Album review: Kumi Koda - Black cherry

Album review: Kumi Koda - Black cherry | Random J Pop

Kumi Koda is an artist who is difficult to take seriously, because her image has always come before her music. She is probably the one popular J-Pop act who really plays up her sexuality and relishes in looking like a ho in 70% of her music videos. But selling sex in a music video can only get you so far. And if the music is no good, you'll be done and dusted faster than you can whip out a titty at a Superbowl. But Kumi can't be doing too bad, as Black cherry is her fifth studio album. But shit can sell just as good as sex, and Kumi has released some absolute doo-doo in her time and shows no sign of stopping; because Black cherry is just as shit as all her other shit.

As with the Kumi Koda albums that have come before, Black cherry's sound is far too inconsistent. The album swings from a Lil' Jon style club banger, to a thrashing rock number, to a slow Japanesey ballad, then to an R&B slow jam - all within the first 4 tracks. It's a complete joke. This also leads me onto the track listing, which is just as all over the place as the sound. The songs being ordered in the worst possible way highlights how inconsistent Black cherry's sound is and kills any sense of flow the album could have had. Thanks to the wonders of song ripping and playlists you can obviously order the songs as you see fit. But it would've been nice if the executive producers of the album or Kumi herself actually thought about the track running order. Doing so would've helped mask the shortcomings of some of the songs.

Black cherry plays up to every single genre and popular J-Pop style imaginable and as a result causes the album to sound like a incoherent mess. The mid-tempo numbers are the best songs on the album, because they showcase Kumi's vocals and feature the catchiest and most memorable melodies.

Slow Japanesey ballad "Yume to uta" is a great sounding winter ballad with a catchy chorus and a solid vocal. "Tsuki to taiyou" is a hot R&B slow jam with its sensual basslines and vocoded intro. "Cherry girl" is a stomper of a song with its heavy guitar licks, stomping drums and infectious sing-a-long verses. "Milk tea" is a swoony old skool mid tempo jam which has Kumi singing in a higher register than we usually hear from her, giving the song a really sweet sound.

But for the 4 songs that shine, you have 14 other songs which are all crap. "Get up and move", "Won't be long" and "Juicy" all play up the uninspired urban club ditties that were popular about 5 years ago and "Koi no tsubomi", "With your smile" and "Go way" all pander to the poppy J-Pop numbers you'd expect from a girl group of 13 year old school girls signed to Avex Trax in the early 90s.

Album review: Kumi Koda - Black cherry | Random J Pop

Kumi Koda's problem has always been that she has absolutely no musical direction. As a result she'll continuously fall behind J-Pop ladies in the game who have already found their niche and are continuing to evolve and hone it. It's almost embarrassing that she doesn't seem to be able to just stick to a sound that works for her, rather than do lots of sounds and do the majority of them badly. Kumi seems to know how to project herself in music videos and photo shoots to make herself marketable, but she doesn't have that same kind of discipline when it comes to her music, which is a shame, because she has the talent.

Black cherry shows absolutely no evolution in Kumi Koda's sound. She's released an album every single year since she debuted in 2002 and her fifth album sounds no better or different than her first. I would compare her to being Japan's equivalent of Rihanna, but even Rihanna was able to put out a third album which had a cohesive sound and was a step up from her previous efforts. This is not an album worth buying by any means, not even for the good songs which are actually really, really good. If you want a decent Kumi Koda album, go for one of her BEST sessions instead. You'll get more bang for your buck.

RATING: 3 / 10

Album highlights:
■ Yume to uta
■ Tsuki to taiyou ★ J's fave
■ Cherry girl
■ Milk tea


  1. Well the shit sold over a million in 2006... I used to throw shade to this ho, but now i love her. Black Cherry/Trick were the first two albums i got from her and i like Black Cherry the better... Is not a bad album, is just that the sound is a mess because of the track order... it's all over the place, there's no flow into it... but overall is just a nice album, and "Get up and move" makes me wanna do that exactly... get up and move mah baaadey


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