https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsiAo3ubipM

Who says you can’t teach an old J-Pop superstar new tricks?

“SPARKLE” is the second A-side from Ayumi Hamasaki‘s forty fifth single, “RULE/SPARKLE.” And, though I never thought I’d find myself blogging these words: Koda Kumi–watch yourself.

While translations are still funneling in as we speak, the general gist of the lyrics is something we’ve not seen from Hamasaki since the days of “My Name’s WOMEN”:

“If you do it only half way, then it doesn’t tell me anything /
If you don’t try to touch, then I don’t understand.”

That’s right, ladies–It’s time for a little synth-ified reinterpretation of a whip cracking, booty smacking Ayumi Hamasaki empowerment jam. Moaning electro beats, bubbling house riffs, and a Junkie XL-worthy guitar strum coursing throughout…Now who would think I’d ever be referencing those kinds of sounds for an Ayu review?!

But as we know, Ayumi Hamasaki is always evolving, and this release may simply be a sign of what’s to come.

Some might even call it…The next level.

And in fact, they will: NEXT LEVEL is the name of Ayumi Hamasaki’s 10th studio release, a 13-track LP due on March 25. As is custom in the world of J-Pop, the album will be released in a buttload of formats; the most jam-packed of the set being the double CD+DVD featuring a live CD from “PREMIUM COUNTDOWN LIVE 2008-2009” and a DVD of six music videos.

Best of all, the release of NEXT LEVEL will also be packaged in a USB stick format, as seen below.

As a shameless whore for all things attractively packaged and branded, I can safely conclude that I absolutely MUST HAVE IT.Click here to pre-order “RULE/SPARKLE.”

ayumi hamasaki
Click above to hear more from Ayumi Hamasaki…And yes, she’s now on US iTunes!