No way to say

No way to sayArtist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Release Date: November 6, 2003
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. No way to say (Original Mix)
2. No way to say (Acoustic Version)
3. SEASONS (Acoustic Version)
4. Dearest (Acoustic Orchestra Version)
5. Voyage Acoustic (Orchestra Version)
6. No way to say (Vandalize / Realize Remix)
7. No way to say (Instrumental)
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Imagine this: Summer is finally here so that means sun, sweat and more sweat. An as a J-pop reviewer, you stumble upon your next review on your to do list…and all of the sudden, you see that the cover is….WINTER! This is exactly how I felt while reviewing this, lol.

Sadly, No way to say is a winter song with all of the winter themed instrumentals played at the beginning. (Sounds like an older version of “Days”) The moment when Ayu’s vocals enter, the song takes on a bit of a slower pace. But then when it gets to the chorus, the vocals become more powerful with the instrumentals supporting it. For some reason, I think “Days” took the roots from this song. (And if you listened to Days, then you’ll know what I mean.)

Personal Rating: 4/5

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ONE

ONEArtist: Ami Suzuki
Release Date: July 2, 2008
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 4.5/5

1. ONE
2. A token of love
3. ONE (Instrumental)
4. A token of love (FM88 mix)
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ONE shows listeners exactly what Ami is popular for: upbeat dance tracks! I loved how the instrumentals had synchs and beats that really put me in the mood to dance. (Although I really can’t dance, lol.) Compared to her newer release (Reincarnation) the producer of “ONE” made the song have chemistry with Ami’s voice.

Another great dance track is A token of love which takes the beats a little slower than the first track. Looks like Avex was trying to experience with Ami’s vocals since she began to sing long notes throughout the song. I thought the song was great but not as great as the A-side.

Personal Rating: 4.5/5

HEART STATION (Single)

HEART STATIONArtist: Utada Hikaru
Release Date: February 20, 2008
Label: EMI Music Japan
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. HEART STATION
2. Stay Gold
3. HEART STATION (Original Karaoke)
4. Stay Gold (Original Karaoke)
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I haven’t reviewed any Hikki singles in awhile so I think that its about time to review another one of her old releases again.

Although Hikki seems to focus more on the R&B style than synch, it’s predictable that most of the releases after the “Ultra Blue” era would be R&B. Now to get right to the point, I thought HEART STATION had a pretty catchy but repetitive chorus. Other fellow reviewers state that the lyrics are what makes this song a bit popular and I’ve got to agree with them. I thought that the song was a bit on the average side but if anyone were to actually focus on listening to the lyrics, then it would be another J-pop favorite. (Or at least what I think.)

At least we know that Stay Gold is definitely not an average song! Hikki takes on an R&B/Ballad challenge and manages to wing it! The arrangement suited well with the lyrics and there were no traces of sloppiness. (Like other R&B/Ballads attempts.) Not to mention that her vocals were strong here too.

Personal Rating: 4/5

Inspire

InspireArtist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Release Date: July 28, 2004
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 3.5/5

1.) INSIRE (Original Mix)
2.) GAME (Original Mix)
3.) INSPIRE (Instrumental)
4.) GAME (Instrumental)
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Honestly, INSPIRE is a pretty interesting song! (In a “so-and-so” way!) The beginning sounds a little awkward but when the guitars come in, it’s literally screaming at your ears. Like those songs that are really soft at the beginning and all of the sudden, the volume goes up to the max… or something like that. The chorus itself sounded a bit boring so I wasn’t all that captivated into listening the song.

GAME is another so-and-so song but the instrumentals are what really make this song powerful! Not to mention, the lyrics are also interesting since it really suits the mood of most kinds of games. (Whether it’s about Japanese video games or sports.) I think that the only thing that got be to like this song is the bridge where the guitar solo seems to stand out more than the vocals.

Personal Rating: 3.5/5

Reincarnation

ReincarnationArtist: Ami Suzuki
Release Date: February 26, 2009
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 2.5/5

1. Reincarnation
2. Rub-I-Dub
3. Reincarnation (Extended Mix)
4. Reincarnation (Instrumental)
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You guys may have heard many negative reviews about Ami Suzuki’s latest single. Sadly, as an Ami Suzuki fan myself, I actually agree with these negative comments.

Although I thought that her past singe was “okay,” Reincarnation just definitely and literally “pissed” me off. I don’t know what’s happening at the beginning of the song but some kind of keyboard is played from the first second to the end. It’s a great factor for a dance track but one problem, the way the keyboard was played really got on my nerves. I know I’m not usually so direct on disappointments but after listening to Reincarnation, I was like “what the heck happened Ami?!” Not to mention, her vocals sound more like a scream and the song kind of fell out of place the moment she began yelling.

But I guess that this flop single is pretty much saved by Rub-I-Dub. It’s an okay song but more better off than the A-side. Goodness Avex Trax, why didn’t you just use this track as the A-side instead?

Despite the fact that the cover art actually looks good, I can’t say that the A-side song lives up to its cover. (A beautiful cover art indeed!)

Personal Rating: 2.5/5

Neva Eva

Neva EvaArtist: Hitomi Shimatani
Release Date: June 6, 2007
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. Neva Eva
2. Hakuchuumu
3. Neva Eva (Instrumental)
4. Hakuchuumu (Instrumental)
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I figured that I should really start working on the artists with a large discography so here’s today’s review on a Hitomi Shimatani release!

I think that this was during the time when Hitomi was still exploring some new genres with her music. So Neva Eva pretty much sounds more unique than her past releases since it displays a great selection of background music with all of the guitars playing. At least nothing sounded out of place or awkward in this song so Neva Eva actually made me pretty satisfied.

I also thought that Hakuchuumu was a pretty strong B-side. Even though I greatly preferred the A-side, Hakuchuumu also had some great points. Like when you could hear the really strong brasses playing and supporting Hitomi’s vocals in the background. (Ever since listening to Shoko Nakagawa’s debut album, I’ve been more aware of the background music.)

Personal Rating: 4/5

Sorairo Days

Sorairo DaysArtist: Shoko Nakagawa
Release Date: June 27, 2007
Label: Sony Records
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. Sorairo Days
2. happily ever after
3. Mitsubachi no Sasayaki
4. Sorairo Days (Instrumental)
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It’s looks like Shoko has one different genre per single. First single was trance, second was bubblegum and now, it’s….rock. I’ve got to say that I’m pretty impressed with this change of genre now that she actually has a decent vocal performance. Looks like I won’t have to hurt my ears while listening to the rest of her discography! (…hopefully)

Like I said before, Shoko actually does sing with decent vocals this time. Sorairo Days displays a little bit of Shoko’s true talent but I’m pretty sure that’s no ALL of her talent since I’m definitely certain that hard rock suits her voice. I don’t know, her cute voice and hard rock just doesn’t go together.

Although happily ever after has the kind of shares the same opinion as the A-side, the song sounded much more energetic but I’m still not getting that “passionate” feeling. You know, when an artist has an energetic song, they always put themselves into the song…maybe that’s probably the reason why I think Shoko hasn’t turned on her heat yet.

And just when I was actually going to give this single a 4.5 rating, Mitsubachi no Sasayaki comes in and brings back what was on the first two singles! But even though it still has that very weird girly element, I pretty much thought that this song was “okay.”

Personal Rating: 4/5