Destiny Line – Ai no Matador –

Koda Kumi – grow into one [2nd Studio Album]

Posted on: June 24, 2008

Koda Kumi’s second studio album, grow into one, was released 03.19.03. The album shows a nice pop flare that begins to develop over the years. The singles released prior to the album were love across the ocean, m・a・z・e and real Emotion / 1000 乱反射.

Clench and Blistah join Kumi for the introductory track, Teaser. The song opens up Blistah delivering a nice rap section over a hot dance beat. Occasionally Kumi chimes in with a few phrases such as “get down” as well as some some oohs and yeahs. Kumi’s section comes in during the middle of the song and she sings her way wonderfully through it in all English. Her vocals sound perfect with the music and she captures the dance atmosphere perfectly. Clench comes after Kumi and delivers another rap section and finishes off the song with Kumi and Blistah chiming in a few times. Teaser is an excellent introductory track for the album and is a wonderful dance song.  

real Emotion is the second song on grow into one. The song opens up with Kumi singing “what can I do for you” before the instrumentation really comes into play. The pop sound and the beat really show just how catchy the song is before the first verse comes in. Kumi’s vocals are generally deeper here and progressively grow stronger as the verse goes on. The chorus really allows Kumi to sing with more power and catch, letting the listener follow along each word. Once the chorus finishes, the opening line repeats as she sings “what can I do for you; I can hear you.” The pure instrumental section sounds great as “what can I do for you” is repeated throughout the segment, only adding to the catchiness. real Emotion was half of Kumi’s first true hit single and it’s no wonder why.

The third song on the album is the slow pop song, BOY FRIEND? The song opens up with a sweet instrumentation before the pop chorus comes in. Kumi’s vocals sound very good here and it makes the chorus really stand out. During the verses, Kumi’s vocals are a little softer but still show flare that make them memorable. It’s the hook that really stands out as the instrumentation changes and gives a “night-time” feeling and serves as a good contrast from the verses and the chorus. With some English phrases as well as Japanese lyrics, both languages work to compliment the other. The pure instrumental takes on the sound of the hook with only the English lines in a hushed voice. It’s a very strong decision that re-introduces the chorus strongly because of the different sound. Kumi adlibs her way out to bring the song to a great close. BOY FRIEND? is a nice song after real Emotion and a great addition to the album.

The mood of the album slows down with Your only one. The song opens up with a flute-like sound that really sets the atmosphere of the song nicely. The verses feature pretty soft vocals from Kumi in a deep tone and progressively, they become slightly stronger over the course of the verse. The chorus features a slightly different instrumenation along with some more powerful and emotional vocals from Kumi to really make it stand out more. The small pure instrumental section sounds very pretty as it takes on the same sound that opened the song up. Kumi ends the song with a little more power in her vocals with a few adlibs before instrumentation takes the final end. Your only one is a nice song and the album’s first ballad that is worth the listen.

LISA joins Koda Kumi for the fifth song, one. The song opens strongly with one line that really opens up the song on a fun and catchy part. Instrumentation follows and then the first verse comes in. Kumi’s vocals during the verses are pretty low-pitched but the chorus gives her a chance to show off her vocals strongly. She displays more power and she holds the final note of the chorus excellently before the hook, rapped by Kumi with attitude. LISA’s rap sequence features a lot of English to make it really pop and is pretty catchy in its own right. The song ends nicely with the chorus as lines of the hook are inserted during what would be the small music breaks to really combine Kumi’s more powerful vocals with her deeper vocals. Then the same line that opened the song, closes it, making for a very catchy ending. For its catchiness and fun, Kumi and LISA did a great job on the song. 

The sound of a harp opens the next song, One night romance. A mellow pop instrumentation opens up the song very nicely with a great beat. When the first verse arrives, Kumi shows off a little range as she sings both high and deep, soft and with power. She introduces each chorus with an English line such as “I wanna know what it’s all about.” The chorus really stands out for being catchy and Kumi’s vocals sound great here. One night romance is a pretty nice track and is fairly catchy so it’s worth the listen.

1000 の言葉, a magical ballad and one half of her first hit single, is next. The song opens up with a fantasy-like instrumentation before the first verse starts. Her vocals here begin on the deeper side, matching with the music which has become more simplistic. The hook begins to bring more variety to the instrumentation and Kumi begins to show off a little more vocal power, introducing the chorus perfectly. During the chorus, Kumi’s vocals sound great, particularly as she holds the final note with power and control. She does a good job of portraying the emotion of the song with her voice through the chorus especially. The pure instrumental setion spotlights just how pretty the music is and shows off it’s magical quality that makes it so enjoyable. The song is a beautiful ballad with lots of emotion that Kumi creates with her great vocals, making it a stand-out track on the album.

S.O.S. ~sound of silence~ shows off a pop flare with very interesting instrumentation. The song begins with very cool and synthesized music so that an almost “technological instrumentation” is established. Once the first verse, Kumi delivers her lyrics in a somewhat deep voice and with such a slickness, it fits with the music perfectly. The hook takes the instrumenation in a different direction as strings are focused and Kumi begins to display more vocal strength. The chorus shows off Kumi’s vocals even further in a catchy pop section that stands out perfectly. The pure instrumental section sounds great and puts an emphasis on the slickness and coolness of the music before making a smooth transition into the hook and final chorus. S.O.S. ~sound of silence~ is a great album track and a fun pop song that is one of the more memorable songs on the album.

Continuing songs with interesting instrumentation is m・a・z・e. The song opens up with Kumi speaking in English when a very cool and somewhat mysterious instrumentation comes booming in. Kumi’s vocals are deeper during the verses and as the instrumentation becomes slightly more varied, her vocals become strongly. The catchiest part of the song, the chorus, brings the instrumentation to its coolest sound and Kumi’s vocals to their strongest in the song as she sings with emotion. The strings are really brought out during the pure instrumental section, which re-introduces the chorus very nicely. Instrumentation finishes the song off very nicely, making this song another one not to be skipped nor forgotten.

The final song in the trio of interesting instrumentation is 乱反射. The song begins with an instrumentation almost reminiscent of a video-game, opening the song up very strongly. During the verses, Kumi’s vocals are deeper to match the more basic instrumentation at this point. The hook is strong as Kumi shows more vocal strength and the instrumentation begins to sound like it did in the opening. The chorus allows Kumi to sing even more powerfully and with more emotion. The pure instrumental section is very nice as Kumi sings in a deep voice “hey boy.” A powerful finish ends the song with wonderful music. With an interesting instrumentation and some great vocals from Kumi, the song is cool and addictive.

One of the album’s true ballads is here, Pearl Moon. Soft and pretty piano playing introduces the song before Kumi sings with smooth and deep vocals during the verses. The overall song is pretty simplistic as the instrumentation remains piano-central and Kumi sings with the same general tone. Her vocals carry the emotion well so that the listener can really believe what she is singing. It may be a little bland but it’s a nice listen every now and then.

Certain elements of jazz come to Kumi on the sexy and seductive, Nasty girl. The song opens up with a great instrumentation that captures a jazzy feel and creates a certain sexual energy. As the first verse begins, Kumi’s vocals are smooth and seductive to really capture the atmosphere created by the sound and the lyrics. The chorus steps out as Kumi shows off more vocal strength, particularly as she holds the last note of the last line perfectly. The pure instrumental section is a nice touch, showing off some great piano sounds and the following line that she whispers puts the icing on the cake. The song finishes with a fantastic note from Kumi in the final chorus and following instrumentation. Nasty girl is an excellent album track that shows off Kumi’s vocals, which help capture a sexual atmosphere perfectly.

To be one is the semifinal track, which nicely captures the sounds of summer. A fun dance beat opens up the song before the first verse comes in. Once again, her vocals are somewhat low but they really have a certain energy to them that works perfectly with the music. The chorus gives more vocal power and even more energy to this catchy song. The pure instrumental section really takes the listener into the world of the song as Kumi’s “hey” is repeated in a somewhat hushed voice in the beginning and grows louder until the section finishes. To be one is a really fun summery pop song that segues very nicely into the album’s final track.

The album ends strongly with the infectious pop dance song, love across the ocean. The song opens up with a fun instrumentation before the first verse begins. During the verses, Kumi’s vocals are more on the deep side to because the instrumentation is simplistic during the verses, her voice is spotlighted. The hook serves as a bridge as Kumi begins to sing a bit more powerfully and the instrumentation becomes more varied, which transitions into the chorus perfectly. Kumi brings out even more vocal power on the catchy chorus and the finishing English lyrics “oceans apart, longing to be with you again” really make it pop at the end. The pure instrumental section spotlights the impressive guitar playing in particular to bring out just how catchy and infectious the instrumentation really is. The same instrumentation finishes off the song after the chorus, rounding off the song wonderfully. love across the ocean is an excellent song and a brilliant album closer as it shows off Kumi’s great vocals with a dance beat that she shows her completely in her element.

Album Ranking: A –

Kumi’s second album features many tracks that listeners can find enjoyable. From the beautiful ballads such as 1000 の言葉 and Your only one to the dance pop tracks such as love across the ocean and S.O.S. ~sound of silence,~ the album has its bases covered. Kumi brings her heat on Nasty girl and works very well with interesting instrumentation on tracks such as 乱反射. grow into one is an excellent album that is a good collection of Kumi songs.


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