Saturday, 18 May 2013

[A Week with Winky] Tanaka Reina: Solo Collection

All opinions are my own and such, and I know my opinion is not favoured by all, however remember: I don't care if you hate my opinion, and you should not care if I don't agree with your ideal opinion, so get over it, kay? YAY!

*About this series: I have created this series with the intention of looking at groups or songs where Tanaka Reina is a focus, or where she has grown considerably, from way back then until now. Because of this, I may be looking at songs or PV's that I previously ignored or loved once upon a time. There will, hopefully, be a mix of things here. I hope you enjoy.

Before I had even decided on a title for the 'A Week with Winky' series, I had originally intended for this post to be included at some point; in fact, this was the first post that I had wanted to create and talk about, but after deciding how the Week would go, I decided not to use this idea... and then, after opting out of reviewing Resonant Blue because of how much I actually dislike/loathe that song and video (Aika is hot in it, though) and also getting a request for a certain solo song by my sister (which, incidentally, was already included in this post) I decided to return to this idea; it is not a PV Review, but more like a look back at Tanaka Reina's solo songs in her Morning Musume career, and seeing what I think of them.

This post basically just compiles together a selection of Tanaka Reina's solo songs since she began in Morning Musume, and just my basic thoughts on them. As one of the supposed-best singers in Morning Musume right now, and also one of the members who has the most solo lines and solo songs within the current line-up, I do of course have high expectations... especially from Past-Winky compared to Now-Winky.

Anyway, enough blabbing on. Let's start this Solo Collection and see what I think, shall we?

Way back in 2004, about a year or so after her debut with Shabondama, Tanaka Reinas solo cover of the Morning Musume song Memory Seishun no Hikari was released on the Morning Musume Best Shot Vol.4. Of course this as back when Reina actually sounded pretty damn good. Sure, she was still at the point where she had raw talent, but her voice was not annoyingly painful, it was just quite pretty and extremely wonderful to listen to. In fact, I find her voice sounds extremely confident and bold here, as if she really is stepping up in how she sings. She isn't holding back at all, and is just going for it. She also sounds extremely passionate in this song, and I love hearing that passion in her voice.

Simply put, she sounds freakin' amazing. I think her voice in this song is just glorious! You can really hear that power and determination, and how good her voice really once was. She does not sound strained or forceful like she does in present singles... she just sounds really nice and decent. She has an extremely enjoyable voice in this as well, and her vocals fit the tone of the song, too.

The PV for this Best Shot is something that I don't much care for, but even in the video Reina looks so cute and innocent! I know that there isn't much to go on with the video, because it's all one shot in a ferris wheel, but hey, who cares? The focus is pretty much Reina and her vocals, but the setting is really nice I think. It gives you that lonely sort of feeling, like the tone of the song does, so I think that they work well together.

All in ll, for her first solo work under Morning Musume song-wise, I think that Memory Seishun no Hikari was a fantastic choice; Reina sounds amazing, and she is just so cute! Sadly, that Reina has left the building. Boohoo!

The next solo song didn't come along until around two years later, way back in 2006 after Winky's 'transformation' into the sparkling Squirrel we know and, sadly, have to bare today, though I do think that this is her 'in-between' state where she is just getting into the stupid sparkles, glitter and such, and before she fucked up her voice... Oh wait, I'm going off into a hate-tangent. Better get back on track!

Anyway, this song was Tanaka Reina's first official album solo within Morning Musume, as well as her first original song to sing, and was present on the 7.5 Fuyu Fuyu Morning Musume Mini! album. Of course I am talking about the winter-sparkles song, KiraKira Fuyu no Shiny G, a song which, title wise, strangely fits in with Reina's obsession with sparkly things... but I digress. Admittedly, this is one of my favourite solo songs by Reina, being the sort of song that I will actually listen to happily even if it isn't winter. I also love singing along to it, if you must know! It's just so cute and catchy!

Now, whilst Reina is all sparkly and less-Yankee cutie during this Morning Musume era, you have to admit that she sounds fantastic when she sings this song; she isn't squeaky or too try-hard with her voice, and it's as if she truly enjoys singing it. Even the performance video shows that she is really having a blast, like she truly wants to bring the songs feelings and story across to the listeners and viewers rather than letting the tune and lyrics carry it for her. Reina is truly enjoying this song, and you can hear it in her voice that likes performing it, because she seems so enthusiastic and determined when singing, a Winky we hardly see now unless you're lucky enough to see her in concert-form.

Long story short, I do love this song. It's cute and bubbly, and great to listen to. You don't even have to keep the song for the winter seasons, because it doesn't sound like a Winter song. It's just cute and carefree, and when you hear it, you know that Reina loves it, and that in turn makes me love it too.

This next song is from the album Fantasy! Juuichi, the last album to feature Kamei Eri, JunJun and LinLin. Tanaka Reina's second original solo song, Ai no Honoo, was featured on this album... and probably one of the few solo songs by Tanaka Reina that I really do not give two f's about.

Okay, so I will be blunt with this one: Tanaka Reina, to me, sounds like absolute crap in this. By that, I mean that her voice is how I hear it in most Morning Musume singles now; strained, forced and unbearable. She seems to have gone into that Winky state I loathe where she sounds like she is forcing herself to sing a certain way because it's expected of her, and not because she wants to. It doesn't help that the song itself is pretty dull, either, but that's my own opinion.

Okay, I am not saying that the song is bad, because it isn't, but when I hear Ai no Honoo I can't help but think that maybe this was a song that was made for either Takahashi Ai or Niigaki Risa, because I can totally see either one of them singing it - they have the voices to pull it off, and Reina doesn't, simple as that. Her voice just strains with this song, and when I listen to it I just think 'give me the Reina who sings Genki songs, PLEASE!!!' because she just fits them, and she even seems to enjoy them more... Genki Reina is, admittedly, a great Reina. Here, even in the performance, she doesn't seem to bringing her A-game. She's just singing it, with no passion or enthusiasm attached.

Personally, her performance bores me with this song... give me KiraKira Fuyu no Shiny G any day.

Okay, so this song came a year before Ai no Honoo, however I hold this song in higher regards, and really, who doesn't? This is one hell of a song!

Heya to Y Shirts to Watashi is a cover of the original song by Hiramatsu Eri, and was present on the Chanpuru 1 ~Happy Marriage Song Cover Shuu~ that was released back in 2009. This is also the song that my sister requested I review for A Week with Winky after she had heard it, because I believe she was actually pretty impressed with Reina's voice after hearing it, and who could blame her? Even I am impressed by Reina when I listen to this, because she sounds so good... especially when compare to Ai no Honoo, which was only released a year after this was. Wow, what a change, eh?

Anyway, Heya to Y Shirts to Watashi is a ballad, and whilst I found Reina's voice boring in the slow and dull Ai no Honoo, she sounds truly spectacular in this, as if the song was made for her. She really does sound outstanding, doesn't she? It's like she truly does feel the emotions in this song and is portraying them through her voice, allowing the listener to feel what she is feeling. She doesn't sound forced or strained, just natural and like she is enjoying the song. Her voice, as many will agree I believe, sounds absolutely beautiful in this. It just sounds so right, you know? The instrumental and Reina's voice paired together is a perfect mix. It is just so glorious to listen to...

Still thinking of Reina's voice and the tragedy that is Ai no Honoo, one of the top comments for this video actually brings up a valid point that I want to talk about a little, and it's about how the commenter did not know Reina was actually a good singer, because in MoMusu songs she never sounds this good... and really, they could not have put it better, because current MoMusu Reina sucks.

I will get bashed for that comment, I know, but in my personal opinion Reina does suck in MoMusu now; here, she sounds like she truly enjoys the song, and she isn't straining her voice the song, but in Morning Musume, from around 2010 onwards, she really sounds like she is straining her voice and just singing because it's her job. In fact, I think the strain on her voice has more to do with the songs and their arrangements rather than Reina just singing in a terrible way. All the current songs seem to be written in a key that is too high for Reina (and Riho for that matter), a key that at that time, I am sure only Ai, Sayu or Kamei could hit, and no one else. Just liike at Kimi Sae Wah Wah when compared to Brainstorming; Brainstorming's key was perfect for Reina, but  Kimi Sae Wah Wah's just made her sound forced and her usual, squirrely self. See what I mean? No? OKAY!

Anyway, long story short and point made, I love this song and the sound of it. It's a cover, I know, but it's one of Reina's best solo songs in my opinion, and really showed off just how good she can be as a singer. I wish she would sing like this more, but I know that's asking for too much really... so, I will just have to suck it all up, and bare with the screech that is Reina's MoMusu-made voice... urgh.

So this is the final song I will be looking at, and the penultimate solo song by Tanaka Reina as a part of Morning Musume. Namida Hitoshizuku was present on the 2012 album 13 Colorful Character, with a PV that was shot in Hawaii. The song itself is a ballad, and whilst not a terrible song, it is one that I do tend to ignore because Reina's voice is, sad to say, quite unbearable in this, though it isn't the worst I have heard from her.

But it's still pretty bad to listen to, because she sounds quite strained and high and just generally... well, horribly pitched I guess? I don't know, I just hate how high her voice sounds in this, it doesn't suit the song in my opinion, and ruins the nice sound of the instrumental, because that instrumental is quite pretty to listen to.

In fact, her voice gives me a headache from this song. Not good, Winky, not good.

Again, this isn't a bad song, but much like Ai no Honoo, I have a feeling that it was made for someone else... like how The Matenrou Show was clearly made for Niigaki Risa and Tanaka Reina, rather thank Winky and The Spoon (Riho). I feel like this song would have sounded better if Risa had sang it, actually, and not Reina, but... you can't win them all, can you? I do think that her attempt at singing this song as nice, but she doesn't give it any justice really.

Long story short... no, I don't like it, and it is mostly to do with Reina's voice.


To be honest I am having a harder time reviewing these solo songs as opposed to reviewing Tanaka Reina in a PV, but oh well... I told myself I would do this, so I'm doing it. Anyway, my conclusion...

As people have said, Tanaka Reina as a solo singer is a lot better than Tanaka Reina in Morning Musume, and I do agree, but there are also a few things I disagree with when I see that statement. Now that I have seen Tanaka Reina in older PV's and looked at her performance, and after seeing past solo songs compared to new solo songs, I think that even as a solo performer Tanaka Reina lacks certain qualities about her that she did not lack in the first so many years of her Idol career.

Looking at songs like Ai no Honoo and Namida Hitoshizuku especially, I do feel that around late 2009-early 2010, Tanaka Reina started to go downhill in terms of how good she was as a performer and singer; her voice sounds a lot more strained in these solo songs, whilst in Heya to Y Shirts o Watashi, a ballad song, she sounds like she is singing how she wants to sing, and you feel like you are hearing someone who is passionate about this song rather than just doing it because she has to. Now though, even in solo songs, it feels like it's more of an obligation, and like Reina is bored - she is not enjoying it, and in turn, I am not enjoying it.

I feel that I have concluded, after looking at these solo songs, that whilst Reina does seem to sing better when alone, this is only in past songs and not present ones, because even in the present ones it's like I am just seeing Winky, the one who I see now in Morning Musume. I just hear someone who is bored with her career and has given up, so is singing how everyone wants her to sing, instead of letting her true talent shine. She still sounds decent, but not good enough, and is just preserving her talent for better things I believe, though better things are not coming along, and so she's just doing what she has to to keep the fans and management happy, which is truly saddening because, as we all know, Reina is a fantastic singer.

She's just wasting away her talent by singing in keys too high for her and being bored of her own career, or just giving up on it all together... who knows? I'm not Reina, but from my perspective, that's what I see and hear when I look at these solo songs; the first lot sound amazing, but the last two she has done from 2010 until now... well, they suck, and I do think that it has a lot to do with the fact that Tanaka Reina is just bored of Morning Musume, and bored of being given everything from the get-go.

... and that's my opinion on it.

WOW this was a hard post to write for, hopefully tomorrow's post will be a damn sight easier!!!


  1. Reading all your tribute posts to Reina, i sure feel the same way as you did, excited from the start then kind of went boring.. Must be hard for you to write. I'm a Gaki fan too xD I just wished you considered writing a tribute like this for Gaki at the time of her graduation. I bet you'll even have more fun on that and I bet I will too! Anyways regarding Reina, i have this certain dislike for her. No I don't hate her xD I couldn't pinpoint what it was that I don't feel about her. She was almost too good for the group, always getting lines, with a voice that sounds great(even squeaky) most of the time but still, there's something lacking about her. Then reading your post, i think i know what it was, the passion in singing. I see her PVs and performance and i noticed that most of the time, she doesn't connect on the songs. She always have this same expression on her face. It's disappointing cause she's already got the package and yet misses the very thing that makes me love certain singers like Ai and Gaki. I hope she doesn't end up wasting her talent as you said she might have. And I do hope she improves on her new band cause I'm still a fan of her voice(preferably during her early times).

    Anyways thanks for doing this tribute though it was hard for you :D since I also discovered here the past songs Reina did and I totally loved a few of them. I still wish you made tributes for Gaki's solo songs or groups cause I'm still searching for more of her songs. <3

    1. I know, it was like in one week, I became a fan, and then lost that interest as a fan because of her sudden change... I am sure I feel what a lot of her dedicated fans felt in just that week. And honestly, I do wish that I had done this for Gaki as well, but I had never thought of it until the time I wrote these posts (it makes me feel so sad ;A;)so I feel sad it never happened then when Gaki graduated, cos I love her ; A;

      Don't worry, I have a certain dislike for her too, and I get what you mean; Gaki had this driving passion when singing with MoMusu, but Reina's passion seemed lost after a while, which is sad because she is very talented. And with her new band, I really do hope that she uses her original voice and really delivers that passion she once had... it would be great.

      Thank you very much ^^ I had fun discovering the old Reina to be honest, and realised why people loved her so much. I may one day go back to Gaki and any solo songs that she has done, because she is an amazing singer :D