At the counter, the sales assistance hesitated for a brief moment and he asked, “Do you want the poster?”. Do I want the poster?! I am a fan. Hit me with one!
Really. Do I want the poster? I asked Cynthia where I should paste it. Dining area, I suggested. She frowned and counter-suggested the piece of real estate right above my computer monitor. And there, I pasted Ayumi’s poster onto the wall. Whenever I need inspiration on what to write, like now, I simply look up.
“You like her because she is cute,” observed Cynthia. That is not true. Not entirely. For those who have followed her career, you would agree with me that she is an inspiration. On her determination to remain successful. And success does not come without sustained effort. 11 music albums, over 11 years, and she constantly releases concert recordings too. At times I wonder: Does she ever rest? Some observe that her firm control over every detail of production and marketing contributes to her success. Critics may cite what Ayumi is not. But I am more interested to read what she is. Her biography in the future may answer that, I hope.
Back to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus”, it is an impressive production. The album artwork is beautiful. The CD+DVD edition includes a booklet of her photographs taken during her trip to UK, where at least one of her songs was recorded. A total of 15 songs, 2 of which are the introductory track and the interlude track in the usual Ayumi style. Majority of the material is what you would expect from Ayumi. And the quality is consistently high throughout the album. A few tracks stand out in an unique way. The Goth rock “Microphone”, the Oriental “BALLAD”, and the Arabic feel of “Don’t Look Back”. “Sexy Little Thing” (recorded in UK) is one of my favorite tracks. It ties well to the album’s title. Unique in its own pop way, extremely memorable. I happen to like “Last Link” too. That track starts with strumming of acoustic guitars and transits into a pop-rock track.
As impressively so is the bonus DVD. In the first two back-to-back tracks “~LOVE is ALL~” sunset and sunrise version (same song in different tempo), Ayumi called in her fans – Team Ayu – to help with the music video. These two videos warm my heart. One video was shot in daylight (the sunrise version) and for another one, Ayumi was dressed in an evening gown standing on top of a platform singing to her fans. Both videos have the fantastic backdrop of the beach.
Another amazing back-to-back video is “Sexy Little Thing” (that reminds of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video) and “Microphone”. There are some jaw dropping video transition between what appears as disjointed clips. Besides these four video tracks that stand out, the other four are also a pleasure to watch. If someone like me who does not know Japanese and still able to comprehend what the stories in the videos are about, I think the directors deserve a pat on their backs.
For someone who has passed the age of 30, Ayumi does not seem to show signs of slowing down. Maybe because she knows her career will only last for as long as her remaining good ear. For someone who has put the rest of her life on hold – love and family – to continue creating music, at times I wonder: Isn’t it a lonely journey?