Ayumi Hamasaki - Startin’ / Born To Be…

Ayumi Hamasaki’s 39th single has hit the stores in March 2006. This single managed to top the charts once again, claiming the title of the most No.1 singles by a female Japanese artist. Instead of following the rules of a typical J-Pop artist, Hamasaki does her own thing and releases a powerful single and reinvents her image and music.

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Ai Otsuka - Frienger

“Frienger”, Ai Otsuka’s (or intimately referred to as “Ai-chin” by her hardcore fans) 11th single, was released on April 12, 2006, approximately 7 months after the release of her 10th hit single, “ Planetarium“. For those of you who are curious about the title, “Frienger” is a word combining “friend” and “ranger”, which relates how a friend is like a ranger who will always fight for you whenever you’re in trouble.

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BoA - Everlasting

Pop princess BoA released her 18th and first single of 2006, “Everlasting”, on January 18th. After the less-than-successful fall singles “make a secret” and “Dakishimeru” (“Holding You”), many speculated about the quality and potential success of this new single. The jacket photos show an overjoyed BoA smiling in front of pastel-colored flowers. As for the PV, it appears that the director attempted to create symbolism, but whether or not it worked is open to interpretation. With its debut at number 3 on both the Oricon Daily and Weekly charts, it seems that BoA is caught up in a sales slump due to many possible factors: lack of interest, lack of promotion, lack of quality, or simply the announcement of a new album, “OUTGROW”, that came too early, discouraging single sales. Whatever the case may be, shall we look at the songs?

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Gackt’s 8th full solo album was released on the 21st of September. It didn’t top the chart but wandered for some time around #4. After the dissatisfaction that “Love Letter” brought about to many of his fans, because of its long, unvaried love-ballad theme, Gackt returns with a promising album, to restore any doubt growing about his talent at composing and singing. It’s clearly good old Gackt and without any recycling of the past.

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