Single review: “Hanayui no Uta” by Maon Kurosaki & Ray

Maon Kurosaki is a female Japanese singer-songwriter from Tokyo signed to Geneon Universal Entertainment. Ray is a female Japanese singer from Hokkaido, also signed to Geneon Universal Entertainment. Hanayui no Uta is their second special collaboration single.

Release date: 31st of July, 2013

Track list:
1. Sen no Homura
2. Hikari
3. Hajimari no
4. Sen no Homura (Instrumental)
5. Hikari (Instrumental)
6. Hajimari no (Instrumental)

Moira: Regular
Austin: Georgia

1. Sen no Homura
Such a traditional and old sounding start. After a few moments enjoying this aged tune, Maon’s vocals soon come in to the fold. ‘Sen no Homura’ is the opening theme for the PSP game ‘Juu Oni no Kizuna Hanamusubi Tsudzuri’, and with this being closely related to Maon’s ‘Juu Oni no Kizuna’ from the same game franchise, we can’t help but compare the two. Anyway, ‘Sen no Homura’ is the type of song that I like, it’s upbeat, and rock…. Plus it’s Maon. For some reason, I feel like this song is more similar to ‘Distrigger’, with both arrangements using a ‘softer’ electric guitar sound, as well as a more tame drum beat compared to ‘Juu Oni no Kizuna’, which puts the emphasis on the power of the drums and utilises dramatic-sounding strings. I was actually hoping for something like that instead, actually. The use of the instruments in this song, really goes well with her vocals and the way she sings, to me, it really brings out this songs potential. I am, however, concerned with her really high notes in the chorus, which she seems to be struggling with, even if only a bit. Regardless, with its ethnic undertones and rock stylings, ‘Sen no Homura’ is a great addition to Maon’s discography, and we even have the opportunity to hear her using a very high vocal register for a few moments throughout the song.

2. Hikari
Wow, this song makes me sleepy, not in the bad way though. It’s really peaceful and just keeps my mind at ease, I just feel so calm listening throughout the entire song. The arrangements isn’t full on mind-blowing, it’s simple and clear, allowing it to be really soothing for the listeners. ‘Hikari’ begins with a relaxing piano melody, and with a slight pause, it’s as if we are being prepared for the emotional quality of the song, and then we start to hear Ray’s soft vocals, pleasantly blending in with the simple instrumentation. This is a pretty powerful yet subtle song, it’s pleasant and calm but it still has a huge effect on me. So much aspects of the song contributes even though it sounds like there isn’t much to listen to. I seem to hear a bit of vibrato, and I think that adds a noteworthy nostalgic touch to the song. The background vocals during the chorus nicely support Ray’s main vocals, producing a tender, emotive effect. Like I said before, this is a pretty powerful song but it’s still, but still calm and subtle, which I like very much. Somehow, this song can make me both smile and tear up, because it is very soft and sentimental, but also has this moving, heartwarming characteristic!

3. Hajimari no
Yet another tranquil song to play on the mind… Although, this one seems to have a much more serious side to it in my opinion. Ray’s vocals continue to play in calm, yet she connects to a side of the song which makes us see a different perspective of the song, it’s somehow mysterious and deep. I agree; ‘Hajimari no’ conveys a solemn yet intense mood, which I find really interesting. The instruments play a more significant part here than in ‘Hikari’, as the strings are presented in a tense, stirring fashion in some parts of the song, and are played over airy background vocals, as well as a steady beat and twinkling piano. It plays on emotions, and it’s a complex song overall, so while the style is odd, I do enjoy the song. I enjoy it to some extent too; it brings me back to when I first heard PHANTASM’s ‘Euphoria ~Tsugunai no Requiem~’, and I get similar vibes between the two songs. Not that they are similar in structure, but they are, personally, similar in atmosphere, though Ray’s vocals are more expressive. Although this isn’t a genre I’m used to, and it’s new in a way, I find that I’m quite fond of this song, even though I’m still leaning towards the other ballad, ‘Hikari’.

It’s a pretty good single in my opinion, and my ranking of the songs, are as follows: ‘Hikari’, closely followed by ‘Sen no Homura’, and lastly, ‘Hajimari no’. I have to agree with you on that, because as much as I love Maon, I think Hikari had a profound impact on me.

Rating: 3.5/5

TL;DR: Check out this single for an upbeat, rock-based song that would sound familiar for Maon fans; a soft, moving ballad, as well as solemn, mysterious-sounding ballad, all guaranteed to draw in and interest listeners in some way.

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