EP review: Beni Daniels - Made In Love

EP review: Beni - Made In Love | Random J Pop

In 2020 Beni announced that she was going to release an English language EP under the name Beni Daniels. This came with new social media accounts and new artist listings on streaming services, none of which made any fucking sense. I do not understand why you wouldn't build on the following and equity of your existing presence by creating a new one. But what the hell do I know!?

So we have Beni Daniels.

EP review: Beni - Made In Love | Random J Pop

I'll say it from the jump; Made In Love is a good lil' side project. It features a sound and an energy from Beni which was sorely missing from her Japanese material from 2013 - 2018. She slowly started to find her way back with her 2018 LP Cinematic, but she really stuck the landing with Made In Love.

As you listen to the EP and start to take in the lyrics, you begin to get an idea as to why Beni may have felt the need to section this EP off from her Japanese releases, because every song on this thing is about fucking. The EP is even released on a label called Bedrock Music. And when that’s not really been your brand from the beginning as it was with say, Kumi Koda, then you have decisions to make as to how you want a fuck album to sit in your discography. Japan’s attitudes to sex and how it’s okay for women to be sexual in positions of submission for the male gaze, but not in positions of dominance and assertiveness is a WHOLE other topic that I’m not touching here. But Beni’s decision in terms of how she positioned this EP is more than just ‘Oh, it’s English, it should be separate’. Because as aforementioned, it’s so bizarre to release an album without the equity you’ve built for 15 years, and disallowing those new to your English language release to see the body of your work.

Beni’s been on a pretty rocky road when it comes to her music. After a string of consistent and good albums which continually got better, Beni then started to further diversify her sound, in addition to being a cover artist for a few years; all of which led to Beni losing her way musically. Beni didn’t have any real sense of who she was musically separately from Daisuke Imai, who over the course of Bitter & Sweet, Lovebox and Jewel simultaneously gave himself a signature sound which became immediately identifiable as Beni’s sound. The problem was, that as soon as he started working with other artists, they were given the same sound, for better or for worse. But the more Beni tried to pull away from D.I, the more she got lost in sounds that didn’t do her justice. But Made In Love is Beni finally finding her footing again, something which started with Cinematic, an album of which you can hear traces of on this EP.

EP review: Beni - Made In Love | Random J Pop

Beni’s music has always been R&B, but it started to shift into pop around Fortune and then went off the rails there-after. But Made In Love is pretty much an R&B EP through and through. Only for the song “Your Love + My Love” does the sound deviate into something that feels more indicative of a Japanese release. It’s no bad thing. It’s actually nice getting a taste of JP Beni - which is what makes it more of a shame that those who come across this EP on streaming will click her name and not see any of her other albums. Although as I type this none of the good Beni albums are available globally anyway, something she had no idea about when I asked her about it on an Insta live.


EP review: Beni - Made In Love | Random J Pop

Production on Beni’s albums started getting ropey from Red onwards when Daisuke Imai was completely kicked to the curb. Daisuke Imai may have come off as a bit of a one trick pony, but his productions were always tight. You really felt the strings come undone on Beni’s albums when Daisuke Imai was removed from the picture. But here on Made In Love, the production is really solid, on both the music and Beni’s vocals.

Beni’s voice has always had an element of inconsistency to it. She generally sounds good, but you don’t ever get a sense that she has as much control over her voice as more accomplished singers such as Crystal Kay and Miho Fukuhara. But she sounds good for the most part, and sounds even better live. But from Red onwards, Beni started to sound different and lacked the polish she’d been Turtle Waxing for 4 years prior. But it wasn’t that her voice was getting worse, it was her delivery. As Beni started to lose sight of her sound and an inability to settle on something that worked for her, it affected how she sounded on songs. There was less care. Vocal production went clean out of the window. I didn’t expect much from Made In Love, which is why I was so damn surprised at how good Beni sounded. Maybe it’s the baby. Maybe it’s being able to sing in English. Maybe it’s the lack of expectation. But it radiates in her voice on this album. Beni is singing like she actually gives a damn again, and it’s such a relief after a string of albums where Beni was just phoning in every song.

Another notable thing about Beni’s vocals is that she doesn’t lose anything in the flip to English. Some bilingual singers who are primarily known for singing in another language, tend to have a whole different singing style when they sing in English, which is to be expected - because it’s the same with talking. Certain nuances and facets of vocals change. But Beni sounds the same in English as she does in Japanese. And something pretty cool that she does on “Rm 302” is sneak in some Japanese, which is not only slick, but feels more seamless and less like a really bad ‘YES I’M JAPANESE’ tag, which led to faux pas like Hikaru’s ‘You’re easy breezy and I’m Japanesey’ and Crystal Kay rapping about tempura, takoyaki and ramen on a song about ruling a man’s whole world with her pussy. Nothing about how Beni sings is lost when she sings in English. So that initial ‘What is this?’ that some of y’all may have felt alongside me when you heard Hikaru Utada singing on Exodus for the first time, sounding like she can barely sing; there’s none of that here.

EP review: Beni - Made In Love | Random J Pop

There is only one song on this EP that’s bad, and that’s Beni’s cover of Janet Jackson’s classic “That’s the Way Love Goes”. I don’t know what Beni thought she was doing, but what she did wasn’t great. Trying to break into the US market with a bad cover of a classic song is a bold choice, because it sets Made In Love to be remembered for that and THAT only; which would be a shame given how good the EP is as a whole. Beni shoulda left this off. If I were her, I’d quietly remove it from streaming services. She needs to give up whatever title she’s given herself as the covers bitch. Yes, her first cover album was a smash hit that denied Ayumi Hamasaki the number 1 spot on the Oricon and outsold her. But it wasn’t that special of an album, and that covers train has completely derailed since then.

Made In Love is a nice album. Fans who started to fall out of love with Beni’s music around Red when things started to turn will really dig this EP, as Made In Love feels more like a solid continuation of what she delivered on Cinematic. And for those who are new to Beni altogether and don’t have access to the best of her Japanese releases, start here.


■ Made In Love
■ Do It
■ Unison
■ UI 🔥
■ Rm 302 🏆