Ai Otsuka – LOVE PUNCH

by eyn on September 18, 2005 · 15 comments · AddThis

LOVE PUNCH cover 1. pretty voice
2. 桃ノ花ビラ
3. さくらんぼ
4. GIRLY
5. 雨の中のメロディー
6. しゃぼん玉
7. 石川大阪友好条約
8. 片想いダイヤル
9. ハニー
10. 甘えんぼ
11. Always Together

LOVE PUNCH, Ai Otsuka’s debut album, was released on 2004.03.31. This album debuted at #3 on the Oricon album chart, which is an impressive feat considering that she had only been in the industry for 6 months, and was also facing strong competition from more experienced artists such as L’Arc~en~Ciel (their album SMILE debuted at #2 on the same day) and Utada Hikaru (her single collection debuted at #1). So far, over 660,000 copies of LOVE PUNCH have been sold, according to Oricon sales figures. For people who enjoy first press extras, the LOVE PUNCH first press CD only version comes with a 60 page booklet thick with drawings drawn by Ai herself.

 

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1. pretty voice
I think “pretty voice” makes a rather good intro for the album because it’s lively, upbeat, and fun at the same time. It’s a song that will brighten your day, especially if you listen to it early in the morning before starting off the day. If you are new to Ai Otsuka, you might find her voice rather squeaky and high pitched in this song, but that’s just the way she sounds in most of her rock songs. It may takes a while to get used to the unique Ai Otsuka-ish rock sound, especially for those die-hard ballad lovers.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

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2. Momo no Hanabira
This is Ai’s debut single, a very lovely mid-tempo ballad that started her music career. One of those traditional Japanese “guitar” was used in this song, which gives the song a nice Japanese touch. Despite the fact that this song is only a debut (which is usually considered as an artist’s weakest song, such as Ayumi Hamasaki’s “poker face”), the song really shines with its catchy chorus, making this song a well loved one among the fans.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

3. Sakuranbo
“Sakuranbo” has become Ai Otsuka’s signature song after the great success of this single, staying on the Oricon single chart for 85 weeks (almost 2 years). This song features a really simple melody with a unique Ai Otsuka touch, as a lively guitar accompaniment comes together with Ai’s cute lyrics and voice to make this song an instant hit in Japan. Not only are the single sales an amazing achievement for a new singer who had released only 2 singles, “Sakuranbo” also helped Ai Otsuka winning several best new artist awards in 2004.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

4. GIRLY
Honestly, there’s nothing too special about this song. This track simply screams filler as there seems to be no actual meaning or theme behind this song. It sounds like a toned down version of “pretty voice”, meaning it’s less lively and less interesting. The chorus has a catchy “skippu skippu skip lalalalala” part, which some people might find boring and repetitive.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

 

5. Ame no naka no melody
This is a slow and neutral song. The translation of the song title reads “Melody of the middle of the rain”, which ties in with the feel of the song. It’s a slow ballad, those who like melancholy and slow songs will find themselves liking this song. A beautiful piano solo connects the 1st and 2nd chorus perfectly.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

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6. Shabondama
The song title reads “bubbles”, while it may sounds like a happy title, it actually isn’t. This song is slow and melancholy. The song lyrics are very dark and meaningful, for example: “Stumbling about, we hurt each other and vanished.“, this cleverly uses the bursting of bubbles to depict the conflict between lovers.


iPod iPod version (27.6 MB)

An interesting fact about this song is that it is one of the two non-a-side songs so far that has its own music video. The music video can be found in the LOVE PUNCH CD+DVD version, and features a dark and serious PV that might scare away some of the Ai fans that prefer her happy, catchy songs.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

7. Ishikawa Osaka Yuukou Jouyaku
This is one of the typical funky songs that defines Ai Otsuka’s unique style, featuring awfully simple lyrics and melody that is so catchy that many may find it disturbing. The chorus is just a simple line of “Ishikawa Osaka wow yeah”, giving you no choice but to sing along with Ai-chin even if it means pulling your hair out of your stupid head.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

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8. Kataomoi Dial
“Kataomoi Dial” is another non-a-side song that has its own music video, starring the female bunny that Ai created herself called LOVE. The song is lively and unique using phone tones as one of the background sound effects. This song definitely shows Ai’s creativity when it comes to song arrangement and I think most people will find this song interesting, especially after watching the cute CG music video starring LOVE.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

9. Honey
A lot of Ai fans seem to hate this song, probably due to its boring arrangement. The song is a waltz, which is a rare sound for Ai, however, the not-so-creative melody destroyed this song. Luckily, the song is quite short, only 2:18 long. The reason why Ai put this song after Kataomoi Dial and before Amaenbo should be quite obvious: it’s not very interesting.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

 

10. Amaenbo
This track, Ai’s third single, is a very nice ballad that talks about a girl’s feeling about a guy she admires, and her desire to be loved and treasured like a spoiled child. It’s a very girlish song, with a nice melody and simple lyrics, a song that can only be expected from a cute girl like Ai Otsuka. This song is for you if you enjoy slow ballads and love songs.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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11. Always Together
This song starts with a nice piano intro, then other instruments set in, and finally Ai’s soothing voice ties it all together. The melody is slow and beautiful and it gives you a “goodbye, my friend” kind of feeling, which is very suitable as the last song of the album. When this song ends, it leaves you with a sad feeling that you have just finished listening to such a wonderful album. ;_;

Rating: ★★★★★

 

Conclusion: Being a debut album, this album really surprised me and it clearly shows you what Ai Otsuka is capable of, and that is creating music as diverse as”Sakuranbo”, which is upbeat, lively and happy versus “Shabondama”, which is dark and slow with a deep meaning. For an Ai Otsuka newcomer, I would say “LOVE JAM” (Ai’s 2nd album) is definitely a better album, but you shouldn’t missed out on this album too, because after all, it shows Ai’s progress as a singer and composer.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

Related Posts:

  1. Ai Otsuka – LOVE JAM Ai-chin's 2nd album, "LOVE JAM", was released on 2004.11.17, that is less than 8 months since the release of her debut album, "LOVE PUNCH". Despite the short time frame between these two albums, no quality of music was compromised, in fact "LOVE JAM" is arguably a tuned up version of "LOVE PUNCH", showing improvements in both the arrangement of music and the depth of her ballads.......
  2. JAM PUNCH Tour 2005 Otsuka Ai’s debut national tour, JAM PUNCH Tour 2005, was released on DVD on July 27, 2005. The DVD includes footage from the June 1 concert filmed at the Tokyo International Forum Hall A. Two versions are available: the normal edition, which includes only the concert; and the deluxe edition, which includes the concert and extra offshot scenes from the tour.......
  3. Ai Otsuka – Momo no Hanabira Ai Otsuka had always been into the music since childhood. She started playing the piano when she was merely four years old. At the age of fifteen she began composing music and lyrics with the help of her piano teacher. By the time she was seventeen Ai-chin had already composed and written the lyrics for the songs "Always Together" and "Momo no Hanabira", which were dedicated to a friend of hers.......
  4. Ai Otsuka – Kurage, Nagareboshi With stunning cover arts, anniversary goodies, and great music you will really want to take a gander at Kurage, Nagareboshi.......
  5. Ai Otsuka – PEACH/HEART PEACH/HEART” was released on July 25, 2007 and sold over 157,000 copies, placing its sales higher than “CHU-LIP”, Ai’s first single of the year.......

About the author

eyn is the geekmaster who spend his free time maintaining this blog, programming WordPress plugins and recruiting new writers who has a passion about J-Pop. His J-Pop goddess is Ai Otsuka but he also enjoys mihimaru GT, YUI and Jay Chou's music.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

flowerX FINLAND November 27, 2010 at 9:03 am

I do have a couple things to say…..

“Despite the fact that this song is only a debut (which is usually considered as an artist’s weakest song, such as Ayumi Hamasaki’s “poker face”)” …. (Momo No Hanabira)

Woooow ~~ It’s pretty harsh to say that everybody hates Ayu’s poker face. Come on. It’s way better than Lady Gaga’s poker face, and yeah, it may not be Ayu’s best song, but you shouldn’t say it like if ‘everybody hates it’. Not a big Ayu-fan myself, but still.

You said you do not like the song GIRLY. Okay. But you described Amaenbo like this: “- – very nice ballad that talks about a girl’s feeling about a guy she admires, and her desire to be loved and treasured like a spoiled child. It’s a very girlish song, with a nice melody and simple lyrics, a song that can only be expected from a cute girl like Ai Otsuka.”
GIRLY is not a ballad, and I don’t know about the ’spoiled-part’ but it still fits more than perfectly into this category you described.
GIRLY lyrics from http://www.kiwi-musume.com/lyrics/ootsukaai/lovepunch/girly.html
“Now there’s no doubt I’m in love with you
I can’t stop saying your name, and I draw a heart next to everything
Now there’s no doubt I’m in love with you
I’m talking in a way I never have before, and I draw a heart next to everything

I want you to see me, but I don’t want to be seen – it’s such a contradiction
Who watches you when you’re sleeping, anyway?
I’ll give you myself, with love”

Yeah. I love the song. It is so Ai-chan <3

And no, I don't like the song 'Honey' that much, but come on: Ai-chan certainly likes it, or a least used to like the song. She placed it there because it fits in between those two songs.

Kataomoi Dial: "I dial your number and give you a wakeup call, pixpoxpaxpo
You haven’t noticed my love, so right away I wrap it up
I’ll keep my unrequited love for you cold, colder
So you can nuke it up whenever you wake up"

Honey: "You always are having to stay at home
You're probably so lonely all the time"

Amaenbo: "The season has reached its turning point
It’s gotten a little cold
I’m wearing your baggy shirt
Every time we fight I pretend to be strong
And tell myself it’ll be OK – how pathetic"

Does he love me? – He does love me – I lost him

Altough, I always had the feeling that Honey was written for a dog or an other pet of somekind. The lyics really says that. About the tail, and the whistle in the beginning…. But I tought it was like "I was just with my baby and now I came home to you, I'm so happy I want to share my joy with you" or something like that.

All I have to say, other than that, an okay article.

Reply

Danielle UNITED STATES October 28, 2007 at 9:25 pm

Kyyaaa! I just discovered Ai chans music and I’ve loved everything I’ve heard so far. Thanks for the info it was very informative!
Love love!

Reply

Jess!ca CANADA May 7, 2007 at 5:50 pm

Hii sorry i haven’t typed a comment in a while but i just have to tell you all about her newest single planetarium it’s my new favourite song!!!

Jess!ca

(\_/)
=’.'=

Reply

arellys AUSTRALIA May 7, 2007 at 2:40 am

Thanks for the review! In response to your comments on ‘Honey’, I would have viewed it as more of an interlude kind of song rather than a stand alone… simply because it’s so simple and short. Thankyou also for the subbed MV of shanbondama!

Reply

Kasuga CANADA November 27, 2006 at 7:39 pm

im not a noob to 愛ちん、but i would still have given GIRLY higher. love the article しゃぼん玉, some people dont pick up on that stuff (especially those that dotn understand japanese :P)

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GotohMasafumiLover001 UNITED STATES October 3, 2006 at 4:09 pm

If you like upbeat girly songs check out “Sakuranbo” if you haven’t:) My favorites are: Sakuranbo, Pretty Voice, Superman, Happy Days, Mousou Chop, Pon Pon, Friends, and Ame Naka No Melody. Most of Ai’s songs are great!!!!!! And her series too!!!!!!:)

Reply

deathwolve September 19, 2006 at 3:11 pm

hi..im new here..i jus recently knw ai otsuka frm drummania..than i wen 2 find other song tt sang by her n found tt her song is really nice(frm wat i hv)..can any of u recommend me some of her best song??

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Jess!ca CANADA September 17, 2006 at 12:58 pm

hi everyone i just wanted to say that i love ai otsuka’s cd love punch, i found out about her about a year ago when my friend came over to canada from japan and she told me to listed to her cd and i lived it ….. lol

Reply

sian September 21, 2005 at 10:11 am

a great and infomative review for people who wants to know more about ai otsuka’s songs. alot of effort can be seen put in. i think that Girly deserves more than just 2.5 though.

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mizu~ September 21, 2005 at 4:47 am

whoa~ great rating and thanz for the effort =)

Reply

Rinoa September 20, 2005 at 5:11 am

Very well made. The most important points are pointed out correctly and the ratings are rather suitable. It’s a very good review. Congrats!

Reply

Leanne UNITED STATES September 18, 2005 at 8:09 pm

I remember the song now. It’s “shabondama”!!

Anyway, great review! I think it will be extremely helpful for those who are just learning about Ms. Ai-Chin! Ratings are overall good, except for GIRLY i would’ve given it at least a 3. I still say “melody inside the rain” is better XP.

See ya,
Leanne

Reply

Lainay UNITED STATES September 18, 2005 at 4:45 pm

Wow, great article!! Very informative for the Ai chan “n00b”! You seem to have the same tastes of songs as I do, I would’ve rated everything the exact same way you did!!

Reply

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