Monday, July 19, 2010

J-pop review- Akina Nakamori - Recollection Super Best

Akina Nakamori was the most popular singer in Japan in the 1980s. Her style includes pop, jazz, ballad, latin, enka, samba and every other type of music imaginable. Her lyrics are usually very dark and melancholic. Her voice is considered to be one of the most powerful in Japan and in the poll for the best voice, she ranked higher than Seiko Matsuda.

Recollection Super Best is her best album which includes all her hit singles in two discs. Disc One is called The Ardent side and includes more upbeat and ardent songs. Disc 2 is the Exotic side and contains everything from Spanish to Latin and Arabian.

If you've never given Akina Nakamori a try, I suggest you do. Her voice is very unique. The songs sound a bit outdated in the beginning but gradually you will grow to like them so much that you will not feel like listening to anything else. All her songs have great replay value. Here is a video of her very famous song (Shojo A). She sings this as a duet with Ayumi Hamasaki (by the way, Hamasaki has stated Nakamori as one of her favorite singers)

I will start with Disc 1- The Ardent side. This is going to be a long post because there are two discs and 28 songs to review.

1. SLOW MOTION- Is the first track of Ardent side disc 1. It is a midtempo track with wonderful vocals and a bittersweet atmosphere. A sitar plays in the intro. Even though the song is simple, you will grow to love it because of the calm feeling it given while listening. A top class debut single.

2. Shojo A- Was Akina's most controversial single, nearly banned for its risque lyrics. As a track, it will capture your attention as soon as it gets to the chorus. I suggest keeping the volume high since Akina's voice is barely heard in the beginning. This is the problem with most tracks. She sounds quite well in the live, but in the CD I can barely hear her. It is a lively carnival like tune with a totally addictive chorus. It sounds very 80s, though.

3.Second love- Akina's highest selling single which sold almost a million. It is a ballad with a calming flute intro. Nothing spectacular. It is just a better than average ballad.
Rating- 4.2

4.1/2 no shinwa- This is another upbeat disco like track with a wailing guitar intro.Sounds like most of her upbeat songs.But it is pretty good. I liked it.

5. Yuuyake- A not-so-good ballad and Akina's voice sounds weak too. Still, its placement is good so it flows so seamlessly into the next that you would not have remembered hearing a song.

6.Kinku- Another wonderful upbeat track. Akina does what she excels at most- disco like powerful danceable tracks. Kinku is much like 1/2 no Shinwa minus the guitar intro.

7.Jukkai- It was Akina's megahit single in 1984 and it is not hard to see why. Jukkai is a danceable track with a powerful chorus and good flow. Akina sings it with much emotion. Wonderful songwriting.

8. Kazari Janai no yo Namida wa- In case you are wondering what this means, it means Tears are no Decoration. It is considered one of Akina's signature songs along with Desire ~Jonetsu~. It is also believed to be the most technically demanding song in Japan. The verses are in the octave of a man and very fast. Akina pulls it off brilliantly. A track which showcases Akina's vocal abilities. Fukuyama Masaharu covered it in his Golden Oldies album.

9.Desire ~Jonetsu~- You will get addicted to this track! It is Akina's signature song because of the unique live performances she gave for this song. You must watch it on Youtube. The song has many Japanese elements like shamisen. It is a Japanese sounding upbeat disco track. Certainly unique! You must hear it to know what it sounds like. It is easy to fall in love with this song. My only complaint is that Akina can't be heard during the verses.

10. LIAR- A very emotional and beautifully executed ballad. Akina sang this for her boyfriend Masahiko Kondo when their relationship wasn't going very well.

11.Dear Friend- This was Akina's comeback single after she was found committing suicide in her boyfriend Masahiko Kondo's apartment because of their ending relationship and excessive pressure from tabloids. She apologized to the public after the incident and released this single. It is her most positive single to date.The song was nothing too great. Akina should stick to sad songs.

12.Mizu ni Sashita Hana- A most beautiful and calming ballad. This song is a masterpiece, but if you don't increase the volume, you will never hear this because the whole track is very soft.

13.Futari Shizuka- A nice disco song.

14.????- I really don't know the name of this track, but it is pretty mediocre.

Disc 2- Exotic side

1.KITA WING- Is the first song of the exotic side.The song means North Wing and has a mysterious atmosphere. I feel like I am on a nightflight when I listen to this song. It is a bridge between upbeat and mellow and sounds very polished.

2.???- I don't know the name of this song and in the booklet,I don't recognize its single cover. A repetitive and boring song and a huge disappointment coming from Akina.

3. Meu Amor E- As the title suggests, it is a Spanish sounding song with great Latin beats. I just wish the tempo would have been a little faster in the chorus. Otherwise, the song is wonderful.

4. Akai Tori Nigeta- It has the same tune of Meu Amor E and was a re-release with different lyrics much like Koda Kumi's Yume no Uta/Futari De.

5.Sand Beige ~Sabaku e~- An exotic Arabian into begins Sand Beige. This song is mid-tempo and gives the feeling that one in travelling in the desert. It grew on me a lot. Truly exotic.

6.SOLITUDE- The intro of SOLITUDE and the outro of SAND BEIGE blend so flawlessly into each other that you feel like you are listening to the same track. SOLITUDE had no chorus but even so, it does not sound boring or repetitive.

7.Gypsy Queen- Another Arabian sounding track. But not as good as SAND BEIGE.

8. Fin-It starts out sounding like a typical Akina dance song but it is actually a ballad. The translation of the lyrics is very deep and poetic.

9.TANGO NOIR- Another Spanish track but in TANGO NOIR, the spanish element is not so pronounced. Rather, it is very subtle. The chorus is good but the rest of the song is boring.

10.BLONDE- The instrumental intro is good and so is the verse but the chorus sounds too generic to be liked. A weak track.

11.Nanpasen- An emotionally draining ballad. That is what it was described as in Japan when this song was released. It sounds like the aftermath of a war in sea. The atmosphere is like one is on a boat, with mist all around. Akina sings this song with as much emotion as possible and especially in the chorus. Nanpasen means Shipwreck and despite the melancholic meaning of this song, it is truly a masterpiece lyrically.

12.AL-MAUJ- It is either Arabian or Russian. Arabian, I would say, guessing from the cover. It sounds both though. It is quite similar to SAND BEIGE but not as good.

13.TATTOO- A spanish song which start off with a mind-blowing verse and lots of catchy back-singers singing get up. But the chorus was so totally out of sync with the rest of the song, that it ruined the song.

14.I MISSED THE SHOCK- It is the last track. A spectacular track with many Russian elements. A wonderful way to end such an outstanding album.

I have to say one thing- the songwriting and arrangement in this album are outstanding. Every track sounds like a masterpiece. Akina's voice is inaudible and sounds weak in many parts, but by the chorus, she is back to her powerful voice.

A very unique album to add to your collection. You can listen to the songs on youtube to see whether they are your type or not.

But this album is definately worth its cost.

Excellent songwriting
Creative arrangements
Good placing of tracks and flow

Akina's voice which is inaudible sometimes. I don't know whether this is teh fault of Akina or the production staff.
Might sound outdated to some
Most tracks in one CD are similar so might sound repetitive. But I guess that problem is there for all singers who sing one type of songs.


  1. Good review, except for this:

    "Meu Amor E- As the title suggests, it is a Spanish sounding song with great Latin beats. I just wish the tempo would have been a little faster in the chorus. Otherwise, the song is wonderful."

    Uh, the song is actually named "Meu Amor É", which is portuguese for "My Love Is". It's not supposed to have a spanish sound at all, but be inspired by samba instead, which is a brazilian genre. The song is about falling in love in Brazil, particularly during their Carnaval festivities. I know it's hip to be ignorant about portuguese being a different language, but really, it only looks bad on you. And by the way, portuguese comes from Portugal; Brazil was a former colony. There's also a remix of "Meu Amor É" in Akina's D404ME album — the instrumental in that one is even more obviously samba-inspired, making it my favorite version overall. Check it out, if you will.

  2. great akina..the best jpop singer for me

  3. "Meu amor é... Mi Amore(in katakana)" is totally inspired in Brazil, if you listen "meu amor é...(special version") that appears in D404ME thats very explicit the love for Brazil in that music.