Namie Amuro – toi et moi

February 2, 2013 at 5:48 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – toi et moi

1. toi et moi -Straight Run-
2. toi et moi -A&S NY Bounce Remix-
3. toi et moi – TV Mix-

toi et moi is the twelfth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on July 7, 1999. The title track was used as the ending theme song for the movie Pokémon: The Movie 2000. It reached #3 on the weekly Oricon charts and charted for 11 weeks. It sold 272,110 copies, becoming the #85 single of 1999.

toi et moi -Straight Run- starts off pretty weird with Namie rapping quite fast to an urban beat (this is actually her first breakaway from pop music into more of an urban R&B style of music). Some say she didn’t wanna release this song because she didn’t believe it would do well, and I can understand her opinion. Even if it’s the ending theme to the Pokémon movie, I can think of better songs to take that spot. I don’t find many highlights in this song and I was expecting so much more from it since everyone is like ‘OMFG it’s the Pokémon soooong’. Yep, so?

Although toi et moi -A&S NY Bounce Remix- is another static remix (apparently you need to watch out for any remix that features the tag NYC/NY), the music fits Namie’s rapping in the first part. I was hoping for something more afterwards, but this things gets so screwed up it’s not funny anymore. The music and vocals don’t go together AT ALL, it just hurts my ears. Ugh.

OVERALL RATING
starhalfstarblankstarblankstarblankstar
1½ star

Namie Amuro – RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE

February 2, 2013 at 5:35 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE

1. RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE -Straight Run-
2. RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE -NYC Uptown remix-
3. RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE -Instrumental-

RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE is the eleventh single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on March 17, 1999. The title song was used as the KOSÉ Cosmetics’ VISÉE CM song and also the Asahi Drink “niceOne” CM song. This single reached #2 on the weekly Oricon charts and charted for 10 weeks. It sold 491,920 copies, becoming the #43 single of 1999.

RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE -Straight Run- finally is another uptempo A-side with a typical 90s pop/dance sound to it, quite like the stuff on ‘SWEET 19 BLUES’ and ‘Concentration 20’. The verses are a bit more intimate, but the chorus sounds like a better version of ‘DON’T WANNA CRY’ with its summerish vibe and gospel choir in the background. The guitar gives this song something funky, and I just like how this turned out for a 1999 song.

Although this remix has a very nice beat and a 90s American hiphop arrangement, RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE is way too static when compared to the lightheartedness of the original. The background music just stays the same for four minutes, no variation, the happy effect is totally gone. And what does NYC have to do with this song anyway. The original gets all the credit again.

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Namie Amuro – I HAVE NEVER SEEN

February 2, 2013 at 5:25 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – I HAVE NEVER SEEN

1. I HAVE NEVER SEEN -SINGLE MIX-
2. I HAVE NEVER SEEN -WITH HER SOUL MIX-
3. I HAVE NEVER SEEN -INSTRUMENTAL-

I HAVE NEVER SEEN is the tenth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on December 23, 1998. The title track was used as the theme song for the NTV dorama Yonigeya Honpo. This single reached #1 on the weekly Oricon charts and charted for 12 weeks. It sold 657,250 copies, becoming the #29 single of 1999.

Diving into Namie’s older songs again. I HAVE NEVER SEEN -SINGLE MIX- is the first song in which she actually has improved her vocals, compared to the stuff she did before she released her first best album ‘181920’. It’s a good song, even for its time, but I have a little trouble with identifying what type of song it is (midtempo or..?). It constantly feels like there’s a beat coming up, and I was kinda anticipating that the whole time. Apart from that, the signature 90s music together with Namie’s own vocals and the background vocals make it come off as quite a powerful song after all.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN -WITH HER SOUL MIX- is more like a 90s R&B approach to the original with a soft and mellow beat in the background. The male voice that was also present in the last part of the original screws up some parts now because his vocal melodies don’t fit this version, but together with the fact that the background melodies only come in when the mix reaches its second verse it’s the only minus. This is all about the vocals, there’s barely any music.

OVERALL RATING
star
starstarblankstarblankstar
3 stars

Namie Amuro – Concentration 20

August 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – Concentration 20

1. Concentration 20 (make you alright)
2. B w/z you
3. Close your eyes, Close to you
4. Me love peace !!
5. No Communication
6. a walk in the park
7. To-day
8. Storm
9. Whisper
10. CAN YOU CELEBRATE?
11. I know
12. How to be a Girl

♦ ♦ ♦

Concentration 20 is the second studio album by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on July 24, 1997. The album reached #1 on the Oricon charts, selling 824,980 copies in its first week. Becoming the #7 album of the year and the #80 best selling album of all time in Japan, it charted for 28 weeks and sold 1,929,860 units.

It surprises me a lot that Concentration 20 (make you alright) has such a heavy rock sound with a heavy drum beat and a lot of agressive electric guitar riffs, at this time Namie was best known for releasing dance/pop tracks so I like this change. The chorus is made very catchy by the background vocals, and a freestyle piano melody spices up the hooks. Namie herself doesn’t sound very energetic most of the time, but she’s not too bad though.

B w/z you is a bit like a rock ballad. Very slow paced drum rhythms, strings and a lot of electric guitar accents make up the arrangement. Namie’s vocals are better than in the previous track, and they even become better when she is accompanied by the background singers. I find this track pretty enjoyable, even with the repetition in the lyrics.

Leaving the rock themed songs for a moment (but still incorporating elements of it), Close your eyes, Close to you features quite a long introduction but the music is amazing. This is the first time synths play a bigger role and they are very agressive, just like the beat coming from a drum machine this time. So yes, you can say this is a rock influenced dance song, a very nice hybrid indeed. Just a little empty at times.

Me love peace !! is actually reggae inspired, why am I not surprised… I think it’s pretty cool how Namie is tackling all these other genres on her album, first she rocked rock (har har) and now she’s kicking it with reggae. There actually are some nice electric guitar riffs and even some brassy accents at some points, just like in original reggae music. She nailed this one. It’s just that the lyricist should’ve paid attention in English class a little more…

And then I was blown away by No Communication, what a track. Back to the regular pop songs, this song is actually not that regular. It has a good solid beat, electric guitar solos and super infectuous synth melodies. When it comes to the vocals, this could easily be her best performance on the entire album, just like this could be my favorite track.

Another favorite of mine is a walk in the park, also a very energetic song and the way I see it now it’s like a precursor to the sound of this album. It was the first single, and also the first in her discography to include more rock elements in the music. It’s still one of her best songs with very uplifting music and catchy vocal melodies, especially in the chorus when she sings the title words.

To-day has a pretty chill introduction until this amazing drum beat and guitars come in, so I guess this is one of the funkier songs on the album. It’s interesting how it still remains a mellow midtempo track besides that, and Namie is keeping her vocals low profile as well. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite track but it definitely drew some attention.

And then I raised an eyebrow over Storm, being an urban rap song… Yes, Namie is rapping her lyrics in the verses. She doesn’t actually suck at it or anything but I like her singing voice way better. The music is rather pumping with a heavy beat, jazzy piano improvisations and brass instruments playing accents. …….Interesting track?

Whisper on the other hand sounds more promising from the start, beginning quite soft but growing into another uptempo agressive track with heavy beats, piano melodies and electric guitars. It wasn’t a very good idea to alter Namie’s vocals in some parts, but that’s just a minor thing although it creeped me out sometimes. This one receives some extra points for being such a strong track.

CAN YOU CELEBRATE? opens lovely with some strings and a flute, leading into this gospel inspired song led by a piano and strings. It’s definitely a favorite of mine and the most memorable track on the album with its unique sound, it’s so uplifting. I love how the background choir leads the entire song into its highlight near the end. Best song on the album, period.

I know is basically an instrumental track, 3 minutes in length, and kind of an intro track to what’s next since it features the same kind of heavy drum break sound which I love. There are a lot of deep synths accompanying the beats, so the overall track is pretty catchy. Just didn’t think it would be an interlude.

Still, the interlude leads perfectly into the last track, although it’s not one of the tracks I really liked. How to be a Girl has some extremely good music, again featuring that lovely drum break and a lot of nice guitar riffs. It’s just that Namie’s vocals are a little empty and I can’t tell the verses and chorus apart, you can say it flows too well. Still when I compare it to some other tracks on the album it’s quite fierce and I guess it’s an okay track.

If one thing is quite clear to me now, Concentration 20 is sooo much better than ‘SWEET 19 BLUES’. Some tracks may still have issues, but they are way smaller than the issues the debut album had (useless interludes, bad vocals, etc.). The singles released prior to this album were very good as well, except for one maybe but you all know how I feel about that one. The succes of the singles prepared me well enough for what the album was gonna be like, and Namie still had some surprises in store. I’m satisfied with what she released after an ‘average’ debut, she became better by the day.

Favorite tracks: Concentration 20 (make you alright) | B w/z you | Me love peace !! | No Communication | a walk in the park | Whisper | CAN YOU CELEBRATE?

OVERALL RATING

3½ stars

Namie Amuro – How to be a Girl

August 29, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – How to be a Girl

1. How to be a Girl -STRAIGHT RUN-
2. How to be a Girl -ADULT EDUCATION MIX-
3. How to be a Girl -INSTRUMENTAL-

How to be a Girl is the eighth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on May 21, 1997. This single reached #1 on the Oricon charts, charting for 11 weeks and selling 772,130 units.

How to be a Girl -STRAIGHT RUN- is the most energetic and dominant A-side of this entire era, opening with a really cool drum break and electric guitar riffs. In the parts that act as the verses of the song, Namie’s vocals are somewhat altered while in the ‘chorus’ she sings in a normal voice. There are many instrumental parts and I can’t really say there really are verses and a chorus, everything just flows along in this energetic hybrid. Out of all the A-sides in this era, I guess I like this one least.

How to be a Girl -ADULT EDUCATION MIX- has an even more agressive sound to the arrangement with deeper bass synths and a much darker feel to it. I don’t like it that they left that amazing drum break out because that was just very original and amazing, this version was pretty empty when compared to that and therefore a bit dull.

Even though both tracks have a solid agressive sound to them unlike her other tracks in this era, I find this single a bit more boring than the rest. I guess that’s why this one sold the least copies of all, being the only one with less than a million. Yup, this could’ve been so much more than it turned out to be. Still, the original version isn’t even that bad.

OVERALL RATING

3 stars

 

Namie Amuro – CAN YOU CELEBRATE?

August 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – CAN YOU CELEBRATE?

1. CAN YOU CELEBRATE? -Wedding Mix-
2. Dreaming I was dreaming -Subconscious Mix-
3. CAN YOU CELEBRATE -Heavenly Mix-
4. CAN YOU CELEBRATE -Wedding Mix Instrumental-
5. Dreaming I was dreaming -Subconscious Mix Instrumental-

CAN YOU CELEBRATE? is the seventh single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on February 19, 1997. This maxi single version was released on December 25, 1997, to commemorate her marriage. The single reached #1 on the Oricon charts and charted for a total of 49 weeks, selling 2,750,220 units.

CAN YOU CELEBRATE? -Wedding Mix- opens beautifully with a full orchestra of strings, piano and a violin. It’s a shame in some way that the gospel influences of the original version have been minimized, but this new mix is amazing as well, being very serene and peaceful. There are a lot of pretty instrumental parts in the song, displaying very well the ‘wedding themed style’ of this mix. The good vocals and the background choir are the cherry on top. Beautiful version.

Dreaming I was dreaming -Subconscious Mix- luckily didn’t threw it’s original sound out to the curb, because I loved the smoother arrangement for the percussion in that version, very urban. This version uses the same sound, but just like the previous track it has a more orchestrated sauce. The strings and piano make it a little mysterious and maybe even a little bit serious when compared to the previous track, but it really works and the overall track is very good.

And then they did the unexpected. On a single filled with orchestrated songs, they make CAN YOU CELEBRATE -Heavenly Mix- an urban mix. I guess the beat and the bass work fine for this song too, but the vocals are brought back to a minimum and the new arrangement doesn’t really work around them to make them stand out more. I guess this could’ve been better, but at least it’s original.

I really like the two orchestrated songs on this single, the new Wedding Mix for CAN YOU CELEBRATE? was amazing and left me stunned, while the mix for Dreaming I was dreaming was a nice 180 from both its own original version and the A-side track on this single, being the mysterious song with a serious undertone. I’m not that satisfied with the Heavenly Mix, it felt more like a ghost remix when it comes to the echoed vocals randomly playing in the background. That was quite a bummer but overall this was a pretty good single.

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

Namie Amuro – a walk in the park

August 29, 2012 at 10:55 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Namie Amuro – a walk in the park

1. a walk in the park -STRAIGHT RUN-
2. a walk in the park -FABULOUS FREAK BROTHERS MIX-
3. a walk in the park -BACK TRACK WITH TK-

a walk in the park is the sixth single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on November 27, 1996. The single reached #1 on the Oricon charts and charted for 16 weeks, selling 1,066,580 units.

a walk in the park -STRAIGHT RUN- started out like it was gonna be a rock song, with electric guitars building up the tension until some synths drop in. The overall song isn’t the rock song I expected but still very energetic and the chorus is very infectuous when Namie sings the title words. Speaking about Namie, I noticed a huge improvement in her vocals as well. I love this song.

The remix version is a little more mysterious and comes off as a lot slower with heavier beats. a walk in the park -FABULOUS FREAK BROTHERS MIX- has an even longer introduction than the original track already had, but this new arrangement sounds cool enough for me to enjoy it. The same electric guitars are featured in this version, but the beat remains different until the chorus. Both versions work really well!

a walk in the park is an extremely enjoyable single if you’re a Namie fan (like me). Don’t be put off by her cranky look on the single’s cover, the main song is such a happy and uplifting song when it comes to the music (the lyrics are kind of bittersweet actually) and it’s just an amazing improvement from her earlier work. Her vocals are finally better, she isn’t off key anymore.

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

Namie Amuro – Uncontrolled

June 24, 2012 at 6:06 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | 1 Comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – Uncontrolled

1. In The Spotlight (TOKYO)
2. NAKED
3. GO ROUND (‘N ROUND ‘N ROUND)
4. Sit! Stay! Wait! Down!
5. Hot Girls
6. Break It (AL Ver.)
7. Get Myself Back
8. Love Story
9. Let’s Go
10. SINGING “YEAH-OH”
11. Fight Together
12. ONLY YOU
13. Tempest

♦ ♦ ♦

Uncontrolled is the ninth studio album by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on June 27, 2012. The album compiles four singles previously released, “Break It / Get Myself Back”, “NAKED / Fight Together / Tempest”, “Sit! Stay! Wait! Down! / Love Story” and “Go Round / YEAH-OH”. The song “ONLY YOU” was used as the theme song for the “UEFA EURO 2012”.

Damn, I have waited so long for this album!

In The Spotlight (TOKYO) is one of the all-English songs on this album, which is one of the biggest surprises of all, but this first track has another surprise. This could very well turn out to be the biggest dance anthem of 2012 if you ask me. The verses have an amazingly agressive synth arrangement, while the chorus is highly addictive. Namie herself is very good at singing in English, oh my.

The music is the center point in NAKED, and the arrangement is very well developed. Being very energetic, I like its position on the album right behind In The Spotlight (TOKYO). There are some more instrumental parts in this song than usual, with the synths as the best part of all.

Like I said in the single review, the Japanese version of this English track GO ROUND (‘N ROUND ‘N ROUND) was borderline perfection and it still is. A synth heavy track, third uptempo in a row now but the overall sound is too good to pay attention to that tiny detail. Again Namie’s English is top notch and this song is so catchy and uplifting, I love it.

I like to call Sit! Stay! Wait! Down! the ‘Dog Song’, really xD But for a ‘dog song’ it’s so damn catchy, I don’t know how the woman does it, releasing all these addictive songs. After GO ROUND it’s very cool to hear Namie use her lower pitch again in this bouncy track. ‘Good boy, good boy’ ? GOOD GIRL.

Hot Girls is the next new track. The line ‘Hot girls make the world go round‘ is an amazing opening line to another nice uptempo and synth heavy song, in English too. It’s a short track, maybe a little short to develop well enough, but it’s not bad and a good dance/pop song.

Break It (AL Ver.) is like a remix for the original song, released way back in 2010. I kinda miss the original arrangement with the funky guitar riffs, but then again this arrangement fits the overall dance/pop feel of the album much much better. Namie’s vocals come out better as well, loved them.

We immediately get the other B-side of the same single Break It was on: Get Myself Back, the first ballad on the album and a very interesting song. After a lot of uptempo dance/pop tracks a smooth R&B track gets thrown in and I LOVE IT. The beat was the best part of all, being loud and hiphop orientated at first, then fading for a lovely piano, strings and synth based arrangement.

I fell in love with the intro for Love Song, it’s so fragile and intimate. Being the best ballad of 2011 (and now 2012) in my opinion, this song has it all. A smooth fingersnap beat, a lovely piano melody, soothing strings and Namie’s beautiful, deep and solid vocals with an amazing strength!

Let’s Go is the next new track on the album, and very synth heavy from the start. It’s the only new track that’s in Japanese but it’s fierce as hell. Typical dance/pop track but it just wows me, the energy it provides is amazing.

SINGING “YEAH-OH” is ofcourse the English version of YEAH-OH, and to me it was the mysterious song on the GO ROUND/YEAH-OH single. It features another synth and beat heavy arrangement but Namie’s vocals are deeper and the synths are lower pitched to give it that uplifting and yet mysterious feel. “Singing yeaaah-oh, singing yea-ea-eah-oh“!!

Another great uplifting track is Fight Together, in which Namie definitely shows her vocals have developed and strengthened over the past years. What I like about this song is that it has the typical uptempo beats and synths, but some parts are sparked up by brassy instruments and strings. Kinda reminds me of BoA’s ‘fallin’…

The fourth and last new track on the album is the UEFA EURO 2012 theme song ONLY YOU, and due to its purpose I can’t help but compare it to Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’ two years ago. When compared, I have to admit Shakira wins when it comes to the impact, but as an individual song ONLY YOU isn’t bad at all and defintely suitable for the UEFA EURO. It’s uptempo, catchy and very energetic, and I love Namie’s line ‘The only thing that can touch me is you’.

And then we fall into the last track of the album, probably one of the best songs released last year: Tempest. I instantly fell in love with the melody, especially in the verses, and there’s such a great sense of drama to the song. Namie took her vocals to another level as well, she surprised me with her amazing belting in the chorus. Perfect song, and perfect to end the album as well.

I’m gonna keep this short, I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS ALBUM. I loved each and every track, I pressed that ‘LOVE’ button on Last FM every time. Namie needs to stop that ‘Queen of Hip-Pop’ thing, now she’s the ‘Queen of Dance/Pop’. She took that genre and nailed it with her many catchy, synth heavy songs, and put in her most beautiful ballads to date as well. Everything combined might give the best album of 2012! Let’s wait for the december posts to determine that, but I’m sure she’ll end up in the top 3 for sure. ALL TRACKS RECOMMENDED.

Favorite tracks: In The Spotlight (TOKYO) | NAKED | GO ROUND (‘N ROUND ‘N ROUND) | Sit! Stay! Wait! Down! | Get Myself Back | Love Song | SINGING “YEAH-OH” | Tempest

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

Covers and tracklists for Namie Amuro’s ‘Uncontrolled’ released

May 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

    

Artist: Namie Amuro
Album: Uncontrolled
Release Date: 2012.06.27
Price: ¥3,990 (CD+DVD) / ¥3,150 (CD only) / ¥1,980 (PLAYBUTTON)
Preorder:

~CD Tracklist~
1. ONLY YOU
2. Hot Girls
3. In The Spotlight (Tokyo)
4. Let’s Go
5. Go Round
6. YEAH-OH
7. Sit! Stay! Wait! Down!
8. Love Story
9. NAKED
10. Fight Together
11. Tempest
12. Break It
13. Get Myself Back

~DVD Tracklist~
1.
ONLY YOU (Music Video)
2. Hot Girls (Music Video)
3. In The Spotlight (Tokyo) (Music Video)
4. Let’s Go (Music Video)
5. Go Round (Music Video)
6. YEAH-OH (Music Video)
7. Love Story (Music Video)
8. NAKED (Music Video)
9. Tempest (Music Video)
10. Break It (Music Video)
11. Get Myself Back (Music Video)

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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