ONE OK ROCK and their Ambitions

Friday, February 03, 2017

Hi guys! I know it's quite late already but first, let me greet all of you a happy new year 🎆
Yes it's 2017 and you do know what that means right?
The most awaited new album of ONE OK ROCK is finally here!

screenshot from the MV of "We Are"

'Ambitions' is the eighth (8th) full length studio album of ONE OK ROCK and it comes in two (2) versions: the Japanese version (released on January 11, 2017 under A-Sketch), and the international version (released on January 13, 2017 under Fueled By Ramen). This album was produced by Colin Brittain, Dan Lancaster, and John Feldmann who produced the band's previous album '35XXXV'.  Also this time, they worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry for this album such as Tyler Carter from ISSUES and Mark Shinoda from Linkin Park.
.. I'm stoked as hell!

Ambitions Japanese version limited edition CD + DVD. 

FIRST IMPRESSION/S: I was quite curious about the title, written in black ink with a small pink 'x' mark at the center of a yellow cover. Out of all the ONE OK ROCK albums I've encountered, this is definitely the brightest one in appearance. If you're unfamiliar with the band, you'd probably think it's an all-girl group, or worse, a boy band. But music-wise, it couldn't be that bad or shocking right? Since they've already released a couple of music videos of some tracks included in this album, and I'm excited to listen to it once I finally got my hands on my own copy 😀

Ambitions Japanese version limited edition CD + DVD

So as mentioned earlier, 'Ambitions' comes in two (2) versions. Most songs are included in both versions, however there are about 2 or more tracks that are exclusive in each of them. The international version's tracks are all in English and it features Alex of All Time Low in one of the exclusive tracks. While in the Japanese version, all songs have Japanese lyrics and they had Avril Lavigne featured in the Japanese version of the song "Listen".

Ambitions International CD

Anyhow, let's move on to the tracks.

Let's start with the songs both versions had on them:

  • Ambitions (intro)And now the journey begins. So get ready to listen to the ambitious side of ONE OK ROCK as they take you to a whole different level of musicality and versatility. 
  • Bombs AwayAs expected in every ONE OK ROCK album, the first track is always an upbeat one. Prior to the intro, this is where they are supposed to be now. The verses of the song kinda reminds me of Avril Lavigne’s song “Sk8er boi”, in the bridge part of it though. Seems like Avril is a huge influence in making this album too. Everyone can tell this song is opt to gather more audience in the west, but what I love about this one is that a part of this song shows that 'Niche Syndrome' roots of the band and they want to share that to their fans all over the world. Nice one, ONE OK ROCK! First track – totally nailed it!
  • Taking OffThis song was used as an OST for the Japanese movie “Museum”. To be honest I’m not a huge fan of this track. Not even that outstanding for me. In my own opinion, there’s not much of the song that I can really relate to as of the moment I’m listening. BUT what really caught my full attention is the beats and how it is wonderfully produced. It’s clever they put this song as the third one for the album. Fits well for its heavy timbre.

  • We AreTHIS! I could totally declare that ONE OK ROCK slayed Ambitions with this track. I adore every part of it! What really touched me is that the fact they're bringing their brand to the whole world. We as fans know that OOR is known for its strong beats and emotional lyrics, and now they are letting each and every person in this planet experience that. Their songs have powerful messages that could move the hearts of many. I could never be more proud that they’ve made it this far already. My dream for them is to touch more people just like what they did to me, and this song is the key. I’m pretty confident that “We Are” could push barriers for them as a band. It’s a song that everybody needs to listen. 

  • Bedroom WarfareOne word: SEXY. I don’t understand why a lot of fans are dissing this track. Maybe it’s just me, or I’m just into dancing too much. Honestly it was on loop for days. I think OOR did a great job of exploring what they can do with their music. "Bedroom Warfare" is one of those songs where I can envision remixes by today’s famous DJs and produce a sick dance/club track. What do you guys think? You may or may not disagree with me but hey! It’s all about ambitions this time, and I must say this song is way too ambitious in good way.

  • I Was King - Definitely a power track. The whole song itself is majestic which just makes it as one of the unforgettable songs that OOR will ever have. The song’s all about you’ll never know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone and now you’re fighting to retrieve everything you’ve got and letting go of all the regrets you had. 

  • Listen A song about friendship. Another winner from this album indeed! Not that much of a fave of mine, but its lyrics is so heavy, especially on the part where it says I wish I could save you from the pain you’ve been through, and all I can tell you is the best thing to do.” But cheers to ONE OK ROCK for achieving another milestone. I know these guys are huge fans of Avril Lavigne, and now they finally have a collab with her. How cool is that?
  • One Way TicketBittersweet. Why Taka? WHY??? YES it is a pop track, but not trashy one. I’m surprised that it blends well with OOR. Once I listened to it and got the lyrics by heart, God I fell in love! I could listen to it all day. Still not convinced? We’re used to OOR having ballads from their previous albums right? Consider this song as one, but mixed in a way that could fit into the western audience and you won’t get disappointed. A song about missing someone and longs to see that person, and desperately needs that one-way ticket home. If I were to choose between the two versions, I'd say the Japanese one is the best.
  • Bon Voyage - Supposedly a French phrase that means "have a nice trip", but it's total sarcasm as I listen to this. A bad break up I presume? haha. It was said in one of ONE OK ROCK’s radio interviews that this song is what Toru’s most excited about, and I can see why. The riffs are heavy on the bridge part which proves that this band is more than what the mainstream audience would expect of them to be. 
  • Start Again - This track is a silent killer! Trust me, this is the second most relatable song in this album, or could be the first for some. Just when you thought this album will be in all-out pop rock genre, then think again. A bit of it song kinda reminds me of "Nobody's Home" though and I don't know why lml. I love the part where Taka passionately screams the line "I won't say I'm sorry for being who I AAAAAAAAAAAM!!! Is the EEEEEND a chance to start again?"
  • Take What You Want (feat. 5 Seconds Of Summer) - If you're a fan of 5SOS and reading his review, well first let me apologize because I'm never a fan of them to be honest. OOR having a collab with them is a total shocker for me, but what I find more shocking is that how beautiful this song turned out to be and I meant that.

Japanese version exclusive tracks:

  • 20/20 It was slow and chill at first. You’d probably think that it’s an acoustic ballad, but NO. It’s pretty much one of the hardcore songs from this album. The lyrics is somewhat related to “The Way Back” but with more angst. This is actually one of the popular songs from 'Ambitions'. A lot of fans loved it – and hey! So do I.
  • Always Coming BackThis song was the very first single released from this album and it has always been my personal favorite. It’s one of those sweet songs that ONE OK ROCK made, and if you listen to this one, whether you understand the lyrics fully or not, it will leave that special mark in your heart. It never fails to make me emotional. Probably I’d blame the cool vibe of Taka’s voice and the chills that the sound of the piano brings. 
  • Lost In Tonight - Reminds me a lot of “Mighty Long Fall”, but a little more subtle. Not that much memorable song for me, but it's worth listening to.
  • The 'Hidden Track' - It can be found right after "Take What You Want". So don't hit that stop button yet and wait for Toru to pluck the strings of his acoustic guitar and let it serenade you with Taka's sweet voice and heartwarming lyrics.

International version exclusive tracks:
  • Jaded (feat. Alex from All Time Low) - As I'm listening to this song and writing this review, there's something about it that's deja vu. The song's kinda familiar to me. I just couldn't get the gist of it. If you guys feel the same way as I do now, please do leave a comment below so that I'd know I'm not the only one losing my mind here lml.
  • Hard To Love - A heartfelt song written by Taka for his father. See? I told you guys it's 'Niche Syndrome' 2.0 happening here. In that album, they had the song "Nobody's Home" that taka wrote about his relationship with his parents during his teenage years. This became a massive hit in Japan, and now the frontman of the band can't wait to share it to the fans from the west, but this song is a lot mellow compared to "Nobody's Home" consider that it's an acoustic one. This song was performed during the SLFL tour with 5SOS. Ryota used the ViolaFon during their live shows in the US. I was really amazed on how skilled Ryota was. He started with nothing, and now he plays not just the bass but also the cello, guitar, and the keyboard.

  • American Girls - I hate this. I REALLY HATE THIS!!! I DESPISE IT LIKE I COULD TURN MY BACK AWAY FROM THIS BAND FOR LIFE!!! But not until I put it on loop and got some major LSS issues with it. I learned to love it because it's catchy AF! I'm pretty surprised ONE OK ROCK was able to pull off with a song like this one. The ambiance of its tunes resembles a mixture of 50's music and this generation's pop-rock genre. But honestly speaking, this song gives me that 'Uptown Girl' vibe and it got me hooked. (BTW the MV for this song is badass!)

Overall: 9.5/10! I am NOT disappointed at all you guys. I consider 'Ambitions' as one of the best albums ONE OK ROCK has ever made. For me 'JinseixBoku=' is irreplaceable at my top spot, but 'Ambitions' will definitely leave you speechless. We are talking about the band breaking out to the international music scene for real this time and they are doing it as genuinely as they could. 'Ambitions' showed the ambitious side of the band and that's up to us fans whether to accept it or not. A few days ago I've seen that interview where Taka said that this is their best album, but to tell you the truth I don't fully agree with that. Probably what Taka meant to say in that interview is that 'Ambitions' is the best album for all audiences to enjoy. Because let's face it you guys, not all ethnicities can relate to their previous albums (unless you're a huge fan the Japanese culture), and because the boys are so eager to reach out to everyone in the world, they put out everything as best as they can, which leads us to the BEST international album of ONE OK ROCK and that's 'Ambitions'.

To sum up my thoughts about 'Ambitions':
  • Obviously the whole album is considered to be in the pop-rock genre because they are aiming for the mainstream audience. I know a lot of "good old fans" opposed to this one and says that ONE OK ROCK is now ONE OK POP. Okay, for starters the band's name is from the word ONE O'CLOCK and it's difficult for Japanese people to pronounce the letter 'L', that's how they ended up with ONE OK ROCK and now because of the genre. You as an old fan should know that first hand ugh!
  • Yes the album is westernized, but I'm not totally surprised with that anymore unlike '35XXXV' considering that they are working with non-Japanese people with different musical backgrounds and influences, so it's expected that this album would be the same. I'm happy that ONE OK ROCK took a leap of faith with that and look at where they are now. Those guys are the bravest people alive that I know.
  • I love the way how Taka, Toru, Ryota, and Tomoya worked really hard for this album to be a success. They pushed into their limits. They tried a lot of styles. Each track has its own flavor and personality which makes this whole album a memorable one. They never did it to please anyone and they want to share their craft to the world in the simplest way they could. The songs are easy-listening, and that's why the international version was made with full English lyrics because they want to make sure it's understandable for everyone. These guys are so generous with their time and effort and with that, they never fail to amaze and inspire me as a musician.

...and that's it! WHEW!
I hope you guys find my review interesting and helpful. Sorry if it took you 48 years to finish reading it 😂  If you have any comments or reactions please comment them all down below because I'd really love to hear from y'all.
In my next post, I will share to you guys my top 10 picks from this album because I love it so much and I just feel like I have to haha.

'till next post! - k*

check out my other ONE OK ROCK album reviews:
...and just in case you're interested, you can..
Buy 'Ambitions' Japanese version limited edition ->
Buy 'Ambitions' International version ->
Stream 'Ambitions' on Spotify for free:

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  1. love the review sis!! This is not my favorite album of ONE OK ROCK but I like it more than 35xxxv (like I've always been saying). But I like American Girls, tho. and I know you knew that already. I don't know but there's something about that song. It's very catchy. However, I've never imagined the MV would be like the MV they did. I was imagining it differently. Like, it was more pabebe fit for screaming teenage american girls. Haha!

    1. I'm glad you loved it sis. Thank you! :)
      and I felt the same! I was kinda expecting that too. But I'm happy that it turned out to be a funny one haha

  2. Oh my! We're the same! I supeeeer liked Start Again but I feel like it didn't get the success it deserved (I mean to be included in the setlist always).
    And I agree with you, JinseixBoku is just irreplaceable ❤️

    1. Hi there Alyssa! I know right? But I'm really happy they tried to reach out for more audiences. I'm glad Ambitions happened. They just took their music into a whole different level now.



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