Voice (Normal Edition)(Japan Version)
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YesAsia Editorial Description
|Product Title:||Voice (Normal Edition)(Japan Version) Voice (普通版)(日本版) Voice (普通版)(日本版) Voice (通常盤)(日本版) Voice (Normal Edition)(Japan Version)|
|Singer Name(s):||Nakashima Mika 中島美嘉 中岛美嘉 中島美嘉 나카시마 미카|
|Publisher Product Code:||AICL-1983|
|Package Weight:||100 (g)|
|Shipment Unit:||1 What is it?|
|YesAsia Catalog No.:||1012498480|
Product Information / Track List
01. LIFE (フジテレビ系土曜ドラマ『ライフ』主題歌)
02. SAKURA～花霞～ (DAISHI DANCE) (パナソニック カード愛情サイズTV-CFソングリミックスバージョン)
03. FOCUS (キヤノン"IXY DIGITAL 920IS"TV-CMソング)
04. 永遠の詩 (角川映画『サウスバウンド』主題歌)
05. ORION (TBS系金曜ドラマ『流星の絆』挿入歌)
06. あなたがいるから (魔法のiらんどケータイ小説「Pure with me・・・」イメージソング)
07. MY GENTLEMAN
08. TRUST YOUR VOICE
09. IT'S TOO LATE (KATE TV-CFソング)
10. I DON'T KNOW (KATE TV-CFソング)
11. SHUT UP
12. conFusiOn (KATE TV-CFソング)
13. FLOWER OF TIME
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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features
Professional Review of "Voice (Normal Edition)(Japan Version)"
After taking a slight detour to American Southern gospel 20 months ago with Yes, Mika Nakashima returns to her pop roots with her 5th full-length album Voice. This time, the album's sound mostly has the same gentleness found in Yes, but it moves much closer to the mainstream-friendly pop that will be more accepted by pop fans. The genres follow a tried-and-true formula, and the album features far less experimental musical elements than her 3rd album Music. It's clear that Mika and her record company want to bring back some of the fans she might've lost after Yes proved to be too much of a departure for the singer. Voice will likely be the album to do it.
The songs in the album are clearly divided into four categories - dance, mid-tempo easy listening, rock, and traditional slow-tempo ballad. The most versatile genre out of the four is dance, which takes up 5 tracks out of the 14-track album. Voice starts off with Life (Track 1), the theme song for the drama of the same name. The arrangement makes the song more of a power ballad-rock dance hybrid, but the composition is split by two conflicting halves – a darker, more brooding verse, and a lighter chorus that plays like an electronic arrangement-driven mid-90s J-pop track more suited for the vocals of a girl group like Speed.
The album's second dance track, Sakura ~Hanagasumi~ (Track 2), is an elegant dance track more suited for Mika's voice. While the album version - remixed to a dance track by renowned house DJ Daishi Dance - is a bombastic and energetic take on the original ballad without losing its sophisticated elegance, it also feels unnecessary. With its graceful composition and exquisite arrangement that also recalls memories of Nakashima's last "sakura"-named track Sakura Iro Mau Koro, the original ballad version on the single is clearly the more effective version of the song and should've been included on the album instead.
Coincidentally, the two best dance tracks of Voice both feature lyrics by Nakashima herself. Focus (Track 3) is a pop-dance track with a rich arrangement that features horn instruments in addition to interesting electronic-produced musical elements throughout. Unlike Sakura, its fast-paced composition also suits the song's style perfectly, with all the elements coming together for a modern dance track that actually fits Nakashima's sensibilities.
Despite having a different songwriter and producer, Trust Your Voice (Track 8) shares a similar sound with Focus. As a result, it also shares many of its strengths. With an arrangement that features a heavier drum and background chorus presence, Trust Your Voice is a considerably lighter dance song that has the same dynamic urban energy that makes Focus equally effective as a Mika Nakashima dance song.
While Trust Your Voice composer/arranger Lori Fine (of the duo Coldfeet) concentrated more of her effort on the ballads in Yes, she shows her versatility here by not only staying away from the ballads, but also by working on both the dance songs and the more hardcore rock tracks. In collaboration with comedienne trio Morisanchu (as background vocals), Coldfeet contributes to the album with I Don't Know (Track 10) and Shut Up (Track 11). Featuring angry outbursts at nosy fans, paparazzi, fashion experts, and possibly an ex-boyfriend, Nakashima recalls her Nana image as she lets loose on everything that pisses her off as a pop star and a disgruntled lover. Featuring Nakashima herself as the co-writer of the lyrics (along with Fine), the two rock tracks mark the rare occasion where the singer really sounds like she's having fun singing. While there's really no need to include the comedienne trio, plenty of credit should go to them for inspiring easily the most involving tracks on Voice.
As proven by sales figures, Nakashima's most popular genre has always been ballads. With her unusually haunting young voice, the vocals of these songs alone are enough to make those record company-mandated ballads stand out. The ballad with the most potential for commercial success on the album is Orion (Track 5), the second theme song of the drama Ryusei no Kizuna (in which Nakashima has a minor role). With its catchy and affecting chorus, the song may be Nakashima's most conventional ballad yet in terms of arrangement and composition. However, as always, Nakashima's powerful yet frail voice brings a nice balance, even as songwriter Rui Momoda's busy arrangement nearly undoes the emotional impact of the composition.
On the other hand, songwriters/producers Akihisa Matzura and Takefumi Haketa show that simpler is better with My Gentleman (Track 7) and Koen (Track 14), respectively. The two ballads find commonality in their abilities to affect with minimal arrangements. My Gentleman features only two acoustic guitars strumming away in the background, leaving Nakashima to carry the song with its composition and her delivery. However, Nakashima wisely doesn't use her voice to dominate the song, employing instead a gentle delivery style that matches well with the overall tone of the song.
While titular track Koen (it means "Voice" in Japanese) also features a similarly minimalist arrangement, the traditional ballad composition allows Nakashima to give a vocal showcase as it challenges her range. Unlike My Gentleman, which achieves its intended effect with a balance of its various musical elements, Koen's success hinges almost purely on Nakashima's voice because of the conventional melody.
Voice is clearly Nakashima's most commercially-friendly work in a long time. It doesn't really take any experimental approach to any of its genres (Focus doesn't mark the first use of horns in Nakashima's albums) and it has a smooth pacing that makes its 72 minutes go by faster than her previous albums. Unlike Music, Nakashima seems at peace with the listener-friendly tracks here, and she even seems to be having fun at points when she strips off her cold exterior. However, the refined elegance of her old works that set her apart early in her career is also evidently fading away. Perhaps the album title suggests that even if she sheds her old musical style, the signature Mika Nakashima voice that fans know and love will always remain. It may not be enough assurance for fans of her older work, but it should definitely be enough to satisfy fans of this album.
Recommended Tracks: Sakura ~ Hanagasumi (Daishi Dance) (Track 2), Focus (Track 3), Orion (Track 5), My Gentleman (Track 7), Trust Your Voice (Track 8), I Don't Know (Track 10), Shut Up (Track 11), Koen (Track 14)
by Kevin Ma
Customer Review of "Voice (Normal Edition)(Japan Version)"
See all my reviews
July 14, 2009
I love this album!!
I bought this album a few months ago, and I'm glad for doing so!! My favorite song is conFusiOn for sure!! I like ORION, and Shut Up too, as well as I Don't Know. Anyway, Mika did a great job on this album, as usual!! I am a huge fan of Mika, she's definitely my favorite Japanese artist of all time. Don't sleep on Mika. She's definitely got it all; the smarts, the looks, and the talent. You don't come across that too often nowadays. I give this album a 10 out of 10. Very well put together. She gets better and better with each album, and I can appreciate that, for sure.
See all my reviews
December 29, 2008
True to this album's title, this 2008 release shows Mika Nakashima's 'Voice' handling a gentle but crossing-over set of songs that lean more toward the Kelly Clarkson-style pop/rock sound, while at the same time bringing back echoes of earlier styles on some of the songs. She even throws in a sense of humor on songs like the trio of her first English single, 'I Don't Know,' its B-side, 'Shut Up,' and 'Confusion.'
What's great about this album is that Mika takes electronic sounds and blends them in with her old style on some of the cuts, like 'Focus.' Meanwhile, 'SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ (Daishi Dance)' makes a happy techno-classical arrangement out of a heart-wrenching ballad. I like the original version of 'SAKURA' better, but the Daishi Dance one is just as good.
'Orion,' the last single released for the album, and the digital single 'Anata ga Iru Kara' are the two best songs on the album. Although both songs are rock ballads, Mika sings extremely well, as usual.
And the rest of the album has a distinctiveness that sets it apart from other 'mainstream' pop albums and MTV.
All in all, while I do miss the easy-listening style that Mika's earlier releases presented, 'Voice' is still a fascinating listen and possibly the best album released in 2008.