. 10/10
total - 150/160
which rounds out to 93%. A very good album. Keep up the great work, Ayu!
Extra curricular information:
Songs composed by GEO of SWEETBOX (covers, all lyrics written by ayumi)
Bold & Delicious (arranged by CMJK)
Ladies Night (arranged by CMJK)
In The Corner (arranged by CMJK)
Pride (arranged by CMJK)
Beautiful Day (originally titled "Beautiful Girl")(arranged by tasuku)
rainy day (originally titled "Another Step")(kind of hard to see the name of the arranger. Yuta something)
The rest of her songs: (all lyrics - ayumi hamasaki)
STEP you - music: Kazuhiro Hara
is this LOVE? - music: Miki Watanabe
(miss)understood - music: Tetsuya Yukumi
alterna - music: Shintaro Hagiwara, Sosaku Sasaki
tasking - music & arrangement: tasuku
criminal - music: Kazuhiro Hara
arrangement: Kazuhiro Hara
Will - music: CREA (ayumi) + D-A-I
HEAVEN - music: Kazuhito Kikuchi
arrangement: Yuta Nakano & KZB
Are You Wake Up? - music & arrangement: CMJK
fairyland - music: tasuku
My second favourite Ayumi album
Weather Warden | Auckland, NZ | 07/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's no doubt that Ayumi Hamasaki is one of J-Pop's greatest singers. She's sold just as many albums as her English speaking contemporaries, has released more albums then most and released over 40 singles, yet a lot people haven't heard of her. This is a huge shame as her music is brilliant, unique and experimental.
"(miss)understood" is my second favourite Ayu album after "GUILTY." It's a got cool rocky feel to a lot of the songs that really appeals to me. This album was released in 2006 and is a great example of good J-Pop.
01. Bold & Delicious
This was actually the first Ayumi song I ever heard and my introduction to J-Pop in general. This song is a GREAT album opener, it's fast paced, upbeat and just mental in general. That's a good thing, it's very catchy and the chorus is great to wail along to. "Boooooooold and delicious!" Brilliant.
02. STEP you
Another superb track, this song has a great attitude filled chorus. It teams this with fluffy poppy verses to make a mixed track. The thing is, the song sounds rocky when it starts but kicks into the poppyness at the verses. The chorus is incredibly catchy too and this is one of the highlights of the album.
03. Ladies Night
Everybody thinks this song is a J-Pop cover of Kool & The Gang's song, but nope, this is all original. It's in the same vein though, very upbeat and dancey though. It's also very catchy with a great singalong chorus, interesting vocoded vocals and great music.
04. is this LOVE?
This song starts off with a piano, then kicks into an upbeat rocky number. Ayu really seems to have gone for the rock feel for this album. This song has softly sung verses and hard hitting rock chorus.
The title track and an interesting song at that. This song is softer then the previous ones and a bit slower, with a guitar backing. But again, it kicks into a rocky chorus that speeds the song up a bit. Unlike one of the other reviewers, I find this song to have a very catchy hook. I like this one, because it's not over the top.
I love the music in this track. It's 5:29, but the fact that it goes on for over 5 minutes doesn't matter because it's a great song. Another rocky number, this one is really catchy and quite different. The electric guitar is very prominent in this track. The chorus has a great hook too.
07. In The Corner
This is one of my favourites on the album! Not counting the interludes, it's the shortest song on the album (3:22). It has such AMAZING music, I just adore it. This one is incredibly catchy and Ayu sounds great on it. A simple little song with the most amazing running music hooks in the background. Simply put, excellent.
A little short interlude, this clocks in at 1:26. This is one of many "tasking" named interludes on Ayu's albums and I think it's the best one. I just like the music and it's a nice bridge between the two songs on either side of it.
My other favourite track on the album, if you skip "tasking" it directly follows my other favourite. This is the first full blown ballad of the album and it's just gorgeous and moving. The piano on the track is just spell binding and the tune is familiar. Ayu's vocals are incredibly strong on this track too, but still soft. About 1:20 into the track, it kicks into a rock ballad. A stunning song, and one of the highlights.
Another ballad directly follows "criminal" and as I listened to the opening, I thought it wasn't going to be nearly as good. As I got into the song, I found that wasn't true at all. This song has an amazing chorus that is very catchy for a ballad. And the song isn't nearly as slow as the beginning makes it seem. More instruments kick in before long and that chorus comes on. Ayu's vocals also sound great on this. Another great song.
A theme on this album is excellent music to accompany Ayu's vocals. This one is no exception, another great musical track. Ayu sings very fast on this song and the chorus is again, extremely catchy. This one is not as fast as the other rock tracks on the album, but is still upbeat.
Another ballad like song, this is more midtempo though. This has great "la la la" bits in it and a great moving chorus. Ayu's voice flows over this one nicely and the instrumentals are great.
13. Are You Wake Up?
Bad grammar in the title but a cool little interlude anyway. It's almost like a mini song in it's own right though, at 2:05. I love the music on this, it has such interesting instruments. I love the vocoded "get your hands up" bits during it.
This song is definitely one of the danciest songs on the album and sounds a bit more like classic Ayu from her first couple of albums, then the Ayu of today. This song is extremely dancey and upbeat and very catchy. With a name like "fairyland" you'd be expecting a ballad, but this one is nothing like it.
15. Beautiful Day
Yet again, great music. This song has a bit more English then the other tracks on the album, with Ayu singing "it's a beautiful day, it's a beautiful day" on the catchy chorus. This one is upbeat also, and is a bit more pop then the rest of the album. I like it.
16. rainy day
A BRILLIANT closing track to the album, this is another of my favourites. This song is just incredibly beautiful, it has amazingly sad music and Ayu's vocals sound better on this song then the rest of the album put together, especially in one note in the middle of the song. This song is quite sad, but chorus is uplifting at the same time. A gorgeous song and yet another highlight.
As you can see, none of the songs on this album got a bad review from me, I genuinelly like every single song in some way. This is a stellar album.
Top songs for me are:
In The Corner, criminal, rainy day, STEP you, Bold & Delicious, Pride, alterna and Are You Wake Up?
A top notch album and a great outing for Ayu. Ayumi Hamasaski is one of the world's most successful and amazing singers and I really wish more people would open their minds and try J-Pop and her in particular. This album is awesome and one of my favourites by Ayu."