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Archive for September, 2007

SINGLE REVIEW: Ayumi Hamasaki- talkin’ 2 myself

Ayumi Hamasaki- talkin' 2 myself

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As much as a truly hate to admit it, I liked talkin’ 2 myself. I had doubts that Hamasaki would be able to come back into the music scene strongly after I heard on of my least favorite singles by her Glitter/Fated. However, this song caught my attention right off the bat. I loved the heavy electric guitar, because I thought it was well done, and the composition was really catchy. I still am not a big fan of Ayumi Hamasaki vocally, but I thought her performance was better than usual in this song, although it may be contributed to the fact that the electric guitar kind of drowns out her voice… I don’t think this is like most Hamasaki songs because of how rock it is. I will admit that I really like this song. I’ve had it on repeat more than a few times, and I think it’s one of the best I’ve heard from her. I don’t like ballad songs by Hamasaki because of their reliance on her vocals, which, as I pointed out, is weak. I think this makes a great song, and I’m really kind of shocked that Hamasaki pulled off. Well, this is a good single to follow her comeback, though it really should have been her comeback.

Vocal Grade: B – Musical Grade: A – Consistency Grade: A

Overall Grade: A
I thought the music from decision was actually really pretty, although I feared as soon as I heard it that the song would rely on Hamasaki’s voice. However, after the slow music ended, I was greeted with more electric guitar, which was a huge relief. I think that talkin’ 2 myself definitely is a stronger song, but I still think this is a pretty good song. Again, Hamasaki’s vocal performance isn’t really pleasing, although it’s better than most of her vocals. I really enjoyed the nice guitar solo that appears in this song, and the music in general. As with most songs from Ayumi Hamasaki, the music is clearly the better part of the song.
Vocal Grade: B- — Musical Grade: A- — Consistency Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B+

SINGLE GRADE: A-

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Tackey & Tsubasa- SAMURAI

To be honest, I know next to nothing about the duo Tackey & Tsubasa. What I do know is that it is a group of two males [good lord, what is with Japanese people and boy duos!!?], who sing. I don’t really know if they play instruments, but I guess I’ll find out. They have a pretty big following in Japan, and according to my friend [who just returned from Japan] this song ‘SAMURAI’ was very popular. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but I’m kind of thinking of something along the lines of KinKi Kids. I hope they’re not terrible. I stumbled upon them on one of the forums I’m on by total accident, and decided that I’d check out their latest single. Well, here’s Tackey & Tsubasa’s ‘SAMURAI’

 

———Well, SAMURAI is interesting and kept me entertained, at least. I thought that the use of the brass instruments was a nice touch, though I’m not sure if Tackey & Tsubasa composed it or not. I’m not really very impressed with their vocals, but I think that they make interesting, very conformist music that fits within the guidelines of manufactured stars… I really don’t see anything special about them, or anything particularly astounding. The song is at least okay, and I don’t mind listening to it. They haven’t really shown me anything that I haven’t seen before, which kind of makes it boring. Basically, I’m just trying to say that they’re very in the middle for me. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t really care for them either. I’ll check out what they come with next. Maybe their voices have some hidden power that will come out in a ballad or something…[?]

Vocal Grade: C+ — Musical Grade: B+ — Consistency Grade: B+ — Harmonization Grade: B

Overall Grade: B-

The intro of Yakusoku ~Flower Song~ reminded me of some old Koda Kumi song [possibly from the 12? Kamen?], but I can’t put my finger on it. In my opinion, the singer’s vocals in this song are very bland and they don’t really bring anything other than averageness to the song. The music is really nothing very interesting either, though I like it better than the vocals. He isn’t singing badly, it’s just so dead sounding. I’m pretty sure that just one of them is singing in this song, but I can’t really tell their voices apart, so I could be wrong. I don’t really like that they sound alike, because it kind of ruins any harmonization when it just sounds like one singer on two vocal tracks. I liked WaT and KinKi Kids and Kobukuro because their voices were all distinctly different, but still harmonized. There is one nice note that one of them hits in this song, but I still think it’s a generally bland and uninteresting song. Not really bad, but just lacking.

Vocal Grade: B- — Musical Grade: B- — Consistency Grade: B

Overall Grade: B-

I understand why Yakusoku ~World Wing~ has a similar name to the previous song now. Which is that they are the same song. I think that they are actually both solo songs, I just have difficulty telling. Either way, this song is MUCH better. The music is improved, and the vocals in this song are much more controlled and powerful. I’m not sure which one this is, but his voice sounds different than the ~Flowers Song~ version. I think that the really cool gospel-ish choir voices in the background add an element of power and fun to the song, and I think this is my favorite song off the single thus far. The instruments are nice, and the vocals are as well. I’ll have to find out which one this is, because his voice is much stronger.

Vocal Grade: B+ — Musical Grade: B+ — Consistency Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B+

I think that the Tackey & Tsubasa often rely on the music to carry the song for them. In HIMEGOTO, their vocals are fair, and the music is pretty good, but I still get a very manufactured conformist feeling from them. It seems to me that they really are just being made into stars rather than actually being talented. That’s not to say they can’t sing, because I think they have nice voices, they just aren’t up to the level that artists like Angela Aki, YUI, WaT, and others are. People who write and compose their own music almost ALWAYS have more feeling and passion in their music than those who just sing whatever they are given. I don’t get the feeling that Tackey and Tsubasa wrote or composed these songs, though I could be wrong.

Vocal Grade: B- — Musical Grade: B — Harmonization Grade: B — Consistency Grade: B

Overall Grade: B-

SINGLE GRADE: B-

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ALBUM REVIEW: Angela Aki- TODAY

Angela Aki- TODAY

Ever since I listened to Angela Aki’s amazing debut album ‘HOME’, I have been a huge fan. Aki’s amazing vocals accompanied by her beautiful piano melodies form some of the best music I’ve ever listened to. My favorite thing about Aki is how down to earth she is with her music, and how she doesn’t have to sell herself to sell her music. Angela stays true to herself, and doesn’t have to change her style to fit in. She writes her music from the heart, and I really respect that. Basically, she’s one of my favorite artists. I have liked everything she has done, some more than others. I’m very pleased to review her latest sophomore album ‘TODAY’.

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Angela Aki seems to use her voice to convey stories that are true to her, and a lot more people. The superb craftsmanship and composition of Sakurairo really shows how fantastic Angela Aki is, and why she’s a singer/songwriter. The lyrics and music of this song flow beautifully together, and paint a wonderful story that even someone who doesn’t understand Japanese can appreciate. Angela Akis’ voice is one of my favorite thing about her because of how powerful and mold able it is. I don’t know if Angela could do anything related to hip-hop, but within the realm of piano and soulful music, she’s a goodness. If there was a contest judging the power of voices, I’m sure Aki would make a name for herself. I’m really impressed at how well made this song is, and how well it flows with amazing consistency and incredibly vocals. Ahhh, I just don’t know what to say. Fantastic.

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A+ — Consistency Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A+

Again is a very nice change of pace for Aki, as she finally incorporates some happiness into an album. Previously, most of her songs were somewhat dark, and full of feeling. However, Again shows a brighter side as well as having a lot of personal truth for Aki behind it It appears as though Angela’s life is brightening up, as her songs have increased tempo speeds and more cheerful lyrics. The overall feeling of this song shows that Aki is in a happier stage of her life than when she wrote the HOME album. I think that the vocals of this song are impressive, though I’m really a big fan of her slower vocals. Regardless of my personal preference, I think that Angela really pulls off the happier and more upbeat side of herself, and this album is looking promising.

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A — Consistency Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

Wow, Angela is really going for the happier vibe with this album from what I can tell. None of the songs I’ve heard yet are true ballads, although I’m sure there will be one. Angela’s vocals are actually really pleasant in TODAY, and I personally like it a lot more than Again. I don’t think it’s quite as good as Sakura Iro, but I enjoy it all the same. I think that the upbeat, somewhat pounded, piano makes for a really nice effect, and I like how that hard piano just melts into the soft parts in the verses. If done incorrectly, it could make the song really inconsistent and choppy, but Angela is a superb composer, and she pulls it off brilliantly. I love the approach to the ending because of the really powerful lyrics and vocals, which I just can’t get enough of. The song fades out beautifully in a slowly fading note which I’ve come to associate with Angela since she does it a lot. The song was fantastic.

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A — Consistency Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

Oh my lord I was very afraid when Ai no Uta was officially on her album because of the surplus amounts of ‘Uta’ songs that have been coming out lately. There’s the other Ai no Uta from Kumi, the Eien no Uta from Nakashima, the Tabidachi no Uta from Mr. Children and more… So many Uta songs that I’m kind of getting tired of the concept of songs with the word song in the title. HOWEVER, I was pleasantly surprised by this version of the repetitive Ai no Uta song. Angela finally reels in a ballad [though it’s on the more up-tempo side of the ballad spectrum], which grabbed my attention instantly. Angela’s soft yet powerful vocals are amazing in this song, and the lone piano in the background only makes the song twice as beautiful. I think this is probably so far my favorite of the new tracks, and I am going to be listening to this song a LOT more

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A+ — Consistency Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A+

Unfortunately, I am not much of a Tashikani fan. I think that Angela’s vocal performance is pretty good, though not her best, and that the song feels very rushed and inconsistent. I get lost in the constantly shifting flow of the song, and I can’t really keep track of the things I like and dislike. I think that the fast piano is nice, but it still just sounds really unattractive to me, and makes the song strange. I think this song feels a bit too upbeat for me, and I just never really found it very interesting. It got boring to me after a few listens, and I don’t think that it’s one of Angela’s best songs. It’s not by any means a bad song [I don’t think Angela is even capable of a bad song], I just think that it is mediocre compared to most of her other work.

Vocal Grade: B+ — Musical Grade: B — Consistency Grade: B

Overall Grade: B+

Silent Girl is another wonderful song which is a true ballad. The song starts with Angela on a beautiful note with no piano backing her, and then she moves on and the piano starts. I thought that the way she did that was really nice and gave the song a more melancholic feeling. The song has a really pretty flow to it, and I like the way it progresses as it goes on. I can hear the feeling behind Angela’s voice whenever she sings, and this case is no exception. These are the songs that built and continue my love for Angela Aki. The song could be better, in my opinion, but I think her vocals are really top notch.

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A — Consistency Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

When I first listened to Moral no Soushiki I wasn’t sure what to think. A ton of people love this song from what I’ve seen, and I thought it was going to be something completely different than what it is… I’m not sure that I can say I don’t like it, but I honestly find it very strange. This song feels like it has very little organization, and I frankly get very lost when I listen to it. This song has almost virtually no consistency, and basically… It bugs me. The sound and feeling of the song switches so much that it’s hard to keep track of what feelings she is trying to convey through it. On the plus side, it is a very unique song. I thought that the random elements of the song added in just made the song way to busy. I thought that the random applause took the song out a of normality and brought it to this musical set where she’s more like singing lines than an actual song. I liked the way that she sang the parts around second 37, but after that, it turned into some crazy Phantom of the Opera song that was enjoyable, but somehow perturbing. The strange instruments that appear just feel wrong to me, and I just can’t enjoy this song when it changes moods so much. I don’t really think it’s bad… just… I don’t even really know what it is…

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: B — Consistency Grade: C

Overall Grade: B-

I was slightly shocked to hear the electric guitar that appeared in the Otome Gokoro entrance, though I can say that I liked it. In fact, I liked this whole song, really. I think that the fast paced verses are sang really well, and that the chorus is also really well done. I’m wondering if Aki composed the guitar too, because if so, she did a good job. I’m really liking this song, and I think it’s the first song like it that I’ve heard from Angela. I like the way that she sings the verses quick, because it makes it sound more fast paced and upbeat– more alive.

Vocal Grade: A- — Musical Grade: A — Consistency Grade: A-

Overall Grade: A-

I’m fairly certain that the first note of this song is the same as that of Sakura Iro, because when I first turned it on, I almost thought I was on the wrong song. Anyway, I really like One Melody. I think that Angela’s slow and powerful vocals really bring a fantastic feeling to the song, and make it feel really heart felt. This is the ballad that I was kind of waiting for. The piano for this songs is very simple, but it makes the atmosphere all the more innocent and suggestive of a ballad. I think this is one of the better songs on the album, and it’s really pleasant to listen to. The chorus is by far the most beautiful part of this song, and it’s where you see Angela’s vocals are amazing.

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A- — Consistency Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

This is a really cool song, and I like the relaxed and slow vibe of the whole thing. I think that, again, Angela’s vocals are just fantastic, and she is clearly capable of anything. I think that the manner in which she sings Tomo no Shirushi is what really draws me in and keeps the song from being boring. The things she does with her voice and the melodies she creates really make me feel relaxed and contented. I think that the song got just a tad bit repetitive by the end of it, but I’m not really complaining. I think that when she makes the little whistle-ish sound with her voice like ‘Oooh’, it sounds really cool and adds a cool effect. The piano is simple once again, and stays true to the ballad composition of the song. There isn’t a lot of music during the verses, and I think it’s okay because of Angela’s captivating lyrics. All in all, the song kind of reminded me of a laid back jazzy song but with a more modern twist. I really enjoyed it.

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A- — Consistency Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

I kind of find myself wishing that she had blended the song styles together, because it appears that all the upbeat songs were towards the beginning, and now i’ve had a bunch of ballads in a row. Well, judging the song based only on the song, Kodoku no kakera is really very pretty. I think that the song could be a bit more interesting, but I don’t think it’s a large problem. As usual, Angela’s vocals are just angelic, and I still can’t get enough, regardless of if the song is slightly boring or not. I think that the piano in this song is actually better than aa lot of her songs, and I like the overall feeling. I don’t really have a lot to say other than this is a fairly average, but pretty good, song by Angela. I could picture things to make it better, but it’s certainly not bad.

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A+ — Consistency Grade: A

Overall Grade: A-

I was very ready for the pace to pick up at this point, and On & On did that… to a degree. On & On is a fairly mid-tempo song that features mid-tempo verses from Angela, and a much faster chorus. I think the chorus is my favorite part because of Angela’s really nice vocal performance. I don’t know how much I can take of Angela’s perfection [haha], but luckily I’m not quite bored yet. I didn’t really find On & on Particularly compelling, but I did think it was a nice song. I really thought the verses could have been better, but maybe thats just me.

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A — Consistency Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

Surrender is another ballad, which kind of annoyed me, but I actually REALLY liked it. Surrender is completely in English, which means that I get to look at lyrics better in the review… For a foreign speaker of English, I’m very, very impressed with Angela’s writing abilities. Half the time I can’t even listen to American music because of how unintelligent the lyrics are. However, Angela managed to create a beautiful and coherent lyrical composition, and I’m really liking it. I can’t remember what song this reminds me of, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Disney song… If anyone happens to hear it too, tell me what it is, because it will bug me… Anyway, I think that the vocal performance by Angela was fantastic, and I’m really impressed with this song. The dramatic feelings in the chorus are really nice. I think the chorus is again my favorite part because of the power in her voice.

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A — Consistency Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A+

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Angela Aki’s sophomore album turned out to be all that I was hoping for. I think that her vocals are at their strongest, and I really can’t stop listening to this album. I feel that Angela is clearly one of the best artists in Japan at the moment, and I think that going to one of her concerts would be like the coolest thing ever. Haha, I can’t wait to go to Japan now. I just hope that she’s touring… This album was fantastic, and I really feel that Angela is going to continue doing great things and making amazing music. Good luck Angela.

ALBUM GRADE: A+

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ALBUM REVIEW: Leah Dizon- Destiny Line
Leah Dizon- Destiny Line01 – IMPOSSIBLE
02 – Everything Anything
03 – Missing
04 – 恋しよう♪
05 – 運命線
06 – Could you be that one?
07 – Are you feelin’ for me?
08 – Softly
09 – Time (Clock Of The Heart)
10 – アイシテル~Love Story
11 – Wonderlin’
12 – L.O.V.E U
13 – Drive me crazy
14 – Again and Again

Oh my, I am very, very excited for Leah Dizon’s newest album ‘Destiny Line’. I have heard people say its the best album they’ve heard all year, and that it contains her most powerful songs to date. Leah only has three singles thus far, and all were fairly well done. This album is Leah’s debut into the music world, and it is supposedly amazing. I’ve heard previews of a few songs [couldn’t resist], and they sound like they are indeed pretty good… This album is beautiful as far as photographs, and Leah’s new photobook will be out pretty soon. The photo book is entitled ‘Heaven’, and features some really cool Leah pictures. I have a feeling that this album will be all that I’m hoping. Do your best Leah!!

———Leah Dizon

Oooh, I’m sensing a really cool vibe with this song. IMPOSSIBLE is more hip-hop-ish dance, and Leah makes it really cool. I like the lyrics, and I think that it has a cool message. The beat is really nice, and I think the way the overlapping lyrics and verses are done sounds really nice. I like the brass that is featured in the beginning verses, and I think that this is pretty unique for Leah’s musical standards. My only slight problem with this song is that her vocals are a little bit nasally in the chorus, though the verses are fantastic. After listening a few more times, the song began to grow on me even more than it orignally did, and I’m realizing that I really like the arrangment a lot. I think that this is one of Leah’s better songs. If this album continues on in this manner, I might even burn it for my japanese teacher…

Vocal Grade: A-
Musical Grade: A
Overall Grade: A-

Leah DizonI feel really stupid… I listened to Everything Anything a few times, and I felt like i’d heard it before… And it took my like ten minutes from there to realize that this song was on her first single. I never listened to her first single a lot, and when i did it was mostly to Fever and Softly. She had three B sides on that single, which made me leave some out. I was never a huge fan of her first single, but I had listened to it. Anyway, I think is actually a really nice song, and I can’t believe I didn’t pay any attention to it before. I am annoyed by the fact that she pronounces ‘Everything Anything’ with what appears to be a Japanese accent, since she speaks english. She isn’t japanese, and I really wish she wouldn’t try to be. Anyway, the beat on this song combined with her crisp vocals are really pleasant, and I think this, next to fever, is the most impressive song vocally on the Softly single.

Vocal Grade: A
Musical Grade: A
Overall Grade: A

I really like the relaxed atmosphere of Missing, and I think that the lyrics are really grown up for Leah’s standards. Leah’s vocal performance in this song is amazing, and I honestly think this is one of the best songs on the album. The string music featured in this song just flows so well with Leah’s easy to understand and eloquent vocals. There isn’t really anything I dislike about this song other than that the second verse sounded a bit strange when it first started out. This is the album’s longest song at 5:27, and I’m glad it’s long, because I hate that it ends. Leah’s erethreal vocals really compliment the song, and I think it may be my favorite song on the album along with Unmeisen.

Vocal Grade: A+
Musical Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A+Leah Dizon

I was really worried about Leah Dizon, but I am so glad to say that I can rest at peace. Koi Shiyou is fantastic and I’m really proud of Leah. Her clear voice is great and she sang the fast chorus and strong verses. She did so well, and I’m glad that she managed to come out with something great. The song has a great beat, and is really infectious. Even I sing the cute chorus, despite how decidedly femenine it is. Even the low parts in the verses are crystal clear, and she managed not to sound like she was baratoning it. Her voice is really great through the whole thing, and she sings right from the diaphragm, rather than through her nose laike many singers. Leah did a really good job on this song and it is an ENORMOUS improvement over Softly. Her japanese sounds a lot clearer, and she really, again, did a good job. Two thumbs up, Leah!

Vocal Grade: A-
Musical Grade: A-
Overall Grade: A-

Leah DizonThe peaceful forest sounds in the beginning of Unmeisen really pulled me in when I first played it, and then hearing Leah’s fantastic and soft vocals really just put the icing on the cake for me. I have the feeling this might end up being my favorite song of the album, because of Leah’s vocals. This song really vocally brought up the standard of Leah’s vocals for me, and I can’t get enough of it. I’m finding myself listening to this song a lot, and I’m not getting bored. The music is interesting, and the piano is really nice, although I don’t like at the end when the piano player just pulls his hand across the keyboard, making a kind of waterfall of notes [no idea what it’s really called, obviously…], because i tsounds kind of annoying. That’s really my only complaint about the song. I like the lyrics a lot, mostly because they’re really easy to understand for me, and I think the message and over all feeling of the song is really nice.

Vocal Grade: A+
Musical Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A+

I didn’t really care for Could You Be That One?. I thought that the beats were nice, and that Leah sang it well enough, but I think that her voice was all within the same small span of notes, which made the song boring and somewhat repetetive. This song is still a big improvement on all her songs on ‘Softly’, but really just paled in comparison to the other songs on this track. It is my least favorite off the single, and that she didn’t really make the song that interesting. Again, she sang well, but I think that she simply didn’t make it diverse enough, which may not of been her fault. I have the feeling she sang it like she was supposed to, but whoever wrote the song made a decidedly unentertaining song for her. I can’t think that she writes her own music on the basis that she doesn’t understand all the japanese she speaks in the song.

Vocal Grade: B-
Musical Grade: B
Overall Grade: BLeah Dizon

The beginning music of Are you feelin’ for me? was REALLY cool, though I was afraid that Britney Spears was about to start singing. I think that the coolest part about this song has to be the music, which reminds me of like some sort of African Tribal dance that would take place in a hut. Oddly enough, that actually isn’t a bad thing. Leah’s vocals are pretty good, but not as impressive as Unmeisen. I thought that the long voacalizations were really cool [in the chorus], and that it really promoted the tribal aspect of this song. If there was a music video, I would really hop it involved some face paint and a camp fire. If not, I’d be severely disappointed. My only problem with this song is the length, which is just over three minutes. That seems to be a reoccuring problem with this album, which is that the songs are only as long as the average song in America, which is too short. I wanted this song to keep going every time that it ended.

Vocal Grade: A-
Musical Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A

Leah DizonI was never a big fan of Softly, on the grounds that I feel her vocals are really strange soudning. It almost sounds like she sang the song with a cold because of how stuffy the vocals sound. My personal conjecture is that she simply wasn’t comfortable singing in a foreign language at that point, which weighed down her vocal performance. I’ve also always found the song sort of boring, and I thought that Fever or Everything anything should have been the A-side. The song isn’t bad, but it is very first-single ish. I think that it is a pretty song, but kind of lacking.

Vocal Grade: B
Musical Grade: A+
Overall Grade: B+

I don’t really care for Time (Clock of the Heart) a lot, mostly because I didn’t like the original. I think Leah does a pretty good job, though the song itself really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Some of the original background vocals are still in the song, which kind of confuses the song since the vocals sound very old-school, in contrast with Leah’s vocals. I think the music is kind of nice, and that Leah’s performance is pretty good, but I’m still really not very drawn in the by the song. Maybe I don’t like Leah’s voice in english… But I did like fever… I think it’s just kind of a bad song choice, and that Leah can surely do better. After a few more listens, the song began to sound prettier and more interesting, but still not fantastic.

Vocal Grade: B+
Musical Grade: B+
Overall Grade: B+Leah Dizon

I loved this song. Aishiteru~Love Story~ was a great dance song, and I loved the beats in the background while she sang. Her voice was perfect, and the flow of the song was great. I liked this song almost as much as Koi Shiyou, and I really appreciate Leah’s growth from Softly. Her singing is so much better, and she makes this song sound so easy. Another great one by Leah, and this single makes me wonder what the future will hold. In Leah’s blog on her official site, she says theres to be a third single, so I await said single. I hope Leah impresses me. Ive grown a lot of respect for her after hearing what people say about her past modeling career. Leah can sing, and if you don’t like it; shut up. Great job, Leah.

Vocal Grade: A-
Musical Grade: A-
Overall Grade: A-

Leah DizonI think that the squeaky beats in the Wonderlin’ song really keep it from being too average, even though Leah’s vocal performance could use some work. The use of brass in some of the song add to the music very well, and I really think that the music is the best part of this song. Leah’s voice is by no means bad, but it’s kind of lacking. Wonderlin’ is a pretty upbeat song, at least in the chorus, and I think it sounds really nice. This album has been really impressive so far, and I haven’t run into a new song that I have genuinely disliked. Wonderlin’ is a little bit repetetive, but I didn’t notice until I was really looking to find out. It’s not an overbearing repetetivness, and really only there if you’re looking.

Vocal Grade: B+
Musical Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A

I was really hoping for a lot more for Dizon, to be honest. L・O・V・E U is really average. After hearing koi shiyou, I was really hoping it was a sign of Dizon IMPROVING, and not just a lucky stroke that showed that she kind of might be able to produce good music. It appears that Dizon can sing, but her ability to put out good songs is really kind of lacking. I thoguht the introduction was the worst part of the song being that her vocals were horrible and low. The song turns into a bubble gum pop song which is, in retrospect, not bad. It’s an okay song, it’s just so plain and dissappointing because I was expecting more from her. Nice try Leah, but not quite good enough.

Vocal Grade: B-
Musical Grade: B
Overall Grade: B-Leah Dizon

Well, Drive me Crazy did just that, though in a good way. I really think that this is pretty unique, though I can’t say I’m really liking it a lot. She almost talks the verses of this song, which I can’t decide if I like or not. After a few listens, I’m coming to the conclusion that this song is actually pretty cool. The lazer beats in the background are slightly obnoxious, but I think the overall idea of the song is really cool. One of my problems with the song is when she keeps yelling words in the background… I think that the way she does the song is interesting, but I can’t say that the vocals are particularlly impressive, as far as strength. They are more impressive in the sense that the way she sings is really cool.

Vocal Grade: A
Musical Grade: A
Overall Grade: A

Leah DizonI think that the strings and orchestral aspects of Again and Again make it really fun to listen to, and Leah’s voice actually sounds pretty passionate for once. I think that this is a sign of Leah’s music getting stronger, and I actually really like this song. Again and Aagin is the song on the album that was promoted as a PV, and I found it very interesting. I think that the way Leah sings this song gives me a more mature vibe, and the lyrics are really heart-felt, to me. I think this song was a good choice for the promoted song, and I think it is one of the better songs on the album. The music is really strong, along with a strong vocal perofmance from Leah.

Vocal Grade: A+
Musical Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A+

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My final note about Leah Dizon’s album is one of great happiness. Leah exceeded all expectations I had, and all of the songs on this fantastic debut album are worth listening to. Even the songs I didn’t care for as much were done well, and I they will surely be someone else’s cup of tea. I have high hopes for Leah’s career, and I really hope she works on her Japanese and gets over the whole ‘foreigner’ problem. Good luck to Leah and her crew, and congratulations on a great album. I wish you success Leah!

ALBUM GRADE: A

Leah Dizon

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Ken Hirai- fake star

 

 

Introducing the controversial [everyone thinks he’s gay] mega star in Japan ‘Ken Hirai’. Ken Hirai is a long time vetran in Japan, and I have never really been too fond of his music. I didn’t like POP STAR, because I thought it sounded really… well… gay. He sings constantly in a falsetto-esque voice, which I would imagine makes it difficult to sound manly at all. The other controversial idea about poor maybe-gay Ken is that everyone thinks he might be a HALF-BREED. In Japan, being a foreigner and being famous at the same time is a difficult task, so you really have to come to Japan fluent in Japanese and with a huge drive for Japanese culture to make people like you. Leah Dizon has a problem making friends, because she never put in the effort to learn Japanese, which irks the other famous people. SO basically, if Ken is a half-breed, it will damage his career. How sad. Well, here is ‘fake star’, supposedly the opposite of POP STAR [thank god].

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Poor Ken. Even though the fake star video is filled with him nearly having sex [or being had sex with?], he appears even gayer than ever. He looks so completely uncomfortable with this woman practically ripping his pants off, and he spends the whole time brushing his teeth and ignoring her.. Way to treat a lady, Ken! Other than the masquerade for a straight looking music video [unlike the flamboyantly gay POP STAR], the song is pretty good. I like the cool introduction guitar, along with the heavy breathing. I think that the verses are by far the best part of this song, and they really make the song worth listening. Ken’s voice is really nice in this song, and not really as falsetto-y as the other songs he has sang. The chorus of this song is prety nice, though I lke the verses more. Theres a part around 2:16 where it sounds like he says ‘Who is a Fake Whore?’, and I can’t really understand what he’s saying. I hope it’s not whore, because that is so random…

Vocal Grade: A- — Musical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

SINGLE GRADE: A

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Utada Hikaru- Beautiful World/Kiss & Cry

 


Utada Hikaru - Beautiful World / Kiss & Cry

 

Goodness, it looks like I’m going on an Utada Hikaru streak lately. After hearing her last single ‘Flavor of Life’, I was totally pumped to come and grade her newest single ‘Beautiful World/Kiss &Cry’. Utada HIkaru has an amazing voice, and I’m really excited for this single. Again she’s like the most famous Japanese artist ever, and has countless awards. I don’t know how it is that I’m just starting to get into her music, but I totally understand why she is so ridiculously famous. I hope she does good on this single so she can build a name for herself in my book, and I’m not stuck listening to Flavor of Life over and over again. Because trust me, I will listen to it over and over again.———

Yay! Beautiful World is really cool, and features the same kind of feeling in the music as the original version of Flavor of Life. I really like it a lot! As usual, Hikaru’s vocals are fantastic, and the entire atmosphere of the song is pleasant. I like the way that her vocals are really passionate, and that she really seems to feel what shes singing. The music for this song is really cool, and I could totally picture a cool ‘in the stars’ PV for this song, if it was the one promoted with a PV. I think this song could have sold singles by itself, but we’ll see what Hikaru has in store for us with Kiss & Cry. I don’t have much to say about this song becuse there isn’t much to correct or state…

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

The trumpets that started off Kiss & Cry were really obnoxious and out of place, and I could not figure out why they were there. They totally started off the song the wrong way, and I didn’t care for the fact that they cut off, and there was a second of silence before anything actually started. They felt so out of place and wrong… i don’t care for them at all. However, if I pretend that the trumpets in the intro were never there, the song is much better, and a lot more pleasant. Her vocals were really nice, and strong as usual. The music was nice, and the beat made for a nice head bob every time I listened to it. My only problem was near the end when it started to get confusing, and new elements kept being randomly thrown into the mix, and I thought it really made the song shuffled and kind of strange. The natural high element of the song was a good idea, but used in a bad way. I thought it was so random for the song, and didn’t make much sense. The song really changed a lot towards the end, and I lost track of the flow. It wasn’t bad because I enjoyed it, just it felt strange after a few lessons.

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A-

According to my grandma [Reliable? Not sure], Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) -2007 MIX- is a cover of a VERY old 50’s song that a lot of artists have sang. I’ve never heard the original, but I’m sure it’s really different assuming that the song really is from the 50’s. She does a really good job vocally on this song, and the beat [no way that is from the 50’s] is really catchy and fun. This is the shortest song on the single, and it’s kind of sad because I really like it. Her english is perfect, which is expected since she was born and half-raised in America. This song caught my attention even more than Kiss & Cry, and I really find it fun. I am wondering if the lyrics have been changed, because I don’t think fifties people sang like this. Either way, it’s a cool song.

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

SINGLE GRADE: A

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SINGLE REVIEW: Utada Hikaru- Flavor of Life

 

I know this isn’t Utada Hikaru’s most recent single, but it’s the first one i’ve listened to of her [I know, sin], so I’m going to post it first. Utada Hikaru is basically like the most famous Japanese artist of all time, and i’ve never met a Japanese person who genuinely disliked everything she does. She has so many awards on her shelf that it isn’t even funny, and somehow I’ve managed to go all this time without even sparing a second glance. Something drew me in about this single, and I decided I’d give it a try. I’m not sure what to think, since I’ve only heard Utada Hikaru’s voice in an interview [I don’t know how that’s possible, but it’s true…], which didn’t tell me much. Due to all her fans, I’m sure this will be good. Unless she’s an Ayumi hamasaki, and is famous for no reason. Anyway, Utada Hikaru’s ‘Flavor of Life’.

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Man, what can I say about Flavor of Life… Utada Hikaru’s vocals are just fabulous, and I couldn’t be more excited that I decided to listen to her music. I think she sounds really good, and her range is really cool. I really like the way she controls her voice, and I’m totally loving this song. This is actually the A-Side, but somehow not as popular as the Ballad Version of the song, which is the one that actually ended up with its own promotional video. The music for this song is really cool sounding, and I like Utada Hikaru’s slightly techno electronic sounds that she incorperated into this song. I don’t have much more to say about this song other than I love it.

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A+

Flavor of Life -Ballad Version- only makes the song more beautiful, as it focuses more on the power of Hikaru’s vocals rather than the electronic music. This song is fantastic, and I love when she sings ‘the Flavor of Life’. It sends chills down my spine. I like the piano featured in this song, which replaces the electronic beats in the song. Hikaru really does fantastic in this song, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite songs. I like the ballad version better, although I really like the regular version. I normally don’t review anything other than the original version, as I usually don’t even save the instrumentals. However, because of the fact that this song is more popular than the original title track, I had to review it.

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A+

SINGLE GRADE: A+

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