Kumi Koda

Out Works & Collaboration Best

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Getting a massive career under her belt quickly, Kumi Koda has performed plenty of collaborations both on her own albums and on those of other performers, a common occurrence among megastars in the J-pop world. Collecting them into a compilation is a logical step, but unfortunately, for fans of Koda, the compilation is an extremely mixed bag. After a nice, if unmemorable ballad between Koda and Korean songbird BoA, the album moves more directly into Koda's usual comfort zone -- higher-energy pop with more driving, synth-heavy beats. A collaboration with the Heartsdales in "Switch" is a little formulaic, but shows off Koda's vocals quite well. A pairing with reggae stars Megaryu makes for a loping bit of electronica that manages to use the best elements from both parties. Though there's a painful cover of Disney's "It's a Small World" in conjunction with the Heartsdales, the album largely continues on its course for a bit -- a thumping piece from the Jhett project gives Koda a bit of room to stretch out her vocals, and after a few uninspiring collaborations with KM-Markitt and D.I., there's a touch of Bollywood in a collaboration with otherwise standard rapper Mr. Blistah. Koda gets a chance to get back to her slightly lower-register vocals here, a stronger area for her sultry sound that she performs well. After a few more uninspired collaborations, some of the bigger guns are called in to close out the album. Always-pleasing boy band Exile carry the show by themselves with "Won't Be Long" and m-flo uses an extra lump of distortion as a backdrop for Koda's vocals, which finally get a chance to shine at a higher register. Tohoshinki join Koda for a nice dance track, and Fergie wanders in to dominate the final track. As a whole, the album fails to deliver on Koda as the star. Other acts come and go, carrying the show for the most part, while Koda flails in the background. Fans should look to non-collaboration tracks instead, where Koda gets the room and production attention to shine at her fullest.