Released: March 21, 2012 (Avex Trax)
Ahhhhhh, Party Queen. A title that Ayumi Hamasaki doesn’t particularly resonate well, seemingly because half her discography flourishes with J-pop ballads. But clearly Ayumi thought that 2012 was gon’ be her year with dance music, so she decided to belt that out with a title track of the same name. A glamorous hybrid of dance and rock together? Yes, it sure is. But a inspiring tune that showcases a crystallising edge that conveys Ayu’s capabilities? Ehhhh, no.
To me, Party Queen saw the downfall of Ayu’s credibility. Not because the things she does is bad, because the odds are it never is, but the fact that the Japanese market and rise of other potential pop stars got to the best of her, she released another typical, lifeless and ballad-rock ridden record to get the media buzzing. But the offensive strategy here is Ayu’s promise as the Party Queen, which in my opinion, turned out to be the Tired Queen. Smack in the middle are rock-influenced ballads, like “Letter”, “Call”, “Return Road”, “The Next Love” and “Serenade in a Minor”, which completely fall flat and feature zero potential or personality. It just seems as she falls into this repetitive cycle with nothing availing to a great standard. Not good Ms. Thang, not good at all.
Other tracks are fairly mediocre, but okay…ish. The only progressive number that I really enjoyed was the grungy punk jam “NaNaNa”, which is quite savage and showcases a well-executed chorus and twist in verses. But unfortunately, that is the only hard-hitting “dance” track that was enjoyable, whereas the rest are slow-tempo ballads. “Reminds Me” is quite a dramatic rock number, which I completely LIVE for! It’s very elegant in it’s instrumentation, and the chorus is pretty hard too! And finally, the stripped ballads “Tell Me Why” and “How Beautiful You Are” probably shift into the category of being some of Ayu-chan’s better ballad releases. Her voice is conveyed so gorgeously on the latter track, whereas the songwriting and trip-hop sounds on the former works rather well.
As I mentioned earlier, Party Queen was the start of a downfall for one of Japan’s reigning supreme. Nothing on the record delivered the capabilities that Ayumi Haamsaki can show, and the generic production and mis-matching sounds on the record sure didn’t live up to it’s title. Long story short, Party Queen is a complete stale piece of work.
Track list (Bold means best tracks):
- Party Queen
- Shake It
- Reminds Me
- Return Road
- Tell Me Why
- A Cup of Tea
- The Next Love
- Eyes, Smoke, Magic
- Serenade in a Minor
- How Beautiful You Are *Liam’s favourite*