I've been waiting to see what the first week of sales would look like for Ayaya's latest single "Kizuna" as the recent trend has been that of not too much love for her ballads, although I truly feel that these have been really well written and performed songs. For Ayaya's last single Tanimura Yumi wrote for her two absolute gems with "Egao" being the highlight but despite this, a steady decline in sales has continued which is really sad to see. So is H!P's most naturally gifted vocalist in need of something more upbeat? The numbers do say yes. But with a return to her "Momo iro kataomoi" days a seemingly unlikely match for her at her current age, surely the songwriters could pen her something upbeat and fun in a more contemporary sense. I personally haven't lost an ounce of enthusiasm or love for any of Ayaya's releases…recent or older and I really love how she's able to deliver ballads with such conviction and vocal power. The most recent figures have "Kizuna" debuting at 20 with just over 6000 units sold.
Ayaya's recent musical catalog has been getting song writing contributions from outside of Tsunku's realm and what that has meant is a distinctly different sound and approach to her releases bringing a freshness to H!P's palette. Ayaya's stature in H!P has somewhat always been a stand out point and with her releases being written by numerous outside talents this has also aided in a uniqueness to her sound when matched against the rest of H!P for the most part. "Kizuna" is actually not a ballad and instead is in the vein of a mid tempo track although it does dwell on a softer side but with a melody which is bright and uplifting accompanied with a sweet harmony which attunes itself right away it makes for a joyous listen immediately. Not infectious on the same level as "Egao" but nonetheless a solid track in its own right.
The coupling with song "Hitori" is a newly recorded version and its predecessor can be found on Matsuura Aya's masterpiece "Naked Songs." The two versions have subtle differences between them in instrumentation and a redone vocal which stands to be its most prominent feature but with a song this moving and well written I have absolutely no complaints about it being included here as the "b-side." And although it's been previously released I would have actually made it the A-side as I think it's just that great of a song!! "Hitori" is simply pure <3!!! Here are both the "Naked Songs"' version as well as the newly released "Single Version" of "Hitori"…
First is the new version…and just below is the "Naked Songs" version…
With the current trend of DVDs being favored as extras H!P needs to match this release ("Naked Songs") in some way shape or form with their other artists as the DVD extra included with Ayaya's album "Naked Songs" stands to be arguably the finest ever offered by the H!P family.
The entire concept behind this release is wonderful as the idea of "stripping" away the outer "casings" of the previously released songs as well as presenting the new tracks in a session style environment creates the ambiance of a truly "live" and intimate feeling which translates perfectly even on the audio CD. But the true gem here is the accompanying DVD which has a generous running time of 47 minutes! and includes 10 performances all shot in the candid realm of a small recording studio! The track listing includes such past favorites as "Hyakkai no kiss", "Yeah! meccha holiday", "Dokki doki! LOVE mail", "Momoiro kataomoi", and Tropical koihshite~ru" along with a few other surprises and Ayaya is in top form here throughout the recordings. What this DVD offers to fans is an all to rare close up look into the beauty and fun that an intimate setting can create and even the little nuance of Ayaya accidentally almost beginning her vocals too soon in her performance of "I Know" will certainly offer an endearing visual to any Ayaya fan out there! And the fact that they didn't edit this out or re-shoot the video sums up in a sense what this release is truly about…giving the fans a closer look without any barriers…with an approach that is truly, naked. The new jazzy arrangements also give old favorites new life and there's even the inclusion of a foreign cover song! What also should be noted is the absence of back-up singers and if anyone in H!P can carry a tune alone and excel it's definitely Ayaya! (Aichan too!…"Ribbon no kishi" ^-^) As mentioned earlier Ayaya's vocals are top notch here and there are numerous times in which she approaches the lyrics with a fun touch here and there which without a doubt would never be found on an album and you can just sense and see her joy so openly in these performances which creates a lively and intimate undertone for this truly unique release.
I've picked out and uploaded 3 tracks from the "Naked Songs" DVD including "Tropical koishite~ru", "I Know", and "Happiness" which are just three favorites of mine from this DVD….just to give a glimpse here. No Ayaya fan should be without this release!…and happily it can still be ordered here at Cdjapan!