Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Review: Ayumi Hamasaki - NEXT LEVEL

Ayumi Hamasaki is the best well-known J-pop singer out of Japan, not that the rest is of poor quality...she just turned out to be the lucky one. Anyways, I started listening to her after downloading a few compilations with remixes to her songs and I have been listening to them for two years before I've decided to give her a serious try. Well, I do admit that I have never listened to her full discography, but dare say I have heard enough of her in order to be able to say a few words on her newest release "NEXT LEVEL". I have always found it quite funny how most J-pop singers have an album almost every years, I guess the competition there is great and people tend to forget those who are missing from the scene for too long.

"NEXT LEVEL" is Hamasaki's tenth studio release and two weeks after its release it has sold more than 300,000 copies, solely in Japan, which is quite an impressive figure for European standards. After a few listens I am quite satisfied with the album...it is not the great discovery of modern pop music, but it is full of catchy tunes, electronic beats, a bunch of ballads and of course fillers. There is nothing impressive or innovative, and most certainly I have listened to much better pop albums, but "NEXT LEVEL" is anything but boring. No wonder Hamasaki is that successful in Asia, the majority of the songs are potential hits in her homeland as stylistically they go from pop through electronica to rock...in order words there is at least one suitable track for J-music lovers.

In the next few weeks I expected her to gain more popularity as the single "Rule" is chosen as the official international theme to the movie "Dragonball Evolution" which will premiere at European and American cinemas/theaters this very week.

Songs to hear: "NEXT LEVEL", "Green", "Rule", "Sparkle" and "LOVE 'n' HATE"

Personal rating: 6 out of 10

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