Ayumi Hamasaki to release her seventh Best album A Ballads 2

Ayumi Hamasaki to release her 7th Best album A Ballads 2 | Random J Pop

Ayumi Hamasaki has slowed her ass RIGHT the way down when it's come to music releases over the past 5 years. She said 'Y'all ain't sending all my shit to number 1 any more and keep clowning my new material, so I'mma just keep holding tours and playing the hits'. Some are upset about the slow down in music releases. Some are thankful. Regardless, Ayu seems to be in no rush to release new material or another studio album, but knows she needs to put out SOMETHING. So she's putting out a Best release of ballads.

Ayumi Hamasaki to release her 7th Best album A Ballads 2 | Random J Pop

A Ballads 2 is a follow up to the first A Ballads, which was released back in 2003. A Ballads came only 4 years after Ayu had debuted, but we know how Avex roll and how back then Ayu was putting out albums like there was no tomorrow.

A Ballads 2 will feature a total of 31 songs. 30 of these songs span Ayumi Hamasaki's career from 2004's "Moments" right up to 2020's "Ohia no ki" and an additional song "Haru yo, Koi", which is a cover of Yumi Matsutoya's 1994 Oricon number 1 hit.

  1. Moments
  2. Jewel
  3. Momentum
  4. Together When...
  5. No Way To Say
  6. Carols
  7. Heaven
  8. Days
  9. Fated
  10. Moon
  11. Forgiveness
  12. You Were...
  13. Beloved
  14. Ballad
  15. Hope Or Pain
  16. Curtain Call
  17. Sakura
  18. Rainy Day
  19. Today
  20. Life
  21. Secret
  22. Untitled ~For Her~
  23. Virgin Road
  24. Walking Proud
  25. How Beautiful You Are
  26. Zutto...
  27. æternal
  28. Memorial Address
  29. Love Song
  30. Ohia no Ki | オヒアの木
  31. Haru yo, Koi | 春よ, 来い

"Haru yo, Koi" also has itself a music video. At time of posting, only a teaser has been released to YouTube. And because this is Japan, the future of digital outreach, they've disabled the ability for anybody to embed the video.

Ayumi Hamasaki to release her 7th Best album A Ballads 2 | Random J Pop

The look of the video is very traditional. But Kumi Koda's will absolutely LINE message her team to ask if Ayu's dancers broke into her storage locker with the Japonesque tour outfits regardless. And because Ayu doesn't get the music video budgets that she used to, there will probably only be one set and one look.

Ayumi Hamasaki's voice has changed. Her tone and her technique sound DIFFERENT. Although this is only 30 seconds of the song. We could absolutely still get the signature Ayu warbles, with the vibrato sounding like somebody is doing E. Honda hand slaps on her throat. But this clip is a step in the right direction at the very least. Ayu actually sounds good.

Ayumi Hamasaki had actually performed "Haru yo, Koi" before, making its inclusion on A Ballads 2 the first time she has released a studio recording of it. This also marks the second time Ayu has covered a Yumi Matsutoya song; the first being "Sotsugyou Shashin" which also featured on the first A Ballads.

I do wonder what the reception to A Ballads 2 is going to be amongst Ayu fans, especially during an age of streaming where it's so easy to just pull particular types of songs together. I imagine fans have put together playlists of Ayumi Hamasaki's ballads on streaming services already. I mean, shit. I did so for Hikaru Utada, Namie Amuro and Crystal Kay.

From what I can tell, none of the versions of the songs on A Ballad 2 are new or flips of existing songs, as was the case with the original A Ballads or Namie Amuro's Ballada. A Ballad will of course top the Oricon charts regardless, because Japan loves a Best release. But I can imagine some fans feeling that this isn't worth buying for one new song, especially if they already own all of Ayumi Hamasaki's albums and a bunch of her tour DVD's.

A Ballads 2 releases physically and on all digital / streaming platforms on April 8, 2021.

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