Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jpop Review- Namie Amuro- Best Fiction

Namie Amuro set a record of selling a million in three decades with this album. Best Fiction is the best Namie Amuro has produced in a while. After leaving Tetsuya Komuro, she wandered a bit but with this album, she finally seems to have found the right direction. Here's a reveiew of this rare million seller-

1) Do me More- Do me more, as portrayed in the PV, is heavily influenced by the 'Alice in Wonderland' theme that is manifested through the fantasy feel to the arrangement comprising of brass instruments. Do me More is a new song, sung especially for this album. Namie contributes power and cooleness in equal proportions to this track, making it a great opening track.

2) Wishing on the Same Star- Wishing on the same star is the cover of an english song by Keedy. I felt Namie Amuro pulled the song off well, bringing out a powerful climax in the chorus. She has shown us a part of her that is not commonly seen. Namie Amuro is not a ballad singer. Nevertheless, she did a good job here. The song is quite an average ballad that stands out plainly because it is one of the few ballads in this album.

3) Shine More- Another powerful track that Namie sings well. The heavy string opening gives a mysterious feel to this track, distinguishing it from the other tracks. My only complaint is the weak chorus. But, this track still stands out.

4) Put em up- Put em up sounds very much like an american hip hop song with copious rap and not much vocal ability displayed by Namie Amuro. It is catchy but continues in the same tone as the other tracks.

5) So crazy- So crazy has a relaxed feel but still carries the beat of R&B. Namie's vocals are quite airy here. The song follows well after Put em up.

6) Alarm- This track has a more forceful beat and feel compared to the previous easy tracks. Alarm feels like something from her Play album even though it is not. The chorus was quite weak, not one of my favourites.

7) All for you- All for you is an epic string ballad that is a rarity from Namie Amuro. Namie Amuro unleashes her powerful voice combined with gospelish back vocals and makes this track quite special. Namie Amuro experimented something new and different with this track and I quite liked it. It is more than six minutes long. Namie Amuro's voice seems quite matured here compared to her older ballads.

8) Girl Talk- Girl Talk begins with a stringed intro but moves onto an easy listening hip hop beat. Again, a weak chorus but the track still manages to be refreshing. Namie Amuro uses the typical words associated with girl talk like 'sex and city', 'he and his and her' etc. It reminded me of new look minus the sixties feel.

9) Want me want me- I really couldn't understand want me want me. It had an indian/arabian arrangement but the vocals were quite low and lacked sensuality. The track does fine but appears a little confused. The catchy element was luckily intact.

10) White light- One of Namie's rare christmas songs. I really can't recall any christmas song except this that she has ever song. White Light has a relaxed and cheerful feel complemented by a slow beat and chimes. Namie's voice seems relaxed here as well. I thought she'd put violet sauce in the album but she ended up putting this instead. A good choice, though.

11) Can't sleep, can't eat, I'm sick- The arrangement is unique. I've heard this track on her Play album and I've liked it since then. Can't sleep, can't eat, I'm sick is an airy, cool hip hop song with some rap. It's quite catchy actually.

12) Baby don't cry- This single was her best selling in the Play era. Despite that, I don't quite love it. It is a pleasant balladish R&B song but doesn't bring out anything special from Namie. The chorus goes on well after the verse and all the song does is carry the album forward without disruption.

13) Funky Town- Funky town is a summary of her style in the best fiction era. It sounds somewhat like Can't sleep, can't eat.... minus the pleasant vibe. Since it comes from Namie Amuro, who is one of the few old artists producing quality work, it still has a high standard compared to average jpop releases.

14) New Look- This is a new song from her 60s70s80s single. For a best album, Best fiction has quite a lot of new tracks. New Look is filled with engrish but manages to be quite catchy. Namie's makeovers in the PV made the music video pure eye candy. New Look, the first song representing the 60s manages to be quite catchy. I really like danceable songs.

15) Rock steady- My least favourite from the single. It is good though. The verse is fast paced with a lot of rock influence. The chorus is weaker than the verse but Namie Amuro saves it with a lot of catchy english phrases and belting.

16) What a feeling- The rap in the beginning was a little dumb but this track is quite catchy. From the 80s era, it is quite a catchy disco song. The song makes you want to dance. The chorus is the high point of this track.. The echoes and back vocals remind me of her Tetsuya Komuro era. What a feeling is the perfect song for a disco night.

17) Sexy Girl- Sexy girl continues in the trend of the previous tracks without bringing anything new. A good ending track though. The danceable beat was the saving grace (and Namie's vocals). The chorus is the weak point. Actually, my least favourite track on this album.

What can I say? Namie Amuro is truly the queen of jpop and if you doubt it, just listen to this album. Namie Amuro is in her thirties now (considered the retirement age of entertainers) and still manages to be fresh and cool. Her quality of music, if anything is improving. That really shows in her sales. While the idols of her era have waned and even those after her are losing popularity, Namie Amuro manages to stand at the peak of the jpop industry. Year after year, she is still setting new records. Everytime she releases an album, it becomes one of the bestselling female singer albums for that year. Namie is still  taking risks and they're paying off. Most stars have completely stopped experimenting and releasing new music. Just give fiction a listen. This album is the best that has been released in quite a while now.

Overall rating- 5/5


Catchy, danceable tracks
A best- contains many single tracks
A wider view of Namie's artistry
No filler tracks at all
Namie Amuro's improved vocals
Quality and quantity
The cover


May become repititive after a while

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