Koda Kumi – JAPONESQUE

27 01 2012

File:japonesque goods.jpg

The latest Japanese singer to get preggers and have a shotgun wedding before the baby drops, Miss Koda Kumi herself, has just released her new album, JAPONESQUE.  I always love her albums, and this one is no exception.  As you could deduce from the title, it has a lot of traditional Japanese influence mixed with Koda’s personal hip hop/r&b style that makes for one exceptionally well-made album.  Unlike most albums, I feel like not a single one of these songs is a throw-away or a filler (except for the two fillers), and it really spared no expense.  If I wasn’t a poor college student and it wasn’t SO EXPENSIVE, I would really pay the extra $20-$30 for the CD+DVD edition because most of the songs on this album have music videos.

01./10. Introduction/Interlude ~JAPONESQUE~

Usually I’m not a big fan of Koda’s filler/transition songs, but these are the exception.  Maybe it’s because I love the mix of styles.  They actually captures your attention and draws you back in to the album instead of being the tracks you just skip over.

02. So Nice feat. Mr. Blistah

I immediately thought of “Candy” when I saw this on the tracklist.  Funny enough, after hearing this song, it also sounds an awful lot like Koda and Mr. Blistah’s previous duet.  It’s the only other time I’ve even heard of Mr. Blistah.  He’s a really energetic rapper and is very complimentary to Koda.  The big difference between the two songs is that his one is much… calmer? than “Candy.”  Even so, everything about this song screams Koda.  Why?  It’s about sex and has all kinds of sex sounds in it.  Ah, Koda.

03. Boom Boom Boys

This is actually my least favorite song on the album.  I don’t think Koda is very well-suited for a rockish style.  I hate the “raps”, they just sound annoying.  More than anything, I think that ruined the song for me.  Her vocals are great, I just don’t enjoy the verses.

04. V.I.P. (feat. T-Pain)

I like the single version of this song better.  You can tell T-Pain only half-assed his phone-in rap.  But I love the single version of this song.  It took a couple listens to grow on me, but it’s really catchy.  And again, so Koda.  Her harmonies really stick out in this song because it showcases her high range in a more interesting way than her ballads.  She also has phenomenal energy on this song.  Oh, and the PV?  One of those great Koda music videos, like “BUT” and “TABOO.”

05. Slow feat. Omarion

I’ve never liked Omarion, and after the fail!T-pain of the last song, I was a little worried about this song.  But it’s a lot better than the last one.  Omarion’s parts actually make sense and compliment the song, and it’s not just one verse.  His vocals are sprinkled in from the first chorus on.  This song is just up-beat enough to be interesting but it’s slow-tempo’d, which showcases Koda’s ballad ability without putting you to sleep.

06. Brave

I’m hit-and-miss with Koda ballads.  I usually either hate them or love them (“Ai no Uta” is probably my favorite ballad of hers).  I thought I wouldn’t like this song, but I actually really like it.  It’s got a lot of layers to it–strings, synthesizer, drums, piano, and her vocals–instead of just a piano and her voice.  So while it’s a ballad, it’s a full and audio-compelling number.  Also, the instrumental reminds me of Ragnarok Online.  Bonus points!

07. Everyday

This song reminds me a lot of her Kingdom album, particularly “Koi no Mahou”, which is one of my favorite songs of Koda’s.  It’s really simple, but very uplifting.  It almost feels like a filler, but I would definitely listen to this song on it’s own (and I do).

08. IN THE AIR

I seriously loved Koda’s 4 Times single.  I’m excited I get to review it now.  I love this song for a lot of the same reasons I love “Slow.”  It’s slow and beautiful on the verses, but it picks up on the choruses.  It’s really, really uplifting.  When you’re in a bad mood or super depressed, this is a great song to listen to.  Even if you don’t understand Japanese, just the melodies are beautiful and happy.  The message is very positive (so unlike Koda!), about overcoming hard times and looking for the good even bad situations.  This song came out when I really needed to hear it, and for that it’s one of my favorites on this album.

09. You Are Not Alone (Acoustic Live Version)

The original version of this song was very different, so this version is really interesting.  Koda’s live vocals in this slowed-down version are really soothing.  I wouldn’t listen to this song on it’s own, but I often listen to the original version.  If you like acoustic guitar and Koda, this is the song for you!

11. ESCALATE

I love it when Koda does electronic-infused songs.  This song has nothing amazing to offer, but it’s a particularly catchy song.  This is the kind of song you expect to hear from Koda.

12. Love Me Back

Another single song that I didn’t review when it came out!  This song, like “V.I.P.” took a couple listens to grow on me.  I LOVE the synthesizer on the verses of this song.  It’s a spy song done right (Yamashita Tomohisa and SNSD, I’m looking at you).  The English hardly makes sense, but because this is such a fun song, it’s okay.  You usually get serious or sexy from Koda, but I love the fun songs like this that she does the most.

13. No Man’s Land

I already said I don’t think Koda does the rock style very well.  I’m not a huge fan of this song, either, but it’s better than “Boom Boom Boys.”  With the white-noised raps, it reminds me a lot of Linkin Park (except way better).  I like the lyrics a lot, though.

14. Ai wo Tomenaide

This is a nice song, but I feel the same way about it as I did when it came out.  It’s beautiful, but puts me to sleep.  A classic Koda ballad.

15. KO-SO-KO-SO

This was my favorite song off of 4 Times.  It’s my favorite song of Koda’s of 2011.  Probably my favorite on this album, too.  I’m pretty addicted to it.  The song has the same feel that 2NE1’s “Hate You” does with the synthesizer that for some reason is so damn catchy.  It’s down-right addictive.  I love this song.

16.  Lay Down

This song is super catchy.  I really like the way it sounds.  And on the surface, I really like the message about women taking control.  But, wait… Koda… are you supporting rape?!  Seriously?!  When I figured out the heavily-accented English lyrics, I was floored.  It kind of ruins the song for me.  I mean, it’s still catchy, but rape… is so not okay to sing about.  Especially because, sorry to say it, but Koda’s about to become a mother.  And she’s endorsing rape?!  In what world does that seem okay??

17. Love Techinique

This is my favorite new song on the album.  It’s adorable and catchy and up-beat and the best part?  It has 8bit.  SUPER WIN.  This is one of the few times I really enjoy Koda’s rapping.  It’s like S/mileage rapping, though–precious, not gangsta.  This song is so different from the rest of the album because it’s so poppy in an album of hip hop/r&b.  And it shines.  So bright.  This is a brilliant song.  If you choose one to listen to, start here.

18. Poppin’ love cocktail feat. TEEDA

Again with the rock.  I hated this song on 4 Times, and I still do.  It’s the bastard song of this album.

19. All for you

This song.  Love it.  Despite her first note being off-key, it is very clearly live.  It sounds like they recorded it with a 90’s cellphone in a bathroom.  But that makes it all the better.  It’s a touching song jam-packed with emotion.  I’m not sure if this is to her fans, her husband, or her baby, but either way, it’s a touching song.  It’s the perfect end to the album, in my opinion.

This is one of my favorite albums of Koda’s, probably second only to Kingdom.  I’m pretty sure this’ll be her last before she goes on hiatus due to the thing in her tummy.  Congratulations, Koda, don’t screw it up this time.  Don’t let your vagina shrivel up and die.  And stop canceling your tours, damnit.

But good job on the album.

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2 02 2012
K-Round Up: Secret, Miryo, and B.A.P. « Shanimuni Paradise

[…] So really, this might as well be their debut Japanese single.  And it’s not a bad song by any means, it just doesn’t have that “WOW” factor.  I’m not saying that all ballads don’t, for a great example of a “WOW” ballad, see my review of Koda Kumi’s JAPONESQUE. […]

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