This is the first guest post on my blog. It was written by Justin from educatedwhore.com, a very cool guy and one of my newest blogging pals. Don’t let the name of his blog fool you as his site is well done and offers interesting posts on topic ranging from poetry to learning German to his general life experiences as a teenage growing up in California. Check out Justin’s blog, why it is named “Educated Whore” and read much more about him.
Kicking off the New Year right!
I waited eagerly for the New Year to come for many reasons. I would be able to make new resolutions (that would be left unfulfilled) and I would get to see Ayumi Hamasaki‘s (浜崎あゆみ) 9th studio album GUILTY. Ask any heavy j-pop fan and they probably would have said the same thing. GUILTY has been one of the most anticipated albums since it was announced.
I didn’t always like Ayumi Hamasaki. I always thought the she was at the top of the totem pole because she is drop-dead gorgeous and she has the talent of over one million people put together. As I learned more about Hamasaki I learned that I falsely judged her.
Throughout her career Hamasaki has created many hit songs that convey a wide variety of topics. She masterfully writes ALL of her songs. She sings about emotions such as: love, happiness, sadness, anger. She is widely known for her deep and though-provoking lyrics. Hamasaki’s 2005 hit SEASONS (a song about how time just escapes us) proves this. This song won various awards including best song lyrics of the year. It is very rare to see pop artists (on a worldwide scale) to write their own lyrics and that is one of the elements that make Hamasaki so refreshing to hear.
Excerpt from SEASONS:
Memories have become faded.
The border between my vague dream and
reality has become blurred.
Even so, the dream I once told you of
had not a single lie in it.
Today was fun,
and tomorrow will surely be fun as well.
“These days will continue forever,”
or so I thought at the time.
Hamasaki is an idol to young girls and the young (teen) community in general. She sets fashion trends and sets an example for Japanese youth. Her songs talk about issues that go on in teen life such as broken love, suicide, and how friendship can end at any moment. She also didn’t get her singing career handed to her on a silver platter (not even bronze). She grew up with only her mom (Hamasaki’s dad left when she was about 3). Hamasaki’s mom struggled to get by as Hamasaki grew up. Her first taste of stardom was being an actor until someone discovered her lyrics. It was seen at an early stage that Hamasaki was born for stardom. She was sent to the United States to get vocal training. She may have not wanted to be a singer, but she is sure good at it. Look where she is today! She came from a life that had little light and now she is the brightest star in Japan. There is no wonder why she is an idol to Japan’s youth.
Without further ado, allow me to talk about her new album GUILTY. Many would argue with me when I say this but I think GUILTY is Hamasaki’s best work yet. Many will note her last album (Secret) as her best work but I disagree. While recording GUILTY many things have happened to Hamasaki. She had to part with a lover that she wanted to marry and one of her best friends left this earth. These events motivated her to write songs ~Untitled~ For Her and Don’t Leave Me Alone. Hamasaki is successfully able to write any emotion possible. This is hard to say about other artists. Many artists use one to two topics to write about but Hamasaki is easily able write how she feels. GUILTY is a worthy title name for this album. It is the sum of all emotions within this album.
The song ~Untitled~ For Her is easily worth the title of song of the year. With masterful lyrics like:
That you would walk all alone
On the endless road
Over that cloud to the sky
Leaving here so many things
I want to tell of and talk about
We walked without holding hands
We quarreled over trifles and got stubborn
Even the stupid quarrels are my sweet memories now
There is no wonder why each time she makes a single or album it charts as number one. When Hamasaki releases something it is BOUND to get number one status. There was only ONE time where this didn’t happen; this was because she released two different complication albums (A BEST -BLACK, A BEST -WHITE)! All of her records are platinum certified which is a big when you are a music artist (a surprisingly low amount of artists make it gold even). She also holds many awards on a global scale. Hamasaki has been known to see as much as many top American artists do. She is also the only non-American artist that has made music videos that chart on the most expensive music video list. She is been on the list 3 times and her most expensive video was 2 million (USD). Hamasaki accounts for nearly 15% of her label (AVEX trax) earnings.
GUILTY brought many new songs to the table, granted there are too many instrumental tracks, it is a solid album. Japanese music analysts say that the album has already gone platinum. GUILTY including many of her popular singles such as Fated, Talkin’ 2 Myself , and Together When.
Hamasaki’s album GUILTY is a 5-star album and would make an excellent addition into anyone’s j-pop collection. If you want to get into j-pop; listening to Hamasaki is a great start.