by Rinoa on December 17, 2008 · 5 comments · AddThis

GREEN/Days photoshoot
Ayumi on SCawaii, January 2009 Issue
Artist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Product Code: AVCD-31580/81/82/83
Release Date: 2008.12.17
Highest Ranking: #1
Genre: Pop/Ballad
Label: avex trax
Format: CD or CD+DVD
First Press: Vertically long cardboard slipcase and poster

Yet another year is almost over and the festive Christmas season is back. Despite of the current world economical situation, the whole J-Pop industry is once again booming with winter releases. The plethora of releases by the end of the year, create a rather exciting atmosphere at the end-of-year variety shows, especially since many artists perform and unveil their winter releases for the very first time. Pop-diva, Ayumi Hamasaki has also returned after eight months of absence to release her 44th single, just in time for the festive season.

The format of this single is unmistakably similar to her 43rd single. One would assume that this was done to continue celebrating her 10th anniversary in the same extravagant style. The packaging is identical, with a deluxe slipcase as a first press extra and a poster as a bonus extra. Furthermore, this single is once again released in four versions, with four different jackets. The photoshoot is also quite similar to the previous single, with Kazuyoshi Shimomura as the photographer once again. The artwork features a closeup headshot of Hamasaki, with pink roses decorating her hair. However, this single was promoted as a double-A side single. Once again it included two re-recorded classics, “TO BE” and “LOVE ~Destiny~”. These were separately included on two editions respectively.

Ayu on Cawaii

The first song from this single, “GREEN” was completed quite a long time ago. In August “GREEN” was already being used as a commercial song for Panasonic Lumix FC37. However since Hamasaki was quite busy with her tour, it wasn’t until November that Hamasaki started to work earnestly on her single. Later on, previews of “GREEN” and “Days” were released through the online music stores Dwango and Recochoku. “Days” proved to be more successful in online stores, especially since it was a winter ballad.

The promotional campaign for this single was almost up-to-par to the release of an album. Hamasaki was scheduled to perform in eight variety shows and events and to appear on the cover of six magazines. Furthermore both promotional videos were aired on several popular music programs. Thus it is safe to say that practically everyone in Japan knew that Hamasaki was releasing a new single. avex also made sure that the fans would get extra gifts if they pre-ordered the single or purchased it on the release date.

This single was yet another success for Hamasaki as it once again achieved the #1 spot on the Oricon Charts, by selling 61,453 copies on the first day. In the first week “GREEN/Days” sold 127,650 copies in total, proving to be a modest success. Additionally this single ranked at #32 on “Global Track Chart”. In retrospect, 2008 has been a successful year, as Hamasaki has managed to improve her sales from her 2007 releases.


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“GREEN” is quite a powerful song, both in vocal quality and in composition. The arrangement is carefully constructed with instrumentals are predominantly oriental, most particularly Chinese. One could classify this song as a power ballad with an epic feel to it. Although Ayu has released a handful of oriental songs, “GREEN” still shines because it contains a completely fresh and unique style. This song is more likely to attract people’s attention since her vocals are so moving and the arrangement is so elaborate. Hamasaki does her utmost to showcase her spectacular vocals and instill emotions within them.

The lyrics are also quite poetic and contain a lot of imagery. Hamasaki would write about how she finds it difficult to act on her feelings and that she is afraid of the feeling of hope. At the same time she is amazed at a certain person who displays their feelings with such honesty. She compares her change of heart with the seasons and the transformation the trees go through during these seasons. In the end Hamasaki decides to be more true to her feelings when spring returns.

“I wonder why it’s difficult for us, to walk as our hearts wish.”

The music video for “GREEN” was shot during her Asian tour. When Hamasaki was scheduled to perform in Shanghai, Hamasaki and her team took the opportunity to shoot the promotional video a few days before her performance. The music video premiered on the 26th November on MTV Japan. The music video contains a similar “photoshoot” style to “Mirrorcle World”, which is not surprising since the photographer Kazuyoshi Shimomura directed this video. Consequently the scenes in this video are rather aesthetically pleasing. Apparently the budget for this video was approximately 1.6 million dollars. In that case that would make it her third promotional video which would be listed in the most expensive promotional videos list.

The video was set in China, in the 30’s era, where Hamasaki is a professional singer. Most of the scenes depict Hamasaki performing in a club or rushing around to go to work. To be frank, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see yet another video directed by Shimomura since his videos seem to be more of an extended photoshoot rather than a music video. Despite the fact that the budget was large and all the scenes were really attractive the plot is not exactly clear and it’s slightly lacking. Furthermore the idea of having a female lover for Hamasaki wasn’t exactly developed well. Having said that, what was beyond excellent was that Ayu’s team worked extremely hard to produce a set which was rather cinematic and realistic. The costumes are also quite stunning and accurately created. Both aspects are quite reminiscent of the movie “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”.

Rating: ★★★★½


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On the other hand, “Days” moves on to the much-loved winter ballad genre. Despite the fact that is song is not as groundbreaking or memorable as her epic ballads, this song manages to convey Hamasaki’s feelings in a sweet and simple manner. It also contains an endearing quality, where the composition carries a nostalgic quality, riddled with a melancholic tone. Naturally the instrumentals include the much loved winter bells. At the same time the instrumentals are quite mellow, allowing Hamasaki’s vocals to display their full range of emotions, especially in the chorus. Therefore this song accurately captures the essence of winter and Christmas. Furthermore it has a strong replay value.

“Days” was the song chosen to be performed on variety shows. This song was probably chosen since it was more likely to capture the hearts of people and was more fitting for the holiday season, due to it being a winter ballad. Luckily for her fans, Hamasaki’s performances have improved, despite of her hearing problems. Her vocals were usually spot on and naturally she made use of her vibrato once again. What was also appealing was that Hamasaki wore a lot of gorgeous gowns and beautiful accessories while performing this song.

The lyrics are really touching in an innocent and heartfelt manner. Hamasaki talks about how she cherishes every little aspect about this special person but is quite embarrassed of admitting it. Being around him makes her feel all warm inside her heart, despite of the difficult and lonely moments. She is aware that she’ll never be the most important person in his life but she still decides that her only wish is that she could remain in love with him forever. Some fans have speculated that this is linked with her ex-boyfriend’s rumored marriage announcement. In that case, it is quite possible that Hamasaki is regretting that she broke up with Nagase.

“Each word you casually exchange with me is a precious treasure to me. But I myself feel a bit embarrassed about it so you would surely laugh at me, if you knew it.”

The promotional video was directed by Takahide Ishii, who is well known for directing unusual promotional videos with a twist at the end. However “Days” followed the trend of a typical Christmas video, only to have a twist at the end. The plot is fairly clear but it can easily be interpreted in several ways. Therefore this is simply one of the interpretations of “Days”. Hamasaki portrays a young girl who is in love with one her dance partners. Every evening she would rest on a sofa at the dance studio, while waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up with his motorbike. Thus everyday at eight she is woken up by the sound of his motorbike. And each time Hamasaki would eagerly and clumsily rush to greet him and he would give her his helmet in return.

In one scene, the audience can see her boyfriend through Hamasaki’s eyes, something which I felt was really clever. Apparently this was the first time she saw him and the audience can clearly observe how and why Hamasaki falls in love with him. In another scene Hamasaki and her boyfriend are walking in the street and they encounter a street vendor, who is selling jewellery. Hamasaki tries on a ring but her boyfriend decides not to buy it for her in the end. On one evening Hamasaki runs outside to greet her boyfriend, only to realise that he has given his helmet to another girl who is wearing the ring he was going to buy for her. Hamasaki is heartbroken and tears up. Thus she decides to walk away with her heartbroken feelings. However her friends are watching out for her and they appear in an attempt to cheer up a tearful Ayu.

Despite the fact that this music video was on a much lower budget than “GREEN”, it was clearly well-designed and more coherent. The plot flowed seamlessly and mirrored the song’s lyrics perfectly. Furthermore the acting was quite spot on and felt really natural. Anyone could empathise and identify with Hamasaki’s hurt feelings when she was betrayed. Therefore it comes as no surprise that many fans have felt that this is her best promotional video for 2008.

Rating: ★★★★★


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TO BE (10th Anniversary Version)

“TO BE” is Hamasaki’s eight single. This track has gotten a major makeover, giving it a fresh and smoother edge. It contains light synth elements with some electric and acoustic guitar riffs, taking her fans back in time. I really enjoyed this aspect since the song itself has a melancholic mood and left space for Hamasaki’s vocals to shine. Both anniversary remakes were sung on the 21st November. Hamasaki would mention in her official blog that it wasn’t easy hitting the high notes. As a result, she was rather relieved when she finished recording. Surprisingly enough she managed to sing the majority this classic in its original key.

“There was useless junk everybody passed by and never noticed. You carried it up in your arms as if it were a valuable thing.”

The lyrics explore the concept of change. Personally I feel that they are truly beautiful as she expresses her affections in an innocent and an honest manner. She mentions how things are constantly changing and how people come in and out of her life. She has accepted this as a fact of life and understand that it will always be that way. However, a certain person caught her attention because he still treasures a certain item that no one else would care about. Despite of the fact that everyone else considered him to be strange, he still held on to this item and would do countless sacrifices for it. Ayu was particularly impressed by this and ever since she noticed this, Hamasaki wonders if she loses something important whenever she gains something new. Therefore she feels that whatever happens in her life only has a true meaning if her loved one is with her. And for her that is the definition of “living”.

“Even though you’ll never be perfect, you shine in your imperfection.”

Rating: ★★★★★


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LOVE ~Destiny~ (10th Anniversary version)

“LOVE ~Destiny~” was a special song for Hamasaki, since it was her first single to hit the #1 spot on Oricon. Although it is quite difficult to imagine how Ayu and her team could actually improve what was already an excellent song, they actually managed to produce something even better. The arrangement was slightly modified, with the addition of guitars and strings. As a result this track carries a classical and elegant aura. The vocals are also more controlled and more expressive, making the fans enjoy the evolution of Hamasaki’s vocals. As a result it’s quite a soothing track, perfect to relax to.

“But I can pride myself more than anyone else that we spent our days together with truth.”

The lyrics of this song are focused on living true to yourself and being honest. Once again Hamasaki ponders on the transience of life. Despite of this she is happy that she has a lot of good memories and that she was always honest. Therefore even all the cliches and simple moments without a deep meaning do have a special place in her heart. Just knowing that and remembering her cherished memories makes her feel happy and proud of herself.

Rating: ★★★★½



What was quite enjoyable about this single was that it was packed with ballads, which in some way or another managed to capture the holiday season in just one single. For many fans, this quality simply makes Christmas more magical. The most difficult part was trying to find any flaws within this single. Apart from the slightly disappointing video for “GREEN”, this single seems to excel in being a winter single. avex successfully managed to package an exciting single, which was worth it’s value.

One can say that the most attractive aspect of this single and her anniversary as a whole, was that Hamasaki didn’t regress back into the same formulas produced in the previous years. Instead she successfully managed to break away from it all and produce material which was less generic, slightly more unique and original. Luckily for her fans, Hamasaki would still retain her signature style and charisma that they love so much.

Personally I feel it was the perfect was to conclude her 10th year anniversary. Despite the long wait for a new single, “Days/GREEN” seemed to be well planned and well promoted by Hamasaki and her team. Hamasaki would prove once again that she can maintain a successful career even after ten years and having hearing problems and still produce fresh material which is loved by fans and new listeners alike.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★



  1. GREEN (Original mix)
  2. Days (Original Mix)
  3. TO BE (10th Anniversary version)
  4. LOVE ~Destiny~ (10th Anniversary version)
  5. GREEN (Original mix -Instrumental-)
  6. Days (Original mix -Instrumental-)
  7. TO BE (10th Anniversary version -Instrumental-)
  8. LOVE ~Destiny~ (10th Anniversary version -Instrumental-)

DVD Tracklist

  1. GREEN (video clip)
  2. Days (video clip)
  3. GREEN (making clip)
  4. Days (making clip)

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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.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

*petit* NORWAY December 25, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Great Review! I think this is one of the best singles Ayumi Hamasaki has released in years, I thoroughly enjoyed every track on it!


remblue December 24, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Nice review!! I felt this was a strong single. Its been awhile since I felt this happy about an Ayu single <3


sanzo VIET NAM December 23, 2008 at 9:03 am

Yes ! totally agree with u ! this single’s very good and i love love GREEN so much ! her best song in quite a long time ! hope 2009 ‘ll be a better year for AYu !


Rina December 19, 2008 at 3:50 am

I love Ayumi Hamasaki. Because she is so cute…
I want to listen to both Days and GREEN!


DJAeon December 17, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Great review rinoa! I really enjoyed this single, and I’m glad you were able to capture a bit of the optimism ayu fans should feel about the single.

‘GREEN’ has a dramatic feel, and is quite epic. The oriental aspects in the music capture a different type of intricacy here. Instead of something sounding imperial and rigid in manner, the trend is more islander, or rugged. Hamasaki’s vocals aren’t particularly strong, but still convey an epic atmosphere.

‘Days’ is, as you said, not a stand out track in her discography, but is still a quality track. Wintry instruments and emotional lyrics and vocals, make the track one of my favorites. I find this track very enjoyable. even more so than ‘GREEN’.

I never favored either 10th aniv. tracks but they are nice additions.


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