Minna Sora no Shita

Minna Sora no ShitaArtist: Ayaka
Release Date: July 8, 2009
Label: EMI Music Japan
Personal Rating: 5/5

1. Minna Sora no Shita
2. Arigatou.
3. Koi Kogarete Mita Yume (Live ver.)
4. Minna Sora no Shita (Instrumental)
5. Arigatou. (Instrumental)
Whoops! I made a mistake on the last time I posted an Ayaka review: this is actually her last single she’ll be releasing before she goes on her hiatus. Pretty cover art, by the way.

I thought that Minna Sora no Shita was really some worth listening to! It sounded very appealing to hear with all of the powerful and minor elements included in the background instrumentals. (Like the strings and the drums.) It’s probably on the same level as the orchestral version of “Ashita e no Sanka” except this one is more new and with deeper vocals. After listening to this song, I don’t think I could stress enough on how graceful Ayaka’s vocals sounded.

After one of the most powerful Ayaka song ever heard, Arigatou. comes next in line but with a more catchy mood. The pacing of the song was very moderate with the vocals going along with the plucking of the lower strings. Listening to this reminded me of some her songs in the “Sing to the Sky” album.

Hope we hear more from you again, Ayaka!

Personal Rating: 5/5


First Message

First MessageArtist: Ayaka
Release Date: November 1, 2006
Label: EMI Music Japan
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. Start to 0 (Love)
2. Real Voice
3. Sha la la
4. Blue Days
5. I believe
6. Stay with me
7. melody
8. Kimi no Power to Otona no Furi
9. Eien no Monogatari
10. Toki wo Modoshite
11. 1・2・3・4
12. Story
13. Rairarai
14. Mikadzuki
15. message
Just when I thought that Start to 0 (Love) was going to be an interlude of some sort, it turns out that the song has a little bit of a acoustic feel but at the same time, it’s a pop song. I thought that this song was a great jump from most of her past singles.

I didn’t exactly think that Ayaka was really as strong as she usually is with Real Voice. I mean, its great that its upbeat but seriously, it’s too plain. What happened to the Ayaka with that really powerful and surprising voice!? I’ll simply say that she didn’t really use the extent of her talent.

Is it just me or that Sha la la sounds so familiar? That’s right, the Live version of this song was featured in the “melody ~Sounds Real~” single. (Which was released a really long time ago!) Anyway the song is pretty upbeat with all of Ayaka’s high pitched vocals and the unique background1a music. Although Ayaka’s voice seems to have a hard time to reach those high notes, this song shows that Ayaka does have the potential to sing in different pitches. (Which is pretty impressive since the song is featured on a debut album.)

Now I think that Blue Days would have been more better off than “Melody.” It may not have been all upbeat like Melody but this is so much better. (In my opinion.) Ayaka may have been looking into the soft and high-pitched side but for some reason, I didn’t really like her vocals in this song.

I believe happens to be Ayaka’s first ever song so, like many introducing J-pop artists, attempts to make a great first impression. And I guess she really did a great job with her first impression. At first many of my friends thought that her voice was pretty deep for a young teenager but that’s the one element that differs her from the other J-pop artists out there. Believe it or not but “I believe” does turn out to be another one of Ayaka’s popular ballads. Like “Why” except this one sounds more emotional and touching. If you watch the PV, you could see that Ayaka attempts to incoporate emotion into the music video but somehow….I thought that she was over reacting a little bit. It’s okay though, it’s the song that counts.

Stay with me is definitely something. While being a very energetic and up beat song, it contains some gospel elements as you could hear fragments of a choir and the tambourine. This is definitely not your average Ayaka song! Let’s hope that she uses a bit more of the gospel element in the future!

melody starts out to be a rather uplifting track in contrast to her debut “I believe.” Although I like this song in a positive way, I still wouldn’t consider it an overly good song. I mean, it’s true that people say that the chorus is very memorable and all but I guess I’m not too impressed with this song…

In contrast to the very long title, Kimi no Power to Otona no Furi is pretty face paced as well as upbeat. (Again…) Now there’s nothing really new with the instrumentals since the major instrument that you could probably hear is the acoustic guitar. I thought that this was a pretty good song but it doesn’t completely contrast with some of the past tracks…

Although Eien no Monogatari has vocals, it’s still considered an interlude due to the incredibly short length. However, Ayaka’s vocals was a total improvement now that she’s beginning to sing more songs in high-pitch.

Foto-ayakaLike some of fellow Ayaka fans state, Toki wo Modoshite sounds more dark even though both her vocals and the instrumentals in the background sound more strong than sorrowful. I pretty much think that it’s the brass in the background that makes it sound different.

Not only that some of the songs in this debut album sound interesting, the titles seems interesting as well. 1・2・3・4 is another “happy” song but it sounds a little bit like the past few songs.

I thought that Story was pretty cool with all of the rock factors displayed throughout the whole song. Ayaka’s vocals have a standing point here but the overall song just sounds a bit typical.

Not sure whether the song is Rairarai or Lailalai…but I could definitely say that it’s also a typical Ayaka song. Nothing else interesting except for the nice sound of the drums and the guitars.

Unlike her past ballad, I believe Ayaka takes her talented voice to the next level with Mikadzuki! After the small disappointment with “Real Voice,” I probably wasn’t expecting her to release a spectacular single like this one! Yes it’s true, Mikazuki does turn out to be a ballad but it’s not just a typical one! It’s nice composed with great versus and a beautiful chorus and it’s like she gave her best with this song!

Although people might think that message is boring since there’s no background music, I thought that it was pretty cool because her vocal performance sounds really powerful. Definitely worth the listen!

Overall, I thought that the album was great but it’s just that some of the songs sounded a bit familiar…but Ayaka has definitely showed all different kinds of elements with this album! Hope she keeps this up in the future!

Personal Rating: 4/5

For Today

For TodayArtist: Ayaka
Release Date: November 14, 2007
Label: EMI Music Japan
Personal Rating: 4.5/5

1. For Today
I usually don’t know about digital singles but I’ve decided to review any digital single from any artists just to get the information out there.

For Today was Ayaka’s first ever digital single which was used for a Pocky Commercial. I thought it was pretty good too so I’m actually glad that they decided to add the track on to “Sing to the Sky.” Anyways, it has more of the rock feel than her pop style but her vocals tend to reach the high notes throughout the song. Although it’s a digital single and wasn’t released in a cd, it’s definitely A-side material.

Personal Rating: 4.5/5

Sing to the Sky

sing-to-the-skyArtist: Ayaka
Release Date: June 25, 2008
Label: EMI Music Japan
Personal Rating: 5/5

2. Ai wo Utaou
3. Sky
4. Jewelry day
5. Good Night Baby
6. For today
7. Why
8. Gold Star
9. Mahoutsukai no Shiwaza
10. Te wo Tsunagou
11. Ai mo Uso mo Shinjitsu
13. Kimi ga Iru Kara
14. Okaeri
15. Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete…
16. WINDING ROAD × Kobukuro
17. I believe (English Ver.)
On a Personal Note:I actually decided to review Ayaka’s “Sing to the Sky” first since I actually listened to this whole album before I even heard of her debut album which was “First Message.” But expect my review on “First Message” to come soon as well!

Unexpectedly, the POWER OF MUSIC was indeed a very powerful song as it begins with a countdown of “1, 2, etc.” The rest of the song was pretty unique since it included a bit of the choir as well as the piano and a few jazz instruments. Overall, I thought that it’s really great as an introductory track since it sets the mood of the next track…

Ai wo Utaou wasn’t a ballad like I had expected it to be but instead, it’s aayaka really great R&B oriented song! I loved the combination of the piano playing along with and upbeat tempo. Really, worth the listen!

Sky is like the main theme song for this album. It’s pretty much like a laid back pop song that has a relaxing mood to it. Although I chorus was pretty powerful, I thought that the rest of the song was just “average.”

Jewelry day turns out to be a ballad that is seemed to have been compared to “I believe” and “Mikazuki.” (Which happen to be nice ballads.) But I think that “Jewelry Day” surpasses both ballads. I thought that it was nice but the tone of her voice sounds a bit sad. It’s true that it may be boring at the beginning but the song sounds so much better near the end. This track is probably one of Ayaka’s strongest songs. (Along with Ayaka’s most fluid vocals.)

Just like “Sky” Good Night Baby didn’t really rule the album either. Even though that it’s really upbeat and has a more energetic mood than the first few tracks, it just didn’t really appeal to me much. It’s probably my least favorite song even though it had a really cool effect on the instrumentals near the end.

They just had to add in Ayaka’s first digital single track, For Today. I thought it was pretty good too so I’m actually glad that they decided to add the track on to this positive album. Anyways, it has more of the rock feel than her pop style but her vocals tend to reach the high notes throughout the song. Although it’s a digital single and wasn’t released in a cd, it’s definitely A-side material.

First of all, Why is the ending theme of the ever popular “Final Fantasy VII – Crisis Core!” I liked how the song sounded more like a ballad compared to the first track. Then there’s also more meaning into the song since “Clap & Laugh” was mostly about happiness and stuff that we’ve already acknowlegded. And better, its not repetitive and there’s no annoying chorus. There’s at least a few changes for every verse! A very beautiful song!

As far as favorites go, I thought that Gold Star one of the most powerful ayaka2tracks that Ayaka has sung. Her voice is greatly supported by the background music and face pacing of the song pretty much suits Ayaka’s singing style.

Cooling down from upbeat and energetic tracks, we slow down into Mahoutsukai no Shiwaza which is mostly an acoustic song but very lovely. Instead of a ballad feel, the piano gives out some sort of a pop mood…except that it’s played on the piano. (Which is one of the most unique factors of this album.) I really love it when a song doesn’t sound awkward and how everything just flows like a quiet river. Definitely a great listen.

Is it just me or has Ayaka’s vocals have been improving lately? (Back then, her vocals were good but they were really weak.) Ayaka totally proves her power in her voice in the Japanese Music industry with Te wo Tsunagou! Although it sounds pretty much like a typical ballad, I would say that I’m a bit wishy-washy about this song. I would simply say that the background sounds pretty plain.

Now Ai mo Uso mo Shinjitsu is also something very new and unique. Instead of doing her usual pop/rock/ballad, Ayaka begins something new with blues. Although I already thought that Ayaka sung in a pretty low tone with “Why,” I guess she could go lower when she sang, “Ai mo uso mo shinjitsu.” It’s a great track overall since it’s pretty uplifting to listen to after listening to the last track!

CLAP & LOVE is a song that literally has a clapping rhythm in it. (Not that I’m saying that its a bad thing!) Ayaka’s voice is pretty low and mature in the song. I mean, if you just look at her pictures, people wouldn’t thin kthat her voice was so low when they hear her music. Anyway, Clap & Love is pretty much a happy song and it has the rhthym fans would like to hear. When I first heard it though, I didn’t exactly like the song. …I guess it grew on me now that I’m a fan of Ayaka.

Just when I thought that I had already chosen all of my favorite tracks from this newly amazing album, the tracklisting just keeps on getting and better! With Kimi ga Iru Kara, the song keeps you on your toes from the very first second to the last since the acoustics sounded really powerful and captivating to listen to. I even had this on repeat for days!

At first, I thought that Okaeri was pretty standard. At first anyways…In the end, I was literally blown off my chair because I guess I was so impressed with this ballad that I really was lost at words for it. Honestly, this isn’t your typical ballad. The beginning of the song gave us a great introduction of the song before it started to build up to be a rather powerful song. The chorus was splendid and the tone of Ayaka’s vocals were really outstanding. Despite the fact that the song did sound a bit European because of the sound of the bagpipes, I think that Ayaka totally nailed it with this song.ayakave1

We finally slow down to Ayaka’s ballad side with Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete… which includes a nice set of piano and strings. Even though I tend to find Japanese Ballads a bit plain, I thought that “Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete…” was a really stand out track and that it has found it’s place in the album. I really like how ballads really become more powerful as the song progresses to the “climax.”

I actually listened to “Anata to” first (which gave me a great impression) so after hearing all about the great compliments about WINDING ROAD, I kind of expected “Anata to” to be a little bit better since everyone states pretty much state the same thing: “‘Anata to’ kicks way more ass than ‘WINDING ROAD.’” So when I finally listened to WINDING ROAD, I would say that I was a little dissappointed. Not that it was soooooo bad or anything, I just thought that the way the song started out wasn’t really that captivating. I know that most of the songs that I like don’t really become my favorite right away but I guess I could say that “WINDING ROAD” was the kind of song that ‘grew’ on me. (It took me about 10 listens to make me like this song.) At least the voices really went together and blended well with the background!

It’s so funny to see J-pop singers attempting to sing in English. (It’s not a bad thing or anything, it’s just interesting since you don’t really know what to expect.) The I believe (English Ver.) sounds a bit different since frequent English speakers would noticed that Ayaka doesn’t really make it understandable to listen to. But I’ve got to admit that she doesn’t do a better job than most artists.

Personal Rating: 5/5

Te o Tsunago / Ai o Utao

ayaka-te_o_tsunago-ai_o_utaoArtist: Ayaka
Release Date: March 5, 2008
Label: EMI music Japan
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. Te wo Tsunagou
2. Ai wo Utaou
3. Mikazuki (LIVE Version)
4. Te wo Tsunagou (Instrumental)
5. Ai wo Utaou (Instrumental)
On a personal note: Lately, I just haven’t been able to review that much since it’s almost the end of the school year and teachers tend to pile up all of these projects on you. (Yes, Three more weeks of school!) And when school ends, I could say that I might me updating more often. I have a workshop to attend during the summer so I can’t promise to update the blog as much as I did during spring break. (Instead of 10 reviews a day, I could say about 3 per day during the summer.) I really can’t believe that I’ve just written my 100th review!!! This is an accomplishment! 😀

Is it just me or has Ayaka’s vocals have been improving lately? (Back then, her vocals were good but they were really weak.) Ayaka totally proves her power in her voice in the Japanese Music industry with Te wo Tsunagou! Although it sounds pretty much like a typical ballad, I would say that I’m a bit wishy-washy about this song. I would simply say that the background sounds pretty plain.

Ai wo Utaou wasn’t a ballad like I had expected it to be but instead, it’s a really great R&B oriented song! I loved the combination of the piano playing along with and upbeat tempo. Really, worth the listen! At least this is also considered an A-side!

Personal Rating: 4/5

Yume wo Mikata ni/Koi Kogarete Mita Yume

yumewomikataniArtist: Ayaka
Release Date: April 22, 2009
Label: EMI Music Japan
Personal Rating: 4/5

1. Yume wo Mikata ni
2. Koi Kogarete Mita Yume
3. Kimi ga Iru Kara – Live ver.(2009/2/13 @ SHIBUYA-AX)
4. Yume wo Mikata ni (Instrumental)
5. Koi Kogarete Mita Yume (Instrumental)
It’s been a while since Ayaka has released a single…and it’ll be a while again when Ayaka takes her break next year due to health problems. (Get well soon, Ayaka!) So before she takes off, she brings us Yume wo Mikata ni which obviously turns out to be a pop track. Some people may not like this track but I’ve gotta say that I’m pretty impressed that Ayaka has tried something new. Besides her recent collaboration single “Anata to,” some of Ayaka’s songs started to become boring and plan but now, she has done a much better job than before! Her newly improved vocal style took me by surprise and the sound of the chorus in the background supported her voice. Great job, Ayaka!

In contrast from the A-side, Koi Kogarete Mita Yume turns out to be a little bit disappointing. To put it bluntly, it’s boring and it’s not really something I would listen from a year from now. Well….it’s not too bad…

Personal Rating: 4/5

Anata to

anatato Artist: Ayaka
Release Date: September 24, 2008
Label: EMI Music Japan
Personal Rating: 5/5

1. Anata to
2. Anata to (Instrumental)
Ever since I’ve been introduced to Ayaka after listening to “Why,” (famous ending from Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core) I’ve been listening and buying more songs by Ayaka. …And I chose one of her ‘featuring’ singles to review of all singles. The thing is, I’ve never reviewed a collaboration single for the past three months so I wanted to review something new. In one of the Utada Hikaru reviews that I wrote, I stated that “At least they did well working together but I wouldn’t really consider this as my “favorite” collaboration song.” (This probably wouldn’t have made any sense if you haven’t read it yet.) Anyway, there are some better collaboration songs then the one that was featured in “Ultra Blue” by Utada Hikaru was what I wanted to say. Besides the fact that I’m purposely making my introductory paragraph long, I would simplay like to state that this is one of Ayaka’s best single, even though it was a collaboration!

After WINDING ROAD, Ayaka and Kokuburo reform once again to bring fans, Anata to. Unlike the first collaboration single, they sing a slow ballad with a piano introduction. (Is it just me or all of the J-pop ballads have a piano introduction?) As for the vocals, it starts with a solo by Kokuburo followed by Ayaka. Nobody would have guessed that Ayaka was the only female singer in this song since her voice seems very powerful compared to the two male singers. I would just bluntly say that the voices combined together really does sound nice and the lyrics totally suit the whole meaning of the song. (Even the PV makes sense.) This is definately on my list of favorite singles!
Personal Rating: 5/5