Call it The Ayumi Hamasaki Effect: ever since Hamasaki has skyrocketed to fame, there have been dozens of acts attempting to repeat the formula, sometimes with variation, sometimes barely concealed, all in an attempt to hit the same idol jackpot. In the case of Rina Aiuchi, even when you model your first two albums off said artist’s first two in an attempt to experience the same popularity (although the first album is less a copy than another one of the proverbial uncomfortably close head shots that littered the streets of 1999 like Parliament cigarette butts outside a Spoon concert), you still end up plunging so far down the popularity chain, you forgo your rock phase for adult-contemporary lite and the next average to middling anime theme. And while Koda Kumi has managed to pull herself up by her own dominatrix bootstraps instead of wide-eyed staring in T-shirts and jeans, she’s still not different enough to pass up a chance to have her diva-rock phase, all seemingly culled from the back catalog of Japan’s own Empress of Pop.
From 2001’s “NEVER EVER” to 2007’s “talkin 2 myself,” Hamasaki has gone through all the permutations: mud-caked soul-searching, bouncy pop rock, faux-hawk, leather, and studs, mostly with anger. Lots of anger. Except when it’s sad. Then it’s not just sad, it’s slit-your wrists depressed. Koda Kumi’s new single “Can We Go Back” may not have the lyrical weight of a Hamasaki creation, but it certainly knows where to go for the appropriate pissed-off imagery (besides, of course, that very strange flag-raising thing, brought to you by Coldplay).
From “Because of you.”
From “talkin’ 2 myself.”