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Hello everyone! I’m Yuliana and even though I’ve been a member of the RE:me team ever since it was created, this is my first review here. I hope you enjoy it!
I’m going to review “Feel the love / Merry-go-round” by Ayumi Hamasaki, released on 10.12.2013 digitally and on 25.12.2013 physically. This is Ayumi’s 51th single, which makes it the first physical single since L that was released three years ago. It was released in 6 different versions:
CD+DVD (TeamAyu fanclub limited edition)
MUSIC CARD Feel the love / Merry-go-round ver.
MUSIC CARD ayupan Xmas ver. (includes an ayupan Christmas cartoon)
MUSIC CARD ayupan New Year ver. (includes an ayupan New Year cartoon)
01. Feel the love (Original mix)
02. Merry-go-round (Original mix)
03. Feel the love (DJ Hello Kitty remix)
04. Feel the love (Blasterjaxx remix)
05. Feel the love (Original mix -Instrumental-)
06. Merry-go-round (Original mix -Instrumental-)
01. Feel the love (video clip)
02. Merry-go-round (video clip)
03. A interview *TA ver. only
This single consists of dance songs. However, as anything else Mrs. Hamasaki (yes, “Mrs.” was intentional) does, they’re not some soulless generic EDM, but have the special Ayu touch in my opinion. Some might disagree with me, though. The main topic of both songs is love, but the message is different. This will be discussed more in details further.
Feel the love
This is an uplifting song about being optimistic, looking forward to the future no matter how sad the past can be and keeping looking for true love despite others judging you. At least this is how I interpret it. I also believe that it can be viewed as Ayumi’s response to all haters and fans that judge her love life, i.e. shotgun wedding and divorce with Manuel Schwarz, dating her dancer Maro and now the engagement with an 25 y.o. Amercian student.
This is a dance song, which would be very good for parties. It was composed by Tetsuya Komuro and produced by DJ Hello Kitty. Jarzu, as well as quite a few other fans, has mentioned in his review that Feel the love is a “house dance track”. I can’t comment on that because I’m not very proficient in music genres.
The majority of the lyrics is in Japanese, but the chorus is completely in English. While her accent is not perfect, I will disagree with Jarzu and say that her English is very good in this song. I personally didn’t have any difficulty understanding what she sang and everything made sense. It also makes the song much catchier.
Feel the love has a tie-up with an H.I.S. Christmas Fair CM and is also a CDTV opening theme for December/January.
While it is still pretty upbeat, this song has a more mysterious and bittersweet feel to it especially in the beginning. The verses can be described as mid-tempo (or at least it is slower than an average dance track), but then the rap part sung by Verbal kicks in and the song gets faster and more dance-y.
As for the lyrics, they are telling about a past relationship. A person who you used to love is not with you anymore. You fell in love very fast, but you split apart just as suddenly. You’re trying to move on, but you still miss him/her. And even though you know that you won’t be together any more, you still hope that you will see this person again someday.
There are barely any English lyrics in the song, and all of them are sung by Verbal. The pronunciation is good and English fits in the lyrics very well. While “No, it don’t matter now” irks me because it would’ve been more grammatically correct to use “doesn’t”, it is often used in spoken American English, especially in songs, so I can’t judge that.
Overall I enjoyed this single a lot. I got addicted to “Feel the love” as soon as the very first preview came out and I couldn’t get the chorus out of my head for a really long time. I wasn’t as impressed with Merry-go-round at first when I listened to the preview (even though I still liked it), but it grew on me very fast. And after reading the translation and watching the full PV I fell in love with this track as well. I wouldn’t call this a musical masterpiece: both songs have quite simple arrangements with almost no real instruments, but the single is still very enjoyable. Even though some might say that it is a generic soulless EDM release, I personally disagree with this opinion. Both songs bring out certain emotions for me, which I find the most important thing in music, especially in Ayumi’s case. And she didn’t fail this, just as usual, so I’m extremely satisfied with this single. I even liked both remixes even though I normally don’t listen to remixes much.
There’s only one thing I’m a bit dissatisfied about: I wasn’t quite fond of the “Feel the love” PV. While I find it fun, I like the message (and I didn’t find it as controversial as many other fans did) and Ayumi was very pretty, this is simply not my favourite music video. I don’t dislike it, I just don’t love it. However, in my rating I’m only judging the music and as I love all the songs on this single, it got a perfect score.
Welcome to the first Sunday Mini Series of 2014! And I know it’s a bit late, but Happy New Year, everyone! Actually I wanted to prepare a ‘real’ review but I didn’t have the time for it so far and so you’ll have to stick with me while I talk about three releases by Korean artists, though one of the albums is a Japanese release. So, let’s dive right into this little review~
Girl’s Day - Everyday III
The first release of 2014 for me so far and a really awesome one. This mini album, which I would’ve called a single album if anyone had asked me, is extremely catchy and has a sort of smooth concept overall that reminds me on soul music all the way. The intro is the only part of the release that I don’t like and this is because it isn’t that much about Girl’s Day but mainly about the producers who took it for themselves. Nevertheless the intro can’t ruin the mini album at all because what follows is just awesome. The whistling in the song Whistle in particular; ever since my review of Brown Eyed Girls’ KILL BILL music video everyone knows that I fall for songs that feature whistling. I can’t really decide which song I like the most but here’s a ranking of all songs minus the intro. Favorite Song(s): Whistle, Something, Show You. Rating: 4.5/5.
Girls’ Generation - LOVE&PEACE
Girls’ Generation released their third Japanese album at the end of last year. First of all, I’m extremely happy that they didn’t continue with those super long titles, although I really expected this one to be ‘GIRLS’GENERATION III ~Love&Peace~’. But in the end I’m happy that they chose to only call it LOVE&PEACE. The album includes all the songs that were released as singles since their previous album, as well a new one. The album consists of pop, dance, ballad —and in the case of Flyers I’d call it some sort of power pop— music. For me the album started off a little bit weak but it grew on me with every song. Overall I have to admit that I think it’s better than their second Japanese album and also better than their latest Korean album. All songs are really catchy and it comprises man uptempo songs but also a few slower tracks (Lips, Lingua Franca). The only so-to-say ‘real’ ballad is Everyday Love which ends the album. The lack of ballads doesn’t make it a bad album though, since ending it with this particular ballad made it a well-structured album for me. Favorite Song(s): Everyday Love, Love & Girls, Galaxy Supernova, Lingua Franca. Rating: 4/5.
Yong Junhyung - Flower
BEAST’s very own Junhyung released his first solo mini album, also at the end of last year. And I have to admit that this is the release that surprised me the most among this week’s three albums. When I say surprise then I’m talking about something very positive here. I expected a hip hop album and probably many features by vocalists. But what I got instead was Junhyung doing the singing himself and he did I quite good job there. Of course the focus mainly lies on his rapping skills but he also shows a different side with this albums. Yet, the mini album also features his labelmates G.NA and Yang Yoseob. The latter for a piano remake of the song Caffeine, which was the lead track off Yoseob’s debut solo mini album. Favorite Song(s): Caffeine (Piano Ver.), Anything. Rating: 4/5.
It’s almost Christmas, so I decided to make this week’s Sunday Mini Series a Christmas Mini Series! I hope you’ll forgive me that I just want to have all Christmas albums together in one review and therefore will copy and paste my review for Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red into this review again! Anyway… Merry Christmas in advance everyone!
Kelly Clarkson - Wrapped In Red
Kelly Clarkson brought us the Christmas spirit earlier this year in October with Wrapped In Red, a collection of Christmas songs, some old, some brand-new. All of the songs showcase Clarkson’s strong vocals. I’m particularly happy about the selected Christmas classics; one would usually expect Last Christmas on a Christmas album, but you won’t find it on Wrapped In Red. Instead “real” classics like White Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Silent Night are featured, songs that aren’t too over-played yet. Furthermore, the new songs feature very beautiful lyrics and melodies that merge perfectly with Clarkson’s vocals. I don’t have many Christmas albums by just one artist, and this is definitely my favorite, not only because it’s Kelly Clarkson, but because the arrangements of the songs bring up the perfect Christmas mood in me (and I don’t even like Christmas that much). Favorite Songs: Winter Dreams (Brandon’s Song), Underneath the Tree, 4 Carats. Rating: 4.5/5.
EXO - Miracles in December
Not sure if I should put it this way, but here’s the Asian take on a Christmas album with EXO’s Miracles in December. Actually it’s not one album but two mini albums and I spent the past hours to decide if I put everything in one review or in two. The thing is, for those of you who don’t know EXO yet, they are actually two subgroups, one present in South Korea and one in China, so the mini album was released in Korean and Chinese. Overall I have to say that I don’t feel the Christmas spirit in this album, I’m just missing instruments that I link to Christmas music, but since the songs feature Christmas-related words, I’m pretty sure that they nevertheless aim to be Christmas music. But what is the album like if not Christmas-y? Most of the tracks feature soul-ish elements or simply pop elements, but the songs are overall quite smooth. The title track Miracles in December is a rather dramatic ballad, but the so-called Classical Orchestra Version of this song, which doesn’t feature any vocals, sort of has a bit of a Christmas feel to it. Even though this album doesn’t really set me into a Christmas mood, I still think the album is well-arranged and nice to listen to. Personally I prefer the Chinese versions of the songs, but the Korean ones are also very enjoyable. Favorite Song(s): Miracles in December (Chinese Version), The Star (Korean Version), The First Snow (Chinese + Korean Version). Rating: 3.5/5.
Leona Lewis - Christmas, with Love
Before starting with my review (and before I might be killed by some people), I really need to say that I love Leona Lewis. Her pop albums are wonderful, but this album just didn’t do it for me and I never hold back my opinion. Even though the title of the album is Christmas, with Love, I don’t really feel any love in there. If I was talking about a dramatic album, then this one would be a 5/5, but it’s a Christmas album and I don’t really think Leona Lewis was feeling the Christmas spirit at all. For most of the album I was rather bored and very disappointed, although it got better towards the middle but this high didn’t stay until the album’s end. Overall I missed the Christmas cheer and I hope Leona Lewis will soon release a new pop album, since I think her voice does fit that style better. Favorite Song(s): Mr Right. Rating: 1/5.
This week’s review deals with the gloomy music video for Let Me Go by Avril Lavigne and feature artist Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, which was released on October 15, 2013. The song is a beautiful ballad and is part of Lavigne’s self-titled album, for which I wrote a mini review as part of my Sunday Mini Series. To read it, click here.
The lyrics of the song deal with the end of a relationship, the difficulties of letting go of that beloved person as well as of the memories. Nevertheless, the lyrics do not suggest getting lost in those memories, but rather to move on to a new life and let the memories in the past where they belong.
The music video picks up the topic of the memories that can’t be forgotten. It stars Avril Lavigne as a ghost from the past who haunts a mansion or rather the old man who’s taking care of it. Chad Kroeger is also part of the video, in the role of the younger version of this old man.
In the present, the mansion is empty and the old man is the only one around, apart from all the old furniture and the memories that haunt the place. In the beginning he is shown raking leaves but he stops before the music sets in and changes into a black suit and sits down in front of a mirror with his guitar. His reflection in the mirror is Kroeger, in the absolute same outfit which convinced me that they are meant to resemble the same person.
Lavigne is shown walking through the mansion, but mainly she’s performing the song on a sofa and while playing the piano.
This room with the piano is also the only place where Lavigne and Kroeger are shown together.
But there’s also one scene featuring Lavigne that I think doesn’t really fit into the storyline, at least not the way I outlined it. That’s the scene of her with the tablet PC, which I think is first of all quite shameless product placement, but furthermore it also doesn’t fit the image of her as a ghost that only exists in the memories of the old man. When he was younger, there were no tablet PCs for sure, unless he’s a time traveler.
When the song reaches the part of the lyrics where it’s time to let go of those past memories, the old man destroys a big hourglass that was standing behind him on a table which is his way of breaking free from the past. Afterwards, Kroeger lets go of Lavigne at the piano and time is running backwards for the old man until he’s shown in his work clothes again, walking down the hall but he’s only shown in the mirror.
Therefore, he might have also become a part of the mansion’s past.
The music video for Let Me Go fits the mood of the song very well. With its rather gloomy and artistic features it adds up to the ballad’s perfectness. Overall, the song is my favorite off Avril Lavigne’s new album and the music video only made me appreciate the song even more. If you haven’t watched it yet or want to watch it again, you can do that here!
F.T Island - THE MOOD
F.T Island have been pretty busy with releasing new music this year. This is another of their rock/pop-rock releases that showcase especially the incredible voices of lead singer Hongki, but I’m pretty happy that they didn’t forget to give Jaejin and Seunghyun their shares of vocals. While the title track Madly is a rather slow ballad track, influenced by the rock genre, especially I Can’t Have You and Siren represent their strong rock style with which they rose to recognition in Japan. Favorite Song(s): Siren, Madly. Rating: 4.5/5.
James Blunt - Moon Landing
James Blunt strikes again, with his possibly best album so far. First of all, every song on the album is extremely enjoyable and definitely worth listening. Moon Landing contains a well-composed mixture of folk, rock, pop-rock and ballads and many of the songs feature piano melodies. Furthermore, most of the songs have extremely catchy melodies and also pretty lyrics. In my opinion, this album is perfect to relax to and just listen to and enjoy! Favorite Song(s): Heart to Heart, The Only One, Face the Sun. Rating: 4/5.
C.N.BLUE - PRESENT
Last Month C.N.BLUE released their Japan Best Album in Korea. The album features songs that were previously released in Japan but on PRESENT C.N.BLUE so-to-speak cover themselves and release these songs now in Korea in Korean. Most of the songs were taken from their album What turns you on? but not all. Even though, I knew all of the songs already, I think this is an awesome rock album and I don’t know why, but I think that the Korean language suits these songs even better and particularly Greedy Man appears catchier to me in Korean. Favorite Song(s): Blind Love, One More Time, Greedy Man, Time Is Over. Rating: 4/5.
This week is the time for the newest Ayumi Hamasaki video for her song Feel the love from her upcoming 51st single (yes, her new single) Feel the love / Merry-go-round which is set to be released on December 25, 2013. This song is a collaboration between Ayu and DJ Hello Kitty.
Feel the love is a dance track, but I should use the term “house dance track”, because it’s influenced by house music, which is not surprising because it’s a collaboration with a DJ. The lyrics are telling the story about love in present and past. We have to feel the love in the present and forget about past days and memories that can hurt us. It’s a positive message, I think (maybe there are people who think otherwise). The song is sung in two languages. The chorus is sung in English, which Ayu is doing more often than before, but the rest of the song is sung in Japanese. There are some misunderstandings because, personally I think, Ayu’s English is not good. Instead of “Night ‘n’ day” I hear “Loving me”, and I didn’t know what she is singing until I read the lyrics. Nevertheless it’s not ruining the song.
The music video shows the story of a girl who is overweight. She’s in love with a cute boy (I know, girls, you can call him handsome or something, but I prefer using the word “cute”). The video starts with the scene where the girl is cutting herself out of a photograph and pastes that part on a photograph with this cute guy. After that she’s looking at that so-to-speak new photograph, kisses it and suddenly she stands up and leaves the room. From this moment on she is running to lose weight. In my opinion, she is doing it for her love interest. She wants him to notice her. She is running through various places like a beach, a playground, a gym and even through a pool.
Those scenes are mixed with cartoon scenes, which are showing the same girl doing the same thing, running, but in a way she could not do it in the real world. For example in the pool scene, she’s running to the pool and jumps into it. Then it changes into cartoon and the girl swims in the pool which suddenly changes into the ocean, she passes by a shoal of fish. In another cartoon scene the girl is flying on a broom and she’s dressed like a witch, but suddenly the broom breaks because of the girl’s weight.
Ayumi also takes part in the video and the storyline. In some scenes, we can see her with DJ Hello Kitty on TV screens where Ayu is singing and the DJ is playing on his DJ console. In the end of the video when the girl finds her love interest, she calls him but he seems to not notice her. The girl hits the balloon seller and after it the camera shows the sky and the balloons floating into the clouds. Then the camera is showing the ground and the girl is fit now. Why? Because now Ayumi is portraying the girl. After this change, the guy notices the girl and they hug each other.
DJ Hello Kitty appears more often in the video than Ayumi. It seems like he (or she) is observing the road the girl is running. He appears with her in the gym, during the yoga scene, in the pool, in the street, in the park and at the hairdresser.
The video doesn’t have much dance choreography which disappoints me a lot. We can see only 2 scenes with dance: during yoga and when the girl meets two girls in the street. She has a fight with them but suddenly she’s dancing with them. During the yoga practice the scene is shown in slow motion which ruins the magic of yoga scene (or maybe it’s pilates).
I have to admit I like the story that the Feel the love music video is showing, but checking the internet I saw that the fans are seeing different messages. It’s difficult to say what Ayumi wanted to show in this video, because we can find both – positive and negative messages. The positive message could be “whoever you are and however you are looking, you will find your love someday and you have to fight for it.” While the negative message, that shouldn’t be taken too serious, is for sure, “if you are fat, you will never have a boyfriend or you have to be Ayumi Hamasaki to catch a new boyfriend.” You can have other opinions (and we will be thankful if you’d share it with us), but I think the video is really great and it had to be a funny video instead of video with hidden message. The real ending of the video released some time later shows us that the hidden message in it is - whoever you are, fight for your dreams. I wouldn’t be myself if I found anything bad in it. This video is not what I was expecting, nevertheless. This track should show more dance scenes or it should be at least more like Avicii’s Wake Me Up or I Could be the One. Now we can only wait for the Merry-go-round music video.