The J-Pop goddess Namie Amuro is in the fast lane of upcoming studio albums this year (hopefully, fingers crossed!), with last years offering of numerous maxi-single releases to accommodate us fans of Amuro-chan. But for now, I will be creating a top 20 list of my favorite songs by Ms. Namie, who has already spanned over 20 years in the business with an estimate of 35 million units sold and over 18 million digital sales (yussssss, multi-million seller right here). We jump threw the fluff, the glitter, the grittiness, and the emotional ballads. So it only makes sense to make a list in honor of the Japanese singer… Oh, the list isn’t in top order, just alphabetical. So, lets glide along the list!
“A Walk in the Park” was the second single of the diva’s second studio release Concentration 20, which the title references to her move from being a teeny-bopping teenager to adulthood… oh yeah, and a classified top act in Japan… no biggy. Anyway, the single was yet another smash on the Oricon charts with its sophisticated guitar strums, feel-good vibe, and amazing vocals by the one and only. By the way, it um… sold over like, one million copies in Japan, so yeah… IT WAS A SMASH HIT!
To me, “Alive” was a captivating entry to her album Feel… shucks, it’s probably one of her most groundbreaking numbers in her career, and trust me, she’s had loads! This was one of the first songs that really got me into Amuro-chan’s discography—mainly cause I love a solid club banger. But the thing is that not only was the EDM track boasted with a strong chorus, but her digitally altered vocal performance and its accompanying songwriting all blended so well together. AND IT’S IN ENGLISH! If your new to the singer, this is the definite starting track to listen to!
Ahhhhh, Namie’s ballads… how I love her ballad songs. But this is an interesting one, not some typical “lets-shove-the-violins-choir-guitars-harps-together-and-call-it-a-ballad” (no shade y’all, but that’s what pops in my head). “Baby Don’t Cry” was, again, another million selling single… and I see why; this features some of Namie’s best vocals in her career, and I love how the instrumentation is complimentary to her voice without taking centre stage. Very delicate and beautiful!
Oh yes, the single that won many hearts in good ol’ J-pop land, “Can We Celebrate?”. This was another song that got me into Namie’s music, but in a different sorta way. She has always been one with very theatrical but well-produced ballads, and this harrowing and beautiful number says it all. Beautiful and harrowing and yes, her vocals aren’t all complete in order, but the feeling and attitude is there, which I love.
YUSSSSS, now we have a fierce Namie in full throttle. “Can’t Sleep, Can’t Eat, I’m Sick” is one dope and sassy party jam, I mean come on, anyone that disagrees with my decision seriously needs to check dem-selves and re-consider… cause this is a jam! The R&B number, which is included on Play, a record that shimmers hip-hop and groovy elements, could have easily broke the US, but unfortunately, that was never pushed (god knows why).
Probably my favourite anthem by Amuro-chan… I shit you not, this is a banger to the gods. I remember hearing this song on a road-trip and it was so intense yet euphoric that it tugged on them lil’ heartstrings (yes y’all, it’s that good). It’s hard to describe the sound per say, but I guess it’s a mid-tempo electronic number that delves into the themes of courage, hardship and happiness, which is very enlightening. Definitely a keeper on ya playlist.
But if y’all need to get up and pumping with another uptempo number that also derives similar themes of courage and triumph, then Namie will hook ya up with “Fighter”, a four-on-the-floor killer that is influenced by heavy state-of-the-art EDM (okay, not really, but its EDM realness)! This was a track that literally… like literally… blew me out of the water, honestly. The sound is soooooooo damn good that I have no idea why it wasn’t promoted overseas; this would have blown the US Dance chart to smithereens or even make some waves in other reasons (hint hint, New Zealand, *cough). Definitely a track to listen to!
I remember when I was listening to the Genic album preview. Honestly, every track on there was perfection and just showed how creative and resilient Namie—and songwriters, composers and producers, we shall not forget about their brilliance—are when she channels her inner dance diva-ness and belting out anthems like the ones of Genic. But when I heard “Fly”, a rock-inspired EDM number, she literally just killed me… and brought me back to life again. THIS WAS HOT-AS-HELL FIRE! It was my favourite song from the album, and to this day, still one of her best offerings! Pity it wasn’t a single though, would have been fulfilling.
One of the KILLING BANGERS on her critical acclaimed studio album Play, the sizzling funk number “Funky Town” really had my hands up in the air! The use of trumpets and extremely catchy bass instruments completely won me over and, to me, it’s probably one of her bigger re-invention songs in her later career! It’s absolutely catchy, it’s sassy, and, most of all… IT’S FUNKY AS HELL!
Ms. Amuro’s Style days saw a complete 180 in production and, to be quite clear, was definitely one of her best periods as an artist. I mean, who would not live over an album that features tracks like the fabulous “Shine More”, the slick sounds of “So Crazy”, or an ambitious pop ballad like “Four Seasons”? But fast forward a year later, Ms. Thang decided to whip out the goods yet again with Queen of Hip-Pop and, if anything, the biggest moment is the urban hit “Girl Talk”, which basically saw Namie-chan shake that bootay, shimmer the charm into the audience, and SLAY the charts! Definitely a keeper if your into that mid-2000s R&B era.
Uncontrolled was a bit of a messy yet catchy record, which saw Namie shove a bunch of wish-washy ballads, solid EDM jams and mid-tempo R&B cuts into one widely inconsistent record. But one of the album’s singles, the infectious groove number “Go Round”, was probably the most cohesive entry; it played safe in the EDM realm, but for Ms. Amuro, it was the perfect direction of exploration. And, if you LIIIIVVVEEEE for her English accent, check out the English version on the record… it will NOT disappoint y’all!
Like “Alive”, the Zedd-composed hit “Heaven” was like… oh my god, literally heaven on earth! I’m a club-head-banger myself, so when Ms. Thang sung over a four-on-the-floor house beat with an extreme (and I’m mean EXTREMELY) use of heavy sugary synths and club-thumping bass, I literally felt like I had no hair on my scalp… mainly because this damn song snatched it. This was definitely one of the brighter moments on her Feel album, and by far one of her most impressive entries in recent times!
“Hero” was one of Amuro-chan’s most worldly releases, mainly because it was used as the official Japanese theme for 2016’s Rio Olympics… no biggie (please sense my sarcasm…). What I absolutely LOVED about this song was it’s big and bold chorus with the huge choir in the background singing “Ohhhhhhh… Ohhhhhhh…”, whilst the beautiful Ms. Namie sings the triumphant line “I’ll be your hero”. Just so gracious and beautiful to listen to!
“Love Story” are one of those rare Namie ballads that, regardless of where you are, what you do, or how your life is going, it will still hit you right in the feels (aahhhhhh sadness…) I love the consistency of the song from start to finish, and her voice shines sublimely in front of a gentle piano performance. To top it off, the single is actually one of her million-selling digital numbers, so no wonder everyone would be up for a “Can We Celebrate?” part two!
But if you want a song that is non-nonsense, pure satisfaction with very little banal lyricism and completely catchy throughout each verse, chorus, and even instrumental? Yup, that’s “Mint”, “Mint”, that’s “Mint”, “Mint” (no pun intended). I just love how extremely catchy the track is and how straightforward the entire production is, whether it’s the vocal deliveries or the surfer rock guitars over-top a thudding synth and keyboard. Yes yes, Namie at high FASHON!
Now now… y’all are thinking… “Is he for real to add this in the list?” Well, yes… yes I am real. If anything, her 1996 album track “Private” is quite sublime and ethereal; the addition of jungle-esque elements over a steamy yet mysterious acid house sound is just perfection to the ears y’all. It was taken from her album Sweet 19 Blues, and was a promotional number that was used on radio stations in Japan, but… if it were me, I would have added this to the single pile of “WHY WAS THIS NOT A SINGLE?”
But… if anything, we love a bit of hood ghetto Namie. “Put ‘Em Up” was one of the singles to her album Style, but this track was one that really assertive and opened the record in true style (no pun intended). The chorus gives me TLC-meets-Missy Elliot vibes, but it’s drench with all your typical Amuro-chan realness, including those signature vocals and streamlined production. Effortless yet completely amazing!
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the glitz and the glamour and, of course… a “Red Carpet”. Okay y’all, I’mma stop playing with the puns because they’re getting out of hand. “Red Carpet” was one of Namie Amuro’s absolutely perfect singles released in December 2015 and, to a point, was one of my most played songs on my phone! I just love how the sound was very fresh and catchy, but still managed to have a classic throwback at some of Ms. Thang’s previous mid-tempo sounds that were placed on singles like “All For You” and”Baby Don’t Cry”. Defintely one of my favourite songs by her!
Now this was some realness here… some fierce, catchy, hooky realness. I’mma tell you guys, I LIVE for this disco-rock number which comes in as a soaring wave of brilliance once it hits that damn chorus! In my opinion, this is a close top score with _genic song “Fly” (which is one of my top absolutely Amuro-chan songs), but “Time Has Come”, as brilliant as it is, is definitely a top-quality moment that SHOULD have been a single! It’s a pity that it didn’t even get that limelight… ughhhhh, I guess it’s time… has gone.
To close the list, we have “Wild”; an intoxicating catchy dance number that would give the likes of Janet Jackson or Britney Spears a run for their money. This was her last single to top the Oricon charts—which is good and both bad, considering none of her BANGERS ever since has follow that same trait—but with a fierce R&B beat, simple yet straightfoward songwriting, and complete re-invention in image and sound, no wonder “Wild” bloody took over the charts. It’s that f-ing good!
- Do Me More
- Golden Touch
- Hands on Me
- It’s All About You
- Let’s Do the Motion
- New Look
- Shine More
- You’re My Sunshine
Agree with my list? Comment below in what you think!