|Compilation album by Ayumi Hamasaki|
|Released||March 12, 2003|
|Ayumi Hamasaki chronology|
A Ballads is a ballad compilation by Japanese singer-songwriter Ayumi Hamasaki, and her second greatest hits album. The release follows her greatest hits compilation album A Best (2001). The compilation was released on March 12, 2003 in a compact disc format and in digital format. The album includes two new tracks, "Rainbow" which was served as a promotional single, and "Sotsugyō Shashin" which is a cover by Japanese vocalist and composer Yumi Matsutoya. "Rainbow" was not used in her studio album Rainbow (2002) but an exclusive code in the booklet allowed customers to view an unfinished instrumental on a special website.
A Ballads was positively received from most music critics for the albums re-arrangement and mellow atmosphere. The album debuted at the top of the Japanese Oricon Albums Chart and spent over forty weeks in the chart. The album was certified million by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of one million units and was her final compilation to receive this. No singles were promoted for the album.
Background and material
In December 2002, Hamasaki released her fifth studio album Rainbow. Early pressings of the album featured an exclusive code in the booklet, which allowed customers to enter it on a special website to unlock a present; the present was an unfinished demo of an unreleased track named "Rainbow". Hamasaki revealed the intention to upload it was to judge the customer's views of the unfinished demo and write a song about their judgement; she wrote the track herself and revealed plans of a ballad compilation.
A Ballads is Hamasaki's first compilation album that consists of ballads recorded throughout her career until 2003. The album consists of fifteen tracks; "Rainbow" and "Sotsugyō Shashin" were the only new tracks recorded for the album, and the latter was a cover originally performed and written by Japanese vocalist and composer Yumi Matsutoya. Only three tracks on the album are represented in their original arrangement; these being "Hanabi", "Dearest" and "Dolls", while every other track are all re-arranged and remixed. Like Rainbow, A Ballads includes a special code to allow customers to access to a special website that features four different covers of the album.
A Ballads received favorable reviews from limited music critics. A reviewer from Geocities.co.jp awarded the album seven stars out of ten. The website commended the "good atmosphere" and praised the song's "conventinal arrangements" to make them more "vast". However, the reviewed did point out the negative aspects of songs "Appears", "You" and "To Be" as they felt the instrumentation "did not fit" and felt the originals were better. The website recommended "Key", "Dolls," and "Voyage" as the album stand outs, labelling them "masterpieces". Alexey Eremenko, who had written her extended biography at Allmusic, selected the songs "Dearest" and "Hanabi" as album stand out tracks and career milestone tracks. An editorial review on HMV singled out A Ballads as one of the best ballad albums ever, labelling it a "classic" and commended Hamasaki's vocal abilities, songwriting and vulnerability.
A Ballads debuted at number one of the Japanese Oricon Albums Chart, her second compilation to debut at the top. The album spent over forty weeks in the chart and sold over 924,242 units in Japan.[A] A Ballads was certified million by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of one million units and was her final compilation to receive this after A Best (2001). It was her last compilation to reach number one until her 2007 album A Best 2: White Edition.
All lyrics written by Ayumi Hamasaki except track 14 (written by Yumi Arai).
|2.||"Appears" (HΛL's Progress)||Kazuhito Kikuchi||HΛL|
|3.||"Key" (Eternal Tie Ver.)||Kunio Tago||Naoto Suzuki|
|4.||"You" (Northern Breeze)||Yasuhiko Hoshino||tasuku|
|5.||"To Be" (2003 ReBirth Mix)||D.A.I||Naoto Suzuki,
|7.||"M" (HΛL's Progress)||Crea||HΛL|
|10.||"Seasons" (2003 ReBirth Mix)||D.A.I||Naoto Suzuki|
|12.||"A Song for ××" (030213 Session #2 Take)||Yasuhiko Hoshino||Shingo Kobayashi|
|13.||"Who..." (Across the Universe)||Kazuhito Kikuchi||CMJK|
|14.||"Sotsugyō Shashin (卒業写真 School Photograph?)" (Yumi Arai cover)||Yumi Arai||tasuku|
Charts and certifications
- Sales provided by Oricon database and are rounded to the nearest thousand copies.
- Rainbow (Album liner notes). Ayumi Hamasaki. December 2002.
- A Ballads (Compilation). Ayumi Hamasaki. March 12, 2003.
- Cobalt Hour (Compilation). Yumi Matsutoya. 1974.
- "Music review site Source of the Music - Ayumi Hamasaki". Geocities.jp. Published by Yahoo! Music. 16 April 2015.
- Eremenko, Alexey. "Ayumi Hamasaki – Songs, Highlights, Awards and Credits". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- 浜崎あゆみのリリース一覧 [List of Ayumi Hamasaki's Releases]. Oricon (in Japanese). Retrieved August 17, 2014.
- "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" [Oricon Ranking Information Service 'You Big Tree']. Oricon (in Japanese). Retrieved May 21, 2014. (subscription required (. ))
- "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 2001年4月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. April 2001 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 499: 8. November 10, 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 2003年3月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. March 2003 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 522: 13. May 10, 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 29, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- ゴールドディスク認定作品一覧 2003年1月～7月 [Works Receiving Gold Disc Certifications List (January to July 2003)] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. August 10, 2003. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
- 2002-Current: Top 1,000,000 Selling Albums (Japanese)