Finally got my digital hands on a copy of YUI’s tribute album “She Loves You” which was released a few weeks back.
I’ve heard mixed reactions from other (far more committed) YUI fans, but I decided to try and approach it with an open mind. Being a moderately good YUI fan from her days of “From Me to You”, I have appreciated YUI’s unique blend of guitar riffs, soft voice, and socially awkward TV apperances for the last five years of my life. I hoped that, if anything, this album would truly pay homage to one of my all-time favorite Japanese artists.
The review process is amateur at best because I do not know music terminology as well as I should, nor do I really have a musical background. For that reason I cannot necessarily judge the musical quality of each song, but I’ll comment the best I can on the rhythm and overall atmosphere of them.
Furthermore, despite my lack of true musical knowledge, the songs chosen to be covered on the album are among YUI’s most popular and therefore I’ve listened to them a fair share (even sang some of them in karaoke). For that reason, after my short little snippet of thoughts regarding the song, I’ll compare it with YUI’s original version. Somehow there’s the feeling that YUI’s originals will win the battle (I’m actually naturally biased against covers). If I feel the cover version “took its own approach” to YUI’s song, I’ll deny the comparison.
Anyway, starting with #1:
How Crazy – Covered by SCANDAL
SCANDAL can’t sing, but this rock-heavy version is iintriguing. It’s like they attached YUI’s version of the song to a amp that…amplifies the rock content of the song. Then further attached it to a mic that distorted YUI’s voice to something like a low-key Ayumi Hamasaki. I’m sort of sold on the heavy bass pedal keeping the beat in the back, but besides that, okay, SCANDAL can’t sing.
YUI vs. SCANDAL = In the battle of the stylized caps, YUI wins it for me. I don’t know how much justification is required for me to defend my stance, but the song gets lost in the SCANDAL guitars and is never truly redeemed fully.
Tomorrow’s Way – Negoto
I had to make sure there was no pop-up windows on my computer playing a second song. Negoto is a unique band in the sense the use a lot more effects and strange…things in their songs (disregard sharp # because it did lack these weird things and was normally tuned). There is so much noise in the entire song that is distracting. Of course, it makes for an interesting song, but it sounds like tofubeats remixed this song, and in all honesty sometimes tofubeats just throws shit in that makes no sense. Overall, I like Negoto’s short haired singer’s voice a lot more than Mami’s , but it just has way too much things going on it. It’s almost like they combined YUI’s original song with house. I can’t even describe it.
YUI vs. Negoto = YUI. I don’t even know how else to put it. YUI’s songs are fairly straightforward, but do not sound exactly the same the entire time.
Good-bye Days – miwa
Remember all that talk that miwa was the “new YUI”. Well there is an obvious reason why no one says that anymore, the same for JASMINE and why she’s not the new Utada. Very faithful to the original because miwa and YUI are essentially the same in terms of genre and instrument choice (I don’t think miwa can play electric though). Rhythm is relaxing, which is a plus in my book, since Good-bye Days is as slow of a YUI song as you can get besides maybe You or Tokyo. I’m not a big fan of miwa’s voice, it doesn’t even sound like she’s singing, or she sounds like that half-Inuit girl from the Alaska Flyers show on the Discovery Channel.
YUI vs. miwa = This honestly is the best cover so far, but does nothing to challenge YUI. miwa’s voice is just…idk distracting rather than pretty. That took off mean points. I can imagine Ayaka Hirahara making this song super awesome though.
LIFE – Goose House
Yes, I am a fairly big fan of Goose House because I tend to like groups that can harmonize well and can play instruments OTHER than guitars (they play bells and two different types of drums in this song along with tambourine . Regardless, I’m not so cut on this song as I thought I was before. It has a unique blend of sounds that I like, and their voices are right on mark (probably the only voices so far that I approve of) and they stuck to the original formula well while also bringing their own brand of music to it. Since Goose House is light years behind the previous three artists in popularity, there is a cheap feeling to this song. Otherwise, very good cover.
YUI vs. Goose House = Honestly, YUI’s version is one of my favorite songs in general, so the bias will carry it over a nice rookie effort.
Rolling Star – Shoko Nakagawa
Shoko Nakagawa is a cutie that generally is reserved to anime music only, and for obvious reason: she hast that droning anime singer voice that is horribly not fitting YUI’s simplistic, natural voice. The beginning is likely one of the worst opening to any song I’ve heard in a long time. They also super destroyed the short guitar solo. YUI’s original song is quite jarring to say the least, but it was done with at least some form of organization. I’m not sure if all Shoko songs are like this, but since Rolling Star was always used as an anime theme I don’t see the necessity of making it MORE into an anime theme. And if that was the working theme, the anime must be the Japanese equivalent of Metalocalypse, because the sheer mayhem in this rendition is ridiculous.
YUI vs. Shoko = I think if YUI sang Shoko’s songs, it would be better than Shoko’s version.
Namidairo – Ayaka Ide (井手綾香)
I actually didn’t know who Ayaka Ide was before this song, for those of you unfamilar with her she’s a relatively new artist who debuted this year. She sounds like Mika Nakashima from her Sakurairo Mau Koro days with those haunting, deep chords. Overall, this is a great song with a great balance carried by a piano that suits Ide’s voice. It’s almost like if you made YUI’s voice two keys lower and supplanted the unnecessary orchestra from the original song with a somewhat haunting piano. Namidairo is a sad song about self-reflection and self-rejection, which is emulated well for the most part by this cover. I don’t like the random piano that either goes up in a side-scrolling video game tune that is stupid. They need to decide what fucking emotion they are trying to convey. Ide makes this song hers, and so far, has been the only one to pass onto my iPod for future listening.
YUI vs. Ayaka Ide = I’m gonna give this one to Ide. For various reasons, but the piano carries this song slightly better than the original guitar/violin combination. Sometimes, simple is better for such a somber song.
My Generation – Kylee
Wow, could have sworn this song is being sung by SCANDAL’s Mami with a head cold. The voice is so crappy I don’t even want to review the song itself because it basically sounds just like a heavier rock version of the original, but with worst vocals than if Moses Malone provided the voice for someone intelligent. Damn, there’s a significant reason why Kylee is only signed in Japan. She wouldn’t pass the first round of American Idol. When she seemingly blurted out “16!” “MY DREAM” I for a moment thought I was listening to the opening theme song of My Sweet 16. What a scary experience.
YUI vs. Kylee = Seriously the person in charge of this album with Sony was either deaf, dumb, or Kylee’s dad’s friend. No other explanation for how this tribute got on there. I don’t even think Kylee knows who YUI is. YUI by fifty landslides.
again – Stereopony
What may be one of the last studio recordings made by Stereopony before their subsequent split should have been better. The vocals are amazing; certainly at this point my ears are seeking these fresh vocals after shoveling through the first four songs or so. The rushed pace rhythm is a hit or miss with people I assume, and this is a semi-miss in my case. It’s not too bad, but the direction taken by nearly half the artists so far have been a hit or miss philosophy attached to them and this one seriously makes no sense. I understand the concept of turning a song your own, but I don’t think any of Stereopony’s songs enter this level of incomprehensible chatter. Only during the hyper-intense solo seems heavily Stereopony-esque and likely remains the only bright point in this song.
YUI vs. Stereopony = Under normal circumstances, they are evenly matched, but YUI seriously outclasses Stereopony at this point.
I remember you – Miku Sawai
Under under the radar singer rises above her uncommon status to win me over. Like Ayaka Ide before her, honestly Sawai had rather large shoes to fill as “I remember you” is another song I am familiar with and have listened to countless of times over the years. Maybe the staple of her success is not trying to do too much to the song. As I have an innate bias against covers, it have my own reservations on this song. Although Sawai has a nice voice, it has a few weak points that are glaringly accessible in this song. I lack much knowledge in Sawai, but I feel like she’s nothing better than a growing number of Shoko-emulating singers that ride on her success. If only more were like Reo. If only. Otherwise, nothing especially wrong with this cover. I like the background beat that incorporates a few background singers harmonizing extremely well. It’s a keeper.
YUI vs. Miku Sawai = I’ll declare this a tie because I can imagine many other ways this song could have been ruined, and Sawai did nothing of the sort. YUI’s version is good, but in all fairness she’s not the greatest singer ever either.
HELLO – Dancing Dolls
To my (limited) knowledge, Dancing Dolls are an extremely new group to the active J-Pop underage girl group scene. Honestly, I cannot decipher any difference between their relatively flat high voices and other teenage girl groups, so I’ll leave that out of the discussion by saying they are..flat. Luckily, this a song you can park your voice in high and keep on singing high from the beginning till end. Dancing Dolls use the same “happy, this is summer” theme like Miku Sawai did (which leads me to to believe they did just use the same theme) which gets old after a while. Complements the song well though, to a certain extent it is a great companion to the already jumpy theme MUCH better than I remember you. Dancing Dolls harmonize far better than AKB, but since most of us are legally unable to check them out, I think AKB wins the randomly declared battle right now.
YUI vs. Dancing Dolls vs. AKB48 (theoretically version) = As much as I’d like to say AKB48 because I can completely imagine them NOT butchering this song without Acchan as leading crap vocals anymore, I’m gonna give this one to YUI. Probably her only good song other than Lock On in the last two years.
GLORIA – Eiru Aoi
Have no idea who Eiru Aoi is (not sure if I should know) as she sounds just like another run of the mill Shoko with even WEAKER vocals. The song minus the voice is gold though, the electric guitar isn’t over done like the first five or so and isn’t really jarring. Didn’t know any artist could be worse at pronouncing “that feeling” than YUI though, must be a hard phrase to say rather than この気持ち. I hate the pauses she makes with the “oooo” it sounds overdone. At least she is able to to hit the higher notes, albeit at a less sustained vocal range. The song itself (instruments only) plus YUI would make for a better song than the original I think. YUI is not exactly the biggest rocker, but she did play guitar in the rain before.
YUI vs. Eiru Aoi = Kind of delved into this battle earlier, but Eiru need some time to fit into her own.
feel my soul – Joy
Never knew someone could sing as high as joy until now. Not necessarily the worst voice in the world, but very much not the best. It’s like moumoon in another key, except moumoon’s tone is far easier to listen to. Not even sure what to say about this. I can’t even find joy on the internet to really talk about her further, but probably the worst track on this entire tribute album. How can you have a guitar solo with a girl who is essentially whispering into the microphone.
YUI vs….this is not even worth doing. One of the quintessential YUI songs will always be given to YUI.
Edit: After looking up “joy” on google for 10 minutes, is she the lead singer of Judy & Mary? In that case, I understand the guitars but it’s just far too slow.
Anyway, thanks for making it through this long opinion piece.
Next article will be my own personal tribute to YUI: The Top 10 YUI songs (so far).