Single Review: Ayumi Hamasaki – “You were…/BALLAD”

Tracklist:
1. You were…
2. BALLAD
3. RED LINE ~for TA~
4. You were… (Music Box Mix)
5. Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~ (Orchestra Version)
6. You were… (Instrumental)
7. BALLAD (Instrumental)
8. RED LINE ~for TA~ (Instrumental)

This is Ayumi Hamasaki forty-seventh single. It was released on December 29, 2010, and has sold 108,620 copies.

Um, can I just say ten thousand times better than S/S? I mean, anything’d be better than those covers at this point, but still.

~

It’s that time of year again! Once winter rolls around, Ayu never fails to have a sparkly, wintry ballad up her sleeve. Enter You were…, a twinkling winter power ballad. It’s kind of like an amalgamation of all of Ayu’s best-known winter songs – CAROLS, Together When… and, in particular, 2008’s Days – in that they all have similar qualities, such as piano, rock guitars, and winter bells. That said, this song was a bit of a disappointment initially, but Ayu sounds pretty good and the lyrics are really nice.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is BALLAD, a grandiose Oriental ballad that’s the true gem of this single. This song features a sweeping arrangement and a melody that’s remarkably similar to that of one of Ayu’s older songs, theme of a-nation ’03, and to tell you the truth, it’s absolutely gorgeous. A number of factors, like the Chinese-inspired music to Ayu’s lovely vibrato, make this one of her best ballads since JEWEL. That last note she hits is brilliant too.

RED LINE ~for TA~ is an “uplifting” song inspired by and dedicated to Ayumi’s official fan club, Team Ayu, and it’s a really nice song. It’s got a sunny melody and a catchy hook, which makes it really enjoyable. A couple people have compared this song to teddy bear, off of Ayu’s 2000 album Duty, but I really don’t see it. It really warms my heart that Ayumi would dedicate a song to her fans.

Next we have the music box version of You were…. It’s pretty nice, but it bored me a bit, to be honest. I’m told that Ayu recorded a new vocal track for this version, but it doesn’t sound all that different to me. I dunno. I think this was just a bit unnecessary.

I really liked the original version of Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~, but the orchestra version is just as pretty. Not that much has changed between the two versions, but this one is nice all the same.

Summary: I feel like I’ve said just about all I can say about this single. Overall it was a fairly pleasant experience, since both BALLAD and RED LINE ~for TA~ were as easy on the ears as any song Ayu’s ever made. There’s no question that I could have done without the mediocre You were… and the unnecessary rearranged versions, but neither one is bad or boring enough to cheapen the two best songs the single.

Single Grade: B+

One thought on “Single Review: Ayumi Hamasaki – “You were…/BALLAD”

  1. hmmmm…I agree with you about the orchestra version of Sunset…it wasn’t much different from the original but was still nice to listen to…I also agree with you on BALLAD. It is an amazing song. her vocals are so beautiful on this song…But the rest I don’t really agree with you about I mean I actually really like you were…yes it’s sorta reminiscent of her other winter ballads but I still really like it. As for Red Line…I didn’t really care for it much…THAT song actually bored me…I actually heard people say it sounded more like girlish instead of teddy bear…but i don’t see it…the musical box version of you were I really liked it was softer than the original…

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