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)
3. NEVER END (New Vocal)
4. LOVE 2000 (New Mix)
6. think of me (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)

♦ ♦ ♦


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.


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)

3½ stars


Namie Amuro – I WILL

July 24, 2019 at 11:29 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

Namie Amuro – I WILL

2. I WILL in L.A.
3. I WILL with piano
4. I WILL not sing

I WILL is the nineteenth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on February 14, 2002. This single reached #7 on the weekly Oricon charts, and sold 95,120 copies.

Now I WILL is a very long track at almost seven minutes, but here we go. It’s a ballad with a bit of an oriental feel to it while it’s still contemporary, which is nice. What caught me off guard most were Namie’s totally in control vocals. Her voice really soars over the strings and piano and I don’t think she had ever sounded this good up to this point. That alone makes this one of her best songs of her early career in my opinion, despite the length of the track. It’s beautiful!

I WILL in L.A. is pretty much the same song, even the arrangement sounds very much the same except for the choir that joins in. It does take the song to the next level. I WILL with piano strips the song of everything except Namie’s vocals and the piano arrangement. It’s still very pretty, but out of the three versions of the song I think I prefer the ‘in L.A.’ version because of the choir.

4 stars

Namie Amuro – Say the word

July 24, 2019 at 11:17 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment


Namie Amuro – Say the word

1. Say the word
2. Let’s not fight
3. Say the word (Breeze House Mix)
4. Say the word (Instrumental)
5. Let’s not fight (Instrumental)

Say the word is the eighteenth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on August 8, 2001. It was used as the commerical song for KOSÉ Cosmetics Luminous line of lipstick. The single reached #3 on the weekly Oricon chart, selling a total of 183,840 copies.

Say the word makes clear that Namie’s vocals have improved very, very much since she started her career. Her belts are much more on key and her voice overall has a more pleasant sound to it. The music has a very catchy early 2000s sound to it and it’s very danceable, I quite enjoy it. The only issue I have with this song is Namie’s English (“say the world“).

Let’s not fight is the more mellow pop track of the single and Namie’s singing over a guitar and percussion arrangement. I find it a bit boring though, with a lot of repetition going on and the strange distorted vocals. Maybe this one will grow on me and I don’t think it’s a bad song, it’s just not special.

The beat in Say the word (Breeze House Mix) is very nice, it actually spices up the original. And for once a remix that features the word ‘House’ in its title is actually a house remix. This remix might even be better than the original song, it has a fuller arrangement that fits the overall feel better.

3½ stars

Namie Amuro – break the rules

July 26, 2018 at 12:22 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

breaktherules1ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – break the rules

2. no more tears
3. better days
4. break the rules
7. never shoulda
8. CROSS OVER (Album Mix)
10. NEVER END (Album Mix)
11. think of me
12. RULE 8PM
13. HimAWArI
14. no more tears REMIX

♦ ♦ ♦

breaktherules2break the rules is the fourth album by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on December 20, 2000. The album reached #2 on the Oricon charts, making it Namie’s first album not to reach #1. Yet it sold 334,520 copies and was certified platinum.

RULE 8AM is basically recordings of Namie in an American supermarket. Kind of unnecessary.

no more tears is the first full length track and I’m actually glad this opens the album! Since I reviewed the single yesterday it remained stuck in my head, especially the chorus. This song also shows how much Namie’s vocals have improved. It could have been a bit shorter, but I still enjoyed every bit of it (the last 2 minutes are best).

I like the arrangement in better days, the plucked strings make it a lighthearted and the overall vibe is very laid back. This is probably why Namie herself sounds very much at ease, songs like this one complimented her voice best at the time. The more I listen to it, the more I like it.

The title track, break the rules, is quite interesting. The rap parts are like a throwback to the old Namie, only with better vocal control. It’s sassy and Namie knows how to handle it, but the one thing she can’t do is pronounce the title words right (‘break the lures‘?). The previous two songs were much better, but this isn’t a disaster so to speak.

LOOKING FOR YOU is Namie’s first song that is entirely in English, which makes it easier for me haha. It shows a different side of her and I must say I’m impressed with the way she handles it. It’s nice and catchy and I think this could really grow on me after a few listens.

After a couple of breezy R&B songs, PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (Album Mix) is more edgy with the electric guitars and loud percussion. I still don’t like the haunting strings that appear throughout the songs, but when I ignore them this is actually a good track. Doesn’t really have a highlight, but the placing on the album already does it more justice than the single.

never shoulda is one of the new tracks and it fits well after PLEASE SMILE AGAIN since it continues that edgier sound. But where the previous song is more pop/rock, this is more R&B. It’s decent, but to me there is a misfit between the verses and the chorus, a completely different sound.

breaktherules3CROSS OVER (Album Mix) was paired with PLEASE SMILE AGAIN on the latter song’s single release. I like the melodies in this one and Namie sounds very confident. The arrangement tends to be all over the place at times, but somehow it works and it makes this better than its A-side PLEASE SMILE AGAIN. Nice detail: an uncredited male rapper fills up the space around 3:30 minutes that was left empty in the single version.

Somehow in GIRLFRIEND someone thought it was a good idea for Namie to sing in a very high voice. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but in this case it’s borderline nagging. Which is a shame because it could have been a very nice song but the way Namie uses her voice kind of ruins it.

I was kind of disappointed to hear that NEVER END (Album Mix) is more like the single’s radio edit instead of the original mix, which had more Japanese elements in it, but it’s still by far one of the best tracks on the entire album. It’s incredibly catchy, the arrangement has a lot of body and Namie nailed the vocals on this one. Highlight of the album, if not her early career as a whole.

It makes sense that think of me would be placed behind NEVER END, it fits very well. I’m still a bit baffled that they didn’t polish her vocals on this one, but that put aside this is a beautiful ballad with a lot of potential. The arrangement is among the best on the album, but her vocals haven’t been this bad before. I actually feel a bit embarrassed for her.

RULE 8PM, again unnecessary, so what if the girl goes to a store.

There is a nice bounce to HimAWArI that I like, but that’s probably where the liking stops. Namie’s vocals are way too loud and it’s like she can’t control what she’s doing. To me it sounds like she’s at some bad karaoke club and she’s trying her best to sing well, but sometimes she’s almost off key.

I believe the no more tears REMIX is basically an extended version of the club dub that was featured on the single release, but that was already a long track and now it’s a whopping 9 minutes long. However, it does feature more vocals which was what was missing from the club dub! A little side note: this album was released before said single, so basically it’s the other way around and they shortened this remix and edited out some of the vocals, but I reviewed them in reverse order (on purpose) which explains my point of view. Anyway, I really enjoyed this remix and I’m glad they put it on the album.

I was anxious at first to pick up where I left off over 5 years ago when I was last reviewing Namie’s discography. Her first three albums weren’t that good; most of the songs sounded the same and Namie had to take some singing lessons. She lost a lot of fans to Ayumi Hamasaki and Utada Hikaru, but maybe that opened her eyes. She traded long time producer Tetsuya Komuro for American producer Dallas Austin and her singing improved, and the result is this album that is by far much better than her previous ones! But hey, it’s quite easy to top the disaster that ‘GENIUS 2000’ was.

Favorite songsno more tears | better days | PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (Album Mix) | CROSS OVER (Album Mix) | NEVER END (Album Mix)

3½ stars


Namie Amuro – think of me / no more tears

July 25, 2018 at 3:12 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

thinkofmenomoretears.pngSINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – think of me / no more tears

1. think of me
2. no more tears
4. no more tears (club dub)

think of me / no more tears is the seventeenth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on January 24, 2001. The single reached #7 on the charts, selling 112,670 copies.

Despite what others might think, I say think of me is Namie’s first serious attempt at a heartfelt ballad and she ALMOST succeeded at it. The arrangement has been kept simple with mainly piano, guitars and percussion and it sounds beautiful, leading into a big ending. The only thing screwing it up at times is Namie herself. Her vocals have improved a lot, but someone should’ve told the girl she wasn’t ready for Whitney Houston-style adlibs. At times she almost nailed it, but mostly she didn’t. Luckily Namie re-recorded the song in 2002 for her ‘LOVE ENHANCED♥  single collection’ and it sounded a lot better.

no more tears is an uptempo pop song about a girl that doesn’t want to cry over her boyfriend anymore. The arrangement is typical 00’s pop with a nice bounce to it and Namie kept her vocals relaxed throughout the track. The further it progresses, I start to like it more and more.

For I TO YOU, Namie took a page from TLC’s book for a slick R&B approach. I acknowledge that this was very much a song of its time and it was probably successful among her die-hard fans, but it’s plain and bland most of the time.

It’s clear that the second A-side was the more popular of the two since it got its own remix. no more tears (club dub) is like a more uptempo Summer beach club version of the original and it quite suits the overall theme of the song. But, as is mostly the case with Namie’s remixes, I’m missing some vocals. Other than that, very enjoyable.

3½ stars


July 25, 2018 at 2:46 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

pleasesmileagain.pngSINGLE REVIEW

2. CROSS OVER (TK Original Mix)
3. PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (Jamaster A Mix)
5. PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (acapella)

PLEASE SMILE AGAIN is the sixteenth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on October 4, 2000. The single peaked at #2 on the charts, selling 216,960 copies. PLEASE SMILE AGAIN was used as the Meiji Confectionary Fran commerical song.

PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (TK Original Mix) is an interesting song, so different from her previous single ‘NEVER END’ and somewhere between the old Namie and the newly improved (and better singer) Namie. The opening sounds haunting, though I don’t think it was intended to be. It could’ve been a fierce pop/rock song, but it doesn’t quite take off the way it should. Yet it’s catchy enough for me to get used to it and even like it a bit.

The B-side CROSS OVER (TK Original Mix) is actually the better song of the two! The arrangement makes more sense and I like how they used both a soft piano and more edgy electric guitars for a nice 00’s pop track. Namie’s vocals sound better and more confident too. This should’ve been the lead-in for the next album to be honest.

Though some parts of PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (Jamaster A Mix) are very messy, it’s an interesting take on the original and since it completely left out that haunting synth part it might even be better. Yet I’m missing some vocals, if only I’d heard more of Namie..

3½ stars


Namie Amuro – NEVER END

July 25, 2018 at 2:26 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment


Namie Amuro – NEVER END

1. NEVER END (Radio Edit)
2. NEVER END (Original Mix)
3. NEVER END (Chanpuru Mix)
4. NEVER END (Acapella)

NEVER END is the fifteenth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on July 12, 2000. The single peaked at #2 on the Oricon charts, selling 640,310 copies. NEVER END was used as the theme song for the 26th G8 Summit that took place in Okinawa on July 2000.

NEVER END was an important song for Japan at the time, which is probably why the arrangement has more of that Japanese sound than Namie’s previous singles. I’m amazed to hear that Namie’s vocals have improved so much. She’s finally able to hit more high notes without straining, although the chorus is still a little bit too high for her. The Radio Edit and Original Mix differ only slightly, but both have their pro’s and cons. The Radio Edit features Namie’s vocals more prominently, while the Original Mix is more minimal and has that Japanese sound. Overall I’m more satisfied with this single than I thought I would be, it’s actually pretty good!

The Chanpuru Mix just features the choir, not Namie’s own vocals, so it’s like the karaoke version. The Acapella Version is beautiful, but not really acapella since the vocal track was simply taken from the original.

4 stars

Namie Amuro – Hero

August 27, 2016 at 2:49 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Namie Amuro – Hero

1. Hero
2. Show Me What You’ve Got
3. Hero – Instrumental-
4. Show Me What You’ve Got -Instrumental-

Hero is the forty-third single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on July 27, 2016. The single debuted at #6 on the charts and has sold 47,157 copies to date. Hero was used as the opening theme to NHK’s broadcast of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

I really like Hero, I think I can even say that I love it and I can imagine this being the Summer Olympics 2016 anthem it was. It’s interesting that it starts off slow and still manages to wow me, but after the first chorus it speeds up with some more drums and violins. Her vocals even appear to be more solid and energetic, less thin than they were on Mint. Talk about your uplifting and inspiring track…

Now a ballad wouldn’t be the best fit on this single, but I also have my doubts about Show Me What You’ve Got. It’s like a cheerleader pop anthem and it doesn’t feel like a lot of production value went into it. It feels a little empty, and it’s so sad especially since Hero is amazing. I’m not into it, but luckily the A-side saved the day.

4 stars


Namie Amuro – Mint

August 27, 2016 at 2:20 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

mint_zpsmwjbjwypSINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – Mint

1. Mint
2. Chit Chat
3. Mint -Instrumental-
4. Chit Chat -Instrumental-

Mint is the forty-second single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on May 18, 2016. The single debuted at #4 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 44,339 copies to date. Mint was used as the theme song for the Kansai Fuji TV drama Boku no Yabai Tsuma.

When I first heard Mint, I was very surprised by its arrangement. It’s not typical, but it kicks ass. It’s kind of a dance rock song and Namie pulled it off nicely, to say the least. Her voice can be quite thin, but somehow she can handle all the action going on. For me, it’s not that hard to think of any reasons why this single was so successful when she released it. Alright, I’ll give you one: that beat ❤

Chit Chat complements Mint very well because it borrows some of the fierce arrangement, yet the song has its very own sound. The previous song is more dance club, this is for a slumber party with the girls (hence the title, I guess). It took me a couple of listens to really start to like this, but now it’s stuck in my head for the rest of the day. That darn catchy synth riff…

4½ stars

Namie Amuro – Red Carpet

December 3, 2015 at 1:15 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

redcarpet_zpscblhl6lgSingle review
Namie Amuro – Red Carpet

1. Red Carpet
2. Black Make Up
3. Red Carpet -Instrumental-
4. Black Make Up -Instrumental-

Red Carpet is the forty-third single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on December 2, 2015. Black Make Up is used for theme of One Piece ~Adventure of Nevlandia~. The single debuted at #2 on the charts and sold 13,130 copies on its first day.

I feel so proud of Namie, Red Carpet sounds amazing from beginning to end! ‘_genic’, the album released earlier this year, was very good, but some of the songs did not stand out. This track does, so she’s going places with this. It’s very rhythmic, combining electric guitars, synths and acoustic guitars, and very catchy. I love the chorus, her vocals are very good and the melodies are very memorable. All in all, I love this!

Black Make Up is like a throwback to Namie’s ‘PLAY’ days (the 2007 album), it’s as playful as some of the tracks on that particular album. It’s faster paced than the A-side track, kinda funky with a lot of nice electric guitars, baselines and percussion. The arrangement is less full than that of Red Carpet, but it’s more fun while Red Carpet was impressive. All I can say is: perfect combination of two tracks on one single!

5 stars

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