I am…

I am… was Ayumi Hamasaki’s 4th studio album. It was released on January 1, 2002 and reached no. 1 on the Oricon Charts with 1,751,360 copies sold. In all this album has sold over 2,308,112+ copies in Japan, while worldwide sales are over 3,750,000 copies, making it her best foreign selling album. I am… also marked a new era in not only her singles but in her albums. Her albums from this point would have a lighter tone and would be full of happiness. Time for some background information. You will also notice the dove in almost all the pictures in the booklet for this album, that is because the dove is representing peace. Ayumi was shocked and horrified at the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and put the dove into the album respectfully to symbolize peace. And many of the songs from this album talk about love or friendship, but they all carry a happy tone. This album was also no. 2 on the yearly charts behind Utada Hikaru’s Deep River.

I am...

Tracks:
1. I am…
2. opening Run
3. Connected
4. UNITE!
5. evolution
6. Naturally
7. NEVER EVER
8. still alone
9. Daybreak
10. taskinlude
11. M
12. a song is born
13. Dearest
14. no more words
15. Endless sorrow ~gone with the wind ver.~

Review:
Opening her album is the title track I am… Most of her title tracks are lacking in more than one way so I was shocked at how good this song was. It’s certainly not all that catchy at first but it grows on you. However despite it not being so catchy, it’s pretty smooth rock. The consistent percussion along with the steady guitar riffs make for a great and powerful combination. The verses really aren’t all that special, they sound mediocre at best but the chorus flat out rocks. I guess it’s because the music sounds so repetitive. However during the chorus there’s a lot of power in Ayu’s vocals and the music is actually catchy, instead of mid-tempo and drab like in the verses. It’s by far the best part of the song. I particularlly loved the beginning as it was just Ayu’s vocals, no music or instruments; and the ending, distorted vocals but effective. But most of all I loved the lyrics, “I’ve been searching for just one word” and “If this is a lie, then at least keep the lie going to the end” it’s romantic and profound in a way. A profound and impressive opening.

And now we come to the first of two interludes. opening Run is a quick paced song. The beginning is rock for the most part, yet it does feature some rather fast beats and the synth lines, there are also some piano chords, hinting that a new genre is up.

Leave it to Ayu to have a trance song on the album. Connected follows next and it makes you thrilled that there was an interlude. It’s very unique in the sense that it is a trance song, filled with various house-like music and trance beats. It seems a little out of place considering most of the music is either rock or pop, but it serves its purpose. The beats are ambient and pretty ethereal at times, and it gives it a distinct sound. The vocals were obviously distorted in some way, but not to the extent of Ami or Sowelu, and you can still hear a lot of emotion. The melody was a real thrill, so exciting and so catchy. It’s different yet bold and exciting.

Continuing with the dance-likeness is UNITE! This is still in my opinion one of her best singles. It’s fast so getting swept off your feet is pretty easy. The energetic beats, the guitar riffs, and blaring percussion, and the keyboard chords are just astounding. The melody is just so infectious and so riveting. I have to commend Ayu on her vocals, which were pretty powerful, and even with the loud music you could still hear them. And one of the most amazing things is that despite the chorus being so short in terms of lyrics, Ayu managed to lengthen it.

Truthfully evolution is just like the older brother of UNITE!. Again there are some differences but the arrangement seems somewhat similar. The opening is sweet with the piano chords, and then things speed up and get heated with the guitar riffs. From there things really get exciting. The rock elements are pretty strong like the percussion and the electric guitar,which is just overwhelming. The chorus is explosive and the level of infectiousness is unconceivable, it’s really a marvel. Sure it’s extremely fast but it’s Ayu after all.

Naturally begins right where evolution left off. But there are still some major differences, like how this song is more heavily dance oriented. If the opening doesn’t hook you in than nothing will. It’s filled with the sounds of synth riffs, guitar riffs and various programing complements of CMJK. The verses are oddly enough infectious and very memorable. I’m sure it’s due to the fact that during a few lines Ayu’s vocals are distorted. And if that wasn’t catchy enough the chorus is. It still utilizes various beats and distortions and the melody is to die for. Ayu’s vocals are pretty powerful, there’s even some emotion. All and all one of the best songs on the album.

I never really liked NEVER EVER and I still don’t. The best way to describe this song is as a sweet, music box song with an aggressive rock chorus. I usually love all of Ayumi’s singles but this single wasn’t that great and neither was the song. Yet despite that it does fit in with all the other rock oriented songs. I never got into it, but perhaps other people might like it. The melody wasn’t all that great IMO, but that’s me. Her vocals were a little shaking at times, either that or they just weren’t all that good. It sounding like there were two Ayu’s at times, and on top of that her vocals made it sound like she was a little girl at times.

Time for a some epic rock with still alone. This song is somewhat of a ballad. It starts off with the some light beeps but suddenly the drums take over. It basically sets up for the chorus, which is full of life. It’s dark compared to some of her songs but that’s due to the strings, electric guitar, and various beats. Her vocals sounded a little loud at times, but I guess that’s so that they won’t be drowned out by the music. The music is eerie and a little creepy at times, yet still amazing.

I’m still in love with Daybreak to this day. It begins with techno beats followed by a series of guitar riffs and percussion. The chorus is really the main attraction in this song as it’s good not only in the music department but also in the lyric section. And the fact that it’s catch doesn’t hurt either. The bridge is a strong electrical guitar solo with a few instruments here and there. It then leads into the final chorus which completes the song in its entirety. It’s a little epic and unforgettable, a powerful combination. Another last note about this song is that it was later released as a single after the album, making it her last re-cut single.

We now come to taskinlude, the final interlude on the album. One thing I noticed is that this interlude contains the taskin, like some other interludes found on her albums, kinda interesting when you think about it. This interlude contains some percussion but you can also hear some guitar riffs and some heavy synth. It’s an okay interlude, but the beginning one was better.

And now we get into the ballad section of the album. M is the closest thing to a rock ballad, and it’s truly astounding. This was the first song of the I am… Era, and it’s one of her most beautiful compositions as well as songs. One of the most notable things in the song is that the rhythm increases towards the chorus, which is towards the second half of the song. The instruments comprise of the angelic strings, heavenly piano, and the vibrant guitar, a divine combination. And it’s also a little different as the whole song goes. There’s really three choruses at the end, odd but it works. The song takes a while to get good but it’s worth the wait.

Following is a song is born, the original duet with Keiko from Globe. This song was written by Ayu for the Song+Nation which was a project by Avex to help the victims of the 9/11 Tragedy. It was originally sung with Keiko but this version is with Ayu’s solo. It’s a sweet ballad that’s so beautiful and profound. When Ayu sings in this song, her voice seems higher than normal, but it sounds so fantastic. I really enjoyed the chorus as it was simple and yet so memorable. It’s pretty good with all that, so give it a listen.

One of her most famous songs Dearest is next. Dearest was the last song to be released along in her I am… Era. Anyway this is a wonderful ballad that’s very powerful and beautiful. The instrumentals are a little unexpected, I guess the piano is expected but the guitar? The vocals are soft and yet so powerful and filled with emotion. I just couldn’t get over how sad and somber this song sounded, it almost put me to tears. I did love to grow this song though, perhaps it’s because it was used as one of the InuYasha ending theme songs.

And now the final new song, or is it? Anyway no more words is another ballad. It begins with a minute intro that is lead by the piano and violin. At this point I’m all ballad-ed out. But this song still manages to sound good. However with that being said I think that both M and Dearest are a lot better in the ballad department. It’s not all that catchy despite sounding so calm and classical. This song was used as the ending song for one of the Inuyasha movies, perhaps it helped with the song’s popularity. Still it is easy to listen to.

Who would’ve thought that there was a better version of Endless sorrow? Well that’s just what Endless sorrow ~gone with the wind ver.~ is, a new and improved version. Instead of the original, this new version appears. This version is more laid back compared to the other version and the instrumentals differ. The music is softer and isn’t nearly as heavily rock oriented, or as aggressive and loud. It’s calmer and has a more transcendent atmosphere. This version is really beautiful as it’s simpler and it allows Ayu to showcase more of her emotions.

Ending the album is the secret flower garden aka. the hidden track. This song is a hidden track just like kanayria of LOVEppears, and + (more than) from RAINBOW. This is mid-tempo rock song. There was a reason why Endless sorrow ~gone with the wind ver.~ was over 8 minutes long, it was because it contained this song. After a period of silence this song begins. As I said it’s a mid-tempo song that’s filled with various rock instrumentals. The overall song is catchy and the chorus sounds amazing. Pretty good for a hidden track. A nice way to end her 4th studio album.

Overall Review: I am… was such a phenomenal album! It was lighter in terms of songs and the tone was that of joy and love with some friendship, much like Ayumi’s albums of today are like. It was a bit improvement from her 3rd album. And it featured some great ballads, a few upbeat pop/rock songs and the occasional dance songs. Some songs are forgettable but the overall album is in an atmosphere of peace. This is my 2nd favorite album from Ayumi, the quality of the songs are so great. And it doesn’t hurt that the cover looked so beautiful, natural, and just plain amazing. This is one of her most beautiful albums to date.

Final Grade: 100A+

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Comments
6 Responses to “I am…”
  1. Sakura Drops says:

    those leaves…. reminds me of Shakira…. that’s weird… why would they wear the same outfit for their album?! who copied the other 😕

  2. Sakura Drops says:

    oh i see… thanks for the info

  3. bucebucethecaboose says:

    I love NEVER EVER xD I like how she sounds like a child during the verses, but screams adult in the chorus. still alone’s chorus bothers me a bit because of her voice, it’s really, weird lol. Daybreak is my favorite song to ❤ I love how it’s all about hope and peace. While all other songs have a tint of loneliness in it, Daybreak does not. Wonderful review! I can’t wait to review myself in the future.

  4. bucebucethecaboose says:

    Review it myself* Whoops xD

  5. Die says:

    i really love naturally the most lol, it’s so different and almost techno oriented, well dance oriented

  6. Arisa says:

    Finally! Someone actually perfers the “Gone with the Wind” version fo “Endless Sorrow!” 😀

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