For a long time, a favorite song meant something very specific to me. Such a song was marked with five stars in iTunes and was on a special five-star playlist with all of my other “favorite” songs. The idea was that it would hold all of my top favorite songs in one place, as opposed to mixed in with the four-star (“regular” favorite) songs.
For many years, I only had one Ayu song on this list, a song I had on there since the very first time I heard it: “Endless sorrow.” It was one of the first Ayu songs I came across, and I was struck by both the beautiful music and the poignant lyrics. For a long time, if you asked me what my favorite song was, I would automatically answer “Endless sorrow,” because it was the song that I held in most esteem in Ayu’s discography.
Then L came out, and I heard “Last angel.”
The thing about Ayu is that I rarely put individual tracks on repeat. When I listen to Ayu, I generally do it by picking an album or putting a playlist on shuffle. I’m the kind of person who will listen to a favorite song on repeat for hours on end, but I’d never done that with Ayu songs.
It should come as no surprise that “Last angel” is my most-played Ayu song, by a wide margin.
I had such a love that I couldn't be proud of
And felt guilty about
A merry night and a lonely morning
I repeated such a life
Mune o hare nai ushirometai
Sonna koi mo atta
Hashaida yoru kodoku na asa
There’s one other song I consider a top favorite: “Wake me up.” I’ve used it as an alarm clock since it came out (I love a good pun) and it should tell you just how good that song is that I’m still not sick of it.
I may not find “top favorite” Ayu songs very often, but I have a lot of favorite Ayu songs in general. At the moment, there are just over 200 songs on my “favorite Ayu songs” playlist, including original versions, live recordings, and remixes. Now, granted, Ayu has released a ton of music over the past two decades, and I’m clearly biased towards her work, but I also plain like a lot of it.
It does mean that making a list of favorites is nearly impossible, however; there are simply too many songs. I have highlighted many of my favorites on the album reviews, which compromise the bulk of her discography.
Much as I love Ayu’s music, there are also songs of hers I dislike. This is a rare thing for me; when I like an artist, I tend to have favorites but still enjoy listening to the rest of their work. There are always songs I prefer over others (unless it’s an album I love from start to finish), but that doesn’t mean I dislike the other ones.
In Ayu’s case, though, there are some songs I find boring and a few I actively dislike. On a whole, I’m not really a lover of ballads, and as far as Ayu’s are concerned, I find many of her winter ballads boring. I have a terrible time telling them apart and an apt to skip them when listening to an album to get to the songs I actually like.
One of these is "Days," which was released in December 2008. There is nothing to distinguish it from any of Ayu’s other winter ballads — any J-pop artist could have released it without much change; it is the quintessential Boring Ayu Winter Ballad. The only other song of Ayu's I actively avoid is "Beautiful Day," which I find annoying and repetitive. If I'm going to listen to Ayu, I'd like to listen to music I actually like.