2. TURN OVER
3. Baby Bang! feat. SPHERE
4. I think I’m in love
5. Ecstasy feat. YUKALI
6. Too Late
7. HOT LIKE FIRE
8. voice of mind
9. anything about sex
10. Starting all over
11. Like a tatoo
12. White lie
Songs in bold are previously released singles. Songs in blue (with a link) have already been reviewed. Those songs will, however, be reviewed in context of the album once more.
TURN OVER is Naoya Urata’s debut album, released on January 28th, 2009. It reached #19 on Oricon. No singles were released prior to the release of this album, which is rather awkward for an avex debut. Naoya is a member of avex group AAA and was formerly a dancer for Ayumi Hamasaki.
Intro is definitely one of the most bizarre opening sequences to an album. It features a heartbeat, and a man with a deep, almost scary voice reading a sort of prologue. It’s not exactly pleasing to the ear, but it’s only an intro, and it does its job.
I’ll already tell you here that I think that this album is in many ways a tribute to several Motown artists, even though all the tracks sound overwhelmingly modern. And the title track, TURN OVER, reminds me a lot of Stevie Wonder songs like Sir Duke and other stuff on Songs in the Key of Life and Innervisions. It’s a catchy, low-key and mellow beat-centered song (like most of the stuff on this album) and it instantly became my favorite track on the album.
What really sparked my interest in Urata was (definitely) not his AAA career, but rather the promotional track and the PV accompanying it. Baby Bang!‘s only flaw, and the one that puts it behind TURN OVER, is the collaboration with rap artist SPHERE who sort of cuts into the middle of the song. Other than that, this is probably the dirtiest song on this album and its insanely catchy. As for the Motown reference, I see Michael Jackson in this song, in particular the vocals and the “yeah” at the end of SPHERE’s rapping.
The first flaw on this album is the rap/hip-hop ballad I think I’m in love. It has the potential to be good, but somehow it fails to do it. I like Urata’s vocals in general, but here I find them rather bland and slightly awkward. It’s not a bad song, and is worth sitting through if you’re going to listen to the album as a whole, but I wouldn’t skip it if I put on shuffle.
The second collaboration is Ecstasy feat. YUKALI (one of the two members of HALCALI). It’s nowhere near Baby Bang! feat. SPHERE, but it’s not all that bad. The particularity of this song, one will notice immediately, is the register Urata sings in, probably something like two octaves lower than the helium-injected voice we’ve heard so far. It does share one thing with Baby Bang!, though, and that would be the lustful intentions that are breathed in through the vocals.
Too Late is another ballad, but this time it succeeds. It’s another Michael Jackson-like song, but with the needed amount of rap and hip-hop to make it sound a lot more modern than it really is. This song is completely crazy, though, in terms of arrangement and we jump from chorus to verse to slightly more upbeat verse to an actual chorus and there’s a bridge in there somewhere.
HOT LIKE FIRE isn’t exactly quite as hot as I wouldv’e wanted it to be. A regrettable rap song which is terribly boring and forgettable and just sounds completely out of sound with its thin instrumental line. If you were looking for the worst song on the album…
After HOT LIKE FIRE, I wasn’t expecting a gentle ballad like voice of mind. I wasn’t quite sure to expect with that title, but I was pleasantly surprised with a totally Motown ballad. Urata performs very well in it; a complete change from the helium voice. And also definitely one of the best tracks on this album.
I was expecting something even hotter than Baby Bang! feat. SPHERE for anything about sex (most suggestive title ever?), but we get another ballad, this time a lot more modern-sounding (but the Motown element is still in there). This one’s an R&B ballad and I enjoyed it a lot, in particular the catchy chorus.
Starting all over is another relatively surprising track, and a powerful and memorable one at that. The almost vocals during the chorus are definitely Michael Jackson-inspired, but the rest of the song is just as enjoyable. Perhaps the beats were a little too strong, but it’s one of the album’s pillars.
Like a tatoo better be an intentional typo or they’ve got something seriously wrong. But otherwise, this is another really catchy track, and our first really fast-paced one in a while. After Baby Bang! and TURN OVER, this is one of the best album tracks. (And another really obvious track to Michael Jackson.)
The last track is White lie, and it’s a pretty disappointing way to end the album after the amazing start he gave us. The chorus may be quite good, the verses are pretty mundane. It has the potential to be a great song, but it wasn’t pushed far enough.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and diversity of TURN OVER. Except for two or three tracks, every song offered a pleasant listen and stayed grouped while maintaining a certain degree of individuality. I was well prepared to be disappointed by this album, but now I’m more than just happy to have given this album a listen. I’ll say it again, this album is full of Motown elements, which make a lot of the tracks on this album absolute gold for me, because before I converted to J-Pop and J-Rock, Motown music was my second-favorite after Alternative. Definitely give this album a listen.