GK's Top 5 Albums of 2010 [so far]

While this first half of 2010 doesn't seem to be as "quality" as the first half of 2009, there still have been a handful of really good albums that you should take notice of. We offer this list to those who do not have the time to go through the copious amount of Japanese releases each year. We highlight what we believe to be the best based on our individual tastes. Hope you all enjoy it!
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It's Your Money, Not Theirs: A Public Service Announcement

Written by: Zer0

Every three or four months, the Japanese record labels have their "seasonal" release - their Spring love song, their upbeat Summer party song, their nostalgic Autumn mid-tempo number, and the essential Winter ballad. They all seem to come out at once, and many record labels release multiple versions of singles and albums, often with different artwork, different tracklists, and different first-press bonus extras. This leads to a rash of complaints. They're pretty predictable. They all go something like this:

"The record company is sucking us dry!"
"So expensive... they're stealing my money!"
"mean money-grubbing record label!! I'M GONNA GO BROKE!"
"The record execs are awful, releasing all these versions of singles!!"
"A concert DVD and a new single IN THE SAME DAY!? So EVIL!!"

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Analysis of Ayumi Hamasaki's "Rock'n'Roll Circus" PVs, Part Three: "Lady Dynamite"

Written by Jaylee

Hamasaki Ayumi is one of if not the biggest stars in Japan. Her popularity has declined over the years but she is still one of the most recognizable names and faces in Asia. Throughout her career she has crafted videos with deep symbolism that critiqued the record industry and fame culture. She has touched millions of fans through her personal lyrics. She is an artist who wears a pop mask.

In part three of our “Rock’n’Roll Circus” PV analysis, I will be delving into the symbolism and inspiration behind the video. Just a warning, this analysis is more image based than Zer0's and may not be suitable for children.

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Analysis of Ayumi Hamasaki's "Rock'n'Roll Circus" PVs, Part Two: "Microphone"/"Sexy little things"

Written by Zer0

"Traditional, ethnic, European... With all these various sounds put together, it's rather 'circus-like'... The new album's title, 'Rock'n'Roll Circus', has alot of funny, frightening, sad, and strange subtext, but to me that's just what 'rock & roll' is."
--Bea's UP, May 2010

The album's title, "Rock'n'Roll Circus," is one of the few Hamasaki Ayumi album titles that doesn't correspond to a track on the album. The two sounds - "Rock & Roll" and "Circus" - are best assigned to two of the buzz tracks, "Microphone" and "Sexy little things," respectively.


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Analysis of Ayumi Hamasaki's "Rock'n'Roll Circus" PVs, Part One: "Don't look back"

Written by Zer0

SPOILER ALERT - The video covered in this article has a twist ending. I highly recommend watching the full video before reading any further.

"[Rock'n'Roll Circus]...basically has a feeling of 'back-to-basics.' A feeling of Hamasaki Ayumi, and less of adventure. More digging down into the foundation. Which isn't to say I'm taking a step backward. It's about expressing my feelings on things I've always liked, but as the person I am now."
--SCawaii, February 2010

The reception for Ayumi Hamasaki's first few singles was lukewarm at best. But when her first full album, A Song for XX, was released on New Year's Day in 1999, it hit number one on the Oricon charts its first week. What happened? The world got to know Ayu.

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