HEAVEN

by Rinoa on September 16, 2005 · 13 comments · AddThis

Popteen 2005
Ayumi on Popteen, September 2005 Issue
Artist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Product Code: AVCD-30842/43
Release Date: 2005.09.14
Highest Ranking: #1
Genre: Pop/Ballad
Label: avex trax
Format: CD or CD+DVD

Ayumi Hamasaki’s 37th single “HEAVEN” was released on the 14th September 2005. Apart from being Ayumi Hamasaki’s 3rd single for this year, it is also the theme song for the highly anticipated movie “SHINOBI -heart under blade-”. For this reason, Ayumi spent a lot of time and energy onto this single for months prior its release due to its importance, making it a highly anticipated release for her fans.

The promotional campaign by avex was once again quite aggressive. Both songs had quite a strong tie-in. “Will” had a tie-in with the Panasonic Lumix FX9. Hamasaki had a busy schedule, with magazine photoshoots, radio shows and appearances on variety shows. Despite of the strong promotional campaign “HEAVEN” made it’s debut at #2, which came as a shock to many fans. Luckily enough the single would climb to #1 on the Oricon charts and managed to gain the first spot on the weekly charts.

The cover of “HEAVEN” is rather simple and plain. Nonetheless its’ simplicity is what attracts the attention and makes it stand out from the rest. The only colours used were black and white and the photographer made use of the chiaroscuro technique. This is the technique of using light and shade in pictorial representation to give more depth and emotion in an image. Furthermore, Hamasaki shed her glamorous image and the cover artwork featured Ayu’s profile with minimal make up and no accessories.

 

1. “HEAVEN”

The first track is the ending theme song for “SHINOBI -heart under blade-” and is highly acclaimed to be the Japanese version of “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. The reason why this ballad is so famous is because it is a power ballad with a lot of emotion within it. Hamasaki’s vocals are also perfect in conveying a lot of emotions within a song and she successfully managed to communicate the sorrow and yearning that was present in the movie.

Another factor that made this ballad so successful was the fact that it related the story of a very strong love. The lyrics describe how the couple met and how she felt so touched by his emotions that she gave way to tears. On that they she felt that they have felt what love should truly feel like. Despite of this strong love, there were difficult times where they went on different ways but somehow they always found each other again. For this reason she believes that her fate is to be with her lover. In the end, no matter what the future has in store, she will always have him in her heart. For her falling in love will always be the definition of “heaven”.

“What you offered straight to me, with a smile for the last time was just so beautiful that I gave way to tears.”

Hamasaki starts off with fragile and forlorn vocals which seamlessly blend in with the instrumentals. The background music gradually picks up along when Ayumi’s vocals grow more powerful until the climax, when chorus breaks in and all the emotion built up is heard in the chorus. In the end the song reverts back to it’s fragile and mellow tone as it had started off with in the beginning. The arrangement of this track is quite different from her typical ballads that she has released in the past. It starts off with the verses, then a bridge, and the song ends with the chorus. The hint of traditional musical instruments and the ethereal mood also adds to the appeal of this ballad.


iPod iPod version (0 MB)

The simplistic concept from her single’s cover is recurrent within the promotional video too. We only get to see Hamasaki singing at a train station. In the end, the audience discovers that the train is carrying the passengers who have passed away, which suggests that her lover has also passed away. Despite of having a rather plain video, the emotions within this song still seems to manage to convey itself in a clear and emotional manner.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

2. “Will”

“Will” was also a very successful and popular ballad amongst her fans, despite the fact that this song wasn’t promoted much. The style of this song is quite unique for Hamasaki. It carries a strong oriental tone, which hasn’t been utilised much in Hamasaki’s past releases. Another very attractive factor about this song is that it is a clear portrayal of her vocal improvements through the years. Finally this song was composed by CREA and DAI. CREA is the code name for Hamasaki’s own compositions.

“What is sad is to lose sight of myself for the sake of myself.”

The song starts off with an unearthly mood and with mellow traditional Japanese instruments. Hamasaki sings a few lines in a soothing and clear manner during the verses. During the chorus her vocals soar and become more powerful, making the song rather memorable. The traditional Japanese instruments, the synthesizers, and the acoustic guitar combined altogether are reminiscent of the Enka genre. The end of the song is rather similar to the beginning as it slowly fades away in the same dignified manner.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

3. “alterna” Orchestra Version

“alterna” was a very strong song in itself. However I really do believe that the Orchestra Version does portray it in a new light and give it a completely new dimension. The orchestra version seems to manage to highlight her vocals even more, delineating her bitterness in a haunting manner.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

4. “HEAVEN” Piano Version

The piano version is less passionate and moving than the original version. Ayumi’s voice is a little overwhelming compared to the mellow piano in the background. However it is still rather soothing, elegant and emotional while leaving the listener with a poignant feeling. It’s quite the perfect ending to a passionate single.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

Conclusion

“HEAVEN” was definitely one of the best singles in 2005. It successfully managed to be a well rounded single, perfect for the winter season. It contained an interesting range of genres which was quite appealing and seemed to have a little something for everyone. The idea of having an emotional ballad, an orchestral piece, ethnic music and a simple piano rearrangement was excellent for a winter single. For these reasons “HEAVEN” has successfully lived up to its’ expectations and has managed to sell so well.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

 

HEAVEN CD version HEAVEN CD+DVD version
  1. >HEAVEN “original mix”
  2. Will “original mix”
  3. alterna “Orchestra Version”
  4. HEAVEN “Piano Version”
  5. HEAVEN “original mix- Instrumental”
  6. Will “original mix – Instrumental”

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About the author

Rinoa enjoys spending her free time writing articles, most particularly reviews, biographies and news articles. Her favourite artist is Ayumi Hamasaki but she enjoys listening to a wide range of musical talents from all over the world.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

ViVi UNITED KINGDOM June 25, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Will is such a beautiful song, pity I couldn’t find a link for a download anywhere :(
Heaven is amazing too. Ayumi’s voice sounds very smooth and gentle.

Reply

billance MALAYSIA October 23, 2008 at 7:22 am

i love the melody…….
so nostalgias….

Reply

sanzo VIET NAM May 22, 2008 at 4:19 am

i listen it again and again ! ! ! ! ………..

Reply

Angela September 11, 2007 at 9:59 am

Hi! I am wondering, do you know where to get the piano sheets for the song Heaven? Coz ive tried search everywhere but couldnt find it. Thanks!

Reply

Tom UNITED KINGDOM June 24, 2007 at 6:01 pm

Ugh, I really miss Alterna (Orchestra Version)! Since my computer just crashed, I lost it and I can’t seem to find it again. :( That song is one of my favourite Ayu songs of all-time. And I don’t like the original Alterna.

Reply

Ashley CANADA May 9, 2007 at 11:26 pm

I was searching “Heaven” by Bryan Adams on google for the background music and came across this…she is a beautiful singer! Although I don’t speak the same language as her I agree it’s a nice song! Awesome artical!

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chr AUSTRALIA October 27, 2006 at 10:21 am

i really like the shinobi heart under blade movie :D then at the ending i heard the music and im like: IM GONNA FIND THAT MUSIC!!!!!!

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eyn CANADA September 22, 2005 at 4:00 pm

Like Jason, I really enjoy reading your articles as they are all very detailed and well written. HEAVEN is probably the best single of ayu in this year, as I’m kinda disspointed with her previous singles.

It’s been a while since ayu came out with decent ballads like LOVE ~destiny~, and HEAVEN definitely makes up for it. Will is an awesome b-side and I like the fact that she composed this song using the alias, CREA again. I hope she composes more in the future, because all of her songs rock!

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Evil_tomba CANADA September 20, 2005 at 5:23 pm

this is a really good and informative article, but i think heaven debuted at number 1, not 2 on the weekly chart. im not sure about the daily charts though, unless that is wat you mean.

Reply

Clover CANADA September 18, 2005 at 10:13 am

wow another great report ^__^
Very detailed and I like the samples you put at the end.

Reply

Aprilis CANADA September 17, 2005 at 1:22 am

Very informative and well written article!
I was impress with the melody the first time I heard it. I fell more in love when I heard the piano version while watching the ‘HEAVEN photo gallery’ video. Will, on the other hand, is a different story. When I heard the 15 seconds preview on the Panasonic comercial, I thought “What is ayu thinking?” When I found out that it was composed by CREA and DAI, I decided to give it another try. And I’m glad I did, cause the whole song was much better than preview.
I had no idea that HEAVEN was expected to be the Japanese version of ‘My Heart Will Go On’ nor did I know this movie was highly anticipated (Now I get why Ayu fans made such a big deal about this single)

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Jason September 16, 2005 at 10:20 pm

Great article. I really enjoy to read your review everytime you post. Personally I prefer “alterna -orchestra version-” and “HEAVEN -piano version-”, even better than the original one. Maybe I love unplugged songs, thats the reason.

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Leanne UNITED STATES September 16, 2005 at 8:49 pm

I absolutely agree. HEAVEN is such a beautiful song, and I am more than pleased with Will. They both deserve the top rating. With “alterna -orchestra version” I thought the synthesized parts sounded weird with the orchestra. I like the original better, but this one is pretty good. Slower and more meloncholy. I really like the piano version of HEAVEN. I’m just a sucker for the piano, I suppose. Excellent Review! Great job!

Reply

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