Secret

Secret was Ayumi Hamasaki’s 8th studio album. It was released on November 29, 2006, almost 11 months after the release of her 7th studio album. Secret, like (miss)understood, reached number 1 on the charts and sold 386,280 copies. In all according to Oricon it has sold 675,297+ copies, Avex reports over 900,000+ copies in Japan, and worldwide it has sold over 2 million copies. That makes it her best album in terms of worldwide sales, quite a feat for Ayumi. This was at the time her lowest first week sales, until GUILTY, which had 202,000+ copies sold in the first week. Secret was also supposed to be a mini-album but was changed at the last minute. This album also contains all singles from Startin’ / Born To Be… to BLUE BIRD.

Secret

Tracks:
1. Not yet
2. until that Day…
3. Startin’
4. 1 LOVE
5. It was
6. LABYRINTH
7. JEWEL
8. momentum
9. taskinst
10. Born To Be…
11. Beautiful Fighters
12. BLUE BIRD
13. kiss o’ kill
14. Secret

Review:
The intro of this album is entitled Not yet. At first I just thought it’d be another on of her same old interludes, but that changed as I listened to it. It begins with an eerie sound and then almost a church bell. You can also hear an acoustic guitar along with the synth/electronic beats. It then changes into an explosive synth track with the catchiest music in my opinion. The lyrics really go with the album as the lyrics mention secrets and miracles. This track was just what the album needed to open it up. Overall it’s one of the best intros she’s ever written. But it is too bad that it wasn’t a full song.

The first of a few rock tracks is Until that day… Originally an interlude, Ayumi loved it so much she turned it into a full song, and a darn good one. The opening was fantastic, especially with the synth part and electronic vocals. The constant drum beats and guitar chords didn’t hurt either. The first few vocals sounded a little distorted but they sounded so infectious. I really just fell in love with the song because of the rock instrumentals. The verses were so hypnotic but not nearly as addictive as the chorus. With the acoustic music and the rock n’ roll instrumentals it’s not hard to become mesmerized. And Ayumi’s vocals were so amazing in this song! For any rock fan this is the song for you.

Startin’ was released as the first single in the Secret Era, and it was a fantastic one. It’s a little more rock than pop, but you can tell it’s from Ayumi with the lyrics and the outstanding vocals. The beginning instrumentals were so phenomenal, especially with the guitars and the disc scratching. Ayumi’s vocals were yet again superb. The whole English vocals during the pre-chorus was such as treat. But the chorus was so excellent, great vocals, and great lyrics, but it was addicting as ever. Click here for the full review.

The first of the three promotional tracks is 1 LOVE. Like Until that day… this song features strong rock influences. The rock instrumental at the beginning of the song was pure genius and so catchy, it hooked you from there on. The verses were even enjoyable and so catchy, due to Ayu’s vocals and the instrumentals. The climax for the chorus was so amazing, Just 1 LOVE! As for the chorus, what a mind blower. In combination with the vocals and music it’s truly so infectious. And there was even a PV for this song, and it was impressive to say the least. Basically it was an underground auction, auctioning off different things, still good though.

It was, the new soft rock track? This song sounds like a little soft rock ballad. Ayumi’s voice is a bit distorted throughout the song but it makes it even better. The song sounds a little sad and emotional, which makes it an even greater track that before. Some of the music also sounds a little electronic but it still has the rock element. The chorus sounded great, and it was pretty catchy. I really liked how during the chorus the guitar and drums were heard playing, but afterwards it was silenced.This song was supposdly supposed to be on (miss)undertsood but wasn’t, I think it fits in here a lot better than that album, so it was a good choice.

The first interlude of the album is the mystical LABYRINTH. The music is so gentle and so mystical. With the piano and the instrumentals you can’t help but get lost in this spectacular interlude. It helps ease the transition from rock spirits to gentle ballads.

Time for one of the most sparking ballads ever written by Ayumi, JEWEL. It was the second of the three promotional songs. The song is driven by the piano and it sounds beautiful and so gentle. She yet again proves that she can write some of the most beautiful ballads. This chorus isn’t that catchy but it is so beautiful. As I haven mentioned every album needs a good ballad and this is that one, well there’s another good one too, but that’s next. JEWEL is best known for its PV which was one of the most expensive PVs ever made. The PV featured Swarovski crystals and Ayumi being surrounded by them.

The last of the promotional songs, and most emotional song on this album is momentum. Perhaps the prettiest of the ballads this song is such a great example of a winter ballad. The guitar was such a great instrument for this song and it sounded superb. One song that comes to mind was M, a ballad that’s smiliar to momentum. The lyrics are so wonderful and the chorus of this song is so catchy. The song really isn’t that upbeat as it seems more sad and heartfelt. You can hear just how much time she put into this song, and all the emotion. Ayumi spent a grand total of four, that’s right four, days to record this song. It is the longest time she’s spent recording a song. Overall this is one of my favorite songs that I’ve heard from her and once you hear it you’ll know why. While I agree that JEWEL too is a beautiful ballad, but this song sounds so much better.

taskinst is the last of the interludes. It sounds a bit childish in the beginning, in my opinion. It then changes into a rock intro in the middle, but shortly after towards the end it changes back into that childish tune. It does however ease the the change in the moods of the songs from momentum to Born To Be…

If up-beat is your thing you’re sure to enjoy Born To Be… Originally I could care less about the song with the opening vocals but after a few listens it became an instant favorite. Listen after listen the verses became more fun, more entertaining, more excellent. The whole rock instrumentals were nice too, even for a pop song. I wasn’t too sure about the chorus with the extra vocals, otherwise the song was great. And I loved the bridge with the audience screams and conga drums, so creative. For the full review, click here.

Another pop song, very pop, and I mean sugary pop, is Beautiful Fighters. The song was very up-beat and very pop, and a little annoying with the whistles. It’s somewhat catchy and that makes it a little more stand-able. I just think that the chorus was way to pop. I did however enjoy the verses mostly because of Ayumi’s vocals. But it was nice and had a happy feel to it though. For Beautiful Fighter’s review click here.

Fun in the sun is the best way to describe BLUE BIRD. Even though it was released as the last single it was certainly a popular one. This is truly a summer, pop, up-beat song. I love this song and how it’s so happy. The chorus was so energetic and so catchy, especially with Ayumi’s cute vocals. It’s one of the better pop songs on this album for sure. Click here for the review of the energetic, summer, upbeat tune BLUE BIRD.

The next song is by far the most interesting song entitled kiss o’ kill. With that being said it’s one of the better songs on the album. With the orchestra playing at the beginning of the song and the children accompanied by the electrical organ the song it makes for an interesting combination. The vocals were as great as always and the verses sounded so great. Now as for the chorus, well it was phenomenal, the music and the vocals created an infectious and outstanding duo. The instrumentals were just so perfect.

And for the final song, Secret, the song that share’s its name with the album. This is a nice ballad but after JEWEL and momentum is seems dull. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a beautiful song. The music is mostly an orchestra. The chorus was all right, but it could’ve been better. There wasn’t as much emotion and power in her vocals but it was sufficient. Still a beautiful way to end Secret.

Overall Review: Secret was a mystical album filled with secrets and miracles. Not to mention the fun rock tunes and majestic ballads. I was so thrilled by this album, and as it gets older it seems to get better. Despite only having a few real new tracks the album is worth every penny. Besides having such a beautiful cover and amazing scans the album lived up to its name and as an album by Ayumi. Perhaps one of the best things about this album was the quality, something that is rare nowadays it seems. And it had some of the best PV’s ever!!! What a superb album, don’t keep this Secret to yourself.

Final Grade: 100A+

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