JAPONESQUE, released on 1.25.12, is Koda Kumi’s 10th album.
「Introduction ~JAPONESQUE~」 starts off pretty simply with some Japanese instruments and Koda Kumi’s edited vocals going, “Wanna be? Wanna be? eh eh eh”
「So Nice feat. Mr.Blistah」 carries a constant drum beat and clapping as Koda Kumi sings in a sultry voice. The whole song itself gives off an Arabian/foreign feel to it in the chorus. By the lyrics and the way it is sung, the song attempts a seducing tone which I think it is able to pull off.
Carrying a rock tune, 「Boom Boom Boys」 gives us heavy electric/bass guitars with some drums as Koda Kumi sings with attitude in her vocals. The chorus is very busy with even heavier guitar with Koda Kumi’s vocals pretty much drowning in it. There is an annoying autotune sound in the chorus but the chorus itself is very messy to begin with.
「V.I.P. feat. T-Pain (Album Version)」 has a dark, seductive feel to it as Koda sings in a sultry tone as she also creates some suggestive back up vocals. She also squeaks a lot here. The instrumental is an electronica I would say is found common in American music. There’s also autotune in this song. The suggestive sounds continue throughout the song, so a heads up if you find anything like that uncomfortable. The only difference in this version is the addition of T-Pain’s rap in the third verse.
「Slow feat. Omarion」 starts immediately as she sings, “I wanna be with you, slow…” in a medium paced electronica instrumental. Autotune is added to her vocals which is a bit annoying because of the slight squeaks, but it’s okay overall. Omarion’s vocals back up Koda and he puts in a rap verse in the third verse.
「Brave」 begins with a pretty piano instrumental with some back up percussion as Koda Kumi sings in a low, but steady key. The bridge builds up into the chorus where the volume of the song increases and the instrumental becomes slightly more busy with some more percussion instruments added.
「Everyday」 is an upbeat song with an electronica instrumental. It’s a fairly mid-tempo song with Koda singing with a calming enthusiasm to her vocals as the instrumental provides a nice backdrop for the mood. This is the first light hearted track in the album so far, so it helps to shift the mood from the more serious and sultriness that we got from the first half of the album.
「IN THE AIR」 carries the same instrumental as one of her interlude songs in the single it was originally released in. Koda sings this with a softer voice as the common electronic drum creates a beat in the background. The chorus is busy with sounds as Koda continues her soft vocals. It certainly has a more breezy feel to it, but it’s not anything too spectacular.
「You are not alone ~acoustic version~」 is a song written for the victims of 3/11. It starts off with a strong stomping/clapping instrumental and an acoustic guitar as Koda Kumi sings “You are not alone, not alone!” with a chorus as her backup. The instrumental (especially the stomping+clapping) is a bit distracting from the song itself, but this version of the song is more calm and showcases Koda’s vocal abilities against an essentially raw instrumental.
「Interlude ~JAPONESQUE~」 brings in another Japanese styled instrumental with traditional string instruments but that soon changes dramatically to a more harsher, club like beat before going straight back into a Japanese instrumental.
「ESCALATE」 carries a electronica instrumental, kinda reminiscent to American music instrumentals (club beats), as Koda sings in a fierce tone. The song is definitely a dance track as she builds the song up and then brings it back down (the instrumental) only to go into the chorus where she ups her attitude.
「Love Me Back」 is an upbeat song as Koda Kumi sings with a slightly sultry tone. She starts off with “diamonds! and sapphires! and you, oh my!” which I can imagine is to match the drama since it is about a rich girl and her butler. The chorus is more busy with louder instruments and Koda’s vocals slightly getting muffled by the instruments. The instrument is just a hot electrica instrumental during the verses, which play along nicely with the mood she’s trying to make. I really like the song’s verses, but the chorus is a bit too busy for my liking.
A lonely guitar starts 「No Man’s Land」 but that is soon joined by several other guitars and a strong percussion as Koda sings, “No man’s, no man’s, no man’s land”. The verses has a mix of Koda singing with edits over her vocals and her actual pure vocals. It’s a very strong, grand track and the mixture of different textures of vocals and instrumental plays out really well in this song.
「愛を止めないで (Ai wo Tomenaide)」 is a pretty, gradually grand ballad that Koda sings with her slightly husky vocals. By the time the bridge comes around, Koda really stresses her vocals to hit the right notes, and when she comes to the chorus, she gets slightly squeaky, but it’s not too bad. The song is nice, but it’s nothing new from Koda.
「KO-SO-KO-SO」 is a suggestive song, that’s all I can really say about it.
「Lay Down」 brings back the sultriness with an electronica instrumental and quick paced lyrics. Koda’s vocals are forceful, but retains that suggestiveness in her vocals as she practically orders the guy in the lyrics.
「Love Technique」 is an upbeat electronica that is fun and charming as Koda sings about what else but love techiniques. There are some raps in various parts of the song that add to the fun, quirky charm of this song.
「Poppin’love cocktail feat. TEEDA」 starts off with TEEDA going first with some cheers in English. Koda then comes in after his verse with energetic vocals, but she does go squeaky a few times. Contrasting to its title, it’s pretty much a fun guitar summer song. It feels like something she’d probably sing on a beach in front of a crowd :d.
Koda ends the album in a great way; 「All for you」 is completely acoustic and raw. No tricks, no edits, nothing. Just Koda Kumi, her vocals, and an acoustic guitar. It’s different from what you’d usually hear from Koda, to just hear her raw vocals in a slightly mid-tempo ballad.
I have a love-hate thing with Koda Kumi’s songs. Sometimes I really like them, sometimes I just can’t stand them. As for this album, out of all the new songs, I liked Brave and Everyday. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the other songs either. All for you is a great song and so is No Man’s Land. They just aren’t really to my liking.