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Next Level (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version)

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Next Level  (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version)
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Customer Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.8 out of 10 (10)
All Editions Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.8 out of 10 (27)

YesAsia Editorial Description

Hamasaki Ayumi invites her fans to the Next Level. In 2008 Ayumi celebrated the tenth anniversary of her music career. Now the queen of J-pop returns with her highly anticipated 10th album featuring 14 tracks with different songwriting, composition and arrangement elements that underline Ayu's progress.

This edition comes as a USB memory stick containing all 14 songs, 6 music videos, and a digital booklet. The USB stick has a capacity of 2 GB including 1.2 GB of free space.

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Technical Information

Product Title: Next Level (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version) Next Level (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(日本版) Next Level (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(日本版) Next Level (USBメモリー) (アンコールプレス限定盤)(日本版) Next Level (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version)
Singer Name(s): Hamasaki Ayumi 濱崎步 滨崎步 浜崎あゆみ 하마사키 아유미
Release Date: 2009-04-23
Publisher Product Code: AVZD-23860
Language: Japanese
Disc Format(s): CD
Other Information: USB Memory
Package Weight: 300 (g)
Shipment Unit: 2 What is it?
Publisher: Avex Marketing
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1014385132

Product Information / Track List

10周年イヤーを締めくくり、11年目へ向けて新たなチャレンジに満ち溢れた意欲作! 歌詞、歌唱、アレンジ、楽曲その全てに新たな要素を加え、これまでの10年を昇華し、さらに次のステージへと進化し続けるayuの姿がここに。

透明ケース仕様
(Transparent Case)

アルバム収録曲 全14曲
video clip 6タイトル
デジタル・ブックレット
※音楽、映像、デジタル・ブックレット収録のUSB商品のメジャーリリースは日本初。
(楽曲はMP3 約320kbps、PVはMPEG-4 約1.6Mbpsのデータを収録。USB容量:2GB。)

[MP3 (320kbps)]
01.Bridge to the sky
02.NEXT LEVEL
03.Disco-munication
04.EnergizE
05.Sparkle
06.rollin'
07.GREEN
08.Load of the SHUGYO
09.identity
10.Rule
11.LOVE 'n' HATE
12.Pieces of SEVEN
13.Days
14.Curtain call

[MPEG-4]
01.Days (video clip)
02.GREEN (video clip)
03.Rule (video clip)
04.Sparkle (video clip)
05.NEXT LEVEL (video clip)
06.Curtain call (video clip)

[DIGITAL BOOKLET (PDF)]
Additional Information may be provided by the manufacturer, supplier, or a third party, and may be in its original language

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Next Level (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version)"

March 31, 2009

This professional review refers to Next Level (Japan Version)
Another year means another album from Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki. This being her 10th album in ten years, Avex is pulling out all the stops for Next Level, offering four different types of packaging for the album. One of them is even a 2GB flash drive that includes the album in MP3 format. Talk about overblown marketing.

But overblown is perfectly okay when the scale of the music easily matches Avex's marketing effort. Once again produced by Max Matsuura, Next Level is mostly comprised of a long chain of electronic instruments-driven upbeat songs to keep up with the themes of elevation and progression. While a landmark such as a musician's 10th album always seem to signal some kind of change in that musician's music, Hamasaki's team doesn't seem to care to change, producing essentially the same brand of energetic, mass audience-friendly pop that has kept her popular and relevant. However, by carrying on a unified tone and consistent energy from the beginning, Matsuura and Hamasaki have perfected their formula and produced what is easily one of the most entertaining J-pop albums of 2009.

Unlike the usual J-pop albums, which simply group up a mix of singles and side tracks with little concern for any kind of a consistent tone, Next Level actually builds a very consistent energy throughout the album through the use of interludes. The album immediately acknowledges its electronic influence with opening interlude Bridge to the Sky (Track 1) and titular track NEXT LEVEL (Track 2). The two songs slowly build up the energy that will carry through much of the album. Even though there isn't much of a composition for either of the opening tracks, their success in building its atmosphere makes up for the lazy songwriting.

That can apply to a number of songs in Next Level, as the upbeat dance tracks divide nicely into two emphases - composition-based, which puts songwriting first as its priority, and atmosphere-based, which puts production first. However, neither category should suggest anything in the way of criticism, since dance songs are more about provoking a certain feeling through the general atmosphere than through the musical notes. In this case, the dance songs on Next Level certainly achieve that. One of those songs is Sparkle (Track 5), a roller coaster of a dance song that completely relies on the bombastic arrangement by CMJK to slowly build up its energy and release it in an effective, head-spinning dose. Another song light on actual songwriting is Rule (Track 10), the theme song for the live-action Dragonball film. Even though it features a repetitive chorus that borders on irritating and a lazily-written verse, it has more energy and attitude in its 4 minutes than all 86 minutes of the film.

The composition-based dance songs are also fairly strong and naturally more memorable, though their compositions are sometimes overwhelmed by their bombastic arrangements. However, the strangely-titled EnergizE (Track 4) does manage to find that balance. The most interesting thing about EnergizE is that Yuta Nakano's composition is in the style of a bubble gum pop song that could've easily been sung by Ai Otsuka or any of the Morning Musume girls. Instead, CMJK's arrangement mixes rock and electronic elements together, giving the song a broader and obviously more ambitious sound than it may have intended to fit Hamasaki's more mature image. Because the sound fits just right with the arrangement of the other dance songs, EnergizE surprisingly feels right at home in Next Level.

Matuura's wisest decision on Next Level is to place the album's two obligatory ballads at the end, keeping the energy of the dance song consistent. Though the two ballads don't quite belong on the album, they're still solid songs on their own terms. Days (Track 13) is a typical commercial ballad with an affecting composition by Kunio Tago (who also wrote Together When on Hamasaki's last album Guilty) and a grandiose arrangement that's perfectly fitting for a pop diva like Hamasaki. In comparison to Together When, the relatively simpler and smoother composition makes for a more attractive commercial ballad, and it allows more room for Hamasaki to give a more emotional vocal performance that avoids the heavy vibrato that plagued her vocal performance on her last album. Next Level also closes on a poignant note with Curtain Call (Track 14), by far the quietest song on the album, and also the song that relies the heaviest on Hamasaki's vocal. Even though Curtain Call feels more like an interlude than an independent song, it's a surprisingly appropriate ending for a dance album like Next Level.

For such an important milestone, Next Level is a considerably lighter album than Guilty and also surprisingly lacking in ambition. One can even argue that Hamasaki's team is using this only as a celebration album, giving it the energy of a remix album and plenty of potential for more grand stage performances at her future concert tours. With a nice balance between arrangement, composition, and vocals, even Hamasaki's detractors will find something to appreciate about Next Level. Perhaps that's the best compliment one can give for any pop album, and certainly one that Next Level deserves.

Recommended Tracks: NEXT LEVEL (Track 2), EnergizE (Track 4), Sparkle (Track 5), Rule (Track 10), Days (Track 13), Curtain Call (Track 14)

by Kevin Ma

Feature articles that mention "Next Level (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version)"

This original content has been created by or licensed to YesAsia.com, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of YesAsia.com.

Customer Review of "Next Level (USB Memory Stick)(Encore Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version)"

Average Customer Rating for this Edition: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.8 out of 10 (10)
Average Customer Rating for All Editions of this Product: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.8 out of 10 (27)

Bertha
See all my reviews


June 10, 2013

This customer review refers to Next Level (CD+DVD)(Hong Kong Version)
One of Ayu´s best work !!!!!!!! Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
I think this is a must buy for sure if we talk about Ayu, is an album full of color, electric rithyms and really enjoyable songs and videos, you can have a little bit o everythig: Powerfull songs (Sparkle, Rule, Love n hate, identity), Soft and sweet songs (Days, Curtain call) Energetic songs (Energize of course, Green, Next level) among other really good songs and interludes.

Well as a conclusion is an album that shows you all what Ayumi Hamasaki is!!!!!!!!! and Why she´s call The Queen of J-Pop :)
Did you find this review helpful? Yes (Report This)
Whitney
See all my reviews


August 21, 2012

This customer review refers to Next Level (CD+DVD)(Japan Version)
4 people found this review helpful

ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEXT LEVEL?! Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
Another beautiful album from Ayu! From start to finish, this album delivered a great set of tracks that flowed perfectly with one another. And of course, the lyrics flowed perfectly! You can literally hear the themes within the songs because she times it just right: happiness, rebellion, pain, confusion, isolation, and finally contentment. It's like her listerners can actually feel the mood within the song because she delivers it so beautifully.
I've been a fan of Ayu's for a few years now and I was absolutely estatic of finally purchasing this album! There's not a single song I dislike, but the ones that stood out to me the most were: "Bridge to the Sky" "Next Level" "Disco-munication" "Identity" "Green" "Love n' Hate" "Rule" "Pieces of Seven" and finally "Days". To me, this work produced here was well done! It had a variety of beats and lyrics that completely drew me in like a moth to a flame! And along with her beautiful voice, can there be a more satisfied fan?!
TO ALL AYU FANS: GET THIS ALBUM NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Did you find this review helpful? Yes (Report This)
Chri...
See all my reviews


December 9, 2010

This customer review refers to Next Level (Japan Version)
my favorite ayumi album! Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
i think this sound is her best,i wish she would stay with this 80's pop sound becuase its really good for her.
the best songs are "Love n' hate" "Sparkle" "green" "Rollin'" "Brigde to the sky" unfortunatley is an
interlud/intro song wich sucks becuase its amazing. "days" "curtian call"
Did you find this review helpful? Yes (Report This)
swimfan
See all my reviews


February 13, 2010

This customer review refers to Next Level (2CD+DVD)(Hong Kong Version)
1 people found this review helpful

Listen before you make a judgement Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10
I confess that I used to perceive Ayu as an overrated celebrity who cares more about her nails and hair than the songs she produced. How wrong I was.

I bought this album on impulse a few days ago (just wanted to spurge on something like I always did). As the songs started playing on my Ipod, I realised how shallow I was to judge people by their looks (yeah I thought she looked bimbotic and won’t be able to pull off a song with that high pitched voice of hers).

However, this album kicked off with a pleasant interlude “bridge to the sky” followed by the revitalizing “Next Level”.

The middle part then consists of pop-rock songs like “Rule” and “Green” and ended beautifully with the soft ballads “Days” and “Curtain call”. I especially like Curtain call because it brilliantly portrays the loneliness and yearning for an unrequited love.

To my delight there was no sign of over pitching in Ayu’s voice throughout the whole album, which shows how much she has grown as a singer over the years (I heard some songs in her earlier days over the radio and I thought her voice was too high and sharp in some parts). The tracks are also neatly organized with meaningful interludes to segregate them.

This is my first Ayu album and I am definitely going to support the rest of her studio albums from now onwards (I just purchased GUILTY and placed orders for MISSUNDERSTOOD and MY STORY!!).

Overall, Ayu’s style and fashion might overshadow many other artistes out there to the extent that one may question the credibility of her ability as a singer. But the fact that she remains unbeatable in the music scene after 10 long years sure speaks for itself.
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Abby
See all my reviews


November 6, 2009

This customer review refers to Next Level (2CD+DVD)(Japan Version)
1 people found this review helpful

So yes... Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
This is totally a NEXT LEVEL work!

I don't think I will ever have a "bad" opinion regarding any AYU's work. As always AYU's songs are full of meaning and emotions. Beautiful!

The DVD is excellent. I don't know what else I could say... everything's FANTASTIC!

So yes... another GREAT WORK!


~AYU-san... Ganbatte kudasai!!!!~
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