Ayumi Hamasaki Discography Rate: Part 2 (FIN)

And you have the nerve to call ME out for flopinions?! WHO ARE YOU.

Dramatics aside, JEWEL is one of my most favorite Ayu songs ever. It's so lovely and emotional, I'm just so fond of it. This was the song I used to get my best friend into Ayu's music, I knew she'd love the piano and the pretty melody and lyrics. The video doesn't really go anywhere but maybe after paying for all those real jewels and the CGI artists they didn't want to shell out for any kind of creative direction. It's pretty and sparkly and Ayu looks gorgeous in it, so really, what else does it need? Side note, I meant to mention it before but this song and November feel a bit similar in terms of lyrics and structure.
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"I wonder how the rate is going today..."

Just realised I forgot to comment on Momentum's demise! I got the Secret CD + DVD for Xmas and watched the PVs on Xmas morning so watching the Momentum and Jewel PVs were very fitting! I actually miss getting an Ayu album for Xmas and watching/listening to it on a Winter morning.

I always think if you took a screen shot of the start of Momentum's PV then you have a gorgeous Christmas card. Actually, could Ayu start up a Xmas card range featuring screenshots from her Winter PVs? Cause I'd buy that!!

The Top 15 kicks off with both the 9.0 averages and a shocking turn of events...

Geez, you weren't fucking kidding were you?

his damn album is making me worried I'm being too generous because the scores are all so high

and that long-ass instrumental break? heaven.

The lyricism of fairyland is able to transport me to another world, and that is only heightened by the composition and arrangement. The theme of nostalgia acts as the lifeblood of this song; the instrumental bridge feels almost bittersweet. Each and every listen is so incredibly enchanting to me.

All this Fairyland (and (miss)understood) praise is so right! THAT instrumental in a pop song is just brilliant! If it were by a Western artist you would expect the instrumental to just be featured in the PV for the purpose of a dance break and not in the actual song. Do Japan believe in radio edits?

At this stage it's hard to be mad at (99% of) the scores because they're all so amazing. I mean, a rate where Step You, Is This Love, Alterna and Do It Again are all gone before the Top 10? A great Top 10 nonetheless.

As for that PV, walk those Dobermans, girl!!"

I think they're walking her!

Looking at my scores I'm predicting Jewel to leave next. I only have two songs rates less than a 9 left. And I think I know which song is about to go next...

EDIT: Prob should have looked at the next page before I posted this!
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Last angel


11 @send photo 10 @RUNAWAY @One Stop Candy Shop @junglefish @digitalkaiser @aaronhansome @ThisIsRogue @Animalia @Weslicious @eliminathan
7 @ohnostalgia @TABOO

Oh my goodness, this song takes my breath away. I still remember listening to Love songs for the first time in my car, sending mail had me freshly scalped and as I pulled into the Target parking lot... this began to play. I sat there in my seat, gripping my steering wheel, shaking with goosebumps. I had never experienced a song quite like this before; it was everything I wanted from a song. This song is a journey; an entire romance condensed into 5 minutes and 41 seconds. It begins with the strings, and merges into a pulsating beat, with thunderous beats storming in. Then... it cuts to a piano as Ayumi arrives, and through her voice you can visualise her reaching out for the one she loves. The pulsing beats return and it cuts to the chorus; a chorus of such angelic melodies that it cements itself among my favourites. Juxtaposed is the verses, bringing the tempo down a notch, as if her heart skips a beat. The slayage continues until the climax, where the chorus erupts for one last hurrah. I particularly love when her vocals muffle and the strings bow to the back, allowing the beating of her heart to take centre stage, accompanied by the piano.

I just... cannot say enough about how much I love this song. It was the first Ayumi song I learned the lyrics to (mostly phonetically), and was my ultimate favourite for years before Endless sorrow snagged the title. Still, I'll always have fond memories with Last angel. I know I had quite a few 11 contenders, but they really didn't compare to the love I have for Last angel. I expected this to get to like... the top 30 at most. It doesn't exactly spring to mind as one of her classics and with such fierce competition to fight I was expecting to have a comedic rage elimination like literally all my Pokémon 11s. But you guys turned it out and stan it nearly as much as I do. When ballots came in, I'd always scroll directly to see how well you scored Last angel and the majority of you awarded it the high score it deserved. I feel like the songs left are stone-cold classics and if it got any further y'all would start complaining, so #9 feels like the perfect spot for this little gem. Thank you all so much for making this happen ♥

At least evilsin is happy for me, "People love this and I love that people love this, but I always want this to go even bigger and it never does." ED got u down again sis? TABOO likes it, but not enough to escape being the lowest scorer, "It has taken me a long time to truly appreciate Last angel, but it makes sense to me now. I like it." otenkiame is glancing at his watch, "Nice strings, oh, and then nice beats. Chorus is a major highlight thanks to the speed Ayu sings at. I kinda do find the song unnecessarily long though." I can't wait to see what you guys have to say about her 7 minute ballad in part 3. vague likes to take it slow, "was expecting a ballad from the title, but this is a bop! those quiet bits make the song for me."

This lowkey shade from Cutlery since he couldn't give Love songs a single 10, "Possibly the very best track in the album. It unravels with vulnerability, rejoices in dance beats and closely follows Ayumi’s stern words of self-redemption through thumping loudness and subdued quietness," but eliminathan delivered, even if he left us hanging, "I remember more of these songs than I thought I did, yet again Love Songs proving to be the best album and yet again." Our previous host ThisIsRogue turned up with a 10 as well, "The opening minute is like a bit of a throwback to Ayu's own Eurobeat days early in her career. This song also takes a couple of twists that keep the song interesting, especially that light R'n'B groove during the verses."

My fellow Love songs stan RUNAWAY couldn't be bothered to show up for my 11, so the honour of final word goes to next-in-line One Stop Candy Shop, "The drama in this is real. Bring on the strings, bring on the beats!"

eliminathan delivered, even if he left us hanging, "I remember more of these songs than I thought I did, yet again Love Songs proving to be the best album and yet again."
eliminathan: A spectacular song, one of her absolute best. The chorus getting more and more grandiose each time it comes around until it halts for the violin at the very end it supoib.

A mess that the best songs were all at the tail end of the part 2 releases so I was sleep deprived and delirious when writing commentary for them, and yet again.
Last angel is an absolute stunner, nice choice for an 11 @send photo! I was also blown away by it when I first listened to the album, it took me a while to move on to Like a doll because I kept putting this on repeat. I even made my mom listen to it in the car on our trip back home after xmas that year, because my discman batteries died and I couldn't stand going 4 hours without hearing the song, lol. (She wasn't a fan, her taste in music doesn't extend to flawless Jpop queens.) I really considered giving it half a point more but I'm glad I didn't since all my 9.5s were apparently cursed.

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Doing these eliminations gets harder and harder. You could even say it's not easy...





11 @yuuurei 10 @otenkiame @vikeyeol @TABOO @eliminathan @BEST FICTION @EachSmallStep @One Stop Candy Shop @mi|kshake @digitalkaiser @Cutlery @send photo
7 @soratami 7.5 @aaronhansome 8 @Weslicious @ThisIsRogue @evilsin

Queen of the gays! I'm going to mix it up and dive into the PV first because whew, cinematic masterpiece. Matching the production of the song itself, GREEN sees Ayumi venturing through historic China, seemingly in town to perform a show to a room full of rich folk, specifically catching the eye of a rich businesswoman played by Midoring, resulting in a romantic tango. GREEN is (I think) her first video where she used LGBT themes in a PV, with another scene (3:44) showing two male dancers embracing. Back to the song itself, the production stands out amongst her discography thanks to the traditional instruments employed, melding seamlessly with the rock elements of the rest of NEXT LEVEL. It's such a well-constructed song and easily recognised as a fan fave. There simply was no way that Sparkle wasn't going to be voted the best of the album, but GREEN placing second and even notching a top 10 placement is both fitting and admirable.

Pretends to be shocked, evilsin is homophobic, "First of all, I do understand the love for this piece of art and appreciate its place in Ayu's discography. Having said that, I'm not that huge on this. The arrangement is immaculate, but I'm not finding the melodies in the chorus to my liking. Grand track otherwise." eliminathan tries to steer us from the gay as well, "Not to gloss over the homoerotic iconic video but I wanted to mention that Ayumi looks gorgeous in all of these looks." Back to the gay though, here's One Stop Candy Shop, "Queen of expensive/historical/LGBT music videos. It's my favourite video of hers and the song is in my all time Ayu top 5." And top 8 for all of us, she did that! And thankfully digitalkaiser uses logic, "I think my favorite part about this is the video, which is stunning and beautiful. The video is a wee bit at odds with the general feel of the album but with such a bold statement piece Imma let ha live."

The understated themes work for otenkiame, "Those oriental instruments. I really just cannot express how beautiful they are. The song on a whole just sounds so majestic and elegant. It's not even super bombastic, yet it comes off dramatic anyway. Lovely." And TABOO needs oxygen, "This song leaves me breathless. The composition is unlike anything else within her discography, and her conviction highlights the fragile and anxious nature of the song without flaw. Impeccable!" And balance is the name of the game for Cutlery, "his single becomes quite melodramatic through its grandiose strings-infused chorus and poetic vulnerability in its lyrics. However, Ms. Hamasaki never really loses her step in making it too over the top, instead finding a beautiful, ideal balance." Thankfully vague avoided being the lowest scorer on their pal's 11 so their friendship can continue, "this almost sounds like it belongs on Duty rather than NEXT LEVEL. i guess it's that amazing, vogue-inspired arrangement. i really love the lyrics to this, too."

Speaking of, yuuurei managed to turn out a lovely eulogy for their 11! "It's hard for me to put how I feel about this song in words because I'm not really even sure how it makes me feel. The song's mood is ethereal, somewhat melancholy, hopeful and beautiful, with sweeping and majestic music accompanying Ayu's lovely vocals, but the lyrics are what really get to me. In particular the lines "In truth, I'm sure I always knew, but I avoided looking at the reality and denied the truth" and "I want to be able to smile more honestly than I do now" really resonate with me and make me reflect on myself and my past relationships. /rambling Anyway, in short, I love this song very much and it means a lot to me."

I forgot to mention but today and tomorrow are 3 eliminations each, with 2 on Monday before the finale Tuesday. I'll try for another midnight result so the gap between elims isn't too much~
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