Ayumi Hamasaki Discography Rate: Part 2 (FIN)

she/her
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Thankfully vague avoided being the lowest scorer on their pal's 11 so their friendship can continue
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I don't have anything more to say than what I said in my one piece of commentary so I'm just going to go cry some gay tears about this, bye

@send photo you said you'd fix that fucking typo, why do you have to kick me when I'm down???
 
i'm pretty mad at myself for not giving Last angel and GREEN full 10s... i think i gave them both 9s, but i'm not pos; it's been a tuh-rying week for me, and i'm still kinda in a nyquil fog right now, so i can't really remember my scores for anything that i'm not listed for ddd. almost everything from NEXT LEVEL on was a first listen for me while doing this rate, so i def got stingier with 10s for the last couple of albums, but, man, those songs are both really, really great. if i'd known GREEN was your 11, @yuuurei , i def would've given full marks regardless of how i felt!

that said, i don't know why, but i've always associated you with JEWEL, so i was expecting that to be your 11, and i did mark my score up quite a bit for that one dddd. i thought for sure i wouldn't be the only one to think it was a little dry and that it paled in comparison to the more ~grandiose~ ballads in this part of the rate, so a 7.5 would land me firmly in the middle of the pack and i wouldn't get tagged, but karma got its kiss for me, i guess!! dddd forgive me xoxo
 
i'm pretty mad at myself for not giving Last angel and GREEN full 10s... i think i gave them both 9s, but i'm not pos; it's been a tuh-rying week for me, and i'm still kinda in a nyquil fog right now, so i can't really remember my scores for anything that i'm not listed for ddd. almost everything from NEXT LEVEL on was a first listen for me while doing this rate, so i def got stingier with 10s for the last couple of albums, but, man, those songs are both really, really great. if i'd known GREEN was your 11, @yuuurei , i def would've given full marks regardless of how i felt!

that said, i don't know why, but i've always associated you with JEWEL, so i was expecting that to be your 11, and i did mark my score up quite a bit for that one dddd. i thought for sure i wouldn't be the only one to think it was a little dry and that it paled in comparison to the more ~grandiose~ ballads in this part of the rate, so a 7.5 would land me firmly in the middle of the pack and i wouldn't get tagged, but karma got its kiss for me, i guess!! dddd forgive me xoxo
Why can't @send photo be like this with me?
 
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HEAVEN
(9.272)


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11 @digitalkaiser 10 @evilsin @RUNAWAY @vague @otenkiame @junglefish @TABOO @aaronhansome @send photo
7 @Weslicious 7.5 @Cutlery

I'm not even going to be subtle about it: this should've won with a perfect 10.00 average. HEAVEN was the song I singled out to sweep the rate, but apparently I was wrong. Imagine not giving this a 10... smh. Lucifer's minions are truly among us. It was even struggling for a top 10 position before the last minute voters took some other songs down a notch. This song is... perfection. There's so many unique elements to appreciate, such as the wind, the chanting breaths, the way it builds, the traditional instruments, and the way Ayumi faintly delivers her lines with a calm sadness. It's heartbreaking, but reassuring and accepting at the same time. It gives me closure in situations where I struggle to reach it in actuality. I know you've heard enough about sendy & his dead petz, but this was in heavy rotation during that time. This would've been my 11 had I not gone for a statement. It's just such an incredibly special song within her repertoire.

Cutlery adds, "I was initially a bit conflicted with my score because the lyrics are so cliché and the ballad starts off pretty bland, but it has its great moments of production and vocals too." I'm still conflicted with your score, beast, but at least you aren't the lowest. Also this is the strategy I was talking about with eliminathan, "This loses 0.5 because I was getting my life with the MV playing in the background and then right as the climax is about to happen a train shot passed. I thought I was going deaf (no offense Ayumi sis) and it interrupted the best part of the song." It's not even in the song it's just the PV!!! RUNAWAY offers a quick, "this song is incredible," while ThisIsRogue elaborates further, "The way the song builds to that swirling climax is brilliant."

Someone get poor otenkiame a tissue, "I'm totally not crying. Totally not. Lyrics alone are enough to move anyone. Just...so much beauty and love. It's bittersweet but breathtakingly gorgeous." evilsin gives it big shoes to fill, "Serene and blissful. I really appreciate how they went with the song in terms of structure, basically cutting it in half. The lyrics are very touching and this is on par with Dearest for the title of the most gentle Ayumi song." I'd say it fills them in quite nicely. Thankfully vague got his shit together long before I started this rate, "tbh, when the single came out, i was not a fan of this at all; i thought it was bland and boring and paled in comparison to her other ballads that were released around the same time. but, over the years, it has v e r y slowly revealed itself to me as the beautiful song it is. even over the course of rating all these songs and writing commentary, i found myself wanting to listen to this over and over, my score ticking up just a little bit each time, so, in the end, i have to give this a 10." TABOO even considered it for their 11, "One of her best ballads; one of her best songs. The crescendo that leads to the repeated choruses is life-affirming. Those emotive lyrics are amongst the best she has ever written. HEAVEN was a strong contender for my 11."

And finally, digitalkaiser may have villanised a good deal of the songs here, but at least he turned up where it counted, awarding HEAVEN his 11, "This song is my all time favorite Ayumi song, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played it. The video for this is haunting, simple and effective and this song generally just takes my breath away. It’s so soft, fragile and moving. Her voice evokes such an incredible aura. When the music explodes and that production kicks in with those breathy barely there vocals...phew. I don’t know if people will do this song justice, but just give this sweeping ballad a few spins."

 
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I don't have any clever teasers that can live up to the extravaganza of this song

























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BRILLANTE
(9.295)


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10 @eliminathan @vague @vikeyeol @TABOO @EachSmallStep @aaronhansome @Animalia @BEST FICTION @send photo
8 @One Stop Candy Shop @soratami @Weslicious 8.5 @junglefish @digitalkaiser

What I love about her is that she's not afraid to go outside of the box and deliver these extravagantly-extra epics that you wouldn't expect from more mainstream artists like Ayu. When will your faves incorporate Gregorian chanting into a song? This is the best (and only good) thing Timmy's done for her. It has that build-up that so many of our J-Pop queens are genius at. It's sweeping, and something you'd expect to soundtrack an ancient war blockbuster, like Troy (I know the movie's terrible but I love it anyway and it's the only one springing to mind shut up). The final chorus... masterful. Brilliant. JUST BRILLIANT. Everything about it. Except Timmy yelling in her ear in drag in the PV. At least the naked men make up for it.

ThisIsRogue isn't actually here for the naked men? "The visuals in the video are striking (semi-naked men aside). Whoever that person is by Ayu's side lip-syncing the chanting is more comical than anything, and I think at one point you can see them trying to stifle a smile." I guess they weren't the only ones laughing, as evilsin stifles his, "I still chuckle at Timothy's latin chant, because it sounds like he's singing "meat... of a slacker" in Russian. The track is certainly something else though. The bit after the first chorus almost sounds like it's from Final Fantasy X-2 Zanarkand Ruins theme. Amazing atmospheric track, the eye candy video delivered as well." Cutlery asks, "I have no idea what are the background vocalists chanting but they give this epic narration and ancient mythological tale kind of atmosphere to the song, which of course is backed up by a good dose of traditional instrumentation and Hamasaki’s strong vocals." It's just goodbye in a bunch of different languages. And I'll remember to keep this in mind the next time I see a camel herd stampeding towards me One Stop Candy Shop, "Anthem of dying in ancient Egypt."


otenkiame declares it the BESTANTE, "Easily the best track off her "FIVE" mini. There's just too much good about this. Just a whirlwind of amazing sounds, the Latin chanting, soaring and powerful hooks. A gem for sure." Fitting for the song, TABOO got dramatic, "Absolutely harrowing, dark, enigmatic, and I love everything about it. I’ve described BRILLANTE as less of a song, and more of a journey in descriptions to friends, and I stand by that. Nothing in her discography sounds anything like it." vikeyeol makes a bold statement, yet arguably accurate, "LITERAL MASTERPIECE! Possibly her most grandiose and theatrical song." A touch of shade from vague, "probably her last truly brilliant song, which is sad. but i was so mad when i found out timmy composed this ddd. the video's amazing, too (if i ignore timmy, who can't even be bothered to lipsync in time with the music, mess)."

I know a little birdy that told me eliminathan forced him to sing this song for karaoke, and for that he gets last word, "A serious contender for my 11. I absolutely adore this masterpiece. How did Ayumi get into the mens' showers anyhow. Drag queen sis was really getting into ha role." Teebs I can't knock Timmy too much, I'd make the most of my moment in her PVs too.

 
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FIVE
(7.890)


88. ANother song feat. URATA NAOYA (7.022)
84. Why... feat. JUNO (7.181)
79. beloved (7.386)
32. progress (8.568)
6. BRILLANTE (9.295)


1. @RUNAWAY 9.000
2. @send photo 8.700
3. @One Stop Candy Shop & @ohnostalgia 8.600
5. @yuuurei & @eliminathan 8.400


1. @vikeyeol 5.800
2. @digitalkaiser 6.600
3. @soratami 7.200
4. @evilsin & @junglefish 7.400

RUNAWAY

What a great bookend to this part of her career. All 5 songs are great in their own unique way and the features were immaculately chosen. JUNO and Urata Naoya’s voices are perfectly matched to hers and this was the last great moment of her career before Party Queen went and fucked everything up.
 
I always remember Heaven being described as a "My Heart Will Go On" type of song in the pre-release info *barf*

Brillante is really amazing. My mind was blown when I first heard the song and then watched the PV. I couldn't believe she could still surprise me this far into her career but she did! I should've really given it a 10 instead of a 9.
 
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