Kumi Koda

Koda Kumi Driving Hit's

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Released in conjunction with a compilation of collaboration tracks, Koda Kumi Driving Hits is seeming J-Pop uberstar Kumi Koda's answer to Ayumi Hamasaki's string of hit remix albums. Indeed, in contrast to the more staid collaborative compilation, Driving Hits puts Koda exactly in the territory she belongs: thick, electronica-driven dance tracks that showcase Koda's delivery above other factors. The sound tends to veer toward the mid-'90s, with a strong R&B result after the various DJs get their hands on Koda's vocal tracks and the occasional synth orchestral hit. When the DJs complement her voice just right, Koda can sound like any number of other singers -- "Real Emotion" and "Take Back" come out as something very similar to Ayumi Hamasaki's works, and the slightly jazzy touches in "Sora" brings out the traditionalist in Koda at the same time as it draws close to an m-flo sort of sound. There's nothing hugely surprising on the album, but it's a very nice showcase for Koda as designated by a series of DJs. Individual albums will provide a better sense of what Koda can do with her usual production staff, but the remix album concept is a strong one.