Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lena Park- Another Piece

Lena Park is a really famous korean R&B diva who made her debut in Japan with Another Piece, an album mostly filled with covers from her korean hit album 'Opus 4' which was considered a masterpiece. I've been into her music for a while now and decided to review this album for japanese audiences.

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.

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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.

Overall- 4/5


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

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