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This year marks the 17th anniversary in showbiz for the reigning queen of Japanese pop music, Ayumi Hamasaki! It is a little hard to imagine that many of her fans have grown up listening to her songs - when 'A Song for XX' came out, I was only a high school student (leave that calculator alone please). The album cover was nothing short of mesmerising. In fact, it was all thanks to that I swiftly became acquainted with Ayu's music. Of course, a lot have been said about her career and such. I would say that it is definitely more than just remarkable to have come this far in this industry where idols, heavyweights and everybody else fight like no tomorrow in an intense battlefield mode. This month, the queen has just released her latest album to the eager anticipation of her fans. Naturally, I'm just as excited! In commemoration of her 17th anniversary in showbiz, Ayu has released 'A ONE'.

Information on Ayu's latest album has been widely circulated through social media and such. One particular piece that I was instantaneously drawn to was the heavenly collaboration between Ayu and homegrown singer-songwriter JJ Lin. Both artistes became acquainted through a mutual friend, and JJ Lin couldn't pass up the opportunity to write a song for Ayu. Prior to that, Ayu had made a guest appearance at JJ Lin's concert in Taipei. Both did a special rendition of Ayu's hit song 'Seasons'. In the midst of the fans' loud cheers and applause, Ayu later announced that the title of the song is 'The GIFT'. JJ Lin had also flown over to shoot the music video with Ayu. It is an elaborate piece which brings out the exceptional chemistry between JJ Lin and Ayu. Oh, in the music video they were married! Cute and compatible I would say!

Another surprise in this album is Ayu's rendition of a Utada Hikaru number - Movin' On Without You. Ayu's version has a saccharine punch due to her vocal range, and is more on the groovy end than the original rhythm and blues which is a little slower. Of course, as an Ayu fan I'm definitely more inclined to vote for her efforts. Honestly, I have been putting that song on repeat mode for at least a few hundred times! Anyway, the song has quite a lot of overlapping and back-up vocals which make it not very karaoke friendly. It would be rather fun to sing it nonetheless. "Nothing's gonna stop me. Only you can stop me..." ♪

The second track is an uplifting rock number titled 'WARNING', which sets the mood right after the preceding instrumental-only 'a Bell'. The music video features Ayu's dancers in sexy, revealing outfits but I have to say that those clothing don't necessarily complement everyone. Interested readers may wish to google for that music video and come up with their own verdicts. The themes are pretty daring and suggestive but still safe enough to waltz past the scissors. Hmm, I find it to be more cringeworthy than anything else. Anyway, the song awakens even the deepest slumber with its explosive energy. It is also one of Ayu's better fast numbers.

There are three different album covers for 'A ONE' - CD-only, CD + Blu-ray, CD + DVD. It is quite a sick yet effective way to market merchandise. I'm not sure if Ayu's counterparts have also done something similar, but for many years Ayu has continued to produce aurally and visually pleasing works in extremely fine detail. The breadth is undoubtedly vast! Thanks for all your hard work, Ayu! Happy 17th Anniversary!

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

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