Destiny Line – Ai no Matador –

Archive for August 2008

Hamasaki Ayumi’s 33rd single, entitled INSPIRE, was released on 07.28.04.

INSPIRE is an edgy rock song worth of praise. The song takes off with a somewhat mysterious sound before the crashing and addictive rock instrumentation comes in, really catching the listener’s ear. Ayu then comes in with the first verse and her vocals are a little deep here but very smooth, nicely complimenting the music which has taken on a softer sound. She brings some more vocal power to match the more aggressive instrumentation, making the chorus stand out in the listener’s mind. It’s the pure instrumental section that is the highlight of this song as it begins with a softer rock sound and soon it’s as if the light switches and the listener is carried into the more aggressive and edgier instrumentation perfect for dancing. Then there is the imagery of the sun that re-introduces the chorus with the emphasis on Ayu’s voice as the music remains pretty soft. Rock sounds come crashing back in for the final chorus and then more instrumentation closes the song. INSPIRE is definitely a strong and memorable song, very noteworthy in Ayu’s discography.

GAME serves as the single’s B-side. Opening the song is a very mysterious and cool instrumentation that begins softly and then the first verse begins. Ayu’s vocals support the beautiful music so well that a dreamy feeling is established and soon, the rock sounds come crashing, breaking the listener’s calmness and bringing a more excited feeling. Following there is a distortion in Ayu’s vocals that works well with the music. On the chorus, the distortion is removed and Ayu gives stronger vocals that really compliment the aggressive and edgy music. The pure instrumental section stands out as the coolness and sleekness of the music is spotlighted. GAME is a fantastic supporting song and definitely features a rock sound that the listener can enjoy from start to finish.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made, one for INSPIRE and one for GAME. The PV for INSPIRE was filmed in Los Angeles and is pretty simple. Ayu casually is seen walking on the street and sees a billboard with the word “INSPIRE” on it and soon the viewer is taken inside the world of the billboard where the rest of the video is done. After Ayu is taken to the beach, she dances with her dancers and most notable is her long fingernails. Easily the best shot of the video is at the end of the pure instrumental section when Ayu’s back faces the camera and there is a tattoo of a butterfly on her back. She looks absolutely gorgeous and it’s definitely eye-catching. The video ends with Ayu going into her limo and then depearting. It’s definitely a nice video and it’s very eye-catching. In order to match the dark atmosphere of the song, the PV for GAME consists of darkness. Ayu is seen rocking out with her band as well as walking past flickering television screens. There isn’t much substance to the video but it effectively communicates the emotion of the song strongly.

Single Ranking: A +

INSPIRE and GAME are both rock tunes tha Ayu shines brightly on. While the A-side is more of an upbeat and light rock song with a dance feeling, the B-side takes on a darker atmosphere. Both songs are enjoyable and allows the listener to go through both sides of rock.

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Hamasaki Ayumi’s 37th single, entitled HEAVEN, was released on 09.15.05. The title track was used as the theme song for the Japanese film Shinobi Heart Under Blade while Will was used in a Panasonic CM.

HEAVEN, an emotional ballad, is the single’s A-side. The song begins with an absolutely beautiful instrumentation that introduces the first verse strongly. Ayu’s vocals here really communicate a sorrow that is solidified by the music. Soon the instrumentation strays away from this soft sadness and Ayu gives stronger vocals to match the louder instrumentation. The chorus stands out for just that reason, Ayu’s vocals show off the sorrow of the lyrics. HEAVEN is so pretty and it will give the listener goosebumps while listening, perhaps even making the tears fall.

The B-side of the single is the absolutely gorgeous song, Will, composed by CREA herself. Opening the song is a very pretty instrumentation driven by traditional Japanese instruments to catch the listener’s ear. Ayu then sings two lines with a prettiness in her voice that suits the music so well. The chorus becomes so memorable for the words that feature repeating syllables as Ayu’s voice really carries them strongly. During the pure instrumental section, the beauty of the music is spotlighted before the chorus is re-introduced. As the song ends, there is a lighter feeling that comes through and actually is a nice change of pace. The lyrics for this song are beautiful and Ayu’s vocals are perfect, really making this one of the best songs in her discography.

In order to promote the single, a PV for HEAVEN was made. Done completely in black & white, the video is the perfect visual representation of all the emotions of the song. Ayu sings in a train station and looking at her face, the viewer automatically believes her. The video finishes with all the other people getting on the train, leaving Ayu alone. There is a real honest beauty about this video that captures the viewer from start to finish, making it one to definitely watch.

Single Ranking: A +

Both songs on this single are beautiful, showing the fragility of Ayu. On HEAVEN, she communicates that sorrow so perfectly that the listener can’t help but feel the emotions with her. Will is the beautiful B-side composed by Ayu herself (under the name CREA) and she does a fantastic job of bringing a traditional sound here. Once again, Ayu delivers a quality single start to finish.

ayaka’s 5th single, entitled Jewelry day, was released on 07.04.07. The title track was used as the ending theme for the Japanese movie Last Love.

Jewelry day is a very sweet ballad with beautiful vocals from ayaka. There is a very pretty and intimate instrumental opening that immediately takes the listener’s ear before the first verse begins. She sings “broken, broken my heart” and continues with beautiful vocals that support the simplicity of the music perfectly. During the chorus, ayaka sings with such emotion and the lyrics really come to life. There is a magical feeling that comes through the song’s closing instrumental section, supported only by a few vocalizations from ayaka. Jewelry day is an excellent song, definitely one of ayaka’s best.

The B-side of the single is I’m alone. The tempo sligtly picks up on this one as the guitar serves as another central instrument. On the first verse, ayaka sounds great as there is a certain naturalness to her voice that matches the song’s atmosphere. She brings some great vocals on the chorus as she hits the higher notes with ease. During the pure instrumental section, the music shines and the chorus is re-introduced strongly. I’m alone nicely picks up the tempo to make it a good compliment to Jewelry day.

In order to promote the single, a PV for Jewelry day was made. The video is very simple but there lies its perfection. Scenes include ayaka singing on a stage without anyone in the audience, her at the beach and ayaka riding the bus.

Single Ranking: A

Both Jewelry day and I’m alone make this an enjoyable single. By taking the more simple approach, ayaka’s vocals communicate a naturalness that the listener can enjoy.

ayaka’s 6th single, entitled Why / CLAP & LOVE, was released on 09.05.07. Why was used as the theme song for Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII while CLAP & LOVE was used as the opening theme for the comedic dorama Jigoku no Sata mo Yome Shidai.

Why is the single’s ballad. The first verse begins the song and ayaka’s vocals help explore a relaxing and somewhat mysterious atmosphere established by the instrumental. It’s the chorus that really shines as she hits her notes fantastically and she sings the title of the song with such beauty. During the pure instrumental section, the guitar shines and is a very nice section of the song. Following is the final chorus, in which ayaka really brings out the vocal power. There is a certain element of magic to this song that really catches the listener’s ear and ayaka’s vocals bring the song

CLAP & LOVE allows ayaka to try out the sounds of rock and she shines strongly here. The song opens up with a cool upbeat rock sound with an addictive beat. The first verse then begins and ayaka’s vocals display power and control as she holds her notes strongly. With powerful vocals and a catchy beat, the chorus really steps out, particularly when she sings the title of the song. Before the final chorus, ayaka does a little vocalizing and really belts out, allowing the listener to feel her power. Closing the song is a few more strong vocalizations with the music there to really end the song.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made: one for each A-side. On the PV for Why, ayaka rides a train to arrive to her beautiful destination. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and certainly is eye-catching. The video for CLAP & LOVE is simple as it features ayaka singing in front of speakers as well as various people appearing to clap (which is done repeatedly throughout the song). From the lighting to ayaka’s clthes, there is a darker atmosphere, which nicely fits the song and its rock sound.

Single Ranking: A +

Both Why and CLAP & LOVE are fantastic songs that compliment each other strongly. While Why is a ballad sung with emotion, CLAP & LOVE is a catchy upbeat song taking on the sounds of rock. CLAP & LOVE is one of the best songs in her discography, really catching the listener’s ear. This single is definitely one to listen to.

Perfume’s 10th single, entitled ポリリズム, was released on 09.12.07. The title track was used as the NHK Kankyou Recycle Campaign song.

ポリリズム is a fun song that really captures the listener. Opening the song is an addictive electropop instrumentation with the girls’ voices complimenting it perfectly on the first verse. There is a real sweetness that comes through the vocals and an out-of-this-world feeeling created by the music that combine to take the listener off and create an addiction. The chorus stands out as the instrumentation becomes a little more aggressive and the girls’ vocals carry more of an edginess to them. Overall, this is a great song that is very catchy and the girls sound great on it.

The B-side is SEVENTH HEAVEN. The song takes off with the piano, making a way for the girls to come in as they sing with vocal distortion over the simple music. Soon the electropop influences come into the music and further compliments the girls. There is a soft cuteness to the first verse as the girls sound somewhat soft here, maintaining the song’s atmosphere strongly. This is a nice compliment to the A-side although it is a little forgettable.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ポリリズム was made. The video is pretty simple, driven by the color blue as there are various close-up shots of the girls. There is also a dance sequence which is nice. Overall though, the video is bit lacking and leaves the viewer wanting a little more.

Single Ranking: B +

Perfume definitely has a nice single here as the title track brings a sweet electropop sound to the forefront, capturing the listener strongly. The B-side is a bit lacking but it’s a nice listen. It’s not their strongest material but the single is comprised of two nice songs.

Hamasaki Ayumi’s 38th single, entitled Bold & Delicious / Pride, was released on 11.30.05. Both songs are covers of Sweetbox songs of the same name with newly written lyrics by Ayu herself. Bold & Delicious was used in order to promote the Lumix photo camera by Pasasonic.

Ayu takes an upbeat and fun route on the first A-side, Bold & Delicious. The opening vocalization of “ya-ya-ya-ya, ga-ga-ga-ga, da-da-da-da, wo-wo-wo-wo” is really addictive and really brings out the song’s light atmosphere. Coming next is the first verse as Ayu delivers smooth vocals with a certain sleekness that catches the listener’s ear. It’s the chorus that really stands out as she is joined by a choir who sing “bold and delicious” and Ayu brings out some great vocals. On the final chorus, she delives the best vocals on the entire song as she belts out the title of the song. Vocalizations then bring the song to a close as she says “bold and delicious” in a slightly distorted voice. Bold & Delicious is an absolutely fantastic song and one of Ayu’s most unique ones to date.

While Bold & Delicious is fun and happy, Pride is the pretty emotional ballad. An orchestral instrumentation begins the song, really displaying the song’s emotions to the listener clearly. Ayu sings with a painful beauty during the first verse as she supports the music perfectly. The chorus stands out as the music becomes slightly louder, which takes the listener from that softness into an even more emotional world. She then shows off a little more vocal power on the second verse on the final lines and brings the best vocals on the third verse as she holds her notes with power and emotion. Finishing off the song is the chorus and then more beautiful instrumentation. Pride is the perfect compliment to Bold & Delicious and it’s definitely worth the listen.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made: one for Bold & Delicious and one for Pride as well. Both videos were filmed in New York and have a similar feel to them, keeping the same look in both videos. The video for Bold & Delicious features Ayu being driven around, dressed in a fur coat as she sings. Her face really expresses her happiness and the song’s atmosphere, making it an enjoyable and carefree watch. There is a darker look for Pride as Ayu sings in a cold and dark place, even drenched by the rain. She looks very pretty and it definitely supports the song’s feel.

Single Ranking: A +

Bold & Delicious and Pride are perfect compliments to one another, making this a fantastic single for Ayu. While the former is happy and upbeat, featuring a choir for accompaniment, Pride is a beautiful and emotional ballad. Both songs are great and show off Ayu’s versatility.

Tohoshinki’s debut single, entitled SHINE / Ride on, was released on 09.19.07.

SHINE is an energetic pop song. The song starts off a very fun and light atmosphere that immediately catches the listener’s ear as the boys give strong vocals on the chorus. Soon the first verse starts and there is a cool smoothness to the vocals that allow the listener to get hooked during the verses as well. The full chorus then appears and the boys continue to sound fantastic, keeping with the catchiness of the music. There is the pure instrumentation section which takes things in slightly different direction, really spotlighting a hot dance sound and is a definite standout part of the song. The song then finishes with that light-hearted instrumental, really taking the listener out nicely. SHINE is an excellent song and one of the best from the boys, showing their ability to shine.

Ride on takes a sexier route and the boys shine strongly. A cool dance instrumentation begins the song and then the first verse starts. The vocals are smooth, carrying a certain element to them that really matches the atmosphere of the song. It’s the chorus that really stands out for the vocalizing and the English phrases that pop nicely such as “you’re cruising with me.” The vocalizing and the loud “feel me” that is sung before the last chorus is really strong and really stands out to the listener. Closing the song is a very cute giggle, finishing it off nicely. Overall, Ride on is a fantastic song and definitely one to check out.

In order to promote the single, a PV for SHINE was made. There are dance sequences and moving pictures of the boys in very bright frames. They do a good job of performing their dances and they really go well with the song, making this video an enjoyable one.

Single Ranking: A +

Both songs on this double A-side single on strong and definitely some of Tohoshinki’s most memorable. SHINE takes on a happy pop atmosphere while Ride on brings out the boys’ more sexual side. It’s definitely a great single so everyone should check this one out.