Monday, April 21, 2014


Mass orgy time!

Best albums are commonplace in Japan's music scene, but as far as I know tribute albums are almost unheard of, and there isn't a better occasion that calls for it than for DREAMS COME TRUE's 25th anniversary. DREAMS COME TRUE has been around since FOREVER and I think their music is really unparalleled compared to other J-Pop acts. I don't even know why they don't receive as much attention internationally as their other veteran counterparts like B'z and SMAP.

The artists who took part in this project almost seems like a dream cast — from groups fresh in the scene like E-girls to rising acts like miwa to veteran acts like Koda Kumi and Mika Nakashima. Ai Otsuka in all her inactiveness actually bothered to even contribute to this album.

What I really enjoyed from this album besides its varying artists was also the varying music styles. The songs mostly still retained the original style DREAMS COME TRUE created while still mixing in the participating artist's style as well.

The pop, cheerful and preppy Ureshii! Tanoshii! Daisuki! by E-girls couldn't have been more apt with their image and kind of music they make, while the slower, mellow, ballady tunes were handed to the likes of Ikimonogakari with Mirai Yousouzu II and miwa with their biggest hit LOVE LOVE LOVE. I never really enjoyed Ikimonogakari's vocalist's voice though, to me she just sounds like she's perpetually yelling. Mika Nakashima's rendition of Yasashii Kiss wo Shite is alright, but her vocals surprisingly sound terrible, almost unnatural and nasally which is quite a pity.

Nana Mizuki also did a upbeat pop cover of one of my favourite DREAMS COME TRUE songs, Egao no Yukue, and sounds almost para para-like but definitely gave the song an energy boost from the original tempo.

JUJU's cover of Suki, originally a piano ballad, incorporated jazz and R&B elements that JUJU is known for and has always been a cover I enjoyed ever since her Request album came out. Even Ai Otsuka's mature, jazzy and slightly cutesy sound appears in her cover of ROMANCE, which was originally a funky R&B / hip-hop tune!

Can you believe Miwa Yoshida (right)
turns 49 this year?! 
On the rockier side, we have bands like HY covering Kessen wa Kinyoubi, incorporating their rock sound with elements of traditional Japanese instruments which was actually pretty interesting. The other two rock covers, however, proved to be the most disappointing of the bunch; namely Osaka LOVER by SCANDAL and Nando Demo by Flower.

I'm not comprehending how a rock band like SCANDAL can actually work when all of its members sound like chipmunks and/or they're perpetually high on helium or some shit. E-girls worked with Ureshii! Tanoshii! Daisuki! because the nature of the song fitted them, but Osaka LOVER and Nando Demo were released during a time when Miwa Yoshida's voice had already matured and hence sounded stronger. SCANDAL and Flower just sounded way thinner in comparison and somehow watered these two amazing songs into something that sounds almost basic and juvenile, which to me is just unfortunate. Nando Demo doesn't sound nearly as bad, but definitely would've worked with stronger vocals.

I think Superfly would've done a banging job with a rock and roll rendition of Nando Demo, and Kaela Kimura, while still not sounding nearly as strong, would've done a better job with the arrangement that SCANDAL had for Osaka LOVER.

In the R&B department we have Ms. OOJA and stuck-in-a-vicious-cover-cycle BENI with their renditions of WINTER SONG and Sankyu. respectively. I've always enjoyed BENI's smooth, effortless vocals which show as usual in this track, but I can't help but feel that she should've done WINTER SONG instead because she seems to be the only one capable of speaking fluent English.

First of all, I'd really love to see the lyrics sheet Ms. OOJA was reading off when she recorded this shit because she truly is a real 'r' and 'l' mess. In one line she sings "lights fricker arl alound" and in another she sings "the snow is farring ever faster". It would've been semi-acceptable if she pronounced all her 'l's as 'r' because that's how Engrish came about, but no! She clearly knows how to pronounce 'l' properly the moment she sang "lights" so what the hell is going on??? She totally killed a perfectly wonderful song a la Namie with Beautiful's "supplies".

All negativity aside, the song that got the biggest makeover is probably IT'S SO DELICIOUS. It's amazing how a FUNK number could actually turn out to be the ultimate pussy popper electropop track sung by Koda Kumi. The instrumental bit right after "motto gyuttoshite" is to absolutely die for and was exactly how I felt when I also heard the original BE MY BABY and then Kuu's rendition.

Watashi to Drecom -DREAMS COME TRUE 25th ANNIVERSARY BEST COVERS- really demonstrates the versatility of the group's music that has made them come this far. Listening to this album is like eating a bag of assorted jellybeans. They're all from the same place, with each having their own colour that gives a taste different from the others, but are still enjoyable to eat. Or maybe that's just me. But it also proves that when you get talent from all over the Japanese music industry to collaborate on a single project, the results can be pretty impressive.

I think what all the record labels should take note is to never restrict collaborations within the record label *ahem*avex*ahem*. DREAMS COME TRUE was never treated as a marketing gimmick or pop culture icons because they knew their music and that was all they really were about, thus resulting in their long-lasting legacy until today. Roping in artists from various labels just shows that they still uphold that even after being so long in the industry. They even promoted the featured artists and their latest releases in the album's linear notes. This album definitely deserves more attention than it's receiving.

Listen to previews here.


Album highlights: Ureshii! Tanoshii! Daisuki!, LOVE LOVE LOVE, Kessen wa Kinyoubi, Suki, ROMANCE, Egao no Yukue, IT'S SO DELICIOUS, Sankyu.

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