In a musical era where AkiP has brought attention and overwhelming success back to purely~styled J~pop compositions and an approach as well as a product which resonates all that reflects upon Japan’s uniqueness…a purity which over the years has been blurred by outside influences of hip~hop…r&b…euro~pop..and Ameri~pop to name just a few~. Ichikawa Yui in hindsight may have been just a few years too early as she ventured from model/actress into music, too early for the old~school resurgence which is topping the Japanese music charts of today~ and in a lot of ways I think she’s been one of J~pop’s much more underappreciated artists of the millenium~.
Primarily known as an actress, Ichikawa Yui, formerly popular as a gravure idol did what many idol/actresses do…venture into the music arena. Her debut came back on November 12th, 2003 with the release of her debut single “Ame.” I easily would have probably passed up on this release had it not been for the Moritaka Chisato direct connection. Ichikawa’s debut single “Ame” was co-written by Moritakasan and remains as one of her best known single releases in her vast catalog and just the premise of hearing a popular idol give her rendition of such a beloved classic peaked my interest…puttting it mildly. ^-^ Ichikawa Yui would go on to release a total of four singles, a mini album, and a pv DVD collection from late 2003 to March of 2005 and I’ve been able to complete her discography with the one exception of her single “Ai wa katsu” which had temporarily gone out of print…strange it’s back and available now. One of the main attractions to collecting her singles are the inclusion of a few exclusive b-sides which didn’t appear on her album which was released in December of 2004.
Ichikawa Yui’s music video collection “I clips” is sadly also out of print but most likely may be found on auctions or the Amazon Japan marketplace.
Here to begin with is “Peace” until you reach her pvs♥ below….
~Ichikawa Yui “Peace☆” mp3~
…such a cute and catchy song deshou =).
When I say “defines” J-Pop what I mean is that everything that ever attracted me to the genre to begin with is all right here in terms of song writing, production, and vocals. And while “Ame” was no doubt a nice effort what really reeled me in were the following releases and I think it would be best to begin with the pv for “Ai wa katsu.” My initial J-Pop loves included groups/artists in that early 90’s period such as CoCo and Ribbon and for anyone familar with either of these groups I think you’d agree that there was a extra effort put forth into the songwriting in particular…not to say that J-Pop today isn’t of a high quality but rather that there was just so much in the melodies, hooks, and instrumentation back then that really defined what I to this day consider to be “true” J-Pop. There is just a different and unique sound to it and I hope I’m describing this okay. 😛 The landscape today is filled with crossover genres such as J-R&B, J-Rock, J-Trance and J-Techno just to name a few but the music of Ichikawa Yui although released after the millenium is 100% rooted in the pure form of J-Pop. Japan’s version of the word “pop” personified by only Japan’s influences with nothing from the outside altering the style or sound. Pure. Songwriters and music in general always go through a metamorphosis in change as outer influences and changes in style also done through time itself almost inevitably connect other genres until the original influence or style is nearly unrecognizable. Change is healthy and creativeness expands through this but for tonight I’d like to focus on pure J-Pop…unaltered in its true state. This form which is all too scarce in today’s J-Pop landscape of releases makes for something rather remarkable as Ichikawa Yui’s entire catalog is “purely” rooted in J-Pop.
Even after so many years of listening to Japanese music “Ai wa katsu” is simply one of the most adorable songs that I’ve ever heard.I can’t emphasize enough how much I ♥ these songs!!! They’re really some of the absolute best J-Pop songs that I’ve ever heard! I bet you’ll fall in love with “Ai no katsu” it’s just so cute! ^-^
~Ichikawa Yui “Ai wa katsu” (pv)~
From its initial notes and melody this song is immediately catchy and add in a late choir of school children, one of the best choruses ever, very very cute vocals and a pv shot in nostalgic form and you have a song that is pure ♥! As I mentioned previously “Ai wa katsu” had gone out of print but happily this song is included on her mini 8 track album titled “i-pop mini.’ I can’t stress just how perfect Yuichan’s vocals are for this style of songwriting!! There’s a simple beauty to her vocals which breath innocence and the aura of adorableness. Oh and on a side note Yuichan’s little niece in the drama “Hotman” was a part of the childrens’ ensemble vocals heard later in the track. 🙂 Now how cute is that!
LOL! that little girl has the Aiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnn! thing going on! =D
The next track I’d like to share is “Kira Kira” which was also released as a single.
~Ichikawa Yui “Kira Kira” (pv)~
Ichikawa Yui’s pvs are so much fun and “Kira Kira” is one her best! Yuichan’s got the itch for larger than life art and watch as the cuteness unfolds! ^-^ Chimes and bells were a big part of compostitions back then too and here “Kira Kira” uses it to perfection. You just simply can’t get any closer to true J-Pop than what this song entails. Oh and the song……kampeki! ♥
And when it comes to the perfect hook, “Love Letter” has a wonderful touch midway through its pre-chorus…anyone knowing the classic J-Pop hook will hear it immediately. 🙂
~Ichikawa Yui “Love Letter” (pv)~
Also released as a single “Love Letter” is a beautiful mid tempo J-Pop ballad. The melancoly piano notes laid over a emotionally charged melody create a touching ambience here and once again Yuichan’s vocals are so sweet here.
Although “Orange” wasn’t released as a single it did receive well shot pv which is also included on Yuichan’s pv DVD collection.
~Ichikawa Yui “Orange” (pv)~
A slightly grainy film effect was used here giving the pv a “home video” look through parts of it. Simplisticly shot but effective, “Orange” may be one the albums more laid back tracks but still memorable in its own right. The emotions portrayed though the verses and chorus are bitter sweet and likewise the pv carries it well as do Yuichan’s vocals.
And now “Ame”…
Several of Yuichan’s singles were released as both LE and RE singles with the LE versions including the title track’s pv and here I was able to get the LE version for her single “Ame.” Luckily though all pvs were included on her pv DVD collection making these LE’s possibly not essential although I’d still like to acquire them one day. 🙂 For comparison sake I’ve included both the original Moritaka Chisato version along with Yuichan’s cover version.
Boy it’s really raining in this pv!!! Whether it be fake rain or real Yuichan is beyond drenched here!!! I hope it wasn’t cold out the day of shooting! Such an amazing J-Pop classic, “Ame” I think would definitely be included in the top 50 most important J-Pop songs of all time. Moritakasan always performs it live on the piano…always mesmerizing to watch!
~Ichikawa Yui “Ame” (pv)~
And here for comparison is the original Moritaka Chisato live on keyboards….!!
~Moritaka Chisato “Ame” (live from “Lucky 7 Live Tour)~
The breakdown of songs found on her singles and album are just below but first on a final note, these songs are just so amazing for me! I’m really taken back to the earlier days of J-Pop with each track here and beyond as her entire catalog really resonates the genre so well I think. I’ve long thought that careers in J-Pop had become too altered to embrace the truest of forms but Yuichan’s is a celebration in reminiscence with the new milleniums’ touch to go along with it. Her stay in the music business was far too brief though but with the return of Akiyama Nana too who knows…maybe we haven’t heard the last of Yuichan in the pop world. 🙂 A few years have passed though so a return doesn’t seem likely but one can always hope! Yuichan’s career is so much associated with acting and modeling that this J-Pop venture seems so overshadowed and hidden in a sense but I hope with this post a few more fandoms will grow to love and become endeared to her music for it’s really something special and far too rare in today’s ever evolving music scene. So much of J-music has become “Americanized”, “Europeanized” (is that a word or did I just make that up? 😛 ) etc…so it’s just refreshing to hear and see the original artform brought to light a most well written and well produced way. Please leave any thoughts. ^-^
It just can’t be helped but Ichikawa Yui’s entire catalog receives the Maochan “seal of approval” for song greatness….
….unprecedented but unavoidable! ^o^
~Ichikawa Yui “Ame” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Shiny Day” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Love Letter” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Soba ni ite kureta” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Kira Kira” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Fu fu fu☆Boyfriend” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “ Kira Kira” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Peace☆” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Pure” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Ame” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Fu Fu Fu☆Boyfriend” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Orange” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Love Letter” mp3~
~Ichikawa Yui “Ai wa katsu” mp3~
Originally posted on October 16th, 2008 (note: post updated with additional text and media.)