Saturday, 31 March 2012

[Review] May J - Secret Diary



May J's 6th studio album was released in January with probably not-enough promotion and behind a bevvy of other more publicized releases. May J's style has changed slightly over the years, from R'n'B queen to ballad princess but I think that this is a very good album. Well worth listening to and more layers are peeled away with each relisten.

The bonus DVD (that is still available on the more expensive edition) is packed with extras and over an hour and a half of footage, including: video clips, concert clips and a mini-documentary. It's a great way to get to know May J if you are new to what she's all about. Only some of the tracks were available to preview on Youtube, but I have put up all that I was able to find.

Track by Track Breakdown

1. Only one - May J's clear voice speaks to you straight from the first beat of this angelic song. With smooth beats and a relaxed take on a catchy ballad, this is a gorgeous opener. May J hits all notes effortlessly and sounds incredible. Listen Here

2. OUR FUTURE - Positive lyrics and hard-to-hit notes make this an especially impressive song. An upbeat track that could definitely be remixed club-style, the music channels the early 2000's in a way that shows off old-school style Jpop. A great track. Listen Here

3. Yozora no Yuki - A classic ballad done in a sort of winter style. Piano and chimes resonate through this track. Giving it a really sweet feel. May J's voice is so strong and so controlled, a feast for the ears, this is the track that will give you the shivers. Fantastic. Listen Here

4. No No No - Awesome! An R'n'B style song with a great beat that you find yourself tapping your feet to. A danceable and faster track that belongs on your gym mp3 player. Incorporating synth and even a touch of dubstep, this is a great modern track. Showing her versatility, May J is sounding badass here. Listen Here

5. I'm proud - Another slower-style song, but May J really has an amazing way of conveying a message that transcends all language barriers. She really does sound proud of something or someone, and even though it is slower, it still could have a dance put to it, as it's beat is still has a certain groove to it. This is also a very singalong type song. Listen Here

6. Kimi ga Afuredasu - A beautiful instrumental with vocals that are softer than usual, this song is an 'anytime' - listen to it anytime and you could always be in the mood for it. A lovely slow track. Listen Here

7. Say "Ah!" - This is your party track, electro-heavy and fast compared to all the other tracks, this is a 'getting ready to go out' kind of song, fun and needs to be pumped LOUD. Sounds great on a stereo! Much better than on the weak computer speakers! Unfortunately, this is absolutely nowhere to be found on youtube or youku, so you may have to search a bit to listen to it, but it's so worth it, it's FAB.

8. Futari - A duet with Jay'ed, this has a few English sentences in it including the lovely "I'm never going to give up on your love, no matter how far away you are". Both May J and Jay'ed sound beautiful together and, though the instrumental is simple, piano and clicks, it works for a vocal-heavy song like this. Listen Here

9. 2 Shooting Stars - A beat-heavy track with May J's vocals flowing through and between the beats effortlessly, I can hear a double bass in this and it's presence is welcome. A mid-tempo track that channels American-style R'n'B with a slicker production value. Wouldn't be out of place on a Beyonce album.

10. SECRET DIARY - The title track of this album is a gentle and flowing song. A simple piano plays in the background, as May J's gorgeous voice once again dominates the foreground. I think a live orchestra version of this would be amazing.

11. The Lifelines - Including Taku Takahashi from m-flo, WISE and Maynard Plant from blanc./Monkey Majik, this is a charity song from English TV show in Japan J-Melo, which usually features very bad singers doing versions of Jpop songs. Everyone has been autotuned on this, which I think was unnecessary but perhaps it was to 'enhance' the electronica feel of the song. The instrumental is an awesome synth-fest though. Listen Here

12. Rainy Day - A quirky instrumental that leads into an interesting head-nodding track. May J's vocals never falter. This song also falls into the 'getting ready' category, it reminds me of everyone putting on their makeup in the bathroom and singing out 'IT'S ALRIGHT!' - a fun track.

13. RAINBOW - A really different track! Synth and music that shows the colours that May J is singing about and a hit of violin just when you think you've heard it all. A fantastic lead up and a really danceable chorus. "I'm dreaming, dreaming forever" - So am I! Get up and dance with this one!

14. Kiseki no Uta - DJ Hasebe Remix - - Featuring Sugar Soul, Zeebra, Ryo the Skywalker and SIMON, I can hear rap and extremely polished vocals, another synth and electro-style track that packs a punch. This is a collaboration that works and I think that a bit of reggae-infused rap wouldn't go astray in some future May J. songs! Listen Here

Favourite track - Say "Ah!"

✰✰✰✰ stars

I really do think that with such a great voice and a beautiful image, she needs to get back into the upbeat songs a bit, as they always sound awesome. Too many ballads can become similar to each other, but, saying this, this would be a great album to play at a classy dinner party. It's got great instrumentals and of course, May J's voice is flawless. She is still an R'n'B girl at heart, but with a vastly different style to Namie Amuro's R'n'B.

Check out this link to see extra information and what is on the DVD. It's really worth the purchase, and for only 3240yen you get a lot of material. Support your favourites if you can! ♥

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Atsuko Maeda to Graduate from AKB48

Acchan announces her graduation!

First generation and most popular member Atsuko Maeda yesterday announced her graduation from AKB48. Since she was 14 years old in 2005, Acchan has been a key member of AKB and a major facet in the ...48 company. Coming 1st in the 2009 and 2011 senbatsu elections; Acchan is popular with wota and non-wota alike.

The exact date has not been announced yet but this is a major shock to all AKB48 fans. Turning on the computer this morning, I was not expecting this at ALL. Will this be a new era for AKB48? Will Acchan be voted 1st one last time? Along with the doubling announcement for members Jurina Matsui (who now is in Team S from SKE48 and Team K from AKB48) and Miyuki Watanabe (Team N from NMB48 and Team B from AKB48) and the new voting system, it seems the rest of 2012 will be a very different year from previous.

I for one will miss Acchan very much and am very sad she is leaving, but considering the work she is doing lately, and mentioning on her blog that she only gets 5 hours sleep per night, it probably shouldn't come as that much of a surprise for bigger fans who perhaps know her routine better. I hope to see her in many drama's in the future and maybe with a few more solo singles. - More information (in Japanese)
[Thanks to H!O for the link]

We will miss you Acchan! AKB48 will never be the same!!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

New Poll + Winner of ...48 Poll!

Congratulations SKE48 - [Kataomoi Finally!] ❤

Ha! I knew you'd pick me.

So it seems you all love yuri as much as I do as SKE48 won by a landslide. This release has been their best seller so far and it's not hard to see why, with it's interesting message and girl-girl fanservice, who could say no to the gorgeous ladies of SKE48? I am surprised that NMB48 didn't get a higher amount of votes as they have also had an extremely strong release this round. Here are the stats breakdown:

1st - SKE48 [Kataomoi Finally] = 19 votes (59%)
2nd - AKB48 [Give Me Five!] = 6 votes (18%)
3rd - NMB48 [Junjou U-19] = 3 votes (9%)
4th - Misaki Iwasa [Mujin Eki] = 2 votes (6%)
4th - Mayu Watanabe [Synchro Tokimeki] = 2 votes (6%)

The new poll involves AKB girls who don't seem to get a lot of love. I am not including any girls that have been put in senbatsu and seem to get a decent amount of exposure, aka front girls in sub groups and such. I am also not including Team 4 -as they are very recently promoted and really should work their way up. Also, no other ...48 groups are included. This is pure AKB here. These are the poor, underloved 'theatre girls' that never seem to get in A-sides...ever!

'Who would you like to see featured in the next AKB48 A-side?'

You may also select multiple answers! Select as many as you like! It's a big poll this time, as there are a lot of very underappreciated girls!

If your favourite isn't there or you'd like to suggest someone else, please let me know so I can use them in a future poll!

I apologize for the slight inactive-ness of the past week or so. I am currently using very slow internet and will be back to weekly updates in the next week or so. At the moment. I am working on some new reviews for new releases, both Japanese and Korean, so you will see all of these very shortly. I'm unfortunately having to work on internet explorer right now. So I am sure you all pity me!

Let me know if there's anything in particular that you would like me to review or share on here that is J-pop or K-pop related.