Album review: Kumi Koda - Trick

Album review: Kumi Koda - Trick | Random J Pop

After a moment that got blown way out of proportion regarding a statement Kumi made live on a Japanese radio show, Kumi is back with a Trick. Kumi's trick on this occasion isn't her party speciality which involves a wine bottle, a piece of string and a tennis ball. It's the name of her 7th studio album.

Kumi Koda's albums are usually divided between throwaway urban joints that sound God awful, a few good mid-tempos, a really nice winter ballad and some happy go lucky bullshit that's enough to make your stomach ache and your ears bleed. Trick is no different. But the execution is a bit more bearable on this album that on Kumi's previous efforts.

Trick kicks off with your typical Kumi intro: one and a half minutes of badly produced harmonies and some garbage beat that sounds like a reject from a Fat Joe mixtape. I wish she'd stop with these intros as they're rarely, if ever, conceptual and are always rubbish. First full length album track "Taboo" is some euro pop trash which tries to work the whole "SexyBack" angle, with its stuttered synths and drum pattern. I hate the song. The chorus doesn't grab you and the whole song is too lax.  "Bling, bling, bling" is a complete joke. She took the most generic urban beat ever and just threw the words 'Cash', 'Bag', 'Money' and 'Bling' in-between lines of Japanese. Real original Kumi. [Slow claps] Real original. The song is trashier than she looks in 70% of her music videos. "That ain't cool" featuring Fergie is another generic urban cut. The song is listed as 'Kumi Koda featuring Fergie', but its more like 'Fergie featuring Kumi Koda'. The song ticks boxes of all the standard cliches: lyrics about a no good man and beat consisting of a triangle, some tabla and middle eastern strings. It's just a boring song in which Kumi insists on spouting Engrish. Nothing wrong with a Japanese girl try'na dabble in English, but her English is just bad. She should've just recited her verses in Japanese. I see Kumi didn't embark on those English lessons after the butchered the Final Fantasy X-2 theme songs in English. She sounds no better now than she did back then.

Album review: Kumi Koda - Trick | Random J Pop

In-between butchering potentially decent uptempo songs, Kumi manages to deliver on a couple of occasions. "Showgirl" steps things up slightly. The song has a nice chorus, but the verses just sound off, and once again Kumi insists on trying to come off like this hood chick; as if we didn't get enough of that mess on the album intro. It's a shame, because "Show girl" could've been a great song, but it feels too divided. Having the song swing badly between a (wannabe) club banger and then some happy-go-lucky pop song just doesn't work. The arrangements and the production isn't tight enough to carry it off. But the song is listenable and is made more likeable with the music video. Smack bang in the middle of the album comes "This is not a love song", which is hotness. The standout banger on this album by a mile, because the sound isn't so contrived. Those who like a slice of dark euro pop with a hot bounce will dig this track. It's absolute fire; sounding like a cut straight off of Britney's Blackout. "Driving" is another great song; sounding like a mash-up of some of Daft Punk's best hits and deep cuts. It's a shame this wasn't made a single. The production is spot on and Kumi sounds real nice. I'll refrain from saying Crystal Kay would've done the song better, even though I think she would have. But Kumi Koda deserves praise, because she sounds really nice on the song. Kumi's voice is quite pretty when she sings in higher keys. It's not often showcased on her up-tempos, so it's nice she worked her upper registers for at least one song. "Just the way you are" is an 80s tinged number which is really nice, and stands as one of the few occasions where Kumi does R&B and gets it right.

The mid-tempos and ballads on this album are all nice. As always Kumi likes to rip-off borrow sounds that are popular in US R&B, and therefore "Your love" adopts the "Irreplaceable" sound that has been saturating radio for the past 2 years. It's still a nice song though. "Stay with me" is the nice winter ballad you can always rely on Kumi to bring to the table. Not in the same league as "Hands" or the amazing "You"; but still nice. I prefer when Kumi does this song live as opposed to the studio recorded version though. So it's just as well the special edition of the album features a performance of it.

Kumi Koda is a decent live performer and has star quality and a hot image in spades. But her music is lacking. There's very little evolution in her music from album to album. She can't keep putting out albums that have about 3 incredibly solid stand out songs and then 10 songs of nothing but rubbish and mediocrity. If you liked Kumi's previous albums, then you'll like this. But those looking to jump on the Kumi bandwagon would be better off checking out her Best sessions. Kumi has the talent, but she keeps churning out the same old shit and I was tired of it 2 albums ago. She needs to step her music game up. Trick is better than her 2006 offering Black cherry, but only by a smidgen.

RATING: 4 / 10

Album highlights:
■ Your love
■ Driving ★ J's fave
■ Stay with me
■ This is not a love song
■ Just the way you are


  1. I love the songs, Trick Intro, show girl, this is not a love song, just the way you are and TABOO.

  2. Saying TABOO is bad is like saying you are professional, it just NOT TRUE!

    1. I've stated my opinion. That's yours. DEAL WITH IT.


Post a Comment

HTML tags for bold, italic and hyperlinks are allowed