Released: September 30, 2016
In all fairness, Ayumi Hamasaki’s 17th studio album Made in Japan was the witnessing of her stepping into the right direction. After playing up her sound in some tracks like the hypnotising “Flower” and a few others that should be noted for its experimentation, Made in Japan cemented a possible revelation in Ayu’s sound and image. But alas, things are never so surprising with Ayu’s recent music catalogue. That’s why her September single, the Clash of the Queen’s game theme song “We Are the Queens”, see yet another… how you’d say, a “regressive” slip from the likes of Made in Japan.
The first minute of the track is basically a dramatic medieval sound that accompanies several orchestral instrumentation (especially those grand trumpets and horns… uhh, so regal). That itself sounds like a theme track ready to have been launched into several bloody fantasy-inspired action films. But predictably, the sound drops into four-on-the-floor basslines and heavy guitar riffs, then showcases Ayu singing. The chorus has her chanting the hook “Yes we are the Queens”, asserting that she still’s the bomb diggity of the J-Pop business… but is she really after her most recent releases?
I understand that “We Are the Queens” has a particular sound for a particular game that boasts a specific genre and theme, but… really, come on… the arrangement… the sound… the instruments… it all seems a little too familiar to the J-Pop formula of Ms. Ayu. The issue with this track is that, despite many attempts of spontaneous releases or moving forward moments, the Ayu Brand feels like it’s yet again, recycled and trying to be a re-brandish of her typical J-Pop sound, which has now become slightly dated, boring and unoriginal. It’s a pity because, despite it being a fierce track that also highlights some stellar vocals by the J-Pop singer herself, it just sounds all too predictable.
“We Are the Queens” should be a bit of a worry. Even though there have been moments in her recent releases that have managed to prick a bit of interesting sounds and genres here and there, the whole package has been too good to be true, and “We Are the Queens” is definitely that kind of moment. It’s not a bad song, but it’s getting to the stages where everything Ayumi is making seems too peculiar and too structured. Maybe it’s time to flip the coin a bit?