Destiny Line – Ai no Matador –

Posts Tagged ‘Oricon Year 2007 Albums

GAM’s debut studio album, entitled 1st GAM, was released on 05.27.07. This group is a combination of H!P members Fujimoto Miki and Matsuura Aya and was released after three singles: Thanks!, メロディーズ and LU LU LU.

Thanks! is the album’s opener. The song starts off with a cool instrumental, highlighted by the guitar before the first verse starts. The vocals fit with the music perfectly and the listener is led on a journey while listening. The twinkling sounds that appear in the instrumentation definitely stands out as gives a very pretty feeling. Hooking the listener is the chorus, which features some stronger vocals and the music remains interesting. The pure instrumental section sounds absolutely fantastic, putting the spotlight on the sleekness of the music before the chorus is re-introduced. Thanks! is a great album opener showing off the girls’ cool flare that makes them stand out.

Keeping up the energy is track number two, 純潔 ~Only.~ Opening this song is an enjoyable and addictive twinkling po instrumental sequence before the first verse starts. The vocals here have a little more maturity to them that stands out to the listener and actually compliments the music perfectly. The chorus sounds great as the girls show off a little more vocal power, particularly with the last word. The pure instrumental section captures the listener and does a fantastic job of coming back to the chorus. For being addictive and strongly upbeat, it’s a great track to follow Thanks!

メロディーズ is up next and offers a more relaxing atmosphere. The song begins with a sweet instrumental and the snapping is actually a nice touch along with the ringing of the bells. Things then pick up a little bit for a midtempo feel. The chorus sounds great as the girls sing with emotion and nice vocal power. The following English part in which “melodies in the memories” is sung is a bit strange but it’s nothing too annoying.

The fourth song is 愛の船. A nice instrumental section starts the song off and there are some lighter rock tints that catch the listener’s ear. The first verse starts and the girls’ vocals sound great. They hold their notes strongly and harmonize perfectly. The chorus stands out as the girls show more vocal strength and the instrumentation becomes more central than before. The song isn’t as addictive as the previous ones but it’s definitely a nice number and shows a different sound for the girls.

ここで キスして  is next. The song starts off with a dreamy sound that makes the listener really enjoy before the instrumentation becomes a little more varied. The first verse has sleekness as the girls smoothly sing their way over the addictive instrumentation. Popping very nicely is the chorus as the girls’ vocal prowess comes to the forefront as they hit their notes with power and feeling. The pure instrumental section sounds absolutely wonderful as the coolness of the song is strongly spotlighted and catches the listener’s ear perfectly. This song is wonderful by having a slower sound while still maintaing that coolness and showing off the girls’ vocals.

LU LU LU is the following song. A very nice and upbeat instrumentation starts the song off and there is a positive and happy feeling to it that stands out. The first verse then starts and the girls carry a certain fragility to their voices that move with the music perfectly. As the girls show off a little more power, the vocals allow the chorus to stand out from the rest of the song. The English line “I will love you forever” and how the girls hit the higher notes strongly are both factors in its strength. LU LU LU is an excellent song and definitely one to check out.

The seventh song is the addictive, イチャイチャ Summer. The song begins a fun instrumental that really captures the sounds of summer perfectly. The vocals during the first verse have a certain element of whisper to them that connects each line very nicely and directs the listener. The chorus is wonderful and has a prettiness that just makes it all the more addictive and the repeating words help it resonate strongly in the listener’s mind. This song is one of the best songs on the album and really stays in the listener’s mind.

Up next is 愛情オアシス. The song starts off with a cool instrumental that hooks the listener from first listen. The first verse then starts and the looming feeling in the instrumentation goes perfectly with the girls’ vocals. The chorus really stands out for more vocal power that the girls deliver and the transition into pure instrumentation is genius. This song is a fantastic upbeat number that the girls really deliver their all on to make the listener pay attention from start to finish.

…H continues the upbeat and enjoyable sound. To begin the song, an aggressive and addictive instrumental comes out. The chorus features some great vocals and have a certain happy element to them that stands out as the instrumentation continues to be edgy. Vocals during the first verse sound great and stand out very nicely. The pure instrumental section sounds great and spotlights just how creative and interesting the music is on this song.

The title track, 甘い誘惑, is the album’s last real number. A rock-filled instrumentation starts the song off and then the chorus begins, which sounds a little repetitive but it doesn’t sound bad. The first verse then starts and there is a more mellow feeling instilled. Moments of pure instrumentation actually are the standout parts of the song and the vocals are nice overall although it doesn’t particularly hook the listener as well as other songs.

Thanks! (誘惑 Remix) is the last song on the album. This version of the song holds a sweeter and lighter atmosphere than the original. It’s a nice addition but the original version is much stronger and is really what makes the listener hooked.

Album Ranking: A +

GAM’s debut album shows off these two girls talents fantastically. Upbeat numbers like 純潔 ~Only,~ …H and 愛情オアシス  as well as slow songs like   イチャイチャ Summer and ここで キスして all show the different sounds these girls can handle. The album is very strong and one of the strongest out of H!P.

Morning Musume’s 8th studio album, entitled Sexy 8 Beat, was released on 03.21.07. Mitsui Aika had her first album shot with this one and four girls had their last. Singles released before the album were as follows: SEXY BOY ~そよ風に寄り添って, ~ Ambitious! 野心的でいいじゃん, 歩いてる and 笑顔YESヌード.

元気 + starts off the album on a strong note. The song starts off with an instrumental that really hooks the listener as there is a dark element to it that builds and persists. The hook stands out as the girls’ vocals move with the music perfectly and although they are repeating one line, it doesn’t feel repetitive at all. The first verse has a certain attitude to it that makes the listener take notice. The chorus is wonderful as the girls harmonize nicely and the vocals go with the music perfectly. The pure instrumental section stands out as the sweetness of the music is spotlighted even mixed with a looming mature sound. This song is a great way to open up the album and nicely spotlights the more mature side of the girls.

歩いてる (Album Edit) is the second song on the album. The song starts off with a happy midtempo sound as the chorus starts with the girls happily singing the lyrics. There is a more mellow feeling instilled in the verses and the vocals are a little softer but they stick out to the listener strongly. The chorus then repeats and the fading out of the vocals at the end of the chorus is a nice touch. The jazzy feeling that appears on the pure instrumental section really helps hook the listener as the chorus comes back in. By slowing things down a little bit, the song is a nice addition and provides a different sound for the listener.

The third song on the album is 未来の太陽. The song starts off with an upbeat and cute sound that introduces the song very nicely. The first verse has some very nice vocals that go with the music perfectly. They reach the higher notes strongly. The chorus is great too as the poppiness comes full force in a strong way to make the listener pay attention. The pure instrumental section is definitely enjoyable and spotlights that fun and happy atomsphere. The girls do a great job on this one and is certainly enjoyable.

笑顔YESヌード (Album Mix) very nicely shows off the girls’ more mature sound. That cool and more mature sound comes through right from the first moment and the opening vocals actually sound pretty nice. Once the first verse starts, the vocals are somewhat deep in keeping with the song’s atmosphere. The chorus is the most addictive part of the entire song, particularly when the girls sing the title of the song. As one of the most addictive numbers on the album, this song finds its home and resonates with the listener strongly.

Kamei Eri and Mitsui Aika team up for 春ビューティフル エブリディ. To start of the song is an enjoyable and interesting instrumental with a midtempo feel. The vocals during the verse have a prettiness to them that catches the listener’s ear and compliments the music very nicely. The chorus stands out as the girls give a little more vocal strength and the English pops very nicely. It’s a nice way to slow things down and give these two girls their turn in the spotlight.

Next up is the addictive and mature, SEXY BOY ~そよ風に寄り添って.~ The song starts off strongly with a hot dance instrumental that makes the listener take notice and the recurring “sexy boy” is a nice touch. The first verse then starts and the vocals sound great and certain notes are held very well when called for. The chorus stands out and once again, the “sexy boy” parts sound great and the English line “fall in love” ends the chorus very nicely. The following hook sounds nice as the notes go a little higher and the girls hit their mark strongly. Once again, the girls deliver an addictive song with a more mature sound and enjoyable vocals.

Ambitious! 野心的でいいじゃん follows, keeping the tempo and energy high. Opening the song is an upbeat instrumentation with a certain darkness to it that really stands out to the listener. The chorus sounds great as the girls’ vocals show strength and demand attention. When the first verse begins, the girls continue to move with the music nicely as the vocals remain strong, particularly with the final note. The pure instrumental section sounds fantastic and catches the listener’s ear immediately from its first moment. This song is a fantastic album standout and definitely necessary to listen to.

Yoshizawa Hitomi takes the lead on the eighth song, その出会いのために. A sweet piano instrumentation starts off the song and once the first verse starts, things pick up and her vocals match the song very nicely. The chorus sounds great as there is something romantic about the song that stands out to the listener and the whole atmosphere is reminiscent of a story. She does a great job of bringing out the romantic atmosphere on this one and her vocals are great, making it one to remember. 

Takahashi Ai, Niijaki Risa, Fujimoto Miki and Tanaka Reina team up for シャニムニ パラダイス. The song starts off headstrong with a hyper instrumental and the chorus as the girls’ vocals match the energy. The first verse sounds great as all the vocals work with the music to make an enjoyable atmosphere and really capture the song’s essence. An interesting instrumental and fun vocals help this song stand out from the rest and make the listener notice just how enjoyable the atmosphere.

The semifinale song is 宝の箱, sung by Shige-pink and Koha-pink. The song begins with a nice instrumental although it isn’t as hooking as other ones. The vocals are okay but the music doesn’t grab the listener as strongly as it should and thus the listener loses interest as the song goes on. It’s the first weak track on the album and would’ve been better without being placed on the album.

Finishing off the album is BE ポジティブ! The song opens up with happy and fun music and soon the vocals come in, which go with the music very nicely. It’s pretty nice but it isn’t as strong as other songs and shouldn’t have been the album’s finale. The girls do give a good performance though and show the happy atmosphere with their vocals nicely though.

Album Ranking: A +

Sexy 8 Beat is a wonderful collection of songs from Morning Musume which show off a more mature style to the girls. From the coolness of 笑顔YESヌード to the addictive SEXY BOY ~そよ風に寄り添って~ to the sleekness of Ambitious! 野心的でいいじゃん, the girls really shine. 春ビューティフル エブリディ and その出会いのために provide nice slow numbers to make the album more diverse. Overall this is a strong album and the girls really capture the mature sound well.

Arashi’s 7th studio album, entitled Time, was released on 07.11.07. The regular edition of the album features a bonus track on the first CD while the limited edition features a second CD complete with a solo song sung by each member of the group. The singles released prior to the album are as follows: アオゾラペダル, Love so sweet and We can make it! 

The album opens up with the energetic and upbeat Oh Yeah! The song starts off with a cool guitar-driven instrumental before the first verse starts. The vocals sound nice here although the verses are just a little bit lacking. The chorus shows more of the song’s energy and the boys’ voices move together very well and it’s enjoyable. The pure instrumental section sounds great though as the coolness and slickness of the music is really spotlighted. The song concludes with some vocalizing from the boys and it doesn’t particularly seem needed but the instrumentation that closes the song is a nice touch. Oh Yeah! is a nice upbeat song although there isn’t such a strong energetic presence that would’ve made the song even better.

Up next is Love so sweet, which was released as a single prior to the album. Opening the song is a sweet instrumentation that the listener really can enjoy and then the boys do some vocalizing, which seems a little out-of-place. The first verse then comes in and the vocals are very nice, capturing the song’s atmosphere perfectly. The chorus features a slightly different instrumental and stands out to the listener as the boys’ vocals blend together well. The pure instrumental section is nice but nothing particularly hooking. Overall Love so sweet is a nice song but it could’ve been better, particularly by removing the repeating vocalizing sequences.

WAVE follows as the third song, a nice jazzy song. The song starts off with an upbeat jazzy instrumentation, which really captures the listener’s ear, particularly the saxophone. The boys sound very nice on the first verse and the constant sound that makes a wave in the instrumentation really stands out. The chorus is enjoyable as the boys’ voices sound great and have a certain poppiness to them that moves with the music so well. The rap sequence actually fits in the song really strongly and has a certain slickness to it that fits in with the music well. WAVE is a great song and it certainly catches the listener’s ear more than the previous two songs.

Another single track, We can make it!, is the album’s fourth song. The song starts off with a spakling and somewhat mysterious instrumental. The boys’ voices sound absolutely great here, which really make the verses worth checking out. The chorus has a more happy feeling, which makes the listener just smile and the music is so pretty that it immediately catches the listener’s ear. The third verse has a certain out-of-this-world feeling that sounds great and makes a smooth transition into the rap section. Although the music stands out more than the vocals here, it is still an enjoyable part of the song. We can make it! is an excellent number and definitely one of the standout songs on the album.

Up next is R&B dance track, Firefly. Opening the song is a cool and sleek instrumental with a certain darkness that only stays momentarily. Soon the atmosphere clears for a more R&B dance feel that sounds nice and the English phrases such as “you and I” pop very nicely. The chorus is nice as the boys show off some really nice vocals that go with the music. The following rap sequence sounds great as that darkness comes back in the music and catches the listener’s ear. Firefly certainly isn’t a bad song but had it stuck with the dark tone, it would’ve left a stronger impression on the listener’s mind.

太陽の世界 continues the upbeat sound as the next song. The song begins an aggressive and happy dance sound that immediately catches the listener’s ear. The rap sequence sounds very enjoyable as it just fits with the free and upbeat atmosphere of the song. The chorus is enjoyable as the boys vocals sound great together and move with the music so well. The pure instrumental section spotlights a certain jazziness that really stands out and makes a nice re-introduction for the chorus. The song is very enjoyable and a standout number from Time.

Things slow down with the next song, Carry on. A sweet instrumental begins the song and then the first verse begins with some great vocals that carry across the music perfectly. The chorus is a little bland but the boys’ vocals sound nice. Carry on is not very interesting and unfortunately doesn’t hook the listener like it should.

And coming back from a slow song, ROCK ON picks up the tempo. The song starts off with an enjoyable piano instrumental and then the chorus comes in and just makes the listener fall in love with the song from first moment. The boys’ vocals sound great and mix perfectly. The first verse pushes the instrumentation to a more simplistic approach with the piano being the sole accompaniment for the vocals and they make a nice combination. The pure instrumental section sounds wonderful and makes a nice setup for the rap sequence, which actually finds the perfect home on the song. Althoough the song isn’t rock at all, it’s one of the most memorable songs on the album and shows off what these boys can do.

The following song is Cry for you. The song starts off quickly with some vocals that have a slick and sexiness to them that go with the music perfectly. The chorus features an aggressive rock sound that compliments the music perfectly and the vocals express the anguish so strongly that the listener can’t help but be taken a bit aback. The pure instrumental section is the perfect communication of emotion and strength, which fuels the song’s power before setting up the listener to fall back into the chorus.

Love Situation appears as the next song. After a piano instrumental opening, things pick up with an uptempo jazzy sound. The vocals sound very nice as the first verse runs through and then the chorus begins. There isn’t really a set up instrumentally to make the chorus stand out and the vocals don’t particularly show any more power so it comes of as a little bland. The pure instrumental section is a nice touch though and the listener gets very interested. Overall Love Situation is not particularly capturing but the boys’ vocals are nice.

The following song, 風, is somewhat like the previous one. The song starts off with a similar piano opening and then things pick up as time goes on. The boys’ vocals are nice during the first verse and support the music nicely. Once again, the chorus doesn’t pop at all as the vocal strength remains relatively the same as the verses. The song is pretty bland and doesn’t catch the listener’s attention at all.

Be with you is a strong ballad. Opening the song is a vrey pretty instrumentation that really hits the listener’s heart. The first verse begins and the vocals move strongly with the music, capturing the emotional presence and showing power. The chorus stands out as the boys harmonize wonderfully and capture the spirit of this big ballad. The pure instrumental section puts a spotlight on how pretty the music and keeps the listener lost in its beauty before the chorus comes back in. Be with you is a great ballad that the boys do so well on.

The guitar is the central focus on the next song, LIFE. Starting off the song is the guitar and some interesting sounds that stand out nicely. The first verse then comes and the boys smoothly sing, keeping the listener interested. The chorus features some nice vocals although it isn’t anything spectacular. LIFE is a pretty bland song that doesn’t stand out as nicely as it should.

The semifinale is アオゾラペダル. The song starts off with sweet and enjoyable music. When the first verse starts, the boys vocals sound very strong and move with the music perfectly. The chorus features some stronger vocals from the boys and they certainly catch the listener’s attention. It’s a great semifinale number and certainly one to enjoy.

The album finishes off with Everybody 前進. A line from the chorus quickly opens the song and immediately the listener is entranced. The first verse follows and the boys’ vocals sound very nice and go with the music very nicely. The chorus is pretty nice although it would’ve been stronger had their been a little more push in the instrumentation. The pure instrumentation sequence sounds great and really hooks the listener from the first moment. The song is a great closing number and certainly shows off what the boys can do.

For those who bought the limited edition, five songs were made, sung solo by each member of the group. The first of the solos is Ohno’s song entitled Song for me. The song begins with a gorgeous midtempo sound that hooks the listener from the first moment. Ohno’s vocals during the first verse show power and control, moving with the music perfectly. The chorus stands out as Ohno shows off a little more vocally and lets the words really come from inside him. Song for me is a fantastic song that the listener can’t help but enjoy.

Aiba’s solo song, Friendship, is the second solo. The song begins with a very pretty instrumental before going into the first verse. His vocals sound very comfortable here and capture the overall atmosphere of the song very well. The chorus is nice but nothing particularly noteworthy except the chorus continues to be pretty. On the third verse, he shows off his vocals strongly and makes the listener take notice.

虹 is Nino’s solo song. Opening this song is a very touching piano instrumental. His vocals sound very pretty and move with the music very strongly. He shows off even more vocal ability on the chorus as the emotions come through more strongly and hits the listener nicely. The acapella ending is wonderful and brings the song to a wonderful close. This solo song is certainly one to look out for.

Can’t Let You Go comes as Sakurai’s solo song. He delivers a great solo song here as he shows off some nice vocals and gives out some nice rap sequences. The jazzy influences that run throughout the song really hook the listener and make it stand out very strongly. It’s certainly one of the strongest solos and one of the most memorable ones.

 

Yabai-Yabai-Yabai closes the album as Matsumoto’s solo song. The opening of the song is a bit weird but in a really fun way. That energy and happy atmosphere persists throughout the song and makes the listener just smile. It’s a great way to close the second disc and is another great solo song.

Album Ranking: B –

Arashi’s 7th studio album is a collection of hits and misses. While the boys shine on tracks such as ROCK YOU,太陽の世界,  Everybody 前進 and Cry for you, there are certainly bland songs like 風, LIFE and Carry on. Some songs could’ve been stronger had little changes been made to them but aren’t necessarily bad ones. The second disc of solo songs is great and certainly shows what each boy can do on their own. Overall not a particularly engaging album but it has it’s strong numbers.

Otsuka Ai’s 4th studio album, entitled LOVE PiECE, was released on 09.26.07. The singles released prior to the album are as follows: ユメクイ, 恋愛写真, CHU-LIP and PEACH / HEART.

未来タクシー opens up the album on an energetic note. The album starts off with a exciting instrumental that feels out-of-this-world. The first verse begins and Ai’s vocals sound very cool here, matching the interesting instrumental. The chorus is nice as Ai shows off more vocal power but the phrase that begins each line gets a little annoying. The pure instrumental section is great as it spotlights the song’s strongest asset, the interesting music. The third verse sounds great too with slightly different music and great vocals. More fun and upbeat music finishes the song off nicely. Overall the song is very enjoyable although the chorus is the weakest part of the song.

Up next is ユメクイ. Oening the song is the chorus, sung with such emotion over a somewhat simplistic instrumental, which puts the spotlight on her voice. Following, tints of rock come out and provide a little more variation for the music, hooking the listener. The vocals during the first verse are somewhat deep but they fit the dark atmosphere of the song perfectly. With the rock feeling already out, it comes full force for the chorus this time and it stands out to the listener. The song closes with a great instrumental, releasing the listener from the world of the song. ユメクイ is definitely an album standout and hasn’t lost any steam from its release as a single.

Mackarel’s canned food, a fun midempo number, is the third song. The song begins with a fun and light-hearted sound and then the first verse starts. Ai’s vocals sound nice with the music although it isn’t anything particularly noteworthy. The chorus stands out for the way that she sings it. There is a certain cuteness to her voice and the way that there are breaks in the lines helps each phrase stand out. Overall the song is a fun song that the listener should be in the mood to listen to.

The happy summer song, PEACH, picks up the energy very nicely for the fourth song. That energy comes through from the moment the instrumentation starts and then the first verse begins. Ai sings in her more cutesy voice and it’s a very nice fit for the music. The chorus is what makes the song as addictive as it is, particularly when she sings “peach” is a very cute voice. The third verse features a slightly different instrumental and really sounds cool. Ai then holds the last note fantastically before that summer fun comes out with a bang on the pure instrumental section. Closing the song is more instrumentation, making PEACH another memorable track on LOVE PiECE.

Following a fun uptempo song is the slow song, クムリウタ. The song starts off with Ai singing the hook over a simple instrumental, comprised of the guitar. Her vocals sound very pretty and catch the listener’s ear. The first verse begins and Ai continues to sweetly sing the lyrics. The chorus then comes in Ai reaches a little higher, hitting the note of the first word strongly. She also holds the final note very nicely. The slightly different instrumental during the third verse helps create a grandiose feeling, setting up a perfect peak for the chorus. She then sings with such an emotional feeling that the listener really believes and feels her. クムリウタ is a very nice piece of this album and shows off Ai’s vocals on this sweet song.

星のタンゴ is a short sweet song. The song starts off with the chorus, which features a very cool and somewhat mysterious instrumental and Ai’s vocals sound great here, carrying a certain prettiness. The first verse continues to show off Ai’s vocals, which are pretty soft but carry with the music perfectly. Although the song is simplistic, the song does a good job of keeping the listener interested from start to finish and is definitely a song to look out for.

The shortest song on the album arrives with 蚊取線香. The song starts off with a fly buzzing and then the exciting and crazy instrumentations begins. The song is very strange as Ai sings excitedly and with some rapidity that stands out to the listener and on the notes that she holds, they sound nice. The sounds, although pretty crazy and weird, they stand out to the listener and they are memorable. A cool song and surprisingly enjoyable.

フレンジャー comes next. Beginning with a catchy and fun instrumental, the element of happiness is what makes the song catchy. The vocals during the first verse really help bring the song’s overall atmosphere to the forefront but it is the chorus that really catches the listener’s ear. Ai’s vocals show off the fun feeling perfectly. The pure instrumental section put an emphasis on the rock sound, which is a strong part of the song. A fun and energetic song, it’s definitely a nice part of the album.

CHU-LIP brings out Ai’s cute and fun side. The song begins with a cool pop sound with slight rock elements to it that make it stand out to the listener from the first moment. Ai’s vocals during the first verse are pretty cute and help communicate the song’s happiness very well. It’s the chorus that is the standout part of the song as Ai sings the title of the song with an adorable voice that the listener can’t help but love. The pure instrumentation sequence sounds great, directing back into the chorus, which is sung with a much more simplistic instrumentation. CHU-LIP is a fun uptempo track that the listener can’t help but love.

The sweet ballad, HEART, is the album’s semifinale. The song starts off with the most memorable part of the song, the chorus. It’s the first line that really stands out to the listener the most and is actually the focal point of that art. After a little sweet instrumental, the first verse begins. Her voice sounds very pretty here and does a good job of portraying the song’s emotion. The pure instrumental section evokes somewhat of a dreamy feeling and really takes the listener out into another world. HEART is an excellent song that shows off Ai’s vocals wonderfully.

恋愛写真 is the album’s closing number and is a fantastic way to do so. The first verse features Ai beautifully singing along with the instrumentation with the focus on the piano. The two combine together wonderfully to capture the song’s atmosphere of reflection well and stand out to the listener. The one line that repeats throughout the chorus really catches the listener’s ear and somehow all the emotion is captured in that one line. Instrumentation becomes somewhat more varied as the second verse starts and the energy is nice addition to the song. The pure instrumental section is very pretty and does a great job of highlighting the beauty of the music. 恋愛写真 is a great way to close this album and is one of the standout numbers on the album.

Album Ranking: A –

Otsuka Ai’s 4th album features many songs that show off Ai’s style. From the fun songs such as PEACH and CHU-LIP to the sweet ballads like 恋愛写真 and HEART, different pieces of Ai come together to form an enjoyable album.

Amuro Namie’s 7th studio album, entitled PLAY, was released on 06.27.07. The album experienced even more success than her previous album. Variety is the album’s strong points ranging from the sexiness of Top Secret and Full Moon to the attitude of Hello, PLAY is a strong collection of songs. The singles released before the album are White Light / Violet Sauce, CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT I’M SICK / 人魚, Baby Don’t Cry and FUNKY TOWN. Hide & Seek and Hello were used to further promote the album. Top Secret was also used as the theme song for the series Prison Break in Japan while Pink Key was used in a Lipton CM.

Hide & Seek serves as the album’s brilliant opening number. A marching beat instrumental starts off the song with Namie speaking in English to really make it pop. The first verse sounds great and the slight electronic tints come through as Namie’s vocals sounds slightly distored but they work with the music perfectly. The chorus is addictive as Namie shows off her vocals and the English such as “bounce bounce” and “bang bang bang your head” really stand out to the listener. Namie’s vocals shine even more with the third verse and the English is a nice touch as she sings “boy you sexy thing, like a sexy ring.” Hide & Seek is one of the album’s best songs and is definitely the perfect introductory track to enter the world of PLAY.

One of the more interesting songs on the album is the second one, Full Moon. The song starts off with a very cool and sleek instrumental with Namie repeating “under the full moon.” Her vocals during the verses are smooth and she sings somewhat softly to keep with the mysterious atmosphere of the song. The chorus sounds great as Namie shows a little more vocal strength and the mysterious vibe remains untouched.The hook features English lyrics such as “somebody wants somebody” and an energy that is perfectly at home on this song. The howling wolf during the second verse is definitely a nice touch as it helps show the world of the song. The pure instrumentation sounds absolutely fantastic as the song’s interesting feeling shines through strongly. Full Moon is a fantastic album song and is one of the more memorable numbers on PLAY.

CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK appears as the third track and is a fantastic dance song with pop flares to make it one of the best songs on PLAY. After a small instrumental section, the chorus starts and is one of the song’s strongest points. Her vocals sound great and hit the notes flawlessly, capturing the song’s overall atmosphere. The verses are sung with consistently strong vocals and the English phrases such as “love is always first” and “ask me what I dream about” really pop and stick in the listener’s mind. The hook is a nice transition into the chorus, particularly the “my god” that she sings. The third verse consists of the repetition of “I’m falling, I’m falling in love with you” and is a great asset to the album. The song ends strongly with more instrumentation to make the listener enjoy the song from its beginning to its finish. CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK is a fantastic number and one of the biggest standout songs on PLAY.

Namie comes back to exploring rock with the fourth song, It’s all about you. After a great instrumental section, Namie starts off the first verse strongly with “what a nerve.” Namie portrays the anger the lyrics create in order to form a cohesive effort. The hook is nice as she sings “you’re such a selfish,” which really pops. The chorus is the most addictive part of the song as Namie sings and the emotion comes across strongly. She holds her notes nicely and the instrumentation remains interesting as always. The third verse consists of Namie “you’ve got me so sick of this, you got me real sick of this” and this shows off her anger perfectly and once she sings “don’t, oh girl please,” the listener really gets into the song and is set up for another ride for the hook and chorus. Namie strongly returns to the rock sound with It’s all about you and is one of the tracks to look out for.

The fifth song, FUNKY TOWN, is what inspired the whole album’s theme and it is certainly an enjoyable dance song. After a fun instrumental, the chorus comes in. The English used really makes it pop as seen in phrases such as “livin’ in the funky town” and “come on down.” The chorus is sung with pretty deep vocals and they have a certain attitude to them that Namie is so strong at portraying. During the second verse, the cartoon sounds in the background really help to push the free and light-hearted elements of the song that make it so enjoyable. The third verse is slower than the others as Namie sings “breaktime” repeatedly. With the final choruses, Namie shows off her vocal power, particularly with the final “funky town,” when she holds her note effortlessly and powerfully. The song ends with the sound of a car and people cheering. FUNKY TOWN is definitely one of the more fun tracks that just hits the listener in the right way.

Step With It is an excellent album track that has a certain attitude and shows off Namie’s sexy style. The song opens up strongly with the hook, which sounds great and the English such as “I know you’re really wantin’ me” and “we’re doin’ it all night” pop excellently. The EnglisThe first verse then starts and Namie sings with a bit of rapidity that hooks the listener. Her vocals are smooth and sexy, capturing the song’s atmosphere perfectly. The pure instrumentation section is nice and features a man vocalizing as well Namie doing some nice vocals of her own in addition to saying “uno, dos, tres, quatro,” which only adds to the sex appeal of the song. As the song comes to a close, Namie speaks and even does a little giggle, which is really cute. The song fades out, making Step With It an unforgettable song from beginning to end.

Hello is a fantastic album track and one of the true standout songs on PLAY. The song starts off with Namie asking “hello” over a sassy instrumental with the sound of a telephone ringing added to give the song the extra kick. Then she sings the hook, which has attitude written all over it as she sings “wait for the beep and do your thing.” The verses are sung kind of deeply but the attitude is definitely there, particularly seen in English phrases such as “maybe I’ll call you back” and “because I’m so fly.” The chorus is really enjoyable as she shows a little more vocal strength and stands to the listener’s ear. The third verse continues the fun of the song as she brags “you want it, you need it” and that slight cockiness really adds flavor to the song. With the final, Namie does some gret adlibbing before a part of the hook is repeated. The repeated “hello” is always enjoyable and are the last words as the song fades out with instrumentation. Hello is definitely a highlight for its attitude and cool sound.

Much like her previous album, PLAY only holds one true ballad and that comes with the next track, Should I Love Him? After a nice instrumental, Namie sings the chorus. The counting really does stands out in the listener’s mind and is a nice way to draw attention to the words. The verses are sung somewhat deeply and the English phrases like “his mistakes are endless” really pop nicely. The third verse shows off the flare of th choir as well as more vocal strength from Namie to really capture the song’s emotion and the last line “love, love, love me do” sounds great. Should I Love Him? is a very nice ballad and although it is not as strong as previous ballad, ALL FOR YOU, it gets the job done nicely.

Top Secret features a sexy sound that really captivates the listener. Namie sexily opens with “I wanna taste you tonight” before the thumping instrumentation comes in. Namie’s vocals during the verses are smooth and capture the sexual atomsphere perfctly. Her vocalizing during the hook is fantastic and the counting of “traps” are really cool. The repetition of “top secret” during the chorus is very enjoyable and really sticks in the listener’s ear and the final line “tonight I taste you” is a perfect finish. The third verse features Namie whispering lyrics such as “I won’t bite so close your eyes, come and sit by my side” and the whole whispering only adds more sex appeal to the song. The song ends with a dark and interesting instrumental, making Top Secret a fantastic album track and a reason to check out this album.

Violet Sauce (Spicy) features a more rock-centered arrangement than the original version and its newly updated sound is welcome on PLAY. The song starts off with a cool rock sound with Namie saying “you know what…who is hot…collaboration” and there is such a fierce attitude to her voice that makes it pop. She then repeatedly sings “dip it in the sauce” and there is a sexiness to it that makes it memorable. The verses are sung with smooth vocals that go perfectly with the rock-backed instrumental. The third verse is the strongest voice as Namie shows off her vocal strength, particularly as she holds the note as she sings “come with me.” The song then ends with a more mysterious sound as Namie delivers her lyrics with a slickness, starting off with “enjoy my play land.” Her vocals here sound great and bring the song to an excellent close. Violet Sauce (Spicy) is a great new version of the song and a treat on PLAY.

The sweet midtempo number, Baby Don’t Cry, is the album semifinale. There is a more personal vibe from this song that really resonantes with the listener. After a small instrumental sequence, Namie sings the first verse. Her vocals sound great and capture the overall atmosphere. The English phrases such as “three years” and “T-shirts” pop nicely. The chorus is what really sticks out as Namie shows off more vocal strength. The repeittion of “baby don’t cry” makes the chorus all the more enjoyable and sweet and there is something so comforting in Namie’s voice that is soothing. The third verse further shows off Namie’s vocals and is the strongest verse. When Namie sings “let me you smile again,” the listener can’t help but smile. Baby Don’t Cry has that personal appeal that draws the listener into the song and it is certainly a song not to be missed.

The album closes with the upbeat and inspirational, Pink Key. After some instrumentation centered around the ringig of bells and Namie whispering, the hook comes in as Namie sings “now it’s time to find your way” repeatedly. It gives her a chance to show off her great vocals and then the chorus starts. There is a poppy element that really makes it fun and the English lyrics such as “left, right” and “say hi” add to the certain ctueness. The verses are great and her vocals sound great. The inspirational message of the song really stands out and is something to listen to. The third verse features some more great vocals, particularly with the final line “believe you can surely find your way” and then the hook comes in again. The song finishes with a wonderful glittering instrumental to bring the song to a close. Pink Key is a great way to end the album and shows off Namie’s vocals, giving the listener hope and inspiration.

Album Ranking: A +

PLAY is an absolutely fantastic album featuring twelve tracks that show off just how much of a talented artist Namie is. Both the opening song (Hide & Seek) and the closing number (Pink Key) show versatility and Namie brings new light to her dance tracks such as FUNKY TOWN and CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK. Full Moon and Top Secret are excellent songs that show off that style even more. PLAY is one of the standout albums of 2007 and Namie’s best.

BoA’s 5th studio album, entitled MADE IN TWENTY (20), was released on 01.17.07. The singles released before the album were 七色の明日 ~brand new beat,~ KEY OF HEART / DOTCH and Winter Love.

BoA’s opening tracks are usually some of her strongest and Lady Galaxy is no exception. The song starts off with a fun and interesting instrumental with BoA saying “we welcome you aboard, this flight is taking off, enjoy your trip, get ready…” Her vocals during the verses are somewhat deep and have a certain slickness and attitude to them that make them pop. The chorus is very enjoyable as BoA sings “my heart is starship, nobody can stop it, I’m lady galaxy.” It’s an interesting theme that plays throughout the song. The pure instrumental section in the middle of the second verse is a very nice touch as it puts an emphasis on the coolness of the song. The repetition of “use your imagination” during the third verse is pretty cool and makes the verse stand out. Lady Galaxy is an excellent album opener and continues BoA’s trend of strong beginning tracks.

BoA’s cute side comes out strongly on 七色の明日 ~brand new beat.~ The song starts off with a part of the chorus over a twinkling instrumental. BoA’s vocals sound great here and capture the kawaii sound of the song perfectly. The verses sound great as BoA sings slightly deeper, putting a nice light on the lyrics, which are pretty strong. Then the full chorus comes out very nicely. The opening word, which is repeated, sounds great and shows off just how catchy the chorus really is. The hook of singing “so cool, so bright, I feel so good” really does stand out to the listener strongly and continues the song’s catchiness. The song finishes off with the hook and BoA singing “baby always look at me” is a perfect ending for this cute song, a true standout song on the album.

One of the album’s strongest ballads, Winter Love, is the third song. Instrumentation filled with the sounds of winter open this song. BoA’s vocals are deeper than usual when she starts singing the first verse but this is in contrast to the chorus. The chorus stands out nicely as BoA shows off vocal power, singing in a higher range and the instrumentation really brings out the emotions of the song. The lyrics of the song have a personal feel that really stands out to the listener and this is brought out strongly by all the aspects of the song. The third verse picks up a certain energy and BoA continues to show off her vocals strongly, particularly with the final note before the a wonderful pure instrumental section comes in. Pure instrumentation brings the song to an excellent close. Winter Love is one of the album’s standout ballads and one of the more memorable songs on MADE IN TWENTY (20).

Continuing a more slow sound is the next song, STILL. The chorus opens up the song very strongly with some great vocals from BoA that go with the music very nicely. Once the chorus finishes, the instrumentation slightly changes and BoA speaks in all English before the first verse starts. There is a certain jazzy feeling that emerges from the music and BoA sounds perfectly at home. The pure instrumentation sequence sounds fantastic and the guitar really does sound beautiful here. The following third verse shows off BoA’s powerful vocals and her range as she hits the higher notes very strongly. Beautiful instrumentation brings the song to a close, making STILL. one of the standout numbers on this album.

BoA shows off her more mature side on the hot dance track, SO REAL. After some fun vocalizing from BoA, the first verse comes in. Her vocals work well with the music to keep up the song’s dance feel. The chorus brings the addictive quality as BoA shows off more vocal power with a catchy instrumentation. The third verse and the following small section of pure instrumentation combine to form more strength for this song. SO REAL is a fantastic dance number that really stands out and is one of most memorable tracks on MADE IN TWENTY (20).

KEY OF HEART is the album’s sixth track. The song begins with a nice instrumental with a breezy and fun sound. BoA’s opening vocalizing does a very nice job of portraying that feeling and then she sings the first verse. The verses show a more mellow sound and BoA’s vocals move perfectly with the music here. The chorus stands out as BoA shows some more vocal strength and the instrumentation remains interesting and the last line, sung in English “just the key of heart” is a nice finish that pops. The pure instrumentation section shows off the almost magical quality set forth by the music and is a perfect addition to the song as the listener enjoyably follows. The song fades out with BoA vocalizing very nicely along with the same fun instrumentation. KEY OF HEART is a very nice song and a great fit on MADE IN TWENTY (20).

OUR LOVE ~to my parents~ is a piano ballad that is one of the weaker songs on the album. The piano sounds great and BoA moves well with the music but it just doesn’t stand out to the listener in the midst of the rest of the album. It’s definitely one of the forgettable songs on the album and not particularly worth the listen.

The slow song, no more make me sick, is definitely a great standout song. The song starts off with an interesting instrumental before the first verse. Her vocals are kind of deep but they go well with the music. The chorus stands out particularly for the English phrases such as “no more make me sick” and “look what you did to me.” Her vocals sound great here and really stand out. The third verse continues the song’s strength as the instrumentation becomes slightly more varied and her vocals are still strong. no more make me sick is an excellent song and a nice addition to the overall feel of the album.

RAH-D and BoA team up for Revolution CODE 1986-1105. RAH-D opens up with a talking introduction and then BoA comes with powerful vocals over a hot dance beat. The chorus stands out strongly particularly as she sings out the title of the song and the English phrase “it’s easy.” The lyrics have a certain inspiring feel to them that really works with the song well. Honestly, RAH-D doesn’t provide anything particularly strong about the song and his presence is un-needed on this song. The song’s title is BoA’s birthday and it’s actually pretty cool how she worked that into the song. REVOLUTION CADE 1986-1105 is a fun song and certainly worth the listen.

The mood slows down with Your Color, a sweet ballad. A pretty and sweet instrumental opens the song and introduces the first verse perfectly. BoA’s vocals sound great as she captures the emotional presence of the song wonderfully. The chorus has a magical feeling to it that really captures the listener’s ear and along with the sounds of winter, the instrumentation is definitely one of the song’s strong points. BoA smoothly sings her way through the chorus, further propelling its strength. The third verse continues the song’s strength and BoA shows off her range hitting the higher notes momentarily and strongly. Pure instrumentation along with some vocalizing from BoA brings the song to a close. Your Color is a great ballad that captures the emotions wonderfully through a beautiful instrumental and BoA’s strong vocals.

BoA’s mature side comes out fiercely with Prayer. The song opens up with a slick and cool instrumental and that slickness is mirrored in BoA’s vocals during the verses. It’s the chorus that really stands out as BoA sings powerfully and the English phrases such as “because I just want you, want you” really stand out. The third verse consists of a man in the background saying “tell me what is on your mind” while BoA does some nice vocalizing. Great lyrics, a more mature BoA, hot instrumental and energy all make Prayer one of the best songs on MADE IN TWENTY (20) and certainly one not worth skipping.

The album’s best ballad comes as the semifinal song, Candle Lights. After an enjoyable instrumental, BoA sings the first verse. She starts off with a deep vocals but before the chorus comes in, she shows off just how much power she has. The chorus continues the string of strong vocals as they capture the song’s sorrowful atmosphere. The final lines of the chorus, which are sung in English such as “I love you” and “I need you” are particularly ear-grabbing and bring the chorus to a nice finish. The pure instrumental section sounds beautiful and further captures the emotion of the song nicely. Ending with the chorus, BoA delivers strong vocals with the final line of the chorus “love goes on.” Candle Lights is another fantastic ballad that shows off BoA’s vocal talents with a great instrumental.

The album closes with the piano-driven midetempo number, Gracious Days. BoA’s vocals remain pretty nice throughout the song and she doesn’t really go deeper unlike other songs. It’s the chorus that stands out the most as there is a certain cuteness that shines through and it’s when she sings “wish always gracious days,” it really comes across to the listener. The pure instrumental section sounds great as the pretty music is spotlighted. Gracious Days certainly isn’t the strongest song on the album but it’s a fairly nice finish.

Album Ranking: B +

BoA’s fifth studio album, MADE IN TWENTY (20) features some great songs such as Prayer, SO REAL, Candle Lights, STILL. and 七色の明日 ~brand new beat.~ Although the album definitely has its boring numbers, there are plenty of enjoyable moments on the album.

Goto Maki’s 4th studio album, entitled How to use SEXY, was released on 09.19.07. The album was Maki’s last album on H!P as she was recently signed to avex trax. This album showcases the more mature Maki and she does a great job of making the image that she wished to pursue come to life. Three singles were released prior to the album: ガラスのパンプス, SOME BOYS! TOUCH and シークレット.

The album’s opener is the exotic and sexy How to use Loneliness. The song opens with an exotic and somewhat mysterious instrumentation before the song’s hot dance beat comes in blasting. The first verse features some good vocals from Maki that work well with the music to keep the atmosphere alive. It’s the chorus where Maki shows a little more vocal power as she holds her notes nicely and the catchiness is kept up strongly. The pure instrumental section is absolutely amazing as it spotlights just how strong the instrumentation of the song is. This section really hooks the listener and these little instrumental breaks are easily the most addictive parts of the song. The song finishes with the chorus followed by instrumentation to bring How to use Loneliness to a wonderful close. This song is a perfect album opener that shows off Maki’s mature sound and hooks the listener at first listen.

Maki takes fun pop sounds and gives them a touch of sexy on GIVE ME LOVE. From the little instrumental breaks with cute vocals, that cuteness factor is established from the first listen. Although the song definitely has a cute feel, the lyrics really reflect Maki’s more mature image. The verses feature lyrics that are delivered with some rapidity to them to make them stand out well. The hook serves as a bridge as the instrumentation begins to vary slightly as an introduction to the chorus, which comes after Maki sings the title of the song. The chorus is extremely addictive as Maki shows off more vocal power over the fun and exciting instrumentation. The pure instrumental section is very nice and offers a perfect opporuntunity for a dance before the final chorus comes in. The song ends just how it began with the same small instrumental break with cute vocals. GIVE ME LOVE is the perfect follow up to How to use Loneliness and keeps the energy of the album flowing strongly.

SOME BOYS! TOUCH, a perfect demonstration of the sexier image and sound that Maki wished for, appears as the third track. The song opens up with a hot dance beat that just oozes a sexual energy. During the verses, there is almost a whispering element to Maki’s vocals, which only adds to the sexiness. The chorus stands out strongly as Maki’s vocals are stronger and work with the music to capture the listener in Maki’s world. The pure instrumental section is wonderful as it shows off just how addictive the music behind the song really is and offers a slight variation of instrumentation as instruments such as the guitar are spotlighted. The song concludes with the same hot instrumentation as Maki is heard whispering “touch…catch” repeatedly. As the perfect combination of catchiness and sexiness, SOME BOYS! TOUCH is a golden song on the album.

The mood is slowed down with City Wind, a slow addictive song that Maki also brings elements of sexiness to. The song opens up with a slow and sensual instrumentation that gives off a dark image before the first verse comes in. The softness to Maki’s voice works perfectly with the music to capture the sorrow of the song while still keeping the sexy element to the forefront. The chorus features more perfect vocals to move with the music and stands out from the song very well. The pure instrumental section is wonderful as Maki is heard whispering over the dark instrumentation to evoke a feeling of her breath being echoed through the city wind. The song ends with more instrumentation, really spotlighting the thumping beat which makes the song different. After three upbeat tracks, City Wind is a perfect slow song that Maki brings to life with wonderful lyrics and a great voice.

Up next is another slow song, the pretty ねえ 寂しくて. The song opens up with a very pretty instrumentation before the chorus appears. Maki’s vocals also have a slight whispering element but her vocals are shown off nicely. The first verse comes and Maki’s vocals stay in the lower range and they still sound great over the music. The overall feel of the song is somewhat similar to City Wind but it is portrayed in a different way and sounds great. The pure instrumental section is absolutely beautiful as the softness and “fragility” of the instruments are spotlighted. Instrumentation finishes the song off very nicely, rounding out the song as pretty from start to finish. The song is a nice and pretty track that fits perfectly after City Wind and leads the listener throughout the entire song.

Maki’s first single of the era and her first step into her new sexy image appears as the sixth album track, ガラスのパンプス. The catchy chorus opens up the song strongly as Maki’s vocals command attention over the addictive pop sound of the instrumentation. Maki also holds the last note of the chorus very well, finishing off the section perfectly. The verses feature vocals that are less powerful but still work with the music perfectly to keep the listener interested. The pure instrumental section is a nice breakdown, allowing a perfect re-introduction of the chorus. The same hot pop instrumentation finishes the song off in an absolutely perfect way, bringing the last aggressively addictive song on the album to a close. The song is one of the album’s best offerings and is definitely a track that should not be skipped.

Maki steps into the realm of jazz with the next track, DAYBREAK. The song opens up with a light and uptempo jazzy instrumentation before the hook starts. Maki’s whispering but nice vocals work very well here and making the chorus very addictive. During the verses, Maki’s vocals are hushed but they go with the music well. The full chorus sounds great and its transition into the hook is flawless. The pure instrumental section exutes a feeling of falling in love, which really fits perfectly as the listener is taken through the song much like a story. Finishing off the song nicely is the hook, which is a wise choice as it is the catchiest section of the song. The “acid jazz” song, DAYBREAK, is a wonderul part of the album that is truly worth listening to.

WOW 素敵! is a return to that fun pop sound that Maki can do so well. The first verse feature lower-toned vocals but once the instrumentation has small sections of change, the vocals are higher. The combination of the two make the verses stand out perfectly and is a nice introduction to the chorus, which features a great fun pop sound with more powerful vocals from Maki to make it the best section of the song. The pure instrumental section is nice and offers a little insturmental variety that is somewhat hidden by Maki’s vocals. As the album’s last upbeat song, WOW 素敵! is a nice light-hearted pop song that listeners can definitely appreciate.

The semifinal song is the emotional ballad シークレット. The song begins with a beautiful instrumentation primarily driven by the piano before the first verse comes in. Maki’s vocals here clearly have the emotional presence that is required to bring the song to life. The chorus features more powerful vocals while still keeping that element of fragility of the song’s atmosphere. The third verse features a slightly different instrumentation and some really great vocals from Maki. Wonderful instrumentation with some soft vocals from Maki bring the song to a close. The song is an excellent semifinal track and is one of the more emotional tracks on the album, showing Maki can do upbeat and ballads.

The orchestal ballad, LIFE, is the perfect way to end How to use SEXY. Opening up with strong orchestal instrumentation, it transitions into the first verse perfectly and gives Maki an opportunity a chance to show her vocal talents off. The verses sound great as Maki’s vocals are more in the lower range. It’s the chorus that really stands out as the music works perfectly with Maki’s vocals to capture the emotion of the song. The lyrics of the song are beautiful and really do make an impact as the album’s closing song. The pure instrumental section spotlights just how beautiful the music is and re-introduces the chorus nicely. It’s the final chorus, when Maki sings acapella that she really shines. The final note of the song is held with power and pride. LIFE is the perfect way to end the album as an emotional masterpiece with personal and beautiful lyrics.

Album Ranking: A +

Goto Maki’s 4th studio album shows off just how much of a singer Maki is. Her sexiness comes through strongly on the dance tracks: How to use Loneliness, SOME BOYS! TOUCH and ガラスのパンプス. Elements of cute form with sexy elements on the infectious GIVE ME LOVE and WOW 素敵! She also does fantastically on the slower songs, particularly City Wind and delivers her all on the final two ballads. The album is filled with excitement, variety and interest and is an album that should definitely not be skipped out on. With her recent departure from H!P and entrance to avex, hopefully she will follow a style similar to that from this album.