Sunday, February 10, 2008

[single] Hirahara Ayaka: Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta

Artist: Hirahara Ayaka
Single: 星つむぎの歌 (Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta)
Released: 2008/01/23

1. 星つむぎの歌 (Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta): This is a very beautiful song. The intro is just lovely, and I love the instrumentation. Her voice is flawless, and they way she enunciates when she sings gives the song a beautiful effect. There is a good balance between the instrumentation and her vocals, so we can really her how beautiful her voice is. The slow tempo of this song makes it very easy to listen to and enjoy.

2. 今・ここ・私 (Ima.Koko.Watashi): No matter what kind of song, Hirahara Ayaka really gives us a great performance. This song is medium paced and upbeat with some electric guitar, and her vocals are still awesome. This just goes to show her versatility with different types of music.

Rating: 8/10

I really love Hirahara Ayaka's voice. Her voice is very beautiful and I think she is very talented. I always look forward to her singles because I want to hear more of her voice! This single is very good single from her, as her vocals are flawless, the songs are beautiful, and I just really enjoy listening to them. I can't wait more new songs from her!

(image credit to we to U)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

[single] SunMin: Another Wish

Artist: SunMin
Single: Another Wish
Released: 2008/01/23
Label: Victor Entertainment

1. Another Wish: This is a lovely R&B ballad. I just love SunMin's voice in this type of song, I think it's perfect for her smoky voice. I love the R&B beat of this song. It's pretty catchy, and the melody and verses flow smoothly. Her vocals are very well done here, and this song lets her display her vocal skills. This song really works well with her voice, and it's a enjoyable song to listen to.

2. Still: The second track on this single is also a ballad. This is also an R&B ballad, yet it feels different from the title track. The melody flows smoothly and really complements her voice. I love how she is able to show the range and versatility of her voice. SunMin's vocals in this song is top notch, and this song really shows how well her voice works with R&B songs.

Rating: 8/10

I love these two R&B songs that SunMin has presented for this single. She has a wonderful smoky voice, and it's just perfect for R&B ballads. These two songs are very well done, and I think they are enjoyable and catchy. SunMin is incredibly talented and has such a wonderful voice that I can't believe how underrated she is in the Japanese music industry. I think her record lable should let her release more songs!

(image credit to Asian Load)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

[single] DBSK: Purple Line

Purple Line (SINGLE + DVD)

Artist: DBSK
Single: Purple Line
Released: 2008/01/16
Label: Avex Trax/Rhythm Zone

1. Purple Line: This is a strong R&B-styled dance song, with a strong beat and percussion background. Their vocals are done very well to fit the tone of the song. I really love the overall feel of this song. It's a song that I imagine would be played at a club, because I feel that it's a great song to get people to dance to.

Rating: 8/10

Awesome single from DBSK. Purple Line sound more like something they would release in Korea, but I love this kind of style from them. I think it sounds different than their previous Japanese releases, but I'm impressed that they are able to have different types of songs and do well in it. I don't much care for the remixes of the other two songs, but Purple Line is awesome.

(image credit to Yesasia)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

[single] Yuna Ito X Celine Dion : Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~

Artist: Yuna Ito X Celine Dion
Single: あなたがいる限り (Anata ga Iru Kagiri) ~A World to Believe In~
Released: 2008/01/16
Label: Sony Records

1. あなたがいる限り (Anata ga Iru Kagiri) ~A World to Believe In~: This is the main version of the song, which is the one that is featured in the PV. It's a powerful ballad that Yuna Ito and Celine Dion really shines in. In this version, it seems less like a duet and more like a song that features Celine Dion. Celine Dion does sing about half the song, but I think that Yuna Ito really shines here, especially towards the end of the song with her strong and clear vocals. With Celine Dion backing Yuna Ito up during the chorus, the vocals are really strong and top notch, and their voices blended surprisingly well.

2. あなたがいる限り (Anata ga Iru Kagiri) ~A World to Believe In~ (U.S.A. mix): In this version of the song, the background instrumentals are not as full and prominent, so Yuna Ito and Celine Dion's vocals are the main focus here. This version may not be as grand sounding as the main version with it's full background instrumentals, but I think it does a good job at making their vocals the main focus, which is, after all, both of their strong points.

3. あなたがいる限り (Anata ga Iru Kagiri) ~A World to Believe In~ (Yuna Ito solo version): This is Yuna Ito's solo version of the song and it is all in Japanese. It includes a whole new verse and bridge. Without Celine Dion to back her up, the chorus may seem a bit weaker when compared to the two other versions, but that doesn't detract from the quality of the song. I think Yuna Ito did a great job holding up the song on her own. Her vocals are simply amazing in this version.

Rating: 10/10

I am in love with this single. Whatever my expectations were, this single went above and beyond it. This is probably one of the best collaborations I've seen with a Jpop artist. Yuna Ito has always had fabulous ballads, and this is no exception. All three version of the song are amazing, and it's very hard to pick a favorite. This was certainly a successful collaboration, and I'm glad we get to have a wonderful single from both of them.

(image credit to wikipedia)

Monday, January 14, 2008

[album] Da Mouth: Da Mouth

Artist: 大嘴巴 (Da Mouth)
Album: 大嘴巴 (Da Mouth)
Released: 2007/11/16
Label: Universal Music

1. The Starting 4: This is an upbeat introduction track that introduces the band. I think this track is a great start to the album, because it not only introduces the members of the band, but it also sets the tone for the rest of their album.

*2. Kao Guo Lai / 靠過來: This is such a great song to dance to. There is a lot of rapping in this song, but everything fits together with the awesome beat and rhythm. I liked this song at my first listen, and I still like it.

3. Get You Back: I love the beat of this song! It's a song with an RnB feel to it, and I really like the instruments that they play in the background. The lyrics to the rapping part sounds a bit silly, but otherwise, a pretty good song.

*4. Jie Guo Lie / 結果咧 Intro: An intro to the next song. I don't know why a song needs an intro, because they could have just added it to the beginning of the song. But it's pretty short, and it goes right into the song.

*5. Jie Guo Lie / 結果咧: I love this song. It may have been overplayed, but I still love it. This was one of the first songs I heard from them. It has a catchy phrase, it has a good beat, and it's just so funky and upbeat. This whole song is awesome, from the rapping, the vocals, the beat, and the melody. Even after listening to this song a million and one times, I don't think I'll get sick of it anytime soon.

6. Step On The Beat: Another song that I think follows the funky tone that Da Mouth has set for their album. At first it may not be as catchy as 結果咧 (Jie Guo Lie), but after a few listens, I've grown to like this song. There's just something about the melody that really appeals to me, and I think the rapping is done really well.

*7. Wo Yuan Yi / 我願意: This song has a smoother sound that previous tracks on their album. It's also a slower song, but I think the melody and beat of this song is awesome. I really like the instrumental in the background. I think that's what stands out in this song.

8. Wo Jiu Shi Xi Huan Ni / 我就是喜歡你: When I first heard this song, I thought it was a bit of a departure from their previous songs. It's a bit more pop-ish compared to the previous tracks, and this song really could belong on a boy band's album. My favorite part in this song is the short instrumental in the middle of this song.

9. Mr. Cool Boy: This song starts out with a loud and strong beat. It's a mostly instrumental strong save for the bit of Japanese voice-over at the beginning. I guess this is a song for the DJ Zhong Hua to shine, but too bad it's a bit short.

10. Da Zui Ba / 大嘴巴: This song has a funky beat, and the chorus is pretty catchy. Again, I really like the beat of this song, and the rapping is also pretty well done. I think the chorus the the standout of this song, but I'm also liking the intro of the song.

*11. 119: This song is one of the first songs I first heard from them. I think it may also be overplayed, like 結果咧 (Jie Guo Lie), but the reason for that is because it's so catchy. It's no doubt that the chorus will stay on your mind after listening to this song. I love the beat of this song, it's funky and very well done. I also like the vocals here. I simply can't stop listening to this song!

12. Wu Ke Qu Dai / 無可取代: This song is a nice change from all the faster and more upbeat songs. It's a slow song, and really showcases the vocals of the two main singers. My favorite part would be the last part of the song, where you can hear the two voices together.

*13. Huai Qiu / 懷秋: This is another slow song, and I think the voices of the vocalist really shine in this song. They also make use of good background melody that really complements the vocalists' voices. It's just a really nice song to listen to as well.

*Stephanie's pick for must-hear songs

Rating: 8/10

Da Mouth's first album is a very well made album. I think they've got a really good combination of funky songs that is really fitting with their image, and they've balanced it out with a few slower songs. I am very, very impressed with this album. I think they can really bring something new and different into the Taiwanese and cpop music business. However, I think that their voices are only about average, but this is something which they could improve in time. They also know how to use their voices well in their songs. Also, Aisa's Mandarin really has an accent that can be a bit hard to understand at times, but I think she has really improved on it a lot. They've really made an awesome first album.

(image credit to Yesasia)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

[album] SM Town 2007 Winter: Only Love

Artist: SM Town 2007 Winter
Album: Only Love
Released: 2007/12/07
Label: SM Entertainment

1. 사랑 하나죠 (ONLY LOVE) - SM TOWN: For their title song, I expected SM Town's typical but catchy winter songs, but this was a nice surprise. I guess they wanted a change from their usually fast-paced winter songs, so they went with something with a slower pace. This is a nice song, but I have to say that it's not as catchy as their previous winter songs. However, after a few listens, I think that I've really grown to like this song.

2. 12월 27일 (On DECEMBER 27th) - BoA: I think BoA usually has awesome winter ballads, and this song is not an exception. It might not be Meri Kuri or Winter Love, but I think it's a pretty good song.

3. Evergreen - DBSK: I really like the intro of this song and I think they did a great job with the instruments that they used. They have great vocals here, but I have to say this song doesn't really stand out that much to me. It's a nice song, but I think it's easily forgettable, though it might change with a few more listens.

4. 첫눈이 와 (First Snow) - Super Junior: From the first listen, this song reminds me a bit of the typical song SM Town releases for their winter album. It's fast paced, catchy, cheerful, and has a really nice melody. However, I wished Super Junior could have done something a bit different, as I've often heard this kind of song before.

*5. We Wish You A Merry Christmas & Feliz Navidad - CSJH: One word: AWESOME. Their a cappella version of We Wish You A Merry Christmas is just fantastic. They're just so good at singing a cappella, and this song really shows their talents. Feliz Navidad is a good follow up, and their vocals are still top notch here, but to me, We Wish You A Merry Christmas really overshadows it, and I wished it was a bit longer!

*6. Winter Wonderland - Kangta: I may be biased when I say this, but Kangta can do no wrong in my eyes. I love, love, love his version of Winter Wonderland. It's a bit jazzy, and I think it really fits with his voice. I think he really did a great job with this song, and it really puts me in a good mood.

7. Love Melody - Girls' Generation: Like Super Junior's song, this song also reminds me a bit like SM Town's usual winter songs. Also, this song is very much a Girls' Generation-kind of song. I love these girls, but I would love to see them trying out something new. It's a catchy and cheerful song, but I think it's a bit too typical.

*8. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Hyun Jin: This is one of my favorite Christmas song, and Hyun Jin sang it so beautifully. She has such a lovely and rich voice which is perfect for this song. I really fell in love with her voice in this song, and she should release more songs!

9. 눈꽃이 날리면 (When snow scatters…) - Choo Ka Yul: I'm not too familiar with this artist, except for the fact that he appears in SM Town compilation albums every year. I would say this a kind of easy-listening song, and I would think it appeals more to adults, but because it has this calming and relaxing feeling, this song is something that everyone can enjoy.

*10. Oh Holy Night - Zhang Liyin: Simply beautiful. She still sings in Korean with bit of a Chinese accent, but I think that's easily overlooked. I think this song is perfect for her strong and delicate voice. The chorus is just breathtaking. She really shines in this song, and I can't help but fall in love with her voice again.

*11. 유년의 크리스마스 (Christmas of Childhood) - Song Kwang Shik: This is an instrumental, and it's very fitting with the winter and Christmas season. The arrangement of this song is very lovely, and I can feel a lot of emotion from this instrumental. Sometimes you don't need words, and this song really touches my heart.

12. [Bonus Track] 여행기 (TRAVELING) - DBSK: They've released this song before, and I really like it. I like their voices here, and this song is just really nice and pretty catchy.

*Stephanie's pick for must-hear songs

Rating: 8/10

I think the songs that really stand out in this album are the traditional Christmas songs. I guess you can't go wrong with the original Christmas carols. They've really done a good job singing their own versions of the traditional Christmas songs, and I have to say those are my favorite songs on this album. I think they've done a good job in picking which song goes well with which artist. And the title song is a nice change of style from their previous albums. Overall, I think this album is worth it for the traditional Christmas songs. I can't help to keep repeating that they really, really did great job singing these original Christmas songs.

(image credit to bww2 forums)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

[single] BoA: Lose Your Mind

Lose Your Mind feat. Yutaka Furukawa from Doping Panda (SINGLE + DVD)

Lose Your Mind feat. Yutaka Furukawa from Doping Panda

Artist: BoA
Single: Lose Your Mind (feat. Yutaka Furukawa from DOPING PANDA)
Released: 2007/12/1
Label: Avex Trax

1. Lose Your Mind: This is a great dance song with a strong beat and awesome guitar riffs. I'm glad to see BoA go back to her powerful dance moves with this song. Her vocals are excellent in this song as well. Some may find that the song is a bit repetitive, but I think that's what makes is catchy.

2. Smile Again: This is the B-side of this single, and it's a beautiful ballad. This song shows BoA's vocal skills in singing ballads. Sometimes I wonder why this wasn't released as the title track, as BoA has awesome winter ballads, and this would be perfect for the season. But I'm glad that this song was included, because it really is a gorgeous ballad.

Rating: 9/10

This new single from BoA is awesome in my opinion. Both of the songs are really the type of songs that show BoA at her best, and her vocals are really excellent in both of them. A hot dance song and a beautiful ballad, I think it's a great combination.

(image credit to Wikipedia)