Fairyland

FairylandArtist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Release Date: August 3, 2005
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 4.5/5

1. Fairyland (Original mix)
2. alterna (Original mix)
3. STEP you (DJ TAKI-SHIT More Step Up Remix)
4. Fairyland (Bright Field mix)
5. Fairyland (Original mix Instrumental)
6. alterna (Original mix Instrumental)
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Wow. Rumors state that the PV for “Fairyland” is one of the most expensive music videos.

To be honest, the Fairyland (Original mix) was one of the first Ayu songs that I’ve listened to. (Aside from Dearest and Endless Sorrow.) The begining is a bit quiet with fast beats but with Ayu singing with a little distortion. Soon, the instrumentals explode into a Summer-pop oriented song, returning Ayu’s voice back to normal and singing at loud volume. The development of the chorus really made the song memorable but with a mixture of happiness and sadness. (You’ll understand when you watch the PV.) Probably one of my favorite Ayu songs.

The alterna (Original mix) has a similar opening but with a more agressive feel while singing the “heys.” The only downside of the song is that verses are the majority of the arrangement and doesn’t show much of a chorus builder.

Personal Rating: 4.5/5

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talkin’ 2 myself

talkin 2 myselfArtist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Release Date: September 19, 2007
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. talkin’ 2 myself (Original mix)
2. decision (Original mix)
3. fated (Orchestra version)
4. talkin’ 2 myself (Original mix Instrumental)
5. decision (Original mix Instrumental)
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I think that this was the single when Ayu began to add drastic changes to her style. (From pop to hardcore electronica)

The talkin’ 2 myself (Original mix) had a pretty cool introduction with all of the quick guitar instrumenals being played and a quick jump into the song. Ayu’s vocals take on the lower register but then it suits the mood of the song with all of the electricity flowing within the song. Perrsonally, I think it totally beats her last release, glitter/fated.

decision (Original mix) also jumps into the fast and aggressive mood of the song since the guitars still blares and Ayu still sings in a lower pitch. The genre still falls into the same category as talkin’ 2 myself but Ayu seems to sing with even more power here. (Possibly even more electrifying than the A-side?)

The fated (Orchestra version) sounded much more serene and gave off a graceful touch to Ayu’s style. Definitely worth a listen.

Personal Rating: 4/5

Free & Easy

Free & EasyArtist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Release Date: April 24, 2002
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 5/5

1. Free & Easy
2. Naturally (Dolly remix)
3. Still Alone (Warp Brothers Extended Mix)
4. Free & Easy (Instrumental)
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Just to note, Free & Easy came out AFTER I am… so Naturally and Still Alone are considered older tracks on the single. (I still have to review the album, though. At least Ayu does not release any re-cut singles!) Free & Easy is the only original song as well as the A-side.

Free & Easy has a very serene and long introduction that makes the song stand out compared to her other phenomenal songs. I loved the parts when Ayu’s vocals would come out strong and loud and then gradually go back soft and quiet. Her vocals suited the arrangement really well and gave off a feeling different from her past releases.

Personal Rating: 5/5

STEP you/is this LOVE?

STEP youArtist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Release Date: April 20, 2005
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 4.5/5

1. STEP you (Original Mix)
2. is this LOVE? (Original Mix)
3. STEP you (Instrumental)
4. is this LOVE? (Instrumental)
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I just love the way the STEP you (Original Mix) sounds so addicting! There’s just something about it that makes me want to sing the song over and over again! Is it the synch in the background, the upbeat-ness or the ad-libbing that makes it so special? Anyways, this is totally “in” for Ayu’s style!

However, is this LOVE? (Original Mix) which jsut happens to be the second A-side beats the STEP you (Original Mix) by a landslide! Her vocals really blends in with the arrangement and the aggressiveness of the instrumentals makes the song more electrifying than STEP you!

Personal Rating: 4.5/5

Gentle Words

Gentle WordsArtist: Kumi Koda
Release Date: December 10, 2003
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. Gentle Words
2. Without Your Love
3. Saigo no ame
4. Gentle Words (instrumental)
5. Without Your Love (instrumental)
6. Saigo no ame (instrumental)
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Gentle Words is very different regarding style and genre. Since she usually goes for the J-pop and laid back ballads, this new urban arrangement was something interesting. Personally, I’m not really into urban music but at least Kuu’s vocals sounded very presentable.

Without Your Love is another Urban oriented track, this time being R&B. It seems that Kuu is really improving her English now that the lyrics sound very pronunciated and clear. Like I said, Urban is not really my intake in the music department but it made a great B-side to accompany the A-side.

Saigo no ame is your typical laid-back track. In contrast with Gentle Words and Without Your Love, Kuu’s vocals actually “reaches” me. But it’s definitely B-side material.

Personal Rating: 4/5

COME WITH ME

COME WITH MEArtist: Kumi Koda
Release Date: August 23, 2003
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 4.5/5

1. COME WITH ME (Original Mix)
2. real Emotion (English Version)
3. 1000 Words (English Version)
4. real Emotion (DJ MSK Remix)
5. 1000 Words (DJ 19 Remix)
6. COME WITH ME (Instrumental)
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Sometimes, I think that Kumi Koda wears that wackiest and exposing clothes…but that’s called “marketing,” right?

COME WITH ME (Original Mix) just happens to be the only original song on the single since the B-sides are Kuu’s versions of Real Emotion and 1000 Words. This time, Kuu does enter into the song with stronger vocals (which is a huge plus) and the tropical (or something like that) really pumps up the awesomeness of the song.

The real Emotion (English Version) and the 1000 Words (English Version) were actually Kuu’s English versions. Too bad it wasn’t featured in the America release of Final Fantasy X-2 since her English was actually okay here. (I thought that JADE from sweetbox did a good job with Real Emotion but her voice sounded awkward in 1000 Words)

Personal Rating: 4.5/5

m・a・z・e

mazeArtist: Kumi Koda
Release Date: December 11, 2002
Label: Avex Trax
Personal Rating: 3.5/5

1. m・a・z・e
2. one feat. LISA
3. m・a・z・e (L12 Remix)
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Finally, a cover art that actually matches the theme of the A-side: outer space!

In m・a・z・e I have to admit that the first few seconds of the song sounded really weird but at least we know that it’s an R&B track early in the song. Kuu still has okay vocals but another problem remains: she literally screams at the recorder during the chorus. At least the instrumenals still reigns superior.

I think LISA is the singer that sang for one of the Gundam Seed Destiny songs (Tears). Correct me if I’m wrong though. Anyways, one feat. LISA sing in a pretty aggressive arrangement and both of their vocals could really synch with each other but for some reason, I prefer LISA’s vocals over Kuu.

Personal Rating: 3.5/5