Can You Celebrate the Success of the Queen of Hip-Pop Amuro Namie 20 Years Later?

Can You Celebrate the Success of the Queen of Hip-Pop Amuro Namie 20 Years Later?

Body Feels EXIT
Body Feels EXCITE
What kind of path did I walk
To finally reach you?
I couldn’t see anything, but I wanted
To find something, I’m alone in my room
Holding my legs to my chest, I can’t move but my body feels!!

– “Body Feels Exit” (1995) by Namie Amuro [1]

If you ever came across a Japanese pop song, more than likely it was by Namie Amuro. For the past twenty-three years, Amuro has become a household name as she is everywhere in Japan: CDs, magazine covers, commercials, billboards, pamphlets, and even in-store advertisements. Whether it is because of her youthful, beautiful looks or her superb vocal skills, Namie Amuro is a pop icon that will be around for a long time.

Who is Namie Amuro?

Namie Amuro

You are probably asking, “Didn’t Namie Amuro make her musical debut in 1992? Why are you writing an article about her and her 20th anniversary now?”

It is true that Amuro did make her musical debut in 1992. That was when she was part of the teenage girl group Super Monkey’s. However, it was twenty years ago today on October 25, that Amuro peeled herself away from her idol group image and made a name of herself. That was when she released the first single of her solo career: the single “Body Feels Exit”.

I am not ignoring the fact that many — including at one point her official site — has said that the singles “Taiyou no Season” and “Stop the Music” is part of Amuro’s solo discography. However, if you look at the backs of physical copies for “Taiyou no Season” and “Stop the Music”, the singles are credited under the name “Amuro Namie with Super Monkey’s”. This was because Namie Amuro was still part of the group until the summer of 1995. I consider “Body Feels Exit” as her true solo debut single as the single marked a clear separation between Amuro and The Super Monkey’s.

Becoming the Pop Icon of 90s Japan

Namie Amuro, "Chase the Chance" (1995)
Namie Amuro, “Chase the Chance” (1995)

On the mist of her solo debut, Namie Amuro was already a household name in 1995. Her last two singles with Super Monkey’s became top ten singles. She also appeared in various commercials, magazines, movies, and television shows, including the adorable kids, show “Ponkikkids“.

Whenever she wasn’t donning a pink rabbit suit, Amuro would be found on music programs, attracting various viewers with her sexy, fast-paced dance moves. She would also show off her good sense of style. In fact, it was that sense of style that helped to boost Amuro into the top spot of Japanese pop culture by the end of 1995. Even the fashion featured on her debut single spawn a cult following as the term “Amura”. This term described anyone who had a combination of dyed brown hair, tan skin, and white boots.

Becoming the Queen of Hip-Pop

Namie Amuro (20004)

Over the years, Namie Amuro changed her sound and style to keep up with the ever-changing pop culture. Slowly, Amuro shed the Eurodance-sound that was found in her earlier works and went for a more R&B/hip-hop one. You could hear that shift in 1999 single “toi et toi”. This was due to the Japanese music industry was shifting from dance-pop to R&B, all thanks to Hikaru Utada.

Amuro struggled with the shift as “toi et toi” was branded as a failure and following singles failed to crack the top ten. Actually, the 2002 single “Wishing on the Same Star” was supposed to be her last before a hiatus. There was a plan that would have her go to the US for artist development.[2] However, the single was a surprise success, and Amuro was allowed to continue her career.

It wasn’t until 2004 with the release of “Queen of Hip-Pop” that Amuro was fully cemented as an R&B/hip-hop artist. As much as I can say that I dislike “Want Me, Want Me“, it is a perfect example of Amuro’s hip-hop sound as it presents a backbeat (sitar). It also features Amuro singing the verses in a style that is similar to rapping. Other perfect examples would be the R&B-flavored dance tune “Can’t Sleep, Can’t Eat, I’m Sick” (2006) and her triple A-side single “60s 70s 80s” (2008). By the way, out of the mentioned songs above, “Can’t Sleep, Can’t Eat, I’m Sick” is one of my favorites.

Namie Amuro in Recent Years

Namie Amuro (2012)

Recently, Amuro has gotten back into dance music with the release of “genic” this year. However, she hasn’t forgotten her R&B roots as she fuses that sound with EDM in the album. A good example of this would be “Fashionista“. The sultry opening is mostly R&B-flavored with a baritone saxophone and an electric organ mixed in with programmed clapping. It isn’t until the chorus that the song transforms into an EDM tune.

Whether you like the idol pop Amuro, dance-pop Amuro, or the sultry R&B Amuro, many would agree that Amuro has had a huge impact on the Japanese pop culture. And, it’s all thanks to her music and style. Many artists today and in the past have influenced by Amuro’s style. Even some have tried to copy her, in the case of the 90s’ ASAYAN group FBI.

Amuro has overcome many transformations over the years. And because of that, she will always shine brightly as a Japanese pop-culture legend.

(As you can tell, Amuro Namie is one of my favorite singers. I first got into her when Avex trax has an online streaming channel for music videos back in the early 2000s. I remember the first video of hers that I watched, it was “You’re my sunshine” (1996). ]

She later became my role model when I was in junior high and high school. I always thought that she was a great singer, always looked so beautiful, and had a great sense of style. I was lucky enough to see her live in 2012 with her Domes tour. I was also verrrrrrrrry lucky to see her up-close as I had second-row tickets. That was a dream came true!)

Check out a live performance on some TV show of “Body Feel Exit”:


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Can You Celebrate the Success of the Queen of Hip-Pop Amuro Namie 20 Years Later?

References

[1] “Amuro Namie – Body Feels Exit.” Kiwii Musume 26 Oct. 2005. Web. 25 Oct. 2015. https://lyricstranslate.com/en/body-feels-exit-body-feels-exit.html-0

[2] “Wikipedia: Wishing on the Same Star.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Apr. 2006. Web. 25 Oct. 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wishing_on_the_Same_Star

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