Thursday, June 28, 2012
1) Amagigoe- This comes after an instrumental track. Amagigoe, popularised by Sayuri Ishikawa stands for 'Crossing mountain Amagi'. It is a sad enka song of fleeting love and mixed emotions. Akina did a good job with her laid back, airy vocals though I felt shoe couldn't bring power to the title word like Sayuri Ishikawa does. Nevertheless, a good track choice and performance.
2) Mugon Zaka (Silent hill)- I heard this song first by Akina Nakamori and it completely mesmerised me. The arrangement includes everything from japanese shamisen to Indian tabla. Akina's vocals are low and filled with emotion- a contrast with Kaori Kozai. Akina brought her artistry to the song and did it justice. 4.5/5
3) Hisame (Sleety Rain) - Hisame is a typical enka song. Its lyrics mostly talk about the pain of a woman whose love has left her while she drinks to drown her sorrows. Hisame is a rather typical enka song but has a charm that many others lack. Akina did well on the song due to lack of high pitched notes.
4) Michizure (Life Partner)- Is the cover of a popular song of the same name by Chinese songstress Teresa Teng. It is reminiscent of the old times and has metaphorical lyrics. The song is arranged well. Michizure is less intense and more relaxing than many songs on this album. It also has more cheerful lyrics compared to melancholic songs like Kanashii sake and Hisame.
5)Ettou Tsubame (Like a wintering swallow)- Akina stuggles with the high notes in the chorus a little bit but Akina's low voice sounds better on this song than Mori Masako's high voice. The chorus sounds a little disconnected and alltogether too high to fit in the song but it was a good track choice.
6)Kanashii sake( Sad sake)- This was one song I felt Akina didn't do justice to. Or maybe, the expectations were too high because the legendary Hibari Misora completely nailed this song. I didn't even notice this song on this album wheras, when I heard Hibari Misora's live, I was completely shaken. Her emotions are so well done and vivid. A good song but Akina doesn't quite deliver.
9)Ya setsu no watashi- I remember this song least because I heard it first time on this album and it pretty much went with the flow. I won't rate this.
10)Yozakura Oshichi (Night cherry blossoms, love of Oschichi)- A fuyumi Sakamoto song who recently scored a hit with Asia no kaizoku/ mata kimi ni koishiteru. I can't help but count the 'sakura's on the song. There are so many of them. This song stands out, perhaps because of the repitition. A nice and powerful end to the album.
Overall, a pretty good album considering Akina's deteriorating vocal ability and sales. She found something unique to do and the novelty of the idea carried this album through. Though vocals were not at her best, Akina manages a good show on this album which she owes primarily to the wonderful song choices on this album. Even the cover is tastefully made to suit a genre like Enka. I have begin to love enka and anyone starting to know this genre should start with this album.
Weak vocals in some songs
1) Plastic Flower- We start of with the enigmatic Plastic flower which seems to have been lifted from a horror movie soundtrack. It is mostly filled with chime and music box kind of sounds accompanied by Park's thin and airy vocals on the lower notes. There aren't many high notes in the one but it picks up a climax and comes off well.
2) Fall in Love- Fall in Love is the lead track of a japanese single realeased by Park. It is a pretty average ballad and there are high notes but it doesn't particularly stand out.
3) In Dreams- This song is pretty addictive. It is a power ballad that consolidated Lena's fame internationally. I heard her live of this and was hooked immediately. The track seems a little bland and christmassy compared to the live but it is a great track, nonetheless. The flutes in the beginning and the backvocals in the end give the song a nice atmosphere. It has become Park's signature song and she sand it on I am a singer which she ended up winning. I love the power, melody, passion and everything about this song. Easily, the best ballad on this album.
4) Someone- It is basically an R&B track. It is the best r&B on the album because I end up skipping all the others. It has a 'new york' feel to it and is breezy and upbeat.
5) ANN- Sounds like a misplaced masterpiece. I'm not sure if the english lyrics work well. It is a ballad which climaxes a bit but not too much. The emotion doesn't come through despite Park's good singing. A nice ballad which is eclipsed by the others in the album.
6) Love Come back- Another ballad. Pretty average. Lena has her moments and is vocally good. Not a skip track but not a very memorable one either.
7) It's Gonna be okay- I'm not a great fan of the R&B tracks on this album. This has a 'sunshine' instrumental and and is more tolerable than its overly sugary successor. The emotions at least come through in this one. Lena is good vocally but then again, she is a technically perfect singer.
8) Ugly Duckling- Has a nice instrumental before becoming an R&B song. The lyrics are nice but the melody failed to convey the emotion. The chorus and song were breezy. It was too happy go lucky for something like 'Ugly Duckling'. My least favourite track on this album which disappoints.
9) Cut- I recognize this as the japanese version of 'In the beauty saloon'. A dramatic ballad with a prominent climax. I like the melody though I can't see its relation to the lyrics. Lena emotes well on this one. One of the better ballads here.
10) Your new girlfriend- Oh no! another R&B track. I love R&B songs a lot but the ones on this album completely fail to impress by Park standards and general R&B standards because they are not catchy in the least and are badly arranged. This one is tolerable but very stereotypical.
11)Lazy (Lazy Bones)- One of my two favourite album tracks, the other being its successor. It brings something unique to this monotonous album and Lena's discography- jazz. The sax in the beginning is very soothing and the song has a very strong climax with Lena hitting an unbelievable high note that sounds almost whistle-ish. My eyes almost popped out when I heard that note. This song made me fully aware of Lena's potential as a vocalist which I had not expected.
12) On the Way the end- A bittersweet ballad which goes by the name 'The road to parting' in her korean album. Again, one of my favourites primarily because of the unbelievable climax and her super high note hitting in the end. Lena's emotions of a sad parting come out well on this song. The airy low notes are sung with emotion.
13) Shake it up- I want to bury my head in the ground when it comes to reviewing Lena's R&B tracks on this album. Their korean versions sound better and Lena is better at singing ballads. This is tolerable but suffers from the curse of being stereotyped and not catchy, much like other tracks in the album. It hasn't stuck to me in two months. There's a lot of chorus and bkgd vocals in this one.
14) Mother in my Mind- Another good ballad but nothing spectacular. There's some emotion but this songs drowns in the heavy competition from other ballads on this album.
15) PUFF- I have very mixed emotions about this song. The tracks appeard confused and all over the place. But, it couldn't fit into any genre. There's something mysterious about this one. Not the greatest ending, but a good album track.
This album was more like a showcase for Lena's vocal abilities than anything else. The songs were ripped off her korean masterpiece which made them seem inferior compared to her best-selling Opus 4. If you want to hear Lena at her best, this is the album to buy. However, her korean albums easily surpass any japanese album that she has ever made and it would be better to start from there. Cosmorama was a better release even in the japanese market. Lena's voice has a lot of replay value and inspires the listeners a lot. If you're into gospel, R&B or any powerful genre, this is a good try.
Unbelievable singing ability
Consistent vocals and tracks
Some of the best tracks in her discography
Cover album lacks originality
Some songs did not come across as well as their Korean counterparts
Ballads outshone R&B tracks
I decided to try out Blood+ Complete Best because I liked a lot of songs from the anime. It contains all the opening and ending themes from the anime, the theme and Diva. Here's a breakdown:
1) Aozora no Namida- My favourite opening from the anime. This song was a bit hit for Hitomi Takahashi. It is a j-rock song with a strong chorus and jamming electric guitars. Hitomi's sweet but powerful vocals complement the song well. The most memorable song from the anime.
|Blood OP Single - Takahashi Hitomi - Aozora no Namida : 01 - Aozora no Namida .mp3|
|Found at bee mp3 search engine|
2) Katarisugu Koto- I love Chitose Hajime's unique, folkish voice. Kataritsugu koto is a typical song from her and not one of her bests. I liked Haru no Katami better from her recent anime releases. Kataritsugu koto doesn't stand out much in the album filled with rock and powerful songs. But, it is a pleasant listen.
3) Season's Call- How can you ever hate anything by Hyde? Truly, I have been a fan of L'arc en ciel ever since I heard their Ray and ark albums. What stands out ost in laruku's songs is easily Hyde's versatile vocals that swoop from frys to falsettos and glide smoothly into passionate screaming with so much emotion and control. Hyde is my favourite j-rock vocalist. Again, Season's call is not the best that I've seen from him but Hyde's voice casts its magic spell on the listener. The falsettos in the chorus are the good part of this song. Overall, an above average rock track.
4) Cry no More- Cry no more stands out in the album with its jazzy arrangement and repititive chorus. Mika's voice is smooth and relaxing and pretty controlled on this one. Mika's voice is really suited for jazz. Again, not one of her best tracks but her voice and arrangement do the trick.
|Nakashima Mika - CRY NO MORE .mp3|
|Found at bee mp3 search engine|
5) Colors of the heart- I've never heard Uverworld before this. Colors of the heart was a good rock song though a little 'all over the place'. But it's not a skip track.
6) This Love- Angela Aki's lower notes get a bit repititive after a while but the chorus is powerful and liberating. I like this song the best from Aki. It was one of her biggest hits at that time. This love makes a good ending to the anime with its piano arrangement and Aki's passionate vocals. One of the better endings from this anime.
7) Raion- This is one song I found endlessly annoying in the anime. Jinn seems to be a rock band with a really annoying singer. It becomes catchy after a while but the singer's vocals really grate the brain.
8) Brand New Map- K begins with a powerful ad-lib and transitions into light R&B. If not for the high notes, this song would've collapsed. It is easy listening and very sugary with no 'catchy' factor.
9) Blood+ Grand Theme- This is an instrumental piece that isn't audible till very late in the track. Nice orchestra but it tests one's patience.
10) Diva- Diva is an opera sing supposedly sung by Saya's sister. The song is very distant and bad both by pop and opera standards. It's a bit haunting and creates a nice atmopshere.
Overall, if you saw the anime and liked all the openings and endings, buy this. It is like a Sony j-rock artists collection (but you've missed laruku and southern all stars).
No 'skip' tracks
Too few tracks
Two filler tracks (last two)