Namie Amuro – SWEET 19 BLUES (album)

April 17, 2012 at 7:36 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – SWEET 19 BLUES

1. watch your step!!
2. motion
3. LET’S DO THE MOTION
4. PRIVATE
5. Interlude ~ Ocean way
6. Don’t wanna cry (Eighteen’s Summer Mix)
7. Rainy DANCE
8. Chase the Chance (CC Mix)
9. Interlude ~ Joy
10. I’LL JUMP
11. Interlude ~ Scratch Voices
12. i was a fool
13. present
14. Interlude ~ Don’t wanna cry Symphonic Style
15. You’re my sunshine (Hollywood Mix)
16. Body Feels EXIT (Latin House Mix)
17. ’77~
18. SWEET 19 BLUES
19. …soon nineteen

♦ ♦ ♦

SWEET 19 BLUES is the debut solo album by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on July 22, 1996. It reached #1 on the Oricon charts and sold 3,186,860 copies, becoming the #2 album of 1996. It charted for 42 weeks and sold a total of 3,359,450 copies, making it Amuro’s best-selling album. This is the #13 best-selling album in Japan.

I’m gonna pretend watch your step!!, motion and Interlude ~ Scratch Voices don’t exist, because they’re not even tracks at all with just some footsteps or only 4 seconds of Namie saying one little sentence. Just so you know.

LET’S DO THE MOTION reminds me of old school 90s hiphop with a great beat and vibe to it. Namie does a pretty good rap in the verses until she starts talking which sounds pretty weird, but the background choir in the chorus does a very nice job. I totally love the music in this track, it’s funky with the guitar riffs and freestyle keyboard solo near the end. I actually like this pretty much for a first full length track.

PRIVATE hasn’t got much going on, especially when it comes to Namie’s nagging vocals right from the very start. But I do like the kind of jungle style of the music with some tribal xylophone sounds and keyboard chords. Namie has another rap part in this track as well, and at this time she was actually better at rapping than singing to be honest so that made the song bearable. Still it should’ve been shorter because five minutes of this is pointless.

So Interlude ~ Ocean way is pretty much all strings, but it’s really pretty and soothing so it’s a nice interlude.

A complete 180 from the interlude is Don’t wanna cry (Eighteen’s Summer Mix), which I kind of always liked and hated both at the same time for years. The track is amazingly catchy with some really funky elements in the percussion, jazzy piano melody, saxophone and funky guitar riffs, but don’t get me started on Namie’s vocals because’s they’re complete junk. The background choir kind of saves her, but makes her vocals sound even more horrible too. I’ll give this track the benefit of the doubt because it’s as catchy as heck.

Rainy DANCE actually becomes quite a depressing song with the sounds of real rain, but it’s a lounge track so I’m not really complaining. I don’t even have many negative thoughts on Namie’s vocals in this track. She’s still a bit off, but she’s improved and the background vocals are so out of place here they also make her sound better during most parts of the track. The song isn’t something very special, but it has its moments.

Every single has got a little remixed version on the album, and so does Chase the Chance (CC Mix), which I thought was her best single of the entire era. It has some flaws, like the music overpowering both Namie and her background singers, but Namie herself comes out so much stronger here. She’s not straining as much as she usually does, so I think considering the rest of the album this one totally rocks.

They decided to make Joy an interlude, Interlude ~ Joy, and even though it’s not something I’d put on repeat the track was better as a full length one on her ‘SWEET 19 BLUES’ single. This just stops out of nowhere while I actually enjoyed the beat.

I’LL JUMP needed a while to take off, it only becomes interesting when the entire arrangement drops in after a boring interlude. Namie has her bad moments of really bad pitching, but her vocals are actually pretty good in the verses. The background vocals make this song a little catchier, but still it’s a pretty generic track.

Since Interlude ~ Scratch Voices is basically all about Namie saying “Wakaranai yo”, I’m gonna skip to i was a fool. It’s a pretty loungey track with some really good percussion and nice saxophone accents. Namie again raps in this song, but I find her performance less interesting and even cheesy this time. The song just flows without anything happening.

I liked the single version of present much more because that featured more of Namie’s cute Japanese talking instead of this pitchy singing hell. I don’t know what she’s done but was this girl on helium or what? The song itsself is actually really pretty and I loved the laid back lounge quality with the saxophone playing in the background, so just ditch the vocals alright.

I didn’t recognize much of the original song in Interlude ~ Don’t wanna cry Symphonic Style and it was over pretty soon after that, but at least it sounded nice and vintage.

The music for You’re my sunshine (Hollywood Mix) is much more lighthearted and carefree than in the original, and again there are many brassy influences in this song. The original speed-up section is featured here as well, and it finally makes sense. Too bad it’s followed by the terrible line ‘I am your sunshine, you are my sunshine‘ which was really terrible, but Namie actually sounds good in the verses. Despite that one line, I might even start to finally like this track.

I gigantic change of style with Body Feels EXIT (Latin House Mix), which features a really nice bongo percussion but terrible repetition of the title words in the first part of the song. It’s a typical long remix made up from fragments and it’s such a shame the song starts at about 4:30… The intro is way too damn long, but at least the musical is really latin and quite catchy. If this track was 3 to 4 minutes shorter, it would’ve been a keeper.

I’ve always liked ’77~ for its soothing, melodious and beachy quality. The strings arrangement in the background is actually really pretty!

SWEET 19 BLUES is a very personal song to Namie, and also one of her better on this album. I like how she sings in a much lower pitch for this track, it suits her so much better. It’s her best vocal performance on the album. The track features some pretty loud percussion, but it sounds quite fine combined with the strings and piano melody.

…soon nineteen is a bit pointless because it’s like an extra to the previous song. An organ plays the melody of SWEET 19 BLUES and then Namie decided to just sing in a really off and childish way. So… did we actually need this?

The last track was a bit of a bummer, but this album was actually a bit better than I expected. Somehow I can understand why it sold so many copies in Japan; the music is so damn good and catchy, Testuya Komuro did an amazing job on all the tracks! At this point in her career, Namie’s music had a loungey, laid back and even jazzy pop style and it just sounds great. The only thing is her damned vocals, which were terrible in some of the tracks. She needed voice lessons BADLY, and thank god everything turned out right some years later. As for SWEET 19 BLUES, it’s a good thing the album grew on me for the last couple of years.

Favorite tracks: LET’S DO THE MOTION | Don’t wanna cry (Eighteen’s Summer Mix) | Chase the Chance (CC Mix) | ’77~ | SWEET 19 BLUES

OVERALL RATING

3 stars

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