FIVE was Ayumi Hamasaki’s 2nd mini-album. It was released on August 31, 2011 and debuted at no. 1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts with 127,024 copies sold. In all this mini-album has sold over 208,461+ copies.
2. ANother song feat. URATA NAOYA
3. Why… feat. JUNO
6. Why… feat. URATA NAOYA (CD+DVD hidden track)
7. beloved (Orchestra version) (CD-Only bonus track)
I was expecting a single before a mini-album, but I must admit that I’m happy with this.
This mini-album is essentially filled with ballads, and maybe one non-ballad? I mean all of the songs have a ballad feel or are ballads.
The first song is entitled progress, which was used as the theme song for the game Tales of Xillia. As you know, it is a ballad, and I won’t lie, it’s a pretty damn good ballad. Compared to some of her other ballads, it sounds almost minimalistic towards the first half because her vocals are so strong and crisp, and the music is there, but it doesn’t outshine her. The first half for that matter is mostly classical, the second half, however, while classical as well, contains some flawless rock elements, namely the guitar, and the song itself picks up a decent amount of speed. And like most, if not all of her ballads, it’s rather catchy as well. Definitely a lot better than her recent ballads IMO.
Up next is the collaboration ANother song which features URATA NAOYA. It still has a ballad atmosphere about it, but I would say that it’s not her best ballad. The song sounds a bit mundane for a collaboration. The vocals sounded very monotonous and there weren’t any emotion or power in their vocals. Better to hear the other collaboration on this mini-album.
So the 2nd collaboration is entitled Why…, the first rendition features JUNO, who is the twin of JYJ’s Junsu. This rendition is more of a rock ballad, and it’s absolutely phenomenal. The blend of classical as well as rock elements is just superb and their vocals are so harmonious. It sounds dramatic and epic. The second rendition features none other than Urata Naoya, and it’s a hidden track on the CD+DVD edition. This rendition is more synth-pop than the original. There are more distortions, synth, and it’s a bit more up-tempo. It’s also a bit more infectious IMO, granted it does sound like a regular pop song, not necessarily a ballad.
Although beloved takes a bit to warm up, that is, sound less dull and more intense, it’s worth the wait. It’d still consider this song a ballad, with a bit of rock flair. Definitely not a ballad ballad, it’d classify is as being a better than good ballad, maybe not great though. I do appreciate the unique sound it has though. And I must also add that Ayu’s vocals sound pretty damn good here as well. The orchestra version is longer, over 6 minutes to be exact. The arrangement is obviously suited more towards a ballad, and it’s quite lovely. You definitely get to hear her vocals a bit better and the arrangement just really makes it sound so mature and sophisticated. Not a bad rendition.
The final track, if you will, is BRILLANTE, which is over 10 minutes, this is where the hidden track kicks in. Anyway, this is perhaps the saddest sounding ballad on the mini-album. The opening it just weird IMO, but once the instruments enter it sounds a little better, those male vocals sound like they’re chanting some curse or something (>.>) tis besides the point though. I really love this ballad believe it or not, but those male vocals are just annoying. Ayu’s vocals sound perfect and go so well with the music. The classical elements, which include the harp this time, are just magical in this case. Such a beautiful song, one of her greatest ballads to date IMO. The ending was just plain creepy though with the violin, listen to it and you’ll hear why.
Easily one of her greatest works yet. I can’t really remember when the last time I listened to such a great piece of work from her, it’s seriously been that long. This mini-album is just what the doctor ordered though. The ballads are perfect for the most part, some could have used a few tweaks, but I wouldn’t say there was one huge thing that needed to be changed. It’s just nice to see her writing some spectacular songs again. And might I add how nice the album covers are, they’re amazing, she looks sophisticated and almost like a goddess. I hope the next thing she releases is as good as this, and maybe it’ll be something up-beat, like a dance or pop song??? Either way, a wonderful mini-album that has made me remember why I listened to Ayu all those years ago.