FAIRY TALE is the third album released by Kuraki Mai. Four singles were released before the album’s release, with one being a number one hit. The album was another success for her as it peaked at #1, although it only sold 730,000 copies (half of her second album).
Released: October 23, 2002
1. Fairy tale ~my last teenage wish~
2. Feel fine!
3. Ride on time
4. key to my heart
5. Winter Bells
6. Loving You…
7. Can’t forget your love
8. Trip in the dream
9. Not that kind a girl
10. Like a star in the night
11. Fushigi no Kuni (不思議の国; Strange Country)
Kuraki Mai’s albums always start with a catchy pop tune and this one is no different. Fairy tale ~my last teenage wish~ is a powerful song although it does sound a bit outdated. I do like the melody and it is super catchy, but I feel like it fits more in the late 90’s than the early 00’s. Still, it is a fun tune and I think Kuraki’s voice sounds quite strong here. Feel fine! is the album’s third single and its biggest hit. It’s a catchy, upbeat summer tune that sounds more updated than a lot of the other songs on the album. I do like the music a lot because it has a stronger pop/rock element to it. It sort of sounds like something the Beach Boys would have done. I do think Kuraki could be a little stronger in the chorus, but her sweet vocals are still pleasant enough. Ride on time starts off in a cool way. It gives me some funky pop vibes and the guitar in the background is a nice inclusion. Unfortunately, the chorus is just not what I was hoping for. It sort of reverts to her usual style of song and at this point, it comes off a bit outdated compared to the more contemporary verses. The melody isn’t that memorable either and everything drags on to over five minutes. key to my heart was used as the album’s promotional song as it was used as the theme song to the game, Tales of Destiny 2. This is the album’s first ballad and it is a nice change of pace. It sort of reminds me of something from her first album, but it just isn’t that strong. The whole song lacks a strong melody and Kuraki’s voice isn’t dynamic enough here to really bring some surprise. Not her worst ballad, but a bit of a snoozefest. Fortunately, Winter Bells is a stronger tune. Like the title mentions, this song is a winter tune and has a Christmas vibe to it. Although these kinds of songs can often end up a bit bland, Winter Bells is one of the better songs on here. The album’s second single is a bright and catchy pop tune. The music has your typical sleigh bells, brass instruments and bouncy beat that are featured in many Xmas songs, the melody is quite a joy to listen to. Loving You… is a little different from Kuraki’s usual sounding pop tunes. There are some similarities in terms of the beat and background vocals, but I like that there is a emptiness in the music that isn’t as apparent in a lot of her other songs. I quite like the melody as well and I think she sounds great singing during this part. One of the stronger album tracks, although it is a bit too long. Can’t forget your love was the album’s first single and brings us back to the ballad zone. It starts off in a gentle way with the bells and sparkling synths. Soon, a nice beat comes in as well. It sounds a lot like her songs from her other two albums, especially ‘Secret of my heart’. Unfortunately, it does have the energy nor the hooks of that song. It just sort of floats along and doesn’t really have anything that stands out. Trip in the dream is a nice change of pace as we are given an upbeat R&B tune. It sort of reminds me of ‘What are you waiting for’ from her last album. Like that song as well, it has a really interesting verse but falters on the chorus. The hooks are weak and the impact of the song is just really low. It feels like it should build into something stronger, but doesn’t take things to the next level. Not that kind of girl is a really weird change and it has an eerie-ness about it that helps to bring something different. It reminds me of a late 90’s pop tune but like a weaker version. It’s too slow and the melody just drags on slowly when it should be more powerful. I think the song has potential, but just falls flat. Like a star in the night is the album’s last single and starts off in a really great way. It opens in a gentle way that highlights Kuraki’s sweet vocals. Unfortunately, the chorus is boring. It tries to change things into a brighter setting, but it comes off really flat instead. I can barely get through it because it just doesn’t sound good. Fushigi no Kuni is on the lighter side of things but is still a bright pop song. It has a bouncy beat that keeps the energy up with a funky synthline. Sometimes Kuraki’s choruses come off a bit heavy with background vocals, but it works nicely here. It feels like the song is fuller and there are different parts that help make everything feel as though the chorus is intertwining within itself. fantasy ends the album on a slower note and it is the simplest ballad with the piano, guitar and Kuraki’s. It’s not a bad song and I feel like it doesn’t have Kuraki’s usual heavy background vocals or R&B beat. The melody is also memorable, which is a nice change from the other ballads on here. It’s a sweet finisher.
Overall: This is yet another album I am not that into. There are a few decent tunes, but I would say this one is even weaker than her last one because there are less songs I would repeat. I feel like this album tries to continue what her last album did, which was attempt to replicate her first album. Many of the songs either had weak melodies or they ended up sounding really outdated (or both), which made the majority of the album just forgettable. It didn’t really try to expand Mai’s sound and so it comes off lackluster.