If you were into Japanese pop music in the mid-2000s, say in 2005/2006, then you likely knew of a little music project that propelled a relatively popular J-pop artist to further recognition.
Koda Kumi’s “12 Singles of Christmas” began in the chilly month of December up until the end of February, and it was quite a time to be into J-pop. It was a very interesting project, incorporating a variety of musical styles for each week with each single’s cover art incorporating the many garments of many countries. For the first of these singles, Koda Kumi takes on the ‘wintry ballad’ and wears garments that represents the upper north of Alaska. With these themes, is this first single a breath of warm air on a cold winter day or is it an ice-cold break-up?
Fueled by sad pianos, strings, and wintry sparkles, and with a guitar-tinged instrumental break, “you” is a wintry love ballad fitting for its release date. While Kuu, as her fans lovingly call her, normally releases fun urban-tinged bops, “you” deviates into a more sad pop song territory. It is fitting for her vocals, as her vocals take hold throughout its piano melody, and it fluctuates from upper to lower tones to tell us the story of a heartbroken tale. I will admit, I’m not entirely fond of the song, as it is not one I intend to seek out often, but it does give me emotions when I hear it, and I find myself singing along to its somber melody. “you” might not be the one, but it does give me chills. ⬛
Interestingly, only a few of the singles in the project have B-sides, and these happen to be the ones that were not sold as limited editions. ‘you’ is one of these singles, which comes with a song that is contrast in sound: “Sweet Kiss“. A disco-like dance-pop tune filled with sax, violin, and a funky disjointed groove beat, “Sweet Kiss” is a fun jam that will have you bobbing your head to its melody. It continues its infectious groove, with slight little breaks here and there for Kuu to sing to us with such sultriness. It’s not quite as catching as a lot of songs that are similar in her catalog of music, but it is an enjoyable bop that relieves you of the sadness of its predecessor. A sweet kiss, indeed. ⬛
‘you’ is an enjoyable single. Considering this is the first of the many singles in the project, (if I hadn’t already listened to the rest) I would already be awaiting what comes next upon my first listens from the two tracks. “Sweet Kiss” is just a notch better than “you” despite their differences in styles, but they both do not have quite the pizazz and catch that Kuu’s other songs have. Despite this, I will admit, each song brings their own unique charms to make them good for future listens.
This single also has the distinct trait of being the first #1 single of Kuu’s career and was the highest selling out of the 12 singles, so props to Kumi for bringing this project on (it certainly was one of the most unique things of its time). It’s not my favorite single, but I have a lot of respect for it. 2005 was the start of the Koda Kumi winter storm, and boy, it was a fun storm. Thank ‘you’ for kicking things off, for sure.
MUST-LISTEN: Sweet Kiss