Koda Kumi - Secret

review - 01.06.2008 22:00

With her fourth album, Koda Kumi sings her way to become one of Japan's top artists.

February 2005 saw the release of Koda Kumi's fourth album, Secret. This album was her breakthrough, finally managing #3 on the Oricon Charts. Together with the succesful singles Cutie Honey and Kiseki, Secret shines with a good number of sexy, groovy songs and a nice collection of soothing ballads as well.

Secret starts off with Intro ~Get down~. It's a slow hip-hop interlude, like from any number of other albums and thus pretty generic. But, it is sexy and sets the mood. Cutie Honey comes next. It was the theme song for the live action series by the same name and originally by Yoko Maekawa, but in her version, Koda Kumi manages to make it one of the catchiest songs on the album. In contrast to this bright song, Hot Stuff is rather dark. It's a hip-hop collaboration with KM-MARKIT. One could say that it's an average western hip hop song with provocative lyrics, but the mix of Koda Kumi's vocals and KM-MARKTI's rapping works well together.

Koda Kumi surprises us with the next song, which is suddenly rock. After a slow and mysterious intro, heavy guitars resound and Selfish captures your attention. Between the chorus and verses the song slows down a bit, but then steamrolls right back on. It's a powerful track, definitely one of the more memorable ones on Secret. With Hands, Koda Kumi proves she can do ballads as well. Accompanied by chimes, piano and soft strings, she shows her true talent as singer. Her rather deep voice melts together with the melody perfectly, creating one of her best ballads.

Hearty, the follow up, is a light, upbeat pop number. It's the kind of
pop song that conjures a smile to your lips while making you feel good. It has an innocent feeling, but it's not one of the stronger tracks. Then we go back to the hip hop tunes. Shake it is the kind of song right out of a dance club. The unchanging melody gets interrupted in the last third by a short rap insertion before it goes back to the previous beat. It's a good song on the first listen and when you're in the mood for it, but otherwise it might be boring.

Kiseki calms the atmosphere down again. As a successfully released single, there is no need to say that it's one of the better songs on Secret. It's safe to say that when given the right ballads, Koda Kumi shines more. As you probably already noticed, the ballads, pop and hip hop songs take turns, so after an intense ballad it's time for a hip hop song again. Trust You is lighter than the two previous ones. At first it sounds a bit messy, but on second try the melody of this track will become clear and demand that you dance to it.

Chase starts off with a distinctive trumpet and turns out to be an addicting pop song. Next is LOVE HOLIC, a pop-rock track with a summery feeling. Upbeat and light and easy to listen to, it's one of the better songs on this album. Following is another ballad, 24, and Koda Kumi shows off her English. It's a sweet R'n'B style song, but the mumbled English negates any good feelings the song has.

Let's Party takes its title seriously. It's a fairly upbeat dance track with a bit of a hip hop from the 90s. In contrast, Believe is an acoustic ballad. Accompanied by just a guitar and a piano, it's a touching song and Koda Kumi puts all her emotions into it. Her voice sounds like it's breaking at parts, adding more charisma to Believe and giving it a special tragic feeling. Through The Sky is the second to last song and a lighter ballad. It's more hopeful than the previous track, and so leads the album in a happier direction for the end.

As a bonus on the first press, It's a small World was included as the final track. It's a cover of the well known Disney song, sounding a bit Jamaican and bringing a good mood. Koda Kumi doesn't sing it alone; she's accompanied by the female rap duo Heartsdales, whom make this song interesting to listen to with their rapping. Though not a song one would listen every day, it's an interesting experience.

With its ups and downs, Secret is varied and always fun to listen to. It has songs for every occasion, and so it's no wonder that Koda Kumi's career changed for the better after the release!
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