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2005: J-Pop - A year in review

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Posted: Dec 26, 2005 7:35 am Reply with quote
Joined: 10 Oct 2005 Posts: 1975 Location: Melbourne, Australia
We are now stuck in the timeframe of post-Christmas and pre-New Years, a very good time that people use to reflect on the year that has been.

Basically, you can voice your opinions on whatever raised your interest in the Japanese Music industry in 2005, whether it be about an artist you like, you dislike, or just want to say something about. I'll start.

Otsuka Ai: After a breakthrough year in 2004, 2005 was another test to see if she could hang on to her popularity. To nobody's surprise, she continued to assert her authority, all singles reached the top 3 spots on Oricon charts, landing two #1 singles [respectively her 2nd and 3rd highest ever selling singles], and a #1 album released recently. Not only that, she also embarked on her JAM PUNCH tour, which was a great hit with the fans. I personally think 2005 was her best year... and I only hope she will do even better in 2006... It'd be great to see all her singles hit #1!!

Ayumi Hamasaki: People can doubt her more and more, but Ayu shows why she is the queen of J-pop. All her singles hit #1, and all of them selling in excess of 300k, with Bold&Delicious/Pride an exception. Once again, she had another impressive arena tour, one I regard as her best. After hearing (miss)understood, Ayumi does not seem like she is backing off in 2006 either.

w-inds.: - Quite a boring year for them.... The non-single tracks off Ageha weren't that great, and the singles released after Ageha were also not to my liking... However, their music has always appealed to a certain group of fans in Japan, and I guess 2005 has been an all right to solid year for them... But the major breakthrough still eludes them.

Spoiler Warning in regards to AWAKE tour 2005. Read at own risk.

L'Arc~en~Ciel: - Once again, they continuted their streak of #1 singles, although Link only made it to #2, yet it was their highest selling single of '05. Anyhow, AWAKE was a major improvement from SMILE... and with the themes explored in AWAKE, I sometimes liken them to a Japanese version of Green Day... Their AWAKE tour would be their best... they actually take the effort to have 'costumes' in some segments... and HYDE cries...
There is no doubt their days of glory are well over, but that said, it is nice to see them producing music that they want and just enjoying and exploring with their music... But alas, they went on a hiatus again... Surprised

Last edited by HilaryDuffFanboy on Dec 26, 2005 11:46 pm; edited 3 times in total
Posted: Dec 26, 2005 10:43 am Reply with quote
クムリウタ クムリウタ
Joined: 14 Apr 2005 Posts: 2039 Location: Europe
Allright I do like this idea so I am going to try to write a mini review myself.

Otsuka Ai - This year was brilliant for Ai-chin. She got a lot of attention this year and her releases did extremely well on Oricon. What I liked this year from Ai is how she stays true to herself and how she still remains down to earth. It is impressive how most of her releases got #1 for like a whole week. Apart from Ayu, there are only a handful female artists who can do it.

Also her promotional videos have been rather good in quality. Kuro en.. was simply amusing and fun to watch. Smily was fun to watch, a typical happy Ai video like Happy Days. Neko Ni Fuusen was kinda tacky but not completely awful. Planetarium was a symbolism heaven. It was beautiful and impressive. Bidama was allright just not as impressive. Cherish had the wow factor and was simply wonderful. Her singles were okay but had awful/mediocre b-sides except Neko Ni Fuusen. However their concepts were well made enough to attract you to buy the singles.

However I must say that her album wasn't what I was expecting. It was quite good, mind you but still I wasn't blown away like I was with her previous two albums. It just doesn't show a sort of growth apart from the increase of "rockier" songs. I just expected something new and more innovative not something sounding recycled.

Overall I liked this year but I must say I preferred last year in some aspects since in some parts I believe she came off as lacking.

Ayumi Hamasaki - I've heard a million of rumours and people trying to put Ayu down but the fact is that Ayu is one of those strong women who just won't sit down and cry about their failures but keep on fighting which makes her have that amazing stronghold on the Queen status.

All her singles were impressive especially in having a double A Side. The weakest single song was "fairyland" which was excellent in itself. All her singles got #1 in the weeklies and were hits. Her promotional videos' quality and style was questionable and controversial. STEP you was retro and amusing and full of symbolism. is this LOVE? was allright and fit the theme perfectly however left many fans asking questions. my name's WOMEN was brilliant and simply stunning. fairyland was simply eyecandy and nothing else. alterna was daring and impressive. HEAVEN was artistic and simplistic but was boring too. Bold and Delicious was fun and amusing and cleverly made use of offshots merged in the video. Not her best video to date but definately fun. Pride was symbolic, poignant but lacked any plot which made it a bit plain. rainy days was exactly how I love her videos. With a plot, symbolism and a touching theme.

Her tour was simply brilliant and kept people talking for months in Japan. Also despite of the tacky cover of miss understood, the album was definately stunning. It's brilliant, actually more than that. The non-album tracks are insanely good and the interludes are amazing. I was simply left overwhelmed by this album and I do think this album is a response to all those Ayu haters who claim she's lost her touch. This album is extremely powerful and definately points out how Ayu shall be going into 2006 with all her energy and talent to amaze us again.

Ami Suzuki - Ami's return was definately something groundbreaking. For one avex had taken back an artist who had been blacklisted - something which no one had dared in the past. Also sha made her comeback with techno - a genre which isn't really what you'd call huge in Japan. She has released an album, two ringtones and six singles along with having her live house tour too. Nonetheless I have to say I've enjoyed the quality of her work she's released.

I've enjoyed how powerful her singles sound and how they portray her desire to get back what she has lost. Her promotional videos have been satisfactory too and her AROUND THE WORLD album was brilliant though I have to admit does lack variety. I did not mind though since I love techno.

Although her sales have not been huge I have to say she's been getting a lot of recognition. She has performed in A-Nation, recieved a few awards for her comeback and is going to perform in the Kohaku event. I've enjoyed what Ami has produced this year and I do hope she gains more popularity in 2006.

Koda Kumi - To be honest I was surprised to see Kumi's sudden burst of popularity.
In a matter of two months she suddenly became super popular in Japan. This year was definately her breakthrough year.

I suppose it is indeed her best year but I'm still torn between being impressed and not. It seems to me that most of her singles are a hit and miss. Some are good, others are mediocre or lacking. Also her hit "Butterfly" in all honesty is overrated. It's catchy and good, true but it didn't attract my attention for a long time. Her best album was definately well made conceptually though and has gained her a multitude of new fans and we see Kumi being sexier than ever which is a bit too much imo. I'm not a fan of her sexy bordering skankiness in D.D.D.

Her latest project the 12 singles is proving to be extremely successful although I do sometimes suspect all of it is gimmicky. Her singles have ranged from being rather good (D.D.D, you) to simply awful to my ears (Lies, Shake It Up). I suppose this hit and miss trend shall go on in 2006. However I am not impressed.

Hitomi Shimatani - If I had to choose a year for releases from Hitomi Shimatani I'd probably choose 2005. With four singles and two album full of beautiful vocals you definately would not be disappointed. Also Hitomi had two live events - one promoting her concept album Crossover and the other her album Heart & Symphony

Garnet Moon
was striking and probably the best single in 2005. The promotional video too was interesting to watch and her dancing skills show a huge improvement. Mermaid was one of those stunning singles with beautiful lyrics, vocals and composition which made it simply perfect. The promotional video was simply amazing too and Hitomi looked like a goddess in it. Falco was stunning, ethnical and catchy with a sexy and stunning promotional video. Maihiru no Tsuki was beautiful and simple.

Crossover was a neat concept album reinventing her old music and transforming it into beautiful and dramatic tracks. Her full album Heart and Symphony was dramatic, beautiful and classy taking you back in time and around the whole world in a little over an hour.

I do think single wise Hitomi Shimatani has produced the best material in 2005 but sadly she has recieved little recognition. I was pleased to see she recieved a few awards for her work and talent though and she finally appeared in A-Nation! I do think this year has brilliant for her.
Posted: Dec 26, 2005 11:22 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 26 Jun 2005 Posts: 497 Location: New York
HilaryDuffFanboy wrote:
and HYDE cries...

You TOTALLY SHOULD NOT say something like this. Mad Some people here haven't seen the tour yet and when they do get their DVD in the mail, I'm sure they'd like to have important details such as this one as a SURPRISE. Spoilers like this are not appreciated. AT ALL. AT ALL. Next time don't post important things such as this! No Mad
Posted: Dec 26, 2005 11:44 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 10 Oct 2005 Posts: 1975 Location: Melbourne, Australia
^Well, this is an Otsuka Ai forum, I don't see why I should restrain my freedom of speech about another music group on an Otsuka Ai forum. But just in case that there peopl who are unfortunate enough to fall into the situation which you so vehemently explain with outrage and disgust, I have put a spoiler warning.

comment by eyn: Sorry to say this but your reasoning of Channel-Ai being an Ai Otsuka forum is a rather far-fetched one. Do watch out when you are going to reveal stuff like that, we have all kinds of members here and it's not hard to know that Leanne is a hardcore laruku fan. She's pretty upset about it, imagine if you're a Harry Potter fan and someone told you xxx gonna die in the last book.

It's not about freedom of speech, it's about consideration.
Posted: Dec 27, 2005 1:09 am Reply with quote
上塩タン焼680円 上塩タン焼680円
Joined: 24 Nov 2005 Posts: 287
Otsuka Ai: Despite what everyone said, I do not think this year is her breakthrough. Although all her singles released this year are good, and Cherish was a pleasant suprise, her singles lacks the shines her of her last year's single. However, her single's b-side tracks were mediocre at the best. SMILY is poppy like Sakuranbo but lacks the shine, Biidama is pleasantly rockish and not at all cute, but fun to hear. Neko no fuusen is calming and acoustic but slightly boring. Planetarium is a ballad worth listening and one of her best songs, although I think there should be more emotions put to it. Her album, however, was not that great. Although not horrible, it lacks diversity from her previous two albums and I feel the songs are rather rushed together.

Her PV this year is a pleasant change. Planetarium has an enjoyable mature theme and Cherish is also a pleasant video, although the zoom in of the bottles reminded me of a recovering alcoholic. Neko no Fusen is very original, although the CG was horrible. Smily, to be frank, scared the living crud out of me.

Overall a good year, not her best.

Ayumi Hamasaki: Ayu has shown us once again that she is not going to back down as queen. STEP you/Is this LOVE single was simply amazing. Fairyland, although my least favourite single of the year, is very enjoyable. Heaven is very beautiful and full of emotions, and Will is authentic and a true CREA+DAI creation. Bold&Delicious is a interesting change, and Pride is simply gorgeous. Not to mention her Arena tour is just beautifully done.

Her PV this year is not her best, but quite interesting. STEP you is very symbolic and catchy, is this LOVE is emotional but a little dull. Fairyland is catchy and symbolic but can be a bit boring, while Alterna showed Ayumi's strength. Heaven is beautifully done although a bit dull, while bold&Delicious showed the fun side of Ayumi and also showed the old Ayumi hamasaki vs. Ayu in anew light. Pride is beautiful and just what I've expected.

Her new album, although the not-so-good cover, is quite good and I think 2006 well be even better.

Gackt: Despite the Love Letter album, which was dull and un-Gackt, he made a comeback with the mindblowing Diablos album. Gackt manage to take the best of his previous rock albums and somehow blended together in Diablos. His singles were also a pleasant surprise. Metamophose is very powerful, and powerful and touching. Noesis is very good for a b-side. I have good hopes for him in 2006.

Although his hair is somewhat...interesing

Utada Hikaru: Once again trying to make a comeback in the Jpop industry. Be my Last is calming and acoustic, but very boring. Passion is a great song with a dreamy feeling. However, in terms of Sales, Hikki has hit a stop. Be my last did not reach 200K and Passion didn't even debut at number 1. But I trust Hikki will make a good comeback next year and more tracks to her singles.
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