Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jpop review- Ai Otsuka- Ai am best

Ai am Best is Ai Otsuka's first compliation containing all of her hit single tracks. It contains her highest selling single Sakuranbo, her second highest selling Planetarium and third highest selling Smily/bidama.

"Ai am BEST" is Otsuka Ai's first compilation album. The title is a play on her first name, Ai, and the English word I. The album is a collection of Otsuka's first ten singles plus the airplay single for her LOVE COOK album, Cherish. LOVE MUSiC was used as an airplay single to promote this album. The DVD contains the music videos for all of the CD tracks. The CD only version, of the album, was released months later, in a limited low-price edition and a regular price edition. The album contains two hidden features. There is a secret track at the end of the the CD: tracks 14 through 98 are silent and are about 5 seconds each. Track 99 contains a previously unreleased song, BABASHI no Theme. The DVD contains a hidden music video for the same song, however it needs a code to unlock it. With your DVD remote arrow buttons, press "UP" 9 times, then press "RIGHT" 9 times, then press "DOWN" 9 times, then press "LEFT" 9 times and finally press "ENTER" and the hidden clip will be revealed, "BEST OF BABASHI". This video was filmed at the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park.

It is certified Triple Platinum for the shipment of 750,000 albums.

1.Momo no hanabira- This was Ai's debut single. She considers it one of her best songs. Lots of 'yura yura' going on in the song. The instrumentals are refrshing like a forest scene. There's some shamisen too. Not a bad track but sounds more like an album track than a single track.

2.Sakuranbo- Her super hit single. It was a good uptempo song but she has better ones. I found it good but nothing spectacular.

3.Amaenbo- A very good ballad with nice arrangement. Ai's first ballad so, she sings it with lots of emotion. The ending guiatrs were a little out of place but it was good too.

4.Happy days- At first, this one sounded like pure noise but later I got used to it. She could've spared the microphone. The chorus builds up well.

5.Kingyo Hanabi- One of the first tracks with Planetarium and Cherish that I heard from Ai. Compared to its preceeding and following tracks, it is mellow and hardly audible. A nice ballad but it has lost value ever since the first listen in my ears.

6.Daisuki da yo- This one stands out more than Kingyo hanabi but I didn't like it very much. Two ballads together was not a very good idea. It sounds generic. Ai sings it well.

7.Kuroge Wagyu Joshio Tan Yaki 680 yen- The PV was unique but the song was another average pop song. A little better with the added shamisens.

8.Cherish- This one is actually and album track from Love Cook, her highest selling album. I love how the chorus picks up. The PV is nice too. It was featured in a NANA tribute album.

9.Smily- Some people hate it but I love it. It is a much, much better version of Happy days without that annoying microphone and jamming guitars. It is Ai Otsuka showcasing her 'kawaii' side. She did a wonderful live of this on her anniversary tour.

10.Biidama- It means marbles in english. Ai looked cute in the PV but the song was pretty average. The instrumental was good. The chorus was not very catchy and it sounded like another average pop song.

11.Neko ni fuusen- Ai's song titles just keep getting wierder. This one means 'Cats and Balloons'. When I think of the title I can only imagine a cat piercing a balloon with its claws but the PV shows cats flying on balloons. The song is an acoustic pop song. The chorus is nice. The lyrics were good.

12.Planetarium- If this song sounds similar, it is because the chorus is like 'Suteki Da ne', the theme of one of the Final Fantasy games. It was a tribute to Rikki, the singer of Suteki Da ne. Ai sings better than Rikki and the shrill violins are missing making the song much more pleasant. One of her best ballads to date. This single too fails to shine in the album despite inferior tracks surrounding it.

13.Love Music- A pop song with a nice chorus. It didn't catch my attention. A pleasant song.

Babashi no theme- This is track 99. Tracks 17-98 have 3 seconds duration and are silent. This is pathetic. Please stop the album at Love Music. Ai yells 'babashi' along with some men for one minute. Not in the least catchy. It is a joke.

Overall, this was one of Ai's best albums and the first I tried from her. It is much better than her studio albums (maybe not Love Cook since it sold more). One shortcoming was that Ai's voice sounds the same in all the songs. That's one of the reasons why the good songs don't shine in this album. She lacks enough emotion and power in some songs while she sings some not-so-good songs with amazing vocal technique.

Ai Otsuka is a unique artist with bubbing creativity and wonderful composition skills. Her quality has been degrading recently. You must try out her earlier albums or this best before judging her based on her present day releases which are terrible. I hope Ai regains her ispiration and composes wonderful tracks like those in this album.

Overall- 4.4/5


Ai's voice


Good songs don't shine
Might sound repetitive after some listens

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