Namie Amuro – LOVE ENHANCED ♥ single collection

July 25, 2019 at 11:24 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

loveenhanced1ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – LOVE ENHANCED ♥ single collection

1. Say the word (New Arrangement)
2. RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE (New Mix)
3. NEVER END (New Vocal)
4. LOVE 2000 (New Mix)
5. PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (New Mix)
6. think of me (New Vocal)
7. SOMETHING ‘BOUT THE KISS (New Vocal)
8. lovin’ it (Namie Amuro & VERBAL)
9. I HAVE NEVER SEEN (New Arrangement)
10. HimAWArI (New Vocal)
11. no more tears (New Mix)
12. I WILL (New Mix)

♦ ♦ ♦

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LOVE ENHANCED ♥ single collection is the second compilation album by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on March 13, 2002. The album debuted at #3 on the Oricon weekly charts and charted for 10 weeks. It sold 305,040 copies, becoming the #62 best-selling album of 2002.

I was very curious about this album since it looks like it contains better versions of her songs that were released in the era in which Namie already started to improve. Say the word (New Arrangement) is one of the two newest songs and it already gets a makeover. It differs only slightly from the original, but it has more of that typical early 2000s beat and less high pitched synths. It made the song a bit electropop, but it’s still very catchy.

For RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE (New Mix), only slight alterations were made to the arrangement. It’s the second oldest single on the album, but I remember from reviewing it six (!) years ago that I liked the original quite a bit. I like the modern touches to the song and that it’s still that typical groovy late 90s track that it was.

I really like the new vocals on NEVER END (New Vocal), Namie handles the chorus much better than in the original. It’s still a very beautiful ballad with a more oriental feel to it and I still remember most of the song from the single review I did a year ago (to the day).

LOVE 2000 (New Mix) is still the energetic song it’s always been, with the heavy kick drum, synths and strings. The drums are a little loud in my opinion, taking attention away from the rest of the song. I do like that they relied less on the vocoder for this version, making it more genuine.

Most of PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (New Mix) is the same it was, but somehow it still sounds updated. I think it mostly has to do with effects that have been added to some of Namie’s vocal parts, especially the verses and the adlibs in the chorus. It makes this version better than the original, so it’s a good thing they made a new mix if you ask me.

think of me (New Vocal) is supposed to feature only new vocals according to the title, but the arrangement has been altered too. Besides the piano and percussion, high pitched synth notes and a snare drum have been added and Namie herself sounds much more in control as well. With the original she almost succeeded at making a heartfelt ballad for the first time, but this new version did the trick for me.

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Then there’s SOMETHING ‘BOUT THE KISS (New Vocal), a song I really didn’t like. However, they fixed everything that was wrong with it! Namie’s vocals sound less like she’s trying too hard and they dropped the annoying English background vocals while Namie was singing Japanese lyrics, so confusing. Now it’s all Japanese and it sounds much better.

Apparently I missed this song+nation single. lovin’ it (Namie Amuro & VERBAL) was one of a couple of singles that were made in honor of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. I think it lacks heart and basically it does nothing for me, totally forgettable.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN (New Arrangement) is a completely different song now, I don’t know what is happening here. At least they fixed one issue I had with this track, it’s obviously a ballad now. However, I might prefer the original over this one because this is just too quiet. Namie is whispering throughout the song and when it comes to the music there’s almost nothing left. I’m almost falling asleep… zzz…..

HimAWArI (New Vocal) wasn’t a single, but it’s become a fan favorite and apparently Namie was sick during the original recording (which explains why I hated her vocals on that version). Good thing she wanted another shot at it, this sounds so much better. It’s not a particularly special song that’s very memorable (basically I don’t understand the whole fan favorite thing), but it has a nice bounce to it.

I remember liking no more tears (New Mix) and it was stuck in my head for so long after reviewing the single last year. Not much has changed, to the music nor my opinion. It’s a mellow early 2000s R&B/pop track and I really don’t know what it is that makes me like it this much, but I’m glad it’s featured on this album.

Closing the album, there is I WILL (New Mix), Namie’s newest song on this album. It’s her first orchestral ballad and it’s a beautiful one, despite it’s length. It doesn’t drag, however, and I think Namie’s sound on this track is the best yet. It’s definitely my favorite song of Namie’s early years.

LOVE ENHANCED ♥ single collection is an interesting album since I already know all of the original songs, and it was nice to hear them in a kind of updated version. At this point it’s clear that, although her music can still be a hit or miss at times, Namie was on her way to becoming the Japanese Madonna she eventually became. Her music already became better she clearly had vocal training, which payed off in only two years time or so. After this album she ditched Tetsuya Komuro and took creative control of her own career, in which Dallas Austin would play a big part. Let’s see where that took her.

Favorite songsSay the word (New Arrangement) | RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE (New Mix) | NEVER END (New Vocal) | think of me (New Vocal) | no more tears (New Mix) | I WILL (New Mix)

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
3½ stars

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