alan is the ethnically Tibetan singer from the Sichuan area of China. She released one Chinese cover album, but was discovered through Avex Beijing and brought to Japan; she debuted in 2007 with “Ashita e no Sanke” in Japan. “Hitotsu” (one) is her second single, and will be released on March 5th.
I love alan a lot; her voice is amazing, she’s beautiful, and – well, she reps China. Her Chinese cover album was well done, and I adored her first single. It’s interesting to see how avex plans to market her out – will they wait for her to master Japanese and make her a fully Japanese artist? Will they have her release material in Chinese too? Will they do both?
Her debut song emphasized her Tibetan roots by being heavily ethnically flavored, mostly through her distinct vocals; “Hitotsu” has some very subtle Tibetan instrumental touches, but is musically a normal pop ballad. Her Japanese is still limited and sounds somewhat clunky, but her brilliant voice makes up for it. (Also, really, I’m not in a position to judge anyone on their Japanese.) Her strong point remains her drawing out her high tones without struggling around the lyrics, and this song makes full use of that.
The video is pretty, although confusing. The set is a wintery forest, and alan looks like a… snow princess? That’s what it feels like. The whole visual sense is delicate and calm. I don’t know what the storyline is trying to convey though; I thought they were going for a snow white theme with the snow, waking up, and apples – but there’s that ice pond, the bubbles, the random furniture next to the pond, the swirling globe, and how putting her red necklace on a statue led to sakura petals flying down everywhere. It’s all very pretty, but confusing.
Samples of b-sides are available on her official site. It’s definitely more fleshed out than her debut, which just had two songs, albeit both were high-quality. Kimi omofu Sora is a cheerful, midtempo song. Tokyo Mimei is another slow ballad. Sign might or might not be an instrumental track; from the preview, at least, there are no distinct vocals, and sounds like a trance flavored instrumental. The former two sound very nice, and could pass for a-sides. No karaoke instrumentals are included at all for this single.
All the songs on the single sound great; the composition is not stellar in any of them but are above average, and when you have someone with a great voice, any ballad they sing will more likely than not sound amazing. My concern is if she’ll ever sing something besides ballads; although “Kimi omofu Sora” is midtempo, it and every other song she’s released is still a ballad. And while her ballads are terrific, it’d be nice to see if she can attempt other genres as well and not be typecast as “that girl who just sings great slow songs.”
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