Released Date: 2005.09.21
Debut Ranking: #1
Label: avex trax
Product Code: AVCD-30769
First Press: Special packaging
Ai Otsuka’s 10th single, “Planetarium”, was released on 2005.09.21. “Planetarium” gained the first place on the Oricon daily single charts on its first day of release. This single also managed to achieve the top position on the Oricon weekly single charts, having more than 121,000 copies sold so far.
This is Ai’s first ballad single that has achieved such excellent results, which is quite a feat. As most die-hard fans of Ai know, her ballads usually sell poorly compared to her upbeat singles, such as “Sakuranbo” and “SMILY”. I do believe that the success of “Planetarium” is a positive sign that Ai Otsuka is gaining her fame rapidly due to her recently released DVD drama, Tokyo Friends, for which the sequel movie will be shown in theatres next year; her radio show, Otsuka Ai no ai-r Jack; and last but not least, her talents as an artist. Ai composes and writes lyrics for all of her songs and also has excellent piano playing skills.
Planetarium will be used as the image song of upcoming Japanese drama, Hana yori Dango, based on a manga drawn by Kamio Yoko. Further information can be found here. The b-side track, “drop.” was used as the commercial song for Shokubutsu Herb Blend.
The track starts off with traditional Japanese instruments which create a rather soothing and melancholic atmosphere. Japanese drums are first heard followed by piano and Japanese flute accompaniment, which set in shortly after. Ai’s soft and emotional vocals flow perfectly, blending with the backing instrumentals. The ethereal background vocals were excellently implemented in some parts of the song, which gives the listener a “space-like” and void feel of floating endlessly in the dark skies.
iPod version (41 MB)
This song has every element a ballad should have: a beautiful melody, deep and meaningful lyrics and wonderful piano instrumental as background music. What I probably enjoy the most is the Japanese flute used in the accompaniment; it truly brings out the Japanese feel of the whole song. There’s one “out of place” guitar solo that connects one of the bridges in this song, however, the more one listens to it, the better it started to merge with the song. Weird eh? Indeed, such a genius music arrangement is to be expected from our dearest Ai-chin!
The intro of this song is very “genki”, featuring an upbeat solo of electrical guitar and drum sets. Nonetheless, “drop.” is more of a mid-tempo song with upbeat elements in the background instrumentals. Some people may find the feel of this track rather country-like, but I found it to be more striking than the typical country music. The chorus of this song is very catchy, the tempo and drum beats make you feel like dancing and humming along with the song. The background music is rather simple; basically there’s drum set, electrical guitar/bass and that’s about it. I kinda like the arrangement of the bridge of this song, making this track a rather unique and interesting country-styled track with a twist. Overall, this song has a very simple and catchy melody, which might be repetitive at times, but will still manage to bring out any happy feelings within the listener without any doubt.
Conclusion: This single is definitely worth buying for any Ai fan. It’s an excellent package of two extremely unique songs with stunning arrangements. Ai has cleverly managed to create two tracks with opposing emotions and a catchy tune. Nonetheless this single is worth its price, not only because of the excellent and original tracks which are recorded within the single, but also because of the special packaging available with the first press edition. For those Ai Otsuka newbies, I highly recommend you to get this single while the first press is still available. Ai’s entire single releases have had special first press versions, and the extras were always extremely rewarding for any Ai collector. If you haven’t gotten into Ai Otsuka’s music world, do give Planetarium a try and I shall wholeheartedly assure you will never regret the day that you did so.
- Planetarium (Instrumental)
- drop. (Instrumental)