Friday, September 28, 2012

J-pop album review ZARD Golden Best ~15TH Anniversary~

ZARD is one of the highest selling acts in j-pop history with music station ranking them at #8. ZARD started out as a band but slowly because Izumi Sakai's solo project. ZARD songs are usually acoustic, easy listening pop tracks. All lyrics are written by Sakai herself and according to me, are a high poit of ZARD's work because her lyrics are really good.

This album has 2 CDs. Usually, I review albums as a whole, but I haven't had time to listen to the second CD so I am just reviewing the 1st CD for now.


1. Goodbye my Lonliness- This was ZARD's debut single. The use of piano is prominent, but there are guitars as well. The song has a melancholic and 'rainy' atmosphere, which reminds one of lonliness. ZARD's vocals are crystal clear and sharp, but they sound too happy for such a sad song. There is a saxophone part towards the end which is really good. The instrumental part of this song (into, outro, saxophone part) are all really good.


2. Nemurenai Yoru wo Daite (Embrace the sleepless nights)- This follows a somewhat generic pattern of 80s pop, but doesn't sound as oldish. ZARD hits some pretty high notes in this song. It is basically an acoustic pop song. It does tend to get boring at times.


3. In my arms tonight- The instumental intro is very melodic and somewhat jazzy, like a slow dance song. ZARD's voice is full of nostalgia and yearning in this song, which suits the song perfectly. I think this is my most favorite track on this album. There is just something about this song- the extremely melodic chorus, the nostalgic verse, but it all comes together brilliantly in the end to produce a very emotional track. The lyrics are very fitting.

Rating- 5/5

4. Makenaide (Don't give up)- This is ZARD's highest selling single. It sold more than a million. It is an upbeat and bouncy track with optimistic vocals. The lyrics are wonderful, and the melody perfectly matches the spirit of the song.


5. Kimi ga Inai (You're not here)- This track starts off badly. I didn't think the chorus was all that good, but the verse is nice, even though the transition between the verses and chorus is jerky. This is an alright track, nothing spectacular. Before trying this album, I was hesitant to try something from ZARD because I thought that most of their songs are just generic acoustic pop songs with mediocre melodies. This one supports that kind of thinking perfectly.


6. Yureru Omoi (Trembling feelings) - The chorus is high and catchy. The verse is more easy listening, but what this song showcases is Sakai's vocal ability. This was another million seller for ZARD. I don't like the lyrics so much, because it's full of meaningless description, but the song is good.


7. Mou Sukoshi Ato Sukoshi (Just a bit more, just a bit longer)- The lyrics are heartbreaking about a love that has ended, but Sakai wants to hold onto it desperately. The melody is quite melancholic and mysterious. It has a good flow and captures the feeling very well. The arrangement is also minimilastic and supports the song well.


8. Kitto Wasurenai (Surely, I will not forget)- This is a happy pop track with guitars, drums and all.


9. Kono Ai ni Oyogitsukaretemo (Even if I get tired of swimming in this love)- This song sounds mysterious. It is different from the kind of tracks ZARD usually does. It starts off with almost no instruments in the background and increases the speed and adds more instrument as every verse passes by. The lyrics are about love when it gets hard. As always, the lyrics are realistic and optimistic at the same time.


10. Oh my love- This is a spring pop tune. It sounds a bit like In my arms tonight. I like it when ZARD uses english words in her song. It gives them a somewhat jazzy, modern feel. This song is a great easy listening track.


11. Konna ni soba ni iru no ni (Even though I am this close to you)- Some ZARD songs have really long titles. This sounds more like a disco song from the 70s, even though the beat has been toned down a bit. ZARD shows her versatility by singing a different tupe of song. It has a dark tone.

Rating- 4.2/5

12. Anata wo Kanjiteitai (I want to feel you)- This is a cheerful pop song with chimes and stuff. ZARD's vocals sound powerful on this one, but the melody is not very remarkable.


13. Ai ga mienai (I can't see the love)- This song starts off  like a dance song with a strong beat. The melody sounds minor and moody. I really like the lyrics, which speak about how everyone is caught up in the rush of life and becomes lonely and about how love slowly fades and bcomes discord. I think the lyrics are different from ZARD's usual positive lyrics, as if she is reflecting on life. As always, the melody is a perfect fit for the lyrics.


14. Sayonara wa ima mo kono mune ni imasu (Goodbyes remain in my heart now)- This finishes the first CD perfectly. It is a breezy, easy listening track with a somewhat summery feel.


ZARD had their own brand of pop, which while not catchy, is easy listening with great repeat value. Sakai's vocals and lyrics are the the best and bring out the full potential of every song. Definitely try out this wonderful artist.

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