Today I’m making a list of the best singles by one of Japan’s most successful 90s artists, Ami Suzuki. The pop star hasn’t really been a prominent figure the past decade of any sort, but one thing that is certain is that the singer sure belted out some iconic hits throughout her reigning supreme. She’s had a few studio albums—some that have sold bloody millions—numerous top 20 singles on the Oricon chart, and some stellar re-inventions. Let’s take a look at my top 10!
10. Love the Island
This little jiggly pop number is in fact Ami Suzuki’s debut single. And we’re talking about all the way back in 1998 (yes that’s how long it was). The single was in fact a refreshing pop anthem that was influenced by calypso music, as you can hear within its tropical instrumentation. Commercially, the single was quite successful, selling nearly 300,000 copies in Japan and was one of the best-selling singles of the year! Look at that, debuts for Ami Suzuki sure put her at the top of the map!
Apart from her trials with midtempo pop deliveries, Ami Suzuki has always been right at home with high-pumping dance music. Riding a similar wave with her debut releases with Avex Trax, the J-pop princess milked it nicely with her single “Fantastic”, a 90s-like rave anthem that showcased a real futuristic style to it. It wasn’t as successful as her previous singles, only boasting 20,000 units in her native homeland.
Won’t you look at that? Another cover by Ami! Having first covered the hit song “Be Together” in 1999 (it became one of the strongest selling releases that year, a few thousand-off to the one million mark), the hit-maker made her return to contemporary pop music with the slick “Potential Break-Up Song”, a cover originally performed by Disney duo Aly & AJ. Unlike their version, Suzuki’s twist offered a bit more sexier and sophisticated electronic synths and seductive vocals.
As I mentioned before, Ami has always been way better with dance-oriented music, so how would this list be completed without her 1999 floor killer “All Night Long”. Whilst I prefer the 2011 version because of her more mature vocal deliveries and over-the-top production, the original version was a killer of an anthem and sure was a lot different to many uptempo tracks that era. It also managed to be a strong seller, reaching over 300,000 copies in Japan.
6. Be Together
The one hit that made Ami Suzuki a superstar. As mentioned before, this was a cover originally performed by Japanese band TM Network, and whilst their version isn’t that bad, Ms. Ami sure packed a punched into this hit! It sold nearly 900,000 copies, making it her first number one single on the chart and managed to score a place as one of the best-selling singles of the year 1999! A special moment? Yes, I think so!
One of Ami’s most sophisticated and sublime releases, “Kiss Kiss Kiss” was the second of two singles released from her greatest album Ami Selection, released in 2011. The track is a soft pop anthem that lingers your typical dance sound, but what’s great about the track is that it showcases a more triumphant appeal that encompasses her experimentation with J-pop from past, and made it a lot more refreshing for its release. A keeper of a gem!
What I absolutely love about this track is the interesting repetitive sounds throughout the track, making it sound like a scratched record, and the second verse break makes it sound like you’re walking the runway or some Victoria Secret show (yussssss, the fierceness is real with this song). But thankfully, the J-pop starlet pulls it off so well that you wouldn’t even notice. This four-on-the-floor number was a fierce return to the dance floor, but unfortunately, sales weren’t as appreciated. It’s such a shame, because this sounds like a golden opportunity wasted.
Pulling off yet another anthem with the legendary Yasutaka Nakata, Ami Suzuki soared the underground audience with another technopop entry titled “One” (or as the lyrics state, “NUMBER ONE, NUMBER ONE, NUMBER ONE…”). Taken from her stunning record Supreme Show, this number was a hit waiting to happen. And luckily, the song was heavily appreciated by her fanbase.
Out of all the songs from my list, “Can’t Stop the Disco” was the first song that made me fall in love with the work of Ami Suzuki. Not only was this song a club banger, but it showed such an improvement within her style and aesthetic that it only brought her more recognition and prominence that she once deserved. The party anthem was another collaboration with Mr. Nakata and swerved all over the young generation with its glamorous sound and instrumentation!
1. Free Free
AND THE WINNER IS… “Free Free”; my absolute favourite Ami Suzuki number. And here’s why. Not only is this track one of the greatest songs to ever be crafted by Yasutaka himself (yes, he made this song), but in my books, it stands as one of the finest pop entries to ever grace the sounds of Japanese music, period. As much as it was a “comeback” track, “Free Free” really took centre stage and embraced certain moments of Ami’s life, threw them behind her back, and started afresh with a euphoric electronic anthem that soared strength, nostalgia and always-good-EDM music! Even to this day, it sounds fresh and memorable and is a shame that the public over-looked this number. It’s worth a listen whether you’re a fan of hers or not, because to tell you the truth, this is a tune you’ll never forget.
What’s your opinions on my list? Comment in the section below 🙂