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16 December 2007 @ 01:37 pm

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08 December 2007 @ 09:59 pm

Artist: 宇多田ヒカル (Utada Hikaru)
Album/Single: ULTRA BLUE
Release Date: June 14, 2006

1. This Is Love
Right away, my interest is captured by the highly infectious of this song, and smooth, flowing melody. The keyboard part is really catchy too, as it gives the song a certain unison. I absolutely the energy Utada puts into the choruses and she balances them well with the verses and bridge. The programming is superior, and Utada definitely had a clear sound in mind with this song.

2. Keep Tryin'
I found this to be a very interesting A-side to release. It's a little less dance-based than the previous track, but it still sticks with a similar sound. It's also significantly slower in tempo, which allows Utada to explore the melody a bit more and play with those accidentals, which also account for the slight "odd" sounds. I don't think the programming for this song did the melody justice, and I find it particularly lacking in the verses. It's certainly interesting however, and definitely still a solid song with a fantastic outro (as Megumi has mentioned in her single review).

Title track time! There's definitely something about this song that is completely hypnotic (probably the intro). Musically, this song is just amazing. I love how each section of the song weaves into each other, and Utada contrasts the mellow verses with a highly energetic chorus. The accompaniment is just fitting for the song. The only thing I'm not too fond about this song is how the melody exercises Utada's higher register, which can be a bit thin and stretched at times for an otherwise, lovely song.

4. 日曜の朝 (nichiyou no asa)
Now this is certainly something of a fusion of her older works with her newer style. The consistent beat throughout gives the song a little more of a fuller sound in comparison than her previous eletronica/dance-styled songs. The rhythm is the highlight of this song, but that isn't to say the rest of the song is something to overlook. Once again, Utada writes a soothing melody, illustrating her strength as a composer.

5. Making Love
I don't really like how this song begins, because it sounds kind of awkward. Eventually the song does settle into something a little more comfortable and a somewhat catchy chorus. Utada toys with interesting harmonies here, but the flow of the song overall isn't as seamless as all of the previous tracks.

6. 誰かの願いが叶うころ (dareka no negai ga kanau koro)
There's nothing that slows down the pace like a simple ballad. It's predominantly vocal + piano, but other acoustic instruments join in eventually. I've loved this ballad ever since it was released 2 years prior to the release of this album. The accompaniment is lovely as is the melody. Utada's piano playing is featured in this song (although she usually plays the keyboard for all of her songs, it's the first I've heard her play a full piano accompaniment), and while it isn't the most musical piano accompaniment I've heard, she does a good job nonetheless. The melody is evidently vocally challenging for Utada, but she handles herself well for the most part, singing with sincerity.

Another one of her older single releases, and this, like "dareka no negai ga kanau koro", remains one of my favourites. I love the melody once again, and the contrast of slow and fast parts during the verses gives the song an interesting character, and helps to keep my attention. The chorus is explosive, powerful, and certainly the highlight of the song. I wouldn't say this is the most mainstream A-side produced, but it makes for a very strong single. I always found this song a good representation of Utada's versatility.

8. One Night Magic feat. Yamada Masashi
This is a very, very cute song, even though it may not seem so at first. I don't really like how Utada majorly swoops to hit some of these notes, because it's slightly distasteful. However, it's still a very catchy song it itself, and quite enjoyable to listen to. I love how the different voices weave into one another, and Yamada Masashi does a good job complimenting Utada.

9. 海路 (kairo)
I'm not going to lie, I really don't like this song. The introduction is too long, even though the string programming is kind of nice. The melody is quite repetitive, and Utada doesn't particularly phrase it well. It remains rather uninteresting throughout, but it does have a nice ending.

I really didn't expect this B-side to show up on her new album, but they went and surprised me anyway. I love the keyboard opening. It's not what I'd call cute, but I don't know how else to describe it. I like the mid-tempo ballad feeling this song has, and it is rhythmic throughout, giving the song an interesting character as it underlies the melody/theme, which is occasionally played by the flute (which I think is cute).

11. Be My Last
Admittedly, this wasn't on my favourites list when it was just released, but I've grown to like it a bit. I still find it awfully repetitive at times however, it is charming in its own way too.

12. Eclipse (Interlude)
I don't care much for interludes usually, but this still provides an interesting listen. Sounds like Utada had some fun with the programming in this one.

13. Passion
I will never understand why this song didn't sell better as a single. I love the intricate rhythms present in the song. I like how the guitar was incorporated and the programming is likely, the best on this album. Each section is interrupted, so it kind of removes any flow it had, but the melody is very nice. The best part of the song is the powerful chorus which revives the song later on and brings it to a close. It may seem like there's a lot going on, which there is, but each part is well thought out and planned carefully to produce a quality song.

Overall -
Favourite Track: COLORS, This Is love
I'm really not a huge fan of Utada Hikaru prior to her COLORS single, but this album certainly converted me into a fan. There are obviously still some songs I could have done without, but for the "comeback" album of Utada Hikaru, she proves that she still has her creativity through her compositions. I also feel that her sound has matured since the release of "Exodus". I'm so pleased with the quality of this album, and have no regrets of buying this on a whim.
06 December 2007 @ 09:32 pm

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Tribute to Celine Dion
Release Date: September 26, 2007

Sometimes I wished Ito would sing more like this in more of her songs instead of that thin, breathy voice she usually sings in. The starts off nicely in this song with a breathy, but well-supported sound. I particularly like her voice in the chorus where she sings somewhere in between the breathy tone and a nice chest voice. Vocally it's a bit weird when she comes in for the second verse as she sounds a bit too harsh. I particularly like her voice when she comes to her fuller chest voice near the near, albeit a few sloppy notes here and there at times. She does the dynamic crescendo decently throughout the song, although there's still much to improve on as she sounds a bit mechanical throughout the song.

2. K (feat. Aki) - TO LOVE YOU MORE
The next song starts off with a bit of an R&B beat. K comes in with a bit of an echoey sound, but he sounds really breathy from the beginning, and it doesn't sound all that good in my opinion. I really like the harmonies aki adds in the second time around the first verse. The harmonies are really gorgeous throughout the chorus. I don't particularly like K in this song at all as he sounds very hesitant due to all the breaks in between each line of the melody. The echo effect added to the song makes them sound distant. K sounds much better when he starts singing out in the bridge though.

This acoustic guitar version of the power of love is quite nice. I don't know who JUJU is, but she starts off really nicely with a subtle sound. Her tone is rich and quite nice, and pulls off the chorus quite well. While JUJU sings very well throughout the song, I personally would like a bit more vocal variety in this song the song quickly becomes quite dull as she does the same thing for all the chorus. We've heard what she can do the first time around, so the next time around it's not as impressive.

The SOULHEAD duo pulls off this classic song wonderfully. The harmonies are excellently executed through the chorus, and the verses are really well done. I quite like the change of sound following the first chorus in terms of arrangement as I find it quite pretty. I think they should have changed their vocal style the second time around as well though.

5. Fukuhara Miho - BECAUSE YOU LOVED ME
Who is this? She's actually really good, as well as having really good English, aside from random moments in the song when she changes back to a Japanese pronounciation which kind of puzzles me. Anyways, as uninteresting this song is musically, Fukuhara is amazing throughout this song and just pull it along simply with her vocal performance in this song.

The next song starts off with an organ sound before the song starts. Hoshimura has a really unclear english and possibly the most unclear pronounciation thus far in this album. Vocally though, Hoshimura does a decent job with the vocals. It's nothing really impressive though, but then again the song itself isn't very interesting. I do like the little piano interlude halfway through the song.

I love Lyrico :D. However, I don't like the echo sound added to her voice, and the song itself is a little awkward melody-wise. It's a little dull until she comes in half way through and actually starts to sing out a bit more. The song iself is possibly one of the dullest songs on the album and I'm unimpressed with it.

The next song is an acoustic guitar song and LISA pulls it off well with her voice. She sings well with emotion and makes the song quite pleasant to listen to. Her voice mostly spot-on throughout the song, and the melody is sung with sensibility and makes it one of the best songs off the album.

9. Kato Miliyah & Shota Shimizu - I'M YOUR ANGEL
This is a nice duet, although nothing compared to the original. Maybe it's because I really liked the original and it was probably one of the songs of Dion that I put on repeat. XD Both Kato and Shota can be uncomprehensible at time, but they have nice tone, especially Kato. However, the both of them are an absolute snore throughout the song.

10. Hirahara Ayaka - THE PRAYER
Hirahara's version of this song is kind of boring as it drags on and on through the song. Hirahara doesn't really show off vocally in this song either. The arrangement of this song is just dull and doesn't go anywhere.

Overall -
Favourite Track: BE THE MAN
The tribute album isn't a bad one. Many of the vocalists performed quite well throughout the songs. However, I felt like a lot of the accompaniments for the songs were really dull and lifeless and didn't really help the song. Not something I would listen to again, aside for a few tracks though.
05 December 2007 @ 02:45 pm

Artist: Alicia Keys
Album: Songs in A Minor
Release Date: June 5, 2001

1. Piano & I
The short introduction to her debut album introduces Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata with Keys talking over it, as well as a small group of people singing over it, eventually adding a percussion line. It's a skippable track because there's not really anything interesting to listen to as the intro fades out.

2. Girlfriend
While the song itself takes awhile to get going, I really start like it when the harmonies come in in the pre-chorus as well as the chorus comes in. There's some nice sounding harmonies. The verse melody, however, sounds a bit awkward. The accompaniment works with the style as there is a percussion beat and a simple piano playing chords under the vocals.

3. How Come You Don't Call Me
The next song is a moderate tempo song with occasional ringing in the background and a syncopated piano chord accompaniment. I love Keys' soulful singing in the verses here. While the verses here are soulful and have a lovely flow to it, I find the chorus line sudden and awkward sounding to the rest of the song. While there's not much that happens in the song, it has a very laid-back, soulful sound to it.

4. Fallin'
The acappella opening for this song is excellent with the arpeggio, haunting piano in the background. Out of Keys' songs, this is still one of her classic songs that I absolutely adore. There's again an immense amount of emotion throughout the song, and the melody flows very well throughout the song. I quite like the pizzicato strings in the pre-chorus. They add nicely to the overall song. The bridge is a little awkward when she gets to the layered "oh" singing.

5. Troubles
Keys' vocals here are a bit awkward in parts of this song, and I personally don't find it very pleasant sounding to me and quite distracting. Vocally, Keys isn't here in hte verses, but she sounds a bit better in the chorus. I do, however, quite like the introduction to this song with the simple piano and guitar with her singing and talking over it. This song isn't particularly interesting however.

6. Rock Wit You
The opening of this song is particularly catchy with the bass playing away, strange sounds going around, the piano playing once in awhile, and some kind of flute-like instrument. It takes about a minute and a half to come in. I don't particularly like her low voice at the beginning either. It don't sound as bad when she singing octaves in the chorus though. The song itself in terms of melody isn't all that interesting and far too repetitive, but the accompaniment is vaguely interesting.

7. A Woman's Worth
This song opens with an orchestrated, full string accompaniment before going into the actual song. The again has a catchy bass line. Keys sings in a breathy voice in this song and it works well as she sails through the song with her soulful voice. I quite like the build up in the bridge for this song.

8. Jane Doe
Talking introductions are always kind of lame. That said, this song is rather catchy with a good driving beat that pulls along with the melody. I quite like how the piano plays the same one bar melody on different chords to help keep the song going on. The song itself gets a little annoying after a few repetitions of the chorus, however.

9. Goodbye
The next song is a slower paced piano song with a pretty melody. Keys' vocals aren't as strong as she could have been as she's a little off at times and incredibly breathy, and that is what drags this song down. The song itself is quite pretty, but her vocals are incredibly unappealing in this song.

10. The Life
The melody seems a little all over the place in this song. The melody itself is a little awkward to listen to, and the chorus has far too much stuff layed around the melody. Again, I find this song rather unappealing and rather messy melodically and vocally.

11. Never Felt This Way (Interlude)
This little interlude has some gentle piano playing the opening, eventually Keys comes in and while she starts off alright, some lines of the melody are falling flat though and are somewhat unpleasant to listen to. However, this is a short and sweet little interlude.

12. Butterflyz
The next song opens up with a gorgeous piano solo that is solemn sounding and accompanied by a soft acoustic guitars. Keys' vocals have a slight echo added to her voice, and while I don't quite like her tone at points, she does well emotionally in this song.

13. Why Do I Feel So Sad
This is another soulful, laid-back song from Keys' debut album. The melody here flows very well. The song itself is fairly simple in terms of melody and accompaniment. It has a simple acoustic guitar and a basic beat supporting her vocals. The melody is mainly in her lower range, with several parts of the melody in the middle range.

14. Caged Bird
The accompaniment has a sound reminiscent to an older, scratchy sound to it, similar to an organ, but not quite. The song is fairly simplistic like the previous songs with Keys' vocals singing over it.

15. BONUS: Lovin U
This is a more upbeat song to contrast the simplistic Keys song. It has a bit of a gospel feel to it with the choir and some of the vocal additions added to the background vocals. While again Keys' vocals aren't are clear, she does decently and adds a bit of energy to the song even if her voice doesn't work that well with this song.

Overall -
Favourite Track: Fallin'
Although Alicia Keys does bring life to her otherwise dull music with her vocals, as a whole, the album was nothing out of the ordinary. The music itself has nothing all that extraordinary. Keys herself isn't an amazing vocalist, but she does display a nice sense of musical sensibility to some of the tracks she performs on. Not something I would listen to again, though, as it was fairly dull.
03 December 2007 @ 12:59 am

Album/Single: Natural Beauty
Release Date: February 27, 2002

1. Natural Beauty
Right away, this song sets its mood and establishes the sound that will be prominent throughout this album. I really love how the verses go by subtly, but the choruses exude a certain power in its message and performance alike. The melody and accompaniment compliment each other, and the members of this band show show that they're working on the same page. They achieve a uniform sound of a highly experienced band, despite this being their debut album.

To continue with another captivating song, this song has a melody that surpasses that of their title track. The adlibbing is a little strange at times, but somehow, it works well for this song. I especially the part where the vocalist sings "God, give me the power" because it is neither oversung, but it resonates in the song. Leading into the chorus, it picks up pace and feeds off the good drive estiablished early on. Yet another powerful song with a powerful message. The vocalist is slightly off at times, but the quality of this song make up for it.

3. 子羊の神様 (Koijitsu no Kamisama)
Even though I never really care for complete Engrish by Jpop artists, I still have to say that I'm rather impressed by Nakamura's English. Her vocal performance here is a little breathy at times, but overall, she sings very well. This song really highlights her vocal ability and her unique voice. She has a nice strong quality to her higher range, but I also love the way she sings in her lower range. This is a really soothing tune in contrast the louder, edgier songs on this album. An absolute charm.

4. Trash the Pride
I'm not that much of a fan of this song, mosty because I'm not too fond of how it starts off. I definitely prefer the pre-chorus and chorus over the verses, which I find slightly awkward. This song has more of a rock sound than any of the previous tracks, and once again, the band demonstrate their comfort level with each other. Once again, the very upbeat and percussion & guitar driven chorus are amazingly catchy. If you have patience to wait for the chorus, you'll be in for quite a treat.

5. the DEEP SEA
The nice thing about this song is that the song actually reminds me of a sea. It's a short little interlude, but unfortunately, I usually skip over it because it isn't anything too particularly interesting.

6. Photosynthesis
Similar along the lines of "Natural Beauty", "Photosynthesis" gives the same atmosphere, with potentially a stronger verse. I love how the verses were done and the melody is quite pretty. Nakamura's flawless integration of English and Japanese is so pleasant to listen to, as she does it with ease. The choruses are much, much louder in contrast to the gentle verses, and the vocals aren't as clean as some of the other tracks. In any case, this is still enjoyable nonetheless, just maybe a little overdone on the distortions.

7. Sweet Dreams
Exercising their flexibility, CoS treats us with an acoustic guitar driven song, and it is a masterpiece. I absolutely adore the accompaniment because it is so well played and still manages provide a good drive to the song. Nakamura's vocals once again are top notch, and on top of that, she sings with intensity and a clear tone.

8. The Spirit of This Place
Another song that doesn't particularly have an interesting verse, but a much better chorus. The sound is slightly different from the rest of this album, in the sense that it's using the full band, but it has a much more mellow sound to it. It has a nice melody, but it isn't one of the better songs off of this album.

9. Living Through
Finally, to close a very solid debut album, the band presents a song that is close to the sound we're probably familiar with by now. Admittedly, while this song isn't all that bad, I don't feel that it should have closed the album. It's not one of their stronger songs and barely leaves me with an impression to continue to look into more of their music (if it were not for their awesome songs earlier on). The melody here is a little awkward, and jumps around everywhere, majorly affecting the overall flow of the song. Nakamura has a bit of trouble staying in tune, and the guitar part isn't especially appealing either. As I said earlier, a good song, just nothing all that special.

Overall -
Favourite Track: FULL MOON PRAYER, Sweet Dreams
Although there were some tracks that didn't turn out as well as others, this is still undeniably a very good album with quality delivered to each song. I really like the sound that this band encompassed, and for a debut album, they play as if they've been in the business for much longer. They have a certain uniformity that most bands take many years to develop.
01 December 2007 @ 09:54 pm

Artist: sifow
Album: Love Spell
Release Date: August 15, 2007

The opening track of her second album demonstrates a bit more energy than her previous album, but it doesn't really seem like it's enough to keep it interesting enough as the verses quickly lose their energy and the chorus become way to repetitive after awhile as she doesn't really do anything new throughout the entire song.

2. Tokyo Love Night
The opening of this song is rather dance like with syncopated rhythms over the beat. I find the melody of the synthesizer quite catchy and definitely more interesting than the opening song for the album. I quite like the bass synthesizer in the verses. This song in itself is possibly the most interesting song sifow has put out so far, even if she still lacks energy in her vocals.

3. H3
The next track has a bit more of a typical sound to it, and again any interesting aspects to it other than sifow's really bad vocals in it.

4. Carat
The opening sound for this song is a bit odd sounding before going into a whirlwind of dance sound, and again I quite like this sound with a strong bass and percussion sound and plenty of synthesizers going around her. sifow, herself, sounds a bit more energetic and seems to pull off these kinds of songs a bit better than her first album, and that was only several months ago.

5. love regrets
This more mysterious sounding introduction has an echoey sound to it, and therefore causes a bit more of a trance sound to this song as several whispered vocals are whispered throughout. It's an interesting change for sifow because I think she can pull this off better because of the dreamy quality of it and it doesn't require her to sing out as much.

6. 夏花火 (Natsu Hanabi)
While sifow's lack of range doesn't pull her through the introduction, the little synthesizer bit after it makes the song a bit more bearable. It's unfortunate that she decides to be extremely flat in this song because the song itself would have been quite catchy as it is a fun song to listen to, even if it's a bit typical of a jpop song. I do, however love the downward glissandos and scales throughout the song.

7. Ai-Ai-!!
I love the energy in this song, especially in the strings themselves, and the chanting of "Ai" in the song. It's all good in the introduction until sifow chimes in with "love" and my ears start bleeding. She sounds vaguely better when the verses come in though. The repetition of the opening makes me die every time I listen to it though just because of how terribly off she is in it. I do love the bass line in this song though.

8. i WILL
The next song is a brighter song, which again is plagued with poor vocals from sifow. The melody would have worked better with cleaner and in-tune vocals.

The next song shows the same mode of dance music as it goes on and on and I have nothing much else to say about it since I was hoping to hear something that didn't sound similar to the track before this song, although the guitar uses in this song is nice and sifow's vocals are a bit more bearable in this song.

10. いいのに・・・ (Ii no ni...)
いいのに・・・ is a slower tempo song following the more dance intensive songs that came before. The song itself is quite nice in terms of melody and sifow's voice pulls this off quite well actually even if I don't particularly like her tone. The melody itself is a bit mechanical in the chorus with the similar note values being repeated over and over again. The song itself is quite nice to listen to it, and the dramatic feel of the song is done well.

11. 夏花火 -よさこい ギャルdeなでしこ ver.- (Natsu Hanabi -Yosakoi Gal de Nadeshiko ver.-)
This version of the above song is slowed down with introductions of Japanese male chanting and grunting everywhere to make to sound somewhat like those stereotypical Japanese practicing battling. I'm not quite sure what to make of the chanting though, although the introduction of more traditional instruments is quite nice in the song, I just don't particularly find the chanting necessary. I really like the long instrumental bit around three minutes into the song though and the sound it has.

12. CLAЯITY[Dank-One vs. Ovrer Remix]
Like the version in the previous album, sifow continues to have a lack of energy in this remixed version. The backings are however, full of energy and is quite fun to listen to.

Overall -
Favourite Track: love regrets
In the year that she released the last album, sifow manages to release a much more solid album with more energetic vocals. However, this album also shows some of her poor tuning and technique as well. The music itself is rather fun to listen to and very upbeat. I quite enjoyed the material presented in this album despite some of problems sifow has vocally.
01 December 2007 @ 09:53 pm

Artist: sifow
Release Date: September 14, 2006

The opening song of this album starts off with a rough synthesizer sound before going into a dance-like song. While the song starts off well with a good ongoing bass beat, sifow's voice has no energy to match the energetic opening. As a result, the song falls flat as a dull dance song.

The second track starts off with a strange synthesizer song and is just about as energy-less as her previous song as she comes in with an unappealing melody to go with the unappealing as the backing. There's a bit of a quirkiness to this song though which makes this song vaguely more interesting than her previous track. Her singing is worse in this song as there isn't much of a melody to work with and she plainly just talks along to most of the song. The concept of the song itself is a little bizarre though, although different and enjoyable if you're in the mood for it.

3. with you
As the album continues, sifow continues her unimpressive singing is poor amount of energy to keep her dance songs going. As her technique itself, it is fairly in tone and pleasant enough. The bass line here is nice to listen to though, and the chord progression is nice. I quite like the middle-eastern type of plucked string in this piece as it adds a nice atmosphere to the piece. Unfortunately, again this song is quite dull.

4. image
I quite like the sound of the introduction with the interesting synthesizers and its melody and how it comes in and out in the background of the song. The sound of the accompaniment is quite cute and fantasy like. However, again the downfall of this song is sifow's vocals.

5. Chain
The opening of this next song has a stronger, more aggressive sounding guitar, before changing within the 20 seconds into a slighly brighter acoustic song where the guitars come in and out of the song. The melody at the beginning is generally a small range with the repetition of certain notes. While I still think sifow lacks a lot of vocal power to pull of these songs as she sounds like she's whispering a lot and not really singing out at all, the song itself is fun and a bit mysterious sounding. I personally like the string bridge near the end.

6. Don't Stop
The opening of this song aggressive with a slightly more interesting accompaniment. Also sifow is vocals here are have more grit which works a lot better with the song itself. The electric guitar in this song really works to pull the song forward. Not a bad song.

While sifow's tense singing at the beginning really doesn't make that great of a first impression for this song, I do like how they start the song like that. sifow's singing is still rather one dimensional, but I really like guitar during parts of this song. While I quite like the song itself as it has a nice melody and a driving accompaniment, sifow has not enough skills as a vocalist to make this song work for her as she still does not sing out in the chorus, where it is required for her to sing out a more.

8. 深呼吸 (Shinkokyuu)
I quite like the dance beat to this song, and the melody itself is quite nice to listen to. There's isn't much here that is impressive, but it's a decent song and the beat in here is quite fun to listen to.

9. tell me love!!!
Excessive exclamation marks in the song aside, this song is rather catchy. The fast percussion beats in the background, the small little synthesizer melodies in the background with sifow's soft voice singing a rather simple melody are what makes this song rather fun to listen to.

10. Rainbow's
Oh the apostrophe. This song starts off with sifow trying to sing terribly in the higher notes while tensing up. It gets better though as she actually gets into the song and out of the higher ranges at the beginning. I find the harmonies in the verses quite pleasant to listen to though and quite pretty to listen to. This slower and softer song is quite nice.

11. キミと空 (Kimi to Sora)
I actually really like the melody for this song. The opening verse here starts off with a medium range, then slowly gets higher and higher and it actually works really well in my opinion. I quite like the bass line and the electric guitar lines under it. It's a bit too repetitive after awhile, but I like the melody of the song.

12. My Dear
The next song, starts off with a piano solo and paves the road for a ballad. While again sifow's voice is extremely tense as she goes for the more intense moments, it was nice to hear she could actually put a bit more emotion into the song and attempt to sing out a bit more. Unfortunately for her, it doesn't sound all that good due to the fact that she's not opening up and is instead tensing up her voice. This dramatic ballad is not a bad song though.

13. Bonus: Jewel (Cyber NATION remix)
I love the dance sound of this song right from the beginning; it catches my attention with the very catchy synthesizers. It's too bad that the song just about dies when sifow comes in with poor, energy-less vocals to contrast the fun opening.

Overall -
Favourite Track: tell me love!!!
I kind of went to listen to this girl on a whim, and I was kind of disappointed that I was treated to some fun dance music, but a vocalist that wasn't able to convey enough energy to actually make her music interesting. While musically there is nothing much wrong with her music and there is actually some interesting things in it, sifow doesn't have the ability to pull it off well.
01 December 2007 @ 09:52 pm

Artist: Kelly Clarkson
Album: My December
Release Date: June 26, 2007

1. Never Again
Clarkson's opening track of her album doesn't really have a great impression. While it has an aggressive sound to it, I don't find it goes anywhere melodically, and I personally finds that it sound one-dimensional throughout. It doesn't really catch my attention until the bridge and she starts to sing out there. It seems to repetitive and doesn't really have enough bitterness in its sound.

2. One Minute
The second track has a bit more grit to it with the driving guitar bass in the background, and the melody works a bit better than the opening track. I quite like the staccato during the melodies of both the verses and chorus. It has a different sound to it and it makes it more memorable.

3. Hole
Again, I quite like the driving guitar and bass line in this song. The melody here is a bit more of her usual melodies, but the darker guitar lines in the background make it a bit different and I quite like the sound. Unfortunately, the chorus quickly becomes vaguely annoying as she starts repeating that same line over and over again.

4. Sober
The next song is a nice acoustic guitar song with similar timpani-like sound in the background accompanying her. While the accompaniment is a bit plain, the melody of the song is simple and enjoyable and the accompaniment fills itself out eventually in the song. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen until after I'm bored. Clarkson has some pretty nice vocal moments in the climax of this song when she starts singing in her fuller voice.

5. Don't Waste Your Time
This song is a bit more radio-friendly and it has a nice melody with her usual supporting guitars. In my opinion, the melody does fall into strange notes that I find doesn't quite fit into the song well. The song itself I find a bit dull though.

6. Judas
The opening starts with a simple bass line, then adds the guitars and percussion over it. Clarkson herself sounds quite good at the beginning. Again, the bass line in this song is quite good. I quite like the line "poisoned by your actions" and how she sings it. Otherwise, I don't really find much in this song to listen to.

7. Haunted
Again, this is another one of those songs that start with minimal accompaniment and slowly builds up to the chorus with a much fuller accompaniment. The chorus, however, seems a little brief the first time around before it sudden goes back into the verses. The melody is enjoyable though, but the rest of the song I find rather bland.

8. Be Still
This slower paced song has a simple guitar accompaniment with Clarkson singing the melody over it. I kind of miss these kind of songs that show off Clarkson's impeccable tone without her screaming in the higher notes. This is a pure, simple song to show her more emotional voice from her, and I quite like it.

9. Maybe
This is another quiet song with a minimal accompaniment, but is less laid-back from the previous song. It is another nice song with a bit more grit than the previous song without her screaming. It's a nice song with a nice development throughout the song.

10. How I Feel
The guitar line in this song is absolutely catchy. While there is something I don't quite like about the melody, I think Clarkson pulls this song quite well, and I like the melody of the chorus.

11. Yeah
I love the driving guitar in this song a lot. The chorus here is a bit different with Clarkson singing with a chorus. Clarkson here goes into something a bit odd, but I quite like it with the chorus and the unexpected bridge. It doesn't quite fit together perfectly, but it's an interesting combination.

12. Can I Have a Kiss
The melody here doesn't flow well at all in my opinion, and the accompaniment is a bit dull with it's more varied melody lines. As a result, everything sounds awkward throughout the song and this feeling doesn't really resolve itself throughout the song.

13. Irvine
The final song off the album is an acoustic guitar song with an echoey Clarkson vocal. I absolutely love the echo effect they added on her voice as it makes the song absolutely haunting. Clarkson's vocals throughout are soft and well done in my opinion. Absolutely gorgeous.

14. BONUS: Chivas
The bonus track on the album continues the same style as Irvine, with an acoustic guitar. The mood however is less melancholic and has a stronger attitude from the previous song. It's a nice laid-back ending to the song.

Overall -
Favourite Track: Irvine, One Minute
While a found a lot of the melodies on this album vaguely awkward sounding, some of the material presented on this album was far better than those of her previous album as they displayed more individuality and uniqueness. However, the majority of the songs on the album were bland, awkward, and the melodies didn't flow all that well. While Clarkson's vocals are good throughout the album, I found that I didn't have much to praise about it as they were ordinary and most of the time she was yelling through the songs. While I commend Clarkson for writing all her material, I found that most of the tracks were a miss for me, while others were on the verge of something extraordinary without actually reaching that point.
30 November 2007 @ 02:22 am

Artist: 中島美嘉 (Nakashima Mika)
Album: BEST
Release Date: December 7, 2005

1. Amazing Grace ('05)
The opening song for Nakashima's best album starts off with a gorgeous jazzy piano solo. I particularly love his swung version of this traditional hymn. It is also a much more powerful version of her original recording, which droned on and on. While I don't particularly like some of the rhythm changes, especially at the beginning of the second verse, Nakashima still performs amazingly and soulfully throughout the song. The highlight for this song for me is definitely the piano solo though.

2. STARS (new vocal '05)
I was never really a big fan of the songs off her first album, but the rerecording of her vocals in this song shows just how much she's progressed throughout her career until the point she recorded the vocal for this song. While I personally think she should sing a bit less harshly from the beginning. The song itself has a gorgeous melody and floats along with a nice accompaniment. While it's nothing stunning, it's still a nice rerecording of the song.

This is the first upbeat song on the album, and i quite like the dance beat with the strings in the background. The song itself is laid-back while incorporating a strong percussion. I personally quite like the chorus melody as it is both memorable and interesting. While at times I do find this song a bit too repetitive as the song doesn't do much to change; however, other times I find this song quite enjoyable.

This ballad starts off with a soft melody and some rather pretty accompaniment. I personally find from the beginning that the melody isn't all that interesting as she is simply repeating the same melody lines over and over again. However, once the chorus comes in, the song becomes a bit more enjoyable as Nakashima starts to sing out. However, the song is still rather dull in itself and to me it is rather emotionless.

I do not like the filter they put Nakashima's voice through at the beginning of this song at all. It just doesn't make her voice all that good. While the melody here again isn't all interesting, I quite like the beat of this song, as well as the build-up to the chorus. Unfortunately, this song isn't all that interesting either.

6. 愛してる (Aishiteru)
I have a personal love for this song because this was one of the first songs I heard from Nakashima as well as the first version of this song I heard. I love the solo piano under Nakashima singing "Aishiteru" right from the beginning. I've always found this song rather simplistic, and in that way it is gorgeous due to the simple message it contains. While again there is lacking in progression, the simple emotion of this song brings this song along.

7. Love Addict
The next song opens with a dissonant strings opening that I quite like as it brings a bit of mystery as it weaves in and out of being dissonant and not dissonant before going into a quicker jazzy phase. I love the jazz brass from the beginning with the syncopatd patterns and the basic percussion and ongoing bass line. I particularly love the chorus of this song with the quick moving passages and some of the call and response she has between the strings and her own vocal melodies. Again, a bit too repetitive after awhile, but I quite like some of the instrumental stuff in this song. Nakashima even does a bit of scatting near the end as well.

This is probably one of Nakashima's most well-known song, and rightfully so. It has a gorgeous melody and flows well throughout the song. It starts off with a simple piano line and instruments add themselves slowly in, and Nakashima's voice is gorgeous throughout this whole song. I especially like the backup vocals that are added to the chorus as the chorus. The entire song has a sort of delicate sound to it. I was, however, hoping to hear a bit of dynamic development throughout the song, but it wasn't there.

9. 雪の華 (Yuki no Hana)
This is another one of Nakashima's ballads that is fairly well known. It also has a similar opening with a piano solo and subtle vocals from Nakashima, but with a different melody. In this case, there is less instrumentation going into the first chorus, and I quite like the sound of this song as it remains a soft, gentle ballad. While the song here does have the greater dynamic development in the song in terms of the instrumentation, I personally thought Nakashima herself didn't pull it off as well as she sings in basically a similar dynamic from the section before and during the climatic part of the song. However, there is no denying that this is still a gorgeous song.

This song starts off with a bit of nonsense singing, which I particularly like when she goes on a the shorter notes of "da dum". The beginning of this song is driven by piano chords. Unfortunately the energy doesn't transfer itself into the chorus of the song and it sounds dull. I do, however, love the energy in the intro and the spots in between the chorus and verse.

11. 朧月夜~祈り (Oborodzukiyo~Inori)
This is my personal favourite from Nakashima from the moment I heard it until now. The accompaniment of this song is absolutely stunning. If you've ever heard the instrumental without the vocals, you'll understand just how gorgeous it is and how well it can stand on its own merits. There is just so much raw emotion in the instruments themselves. In addition, the melody for this song just adds to the instrumentation as she sings a very folky and simple melody and sounds rather traditions. The string solo in the background supports Nakashima's vocals by playing the same melody with slight variations at times.

12. LEGEND (Main)
The next song is a song with a highly synthesized accompaniment, but is lacking a lot of substance in my opinion. While the melody of the song is nice, my first reaction to the song was trying to figure out what the composer was trying to do with this song because I personally am confused with his/her choice. It does make this a rather unique song on the album in terms of its accompaniment. It isn't until a percussion line comes in that I realise that that was what was missing. It does sound slightly better with the percussion line, but everything around the melody is just kind of there and I still don't know why. I do like the melody of the chorus though, and the song sounds a bit more together with the background harmonies accompanying Nakashima.

13. 櫻色舞うころ (Sakurairo Maukoro)
This is number two on my list of best Nakashima songs ever, so I am very biased towards this song. Again, the accompaniment is absolutely gorgeous, although this accompaniment doesn't stand by itself as well as Oborodzukiyo's accompaniment as it mainly very little melody and simply supports the chord changes in the melody at the beginning. However, it starts to stand out by the second verse as a slightly more solid accompaniment. The melody for the song is simple but gorgeous and while I might find the repeated notes in the chorus a bit mechanical on the part of Nakashima at times, I cannot deny the simple beauty of this song as the accompaniment is again very well written. The transition to the key change is also flawless and flows very well.

Of course, how could we neglect this Nana song? I personally am not a fan of her Nana stuff at all, but this song is manageable as I quite like the melody of this song with the driving guitars in the background. I never really thought Nakashima pulled this song off vocally though as I find her a bit too one-dimensional dynamically, especially in the verses, in contrast with the energetic guitars in the backgrounds.

Overall -
Favourite Track: 朧月夜~祈り
While I personally adore Nakashima Mika, I can understand how some people find her material boring. Nakashima does have a unique deep, raspy tone that I adore as well; however, I do find that sometimes she lacks a bit of dynamic contrast in her vocal presentations in her songs, which is unfortunate considering how much I love her voice and her unique vibrato. However, the selection on this best album was decent and enjoyable, but I personally did not find that it was her best material. Nevertheless, it is a nice introduction to Nakashima as it displays material from all three of her albums prior to this release as well as her nana song.
27 November 2007 @ 10:25 pm

Artist: Ashlee Simpson
Album: I Am Me
Release Date: October 18, 2005

1. Boyfriend
I absolutely adore the guitar riff from the beginning with its agressive sound under Simpson's vocals. While simpson's vocals are really rough in terms of its tone, but her pitch isn't that bad aside from some moments during the song. I personally would prefer her enunciating a bit more, especially when she lets her pitch drop in the pre-chorus. The bridge sounds pretty bad vocally though. As for the song itself, it doesn't really go anywhere as the range is pretty limited, and the song is rather repetitive. As a result, this song does have a catchy guitar riff, a decent melody, but it's a pretty empty song musically.

2. In Another life
This song is a bit more melody to it as opposed to the previous song. Unfortunately, Simpson's pitch goes everywhere in this song, so vocally its not quite as stable as the previous song. The melody is a bit appealing in this song though, even if Simpson does not perform it as well technically in this song. Although a bit typical, the song isn't that bad to listen to and is listenable. I quite like the melody for the chorus.

3. Beautifully Broken
Like the previous songs, this is another guitar centered song, but this song starts off with a more subdued acoustic guitar and the song in general is more like a ballad. While there's not really anything interesting in the accompaniment and the melody,it is again quite a pleasant song to listen. While I don't particularly like Simpson's vocal technique, she perform the song alright when she doesn't decide to change the key of the song completely with her voice. The song is again repetitive and doesn't really go anywhere.

4. L.O.V.E.
My first reaction to this song is: ... why? While this song is somewhat catchy, the sing-talk that she does at the beginning just sounds obnoxious. I personally love the bass in this song though. I love it adds that pulse for the song and drives it forward. As for the melody of the song, I can't really listen to it. There's not much to say vocally since she never really sings in this track.

5. Coming Back for more
Again, I really like the catchy accompaniment for this song; it has a massive amount of pulse throughout the song and pushes the song forward and keeps me listening. Simpson herself doesn't sound bad, and the melody isn't anything impressive, but it at least sounds a bit different. Again, the song is far too repetitive without much change.

6. Dancing Alone
The general beat for this song is similar to the previous track in terms of the percussion, but with a different accompaniment over it. Simpson sounds particularly bad in this track though as she doesn't really hit any of the notes correctly at all in this song. While the song itself could have been passable, her vocals really do nothing in this song and are constantly singing off key and doing weird vocal things.

7. Burnin Up
There's an edge in this song I sort of like. I personally like the sound of the verses, but again Simpson's vocals aren't very impressive. However, the accompaniment is constantly driving these songs well. The chorus here is obnoxious though and it doesn't sound good at all as Simpson is off key and breathy. Unfortunately after the first chorus, I've gotten sick of this song and I can no listen to it.

8. Catch Me When I Fall
I do not like how she ends her all her sentences vocally at all. It just sounds uncontrolled and careless. The song here has an empty piano accompaniment. Simpson's vocals don't help at all to drive this song forward with her poor technique and lacks a lot of emotion she could have put into the song. I personally like the first melody line of the chorus though, even though Simpson puts almost not emotion in this song. As a result, this song falls flat.

9. I Am me
While Simpson sounds more lively in this song, the song again lacks more development. Simpson turns to a more rock-ish vocal style here, which I personally think works here, even if it's going to kill her vocal chords. Unfortunately, there's nothing much else on this track that is memorable here. While her growling-yelling vocals catch my attention, nothing else really does in this song.

10. Eyes Wide Open
This song decides to have a more of a mystical (if you would call it that) opening. I personally find it unappealing at first, but once it starts to transition into the louder it sounds alright, then the song falls flat again. It's not until the guitars start at around one minute in that the song starts watching my attention. I still think the melody is flat and uninspiring, but honestly, the guitars are far more interesting until they decide to pull the chorus back in and the sound disapears. In short, this song is boring and emotionless, lacking an interesting melody as well as a mostly boring accompaniment.

11. Say Goodbye
While the accompaniment at the beginning sounds cheap, Simpson actually sounds decent before she starts going into that weird growling tone of hers in the chorus. She's sort of on the borderline of actually singing semi-decently in this song, but kind of weaves in and out of her growling-tense tone and a more resonant tone at times. While she decides to take over with the tense tone, I do appreciate that she tried a bit of dynamic contrast near the end. Not a bad ending song.

Overall -
Favourite Track: Boyfriend
While I cannot compare this to her first album since frankly I don't really remember it all that well, I would say that I personally found this album to be rather one-dimensional and emotionless. I am personally not a fan of Simpson's vocal style at all and find it rather annoying, there are times when I can stand her tense, airy vocals. Clearly I'm not a big fan of this style of rock-influenced vocal. Musically, there wasn't much either. Much of the songs have no development and no attempt to make the songs worthwhile to listen to the whole way through. One thing that I did particularly like on this album was some of the catchy bass lines and guitar lines that accompany the music as much of them were full of energy and made the songs more listenable. As a whole though, the album was just bland.