Misia

Eighth World

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For her eighth album (hence the title), R&B/J-pop songstress Misia took a stab at combining different sound elements into a fairly cohesive whole. While she had shown good success previously with dance tracks and basic pop affairs, she used Eighth World as a canvas on which to try out her ballad chops and R&B worthiness a bit more than previously. That said, the album opens with something of a dance track, with pounding beats underlying what could have been a straightforward R&B vocal track; it's a fair opening track thanks to some sheer grandiosity built into the repeating building elements. After a brief attempt at a more downtempo, warbling R&B track, she quickly returns to dance with "Royal Chocolate Flush." From there, however, there's a span of slower pieces, giving Misia plenty of space to try her hand at more standard-form ballads. Though the interest level may drop off a bit for this span, it's a fair shot on Misia's part -- while she may not have the vocal range or control to do more than the necessary steps for her ballads, she does meet the standard bar. These aren't necessarily anything amazing, but they're a surprising change of pace for a singer that tends toward the more uptempo end of the pop spectrum. There's even a brief attempt at a nice high-pitched Mariah Carey-style ad lib in "Hadashi no Kisetsu." Making good use of instrumental interludes as a vehicle to transition from low-energy to high-energy, Misia quickly returns to dance tracks with the repetitive but aptly titled Dance Dance. She skirts territory dangerously close to disco along the way, but ends on a fairly contemporary urban note, with slight hints of Brazilian urban music worked into the slicker arrangements. Her vocals never really get off the ground as a solo instrument, but they serve the arrangements as a whole quite well. She's branching out admirably, and though the results are often only on par with other pop singers, it's a big step for a dance queen.

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