ALBUM REVIEW: Mika Nakashima – “Resistance” (2002)

Picture temporarily removed…sorry 😦

Genres: J-Pop, International, Adult Contemporary, Easy Listening, Female Vocal, Pop

Tracklist:

1. Resistance (Original Version)

2. Heaven on Earth (EP Version)

3. Aroma

4. Last Waltz

5. Stars (Live Unplugged)

6. Resistance (Instrumental Version)

Resistance is Mika Nakashima’s first mini-album and 2nd album overall. Released on November 7, 2002, one year after the release of her debut single (“Stars”), the album went straight to #1 on the Oricon 200 Album Chart and sold nearly all of its 100,000 copies.

Riding high on the success of her first album, Mika Nakashima was already a star and guaranteed to become among the greatest musicians of her time – if not of all time given the neverending success of artists like Ayumi Hamasaki, who’s good, too. Resistance commemorated the first anniversary of Mika’s hugely successful musical debut, and it represents a slightly different take on the characteristics she made her trademarks since Day One.

It begins with the title track, a sweet and soulful midtempo song that brings the bass guitar and an acoustic hip-hop drum set into play. The song isn’t exactly Mary J. Blige, but close enough. The harp, the subdued strings, and the two horns heard in the background are more than enough of a draw for those that didn’t think Mika’s debut album was cream of the crop. Excellent melody, too.

“Heaven on Earth” (EP Version) has so many similarities to the original Album Version on True that they don’t sound that much different. Added background vocals, extra synths, and a slightly different opening arrangement are the key differences between the two versions. An Extended Version was also produced, and it’s featured on the Film Lotus II DVDs and the Bonus DVD that comes with the No More Rules album, which would be released seven years later. Mika also performed that Extended Version on her first two concert tour DVDs: The First Tour 2003 and Concert Tour 2004 “LOVE” Final. The latter concert had this version open with an amazing Latin percussion solo from the girl on the percussion!

“Aroma,” which follows, is a bit boring, but it does make good use of a mellow jazz guitar and a quiet set of keyboards. Mika sings in a sensual manner, but the song drags on for a good long while, which doesn’t allow her voice to shine through very much at all.

“Last Waltz” changes the mood to romantic, luxurious, and with a hint of 1980s soft pop blended in with a great arrangement of drums, saxophones, and violins. It sounds like one of those old 1950s jazz waltz songs but with a modern touch. Great. Just great.

“Stars (Live Unplugged)” is a largely acoustic version of the aforementioned debut single, but it’s very depressing and might actually make listeners cry harder than the Original Version might. Some minor off-key notes are evident (particularly during the end of the second chorus) but thankfully Mika doesn’t sing that way the rest of the song. Everything else seems to be in good form.

The last track is simply an Instrumental Version of the title song, “Resistance.” Listening to only the background music without the vocals is interesting, because some minor details that went unnoticed over the vocals are showcased. Nevertheless, the Instrumental Version wasn’t necessary and should’ve been replaced with an unreleased B-side called “Sweet Memories.”

Pros: Some state-of-the-art experimentation with jazzy styles are demonstrated on some of the cuts.

Cons: Few, but this album could’ve used another song.

Bottom Line: Not as good as the first album or what came after it, but does have its moments.

Final Grade: B.

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