Saturday, March 28, 2009

Review: Hoshi ni Negai Wo -> "Wish Upon a Star"

Artist: flumpool
Single: Hoshi Ni Negai Wo / 星に願いを
01. Hoshi Ni Negai Wo /
02. Kaitenmokuba (Merry-go-round) /
回転木馬 (メリーゴーランド)
03. Harukaze [No Reply] Unplugged / 春風 「no reply」unplugged
04-06. instrumental tracks of the above songs. No reviews for these ones.

01. Hoshi Ni Negai Wo
Another very flumpool-ish song, which is by no means a bad thing. These guys have a lot going for them. Anyways, this is the title track of the single as you can see, and as that, it serves very well. It's a catchy, fast-paced rock ballad (much like their previous works). The lyrics are quite sweet - something about chasing down your love under a starry sky - who doesn't like that kind of thing?
Its strong point is, as always, I think, the singer's voice. He's very listenable and he conveys emotions very well. The band backs him up very well. It's nothing special as an instrumental, but in collaboration with his voice, it's gold. The weak point of the song is that you forget you're listening to it after a while. It's a little too repetetive throughout and it doesn't stand out that much. There are only so many times you can hear "Ikanakucha!!!!!!" ("I have to go") before it becomes mundane.

02. Kaitenmokuba (Merry-go-round)
This one, unlike Hoshi Ni Negai Wo, fails to leap the pole for me. Flumpool is a bit of a one-trick pony, and that's okay, when the song is a really good one; but this is just too much of the same without enough shine for me.
The only thing really different about this song is the use of some synthesizer flutes in the background that are desperately trying to belong to higher technology. Other than that, it contains the same high-energy style of a typical flumpool song. So if you absolutely love that style, then this is another great song for you. If not...well, for me, I'm pretty bored by it. And the flutes are trying to brainwash me with their trilling existence.

03. Harukaze [No Reply] Unplugged
This is actually a remake of a song off of their debut album, and one of their best songs, in my opinion. This is, as the title suggests, an acousitic version on the original. Instead of the usual flumpool instruments, this song uses a guitar, a piano, and some soft drumming.
I don't think it quite marks up to the original's level, but then, I don't think it's meant to. I think this is just an alternative version of a very pretty and meaningful song for fans to enjoy. As that, it works. It really does.

Watch the Hoshi Ni Negai Wo promotional video on YouTube!

Review: WILD / Dr.

Artist: Amuro Namie
01. WILD
02. Dr.
*please note that the CD single does contain instrumental tracks for both songs*

Goodness, her English has improved! I understood all of the English lyrics just by listening.
Well gosh, what a fun track. It starts off with some electric noises that sound like a chipmunk being thrown through space and then Namie makes her entrance with "Work the middle, work the middle, work the middle like I do..."
After that the main 'song' starts. It switches between an energetic chorus in English and Japanese that will probably be stuck in your head for days on end and softer vocals in between. They work very well together and this is an excellent new single from her. Definitely my favorite dance track by Namie Amuro, right behind Violet Sauce (Spicy).

When I first heard this I thought it was kind of a strange song. Now after hearing it a few times, I really like it. There are a bunch of different melodies in it. Some of them are unexpected and very high energy, but for the most part, this song is slow and beautiful. (It's 5:40 long).
So, it starts out with a computerized voices speaking some typical English computer commands ( the kind you might hear in most science fictions films ) and some sinister strings. Then it turns into a bouncy electric beat and stays that way for most of the song. There's a very short part in this song near the end that I really like.
This actually sounds much more meaningful and surreal than a lot of Namie's more recent songs. It's certainly much less shallow than (admittedly, very fun) songs like New Look. Her voice is also very pretty in this song (slower songs, generally, do give the singer more time to show off their vocal grace).

All in all I give this new single 5/5, and in a nutshell, I would say it's AWESOME!!

Watch the beautiful WILD promotional video on YouTube!

Watch the distracting anime-style Dr. promotional video on YouTube!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Review: Come Back to Me

Artist: Utada (Utada Hikaru's US alias)
Track: Come Back to Me

Mm. Well, if you're a fan of her Japanese songs, you probably won't be into this one. If you're a fan of songs contain a lot of variety, you probably won't be into this one.
This is her first major U.S. release in the way that her first English album was a bit too experimental to gain any real favor in the U.S.. This song, however, is so mainstream that you almost drown in it.
It sounds just like any other song you'd hear on a typical American pop radio station.
It starts out with a stream of classical piano that sounds like it should be the entrance theme of a Disney villain - say Cruella De Vil - and really has no relevancy to the rest of the song. It's like they're trying to show off Utada's piano skills or seem artsy by putting it into the song. I don't even know if Utada can play piano very well or not. Her fingering certainly looks very suspicious in the music video, so I doubt it.
After that, your typical pop beat kicks in and she starts singing. Her vocals are okay. In my opinion, Utada's high notes have always been a little weak, but her voice is sweet, so she pulls it off.
The song is called "Come Back to Me" because in the song, she's cheated on her boyfriend, and she regrets it, so she describes her loneliness and pleads with him to come back. Maybe her boyfriend would think about it if she was only a bit more articulate. This song contains 52 "Come back"s, 22 "Baby"s, and a total of 3 verses in every chorus ("Baby come back to me / I'll be everything you need / Boy you're one in a million"....four if you want to count the time she takes the "boy" out of "you're one in a million,").
Some good points in the song are that she manages to sound vulnerable and apologetic, and sure - it's catchy, although it will eventually drive you insane with its repetitiveness. There are basically 3 itty bitty melodies in this song that repeat over and over again.
Clearly, Come Back to Me is just meant to garner popularity in the U.S.. I hope that her other songs on the upcoming album "This is the One" are more interesting and reveal Utada's true songwriting talent.

Watch the promotional video on YouTube!