Ai-chin will be mad if you don't buy this album
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!
“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!
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
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.”.
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. :)
“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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Ai-chin will be mad if you don’t buy this album (see the picture at the top of this post)
- 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.
- “LOVE JAM” interview by Celsius005
- Happy Days
- Strawberry Jam
- Daisuki dayo.
- MOUSOU CHOP
- PON PON
- Futatsu-boshi Kinenbi
- Kingyo Hanabi
- Kuroge Wagyuu Joushio Tanyaki 735 Yen