I first got in touch with this album around the end of the last semester. I had heard about the drama series “Taiyou no Uta”, of which this album is based on at that moment. However, some review I read tends to mark it low (mainly for the cases of similar cast and storyline, compared with the -almost- legendary 1 LITRE no Namida); letting me not to think so seriously about it.
Hum, so how the heck would I pay attention to this album? The answer came few weeks after that review. My friend asked me about a drama, “with a storyline about diseased girl entitled ‘Taiyou no Uta’. You have the fansub?”
“Some claimed the story’s an average Joe,” I said. “What’s the bait?”
“The songs are good. Besides, it’s about a female singer, or so-so like that…”
That’s how I start putting more attention to the OST’s, before finally having chance to listen to the complete tracks.
And here goes the album’s story…
About this Album:
Artist Erika Sawajiri (portraying Kaoru Amane) Genre(s) Easy listening, Ballads Number of Tracks 7 Release Date August 30, 2006
More info about this single on Sony Music Japan.
This single is a representation of Taiyou no Uta‘s story realm, in which Erika Sawajiri portrays the main protagonist, Kaoru Amane. Though there is a movie version of Taiyou no Uta (in which Amane’s character being portrayed by YUI), this single is based on the dorama-version, implying Sawajiri to once again portray Amane’s vocal.
The compositions in this album are done by Hiroyuki Sawano, whom also arranged the musical scores in the TV series.
01. Taiyou no Uta 4:51 02. Stay with Me 4:15 03. Taiyou no Uta (acoustics version) . 4:35 04. Stay with Me (acoustics version) 4:03 05. Wish (original Instrumental) 3:10 06. Taiyou no Uta (instrumental) 4:51 07. Stay with Me (instrumental) 4:51
On My Notes…
a) About the vocals
At first, I didn’t expect much from Sawajiri’s singing in this album — well, it’s like waiting something to come out of the hole. She’s an actress, alright — but singing is quite different world, right? Though, it was then proven as ‘too exaggerating’. She sang quite well, actually.
All the songs with vocal part (that is, track #1, #2, #3, #4) are quite easy-listening, which opens the gate for her voice capability. Taiyou no Uta seems to be so ballad-like, with not many parts of it being really high (except, perhaps, the reffs). I personally had impression that the highest in Taiyou no Uta is nearly the highest of hers also; but this is just my personal opinion.
Sawajiri’s vocal has a soothing effect, which fits in well with slow-and-serenade-type songs (putting that aside, I personally think that Mikuni Shimokawa‘s vocal is the best in this kind ). In #1 “Taiyou no Uta”, her voice got the job done quite right (I like it when she sings the reff, “Waratte, naite, kimi to deaette..“), as well as when she sings the stanzas between choruses.
She also did well in the acoustics of “Taiyou no Uta” (track #3), when she hit the high tones quite nicely. Strange thing is that she didn’t do as well in the next acoustics, as I’ll write below.
In track #4 (acoustics version of “Stay with Me”), it sounded that she really had hit her highest on the reffs (on 1st reff, “Stay with me…” and 2nd reff “Stay with me…” and “watashi ni kikasete hoshii…“). However, it doesn’t sound like that in the full version of the song (track #2), in which she sang those parts more comfortably. The tone was lower and covered by the instruments, though (as I compared both of them).
My toast is for track #2 “Stay with Me”, in which Sawajiri’s vocal complies well with the melody and the instruments. I personally like how the song starts up with the beat, until the first reffs (err, when she sang “aitai kimochi afuretara, kono omoi ga umaku todoku no ka na?” …etc). She doesn’t go way too high in this piece, and the instruments add up well with her vocal.
b) About the Tracks
01. Taiyou no Uta — 4:51
A nice one. Sawajiri’s vocal hit the ups quite nicely. The instruments is nice as-is, but this is quite above average. In addition, the lyrics is really hope-sounding and ballad-like; I guess it’s because the song is meant for a female singer.
02. Stay with Me — 4:15
Hmm, I like this one. Very easy listening, with nice beat. The reff is also well-done, and the instruments make up well with the music. The lyrics is less ballad-like than Taiyou no Uta. Somehow, I got reminded of YUI’s music style in this song — but that’s another story, though.
03. Taiyou no Uta (acoustics version) — 4:35
Acoustics rendition of track #1. I like the way she sang it only with guitars, and the reff is quite well-covered. She actually can hit that high… @_@
04. Stay with Me (acoustics version) – 4:03
Another acoustics, this time it’s from track #2. Somehow, this piece seems to lose the “easy-going” impression which the original has, and her vocals sound to have hit the ceiling on the reffs. Average, I guess.
05. Wish (original Instrumental) — 3:10
An additional instrumental piece with sitar. A little like ordinary dorama BGM, though. Quite peaceful and left me with an idea of sunset — but this can be just me.
06. Taiyou no Uta (instrumental) — 4:51
A karaoke version from track #1, with the vocal part being removed. It’s the exact copy.
07. Stay with Me (instrumental) — 4:13
Also a karaoke version, this time it’s for “Stay with Me” on track #2.
To sum up with this, I can say that this “Taiyou no Uta” CDS is quite enjoyable, especially on track #1, #2, #3. For an addition, it also gives up to seven songs — a little way too plenty for a single CD, though many of them are instrumentals (which are track #5, #6, #7).
The backbone of this CDS is apparently on track #1 “Taiyou no Uta” and track #2 “Stay with Me”, assuming that these are the only songs in which Kaoru Amane (or, Erika Sawajiri! ) has her vocal used up on the tracks. The fifth track, “Wish”, is simply an original instrumental (maybe this is supposed to be composed by Amane in the drama — I haven’t seen it yet); while others left as karaoke or acoustics version of the two ace songs.
As I have written before, #1, #2, and #3 are quite above average. Though, #4 falls below that; #6 and #7 are for karaoke’s (and that makes giving score to them will be irrelevant), and #5 is just average. Conclusion?
If you’re into ballad-like or easy-listening musics, this single can be a nice item on your store. I personally like them for occasions, though — which becomes the reason for me keeping these tracks.
However, if you’re into rock, dance, or more-upbeat musics, this single might not suit you. The pace wouldn’t be that fast according to your expectation.
Gimme The Verdict…!
Hmm, I guess I can give it 7.5/10 for this album. Above average, yes — not really outstanding, but still nice to listen to, whenever I have some empty time to spare.
Though I said it like that in this whole post, this album actually had a footprint on the peak of Oricon Weekly. It is also recorded as the highest-selling female single during 2006 in Japan… (see Erika Sawajiri’s wiki page)
Hey, last year I disagree with most songs entered The Japan Gold Disc Award, and now this 7.5/10 album has proven its best-selling? Geez, I must really have different taste from most Japanese’s… ~_@