Utada Hikaru – Passion

Release Date: December 14, 2005

Tracklist:

1. Passion ~single version~
2. Passion ~after the battle~

Man, I just have a thing for Utada’s Kingdom Hearts songs. First Hikari, and now Passion. The synth of at the beginning just sets of this EPIC, EPIC, EPIC, and yet, calm emotion. Also, the lyrics are very poetic, very unlike a typical pop song. It’s almost as poetic as her other song, COLORS. The chorus feels so powerful, but (once again) calm, at the same time. My favourite part is the last stanza; it just powers up into an explosion of music. I really enjoy Hikki’s full voice too, because she has absolutely no trouble in reaching those high notes up there (the highest is a high G, I believe).

Next up is the calmer version of Passion, Passion ~after the battle~. Unlike the single version, this version has a mainly piano accompaniment, and brings closure. It’s a nice song to listen to after you beat the last boss.

Overall Rating:
5/5

BoA – Everlasting

Release Date: January 18, 2006

Tracklist:

1. Everlasting
2. Soundscape
3. Everlasting (classical ver.)
4. Everlasting (TV MIX)
5. Soundscape (TV MIX)

Everlasting is a simple ballad that starts off quite calmly, with sparse accompaniment. BoA’s voice is slightly nasal in this song though. The melody is very pretty, and as the verse goes into the chorus, there’s this enormous power-up (god, I sound like a gamer). The chorus is filled with power and passion, though the accompaniment slightly overpowers BoA’s voice. Everlasting is a very powerful and moving ballad, something BoA does really well as a vocalist.

In contrast to Everlasting, Soundscape is more upbeat and laid back. This is more like BoA’s usual works, but it has a really catchy melody…a very Korean melody. It’s like an insert song in a Korean drama or something. The layering of the voices has a neat effect, and makes the main melody that much more powerful. BoA’s voice is more girly than the last song, and is more like her typical singing voice.

Everlasting (classical ver.) has a wonderful cello solo at the beginning that is hard to pass by (*drools*). This is an acoustic and more mellow version of Everlasting. It’s a lot calmer than the original, but it loses the charm of the power-up in the chorus. At least BoA finally takes the lead in this version.

Overall Rating:
4.5/5

Ikimono Gakari – Kaeritakunatta yo

Release Date: April 16, 2008

Tracklist:

1. Kaeritaku Natta yo
2. Nokori Kaze
3. Kaeritaku Natta yo (Instrumental)
4. Nokori Kaze (Instrumental)

Kaeritaku Natta yo starts off with a lovely piano introduction before the guitar and drums come in accompany it. This song is a mid-tempo ballad, with a beautiful melody line. Yoshioka’s vocals match this song very well, and they are flawless when singing the sweeping melody line of the chorus. It just adds that extra epic power into this song.

I love the beginning of Nokori Kaze! It has this old school rock feeling to it. The melody is definately way edgier than Ikimono Gakari’s usual songs, and is a very fast paced song. It actually reminds of Green Day for some strange reason. It’s almost like a Gundam song, in a way (with all the fast-paced-ness and stuff).

Overall Rating:
4/5

Utada Hikaru – Be My Last

Release Date: September 28, 2005

Tracklist:

1. Be My Last

Ahhh, I just love Be My Last for some reason, even though it’s quite dull. The only part that irratates me is the ‘ahhh’s, which were repetetive. This song is an aucoustic guitar ballad, with a calming feel to it. It’s not really an exciting song, but if you listen to it while, say, rushing to to do your math homework, it’s quite nice. Hikki’s vocals are also at its best here, far from the strain she got from Utada United (which was in 2006).

Overall Rating:
4/5

Fukui Mai – Ai no Uta

Release Date: August 20, 2008

Tracklist:

1. Ai no Uta
2. My Song For You
3. Ai no Uta (Instrumental)
4. My Song For You (Instrumental)

I love how Ai no Uta starts off with piano and strings. So calming! When Fukui comes in, the song livens up, but still has that calm feel to it (well, it is a ballad). The melody for the chorus is very pretty, and the rest of the melody just swoops down on you. Her voice isn’t like the typical female Japanese artist; think ayaka, but a bit less thick. Nonetheless, a strong A-side to a strong debut single.

My Song For You is another ballad, similiar to the previous track, but a bit more on the happier side of things. It begins with a short piano introduction before Fukui’s vocals start. I actually think that Fukui puts more emotion into this song than her A-side. As usual, the chorus is very powerful, with English (yes ENGLISH, not ENGRISH).

Overall Rating:
4.5/5

Ikimono Gakari – Planetarium

Release Date: October 15, 2008

Tracklist:

1. Planetarium
2. Happy Smile Again
3. Kaeritakunatta yo (Konnitsuaa!! 2008 LIVE ver.)
4. Planetarium (Instrumental)

As like Otsuka’s Planetarium, Planetarium has a dreamy feel to it, though more upbeat. I miss listening to Yoshioka’s voice, since their singles haven’t been coming out lately. Maybe it’s just me being bored, but I think this song matches the album art quite well; it has a hopeful, forward feeling to it. Noticeably absent from this song is the harmonica (well, it wouldn’t suit the song anyway, but still!). The strong use of the piano sets the mood quite nicely as it compliments the melodic line very nicely (yes, two nicely’s in a sentence is bad grammar, but screw that!).

I love the guitar in Happy Smile Again! This song has a very different opening from their usual songs, but it fades into the background as the usual happy, upbeat melody is presented before the listener. The guitar still steals the show, though Yoshioka’s voice is still as nice as usual. A nice B-side to compliment the A-side, but nothing spectacular.

Kaeritakunatta yo (Konnitsuaa!! 2008 LIVE ver.) is…wow! Yoshioka sounds better live than in the studio! The song itself is quite nicely placed in this single, since it is in the same genre as the previous tracks.

Overall Rating:
4/5

ayaka x Kobukuro – Anata to

Release Date: September 24, 2008

Tracklist:

1. Anata to
2. Anata to (Instrumental ver.)

Oh-my-god, yay! Another ayaka and Kobukuro collaboration. I heard this single was released due to fan (and I guess popular) demand. Well, whatever the reason was, I’m happy they’re singing together again. Their vocals just mix and harmonize so nicely together.

Unlike the previous collaboration WINDING ROAD, which was a soulful harmonic, almost choirlike song, Anata to is a mid-tempo ballad with a darker tone to it. The piano introduction is so pretty, in my opnion. I love how it is more like a duet than just harmoization (like the last one). The melody in this song is quite beautiful, especially in the climax of the chorus. It still has the vibe of the previous collaboration, but with its own shine too.

Overall Rating:
5/5