Destiny Line – Ai no Matador –

Otsuka Ai – LOVE JAM [2nd Studio Album]

Posted on: July 17, 2008

Otsuka Ai’s 2nd studio album, entitled LOVE JAM, was released on 11.17.04. The singles released before the album are as follows: Happy Days, 金魚花火, 大好きだよ and 黒毛和牛上塩タン焼680円 (retitled 黒毛和牛上塩タン焼き735円 for the album).

スーパーマン is the album’s opening number. The song starts off with the sound of a car engine before a crazy and fun instrumental begins, flashing rock flares. Ai’s vocals are a little deeper than usual as she sings the first verse but it makes for a nice change of pace. Momentary sections of pure instrumentation really stand out to the listener and provide a nice music break. The chorus stands out nicely as Ai shows a little range, hitting higher notes but still singing deep enough to move with the rock sound very well. The pure instrumental section is absolutely fantastic, showcasing the sound of sirens as well as the highway police frantically talking to one another talking about superman. The final remark of the highway policeman saying “oh my god” is a great finish for the song, making スーパーマン a fantastic album opener that shows an exciting and fun sound.

Following the energy of the first track comes the happy and fun, Happy Days. A rock tinted fun instrumentation begins the song and then the first verse starts. A more poppy feeling comes through Ai’s vocals but they actually make a pefect fit with the rock sound. The chorus stands out particularly when she repeatedly says “happy days,” bringing out that cuteness that only Ai can bring. That fun and breezy element comes out during the pure instrumental section, which catches the listener’s ear nicely. More instrumentation brings the song to a close, making Happy Days a fun and exciting song for the listener to hear.

Strawberry Jam is the third song on the album. The song starts off with a really sweet and instantly addictive instrumentation before the first verse starts. Her vocals sound great and really have a certain cuteness that works with the lyrical story of the song. The note held right before the chorus is fantastic, showing off Ai’s vocal strengths. A fun sound is what makes the chorus just as addictive as it is, making the listener just fall in love with Ai. The pure instrumental section sounds really pretty as different instruments are spotlighted, showing off the instrumental variety of the song. Strawbeery Jam is a fantastic song that is one of the best songs in Ai’s discography.

大好きだよ。is a beautiful ballad that evokes a personal feeling with the listener. The song begins with a twinking sound before the piano instrumental kicks in, really striking the listener’s heart. When the first verse starts, Ai’s smooth and fragile vocals really resonate the song’s sorrowful atmosphere. As the verse comes to an end, her vocals become a little more powerful and more strongly portray the sadness of the lyrics. The chorus really sticks out particularly for the repeated lyrics and Ai’s beautiful and emotional vocals. The final part of the song is sung over an absolutely gorgeous instrumental as Ai sings “la la la” with beautiful vocals. This song is a fantastic one that sticks out to the listener strongly, making it one of the best songs on LOVE JAM.

Song number five is 扇子. The song begins with a nice and mellow instrumental that hits the listener nicely before the first verse begins. Her vocals sound very nice and they do a nice job of capturing the emotion of the lyrics. The chorus is very enjoyable and is particularly memorable for the first word of each line, sung sweetly by Ai. The final words of the chorus are sung a bit higher and she hits the notes so well that it stands out to the listener. The pure instrumental section is wonderful as always, spotlighting the interesting music before returning to the chorus. After the chorus, pure instrumentation brings the song to a close. The song is another great song from Ai and is a strong song to come after the previous track.

Up next is 妄想チョップ. With an interesting and strange sound, the song begins. Ai’s vocals sound really cool and have a certain futuristic element to them that really works with the song’s overall atmosphere. The chorus sounds great and brings a little more rockish tints to the song to bring up the energy and the softer repeating lyrics are a very nice touch to the song, which keeps the song varied. The following pure instrumental section sounds fantastic and puts an emphasis on how strong and intersting the music is. The song is one of the more interesting numbers on the album, spotlighting Ai’s creativity and interesting sound.

ポンポン, the album’s shortest number, is a hyperactive song that shows off Ai’s energy. A cool rock sound opens up the song excitingly opens up the song and the chorus continues the energy. The hyper and just addictive fun quality of the song really comes out on the song as Ai rapidly repeats the song title. Her vocals on the song are even a bit strange at times but they really do suit the song’s whole energy. For a moment, the song sounds completely different and out of this world and then the original sound comes back in. The song is definitely one of Ai’s more stranger numbers but it does grab the listener’s ear and spotlights Ai’s fun happy sound.

ふたつ星記念日 is the album’s eighth track. Opening the song is a fun and poppy instrumentation centered around the piano. When the first verse comes in, there is a certain relaxing feeling that really comes with Ai’s voice. The chorus is nice and continues that enjoyable relaxing feeling perfectly. She also holds the final note of the chorus strongly to segue nicely into a small pure instrumental section. The actual section of pure instrumentation sounds great and the piano really stands out and catches the listener’s ear. After another chorus, more instrumentation brings the song to a very nice close. The song is a very enjoyable number and compliments the album nicely.

金魚花火, the beautiful and sorrowful ballad, is the ninth song on the album. An absolutely gorgeous instrumental starts off the song. Ai sweetly sings her way through the first verse with vocals that carry the music wonderfully. The emotions come through to the listener beautifully during the chorus, really making it stand out. Her vocals really portray the emotions, particularly on the final note that she holds. The final note that Ai sings is held with such power and emotion that the listener can’t help but really take the emotions to heart. Finishinf off the song is sweet instrumentation. 金魚花火 is an absolutely fantastic song that is one of Ai’s best songs.

The semifinal song on the album is 黒毛和牛上塩タン焼き735円. The song starts off with a sweet instrumentation that really resonates with the listener, bringing out a certain personal feeling.  Her vocals during the first verse really fit nicely with the music and there is a certain cuteness to her voice that stands out to the listener. She holds her notes very well during the chorus, particularly the first word of each line. The pure instrumental section sounds absolutely wonderful, taking the listener into a dreamy like state momentarily before the chorus returns. The song is a great semifinale and definitely a memorbale song on the album.

フレンズ is the album’s closing song and an enjoyable one at that. While the song was released as a B-side prior to the album, this version is more soft and sweet. Ai’s vocals compliment the piano during the first verse perfectly, standing out to the listener. She holds her notes wonderfully and the very slight rock tints that come out on the chorus really allow the listener to be absorbed into the world of the song. The pure instrumental section is absolutely gorgeous, really emphasizing just how fantastic the song really is. With the final chorus, the rock tints begin to come out a little stronger but Ai’s vocals still compliment it perfectly. The same lines that opened the song then close it with that soft and sweet instrumental. フレンズ is a wonderful album closer, showing off sweet instrumentation and strong vocals from Ai that evoke emotion strongly.

Album Ranking: A +

Otsuka Ai’s 2nd studio album is a fantastic collection of songs that show how versatile Ai can be. From the crazy uptempo songs like スーパーマン, Happy Days and ポンポン to the sweet ballads such as 大好きだよ。, 金魚花火 and フレンズ to the some of the album’s other highlights, Strawberry Jam and 妄想チョップ, LOVE JAM features so many songs that the listener can enjoy, each spotlighting how strong Ai is as an artist. The lyrics of the songs are beautifully written and Ai’s vocals sound great throughout the entire album. The album definitely shows off Ai’s signature flare.


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