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The Ayumi Hamasaki Network • View topic - Ayu Listening Challenge!
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 Post subject: Ayu Listening Challenge!
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:51 am 
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Hello! I don't know if anyone will do this but I've been doing it so I thought I'd run it by you all and see if anyone wants to join and throw down some opinions!

SO. This is not that exciting, OR IS IT? :lol: I have been listening to all Ayumi's albums, in order over the last 3 Saturdays. AND IT IS CRAZY! You can really hear her sound grow and change and in some instances, NOT CHANGE AT ALL but for some reason, sound wildly different...most likely due to different producers, as in the switch that happened from My Story to (miss)understood...those two albums (two really strong and awesome albums that stand up to the test of time), it's nuts how different they sound, even though there are similarly structured songs...

I mean, I know the "Ayu Dramatic Rock Song" was pretty much there from A song for xx, but, and this is just my experience, I think of (miss) understood as a dramatic turning point for her sound, and it's not, upon these recent listenings, really due to a change of style, it's all about the production value. The only songs that're different from her standards are Bold & Delicious (my least favorite song of Ayu's), Ladies Night-which can, style wise, be related to other tracks like Real Me or ourselves but the added "oomf" of heavy production value and that sort of, excelerated structure, of the chorus sets it apart and started a new generation of Ayu "standard" tracks-lots of her more recent works sound [a lot] like it, but nothing before it, and Pride (which I love but this might as well be a early 00's Beyonce or Christina Aguilera song)- I think GEO of Sweetbox's songs mostly pushed her sound in a different direction-but not her style, as a couple of the songs he wrote, strike me as very similar to Ayumi's previous sound, like "In The Corner" (one of my FAVORITE Ayu songs)-though I love it, it sounds typical, to me, stood at as a great song, but not wildly different from previous works.

(miss) understood took her sound toward the electric guitar, loud, ferocious rock song and the piano driven ballad with some strings thrown in for good measure, but even her ballads became louder and more, explosive? I don't know exactly what it is, but everything after (miss)understood sounds more like the songs from (miss)understood than any of the previous albums. I think, and I'm only up to GUILTY in this, uh, "project" :wink: , but so far, it's like (miss) understood was still trying to hold onto some of her old sound, but then after it, her sound just permanently morphed and though plenty of her more recent tracks can be related to older songs or played back to back, the structure and sounds of whichever songs these are, benefit wildly from being rearranged to suit the sound born of (miss)understood.

Also there is a lack of small, detailed electronic sounds, there used to be a lot more going on in all of her songs, now they can all be played with a bass, a couple guitars and a drum kit. With a keyboard for some songs but unless it's a ballad, you hardly hear the keyboards anymore. And again, I'm only up to GUILTY, I look forward to listening up to M(A)DE IN JAPAN to see what I hear that can and probably will change some of my current opinions!

OR AT LEAST, this is my experience so far. If you made it to the end of this post, I challenge you to do the same, pick a day or some down time (or exercising or cleaning your house, driving around, whatever) and really listen to her albums, in order, including the songs you can hardly stand, and I bet you'll hear stuff you never heard or realized before, and also might have one or two moments where you go "OMGEEEZ WHY DON'T I EVER LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM?!" :lol: As I did, with Secret-that record is really good you guys, and I believe I have said before on here how I don't really like it...I WAS WRONG! :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Ayu Listening Challenge!
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 4:19 am 
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Super late reply, but I get what you're saying. (miss)understood as an album was really the turning point of her career in which she started actually trying to sound like a "superstar". Now I know that sounds incredibly stupid as she was already a superstar by the time "Duty" came out, but up until MY STORY she still had this steady "Ayu" trademark sound that always sounded personal and even the smallest of fans can recognise the sound whenever her latest single came on the radio. Only until (miss)understood did you start to see full blown explosive songs like Startin. Now there's no hating here, to this day I still love songs like HEAVEN and Will (hey they're from the same single, go figure) and the reason I decided to make this random trip back to AHN is because I caught myself listening to her classic tunes on YouTube.

Going off my initial subject but staying committed to the original topic, I once had a plan to review all of her songs back in the day when I was still active here, but that was around the time when GUILTY first came out and everyone would release their review topics on what seemed to be a weekly basis. Truth be told, I have not listening to anything she's ever released after 2009 (because I started to hate the styles of music she was making compared to her earlier works), if you can believe that (you can also recommend any self-proclaimed classics from that year onward if you wish), but this topic makes me want to catch up just for the sake of catching up, even if I end up not liking what I hear.

Edit: Btw, i'm glad you brought up the Secret album at the end of your post. As much as I used to make a complete joke over kiss o' kill, I genuinely loved that song and the rest of the album.

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 Post subject: Re: Ayu Listening Challenge!
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 11:32 am 
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Quote:
Renegade wrote:

Truth be told, I have not listening to anything she's ever released after 2009 (because I started to hate the styles of music she was making compared to her earlier works), if you can believe that (you can also recommend any self-proclaimed classics from that year onward if you wish), but this topic makes me want to catch up just for the sake of catching up, even if I end up not liking what I hear.


HOORAY! I'm so happy for your reply and that this post might inspire you to give some of her recent work a chance!! It is definitely worth a shot, though of course I can't guarantee you'll love anything, but I hope you do! Did you not like NEXT LEVEL? that was '09. I really liked that album-more than GUILTY. I think it features what may be her last great ballads-Days and Curtain Call. But that's just my opinion! I'm now going to finish my babble-I did finish this project but since no one responded I didn't write any more about it here, but now you responded! :dance: :clap: so here goes! BEWARE...IT'S REALLY LONG...(it's me talking about 10 Ayu releases, would you expect anything less than a novel? :lol: )

I totally finished all the albums except I still do not own FIVE because I only like one song enough to own-Progress. I like that song.

So FIVE aside, I still think Rock N Roll Circus is a stylistic mess and there are songs I find un-listenable BUT-I did enjoy listening to it loud and giving it its chance and I still love the songs I already loved.

The timeline blurs starting with RNRC, there is definitely less dynamic between it, Love songs, Party Queen and Love Again. Those 4 blend a little two well, with recycled versions of the same signature tracks over and over. RNRC and PQ are very similar even though they are not back to back, both are stylistically messy and, particularly Party Queen, very weak records, IMO. Party Queen is definitely the worst Ayu album. Ever. She should've just benched it, maybe released a couple singles and left it at that. That being said, I do stand behind the 3 or 4 songs I love from PQ!

Same deal with Love songs and Love Again. They might as well be the same record-though not back to back releases-years in between the two, you guys, THEY ARE THE SAME ALBUM. LOL it's like she realized how much backlash PQ got and how Love songs didn't do that great BUT, people didn't throw it quite as much shade as PQ. So let's make another Love songs, use the same song writing styles and artwork design, make it pink and pretty but let's make the videos much more exciting and amp up the dance stuff! Or maybe it's just that I like Love Again better! :lol: I like a bunch of songs from that still, I only listen to one or two from LS-BUT MOON is one of my favorite Ayu songs and it's on Love songs...go figure! :wink:

OK, 2010 - 2013 were difficult years, but suffering builds character, and in the case of Ayu's albums, that definitely applies. COLOURS is good. It borrows from the stronger tracks from the previous 5 releases and came out with some keepers (songs I still listen to and she still plays live) and it's a nice, complete record, plus it's mostly fun.

Stand Out Tracks (according to me and only me so you might not love them but here they are anyway!) From 2009-2014;

asterisks = SUPER FAVORITE :mrgreen:

NEXT LEVEL:
Sparkle*
rollin'
GREEN*
Rule*
LOVE 'n' HATE*
Days*
Curtain call*

Rock 'n' Roll Circus:
Microphone
count down*
Last Links*
Sunrise~LOVE is ALL~*
You were...
RED LINE~for TA~

Love songs:
Love song
crossroad
MOON*
sending mail
Last angel*
Like a doll
blossom
November
SEVEN DAYS WAR (it's a cover but I really like this heartfelt, live version on the album)

Party Queen:
Letter*
reminds me
Return Road
Tell me why

FIVE:
progress*
(but everyone else will tell you to listen to BRILLIANTE and she does a jaw dropping, phenomenal performance of it on the M(A)DE IN JAPAN tour blu-ray)

Love again:
Wake me up*
Song 4 u*
Missing
SAKURA
Bye-Bye Darling
Snowy Kiss
Sweet scar
Petal
Ivy*
You & Me* (this is a "love it or hate it" song, I love it, but I know lots of people hate it with a capital "H" :D )

COLOURS:
Feel the love (this track is generic and not for everyone but I like it!)
XOXO
Pray
Terminal*
Angel
Merry-go-round*
NOW & 4EVA*

COLOURS becomes WAY overshadowed by what follows. IN FACT, this opinion of mine did not change after this chronological listening experience. A ONE, Sixxxxxx and M(A)DE IN JAPAN are the dawn of a new era.

The last 3 releases have outdone everything she's released since RNRC, and in my opinion, they are better than RNRC. A ONE is a lovely, ballad driven, winter record. It's cold outside but warm inside, it's lonely but it'll be OK, and it still has raucous party songs and SUPER DRAMATIC show stoppers-ironically called The Show Must go On... :lol: Plus throwback to glory days with NO FUTURE-which I love but which caught a lot of shade because it's deliberately nostalgic-I still don't get why that's a bad thing! Anyway, it as all this dynamic and variety but overall, it sounds like Ayu found herself again, after being lost and maybe disillusioned for years...A ONE is a bold departure and feeds into Sixxxxxx perfectly.

Sixxxxxx is SO MUCH BETTER THAN FIVE...IMO...Like A ONE, it offers something for everyone but definitely is one track minded. I'm glad it's a mini though, because it would've made for a dull album, particularly after she raised the bar wit A ONE. Stand out tracks for me are Sorrows and Shape of love-though I really liked most of the other songs as well-I still don't love the boy band one-but everyone else did, so yay!

So Sixxxxxx was good, A ONE was GREAT, but M(A)DE IN JAPAN is OUTSTANDING. She outdid herself on every level. And I do believe it's her shortest album to date and there were no singles released, an unprecedented move from Ayu. When that album came out, I was so afraid it would be a rushed mess like Party Queen...but no, it is a very neat and deliberate record, the songs are all hit singles, and the lyrics-so I've heard and from what I've read-are daaaaaark. Ayu went on a songwriting bender and birthed this genius of a record. If you listen to nothing else, listen to this. All fans that went astray during those affirmentioned years, come back to the Queen, because despite everything, she is still very much, the Queen.

Stand Out Tracks From 2015-2016;

A ONE:
(I think this album should be listened to as a whole, every song has value)
NO FUTURE*
Last minute
Zutto...
Out of control*
The Show Must Go On*
Movin' on without you (Utada Hikaru cover but I like Ayu's version A LOT)*

Sixxxxxx:
Step by Step
Sorrows*
Shape of love*

M(A)DE IN JAPAN:
ALL THE SONGS* but especially FLOWER*, Mad World*, Breakdown* and Summer Love*

that is all. go forth and listen. I hope you like (at least some of) what you hear!

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 Post subject: Re: Ayu Listening Challenge!
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 3:12 pm 
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That was actually a good read, thanks for taking the time to share that. I'll definitely reread this post and keep your recommendations in mind when I listen to these albums.

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 Post subject: Re: Ayu Listening Challenge!
PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:21 am 
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thanks


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