Yuna Ito [WISH] (Second Album)

January 6, 2009

Power of Love
alone again
あなたがいる限り ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ (Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A World to Believe In~, あなたがいる限り ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~)
Urban Mermaid
HEARTBEAT
Colorful
Unite As One
Mahaloha
A Long Walk
Moon Rabbit
I’m Here
Wish
Tokyo Days
MY HEART WILL GO ON (Bonus)

The album starts off with the refreshing Power of Love. This was an incredible song to start the album off on, it really rejuvenates you and makes you feel good. Its like the feeling of stepping through a sheen of water, its the only time you’ll ever feel that exact way. The arrangement is so up-beat with the bass, the strings, drums? and then the clapping when Yuna’s voice speeds up. Yuna’s vocals are so–so good in this song, she really took advantage of her range and dished out one hell of a vocal performance. She sounded like she had a good time recording this track and I certainly had a good time listening to it. The chorus is the best part: ‘the power of love… true love…’

The next track on the album is the down-tempo alone again. Hands down, this is the stand out track on this whole album, and should have been released as a single, it was just that good. The piano arrangement is gorgeous and really gives you this feeling of isolation and being alone. Yuna’s vocals are very emotional in this song, especially during the chorus and the ‘hey, yeah’ parts. I honestly felt everything she was saying, because it was so poignant and relevant, especially when she says: ‘all alone again…’ (sigh).

The next track on the album is the inspirational duet Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A World to Believe In~. Apparently Celine Dion was so impressed with Yuna Ito’s rendition of her hit My Heart Will Go On, that she decided to do a duet with her, thus this song was made. I have never liked this song, despite its message and despite the fact that its not a really bad song, its pretty good. I just find that I don’t care for it and the only reason why I listened to it was because I had to for this review. I don’t understand why Yuna chose to sing her parts in Japanese when she’s pretty fluent in English, singing-wise, I don’t know if she can speak it fluently. Celine was good, but after a while, her strong voice seems to recede into the background and all I heard was Yuna. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but this is coming from someone who tried to out-sing Aretha Franklin on Diva’s, so I was a little shocked by that. This song is fine, for people who like inspirational duets such as this, and it has Celine Dion in it and I love her. I just don’t like this song, it does nothing for me and goes completely over my head.

The next track on the album is the refreshing Urban Mermaid. I remember being a bit excited for this single, but mostly because I thought the cover art was gorgeous. This song is rather lovely. I love the piano at the beginning I can’t really say if its the drums or the piano playing throughout, but I know there’s some bass. The whole effect does give you this feeling of being underwater and it kind of rejuvenates you in a sense. Yuna’s vocals are nice, slow start, got strong during the chorus. It was a nice vocal performance and she really kept a song that could have become forgettable, engaging. Also, this song is pretty on the corny side, I mean: ‘i’m a beautiful mermaid’ but I hardly noticed it, because I found that I really liked the natural and casual air of this song.

The next track on the album is the pointless HEARTBEAT. I’m serious, every time I hear this song, I wonder what Yuna was on. It sounds like it should have been on her previous album, because it comes across as so dated. I mean this is like the epitome of a filler song. In a sense, its not a bad song. The arrangement is decent, if not a little generic and Yuna’s vocals are nice if not a little boring–but it doesn’t change the fact that this song makes me think: ‘why is it on the album?’ like seriously. I just don’t get this track. It seems to come out of nowhere and makes no sense.

The next track on the album is the island-y Colorful. Wow, Yuna has managed to outdo herself by adding a song that sounds even more out of place than ‘heartbeat’ like seriously, why is this on the album? It played so much better as the b-side to Urban Mermaid, in fact I really liked this song and then I heard it on the album and was like, ‘WTF? Fail!’ It completely ruined this song for me. I mean the transition from ‘heartbeat’ to ‘colorful’ is so jarring that its amazing. It sounded so nice and bright on the single, on the album it sounds pretty lame and generic.

The next track on the album is the snore-fest Unite As One. Yuna Ito has a slew of ballads, but none of them are quite as dull as this one is. The arrangement played like stagnation, in most of the time I was wondering if Yuna was singing acapella. Yuna’s vocals were fine in the beginning and then towards the later half of the song–especially when Yuna laughingly started getting into the song–it just went to the dogs. At that point I turned my ears off, because I was five seconds away from sticking a fork in my ear. Then to add insult to injury this song is long long enough to put you into a stupor or worse yet– a sleep induced coma. I mean, it was like vengeance or something. Utterly forgettable and boring, boring song.

The next track on the album is the lovely Mahaloha. This is arguably my favorite a-side of this era. It translates lit. to: ‘Thank you, the ones we love’ which is so sweet. This song really gives you a feeling of love that just envelopes you. The arrangement is a simple and really nice guitar arrangement, that makes you think of standing out on the beach near the shore, the Hawaiian breeze blowing through you and staring off into the sky. Yuna’s vocals were love and you could tell she really enjoyed singing this song, because she sounded happy or just content. This was a really good collaboration too. This sounds a bit different though, more quieter than the single version, but its still just as good.

The next track on the album is the experimental A Long Walk. I have always disliked this song, and I find that though I’m partial to it now, I still kind of dislike it. Yuna decided to try out something a bit different with this song, too bad the beat is so annoying and repetitive. It sounds like an unfinished techno beat and gives you the feeling of being trapped in space, and no that is not a good feeling. Yuna’s vocals are fine, they went a bit well with the arrangement, but she sounds so bored and uninspired. I mean this song is interesting and maybe if I was more into music like this I would actually like the song, but it seems to go absolutely nowhere and seems to have no point.

The next track on the album keeps the experimental tracks coming with Moon Rabbit. Ugh. As where ‘a long walk’ made me feel that given time it could actually grow on me, this song just throws all possibility straight out the window. The arrangement is of course a bit on the techno side, just a bit watered down and not as prominent as it is in the previous track. It sounds a bit dated though, and I really got tired of the random clapping in the background. Yuna’s vocals are decent and sound a lot better in this track, but I can’t seem to care for them. I mean I saw promise during the first chorus, because it sounded pretty good, then that interest faded never to return as the track went from one thing to another, ultimately confusing and alienating mefrom the track. I actually stopped paying attention halfway through. Also, why is this song so long?

The next track on the album is the up-tempo I’m Here. I can not believe I did not like this song when it first came out, I thought it was so underwhelming. I just happened to watch the video one day and fell in love. I really wish Yuna would come out with more up-tempo tracks, because she does them so well, seriously. The violin is the main instrument and it just takes over this track, its so kick-ass and powerful. Yuna’s vocals are so good in this song, its one of her best vocal performances and I mean she kills this song towards the end when she starts ad-libbing. This track definitely brought some much needed air to this album and next to ‘alone again’ is this album’s stand-out track.

The next track on the album is the title track Wish. Yuna has had way better ballads than this, but its pretty decent. The song is of course piano driven, its nice, but a bit typical and nothing we haven’t already heard a thousand times before. Yuna’s vocal performance was good, but I noticed that she went flat a bit, mostly when she was going for the more dramatic parts of the song. I’ve always liked this track, but as a title track, its pretty weak.

The second to last track on the album is the gospel-esque Tokyo Days. This song always confuses me like nothing else, and like ‘ai no uta’ a lot of artists seem to like the whole ‘tokyo’ song thing as well, and songs with that title are hit and miss just like the love songs. The arrangement is very airy and gospel-oriented, which isn’t a bad thing, but it sounds very plain. Yuna’s vocals were fine, but the song is so mediocre that you don’t even care about that fact, plus the gospel choir in the background does nothing to help her or this song because their vocals are so flat and uninspired. This song just trickles by and it kills me every time I hear Yuna hit that high note as the song is fading out.

The last track on the album is the bonus MY HEART WILL GO ON. This is the cover of the smash hit of the same name by Celine Dion. Titanic is my favorite movie of all time, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett are my favorite on screen couple of all time and this is my all time favorite song by Celine. I didn’t like this cover when I first heard it, but now I’m partial to it. I mean Celine thought it was so good she decided to do a duet with Yuna, so who am I to complain about quality? I loved the first verse and chorus, afterward the song seems to flat line, because though Yuna’s voice is good it just lacks the emotional intensity and sheer everlasting love of Celine’s. I still like this, its a nice cover, but nothing beats the original.

-GRADE: B
Rating: ** stars

Yuna Ito’s second album WISH is still pretty underwhelming but a lot more tolerable this time around than it ever was. I really disliked this album at first, I mean it was like could Yuna have come out with a more duller album if she had tried? This album seems a bit more with the times than HEART, but it still manages to sound somewhat dated and mediocre. Yuna certainly upped the interest factor with this album though, bringing us great songs such as: Power of Love, alone again, Mahaloha and I’m Here and kept the album somewhat going and interesting with Urban Mermaid, Wish and a pretty nice cover of MY HEART WILL GO ON. However, the downer tracks really drag the enjoyment of this album down, they are so pointless and avoidably awful. I mean she could have kept Colorful as a b-side and put a much better song in its place, and the same goes for HEARTBEAT which made no sense. Unite As One would have probably been less of a bore if it wasn’t so long, but then again it would have probably still been boring, just shorter. A Long Walk and Moon Rabbit had such potential, but they just fail in there delivery. Tokyo Days plays like another filler track and seemed purposeless and I don’t really care for Anata ga Iru Kagiri. WISH I agree is a lot better than her debut album, but like I said before I’d still listen to HEART before I listened to this. Hopefully her next studio album is a lot better, otherwise I’m going to start thinking of Yuna in the same way I think of Kuraki Mai: a bore.

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