Koda Kumi – JAPONESQUE

02/08/2012 at 6:17 AM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment
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^the only cover I found tolerable.

~Album~

Koda Kumi – JAPONESQUE

1. Introduction ~JAPONESQUE~

2. So Nice feat. Mr.Blistah

3. Boom Boom Boys

4. V.I.P. feat. T-Pain (Album Version)

5. Slow feat. Omarion

6. Brave

7. Everyday

8. IN THE AIR

9. You are not alone ~acoustic version~

10. Interlude ~JAPONESQUE~

11. ESCALATE

12. Love Me Back

13. No Man’s Land

14. Ai wo Tomenaide

15. KO-SO-KO-SO

16. Lay Down

17. Love Technique

18. Poppin’love cocktail feat. TEEDA

19. All for you

Sorry this was delayed although that’s probably now expected of me (working on it I swear!) I have my reasons of course… but anyway, was a little skeptical about this one given Dejavu, though still optimistic.

Oh hey “Introduction ~JAPONESQUE~” sounds typically Asian/Japanese, surprise surprise. That being said it actually sounds pretty good and is a cool intro. The traditional Japanese instruments are complimented really nicely with some heavy urban influences. As a theme for the album it works really well, and kind of even sets the tone for the whole album.

Score – 8

“So Nice feat. Mr. Blistah” is our first track and it’s a new one. It’s a typically sexed up R&B track coming from Kumi so you can expect all sexy and breathy vocals, not to mention moaning and gasps. I didn’t really feel anything about Mr. Blistah’s rap, it was barely there, speaking of which the song is pretty short clocking in just under 3 minutes. Overall the song was decent and memorable but failed to leave a good impression on me.

Score –7

The first track to rock it up on this album is “Boom Boom Boys” not that you wouldn’t think that from the name, or maybe you would, it’s all about perception I guess. Anyway, as I said, it’s got a pretty strong rock-ish sound going tinged with some electric influences with some synthed up vocals. A lot of Kumi’s vocals are layered on top of each other, and for some reason it seemed a little distracting in this song. I will say that the really heavy electric guitar and bass in the background more than make up for it though.

Score – 8

And we reach our first single song with “V.I.P. feat. T-Pain (Album Version)”. Unfortunately it was my least liked song off of 4 TIMES though I would hardly consider it a bad song per se. It’s grown on me a bit, the string I thought were random before I actually kind of like now. T-Pain’s extremely short rap brings absolutely nothing to the table however, the song would be perfectly fine without it.

Score – 8.5

So we reach our first ballad of the album and thankfully it’s a decent one .”Slow feat. Omarion” is a mid tempo track with oversynthed vocals, I would have liked the song a lot more had it not been for that. Regardless, that doesn’t stop me from liking the song. The bass and quite grand arrangement going on reminds me of popular rap/R&B tracks released here in the US. Thankfully Omarion brings a bit more than the past two featured guys on this album. He offers mostly background at first but then brings in a little bit of a solo in the bridge. It really is too bad because the too synthed vocals really kill this one’s rating.

Score – 8

Slow makes a perfect segue song for “Brave” which is definitely a full fledged ballad. It’s too bad because we can normally expect a lot from Kumi’s ballads but this one ends up coming off a little boring and not very amazing. It’s typical ballad fare, strings, piano, etc. with not much else really going for it, except for maybe Kumi’s vocals, but that’s almost always a given. At the end of multiple lessons it just ended up being kind of forgettable.

Score – 6.5

Speaking of typical Koda Kumi, things get cute with “Everday”, an upbeat lighthearted sounding track. It just seemed very filler, very B-side, or maybe even C-side if you will. Not that B-sides can’t be album tracks (we’ll get to that in a bit) or are bad in any way. But yeah I’m awestruck as to how little I have to say about this one, it’s just kind of nothing to me.

Score – 6

And now we are at my most favorite track from 4 TIMES “IN THE AIR”. Perfectly uplifting and a great, catchy chorus. I’d actually consider it one of her best pop songs.

Score – 9

So now we’re at a B-side (from Ai wo Tomenaide) with “You are not alone” but this time it’s an acoustic version. To be honest, I don’t think I like it. I seemed to like the original version of the song well enough, although even now I’m beginning to question that. I typically really enjoy acoustics but something about this one was just kind of meh.

Score – 7

I definitely felt it coming, we’ve reached the half way point so to speak with “Interlude ~JAPONESQUE~”. Continuing with the introductions theme the instrumental is mixed with a traditional sounds at first and then the modern influences pop in. This time it’s more of an electronic bassy sound an interesting lightness and vocals from Kumi almost seems to leak in towards the middle which I thought was cool. Overall an interesting interlude.

Score – 7.5

“ESCALATE” really works as a song that brings the song back up from the dip that started with Slow. Though this is another one of those songs that almost feels like there is too much going on in it at once. You’ve got a lot of sounds and beats and synths all with a bunch of layered vocals and I feel the overall effect gets lost in the chaos.

Score – 7.5

“Love Me Back” was Kumi’s latest single release before the album’s release. I still kind of like the secret agent sound it seems to have going on. Though over time I think my overall opinion of the song has gone down a little bit. To be honest. I would have MUCH preferred this single’s B-side “Say Her Name” to this song any day. That one has grown on me immensely.

Score – 7.5

With “No Mans Land” we’ve got another rock track on our hands which is immediately evident with a quiet guitar intro which suddenly is interrupted by heavy percussion and electric guitar. And it even manages to squeeze in some urban influence as well for good measure. The overall atmosphere of the song and the amazing chorus is what really gets me. This ended up being my favorite track of the album and I’ve already been abusing the repeat button.

Score – 9.5

At least “Ai wo Tomenaide” is better than Brave? I’ll admit I like it a bit more than I originally did but that’s all I can really say about it. It’s more in line from what I expect from a Kumi ballad.

Score – 7.5

Ah the famous “KO-SO-KO-SO”. One of Kumi’s sexiest and provocative songs. I really love it, especially for how smooth it sounds and flows with its chorus.

Score – 9

“Lay Down” tries to keep the sexy going while bringing in a popping electric synth sound in with it. Again I’m left feeling as if the song is a bit of filler for the album. It doesn’t really go anywhere, it maintains the same kind of level for the entirety and by the end it kind of drags.

Score – 6.5

“Love Technique” starts and I’m all “wat is happening”. It’s uptempo and fast vocals and 8-bity and cutesy and yeah… An interesting track to say the least. It almost had this 90’s vibe going on that I liked. The chorus is easily the best part of the song, without that exact one, I probably would have hated this song.

Score – 8

I loved “Poppin’ love cocktail feat. TEEDA” for its energy, atmosphere and rock-ish sound which was perfect for a summer release. TEEDA still doesn’t impress me any, and I do wish the song had been less repetitive.

Score – 8.5

The album closes with “All for you”. All I can say is “wow”. First off, a perfect ending song for an album (it’s slow of course). It’s totally stripped down and I mean really. Acoustic guitar and Kumi’s vocals with no actual professional recording/mastering. It sounds like Kumi sat down with her guitar player and someone recorded it with their digital camera in one take which I think is really cool. The vocals are divine with emotion you can really feel. The guitar is perfectly melancholy and compliments the vocals well.

Score – 9.5

Final Note

Wow, this album is really a mixed bag isn’t it? But I suppose that’s its real selling point, the variety.I like a surprising number of the more urban tracks more than I thought I would, and of course I loved the rock-ish stuff. After that mess Dejavu, JAPONESQUE ends up being more of a solid album than I thought it was going to be and I was pleasantly surprised.

Overall Rating

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