It’s time to celebrate! The Empress of J-Pop, Ayumi Hamasaki, released sixxxxxx today!
In case you’re wondering why the title is so strange, I’m about 83% sure that it stands for “sinkhole,” which is where every other J-Pop album released this year needs to go after hearing this mini-album (except A ONE, because to toss it would be inhumane).
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
With that advice-of-the-day done, let’s get into why you should listen and feel blessed to have access to sixxxxxx:
- Step by step: This is the song that most feels like a continuation of A ONE, one of the best albums released this century. More specifically, this sounds a lot like “The Show Must Go On,” but it’s even better, in my humble and 100% accurate opinion. In any event, this is my go-to song for walking the unbearably sunny path to the gym. If that doesn’t qualify it as the perfect summer song, what else does? The music video is also a check-plus in my book!
- Summer diary: Now, my friends were all like “OMG this video sucks!” And they’re wrong, but this is a music review, so I won’t go into HOW wrong they are (but I will mention that Shuya is back!). Nevertheless, this is probably my favorite song from the mini-album. It elicits the best kind of euphoria: head-bobbing J-pop euphoria. The “la la la la”s are more subtle than usual, but they’re there and that’s how you know this is an iconic Ayumi Hamasaki song (also, because it’s perfect). Damn does that chorus get stuck in my head all the time!
- Sayonara feat. SpeXial: My friend’s favorite hobby is making fun of this Taiwanese boy band group name. My favorite hobby is listening to this song, so obviously my priorities are better placed than hers. I will mention that the buildup leading up to the final choruses does not pay off—it actually falls really flat and makes the song sound a little monotonous. But let’s not dwell on the negative because her English has improved! She sounds way more comfortable than she did the last time she explored the English language (“What is forever love”). Overall, it’s a rewarding experience to listen to this tune.
- Sorrows: It sounds a little like “Last minute”’s little sister, but not entirely in a good way. The mixing worsens what should be a classic Ayu track—something about the levels is all wrong and it makes the transition from verse to chorus not quite as pleasant as it should be. But the bridge more than saves the song for me!
- Shape of Love: I don’t know what’s going on here, but I love it. A random mandolin appears to geometrically tug at your heartstrings. She delivers the song in an honest, heartfelt way, without any of the over-the-top drama she can sometimes be known for. It simply has a smooth flow. The bridge ends up feeling a bit like a 90’s ballad and I don’t mind it one bit. Let me play that air-mandolin for a minute, thanks very much. As a bonus, it seems that the end of this song is the beginning of “Summer diary”… I hope someone at Avex didn’t randomly shuffle the tracks and mess up the trackless before distribution! Or maybe it’s a prequel?
- Sky high: No, not “Fly high,” but almost as enjoyable. What an upbeat way to end the album after two somewhat mid-tempo tracks! I love the melody, the chorus and the (very) little piano break before the final chorus. This is the kind of vibe “Summer diary” gives me, so I’ll add this to my gym-walking routine.
Overall, it’s worth it to buy Ayumi’s second release of 2015. A lot of fans will feel nostalgia over some tracks and pleasant surprise over the others. The only truly bad thing that could come off sixxxxxx would be if this means that Ayumi will wait longer to release her next album–UNACCEPTABLE!
(Sources: Hyperlinked YouTube accounts)
- Short and concise.
- Strong vocals.
- Some interesting instrumentation.
- Sometimes, the mixing is imperfect.
- SpeXial doesn't add much personality.
- She should work with new people for a new sound.
- Step by step7.5
- Summer diary10
- Sayonara feat. SpeXial7
- Shape of Love9
- Sky high8.5