Single Review: Kana Nishino – “Dear…/MAYBE”

Tracklist:
1. Dear…
2. MAYBE
3. Yours only, feat. WISE ~maison de m-flo~

This is Kana Nishino’s eighth single, released on December 2, 2009. The single reached #7 on the Oricon Weekly Chart and has sold 17,258 copies.

Pretty much your typical cute wintry single cover, although Kana is literally thisclose to making the Ayu blank-eyes-fish-lips face. Oh, brother.

~

I’m just going to put this out there: I think Dear… is great!  A lovely winter R&B song, I really find this song to be an improvement over Kana’s previous single. The arrangement puts Kana’s lower register into plentiful use, making her voice sound distinctly more mature and confident, and although the music doesn’t exactly sound “wintry” per se, it has a very sweet atmosphere which works well for Kana. There are some strings and a piano somewhere in the mix, lending to the song’s ballad-esque feel despite the song not really being an actual ballad. Overall, this is a very strong winter track and I really like it.

MAYBE is such a strong song, and so straight-up R&B I almost couldn’t believe someone like BENI wasn’t singing it instead of Kana Nishino (no offense, Kana, but hear me out). It starts out sounding much like a ballad, then bursts into life with rapid beats and synths. The two things I really appreciated in this song are as follows:
1. The muffled backup vocals during the verse. I found them really unique and they made me want to listen to Kana even closer.
2. Kana’s English. Her pronunciation has improved a bit since もっと..., although the lyrics themselves could still use some work.
And so, another strong A-side from Kana Nishino. Keep ’em coming, Kana!

I’ll be honest here – I wasn’t really looking forward to Yours only when I saw it was 6 minutes, 17 seconds long. That’s a long song by anyone’s standards. And sadly, I was right. Not only did they drag the whole song out too long, but it just didn’t have the same dynamic feel as the two preceding songs. Kana’s voice sounds a lot better, I’ll admit, but everything else sounded really kind of uninspired – including WISE’s section, which was boring as all hell.

Summary: Well, I guess two out of three ain’t bad. Back when I reviewed Kana’s single もっと..., I was still a little iffy on whether she measured up to the hype, you know, in my eyes. All of those doubts have been more or less dispelled by this single, the two A-sides of which are actually very good, well-produced and well-executed R&B tracks. As for the B-side…well, I simply didn’t feel it was very special. At least it’s only a B-side. As I listened to the songs on this single, I realized that I tend to like Kana more as I hear more from her, and it honestly left me feeling happy and anticipating any future singles she’ll be releasing.

Single Grade: A-

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