(miss)understood was Ayumi Hamsaki’s 7th studio album. It was released on January 1, 2006 and reached number 1 on both the Oricon and World the charts with 654,000 copies sold, this is a total of two weeks sales because the first and second weeks on the new year are combined. This album would later go on to sell over 877,433+ copies in Japan, this was were lowest selling album under Avex at that time because it did not pass the million selling mark in Japan, now in worldwide sales it managed to sell over 1.8millon copies. (miss)understood also contains 6 songs that were composed by GEO of Sweetbox. The album had two different photo books for each different edition. “on my way” for the CD+DVD edition and “off my day” for the CD edition.
1. Bold & Delicious
2. STEP you
3. Ladies Night
4. is this LOVE?
7. In the Corner
13. Are You Wake Up?
15. Beautiful Day
16. rainy day
I’m honestly still confused on why she began her album with Bold & Delicious. It’s the first of the six songs that were composed by GEO. The reason that I really didn’t care for this song is the fact that she hardly sang. Now she did sing during the chorus and verses but those extra vocals ruined the song for me. But her vocals did sound good when she sung. Not the best way to open her seventh album.
Making up for the previous track is STEP you. Originally released as a double A-Side single, it began this era. This song features some fantastic rock elements with some great vocals on Ayu’s part. It’s her second song to feature a great amount of English, besides Real me. The verses are amazing, and the chorus is just infectious with all that English. One of her finer rock songs back in 05.
Next is the incredible Ladies Night. Oddly enough, despite it being composed by GEO, I loved this song. It’s mostly synth and some awesome distortions. The opening part of the song features distorted voices that sound pretty good, with great synth music. The verses are pretty fast paced, well the distorted part anyway, it reminds me a little of Fly high. But right before the chorus the vocals become more normal and a little stronger. And as for the chorus, despite it being so short, it was amazing. The Ladies Night is my favorite part, pretty infectious. I can actually stand this song, and a PV was eve made for it, it’s so cool too. Maybe there’s hope for GEO’s songs yet. And the whole background vocals “so you don’t ever…” was pretty good too.
Although I had my doubts about is this LOVE? I now love it. It’s another rock tune, a little more aggressive than STEP you, and it’s better than some of her other songs present on this album. Her vocals were great throughout the entire song. I especially loved the chorus, I’m pretty sure there was a hint of distortion in the beginning, but I loved the vocals and the melody. It’s pretty catchy needless to say.
And now for the title track (miss)understood. Most of Ayu’s title track aren’t all that good, well from MY STORY and on, so I really didn’t expect much from this one. This song is more mid-tempo rock than anything, and it’s a change from her usuals songs, but not so much of a good one. I did love her vocals during the verses because they sounded somewhat at rest, but come the chorus they were aggressive and not all that amazing. I really didn’t find the chorus catchy, but that’s just me. The melody overall wasn’t that appealing to me. On the bright side though, the guitar solo during the bridge was amazing.
Who would have though that the B-Side alterna could be better than the title track. This version is slightly different than the original version found on the fairyland single. It was arranged differently, you can hear it during the “hey” part, it sounds like they’ve distorted it, and it sounded better before. But don’t let that stop you from listening to this amazing, summer tune. The chorus is still as blaring as ever and still sounds amazing with the guitars. It’s still just as catchy as ever, and that sensational strings in the beginning are still fantastic.
The odd violins playing in the beginning really caught my attention in In the Corner. This was also the third song composed by GEO. It’s somewhat fast and it doesn’t annoy me, so that’s good. The music is pretty nice too, the strings sound a little odd but it’s interesting. Although at times they sounded wonderful. The one thing this song lacked was a climax really, there was no indication of the chorus. But not only that, the chorus wasn’t all that great either. I mean her vocals at times were great, but I just couldn’t get into the song. The guitars playing in the song though did make it more like-able. I think Ayumi needs to stick to her own songs.
Using some strings to signal a break is tasking. It seems like a lot of her interludes use task in them, pretty nice. This interlude is completely driven by the strings during the beginning and then suddenly transforms into a synth song, which makes it a lot better. From there it’s synth and the occasional acoustic guitar and some more strings. Not a bad interlude.
It’s nice to hear another song that wasn’t composed by GEO or included on her singles, and that’s how we get to Criminal. From hearing the beginning with the piano and the strings I assumed it’d be a ballad. I mean her vocals were soft and gentle, matching the mood of the song perfectly. But just then, the songs transforms into a vibrant spirited rock song. And by rock I mean aggressive rock, powered by the guitar. From this point, her vocals are stronger and contain more emotion and power. The song also becomes a little slower paced. The strings are still present thankfully but it doesn’t do much for the song. From there it alternates between sweet and string driven to aggressive and rock.
On to the partial ballad known as Pride, aka. the fourth song composed by GEO. Originally it was released as part of a double A-Side with Bold & Delicious. I loved the beginning of this song, the strings sounded so beautiful and so gorgeous. Ayu’s vocals did sound nice at times, but when the background vocals were added, it kind of killed the song. But as mentioned before Ayumi needs to write her own songs because thesesongs aren’t that good. I can’t say that I was fond of the chorus. I still loved the music for the most part, the strings and the piano, but once the background vocals began I began to dislike it even more.
On to some traditional instrumentals with Will, which was originally released alongside HEAVEN. It’s somewhat of a rock ballad, a fusion of both genres. Again I loved the traditional Japanese instrumentals along with the strings, drums and guitar. Awesome vocals, a riveting chorus that was so catchy, and I loved the lyrics. Memorable and high quality.
Time for one, and the greatest, ballad from Ayu during this time HEAVEN. This is one of her most beautiful as well as profound ballads from this era. And although it took a while before the song got interesting it was worth the wait. The vocals were phenomenal as well as the instrumentals, traditional and modern. The chorus was absolutely beautiful and featured some beautiful lyrics “I believe in the man that loved me, and you live on in my heart.”
Easing the transition between HEAVEN and fairyland is Are You Wake Up? And I must say that is bad grammar. This is also the second and last interlude on the album. The guitar plays throughout the song and there is a little synth in it along with other background vocals. Towards the middle it begins to sound better, namely when it gets more synth oriented. A great interlude.
One of her greatest summer tunes of all time, fairyland is next. This was one of her first true pop, summer songs in my opinion, well after 2004 anyway. After this the popular BLUE BIRD came followed by the sugary glitter. It features an energetic fun-filled chorus and some great vocals. The instrumentals were great, a fusion of rock and pop. Finally a song on this album I can tolerate, well a better one at that.
The fifth song composed by GEO is Beautiful Day. The song seems to have a synth vibe to it, with some pop. The chorus is pretty up-beat and featured some English, but that really killed it for me. I actually liked Ayu singing in Japanese better than in English, that and yet again more background vocals. The music sounded pretty good though. But overall, the song was rather bland.
Ending the album is rainy day, it’s also the sixth and final song composed by GEO. The background music sounds so sweet and innocent, and yet magical somehow. Although I didn’t find this song that catchy. Perhaps if the song was more up-beat it would have been better. On the bright side I did love the strings, and her vocals were amazing. It’s not a half bad song once you get to listen to it. It’s one of the better songs written by GEO. What a magical way to end (miss)understood.
Overall Review: (miss)understood was one unique album. I can honestly say that what really made the album were all of her singles. Most of the new tracks were lackluster and just dull. But there were a few on the album that were amazing. But I do feel that Ayu relied on GEO’s songs too much, I mean they made up over a third of the entire album, and that includes the interludes. Even if they are cover songs, there’s only so much you can do with the melodies. However I really liked two of the songs so it wasn’t all that bad. On the bright side though, her photobooks were amazing, and they looked fantastic.
Final Grade: 88B