Ayumi Hamasaki explains the meaning of her chosen album titles from "A Song for XX" to
her most recent album "Rock'n'Roll Circus" in an interview.
A Song for XX - Ayumi Hamasaki (abbreviated below as “A”):
The A in “A Song for XX” is for the A in “Ayu” and the A in “album”. I’d like for the listeners to imagine the “XX” as their favorite thing or the name of the person they like, or maybe a number. For me, there’s only one answer that applies to “XX”. But, if I write that out, it would really restrict the image for the listener. And so I decided to make it “XX” so that it would better project the desired form for each person.
LOVEppears - A: The title "LOVEppears" has two meanings to it,
"thing that seems like love" and "discrepancy between what we see and what's really there."; When I was thinking about the jacket design, I was concerned about the title I'd use, and my staff were there with a suggestion. They said, "You should use English word A and English word B, and put them together to make a whole new word." Before my trip to New York for the jacket photo shoot, I looked out the window from inside the car, and there was a couple that looked SO happy, but I personally was thinking, maybe they're in the middle of a serious crisis. Or maybe they're actually talking about separating. So I thought of the meaning "seems to be" for the word "appears" and stuck it on there. We give ourselves certain outward appearances and images, trying to make it look like things are good or bad, whatever we want to show people, but really things aren't as we're showing.
Duty - So now, I'd like to hear about "Duty," the album's title track.
A: I wrote it before I wrote "vogue," and it reflected the state I was in at the time. The lyric "my turn" isn't referring to just myself though, it means each and every one of you also. Of course I do include myself in that group. For instance, there have been various "artists" out there for years and years. Mr. or Miss So-And-So was there, but the times are always changing, you know? And everyone can see when the world changes. History is always being repainted like that, one era ends and we can see it happen, we can't be as young as we are now forever, and we can't be onlookers forever. So we can't just say "Eh, I don't get it, whatever" forever, I thought. And how does that connect with the title? A: Communicating that is something I thought it was my duty to do at the time.
I am... - A: Of course there was the whole "projecting my true self" mood
that "I am..." came from, but that's not all it was. In "Daybreak" there's a part that says "we've lost our faces because of this era," but now I think this is an era in which "faceless people (people with no individuality, accommodating people)" are everywhere. But I don't think it's an extremely sad thing. Keeping that in mind, Bancho (ayu's Nail Artist, Kanako Miura) put out a book on nail art in December, and recalling a message from me that was printed on the book's obi, I thought that Bancho's "face" was in her work = the nail designs that Bancho had made. For example, in magazines there are features on nail art, and there's like a hundred photos of nails there, aren't there? But that one thing is simply what Bancho does, so when she found that "Bancho's 'face' is the fact that she has that work," she gained self-confidence.
RAINBOW - A: A rainbow is something that everyone's seen at least once,
so there's not gonna be anyone saying "huh? a rainbow? what's that?," it's something they'd immediately recognize. But you only see it for a moment, you can't gaze at it forever. And when you want to see one, you can't. And it's not a tangible thing, either... When I thought about that, I thought, I wonder if I really saw a rainbow? Is a rainbow really even there? People have the general notion of "a rainbow is a seven-color arc", sure, they know what a picture of a rainbow looks like, so when they see a rainbow, maybe they ascertain with their own knowledge that that's what they've seen... But what if that's not really what it is? For example, maybe it's only three colors...
And also, no one's ever sad when they see a rainbow. They say "Look! It's a rainbow!" and a part of them becomes happy. I thought I wanted to do that, I wanted to have that kind of existence. I can't be right next to you, but when everyone sees me, I'd like for it to feel nice, like times when you see a rainbow maybe. So I chose "RAINBOW" for the title. (Note: It was Leslie Kee's idea. Apparently Ayu wanted to call the album TODAY or TOMORROW, but Leslie had the idea of RAINBOW. See the NEWSMAKER 2003 interview for more)
Memorial address - A: When thinking about the fact that "this mini-album = myself this year", "Memorial address" contains things that had become fundamental to me. So I think using it as the title for the album was the right thing to do. But as far as the song is concerned, I didn't plan on explaining the various things going on inside me. I'd prefer if people listened first. I think if people listen to the song properly, they'll get a better idea of what I'm thinking in it. The lyrics aren't printed in there, so people have to listen to the song first, before having any information (any written characters to look at). This is because I wanted people to feel the song.
MY STORY - Only, while it does have those kinds of songs as well,
what struck me listening to it was what a personal album it was. The title ‘MY STORY’ makes me think that as well, but I really felt like you just laid all your battles and pain and hardships right out on the table.
A: This time, I had the ideas of honesty and freedom in my head as I was writing. So, I wasn’t trying to write something good, or something that would move people, or something that would give people hope. I simply wrote honestly.
(miss)understood - A: "The miss does not mean "mistake" the way it does in misunderstood,
but it's a miss similar to mister and missus. That's why (miss)understood can stand for both misunderstood as well as a girl who understand. So there is a double meaning. Yes. Those "misunderstood" scenarios which are recognized as misunderstandings often happen in real life. As humans, everyone has had misunderstandings, right? There are also probably times when a person himself is being understood. No matter how high we wish to go, we will always thing that the present is the boundary. No matter how much we trust someone, we will still be afraid to let that person come too close to us. And though we understand all of this, we are still willing to accept the fact that the world is full of misunderstandings. That's human nature. That's why, though there are many different meanings of the word for me, I find it all right for everyone to find the meaning which is convenient for them and then define it for themselves.
Secret - "I have a secret, maybe you too?" sums it up basically.
A: Yeah, it's called "Secret" because... everyone has a secret. Right? Of course I have a secret. I think maybe you too? (smile) So... but I can't explain to you, because if I told you, it's not a secret, you know? But I hope this um... this album will reach people's hearts.
GULITY - A: GUILTY, about the meaning of this title given to this album,
meant the abbreviation of "A TITLE given by one's oneself, as it refers to one's current state or way of living". But are there anyone who is really "clean" in this world? Maybe they hurt someone even thought the hadn't done it on purpose, for example, lying and other minor offenses which can be found on everyone by right... I have carefully done a lot of soul searching regarding the issue of "feeling guilty, but still life has to go on" whenever I was composing or performing. No matter how people feel sinful, since we are alive and kicking, then we should continue living on the best we could whether we are sad or happy.
NEXT LEVEL - A: "The words NEXT LEVEL by themselves have been on my mind from quite early on, but I kept thinking about what kind of NEXT LEVEL it was going to be. A symbolic return to basics or an impossible speed-up from now on? However, I've reached the conclusion that the main thing is that I can't stop, and that's why I'll keep running. After that comes the normal challenges of choosing the music, my vocal style, arrangements and more.
Rock'n'Roll Circus - A "Traditional Japanese, ethnic, European... with all of these different sounds mixed together, it's like a circus. And when I sing, they become rock. Rock is a very wide genre, and can include lots of different types of songs, but when I sing, they become rock. For example, even if I dress up in a girly way like today and sing a ballad, rock will still be rock. And because rock exists in my soul, it will be reflected in whatever I do. The new album's title "Rock'n'Roll Circus" reflects something interesting, scary, sad, weird, and a whole bunch of other things mixed together. And that is what I think Rock&Roll is all about.
(Translation credit goes to evolusean, Delirium-Zer0, and others like ayu_iro, Misa-chan, and isaac hiew)
Thanks for reading and I hope this helps. Thanks to all of the wonderful translators who helped in getting this information out there.
This is amazing, it gave me a complete new interpretation of her album's. <3
btw: spent lots of time on formatting DX