I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ayumi Hamasaki -- LOVE〜Destiny〜/LOVE〜since 1999〜 (with Tsunku)

Digging through my old CD singles, I came across this Ayumi Hamasaki(浜崎あゆみ)number which represents the only music I actually own by a singer who at one point was pretty much the Queen of J-Pop for a number of years. Perhaps nostalgia for the 90s and early years of the 21st century will get me to buy a few more CDs by her in the near future, but at the time although I knew about her up-and-coming star power, I never really got into her music for the most part.

But I already made that point clear in my only other contribution to Ayumi Hamasaki, "SEASONS", and that was a ballad as is this one. "LOVE〜Destiny〜" was one-half of her 7th single from April 1999. So I gather with the associative property in gear, I probably just like her love songs. Unlike the driving dance-pop that she usually sang, this particular song written by her and composed by the vocalist of Osaka band Sharan-Q/the head honcho for the Hello Project, Tsunku(つんく), hooked me by the fact that the arrangement sounded a lot like those sappy 80s ballads created by folks like David Foster (I almost expected Rob Lowe to pop in with a saxophone solo in the video) and that Hamasaki sounded and appeared so tender and vulnerable. I remembered that the video got a lot of airplay and seeing the singer looking rather tired in her dressing room certainly showed a different side from the glam.

On the flip side, there is "LOVE〜since 1999〜" which was a more dramatic rendition of the above ballad fit as a theme song for a Japanese movie of intrigue filmed in Europe. Actually, though, it was the theme song for the Fuji-TV drama "Semi-Double" which I barely remember as a show about some affair or affairs exploding among the cast of characters. Although the music remained basically intact, Tsunku put in his own lyrics (and his vocals) for this version. "LOVE〜Destiny〜" was used as the love theme for the show.

Every time I've heard "LOVE〜since 1999〜", my ears have had to adjust to the duet of Hamasaki and Tsunku since the voices didn't quite mesh at the beginning for some reason. Thankfully, they seemed to blend a bit better by the middle of the song.

The single hit No. 1 (her first one) and ended up as the 30th-ranked song for 1999, going Double Platinum selling about 690,000 copies. It also appeared on Hamasaki's first BEST album "A BEST" from March 2001 which hit the top spot and became the 2nd-ranked album for the year. In fact, it is the 6th most successful album in Oricon history.

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