Ayu’s anniversary

by Rinoa on May 25, 2008 · 5 comments · AddThis

Mirrorcle World photoshoot
Ayumi on Cawaii, May 2008 Issue
Artist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Product Code: AVCD-31429/30/31/32
Release Date: 2008.04.08
Highest Ranking: #1
Genre: Pop/Rock
Label: avex trax
Format: CD or CD+DVD
Limited Edition: Deluxe long sleeve case
First Press: Poster

Ayumi Hamasaki has become a living legend throughout Asia. Since her debut in 1998, Hamasaki has inspired countless people throughout the globe with her powerful lyrics and her emotional vocals. Ten years have passed since then and Hamasaki is still working hard to maintain her successful career. With the advent of her 10th anniversary, avex was smart enough to schedule a plethora of releases in order to celebrate her anniversary with style and garner more profit from Hamasaki’s career. Her 43rd single, “Mirrorcle World” was released on the 8th of April, specifically ten years after her first single, “Poker Face”.

The initial hints of the new single were announced in February, when Hamasaki flew to Venice in order to shoot a commercial for the new Panasonic Lumix FX–35 . A rearranged version of “Mirror” was featured in this commercial and was titled “Mirrorcle World”, which piqued the interest of her fans and raised several speculations about a new single. A few days later, Hamasaki would announce on her blog that she was working on a new song called “Life”. However that was not the end of it. Apparently Hamasaki liked Europe so much that she decided to fly to Paris and shoot her promotional video there, much to the excitement of her French fans. Despite the fact that Hamasaki stayed in France only for a few days, she was constantly surrounded by fans.

SCawaii
Ayu on SCawaii

In mid-March the covers were released on a news program and avex would later release the covers on her official website. The artwork is particularly beautiful and artistic, depicting Hamasaki with long curly hair, with butterflies designed as decorations.

The promotional campaign for this single was rather limited, since Hamasaki was working onto the preparation of her second Asian tour. Hamasaki appeared on a four magazines and performed “Mirrorcle World” twice. However avex made sure the new single was packed with extra goodies to encourage fans to purchase multiple versions of this single. Four different editions were released, with different jackets. Furthermore two classic songs, “YOU” and “Depend on you” were resung and separately included on two editions respectively. The special initial package included a special sleeve case and a poster. Fans who purchased this single over mu-mo also got to have a mirror included if they purchased the single during a specified time frame.

This single once again topped the charts, giving Hamasaki yet another record. Proving its’ popularity this single has the highest first week sales for a female artist in 2008, to date and Hamasaki’s highest first week sales since “BLUE BIRD“. It was also quite successful on the Global Charts, achieving the 22nd position. To date “Mirrorcle World” has sold over 186,509 copies.

 

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Mirrorcle World

“Mirrorcle World” is actually the extended version of the prelude “Mirror” from her previous album, “GUILTY”. This prelude was rearranged and rerecorded. This track is particularly interesting because it goes through several phases as if reflecting Ayumi’s continuous mental state. This song starts off with a dramatically sombre orchestral introduction, which depict a rather lonely, dramatic and hopeless mood. Violins and strings are predominantly used to produce quite a fragile and transitory tone. One can notice that the style is reminiscent of French romantic movie soundtracks. It slowly picks up with the electronic beats blending into the mechanical marching beat segment, to reflect Ayumi’s train of thought, where she is questioning and contemplating on her present and how it unpredictably turned out to be as it is right now. It is quite clear that Hamasaki is not happy with how everything turned out to be. Her vocals are low and mechanical and she seems to be contemplating over these thoughts in quite a philosophical manner.

The percussion section is rearranged to reflect a stronger tone and Hamasaki’s vocals are more dramatic and aggressive than the initial version. The powerful rock chorus reflects how she feels surrounded by people who are awaiting to see her reaction and half-expecting her to give up her career. Hamasaki feels torn between her thoughts, fears, emotions and the external pressure of the people who surround her. However it seems that she decides to return back to the path she chose in 1998, when she released “Poker Face” and moves forward despite of everything and everyone.

Once again this song makes use of a hybrid of genres, mainly pop, rock and orchestral. The listener will go through an intense roller coaster ride of emotions and feel emotionally drained at the end of this track. Personally I feel this track is a perfect representation of Ayumi’s spectacular 10 year career because it successfully produces a variety of genres, portrays a majestic and epic aura and brings forward an excellent standard.

The promotional video was aired on the SPACE SHOWER TV network on March 19th. This promotional video was quite artistic and contained a lot of visual imagery connected to imaginary mirrors and reflections. Personally I felt that Paris was the perfect city to reflect Ayumi’s present self. Doubtlessly she is a fashion lover who has focused her energies on perfecting her image and Paris is frequently represented as a fashionable and sophisticated city. Moreover Ayumi would experiment filming this promotional video with a photographer, resulting in a rather artistic piece. The tunnel in the initial scene is cleverly featured to produce an optical illusion that one is staring at a mirror. The director makes good use of several locations in Paris, giving it a rather picturesque image. Hamasaki is featured with a dramatic, determined and sexy flair as if she wants to prove to everyone, including herself that she yearns to remain strong and continue moving on.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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Life

This song is particularly touching in its simplicity and candidness. One might overlook this track and consider it an average mellow ballad but I feel it perfectly complements with “Mirrorcle World”, without being too overpowering. Following the simple style of an acoustic ballad, Hamasaki nostalgically reflects on her past and realises how life is transient and fleeting. She regretfully mentions how she has taken certain things for granted and decides to move on with the thought in mind of appreciating what is given to her and treating life as a miracle. I admit I am quite biased towards this song, because I feel that I can connect with this song at a personal level.

Her vocals are quite soft, relaxed and perfectly blend in with the instrumentals. Yet it’s as if she refrains from letting out her emotions until the ending segment where Ayumi displays the strength of her vocals through her ad-libbing. The sense of finality produced in the ending segment gives the listener a sense of peace where Hamasaki sounds ready to move on with her life after the loss of her dear friend.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

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YOU (10th Anniversary version)

“YOU” is Hamasaki’s second single. What truly shines within this track is how Hamasaki’s vocals have evolved throughout these ten years. When comparing the original with the new version, one can notice how refined and more controlled her vocals have become. Hamasaki sings at a lower key, with deeper vocals. The instrumentals have also been toned down to a lower key to match with her matured vocals. However most of the nostalgic elements from the 90’s have been retained, making the fans revisit and reminisce Ayu’s debut era.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

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Depend on you (10th Anniversary version)

“Depend on you” is Hamasaki’s fifth single, which marks Hamasaki’s first true break in her career. “Depend on you” is the the first single which managed to hit the top 10 on the Oricon Charts. This track is a personal favourite of mine, especially since the rearrangement worked out so well for it and the direction it takes is quite creative compared to “YOU”. The overwhelming pop elements have drastically stripped down from the original version and were replaced with rock elements, predominantly featuring an electric guitar. Nonetheless there’s still a definite connection with the J-Pop style in the 90’s. Hamasaki’s vocals are deeper, contain more confidence and they are definitely less squeaky.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

Conclusion

Since the release of her album “GUILTY“, Hamasaki had been dealing with several problems which have proven to weigh heavily on her emotional state. For this reason, “Mirrorcle World” seems to be a mixture of strong feelings, the desire to move on and find peace within herself. It’s as if Hamasaki wants to prove to herself that she can overcome everything and challenge the present, no matter how painful it can be. One can conclude with confidence that this single has managed to sum up Hamasaki’s current state of mind and her internal fight with herself to keep moving on.

Overall although this single can technically be referred to a recut single, which was limited with time constraints, avex cleverly managed to produce enough new material to produce an attractive package in the highly competitive J-Pop market to the point that this single would top the charts once again. Every single aspect retains a high quality and tries to remain faithful to the concept of simplicity. Once again Hamasaki has managed to produce a top quality single to her impressive discography. May her future releases continue to retain the quality and success of the past ten years.

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

 

Tracklist

  1. Mirrorcle World (Original Mix)
  2. Life (Original Mix)
  3. YOU (10th Anniversary version)
  4. Depend on you (10th Anniversary version)
  5. Mirrorcle World (Instrumental)
  6. Life (Instrumental)
  7. YOU (10th Anniversary version-Instrumental-)
  8. Depend on you (10th Anniversary version-Instrumental-)

DVD Tracklist

  1. Mirrorcle World (Music Video)
  2. Mirrorcle World (Making Clip)

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

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About the author

Rinoa enjoys spending her free time writing articles, most particularly reviews, biographies and news articles. Her favourite artist is Ayumi Hamasaki but she enjoys listening to a wide range of musical talents from all over the world.

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International Wota » Avex Trax Blogs Recommended » [Blogs] Channel-Ai on Ayu’s Anniversary Mirrorcle UNITED STATES
May 28, 2008 at 2:29 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rinoa May 25, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Wow.. thank you DJAeon for your lovely compliments. I’m really happy to know that I was an inspiration to you! Makes me really happy. Especially since I’m also enjoying your articles a lot too!

Anyway I’m glad that you are enjoying my articles and that they get you to look beneath the surface of the songs. I find it quite appealing myself too! With regards skipping those two, you’re right. I really should review those two songs. I sort of skipped them but I’ll try to get back to reviewing them later!

Reply

Rinoa May 25, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Thanks. Errr.. actually I just ended writing the reviews for those two songs. However feel free to add in anything if you want since they’re kinda short anyway :) I don’t mind you helping in.

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DJAeon May 25, 2008 at 9:14 pm

You really deserve the praise, you write great articles. As for the tracks left out, I could write them, my writing is a bit rough, but I know from personal expirience that writing these reviews is draining( and having someone add onto your stuff is a little annoying too). If youre alright with it I’d love to help ;)

Reply

DJAeon May 25, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Wonderful review Rinoa,

Mirrorcle world is such an emotional song, and you captured to feelings into a review, wich is quite stunning.

I actually prefer Life, I’m more inclined to mellow ballads.

Along with ayu’s emotional journey, your writing just seem to be growing in quality with each article. You’r the person who inspired me to write for this blog.

My only criticism is that you didn’t review YOU or Depend on You. I understand they’re not new songs, but there ayu classics, plus they haven’t been reviewed on the blog yet.

With all of your reviews, I look at songs in new lights, listen closser, and ponder meanings, I can’t wait to read more of your work Rinoa!

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