Japanese, Reviews

J-Pop of Epic Proportions: Stephanie’s Pride Single (Review)

February 14, 2010 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook J-Pop of Epic Proportions: Stephanie’s Pride Single (Review)on Twitter

I’ll come right out and say Stephanie has an amazing voice. It’s powerful, it has a wide range, reaching some amazing highs (she can supposedly sing five octaves), and it’s simply beautiful. All that, and not only is she a singer, but also an actress (like Nao Matsushita who we covered last year), and only 22 years old to top it all off!

This single, Pride ~A Part of Me~ Feat. SRM, is actually the theme song for a film she recently starred in titled Pride. It’s the film adaptation of the shōjo manga where she plays the series’ protagonist. She doesn’t get all the credit here, however, as she’s joined by singer SRM for the main attraction, but she stands on her own on the B-side and bonus track found on this disc. I have to say that this one sounds strikingly like a Final Fantasy vocal theme, as I found myself constantly reminded of “Eyes on Me” from Final Fantasy VIII.

Did that get you interested? Find out what I’m talking about in our review after the jump.

“Pride ~A Part of Me~ Feat. SRM” is a traditional J-pop ballad, complete with emotionally tinged pianos that eventually give way to an epic string backing. There’s a rich bass, regal bell tolls, and of course, the lovely voices of both Stephanie and SRM. The two sound strikingly similar, as the first time I listened I thought I was hearing layers of Stephanie’s voice, but the “Stephanie Only Version” that follows made me pay closer attention to SRM’s contributions. She mostly responds echoes Stephanie during the chorus section, which is not only powerful, but also incredibly catchy. Stephanie even manages in to work in flawless English words and phrases, which is quite impressive. It’s really a solid piece of work that would fit right in with many of the Final Fantasy vocal tracks.

The album’s B-side, “KISSES,” actually sounds a whole lot like Jojo’s “A Little Too Late,” which I admit I like a whole lot (don’t laugh!). From the descending acoustic guitar progression to Stephanie’s sweet vocals (again, with parts in English), it does feel like it’s riding on the popularity of “A Little Too Late,” but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying it all the same. While I love the energy in “Pride,” the musical backing in “KISSES” is more poppy, and therefore a little more catchy in my opinion.

The final track on the single is “Changin’ (Double Piano Mix),” a piano arrangement of a past Stephanie single. It opens with a thin layer of static placed over the mix, creating a neat record player effect that is quite fitting of the minimalistic piano and music box progression. The fact that this features only tehse instruments allows Stephanie’s voice to truly stand out and she reaches some amazingly high notes. Remixes and arrangements like this are always a rare treat for fans, so I’m happy that they included it.

For those who manage to find a first print edition of this single, there’s also a bonus DVD included featuring ten minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of the filming of the film, Pride. It’s not all that interesting, as it mostly shows Stephanie acting out scenes with some of her music in the background. I did like the first track, which featured lots of synth work reminiscent of Korean game music, and there’s a part where she’s rehearsing some sort of opera and singing in Italian which is pretty impressive. You’ll probably want to stick to the music disc.

And that’s it. Three great tracks, each with their own strengths, and all of them good. Stephanie has made a fan out of me, and we already have our hands on her follow-up single, Future, which we’ll be telling you about soon. I definitely recommend picking up her Pride ~A Part of Me~ single at CD Japan or Play-Asia if you want to check it out.

Is Stephanie currently on your J-pop radar? Do you think remixes and arrangements of old tracks make for a pretty sweet bonus?

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