Winter Ballades of Nami Tamaki

by Rokit on January 15, 2008 · 3 comments · AddThis

Nami's 15th Single Winter Ballades Artist: Nami Tamaki
Product Code: SRCL-6664-6666
Release Date: 2007.12.26
Highest Ranking: #04
Label: Sony Music

After several months from her previous single, Brightdown, Nami is back but this time offering a new direction once again with her musical style. This time Nami tackles the ballade genre for her new 15th single “Winter Ballades”, offering something that she has never offered before as an a-side single. Once the single was announced, there was information that the a-side would be a ballad, the b-side tracks would contain one cover song and a song written by Nami herself and a CD+DVD version as well.

Image from Winter Ballades mini photo book
'Winter Ballades' Mini Photobook

It all started in the begging of November 2007 when Nami’s official sites updated with news that a new song titled “Christmas Time”, written by Nami, would be available through mobile phones as of later that month of November. This alone created much attention for Nami since the first assumption was that maybe the new single a-side would be a song that Nami written, however that was misleading when early December came and the title of the single would be “Winter Ballades,” a single containing three tracks & an instrumental. This 15th single consisted of one a-side titled “Promise” (not written by Nami) and two b-sides: “Christmas Time” (written by Nami) and “winter fall” (L’Arc~en~Ciel cover).

Hearing that this new single would be ballade oriented, I was excited to hear how it would sound since usually Nami presents her fans with dance/pop tracks most of the time. Many fans were anxious to hear Nami’s new ballades but the views were mixed since she rarely does ballads. Her recent ballad was “Anata iro no namida” off her 14th single “Brightdown” and that track alone was not that great. Her best ballad so far would have to be “You” which is a song that Nami wrote and is featured off her 2nd Album “Make Progress.” A ballad single was by choice from Nami too since in 2008 she will be turning 20 years-old and it was something she wanted to do before she gets to that age.

Let alone the new songs that created hype but also the limited edition packaging that came with the CD+DVD pack. The limited edition consisted of a DVD w/ “Promise” clip, tall digi pack specification, mini photo book collection, and super picture cd label. Like always, Nami’s limited edition bonuses never fail to impress and they tend to get better and better and is a must buy for all fans since availability is limited. Before hearing the single my expectations were really high since I have a difficult time enjoying any Nami ballad and the a-side should be the best since it is the main-important-track off this new single.

 

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1. Promise

Here we have the a-side track of “Winter Ballades.” Before going on, I had already heard “Christmas Time” first so I would be expecting alot more for “Promise” since it is the a-side track. So, the very first time I heard “Promise,” I did not enjoy the song too much due to the fact that the composition was uninteresting and I become a really harsh critic with Nami ballads since she rarely comes out with them. The first time I had streamed it through a website and it was also a radio rip so those little things possibly triggered my views off. The second time I heard it was once the PV for “Promise” aired, and that is when my mind changed about how I feel about the song.

The PV for “Promise” is something completely different then any other Nami video because of the old fashioned scenery and the colors of white and gray. This music video is also Nami’s first ballad PV so it is a light/soft music video as to Nami’s original dance videos she has. We have a calm/soothing setting from the PV and it is relaxing to watch since it may remind one of Christmas memories.

Along with the PV, the music video helped me identify Nami’s emotions more with the song. After being a dull kind of song, the PV helped me realize Nami’s vocal emotions during the song. Now, Nami is not really a powerful singer but she does have at least some vocal strength. Being Nami’s first A-side ballad, she was able to show her vocal ability more since in ballads regularly, the vocals and lyrics are the key into capturing fans. The verses are ok and the chorus is the better part of “Promise”, like most other songs. Nami’s emotions save the songs from being this plain ballad.

The song picks up after the 2nd chorus, offering a a slightly more energetic sound to this ballad and saving this song from getting a 3 out of 5 rating. Rating this song was a bit tough since it was either a 3.5 or a 4 but “Promise” is more deserving then a 3 since it is Nami’s first A-side ballad and it was not that bad really. It just takes a little time since I am not used to Nami ballads. Overall, “Promise” is a good track.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

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2. Christmas Time

Once news hit that Nami will finally release a new single at the end of December and would contain a song written by Nami titled “Christmas Time,” many fans were excited, including myself. The last written song by Nami was “IDentity” off her 3rd Album “Speciality,” and that song set many standards for Nami since “IDentity” was the highlight off the album for many fans. It was great news to hear that Nami will be writing lyrics for a new song since it was going to be a ballad this time and the theme was, of course, Christmas. The title “Christmas Time” can be argued to repeat several other songs titled the same, and it was kind of a shock too for me since there are many possibilities out there for song titles.

“Christmas Time” was the first song that aired on radio stations late November from “Winter Ballades.” The song starts with a nice piano mixed with violins offering this positive energy to the song. Compared to “Promise,” “Christmas Time” seems to be a song not about losing someone or anything sad but rather cherishing Christmas memories. The verse are more exciting then the chorus this time around since the chorus was hard to depict since it has no distinction of melody. The chorus would be the disappointment of this song though since it is nothing memorable. We cannot blame Nami either since she only wrote the lyrics, but regardless of the boring chorus melody, Nami tries her best to go with the chorus.

Overall, “Christmas Time” is not really a track that will standout much. The verses are the only thing that make this song somewhat good but overall the verses cannot save the dull chorus melody and usually it is the chorus of many songs that make a song memorable. Adding on, at one portion of the song leading after the second chorus of the music building up, that portion could be misleading because it sounds so familiar as to her previous ballad, “Anata iro no namida.” (Not to mention that to this day I still do not like that song)

Rating: ★★★½☆

 

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3. winter fall

Remembering that this song is a cover of the J-Rock band L’Arc~en~ciel version, covers usually never sound similar and also that this single is under the name ‘ballades.’ That said, Nami’s version of “winter fall” sounds much different then L’Arcs version due to the soft piano-almost acoustic-melody provided in Nami’s version. This rendition is not necessairly a bad thing either since I find “winter fall” a lovely song and Nami’s vocals are filled with pure softness, ranking my top favorite out of Nami covers.

However, with several L’Arc~en~ciel fans, it has been noted that they are not too happy with Nami’s version of “winter fall” mainly due to the sound arrangement from rock/ballad to ballade/piano. Cover songs are the most difficult to cover since artist have to remember not to destroy the song they are covering, and in a recent livedoor interview with Nami, she stated that she reminds herself the purpose of covering a certain song. Covers should be different and refreshing, not similar in composition as the original.

Concluding Nami’s version of “winter fall,” she adds beautiful vocals to this legendary track. The amazing piano work by Toru Watanabe adds on this track the most since this song is only about piano with little added instruments.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

Conclusion

Overall, this single was good however for those that are not Nami fans it would be very hard to enjoy this single since like many other ballads, Nami’s ballads are not as strong. Her ballads are not quite that bad either but they are in between. At times I find myself listening to other new ballads more often than I do with Nami’s new ballads. “winter fall” sort of saves this single even if it is a cover song, it would have to be the stronger and better song off this album since the mood and vocals are perfect. If the songs cannot save this single the limited edition bonuses definitely do save the single.

In addition, I already see myself moving on to a new single rather then enjoying and holding on to this single like I have for previous Nami singles. But when I get myself to listen to “Promise,” I listen several times since at times it can be enjoyable but then after, I skip “Christmas Time” here and there to listen to “winter fall.” Nami’s written songs are usually creative however the dull chorus and too simple melodies cannot accomplish a great song. For future preferences, it would be best to not have a Nami single only consisting of ballads since in reality, ballads are not her specialty. I’d rather hear her upbeat tracks or rock songs then hear a single of slow songs. If she does try to do another ballad single, she should included at least one mid-tempo track so the overall single will not seem so empty and slow.

Moving on to the limited edition bonuses, the best part of the limited edition specification would have to be the mini photo book. The photos featured in this collection book has to be the most beautiful pictures I’ve seen of Nami. The book contained a total of 14 photos which is a worthy gift for the holidays. The digi pack came really slim leaving no room for any booklets but that is fine since the photo book was included. The super picture label for the CD has a clipping of a Christmas tree with decorated ornaments and jewlery; the super picture label for the DVD has a beautiful picture of Nami. The limited edition specifications for this single has to be one of the best.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

 

Winter Ballades First Press Cover
First Press
Winter Ballades Regular Cover
Regular Edition

CD Tracklist

  1. Promise
  2. Christmas Time
  3. winter fall
  4. Promise -Instrumental-

DVD Tracklist

  1. “Promise” video clip

» Limited Edition Specifications

  • “Promise” video clip
  • Tall digi pack Enclosure
  • Mini Photo Book Collection
  • Super CD Picture label

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

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About the author

Rokit enjoys J-Pop music as well as 'some' of the Japanese movies. He listens to J-Pop music daily because he cannot survive without it. =p

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rinoa February 27, 2008 at 11:18 am

Really nice article. Put me back in track with what Nami is doing in her career. The promotional package seems really polished and nice. Perfect for Christmas. Although I’m not crazy of her ballads, I really enjoyed the style of the promotional video and all the tracks had something which captivated me. Overall quite a nice deal for a Christmas single.

Reply

Alick UNITED STATES January 23, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Nice songs

Offtopic: I’m wondering how you get those players on your blog? Where do you get them? Can you email me with help?

Reply

Erika UNITED STATES January 16, 2008 at 3:29 pm

I like it! Very soft, and pretty…It kinda reminds me of how I thought Planetarium was at first.

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