RAINBOW was Ayumi Hamasaki’s 5th studio album. It was released on December 18, 2002 and reached no. 1 on the charts with 1,016,482 copies sold. It would go on to sell over 1,858,000 copies in Japan, making it her first studio album since A Song For XX not to sell two million copies domestically. This album has shipped over 2,275,000 units across Asia. This album featured the singles Free & Easy, H, and Voyage. Rainbow was also the first album to feature any English. And although the song RAINBOW was not featured on this album it was later released on her 2nd A BEST album entitled A BALLADS.
1. everlasting dream
2. WE WISH
3. Real me
4. Free & Easy
9. everywhere nowhere
10. July 1st
12. neverending dream
14. Close to you
Beginning RAINBOW is everlasting dream. Although the song’s opening is very dark, it becomes very peaceful with the synth elements and the ad-libbing. It’s surreal, and almost dream-like. What a fantastic opening for her fifth studio album.
WE WISH follows shortly and this synth/pop song doesn’t disappoint. The synth/pop opening is rather catchy and the guitars sound just plain awesome. The song features an incredibly catchy chorus, although it is a bit slow. Nevertheless the melody and the vocals make up for that. But then again the song in general is a bit mid-tempo for the most part. The vocals for the most part were a little deeper than usual, but I still loved them. The bridge was mostly an electric guitar and some synth elements, still excellent though. And although I like this song, I prefer one of the remixes on her remix album. If the song was shortened it’d be even better.
Up next is the promotional track Real me. This song is famous for the frequent use of English. And to date it still uses the most English, even more than STEP you. It begins with a nice intro from the some string playing or being strummed rather and some drums. And although it might be a little different it’s still good. The synth elements really blew me away, that and the awesome melody. I have to admit that I loved the verses, despite being so slow. The climax was pretty sweet, but the chorus is still the best. It was mostly English that made it some memorable that and that it was so catchy, such a simple rhyme scheme. The distortions towards the end were pretty good too. Such an amazing pop song, although it could be a little better still.
Her first song that began the era was Free & Easy. It’s a unique song that features both rock and ballad elements. This song features a soft piano and an aggressive guitar, very contradicting. Yet it’s still such an amazing song. The chorus is both aggressive and riveting. Not to mention that this song is catchy.
The unusual rock oriented Heartplace follows. The song features some rather light beginning music but then transforms into a vibrant rock song. And although the song does feature some English it’s not nearly as catchy as her other songs that feature some English. Furthermore, her English isn’t the best here but you can hear some distortions in Ayumi’s voice. It does flow together nicely and has some nice arrangement. And the strings right before the bridge was such a nice touch, the only thing that ruined it were the guitar riffs sadly. Although towards the end the song did begin to sound epic, too bad it didn’t last that long.
After such an aggressive song, we come to the peaceful, beautiful Over. The song is such a beautiful and magnificent ballad that features the piano as the main instrument. Oddly enough this song features some English too, but it uses a very little amount of English. The chorus however becomes more like a pop ballad. The instrumentals are more synth oriented, and the vocals are a little more sad sounding. Such a great song though.
One of the finer ballads appears next, this one entitled HANABI. This song was originally released as part of a triple a-side single entitled H. The melody is somewhat bland really, yet so unique. It seems as though the verses are about to build up to an aggressive chorus, yet instead it’s so beautiful and classical with the strings. There are a few rock elements present, although they’re not nearly as strong as Heartplace. But despite being a ballad, the song is somewhat up-tempo, it’s on the faster side of music. Yet it is still one of her finer ballads.
The first interlude appears next as taskinillusion. This interlude is fast paced and features a music box playing. Although there are some rock elements present, and some nice ad-libbing. But the sound is a little odd, yet still very fitting.
The odd yet up-beat dance oriented everywhere nowhere appears next. There’s even some English in this song, although it’s in the beginning. This song is pretty dance oriented and features some heavy dance beats. The chorus is very infectious and despite the dark sounding verses, the chorus sound so up-beat and so happy. The guitars were a great touch in addition to the synth/pop elements. And her vocals were amazing, they were so up-beat sounding and both deep and high. Give it a few listens, you might like it. There’s finally a great dance song on this album, it’s too bad she hasn’t continued writing songs like this.
Continuing the trend of up-beat dance songs is July 1st. This was released along with HANABI and independent as the single H. It takes some time for the song to get started but once it does it’s amazing. The chorus here was absolutely magical, well just extremely catchy. The vocals were amazing too, so up-beat and happy. It could’ve been a dance song, just with guitars and more pop oriented.
Beginning very oddly is Dolls. It begins with some odd yet organic music at first but then changes into an orchestra of beautiful and mystical music. Compared to some of her other ballads, this one is quite light. The strings are pretty intense though during a few points and the synth elements were just magnificent. The melody sounded great. The vocals however sounded sad somehow, but I still enjoyed them. And during some points the song sounded a little dark and foreboding. Despite not being as powerful or as strong as most of her ballads it certainly is still sweet and beautiful.
The final interlude on the album is neverending dream. It has such a mystical and soothing quality to it. You can also detect a little synth in it but most of the music is mostly from the strings, a piano, and a harp. It does provide for such a beautiful, ethereal transition though.
The final song to be released as a single during this era was the serene Voyage. This song is truly the epitome of epic. I mean the strings, piano and the music box were such a beautiful choice of instrumentals. This song is such an outstanding ballad that it was even featured on her A BALLADS album, and was unedited. The music and the lyrics go together so well too.And the climax was just so explosive and so incredible. The final chorus was just so epic, so dramatic, so regal sounding, it was just so awing. If you hear one ballad from this album you HAVE to make it Voyage, you won’t be disappointed at all.
The church oriented Close to you appears as the final new track. This song features some beautiful bells, hence the church feel, and it’s a rather sweet ballad. And although it’s not nearly as strong as her previous ballad, it’s still a little stronger though than Dolls. Ayumi’s vocals are stronger here yet also softer. Here the chorus outshines everything else in the song. The church sound gives it a nice distinct quality.
Very fun and up-beat is independent. Not only is it an up-beat summer fun song, but it was released along with two other songs to create the H single. This track is very upbeat and full of energy. It screams summer and you’ll know why with one listen. The chorus sounds so catchy, so quick, and it has that summer fun quality to it. The rock instrumentals were so energetic and so impressive.
The final song is +, aka. More Than. You might have wondered why there was a plus added well that’s the reason it’s a hidden track. It comes a few seconds after independent ends and has a nice little rock vibe. The last hidden song was flower garden from I am… I do like the fact that you can look forward to hearing something new in this track. There’s a lot of ad-libbing but it’s tolerable. The chorus was great, but the others were a bit better I must admit. Maybe the guitars didn’t work all that well in this song. Still, it was a nice way to end her fifth studio album. This song was also used as the ending song to Ayumi’s own TV show that she hosted for a while.
Overall Review: RAINBOW magical synth paradise. I loved how most of the songs incorporated some incredible synth elements and some amazing English. But with that being said I really didn’t like some of the rock oriented songs. The one thing going for it was the overall sound and music or the whole theme, which was in my opinion a dream or rainbow paradise with mystical sounds. The album did feature an array of genres making it very diverse. Still the album is great and the singles of this era were good also. This album is like a RAINBOW, each song magical, unique, and colorful.
Final Grade: 93B+