Kumi Koda: ‘Japonesque’ – Album Review

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Released: January 25, 2012

Back in ol’ 2012, a period where nothing but K-pop scavenged the realm of the Western world, Ms. Kumi Koda re-assumed that Japanese culture and music was the cocktail to be served. Her tenth studio album Japonesque may have stylistically demonstrated a mixture of traditional kimono aesthetics, but dished pure glamour and collective beauty. Then where did the music lead to? Well… it’s another Koda album, let’s just leave it at that—which is in my terms, a mixture of everything… like, literally everything.

I was quite surprised of the amount of tracks and genres added her, considering that the record boasts nearly 20-damn tracks. Some are a bunch of rock tunes that shimmer her previous guitar-ridden influences, whilst other moments infuse ratchet-as-hell R&B tunes with booty-shaking dance music. Then you get the ballads just placed in random areas to catch a basic listener of guard… not today gurlfraaaaind! Opening the record is the subtle oriental instrumental “Introduction to Japonesque”; oh yes, the typical instrumental interludes have once again riddle Koda’s studio records. But the oriental-vibes are smeared in some other numbers here, such as the delicious track “So Nice” with Mr. Blistah, the interlude of the album, and the cold ballad “Ai wo Tomenaide”, which visits the roots and sounds of Koda’s ever-so-beautiful homeland.

Although yes, I was surprised that there was an absence of more Japanese-like music on the record, majority of the material on Japonesque is quite catchy; “Boom Boom Boys” leads the records rock anthems, strumming a strong electric-guitar riff and amounts of autotune. But my absolute favourite moment here is the melancholy metal-vibe in “No Man’s Land”, which has Kumi in full-flight. Unlike her previous experiments with rock music, “No Man’s Land” feels a lot more traditional and fits Kumi-chan’s deliveries. By far the most interesting track here. But apart from that, the album is riddled with infesting mid-tempo numbers such as the gentle “Brave”, euphoric “In the Air” and sleek electronic poppy “Love Technique”. Gurl has us all in frills and glitter!

But with every Ms. Kumi Koda album, I LIIIIVVVEEEE for the ratchet booty poppin’ jams! And what better way to serve it up and party with “Escalate”, a dope-as-hell hip-hop stomper that would make Beyoncé and Ms. Nicki Minaj feel insecure (no shade ladies, but its bomb). “Lay Down” is almost like the sister track to it, but is a lil’ more R&B-ish with its chorus deliveries and lyrical content. And even though “V.I.P.” is a bit mehh, it still packs in a punch with Koda’s vocal performances. Club Koda is who I live for y’all! Even so, the poppier hits keep up Koda’s cutesy image, especially with the carefree anthem “Poppin’ Love Cocktails” and the slow-jam “Everyday”, two irresistible pop moments.

But unfortunately, with Koda’s lack of consistency and coherency with this record, Japonesque fails to serve as an entire package, needless to say about the amount of tracks here. The issue is that the amount of songs on the record doesn’t amount up to its sufficiency, because some of them are just forgettable. He Omarion duet “Slow” is a pure example; this track sounds like an off-cut to her Dejavu work, or even back further. Next… The acoustic version to “You Are Not Alone” is quite useless here too; it’s a nice rendition, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t work well with the remaining material on Japonesque. But the acoustic closer “All For You” is just crap. Even its stripped notice of it being a demo version just ends Japonesque in the worst-off ways.

Overall, Japonesque works in different ways, mainly good though. Majority of the content are bangers, keeping up Koda’s pace and presenting yet another effortless and cool vibe by the singer. However, as a package, Japonesque continues the streak of struggles with Kumi-chan’s lack of consistency and track placement—but lord the amount of tracks here that could have been taken out like a shotgun to a glass bottle on a fence (a bit over the top there, but you get me…). Nevertheless, Japonesque has fun and meaningful moments to enjoy.

Track list (Bold means best tracks)

  1. Introduction ~Japonesque~
  2. SO NICE (feat. Mr Blistah)
  3. Boom Boom Boys
  4. V.I.P. (feat. T-Pain)
  5. Slow (feat. Omarion)
  6. Brave
  7. Everyday
  8. IN THE AIR
  9. You are not alone ~acoustic version~
  10. Interlude ~Japonesque~
  11. ESCALATE
  12. Love Me Back
  13. No Man’s Land ~Liam’s favorite~
  14. Ai wo Tomenaide
  15. KO-SO-KO-SO
  16. Lay Down
  17. Love Technique
  18. Poppin’ love cocktails (feat. TEEDA)
  19. All for you

3.5

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