New singles Terminal & XOXO ~episode 2~ - Page 8 - Ayumi Hamasaki Sekai
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  #141  
Old 4th October 2014, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenPang View Post
I think for those whom have followed/supported her for a very long time , to see her career in this state now , even I don't have words to put just how I feel

And for my case I have followed/supported her since late 2005 which's almost close to 10 years . It's insane knowing that

1 part of me want to give up & not to continue supporting her anymore but another part of me choose to believe that hopefully she still has a little bit of hope in wanting a resurge in getting her career back + not just to let things deteriorate until it can't be salvaged any longer
Not only for the long time fans but also for me - the 2- years fan, I don't know how to describe Ayu in this era. Although I can see her effort, the good point in her recent music, I can't face the fact the result was so bad for the legend of Jpop...
I think that the release of this single isn't from Ayu's decision because It's lacking of everything that should be included in the single (PV, promotion, main theme) ! I'm still waiting for the her coming back and having the great time when she got the high result ... Please go on supporting Ayu as you used to ...
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  #142  
Old 4th October 2014, 10:18 PM
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Mhhhh. What does it take to make people stop thinking Ayu does not care about her career any longer? She's been chasing her pop-colleagues pitilessly for 16 years by now, she's releasing an epic trance-anthem like "Terminal", now continuing with the only reasonable next step, making it a single release and we are even likely to get more of this in the future.
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  #143  
Old 4th October 2014, 10:53 PM
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It's really fucking rude to say Ayu doesn't care about her career. I can't stand that kind of thing. For shame.
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  #144  
Old 4th October 2014, 11:20 PM
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  #145  
Old 4th October 2014, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by kagami View Post
It's really fucking rude to say Ayu doesn't care about her career. I can't stand that kind of thing. For shame.
I think it is easy to assume so because in the past it was clear that she had more FIRE and PASSION regarding her releases. Hell, it used to be so visual, so cross-promotional, more conceptualized and planned out. It seemed like she always had a concept, there was a LARGER picture to be seen and everything seemed consistent with getting that message across. That's what fascinated me. I have no doubt that my appreciation for strategic communication, branding, and creating concepts that reach into the depths of cross-promotional media was hugely inspired by watching the visionary "HAMASAKI AYUMI" evolve over the years as I came into adulthood. She was never an artist who was "just there," she had cultivated an entire universe around her image, her brand, her sound, and her fans. That's probably why I was so drawn to her; her image was so well crafted that she seemed to be a mirage of sorts.

Fast forward to the present, and there's little to no remnant of THAT "HAMASAKI AYUMI" today. I know people grow and change, but her brand and image has made a severe de-evolution recently and it just seems so... foreign. It's a head-trip that's for sure. In that environment she had created (which also translated well into her music, the ability to create soundscapes that constructed vast environments for the listener to become lost within), I felt unbelievably happy. I still feel the best when I can escape into her world and her music, making it part of my reality and my scenery. I often flashback to my thoughts and feelings regarding her "previous" states as they were "current" and how I compared them to that "past" and it was never quite like this. She seems virtually absent in a way. With Ayu and her music, I never felt lonely. Now it's as if an important character in my life has taken a far away trip and I'm uncertain as to when I will ever see or here from them again in the ways that I have in the past.

People can continue to act as if the fans who feel this way are overreacting, but the emotions we have are real and highly understandable. Ayu was always the megastar - anything but average - and for me she was unlike anyone or anything I had ever encountered before in my life. Now, her brand and her image seemingly continues to regress. I used to think in the past that I could never imagine the day she actually "fell" because even if she wasn't selling as much as time went on, her brand, her aura, her environment, her drive and her sense of concept continued to grow and excel. There's not much we can do but eventually I feel she may return with more passion than ever before. Even if the sales aren't there, when Ayu finds that creative drive and begins expanding upon her empire once again, I will be the first to walk through that door with pride.

Last edited by Zeke.; 4th October 2014 at 11:37 PM.
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  #146  
Old 5th October 2014, 12:36 AM
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Ayu is only 36. So there are at least 44 more years to come. She's got enough time to come back again and fade, come back again and fade and so on. It's been only 16 years thus far. And we as fans swore our loyalty, didn't we? Forever!

I'm hoping for Nakamori Akina to come back eventually, too. She's the uber-phenomenon of the 80ies.

Good things come to those who wait...!
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  #147  
Old 5th October 2014, 01:02 AM
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The mixed emotions are understandable, but if all the last eras are so 'disappointing', then I am not sure what keeps you waiting tbh
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  #148  
Old 5th October 2014, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Zeke. View Post
I think it is easy to assume so because in the past it was clear that she had more FIRE and PASSION regarding her releases. Hell, it used to be so visual, so cross-promotional, more conceptualized and planned out. It seemed like she always had a concept, there was a LARGER picture to be seen and everything seemed consistent with getting that message across. That's what fascinated me. I have no doubt that my appreciation for strategic communication, branding, and creating concepts that reach into the depths of cross-promotional media was hugely inspired by watching the visionary "HAMASAKI AYUMI" evolve over the years as I came into adulthood. She was never an artist who was "just there," she had cultivated an entire universe around her image, her brand, her sound, and her fans. That's probably why I was so drawn to her; her image was so well crafted that she seemed to be a mirage of sorts.

Fast forward to the present, and there's little to no remnant of THAT "HAMASAKI AYUMI" today. I know people grow and change, but her brand and image has made a severe de-evolution recently and it just seems so... foreign. It's a head-trip that's for sure. In that environment she had created (which also translated well into her music, the ability to create soundscapes that constructed vast environments for the listener to become lost within), I felt unbelievably happy. I still feel the best when I can escape into her world and her music, making it part of my reality and my scenery. I often flashback to my thoughts and feelings regarding her "previous" states as they were "current" and how I compared them to that "past" and it was never quite like this. She seems virtually absent in a way. With Ayu and her music, I never felt lonely. Now it's as if an important character in my life has taken a far away trip and I'm uncertain as to when I will ever see or here from them again in the ways that I have in the past.

People can continue to act as if the fans who feel this way are overreacting, but the emotions we have are real and highly understandable. Ayu was always the megastar - anything but average - and for me she was unlike anyone or anything I had ever encountered before in my life. Now, her brand and her image seemingly continues to regress. I used to think in the past that I could never imagine the day she actually "fell" because even if she wasn't selling as much as time went on, her brand, her aura, her environment, her drive and her sense of concept continued to grow and excel. There's not much we can do but eventually I feel she may return with more passion than ever before. Even if the sales aren't there, when Ayu finds that creative drive and begins expanding upon her empire once again, I will be the first to walk through that door with pride.
^. It's not the fall in sales driving that lack of fandom, but they reflect the lack of investment on her part. The real fall was after her marriage to Manny. Around then, it seemed that her string of high-profile relationships became her new career. (Rather than new singles, she released new boyfriends.)

We had FIVE. FIVE respectfully followed Ls. It sold relatively well, going platinum and spending two weeks at #1. While we were disappointed there wasn't a new single, the album was still very much Ayumi. I still remember the chatter on AHS about beloved being bland but ultimately being one of the most memorable tracks. Some people were ecstatic over progress. We unanimously jaw-dropped at BRILLANTE.

Party Queen
The real fall started with Party Queen. It wasn't Tim, and it wasn't the shake up of her dancers around that time. It was that PQ had no singles prior to its release. It was that PQ was--and even still is today--the most inconsistent record Ayumi has released. How someone came up with the idea of putting dance-pop, electronica, rock, hard rock, R&B, dubstep, cool jazz, swing jazz, and classical music into a 14-track album with no singles, no live performances, and only one digital single is beneath intelligent planning. It is the Daybreak of her albums; the album that we can all find a good song or two on but ultimately have to facepalm when it comes up in casual conversation. (We were all shocked when GUILTY hit #2, but GUILTY was and remains a solid example of Ayumi Hamasaki as a person and an artist.)

Apart from a few songs, the lyrics on every track were a poor reflection of Ayu's talent as a lyricist. If you don't believe me, re-read the lyrics to Party Queen. (Hint: That's the %@$%! TITLE track.) The PVs were a nice attempt to make a boring album interesting, but you can't save a bad song with nice promotion. (Japan isn't the United States. The only reason Pitbull has a career left is because the majority of the music buying population in the US eats up the image of wealth. So all you have to do is put Pitbull in a $10,000 suit with a few hookers and cigars, and he becomes "talented". if you put misono in a million-dollar dress, people would still think she sings like a dying camel.)

Of course ABC deserved his first #1, but it would have happened another time if the same drive and thoughtfulness that had been slowly fading over the years did not unexpectedly disappear. The sales reflected a lack of investment: PQ collectively sold less than Love songs' first week sales.

LOVE, again, LOVE again
So, after A SUMMER BEST arguably came as an attempt to try to keep the consecutive years of #1 album releases going, we end up with a new mini-album announcement for LOVE. We collectively sighed at the fact it wasn't a mini-album, but a single marketed as a mini-album.

LOVE debuts at #4. Compared to L, it sold around 60% of L's sales. Compared to FIVE, it sold less than half of FIVE's first week sales. again comes one month later--another single marketed as a mini-album--and debuts at #7, ultimately selling less than LOVE sold in its first week. The only real take-away from the entire 15th anniversary releases turns out to be A Classical, which becomes the first #1 classical album in Oricon history.

LOVE again was more coherent than PQ, but the album was lacking in the details. First, the only PVs were for songs released within the three months prior to the album. None of the album-only songs had a video. You & Me, a song intended for the A SUMMER BEST collection, had been tacked on. If you bought LOVE and again, you were only getting the Melody PV and 5 new songs. (Think BoA WHO'S BACK?) Really, we had some beautiful PVs for Song 4 u and Missing, but we were ultimately left with videos that were lacking in substance. (This has been a long-running problem though.) The whole "Love" theme had been present in this album, PQ, and Ls, and even the news was tired of the LOVE this, LOVE that, new boyfriend today, independent woman tomorrow, new boyfriend the next day, independent woman again by Friday at every turn.

LOVE again sold like a stale concept album: It collectively sold less than PQ's first week sales. It made it to #1, which may be a testament to the power of releasing a few singles before putting out a new album, building up interest and giving people something to look forward to. (It may also just be good planning / luck.)

Feel the love / Merry-go-round, Pray, Colours
We had a very quiet 2013 after LOVE again. We had two DVDs and then news of Ftl/Mgr came. The first new single in 3 years. We got the covers. We loved the covers. We got the songs. We loved the songs. We got the PVs. We were all a bit happy to see something interesting again. Ftl/Mgr was not going to be a #1 single. Hell, if Namie Amuro can't land a #1 after one year of no singles in this market, Ayumi is not going to do it either. But Ftl/Mgr was a good first step in getting back to the right direction.

Pray was announced around the same time. I hoped, like many of us, it would be single 52. It turned out to be a digital single, which was disappointing only because, even for a ballad, it was one of her most solid recordings in years.

Information on Colours comes along and interest divided faster than Moses could part the red sea. Ayumi decided to work with western producers on almost every track. Why was this a big deal? Well, because the album isn't J-Pop. It's some hybrid of US-Pop, produced by a bunch of people who don't have any market in Japan. (Just like BoA's self-titled album wasn't BoA. It was some hybrid of US-Pop, produced by people with less talent at electronic music than most K-Pop producers.) Either way, some of us are excited to hear tracks like XOXO and Lelio. Then there's her collaboration with Urata Naoya, who we can all agree has pretty much used Ayu's popularity to be noticed as something other than an idol group member. (Anyone remember JUNO?)

Then Colours is leaked, on purpose, over a month before its release. By the time the album hits shelves, it's been weeks since everyone has heard every song, seen every video, and had hopes and fears either confirmed or denied. The videos were at least different. They consist of: XOXO, in which Ayu, now a middle-aged woman, wearing hooker heels and lingerie while riding a young guy cowgirl style on the floor of a club with her best friend who is also just as obsessed with selfies; Angel, in which Ayu in a beautiful dress lurches and over-lip-syncs the lyrics before being helped into God's handy-dandy human lifting machine because apparently she's too heavy for THREE angels to pick up...?; and Lelio, in which Ayu honestly takes second place to cheap video effects which can make her dancers disappear but somehow cannot make Ayu a reasonably good dancer.

But there are two core problems with Colours: A) Colours is not a J-pop album. B) Japan does not have a market for oversimplified American pop music. Namie's style will sell. K-pop will sell. capsule will sell. But RedOne and Armin van Buuren... frankly... do not have the talent to produce for the Korean or Japanese EDM markets.

Moving forward...
I've taken the time to type this out because I think my line of thought will help explain from where my comments evolved.

Since Love songs, Party Queen, LOVE again, and Colours have each sold cumulatively less than the prior albums first week sales. That's a HUGE drop in interest we're talking about. To put this into perspective, MIKA NAKASHIMA, Kato Miliyah, BoA, Otsuka Ai, Utada, Koda Kumi, and even some idol groups have not recovered from sales drops that steep. (For example: GIRL NEXT DOOR tried to rebrand to save their group after Destination cumulatively sold less than half of NEXT FUTURE's first week sales.)

The reason Terminal's charting matters is because, regardless of being recut, this is an actual single. Do you realize how rare it is for an artist to sell more copies of their next release?

I can only think of a few instances. The first being MIKA NAKASHIMA's VOICE, which came after her career plummeted from the disaster of the YES era. And Namie Amuro, who had to reinvent her entire career after STYLE. If you can think of anyone else who has managed to bounce back after a very bad release, please let me know. Until otherwise, however, I have to believe this single is like a terminal diagnosis for Ayumi's career because it's extremely rare that J-Pop artists bounce back from a huge sales drop.

The fact this single actually made it to press is a sign that, as I said, I'm like a boyfriend hanging on by a thread because I don't want to accept that it's actually over. Think of Terminal as getting a Hallmark anniversary card... with no personal message written in it. It's like your partner knew it matters to you, but instead of taking an extra few minutes on the card, they just picked the nicest one off the shelf, put it in a nice envelope, and gave it to you because it's what they felt like doing. You want to appreciate the thought, but you know they feel like what they did is good enough even it's obvious it isn't.

EDIT: Wow, it took me awhile to put this together. This is all my perspective though, and I hope it's respected as just one experience. But still, the general drop in AHS interest in Colours and now... well, Terminal is so unpopular no one has bothered to make an Oricon thread for it... That doesn't seem wrong to some of you?

Last edited by orbitalaspect; 5th October 2014 at 06:10 AM.
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  #149  
Old 5th October 2014, 07:04 AM
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Sometimes I wonder if ayu's really the one who created everything and had all of the ideas or the details which is what people care about. Obviously no one does everything, but I wonder if she did as much as we think she did. Idk idk. The execution of the concepts, details, and music...idk. she seemed very compelled to just do everything, even if she was tired and etc. It's an interesting form of passion.

Like in that interview when she talked about doing her own thing now that she finds more appealing than what other people want, it makes me wonder what she was doing before. Like, maybe she should listen to people again, but the right people.
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  #150  
Old 5th October 2014, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by orbitalaspect View Post
Party Queen
The real fall started with Party Queen. It wasn't Tim, and it wasn't the shake up of her dancers around that time. It was that PQ had no singles prior to its release. It was that PQ was--and even still is today--the most inconsistent record Ayumi has released. How someone came up with the idea of putting dance-pop, electronica, rock, hard rock, R&B, dubstep, cool jazz, swing jazz, and classical music into a 14-track album with no singles, no live performances, and only one digital single is beneath intelligent planning. It is the Daybreak of her albums; the album that we can all find a good song or two on but ultimately have to facepalm when it comes up in casual conversation. (We were all shocked when GUILTY hit #2, but GUILTY was and remains a solid example of Ayumi Hamasaki as a person and an artist.)
How comes that the meaning of consistence on an album is defined by the number of live performances and singles? With that definition the last album of BoA that contains 100% single songs and no new songs is REALLY CONSISTENT? lol, your comments are ridiculous to say at least

Party Queen was THE album that called my attention to come back to ayu after 2 years (Secret) It really bring something NEW at this point of her career that she has 200 songs that sounds the same so go f*ck up someone else music please
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  #151  
Old 5th October 2014, 08:43 AM
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@orbitalaspect, there are threads made in the chatroom about possible ways to interpret/understand the albums. These contain a lot of (interesting) information of facts and questions, because the members looked mainly from an objective perspective. Not kissing the starter's ass, but these threads were genius.
I really suggest to have a look there.

Might be my bad for being on a J-Pop forum, but aside of Ayu there is no asian singer I follow. Examples of others leave me ice cold, so you are probably right when you say they do better/worse.

But your very long post did not really answer my "what keeps you waiting" question. Yes, I do understand people feel angry, sad and frustrated with the way things are taken care of in Ayu's career. But 16 years is a long time. And she still produces, she still looks for ways to deliver her music and yet she still cares. The only thing that has changed is her expression. It does or does not connect, but the solution to that problem is to respond to her subjectively. But ask me and I find her latest albums still as conceptual and emotional.

Therefore I agree that saying Ayu's career is currently 'terminal' is overreacting. As being the "boyfriend holding on the string" there are many ways to feel different, like the first step would be acceptance or changing perspective in a more objective/neutral view. Ayu is not over. Not yet.
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  #152  
Old 5th October 2014, 09:05 AM
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Life is much easier if you just follow her for her music and take anything else as a bonus. She's a singer after all.

You're free to say you prefer the old days but, for pete's sake, don't say she doesn't care. She has all the money in the world. She could sit on her ass all day, but no, she still gives us albums. And look at the effort she put into learning the tissue dance.

On a completely different note, I was confused why I couldn't find the single on iTunes, but it's released under 'Ayu' instead of 'Ayumi Hamasaki'.
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  #153  
Old 5th October 2014, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by primavera♥ View Post
Sometimes I wonder if ayu's really the one who created everything and had all of the ideas or the details which is what people care about. Obviously no one does everything, but I wonder if she did as much as we think she did. Idk idk. The execution of the concepts, details, and music...idk. she seemed very compelled to just do everything, even if she was tired and etc. It's an interesting form of passion.

Like in that interview when she talked about doing her own thing now that she finds more appealing than what other people want, it makes me wonder what she was doing before. Like, maybe she should listen to people again, but the right people.
If she goes back to listen to other people and release overly safe generic tracks, I prefer her to keep on "fucking up" her own career. IMO Ayu is at her best when she is not trying to please stupid prude uncreative people.

Everytime I'm pleased with her stuff, I come into her and see people melting down.

edit: And let's be honest, most people aren't really annoyed about her aesthetic choices... They are annoyed about her sales.
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  #154  
Old 5th October 2014, 03:39 PM
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Sales are nice but not the deciding factor in me being a fan. I'm just happy she is still releasing music. I wish this single had more remixes on it. Since it didn't, I need a remix album(s) please! Legit good remixes. Not the vocal track with an unimaginative remix spin on the music.
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  #155  
Old 5th October 2014, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by primavera♥ View Post
Sometimes I wonder if ayu's really the one who created everything and had all of the ideas or the details which is what people care about. Obviously no one does everything, but I wonder if she did as much as we think she did. Idk idk. The execution of the concepts, details, and music...idk. she seemed very compelled to just do everything, even if she was tired and etc. It's an interesting form of passion.

Like in that interview when she talked about doing her own thing now that she finds more appealing than what other people want, it makes me wonder what she was doing before. Like, maybe she should listen to people again, but the right people.
I understand this feeling too and I thought much about it, because for one point once it felt more like the Ayu mega-manager who wrote the lyrics (maybe) andd controlled the execution (maybe) was changed and this we got the different Ayu we got. what if she actually was like this from the start?
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  #156  
Old 5th October 2014, 08:59 PM
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She can try new things while staying true to her sound; there is a TON of variety over the course of her career yet it remained true to her image and brand in one way or another.

In the case of what keeps people holding on, it's because she still showcases her brilliance every now and then or slips a glimmer of hope and/or excitement into what are for the most part less-than-thrilling tracks. For example, Party Queen had reminds me which for me was so classic Ayu. Wake me up I believe is one of her best songs she has ever released and it was another case of "yes, this is who I fell in love with" - it was compared to Sparkle but it definitely was no copy-cat track. Tell All was another case of classic Ayu (although that bridge is atrocious). BRILLANTE, etc. There are MANY cases where Ayu releases something that clearly has her sound written all over it among a bunch of "new" material and the songs that show some sort of familiarity about them (just the SLIGHTEST) are always the most raved about. She can still try new things without abandoning her sound. It's still there, it's just less and less likely to come by. If I wanted something COMPLETELY different, THEN I'd go listen to another artist. That's the thing, Ayu is the only artist who can deliver "her sound" and I can't find that sound anywhere else - even though she is producing it less and less, the chances that SHE create something that infuses that magical HAMASAKI AYUMI sound into it is 1 million times better than any OTHER artist doing so. It is her sound and her ability to evolve that sound while remaining true to it that I've come to love for a large part of her career.

She is a J-Pop artist. I listen to her because she has always made really great J-pop. Colours was anything but...

It's like if you have this really great jazz musician you listen to and suddenly they started making country music.

Last edited by Zeke.; 5th October 2014 at 09:04 PM.
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  #157  
Old 6th October 2014, 05:15 AM
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Honestly her music in her last albums is great, I don't like all the songs, but I like many of them. She is doing different things, we can hear a classic Ayu album (Love again) and an album with EDM (Colours). Since the beginning she tried rock songs, electro-pop songs, ballads, cute songs, she is an artist with a lot of possibilities.

The problem are the bad music videos, her lacking of promo (tv performances, radio shows), her recycled covers and her scandals. I don't think the music is a problem, the problem is the management IMO.
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  #158  
Old 6th October 2014, 11:37 AM
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I'm so annoyed by these "her career is over" comments right now that I will just say that I haven't listened to these remixes because I've lost my interest in Ayu again lol.
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  #159  
Old 6th October 2014, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drdolce View Post
I'm so annoyed by these "her career is over" comments right now
People have been saying that since (miss)understood and she's still going lol
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Old 6th October 2014, 05:48 PM
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I don't think her career will ever be over. (that is until she decides to stop making music).

Is her career of a high selling musician over. Yes... has been.
But even Colours did rather well for a solo female artist.
Nothing like what she use to do, but like most solo artist right now, they just are not selling high numbers anymore. Oricon is outdated and needs to get in touch with the digital age.
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