It's been a long time since anything about j-pop has appeared on Review Carnival. Here is a special post featuring the songs I think are the best power ballads in j-pop history. Of course, I have not listened to every single power ballad, so if you like any song, please suggest it to me. These are in no particular order of preference.
1. Everything bu MISIA- MISIA has one of the most powerful voices in the j-pop industry and Everything is her major hit. It sold more than 1 million copies when it was released. It is a ballad with a wintry feel and MISIA's powerful voice and belting carry it our perfectly. No one could have sung this song better.
2. HEAVEN by Ayumi Hamasaki- Ayumi has produced many power ballads before and after this but I think Heaven is a unique song. It is soothing, beautiful and powerful at the same time. It's lyrics are also very deep and meaningful. Ayumi manages to sound relaxed and powerful at the same time, giving this song an edge over her other power ballads. Other great power ballads by her are Together When, Song for XX and Wishing (an album track on her first album).
5. Be Alive by Yuki Koyanagi- No power ballads list would be complete without this one. This song is pure power and nothing else. Yuki's voice doesn't falter even for a single instant and despite the heavy screaming and belting, the song sounds pleasent enough. REMAIN is also a ballad worth listening to.
6. LIAR and Nanpasen by Akina Nakamori- The most depressing and deep song of the 80s, it was widely praised and cemented Akina's status as of the most powerful singers in the 80s (Nanpasen). It is very different from the ballads produced these days, but once you listen to it, you will fall in love with it. LIAR makes you fell sad and almost cry due to its powerful emotion. Akina wrote this when her boyfriend Masahiko Kando cheated on her (I guess it was this one). Akina also has sung other ballads like Mizu ni Sashita Hana, Days and Second Love.
Rating-5 and 4.8
7. Cosmos by Momoe Yamaguchi- I have probably mentioned many times that Momoe is one of my favorite singers. Her voice is incomparable to anyone else. Cosmos is her best ballad. It sounds very modern for the 70s. What sets Momoe's voice apart from other singers is not raw power but pure emotion. You can hear feeling in every word. A masterpiece. It requires a few listens to appreciate, though
8. Anata ni Aitakute by Seiko Matsuda- Seiko's self-penned ballad and also her biggest hit, Anata ni Aitakute sounds like a pure love ballad due to Seiko's cute sounding powerful voice.
9. I believe by Ayaka- We all know how great Ayaka's voice is. I believe is a ballad- ayaka's debut single. I know many people think Mikazuki and Jewlery Day were more powerful but I believe's dark atmosphere and arrangement featuring heavy strings has made me like this song more. It's lyrics are also very inspiring. She looks so cute on the cover!
10. Chikai by Ayaka Hirahara- One Ayaka after another! Ayaka Hirahara's voice is more airy and sounds a bit (a bit) operatic. That does not mean it's high pitched or anything. Her way of saying words is a bit operatic sounding. Chikai starts off slow and then explodes in the chorus. Jupiter is also a wonderful power ballad by her. Most of her songs are ballads, so if you love ballads as much as I do, try out her songs.
11. Rose ~Melody in the Sky~ by Mai Kuraki- This is an album track on her second album. It is completely in english, but very different from Mai's other ballads. It has very soft background instrumentation so Mai's voice has a chance to display it's potential.
12. First Love and Eternally by Utada Hikaru- First Love is probably the most listened to song in Utada's discography. It is a song that has no equals. It MADE me an Utada fan. Eternally is also a very good ballad complete with strings and all, but sounds like a Final Fantasy theme.
Rating- 5 and 4.3
13. Tsubasa wo Hirogete by ZARD- This was the ending for some detective Conan movie I watched (maybe the seventh?) It caught me off guard at the end of the movie. No song has impressed me so much in its first listen. ZARD is no longer producing songs because she died in 2007 (so sad) but you can listen to the numerous songs she produced during her long career in the j-pop industry.
13. Ai no Uta and Yume no Uta by Koda Kumi- Koda Kumi had produced a never ending list of ballads in her career but these two are the most powerful. Her other ballads are also worth checking out though.
rating- 4.7 and 4.6
14. Mienai Hoshi by Mika Nakashima- Yuki no Hana is more popular but I like Mienai Hoshi more. It has real power. Her ballads are usually jazzy and easy listening but Mienai Hoshi shows what she is capable of.
1. Last Song by Gackt- I think this is the best song Gackt has ever done. It is a complete package of emotion, power, beautiful lyrics and a great voice. It starts off with a guitar intro and Gackt almost mumbling the verse. I feel that the verse could have been clearer than it was. But the chorus makes up for it.
2. Konayuki by Remioromen- I never stopped listening to this song after the first listen. It is very addictive. Listen to it with the video and English subtitles and it is a song you will never forget. If you like Konayuki, you might also like Akanezora and Sakura by them.
3. Forbidden Lover by Larc~en~Ciel- I am not sure this can be classified as a balld but sound pretty balladish to me. Larc~en~ciel always produces quality songs but they outdid themselves on this one. ken's flawless compostition and hyde's voice make this song something extraordinary.
4. Junigatsu no Love Song by Gackt- Gackt is called the Mariah Carey of the j-pop world with good reason! He demonstrates his high range in this song, which is a christmas ballad.
5. Itsuka no Merry Christmas by B'z- B'z is the higest selling artist in Japanese pop history but i feel their ballads are very underrated. Itsuka no merry christmas was not even a single, even though it is such a good song. It starts with fragile sounding music box which makes it truly christmassy. This song has been covered by all the who's who of the j-pop world including Ayumi Hamasaki, Gackt and Namie Amuro.
6. Sen no Kaze ni Natte- I reviewed the single earlier on Review Carnival and gave it glowing reviews. My opinion on this song has not changed. Akikawa Masfumi is probably trained in opera because he sounds very classical. But don't underestimate this song. It is based on a poem.
7. One Love by Arashi- Just because they are an idol group doesn't mean they don't produce any power ballads! I think One Love is a very optimistic ballad. I could have a soft spot for this song because I saw the HYD movie (HINT:HINT)in which it was featured.
8. Squall by Fukuyama Masaharu- Sakurazaka may be his best selling song but I like Squall more. He initially composed this for Eiko Matsumoto but he does a much better version on his own. Other ballads by him are Saiai, Hatsu koi (great one!) and many more...
9. Anata To by Kobukuro x Ayaka- This was a collboration songs between Ayaka and Kobukuro. It's very relaxing but because of being sung by some of the greatest voices in j-pop, it involuntarily becomes a power ballad. They also did Winding Road together but it was more poppish.
10. Wine Red no Kokoro by Anzen Chitai and Koji Tamaki- The song sounds very minor. It was composed by Yosui Inoue. Anzen Chitai's version is more rockish while Koji Tamaki (he's the lead singer of Anzen Chitai, by the way), is jazzy. Both versions are very good. Koda Kumi covered this song on her covers album.
11. Hitomi wo Tojite by Ken Hirai- His highest selling single and for good reason. It is a very generic ballad but Ken's voice saves it from being 'just another ballad'.
12. Only Human by K- This is a very sad sounding song used as the edning theme for one of the saddest dramas of all time 1 Litre of tears. K's voice is quite high for a male, but that's what is so unique about him. He sings almost acapella in the beginning.
Phew! Involuntarily, this post has ended up being one of the longest on Review Carnival (the longest, perhaps?). I hope you all enjoyed it and comment about your favorite songs so that I can add them too!