Ai Otsuka – LOVE JAM

by eyn on February 25, 2008 · 16 comments · AddThis

LOVE JAM booklet photo
Ai-chin will be mad if you don't buy this album
LOVE JAM
Artist: Ai Otsuka
Product Code: AVCD-17538
Release date: 2004.11.17
Debut Ranking: #1
Label: avex trax
First Press: 80 page drawing booklet

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.

“LOVE JAM” debuted at no.1 on the ORICON weekly album chart. So far, over 650,000 copies of LOVE JAM have been sold. Compared to her debut album “LOVE PUNCH”, which sold over 693,000 copies to date, the sales of “LOVE JAM” does fell a little short. Overall, “LOVE JAM” is still considered as a highly successful album, seeing she did not have a hit single like “Sakuranbo” that stayed on ORICON chart for 85 weeks to give even more “power” to this album.

There’s a story behind why Ai-chin named this album “LOVE JAM”, as revealed by herself in one of the interviews:

The meaning of the “JAM” is that when you touch it, the jam is sticky so it will stay on you. This is unlike water, which comes off easily. I want my songs to stick to people just as “jam” would.

Indeed, “LOVE JAM” has definitely liven up to its name by having both ultra wacky and upbeat song like “Happy Days” and also deep and meaningful ballads like “Kingyo Hanabi”. Overall, “LOVE JAM” is an album that showcases some very different genre of music yet manage to let them blend perfectly together with each other. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the album tracks one by one to see if I can convince you by the end of this review!

 

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1. SUPERMAN

“SUPERMAN” is a funky and weird rock song with plenty of police siren and warnings. The heavy drumbeats and electric guitar give this song a lot of energy, probably so much that some people just simply can’t take it and end up hating this song. What I really enjoy about this song is the part where the highway police warns Superman to fly more quickly in order to prevent a traffic jam. Ai’s creativeness is apparent, need I say more? If you enjoy heavy rock songs with a tint of creativeness, then “SUPERMAN” is for you!

Rating: ★★★★½

 

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2. Happy Days

For those people who simply can’t withstand the sheer power of “SUPERMAN”, they will once again be driven away because what come next is nothing else but “Happy Days”, arguably the most notorious upbeat song from Ai that many, even fans, find irritating. Honestly, I’m one of those people who are reluctant to listen to Ai in the first place because of all these crazy upbeat song she produced, but once you get enough exposure of them, you’ll start to love them!

Ai’s cuteness in the PV together with the colourful settings will probably make this song more consumable for those upbeat haters. The song itself is simple, with plenty of “Happy Days” chanting and an addictive “yume kai”. “Happy Days” PV is definitely one of my favourite PV, watching her jumping around like mad really makes me feel happy, it’s one of those PV that will put a smile on your face just because the singer is going all crazy in it.

Trivia: the way how Ai-chin rolls out of the pink car in the beginning is mimicked from Lupin III

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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3. Strawberry Jam

I guess we have had enough upbeat songs up to this point, so Ai-chin decided to put in “Strawberry Jam” as some sort of buffer into the ballads of this album. This mid-tempo track fits in perfectly despite having nothing too special about it, at least it’s not that much of a filler. The title of the song suggests some sort of connection to the main theme of this album, but too bad it doesn’t appeal to me that much. I guess the song itself is decent, but it is just outshone by other even more amazing tracks, such as the next track, “Daisuki dayo.”.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

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4. Daisuki dayo.

There’s a lot of background behind this ballad, and it played a huge part of Ai being a popular singer as she is now. “Daisuki dayo.” (notice the dot) is the demo song Ai-chin sent to avex that won her a contract. On the single cover, Ai-chin wrote “everything starts with the demo tape of this song”, giving this single a special meaning that only fans will discover.

The PV is arguably one of her most touching ones to date. It’s about a girl being really sad about her boyfriend’s death, recalling all those wonderful time they had spent together through a series of memorable photos and short clips. Ai-chin looks absolutely adorable in all of these pictures, but she also looks awfully sad when she’s holding her dead boyfriend’s hand, crying “daisuki dayo” again and again. “Daisuki dayo.” is no doubt one of her better ballads, in case you have no idea what the title means, it means “I really love you”. The repetitive “zutto” (means “always” in English) in the lyrics emphasized her deep love for her boyfriend and really adds a lot to the sorrowfulness. If you’re a ballad lover, this wonderful ballad will definitely touch your heart!

Trivia: the guy in the PV is actually Ai-chin’s ex-manager. :)

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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5. Sensu

“Sensu”, which means “fan” in English, is slow and mellow. The background music is very simple due to the slow tempo, while the lyrics try to relate the tears of a girl with the fan:

Endless tears that flow…
Cannot seem to be fanned away…
But no matter what, I cannot let anyone see them
Because I’m a strong girl…

To be honest, I am not a big fan of this song, but many other fans seems to dig this song very much. In my opinion, “Sensu” just sounds too mellow for me and it lacks the beauty of her other ballads due to the arrangement and melody.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

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6. MOUSOU CHOP

“MOUSOU CHOP” means “imaginative chop”, but what its actual meaning remain a mystery to me, I guess you just have to use your imagination to interpret this song. The lyrics is wacky and the melody is weird as well, with lots of “mo mo mo mo” chanting and techno beep in the background, her vocal sounds kinda robotic too. Overall, weird but fun, 4 stars!

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

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7. PON PON

PON PON is one wicked song, very “Ai Otsuka” and I doubt any other J-Pop singer can produce a song as wacky and weird and crazy as this one. According to Ai-chin herself, this song has no meaning whatsoever. So, what else can I say, enjoy this song for what it is and don’t think too much about its meaning! If you don’t believe me, check out the lyrics yourself!

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

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8. Futatsu-boshi Kinenbi

“Futatsu-boshi Kinenbi” is quite catchy in a Bossa-Nova way, but nothing too amazing for sure. I guess Ai-chin herself is experimenting with some new style here, but the end result isn’t all that good in my opinion. The title can be translated as “2 person’s star anniversary”, it’s like this stupid anniversary of a little couple… no actually it isn’t, Ai-chin’s intention is to make this song as cheerful as possible so that any listener can become cheerful upon listening to this song. Do you feel cheerful now after listening?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

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9. Kingyo Hanabi

“Kingyo Hanabi” is the song that bring me into the musical world of Ai-chin and it still remains to be one of her best ballads to date in my opinion. The melody, vocal, arrangement and PV are just perfect and it is extremely hard to not fall in love with such a masterpiece. The lyrics is very poetic and so is the PV, which features a lady above the water and another beneath.

According to Ai-chin, the lady above the water represents the lovely and warm feeling when one falls in love while the lady beneath represents the dark and ugly feeling when love ends. Overall, “Kingyo Hanabi” has a nice PV that brings you the imagery meaning of this poetic and warm ballad.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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10. Kuroge Wagyuu Joushio Tanyaki 735 Yen

There are 2 version of this song, one is 735 Yen which is the one coming from this album, another is 680 Yen, which is a single released roughly 4 months after “LOVE JAM” album. The sound and arrangement of these two version is quite different and each of them expresses a different feeling. 735 Yen is more on the lovely and tender side while 680 Yen is more on the aggressive side, as apparent in the music video. Personally I prefer the aggressive 680 Yen more, maybe because the arrangement of 735 Yen bores me a little.

Trivia: The title of this song translate to “Salty Grilled Tongue of Black Cow 735 Yen”, it is actually a dish from a Japanese restaurant that Ai-chin frequent and the dish indeed costs 735 Yen.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

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11. Friends

Being one of my favourite Ai-chin’s song, “Friends” is very soothing, sincere and touching. The arrangement is quite simple with strings, piano, electric guitar and drumset as accompaniment. This song is used as the theme song of “Tokyo Friends“, Ai-chin’s debut dorama. Another rock band version of “Friends” known as “Sabakan ver.” can be found on “Daisuki dayo.” single as the B-side, and is featured heavily in the “Tokyo Friends” dorama. Overall, “Friends” is a very nice song with poetic lyrics and heart warming arrangement.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

Conclusion:

As we can see so far, “LOVE JAM” combined some very different genre of music and blend them together into one album. This album showcased Ai-chin’s talent in composing and performing both fast and slow songs, which is a feat rarely seen in the J-Pop scene in my opinion. This is also one of the reason why I think she is one of the greatest composer in the J-Pop industry right now, being able to create both heart warming ballads and life brightening happy songs. For those of you who have yet to purchase this album, you should definitely give this album a try because:

  1. Ai-chin will be mad if you don’t buy this album (see the picture at the top of this post)
  2. I am quite certain that this album provides a variety of taste that one can usually find in J-Pop music. This makes it a great way to show your friends what differs J-Pop music from the typical western music.

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

 

References:

 

CD
CD only version

CD+DVD
CD+DVD version

Tracklist:

  1. SUPERMAN
  2. Happy Days
  3. Strawberry Jam
  4. Daisuki dayo.
  5. Sensu
  6. MOUSOU CHOP
  7. PON PON
  8. Futatsu-boshi Kinenbi
  9. Kingyo Hanabi
  10. Kuroge Wagyuu Joushio Tanyaki 735 Yen
  11. Friends

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

Related Posts:

  1. 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.......
  2. Ai Otsuka – LOVE PUNCH 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 and Utada Hikaru.........
  3. LOVE COOK Tour 2006 Shortly after the release of her 3rd studio album, Ai Otsuka returns for another national tour: LOVE[99]COOK. Unlike the JAM PUNCH DVD, this tour did not offer any off shot or bonus clips with the DVD. Nonetheless, the DVD managed to debut #1 on Oricon and is praised by fans from around the world. ......
  4. Ai Otsuka – Planetarium 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.......
  5. Ai Otsuka – Frienger “Frienger”, Ai Otsuka’s 11th single, was released on April 12, 2006, approximately 7 months after the release of her 10th hit single, “Planetarium“. For those of you who are curious about the title, “Frienger” is a word combining “friend” and “ranger”, which relates how a friend is like a ranger who will always fight for you whenever you’re in trouble.......

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.

{ 3 trackbacks }

International Wota » Blog Archive » [Blogs] Channel-Ai Reviews Love Jam UNITED STATES
February 26, 2008 at 9:00 pm
KnittedFox » #042 // 03.22.08 UNITED STATES
November 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm
KnittedFox » #083 // 09.28.08 UNITED STATES
November 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

christopher August 2, 2012 at 4:31 am

totally agree with your reviews! and super like how you review the first few songs cos i am like you! i love ai otsuka so much i followed her since her debut days. i miss her so so much and i still rmb how famous she was in osaka especially in the old days! :’)

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Miki-Chan UNITED KINGDOM May 21, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Im a huge fan of Ai so within in this comment there is no offence intended at all but her LOVE JAM CD/DVD cover seriously freaks me out!! Whos idear was it to put jam allover her face?….I mean she must get paid alot to do that xP im sure someone out there agrees with me right?

Reply

Sakurako November 30, 2008 at 12:48 pm

パパのような人に 惹かれてるような
後に気付く なぞ
ママのような人に なっていってる気がする
年とればとるほど なぞ

Esta es una parte de la letra de la cancion de Chu~Lip y me encanta y mas que nada me identifico con esta parte vean el video en
http://www.imeem.com
esta genial

Reply

TsUkI November 30, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Ai Otsuka es una grandiosa cantante que admiro muchisimo y quiero encontrar sus letras please ok

Reply

Reika UNITED STATES March 24, 2008 at 8:37 pm

i thought it was like those..
lively,happy-going, huigh-tenstion, yet a bit bitter side
sigh.”friends” is so sad..a perfect song for very friends
lallaa~ thanks a lot :]

Reply

Kikaru March 3, 2008 at 1:37 am

I have to admit, LOVE Jam is actually the album that made me into a fan rather than a casual listener. While I don’t like some of the upbeat songs (Pon Pon, Superman, and Mousou Chop — I’m grumpy like that), it has most of my favorite Ai songs.

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mafee AUSTRALIA February 28, 2008 at 11:34 pm

This review brings back memory when I’ve just enter Ai’s world. Until now Kingyo Hanabi is a special song for me, with which no other songs can compare. I also love Strawberry Jam and Friends. It’s almost impossible not to like Daisuki dayo. But 735 yen is quite boring, especially comparing to 680 yen. And I agree with you about Sensu. Always skip this song.

Anyway I don’t think that this album is stronger than LOVE PUNCH. For me each of her album represents different themes, so they can’t be compared. I myself cannot decide which of them I like most. LOVE PUNCH is good for the wacky, fun mood. LOVE JAM collects most active and poetic songs together. LOVE COOK reflects her more mature side. And LOVE PiECE, well, I can’t make my mind yet. Have to listen to it more.

Having read this review, I got many interesting trivia, like others have already said. I did think that 680 yen was released before LOVE JAM and I didn’t know anything about the truth behind JAM at all. That’s why, thank you very much eyn. ^^

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Rinoa February 27, 2008 at 7:19 am

Excellent review once again eyn. I really liked getting to know some interesting trivia about the tracks, especially with regards to “Kingyo Hanabi”. Love Jam is definitely one of her best releases, especially since no track feels like a “filler” track. All the tracks have a definite personality which reminds you of Ai’s quirky and romantic nature.

I do believe it was one of the first albums I purchased. It had a lot of striking tracks and I loved the simplicity of the album. In any way I am glad to see a new review here, especially about Ai.

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oroitsme February 27, 2008 at 5:56 am

“Love Jam” was the reason I started listening to Ai, back when I knew little about J-pop and nothing about Ai; maybe it’s nostalgia, but it’s always been one of my favorite J-pop albums. I guess it really did “stick” with me. :)

Back on my first listen though, my favorite song was “Sensu”; it’s more raw than her usually intricate ballads, and is really a good bridge for getting J-pop from all that guitar-based American pop-rock.

Great article eyn; I’d definitely agree that “Love Jam” is a nice starting point because it traverses genres. Also, it’s really nice to read about Ai on ch-Ai. :)

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Aprilis. CANADA February 27, 2008 at 2:45 am

They say you learn something new everyday, and today I learned the meaning behind “Love Jam”.

Though I wasn’t a fan back when this was released nor is it my favourite album from her, this album will always have a special spot in my heart because of ‘Happy Days’. Happy Days was the first PV and song I heard from Ai. And arguably, it’s also what got me into Ai.

Thank you for another great article eyn, always glad to see more ch-ai articles on Ai!

Reply

octocoffee UNITED STATES February 27, 2008 at 12:06 am

Awesome review eyn! I pretty much agree with you on many of these songs, and Kingyo Hanabi and Friends are my favorite off this album. It’s a pretty good album, but I felt that it’s difficult to listen to some of these songs in full (I don’t really like 735 yen..) It’s definitely a lot stronger than LOVE PUNCH but not quite as cool as LOVE COOK in my opinion, but at least she improves with each album, eh? It’s so awesome to go back to her debut and think, “Wow, this far already?” But yeah, I liked this review!

PS: Sorry about my really silly questions…I sorta realized it’s kind of arrogant/pretentious to ask before I offer anything so…I’m working on a draft and I’ll send it in eventually…hopefully you’ll forgive me for being so childish -_-;

Hope to see around Channel-Ai soon!

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hiro UNITED STATES February 25, 2008 at 8:34 pm

It’s interesting that you post the official channel-ai review 3 years and 3 months after the album was released, but I’m very happy to see another review!
That photo of Ai is so cute and crazy like Ai :D
I don’t especially like Daisuki Dayo, Happy Days, Pon Pon, and Mousou Chop, unlike many Ai fans.
But Kingyo Hanabi definitely grew on me. And I really like Strawberry Jam and Sensu, especially after watching her performances of the two songs at her 4th anniversary Love Is Born concert (on DVD).
Strawberry Jam is a jazz-based tune but within the j-pop genre, which makes it very interesting to listen to.
Sensu has a very unique sound compared to her other songs, which intrigued me. The arrangement has a very raw feel, and the resulting sound is a bit rough, which amplifies the emotion of the song.
I can’t wait until summer when I will have time to join channel-ai’s blog as an official reviewer. :)

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Rokit February 25, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Great review eyn. I have to say that this is my favorite Ai album to date since I enjoyed every track without wanting to desperately skipping any. Even if this album only consisted of 11 tracks, it would seem like a really short album, this album weighed out really well with enough album tracks and post single tracks.

The only thing that I will disagree about is Sensu. I really like that song and it is probably my second or third favorite track off of LOVE JAM. What i liked about it was her vocals and the emotion she puts into the song. Of course it’s no a-side song however it’s a great album track.

I also liked how the song starts off as it builds to the music. Other than that, I agree on the review and think LOVE JAM is a great album. BTW, I already bought the album since i loved it so much so Ai won’t get mad at me. =)

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