Recently I’ve read some really great discussions on the idea of Hello! Project artists/groups venturing into overseas markets such as the U.S. and U.K. While most of the consensus agrees that such a move would prove to be too difficult due to social differences, financing, and the challenge of return of profit amongst other things…a mention was made of Utada Hikaru & Amuro Namie showing interest in such a venture. Back on May 14, 2000 Amuro Namie performed for the very first time in the U.S. and it occurred right here in Hawaii! With substantial financial backing and 2 years of planning this monumental concert took place at Oahu’s famous landmark, the Waikiki Shell. The announcement at the concert promised the hope of bringing Hawaii a continued string artists from Asia who regularly sell out stadiums and arenas in their own countries and I can still remember the optimistic air brought on by these words even though so much time has passed since. The concert was very successful at least from what I could tell but despite this first great big step into a Western market, albeit it being in Hawaii which already holds such close ties to Japan, the idea never came to fruition after this event. Just being able to experience such an event live for the first time and with such a beloved artist has kept very these very fond memories with me.
At the time Amuro Namie was the youngest person to win Japan’s Best Artist Award which she received in 1996 at the age of 18 and I was fortunate to be able to see her perform just four years later. What made this concert even more sweet was that it was a benefit event with Amuro Namie presenting a sizable donation to Hawaii’s United Okinawan Association for scholarships and elderly assistance. Amuro Namie really helped pioneer Okinawa’s push into Japan’s pop music scene and she perhaps is still regarded as her region’s most popular artist today. My grandmother was pure Okinawan and has passed onto me 1/4th of her heritage and through this somehow I’ve kind of felt sort of a connection and joy in Amurochan’ music as silly as that may sound. 😛
In late ’92 Amuro Namie, Ameku Minako, Takushi Nananko, Arakaki Hisako, & Makino Anna released their debut single under the name “Super Monkeys.” Hahah I thought about having these 2 songs uploaded but I’m not sure how they’ll be received although they are ultra cute songs!! 🙂 Aww Amuro Namie’s in the center and isn’t she the most adorable!! She’s sooo small and yet her voice has always been incredible!! I love the look she has on her face it’s too cute!! 🙂 The Super Monkeys released 3 singles before Amuro would emerge as the leader of the group and the member lineup would go through 2 changes before a final lineup would be set. By their second release Makino Anna had left and now just four members remained. The final change would arrive when their fifth single was released as Arakaki Hisako would depart and Reina & Rina would arrive as the group would now be know as “Amuro Namie with Super Monkeys since the previous single.
Something that will always impress me is that by just their second single “Dancing Junk”, the b-side would showcase Amuro Namie’s incredible voice in what is still my favorite all time ballad by her, “Rainbow Moon.” Above is the back side of this single and Amuro is featured here in her first true solo song! Her voice even at this young age is so amazing and powerful!! You could really see how Amuro was emerging as the star of the group as she was featured once again with the solo track “Wagamama wo yurushite” on their very next single. This is another extremely beautiful ballad! 🙂
As Amuro Namie’s more recent work is very well known, the few songs that I’ll be sharing here are largely from her early catalog as they’re more than likely out of print and quite possibly harder to find.
~Amuro Namie “Rainbow Moon” mp3~
I love this song soooo much!!!
(Photo above is in major need of an update as I have her complete single discography to date.)
“Try Me~Watashi wo shinjite~” was the first Amuro Namie single that I bought and luckily her back catalog was still available at the time and since then I’ve collected all of her singles up to her latest which includes 40 total (at the time of this original posting) with the special edition of “Can You Celebrate?”
Pictured above is my Amuro Namie album collection (in need of an update) which is quite incomplete as I’ve tended to buy her singles recently rather than her albums. To the right is my program from her concert here along with the ticket stub which I’ve kept all of these years. 🙂
Above is her first live concert release along with her pv collection and I own just 2 of her shashinshuu’s.
~Amuro Namie “Paradise Train” mp3~
~Amuro Namie “Try Me~watashi wo shinjite~ mp3~
And a live version of “Try Me~watashi wo shinjite~”….the song which put Amuro Namie and the Super Monkeys on the map!!
~Amuro Namie w/ Super Monkeys “Try Me~watashi wo shinjite~” (live)~
Their 6th single “Taiyou no season” would continue to ride the techno wave but here I’ve included the “Salsoulike Mix” instead as I’ve always loved this mellowed down bossa nova version a lot better!
~Amuro Namie “Taiyou no season” (Salsoulike Mix) mp3~
And below is a live performance of the Original Tracks techno version of “Taiyou no season.”
~Amuro Namie with Super Monkeys” Taiyou no season” (live)~
While their early singles would feature the entire group as an ensemble sharing the vocals it didn’t take long for Amuro Namie to become the sole vocalist while the “Super Monkeys” were to become her back up dancers and it is with this change coupling with the growing popularity of the Super Monkeys amongst fans that would eventually see them part ways and go on to form their own group, MAX which would debut in May of ’95. (I’ll write a separate post about MAX soon!) And with their very next single “Stop the Music”, just their 7th, it would be the last release featuring “Amuro Namie with Super Monkeys.” This single made a departure from techno influences and instead is a straight upbeat dance tune which couples with the beautiful ballad “Good-Night” which serves as a great vehicle for Amuro’s strong vocals.
After a flurry of single releases 2 compilation albums were released under the titles “Dance Tracks Vol.1” and “Original Tracks Vol.1” The latter being a proper representation of their songs in their untouched form while the earlier released “Dance Tracks Vol.1” album for the most part includes various remixes of the songs. I absolutely prefer the original versions vs. the remixes as I seldom actually like remixes with the one exception of “Taiyou no season’s” Salsoulike Mix which is on the first compilation. More early favorites♥…
~Amuro Namie “Stop the Music” mp3~
~Amuro Namie “Kanashiki Broken Boy” mp3~
~Amuro Namie “Wagamama wo yurushite” mp3~
~Amuro Namie “Goodnight” mp3~
A perfect song to listen to before going to bed. 🙂
While Amuro Namie’s later career has headed into a more Americanized style with strong ties to R&B and Hip Hop I still love to listen to her earlier works and these tracks are just a few endeared examples of this. For new fans I hope these will inspire you to buy her music and for familiar fans I hope this was a nice walk down memory lane for you. 🙂