Destiny Line – Ai no Matador –

Posts Tagged ‘Oricon Year 2005 Albums

Arashi’s 5th studio album, entitled One, was released on 08.03.05. Only one single, サクラ咲け, was released prior to the album. The album features a solo song sung by each member of the group.

Overture serves as the album opener. The song starts off with a sweet instrumental that established a very relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere. Soon the sound changes as some rapping starts and the tempo picks up. Once the boys begin singing, the vocals really compliment the music and the English phrase “I love my girl” really stands out to the listener. The boys then sing “it’s ok, it’s all right, we’re gonna have a good time” and with the jazzy instrumentation continuing, it sets up the listener for an enjoyable album.

夏の名前 starts the energy off nicely in a soft way. The song starts off nicely with an uptempo piano interlude and the first verse starts. There is a certain mysterious element to the music and the boys’ voices sound nice here. The chorus stands out as the boys’ voices go well together and really capture the upbeat spirit of the music. The rap sequence sounds great and is probably the most ear-catching part of the song as his voice is pretty deep but compliments the lighter music very well. Overall this song is a very nice first full song and is definitely enjoyable.

The poppiness comes through strongly on the third song, ROMANCE. Opening the song up is a very enjoyable and upbeat pop instrumental that hooks the listener. With the first verse, there is a mellow feeling that the listener can’t help but love as the boys sound so smooth on it. The chorus is very strong as the boys give off more vocal strength and the English phrase is a very nice touch. ROMANCE is definitely an album standout as the boys give strong vocals and the poppy instrumental captures the listener’s ear from first listen.

Following is Lai-Lai-Lai, a fun pop number. The song starts off strongly with a pop instrumental, supported by the boys singing “lai lai lai” and their voices sound great. The first verse features more enjoyable vocals that go with the music perfectly. The boys sound absolutely fantastic on the chorus as the instrumentation becomes as addictive as ever and the combination of vocals and music hooks the listener. The pure instrumental section features a nice spotlight on the spanish guitar, that hadn’t been put in the instrumental forefront before. Closing the song is the boys repeating the title of the song and then an instrumental finish. Lai-Lai-Lai is a fantastic number and certainly one to look out for on this album.

The first album ballad is Days. The piano begins the song and soon the instrumentation becomes more varied and a certain magical feeling arrives. During the first verse, the boys give nice and smooth vocals that go with the music perfectly. The chorus is nice and all the boys’ vocals go well with each other but the instrumentation didn’t really change so it’s a bit lacking in that area. The moments of pure instrumentation show off the jazzy flare and provides the song with a little more variety. The song beautifully closes with the softer music, pushed by the sounds of the piano. Although the chorus isn’t particularly strong, the verses are nice and Days is a good ballad for the album.

A rock sound comes out on 素晴らしき世界. Beginning the song is a nice and smooth instrumental and soon elements of rock come out to play while the boys sing the chorus. The first verse then follows and the vocals are nice but aren’t particularly grabbing. The rap sequence is okay but the vocalizing in the background is a bit off-putting. Overall this song isn’t capturing and the rock tints sound a bit misplaced on the song.

サクラ咲け is the only song released as a single from the album and is the seventh song. The song starts off with a fun and upbeat instrumentation. The first verse then brings in some very nice vocals to go with the fun atmosphere established by the music. Then the chorus comes in and it’s nice, but nothing that really stands out in the listener’s mind. There is more energy with the rap part, which fits very nicely although the vocalizing in the background is a bit annoying. It’s a nice song but it doesn’t grab the listener’s ear very well.

Ohno’s solos song is the eighth song, Rain. The song begins with an interesting and sweet instrumental, fused with pop sounds and a midtempo sound. He then goes into the first verse with strong vocals that carry emotion and go perfectly with the music. The chorus stands out as the continues to deliver strong vocals and the music leads him and sounds addictive. The song becomes even stronger as the song goes on, particularly when he sings “this is just the beginning.” Rain is definitely an album standout and just goes to show that he consistently delivers strong solo songs.

いつかの Summer is Aiba’s solo song. The song begins with a very upbeat and cheerful sound that really stands out. His vocals during the first verse carry a certain poppiness to them that sounds very nice and goes with the music well. The jazziness somces out on the pure instrumental section with the saxophone giving power and strength, making a nice transition back into the chorus. Aiba gives the listener a very enjoyable solo song and it fits perfectly on this album.

W/ ME follows and is Matsumoto’s solo song. The song starts off with a slightly mysterious instrumental with some breathing and then the song’s true sound comes in. His vocals go perfectly with the music and they really catch the listener’s ear. The chorus is nice and is sung in complete English, standing out strongly. The pure instrumental section with the girl giving some smooth vocals is really fun and a nice part of the song. W/ ME is a fantastic song and is definitely an album highlight.

Nino’s solo song, 秘密, is next. The song starts off with a fun and poppy piano instrumental. Nino gives some very nice vocals during the first verse and keeps with the light and upbeat music. The chorus stands out as his vocals are strong while still going with the happy atmosphere of the instrumentation. This song is a very strong song and one of the album standouts.

夢でいいから is the final solo song, sung by Sakurai. The opening English phrases are a good way to open up the song with a smooth instrumentation. The first verse then comes in and he delivers a nice rap sequence although it doesn’t fit as well with the music as his raps usually do. The chorus sounds much stronger as the vocals go perfectly with the music and comforts the listener beautifully. The rapping doesn’t really fit with the song’s overall atmosphere but the singing is a perfect match, thus the song has its ups and downs.

Yes? No? is the album’s semifinale. The chorus is nice with the boys vocals strongly but it is the instrumentation which really grabs the listener as there are electronic traces that stand out very strongly. The first verse has a certain coolness to it that really is catchy as the music continues to be the driving force of the song. This song is a great song and shows off the  boys trying something new.

風見鶏 appears as a bonus track present on the regular edition and the final song on the album. There is something enchanting and pretty about the instrumental that keeps the listener interested throughout the course of the album. The vocals are consistently strong and move with the music very well. It’s a really great way to end the album.

Album Ranking: A –

One is a very enjoyable album with a little something for everyone. The solo songs are particularly capturing from Ohno’s fantastic song, Rain to Matsumoto’s addictive, W/ ME to the light and fun song 秘密 from Nino. Album tracks such as ROMANCE, Lai-Lai-Lai and Yes? No? prove what the boys can do when they come together. There are a few forgettable songs such as 素晴らしき世界 and サクラ咲け but overall it’s another enjoyable album from the boys.

Otsuka Ai’s 3rd studio album, entitled LOVE COOK, was released on 12.14.05. The singles released before the album are SMILY / ビー玉, ネコに風船, プラネタリウム and フレンジャー.

The album opens up with the interesting song, 5:09 A.M. The song starts off with a very dreamy feeling established by the instrumentation and soon Ai begins to sing. Her vocals sound very pretty and move with the music very well. As the song progresses, the instrumentation begins to become a little more varied with the drums coming in first. Soon, rock sounds come crashing in and Ai shows off more vocal power in order to match the power of the music. The softer music comes back in order to finish the song off nicely, making the listener enjoy the song from start to finish. 5:09 A.M. is a great way to open the album and catches the listener’s ear.

A more relaxing feeling comes through on the second track, 羽ありたまご. Opening the song is a cool and smooth instrumentation that takes the listener into another world. The first verse begins and Ai sings with such beauty and softness that she brings the lyrics to life. As a great way to introduce the chorus, Ai holds the final note of the verse with prettiness. The chorus really stands out to the listener as Ai sings her way smoothly through and holds her notes very nicely. The sweet instrumentation that persists throughout the song is what closes it and does that job very nicely. This song is one of the standout songs on LOVE COOK for Ai’s beautiful vocals and a strong instrumental presence.

ビー玉 is a relaxing sweet song that catches the listener’s ear nicely. A pretty instrumental starts off the song and then she smoothly sings her way through the first verse. The chorus is the most memorable part of the song as the cuteness in Ai’s voice steps forward a little more and is a nice addition to the song. The emotional presence of the lyrics is captured perfectly on this song, thus making it a memorable song off LOVE COOK.

Picking up the energy is the fun and happy song SMILY. The repetition of the word that begins each line and the “la la la” really make the hook stand out and it’s a good opening for the song. Her cutesy side comes out as well as a little more vocal power, which really captures the overall atmosphere of the song perfectly. SMILY is definitely an enjoyable energetic song which stands out to the listener very nicely.

The following track, U-ボート, keeps the energy up nicely. The song starts off with a cool instrumental and Ai repeats a phrase that is pretty cute and after that is a light-rock inspired instrumental. The first verse then begins and her vocals go with the song’s overall feel strongly and the “yay” definitely is a nice touch. The chorus stands out as Ai sings a little more powerfully and the noises in the background catch the listener’s ear. The pure instrumental section puts a nice spotlight on the guitar before going into a more peaceful sound supported with Ai humming. The phrase that opened up the song then closes is nicely, making it enjoyable.

Track number six is ネコに風船. The sweet and tender instrumental that opens the song leads the listener into a wonderful listening experience. The first verse then begins and Ai’s vocals sound great here as they show off a flare of cuteness to them. She then hits the notes at the end of the verse very well and provide a nice introduction for the chorus. Her cuteness comes through and catches the listener’s ear and fuels the emotions. The song is one of the most memorable on the album and hasn’t lost any steam from its release as a single.

Cherish, a soft rock song, stands out to the listener. The song opens up with an instrumentation that feels out-of-this-world and definitely hooks the listener from the first moment. The song’s true sound begins coming in and then the first verse starts. Her vocals sound great here and they move with the music perfectly, establishing the sorrowful feeling strongly. The chorus stands out as the instrumentation becomes a little more rock-filled and Ai’s vocals show more power. The pure instrumental section spotlights just how pretty the music is and re-introduces the chorus, sung more softly with a sweet instrumental than usual. At the end of the chorus, Ai hits a high note very strongly and captures an emotional presence. Cherish is a fantastic song and is one of the standout songs on LOVE COOK.

ラーメン3分クッキング appears as the next song on the album. The song starts off with a strange instrumental including some laughing from Ai. The piano is a nice touch to make the music stand out. The first verse is strange in that her voice is pushed to the background and then for the hook (which is one line), it steps out. The sounds in the hook are pretty weird but still enjoyable. The chorus is sung so quickly, the listener might have to take a few listens to catch what she is saying and it doesn’t stand out as much as the hook. Overall this song is the album’s weird and crazy song but it’s definitely enjoyable and fun.

Things slow down a little bit with the next song, 東京ミッドナイト. The song opens up with a beautiful piano interlude and then the energy comes out for a carnival-like sound. The first verse then begins and there is a certain relaxing feeling that comes through with Ai’s smooth vocals. The chorus doesn’t particularly pop in terms of an instrumental change but her voice still sounds nice and she does show a little more power here and there. The pure instrumental section helps show off that jazziness perfectly. The song is excellent number and is a very nice addition to LOVE COOK.

The tenth song is プラネタリウム, the beautiful ballad. Piano instrumentation starts off the song and the emotional presence comes out strongly from the first moment. Ai’s vocals during the first verse help carry the emotions to the listener. The instrumentation during the chorus is slightly different but still works with the overall feel of the song and supports Ai’s vocals nicely. Listening to the song becomes smooth sailling on the pure instrumental section, which sounds great. Overall プラネタリウム is a wonderful piece of this album and one to look out for.

The semifinal song is Birthday Song. The song begins with a group of people saying “happy birthday” before the midtempo instrumental begins. The harmonica is a nice touch and stands out to the listener before the first verse starts. Ai’s vocals carry the poppiness of the song well and are enjoyable. The repetition of “happy birthday” really catches the listener’s ear as her pronounciation is nice and enjoyable. The pure instrumental section sounds great and spotlights the light-heartedness of the song. Birthday Song is a nice and fun song which Ai brings to life with her voice.

The album closes with LOVE MUSiC. Sweet instrumentation and then Ai starts the voice with very pretty vocals that capture the emotion well. The chorus stands out with a slightly different feel, established in the instrumentation and Ai’s voice, which continues to show sweetness. Overall the song is nice although not one of Ai’s strongest and shouldn’t have been chosen to be the album closer.

Album Ranking: A –

Otsuka Ai’s third album certainly features some great songs such as the sweet song, 羽ありたまご and the soft rock song, Cherish. Ai shines on her ballads like プラネタリウム and brings the energy on happy songs SMILY and ラーメン3分クッキング. She definitely put a lot of effort into this album and it came through strongly.

Amuro Namie’s 6th studio album, entitled Queen of Hip-Pop, was released on 07.13.05. The album is considered a “comeback” of sorts as it sold roughly double her preceding album, STYLE. The album is a strong collection of songs, mostly upbeat tracks, from start to finish. The singles released before the album are: ALARM, ALL FOR YOU, WANT ME, GIRL TALK / the SPEED STAR [the SPEED STAR was left off of the album] and WANT ME, WANT ME. In order to further promote the album, WoWa was used as a promotional track.

The album opens up with the infectious title track, Queen of Hip-Pop. After introducing herself to the listener, Namie slickly sings the first verse. There is a smoothness to her voice and every final note of each line sounds great as there is almost a breathy quality to them that sounds great. The chorus stands out for having that dance element that is so enjoyable to hear. Namie brags that she is the queen of hip-pop and she holds the title proudly. The third verse is slightly different but is still a great part of the song, taking a more slow sound. The song ends just like it began, which rounds out the song as being strong from start to finish. Queen of Hip-Pop is a great title track and shows off that Namie style that makes it so enjoyable for every listener.

Namie’s sexy side comes out on WANT ME, WANT ME. The looming sitar during the instrumentation only enhances the sexiness more and Namie comes in strongly with the chorus. The English such as “like a virgin” and “trojan” used shows just how dirty the song is. The first line of the first verse “oh boy, you are so hot” really bring the verse to a strong start while keeping the sexiness. Namie nicely whispers “I can do you, you can do me,” which sounds great and is something that leaves the listener wanting more. Namie shows off more vocal power on the second verse as she holds her notes strongly. The song finishes with Namie repeating “nobody can do you, do you like me; nobody can do me, do me like you” along with the repetition “ah, ah, ah, ah, touch it, touch it, touch it” to show off that sexiness proudly. WANT ME, WANT ME is one of the most infectious songs in Namie’s discography and certainly one of the strongest on the album.

Namie goes to pop for the next song, WoWa. After a marching beat and a whistling instrumental, Namie comes in with the first verse. Her vocals are smooth and a little beat and sound great alongside the instrumentation. The repetition of the song title is what makes the chorus so enjoyable and light-hearted. The third verse is a nice change of pace although it is short and re-introduces the chorus. Following the chorus is a pure instrumental section that spotlights that marching beat that makes the song so loveable. WoWa is a fun pop song that stands out nicely on the album.

I Wanna Show You My Love is the song for her fans that Namie delivers strongly. After a fun instrumental with Namie vocalizing, the song comes to a strong point with the first verse. Namie delivers attitude as she sings “I know that they don’t like me but that’s okay, I don’t give a…” Her vocals during the verses sound great and go nicely into the hook. The English such as “this is for all my fans” really show the song’s meaning and are great to listen to.” The final line feature some great instrumentation with some strong vocals from Namie. The vocalizing during the chorus is always enjoyable and the energy comes full force.  The third verse continues the song’s enjoyment as Namie continues to bring the energy and flavor with a great finishing vocal. The song finishes off with pure instrumentation for an absolutely perfect finish. I Wanna Show You My Love is one of the standout tracks on the album and certainly a great representation of her gratitude for her fans.

The relaxing pop track, GIRL TALK, is the fifth song on the album. Opening up the song is a sweet and cute instrumentation with a certain relaxing feeling to it. Then the chorus starts and it’s one of the standout parts of the song as Namie sings smoothly and it’s particularly the English line such as “girls just wanna have fun” that really stand out. The verses carry the song along nicely and Namie’s vocals are still smooth and enjoyable. The third verse is the best verse as the instrumentation is slightly different and Namie sails thrugh it greatly, particularly at the end when she holds the note very well. During the final chorus, Namie performs some great adlibs hat really sound great and give the chorus that extra kick. GIRL TALK is a very nice part of the album and is worth the listen.

Free, a cool song with lots of attitude, comes next. After a cool and sligtly mysterious instrumental, Namie repeats “free” and then the first verse starts. Namie’s vocals amazingly show off attitude and fire that make the listener really believe what she is singing. The chorus sounds great as she sings “any kind of time, I am free free free,” showing the slickness of the song perfectly. The pure instrumental section sounds absolutely fantastic, putting a spotlight on the coolness of the song before the third verse. She sings “hey girl” with a great voice and that final repetition of the line really is a nice finish. Free is a fantastic album track and is something not to miss out on.

The twin song of Free appears with My Darling, a hot urban number. After an unidentified delivers some lines, Namie takes the reigns on the chorus. The English phrases such as “oh baby boy, I’m so proud of you” really pop to make the chorus the most energetic and exciting part of the song. The verses are more relaxing but are still delivered with that Namie attitude. The guitar moment right before the second chorus sounds great and contributes to the fun spirit of the song. The hook precedes the third chorus and remains interesting as Namie goes a little higher with her vocals. The breakdown part which consists of just the instrumentation with the man making noises is nice although it puts a spotlight on his voice and then it comes to the realization he talks throughout most of the song. His presence really isn’t needed but it’s not something too terrible. My Darling is a perfect number after Free and a very memorable album track.

Namie and Nao’ymt come together for the uplifting song, Ups & Downs. After Nao’ymt talks in English, Namie’s verse comes in. her vocals are smooth and move with the song’s slow music well. The hook features both of them and their voices sound great together and the lyrics are particularly noteworthy such as “if you forget this sky’s blue.” Both of them sound great on the chorus and the lyrics continue to be uplifting and comforting. Nao’ymt shows the same smoothness, vocally, as Namie did when singing her voice. The third verse nicely shows off both singers’ vocals with the last line “you can still fly.” Nao’ymt and Namie make a great team on this uplifting slower song that is a nice addition to the album.

I Love You shows off Namie’s kawaii side nicely. After a cute instrumental, Namie delivers the chorus in which she sings in different languages (French, Spanish, etc.) that all translate into “I love you.” During the verses, her vocals sound nice and work well in capturing the song’s kawaii feel. However the song is pretty repetitive, making it a little monotonous to listen to. I Love You is the weakest track on the album but it’s definitely worth the listen every now and then and does a nice job of showing the cute side of Namie.

The album’s sole ballad is the beautiful ALL FOR YOU. The song starts off with a romantic instrumental before the first verse starts. Namie’s vocals during the verses are smooth and are a perfect fit in capturing the song’s atmosphere. The English phrases such as “never walk alone” and “you’re gonna be my love” really stand out to the listener’s ear strongly. The chorus features some more powerful vocals from Namie and the way she holds her notes is a very nice touch that makes the chorus pop. The third verse sounds great, particularly for Namie’s vocals. She continues to show power and when she sings “darling you,” she hits the higher note beautifully. The chorus re-appears and then instrumentation brings the song to a close. As the only ballad on the album, ALL FOR YOU is an excellent song that shows off Namie’s voice.

Attitude and even a certain sexiness come out for the album’s semifinal song, ALARM. After a hot instrumentation, Namie sings the hook, which sounds great. The English phrases like “hot way” and “words up” all pop for that urban flavor. The verses are sung slickly and with enough attitude to keep the listener hooked from the first moment. It’s the chorus that really stands out in the listener’s mind as she sings “tick tock lady, tick tock baby” and “kick me harder, kick my booty.” The pure instrumental section sounds great as it takes a slightly different feel with the echoing of the English phrases. ALARM is a fantastic track that shows off a dance flavor that is not to be missed.

The album closes with the dance song, No. The song starts off cooly with Namie saying “yeah, 2005 baby, new style, this is not fake” and then a fun dance instrumental comes in. The first verse is sung with attitude and smooth vocals, lines such as “I don’t give a damn” further show off this attitude strongly. The chorus stands out as Namie shows a little more vocally and the song’s title is sung strongly and sticks out to the listener. The whispered line “how about some sweet peach” during the second verse gives off a sexy vibe and can be highly apreciated by the listener. The pure instrumental section consists of the hot instrumental and Namie repeatedly saying “say N.A.M.I.E.” until she delivers a line with rapidity and then the chorus comes back. After silence, No Part. II comes in, which is a ballad version of the original song. It honestly sounds great and Namie’s vocals smoothly sing the song. It’s a great treat for the listener to hear how the song is sung in ballad form and it shows off Namie’s vocals nicely. Both parts of No are fantastic and the song is the perfect way to close this album.

Album Ranking: A +

Koda Kumi’s 4th studio album, entitled secret, was released on 02.09.05. Considered to be Kumi’s breakthrough album, secret features a number of catchy upbeat tracks as well as some beautiful ballads. Her ero-kakkoi image came full through with this album and is one of her best efforts to date. The singles released before the album are as follows: LOVE & HONEY, Chase, 奇跡 and hands. Hot Stuff was also released as a single after the album.

This album’s introductory track is Intro ~Get Down.~ The song begins somewhat strangely before the cool instrumentation comes in with Kumi singing “get down” repeatedly. Next some guy raps in English with Kumi making gapsing noises before the song returns to Kumi singing “get down” repeatedly. The intro is pretty simple but it makes a nice transition into the next track.

The album’s first full-length song is the catchy and popular キューティーハニー. The song opens up with a cool and sleek instrumental with a heavy bass before the pop elements come crashing in with extreme catchiness. The first verse sounds great as Kumi brings the cute and flirtatious attitude of the song with her voice perfectly. Opening the chorus are Kumi’s nice vocals that continue throughout the section and the whole poppy feel really makes the listener addicted. She makes the chorus pop at the end as she sings the final phrase strongly. The pure instrumental section is a nice breakdown with a cool instrumentation as well as some mens’ voices heard as they talk in English such as “all the big producers coming, it’s a big hit!” and “taking the whole route for some very narrow interpretation.” The song finishes with the chorus and a big pop flash to bring the song to an excellent close. The song is a highly addictive pop song that shows off a cute flare mixed with a certain sexiness element.

KM-MARKIT joins Kumi for the hip-hop influenced dance track Hot Stuff. KM-MARKIT opens the song over the beat as he speaks a couple lines in English before Kumi comes in on the first verse. The attitude and slickness in Kumi’s voice really work with the song’s atmosphere and blends with the instrumentation very well. Before the chorus, KM-MARKIT delivers his rap and it’s nothing particularly special but it works with the song’s atmosphere. The chorus allows Kumi to show off vocally and although there is some intersting English such as “cause I got a hot stuff,” the chorus does its job of being catchy. The third verse is somewhat of a conversation between KM-MARKIT and Kumi as Kumi sings a line and then KM-MARKIT raps one after her. Dance instrumentation brings the song to a close and Kumi completely closes it with her singing “cause I got a hot stuff, come and get it.” Hot Stuff may not be the strongest song on the album but it’s nice and is enjoyable every now and then.

The rock-influenced promotional track, Selfish, is the next song on secret. The song opens up with a mysterious sound before the song’s catchy rock-influenced instrumentation begins. The first verse features some nice vocals that blend with the music in capturing the song’s overall sound. The explosive chorus is easily the most addictive part of the song as Kumi shows off her vocal strength powerfully. The pure instrumental section is a very nice breakdown of the hot dance beat followed by some very powerful adlibs from Kumi. The chorus followed by pure instrumentation brings the song to a perfect close. Kumi’s vocals and the hot instrumentation make Selfish a definite memorable track from this album.

hands opens up with the part of the chorus and from the very beginning of the piano-driven instrumentation and her vocals, the sorrow of the song is established. Common with some of Kuu’s ballads, the verses feature deeper vocals and once the chorus, her vocals show their power and emotion strongly. The song is pretty simplistic as it follows this pattern for the rest of the song. It’s a nice song and although it’s not the strongest ballad on this album, it’s a song that should be given a chance.

Hearty… is one of the cutest songs on the album. The song opens up wonderfully with the first verse that features Kumi’s cute voice along with a happy poppy instrumentation that is addictive from the very beginning. The chorus keeps up the happy atmosphere of the song as Kumi shows off a little more vocal strength. The small sections of pure instrumentation create a dreamy-like feel. The third verse continues the song’s magic before the final chorus. A sequence of pure instrumentation finishes the song off wondefully like the end of a dream. Hearty… is a very cute track and is a nice change of pace from the other songs on the album, making it one to look out for.

SHAKE IT is one of Kumi’s sexier sounding songs and features a hot Indian sound. The song opens up with the hook, spoken all in English as Kumi asks “don’t you know, don’t you know what I mean?” and soon the first verse comes. Kumi delivers her lyrics with a certain slickness and sexiness that perfectly fits the song’s atmosphere and the final phrase makes a nice interlude into the chorus as she sings “ding-dong baby.” There are a few English phrases littered throught out the song such as in the second chorus when she sings “wanna be in your control,” which really make the chorus pop. The chorus features some stronger vocals that make the chorus stand out very strongly. The breakdown after the second chorus and hook is a rap section which may seem a little out of place to the listener at first but it definitely warms up after listening a few times. The rap section features an unidentified male rapper who raps a line and then Kumi raps a line after him and the entire section is in English. Although it may stick out as a little strange, it fits the song nicely. Much like the song began, the hook takes the listener out to make a nice finish for this sexy song. SHAKE IT is very memorable and one of secret’s jewels.

奇跡, one of the album’s true ballads, comes next. The album opens up with a twinkling and beautiful instrumental before the first verse starts. Kumi’s vocals on the verses are generally deeper but there is a certain emphasis that is drawn to the lyrics and her voice. The hook features the repeating English line “ust like paradise” as well as stronger vocals from Kumi and the English lines really do help it stand out. The chorus continues her vocal strength from the verses as she wonderfully delivers her lyrics and captures the emotional presence perfectly. The third verse really allows Kumi to reach high inside and hit the notes very well and at the end she hits a high octave absolutely beautifully. 奇跡 is a very pretty ballad that particularly shows off Kumi’s vocal prowess.

Trust you is a hot dance track that is one of the best the album has to offer. The song opens up with a great beat and Kumi saying “baby don’t go” followed by a little instrumentation that features some elements of traditional Japanese instruments. The first verse features some good vocals that go with the beat to make the listener intrigued for what’s to come next. The hook allows Kumi to reach a little higher as she sings the “precious night” and makes a segue into the chorus. The chorus is very catchy and Kumi shows a little more vocal power and the hotness of the beat is retained strongly. The song ends much like it began with Kumi saying “baby don’t go” over the dance beat. Trust you is one of the coolest songs on the album and definitely worth the listen.

The jazzy pop track, Chase, appears as the album’s tenth track. The album opens up with a jazz-tinted instrumentation over a few adlibs from Kumi before the first verse starts. Her vocals sound great and the English phrases such as “start me up” really pop. The hook begins to build up the variety of the music before the chorus comes and is very catchy. Her vocals during the chorus stand out even more, making the chorus a very addictive part of this song. The pure instrumental section spotlights just how fun and interesting the music of Chase really is before the chorus and a little more instrumentation brings the song to a close. Chase is an excellent song that finds its home on the album and is one of the most addictive songs on the album.

More kawaii-Kumi emerges on the pop track with slight rock-influences, LOVE HOLIC. The song opens up with the highly addictive and catchy chorus that features Kumi singing more in her cute voice but still showing off some nice flare. The energy of the chorus is what really makes it stand out and makes the listener interested in the rest of the song. Kumi’s vocals during the verses are nice as well and still capture the happiness and the poppiness that makes the song so fun. The sections of pure instrumentation that follow the second chorus is really fun and even features an English line “yeah when you do that to me…” followed by a cute giggle, which segues into the more pop-rockish elements of instrumentation. The same sort of sound finishes the song off as the last line is “yeah baby, that’s so good…” which shows that there are still elements of sexy to the cute song. LOVE HOLIC is a fun and exciting song that makes the listener take notice.

24 is the sweet ballad with a strong emotional presence. The song opens up with a sweet instrumentation that really does give off a sorrowful romantic atomsphere. The verses feature some wonderful vocals as she holds her notes well and reaches her higher notes perfectly. The English phrases such as “baby blue” and “come back” really stand out. The chorus isn’t as strong as the verses and is a little bland because the background vocals are a bit simplistic and is completely in English but Kumi’s adlibbbing sounds nice. The pure instrumental section gives off a dreamy feeling that works with the song’s atmosphere and is a nice spotlight on pretty instrumentation. The ending chorus features some stronger adlibbing from Kumi in English that really display the emotions that the song unleashes. 24 has very strong verses and a slightly bland chorus but it’s worth the listen for showing off Kumi’s vocals.

The album’s final upbeat song is Let’s Party. A nice and slightly funky instrumentation opens up this fun and uptempo song. On the verses, Kumi’s vocals are softer and for an upbeat song, the music is less aggressive and is even somewhat relaxing. To introduce the chorus, Kumi sings an English lyric such as the title of the song. The chorus is nice as the tempo continues and Kumi’s vocals are nice too. The pure instrumental section is nice as it puts a spotlight on how cool the music sounds. Overall Let’s Party is the weakest upbeat song but it’s still a nice listen.

Believe, the magical ballad, is the album’s semifinal track. The song starts off with guitar-driven instrumentation before the first verse starts and Kumi’s soft vocals do a perfect job of capturing the sorrow of the lyrics. The chorus stands out the most in the song as Kumi shows off her vocal power with an emotional presence that really stands out. Her power is seen especially on the final notes of the chorus where she really belts out. The pure instrumental section spotlights the magical quality of the song’s instrumentation before the emotional choruses come again. Believe is definitely the album’s star ballad for best capturing the emotion with fantastic vocals.

Through the sky is the album’s finale, a fantasy-like ballad. The song opens up with a magical instrumental before the first verse comes in. Kumi’s vocals show both some power as well as restraint that support the piano-central instrumentation well. The hook shows off Kumi’s range as she reaches a little higher and the final note before the chorus sounds fantastic. Her vocals during the chorus are really strong and have the emotion behind that make the song really come alive. The pure instrumental section is gorgeous as the beauty and fantasy feeling are spotlighted before Kumi comes strongly with the chorus. Through the sky is a wonderful finish for the album as a beautiful ballad that both displays emotional presence and vocal strength.

Album Ranking: A

Kumi’s 4th album features a variety of tracks that lets the listener find enjoyable. From the hot uptempo numbers such as Selfish and Trust you to the cute songs like キューティーハニー and LOVE HOLIC to the beautiful ballads such as Believe and 24, secret is a cohesive album from start to finish that is able to allure the listener.