Ayumi Hamasaki – FIVE

08/31/2011 at 11:04 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | 2 Comments
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~Mini-Album~

Ayumi Hamasaki – FIVE

1. progress

2. ANother song feat. URATA NAOYA

3. Why… feat. JUNO

4. beloved

5. BRILLANTE

After two albums in just one year last year, Ayu takes a little bit of a break and slows it all down by quietly releasing this gem.

What feels like a LONG time ago, it was announced that Ayu would do the theme song for the newest Tales of game, Tales of Xillia. Fast forward to now and the song “progress” is out and it’s beautiful and awesome for a video game theme and an Ayu song by itself. It starts out pretty quiet, simple piano and strings with Ayu singing the first verses and chorus. After that however, everything picks up! In comes fast strings, percussion and a grungy electric guitar start up and the song really gets going. The most impressive is the chorus now as Ayu is really putting her all into and she sounds really strong in it, it flows perfectly too, and is wicked catchy. She finishes the song with what seems like an extra syllable tacked onto the last line of the last chorus which I found cool and tacks on some vocalizing (WOAH WOAH WOAHHH) which flows so well and ends the song off perfectly.

Score – 9.5

“ANother song” features Urata Naoya whom Ayu collaborated with last year for Dream ON. Also geddit? ANother? AYU NAOYA. A. N. ANYWAY… moving on. This song is kind of  a medium ballad with some synths and rhythmic clapping going the entire time. I’m still not a huge fan of Naoya’s voice although am getting used to it I suppose. The song seems kinda bland because there isn’t much different in the verses and when the chorus hits, though when the bridge hits you know it. A little bit of key changing in the final choruses spices things up a bit. Not a bad song, but just kinda… nice? Eh.

Score – 8

Another collab is up next with “Why…” which features JUNO. I like his voice a bit better than Naoya’s but hey, whatever… This song is a bit of a bigger ballad that’s a bit more involved. The verses are fairly quiet and everything gets a bit loud in the chorus which is bursting with percussion and strings. I thought their voices blended a bit better as well during the chorus and such. I liked the back and forth vocals and overall structure featured in the bridge. I find Ayu doesn’t do many collabs and maybe I like it better that way, but this one’s not bad at all.

Score – 8.5

Now for a real Ayu ballad “beloved” is beautiful and heartfelt. The verses are calming with prominent piano and background strings. I like how the strings become more involved once the chorus hits and the building of everything overall as the first chorus comes to a close and percussion and chimes come into the mix. I loved the melody during the bridge and the slight vocalizing featured in it was beautiful. Wish the outro was a little more involved, although the vocalizing was nice.

Score – 9

And here is the mini album closer. “BRILLANTE” pronounced ‘brill-on-tay’ is something else altogether. The song features some really interesting ethereal sounds and starts off with male chanting in (I think) Latin. Everything builds slightly and quite suddenly explodes into a bit of Arabic and even Egyptian sounding influences.  Everything quiets down as Ayu actually starts singing which for some reason sounds more beautiful than ever. Everything picks up, including the chanting during the chorus. There is something really raw about Ayu’s voice when she is singing here and I think it works absolutely great. The music and arrangement are I suppose on par with some kind of big, movie soundtrack sounding song, it’s all really impressive. The bridge is positively beautiful and could bring me to tears in a weaker state. The ending is interesting also in that it’s a bit extended and features some more chanting. The background music also stutters a bit and starts repeating exponentially and it all comes to an abrupt end.

Score – 10

*Note*

Upon my first listen I did stumble upon FIVE’s hidden track. Unfortunately this song is only a slightly alternate / different version of “Why…”  and it features Urata Naoya instead of JUNO. It’s a bit more upbeat and I really enjoyed listening to it. Would have killed for a completely new song though. No ratings for this song though. Go buy this mini and give it a listen!

Final Note

I’ve heard a lot of negativity is surrounding FIVE and I quite honestly don’t know Why… progress and BRILLANTE are some of Ayu’s best songs TO DATE, BRILLANTE even being a song I considered to be one of her best ever, in all honesty.

Overall Rating

FullFullFullFullHalf

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2 Comments »

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  1. I agree this new mini-album is GREAT!! I especially love BRILLIANTE too, I’d probably give it less than a 10 but at least 9.5, possibly 9.7, but that rounds up to 10 anyway. I think BRILLIANTE is one of the most artistic songs ever, the chants really give me the chills but that makes this album just awesome. Have you seen the video for BRILLIANTE? Really creative, I love the song and I love ayu! The end was really haunting O.o

    • I have, and at first I thought it was a little strange but I think after watching it a few times and extracting some of the meaning behind it, I’ve grown to like it to. And did you know? The guy chanting in the video is the composer of the song!


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