(Miss)understood

(Miss)understood
An up-close shot of Ayumi Hamasaki smiling and looking into the camera. On the lower left is a red heart.
Studio album by Ayumi Hamasaki
ReleasedJanuary 1, 2006 (2006-01-01) (Japan, Taiwan)
RecordedPrime Sound Studio Form (Tokyo, Japan)
Sony Music Studios (New York, USA)
Mixing and mastering studios: avex studio azabu, Bunkamura Studio, Hitokuchizaka Studio, Cresente Studio, Westside, Aobadai Studio, Sound City, Victor
Genre
Length66:32
LabelAvex Trax
ProducerMax Matsuura
Ayumi Hamasaki chronology
My Story
(2004)
(Miss)understood
(2006)
Secret
(2006)
Singles from (Miss)understood
  1. "Step You/Is This Love?"
    Released: April 20, 2005
  2. "Fairyland"
    Released: August 3, 2005
  3. "Heaven"
    Released: September 14, 2005
  4. "Bold & Delicious/Pride"
    Released: November 30, 2005

(Miss)understood is the seventh studio album by Japanese singer-songwriter Ayumi Hamasaki, released January 1, 2006 by Avex Trax. Hamasaki acted as the album's sole lyricist, as she had on all of her preceding albums. (Miss)understood marked new musical directions for Hamasaki: she explored new influences such as funk and used gospel choruses in some of the songs, foreign to her previous works. This was the result of her having heard compositions by Geo from Sweetbox and asking him for his works; subsequently, Hamasaki rewrote the lyrics to fit (Miss)understood. Lyrically, the album was a departure from her previous work, My Story, which had been primarily autobiographical.

Where My Story had contained "musings about her past", Hamasaki wanted the lyricism on (Miss)understood to send a strong message to all women—to be a kind of "girls' talk" to give "moral support", while at the same time reminding women that there were times when they would feel weak and low. These themes, along with the album's funk influences, are epitomized on songs such as "Bold & Delicious" and "Ladies Night".

"Step You/Is This Love?" was released as the lead single from (Miss)understood on April 20, 2005. It was a commercial success, reaching number one in Japan and receiving a Platinum certification, selling 345,340 copies in its chart run. It was the nineteenth best-selling song in Japan in 2005, and Hamasaki's best-selling single that year. Second single "Fairyland" was released August 3, and debuted at number one in Japan. It sold 170,000 copies in its first week, the most of any single from (Miss)understood. It went on to sell 316,663 copies, receiving a platinum certification. The third single, "Heaven", experienced similar success: it reached number one, and was certified Platinum, selling around 325,000 copies. "Bold & Delicious/Pride" was not as successful. Despite reaching number one, it became her poorest-selling single at the time since 1998's "Depend on You", selling only 133,000 copies.

(Miss)understood was commercially successful, opening at number one in Japan (her eighth consecutive record to do so) with first-week sales of 653,830 copies. It went on to sell over 877,000 copies in Japan in its 31-week chart run, receiving a Million certification and becoming the 8th best-selling album of 2006. It is, to date, her last Million-certified album. According to Avex, (Miss)understood sold 1,030,000 copies worldwide.

Production

Background and themes

In 2005, after hearing demo tracks from band Sweetbox's then-upcoming album Addicted, Hamasaki "fell in love" with the songs and consequently asked Sweetbox's composer GEO if she could use some of the songs for her album. GEO agreed and gave Hamasaki permission to use "Bold & Delicious", "Pride", "Ladies Night", "In the Corner", "Every Step", and "Beautiful Girl". Hamasaki then set to work rewriting the lyrics and rearranging parts of songs.[1][2]

While My Story, Hamasaki's preceding album, contained mostly "autobiographical" lyrics and "musings about [her] past", (Miss)understood was a "strong message to send to all women": it was a kind of "girl's talk" to give "moral support" while at the same time reminding women that there would be times when they would "feel weak and low".[3] "Bold & Delicious" "scolded indecisive men", "Pride" expressed Hamasaki's appreciation of "women who do not give up easily", and "Ladies Night" was about female camaraderie. Other themes appeared as well: "Is This Love?" and "Heaven" were about love, and "Fairyland" was about "childhood memories".

Composition

(Miss)understood is more musically diverse than My Story; Hamasaki incorporated a variety of musical styles including rock, dance-pop and funk.[3] The album opens with "Bold & Delicious", a funk-infused dance track that utilises a gospel choir in the harmony. The song makes use of funk guitars. "Pride" is a ballad song that "sounded like it could be from a musical"; the arrangement of both songs were influenced by Hamasaki's trip to New York City to record the songs and film their respective music videos.[1] An organ Hamasaki heard while visiting a church inspired her to include the gospel choir in "Bold", while the musical The Phantom of the Opera influenced her arrangement of "Pride".[1] "Criminal", "Step You", "Alterna", and the titular "(Miss)understood" are all rock songs with prominent electric guitars, while "Heaven" is an "ethereal" piano-driven ballad.[4] As with "Bold & Delicious" and "Pride", other songs composed by GEO were rearranged; violins were added to the bridge of "Rainy Day", and a choir was added to the chorus of "Beautiful Day".

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