August 11, 2007: Shuffle
COME – Namie Amuro
Album: STYLE (2003) #4 (221,874 NoUS)
Single: SO CRAZY / COME (2003) #8 (48,969 NoUS)
This was the first song from Namie Amuro that I ever heard. My ex-girlfriend and still best friend, Laura, sent me a mixed CD of Japanese music and it was my first real taste of JPop and I didn’t think I liked it until I heard this song, which I immediately fell in love with. The soft thumping mix of Trance and Downtempo, techno synth bleeps (usually heading up the scale), and Namie’s strong vocals instantly drove this song to the top of my personal music charts.
Massugu ni (Instrumental) – Mika Kamita
Album – Mika Kamita (2006)
Single – Massugu ni (2006)
Mika Kamita is unheard of, apparently, but everyone who has heard her has fallen instantly in love with her soothing voice and that happy, elevator music she is known (but unknown) for… Massugu ni is a beautiful, mellow-drummed and violin driven ballad with sinewy harmonies and fluid melody. Initially, the song feels very underwater; by which I mean that a muffled beat and the piano seem to float up through water, but as it continues, the song rises in the water, finally breaking the surface at the end as we hear low waves lap a beach. It is a beautifully imagined song.
feel my soul ~YUI Acoustic Version~ – YUI
Album: FROM ME TO YOU (2006) #4 (232,140 NoUS)
Single: feel my soul (2005) #8 (107,930 NoUS)
*I realize that the acoustic version is found on the single Tomorrow’s way, but it seemed more appropriate to list the original single.
This song is very beautiful. Since it is te acoustic version, it is just YUI and her guitar. It’s haunting and feels very heartfelt. YUI’s youthful voice pierces through the chords and really brings the song to a lovely conclusion.
BLUE BIRD – Ayumi Hamasaki
Album: SECRET (2006) #1 (666,363 NoUS)
Single: BLUE BIRD (2006) #1 (258,566 NoUS)
When I heard this song, it sounded very New Age, but after a few moments it switched to a very poppy ballad. Ayumi’s voice, especially at the beginning, is rather pleasant. But at the chorus it tends to get a little squeaky, but still, for an Ayumi song, it’s not half bad. The lyrics are beautiful, speaking of her wish to be able to give her wings to her lover if his are broken and to be able to fly off together someday. It was one of my favorite tracks on SECRET for its beautiful arrangement and fluidity.
the meaning of peace – Koda Kumi
Album: This song, sung only by Kuu, is not included on any of her studio albums. It is, on the other hand, the last track on the second CD of her million + selling: BEST -First Session-
Single: the meaning of peace (Koda Kumi & BoA) #12 (66,840 NoUS)
The first thing that struck me about this song is its throwback to the 70′s R&B with a heavy bass line and featuring electric guitars and shots of synth galore. The drums are the predominate force throughout the song, to the point of being distractive. Kuu’s voice seems to be overwhelmed at times by them. For a moment, at the beginning of the second verse, the synth is brought out only to be concede to the drums by the middle of that section. I can’t prove this, but I almost want to say that it changes from major to minor between the verse and chorus. Interestingly, an electric guitar comes in after the third and final verse which is not followed by a third (or fourth or fifth) chorus, which rather different for a Kuu song.
Lies – Koda Kumi
Album: BEST -Second Session- (2006) #1 (1,783,167 NoUS)
Single: Lies (2006) #7 (50,000 [Limited Release] NoUS)
Lies is the fifth single in her ’12 Days of Christmas’ release season. This song, once again, is a throwback to the older R&B style with a touch of synthetic guitar picking in the background. I also detect a very sweeping, airy synth float behind the main background with such deftness that at first I thought it was my cell phone going off somewhere. With such a synth-driven song, Koda Kumi’s voice must powerful to overcome to the backing, but she pulls it off with her signature grit and sexiness. One of the few mid-tempo songs in that release season, she seems to put it across to you in a very believeable way and definitely drives it home at its conclusion.
STARS (Album Version) - Mika Nakashima
Album: TRUE (2002) #1 (1,172,000 NoUS)
Single: STARS (2001) #3 (469,180 NoUS)
The song opens with chimes which fade into a short flute solo which fades into synth, which drifts back and forth in the speakers giving a very dizzying sense of balance to the song, almost to the point of giving me seasickness. Drums kick in halfway through the first verse and then swell with the general volume as the chorus comes rolling in with horns, violins, and piano (and let us not forget the synth!). It has the same feeling as Massugu ni but less deep. The drums continue through the second verse, with aplenty of cymbal. The background vocals are a mix of actual voices and heavy voice effects which makes them feel quite ethereal. Although I am under the impression that Mika’s voice is not very stable, and acts like a peice of crystal (one wrong note and it would shatter); it still fits the lightness of the song very well and even shows a little power at the end of the bridge. Overall, she got through it and even might have added at little soul to an otherwise stock ballad.
Gollum’s Song – Emiliana Torrini (Howard Shore)
Album: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers OST
This song is creepy, beautiful, frightening, and altogether a bit disturbing; but continues to be one of my favorite LotR tracks. Elvish voices bring us into a sweeping violin segment which takes the back seat as Emiliana begins to sing. Her voice is extremely childish (in a good way) and captures the full scope of Gollum’s character to the point of scariness: his own childish demeanor and his vulnerability, along with his despair and anger at a cruel world. The effect of her voice is enveloping and makes it seem that she is singing to herself in Gollum’s deep cave under the Misty Mountains. (Okay, okay, you caught me… I’m a *lotter fan…)
BUT ~The Ghettobots Remix~ – Koda Kumi
Single: BUT / Aishou (2007) #2 (128,736 NoUS)
Deep, penetrating bass line, with a few violin chords flung in for good measure, Koda Kumi’s sexy voice, and an even more thumping beat at the chorus (comprising of cymbals, a bass drum, and synth all mashed together): making one rocking club track. It’s a really cool remix of a very good dance song.
P.S. Sorry for the long absense *speaks to an empty room* I’ve been moving and as soon as that was over I got sick, so… I’m back… *silence*