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Sweet 19 Blues

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Album Review

Amuro's debut album came almost presold; four of its songs had already been number one hits in Japan's Oricon charts, all before the teen idol had hit her 19th birthday. (The melancholic passing of another sweet year of youth — a particularly Japanese obsession — was the subject of the album title and accompanying song.) But instead of packaging the existing songs with filler, producer/svengali Tetsuya Komuro turned in a brilliantly produced pop album, adding some slinky dance numbers that could have been singles in their own right, and revamping the singles "Body Feels Exit," "Chase the Chance," "Don't Wanna Cry," and "You Are My Sunshine" with remixes, new arrangements, or extended jams. For those used to the Euro-techno of the singles, the relative sophistication of the Steely Dan-isms and late-'70s jazz-soul of "I'll Jump" and "I Was a Fool" came as a shock. The maturity shown here had a close correlation to Janet Jackson, who similarly shed her young image overnight. Amuro's voice is limited, but she never goes beyond her reach or sounds like a little girl lost in an adult's arrangement. Listenable — and danceable — from beginning to end, any 19-year-old pop wunderkind couldn't ask for anything more. The album went on to sell 3.6 million copies in its first week, unprecedented for a Japanese act, and secured a place in Jpop history.


Born: September 20, 1977 in Okinawa, Japan

Genre: J-Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Namie Amuro is Japanese pop's most resilient idol. Debuting in 1992 with the all-girl five-piece Super Monkey's, where she first caught the attention of Tetsuya Komuro, the producer/songwriter who would go on to shape her early career, Amuro has bounced back from hurdles that have felled lesser J-pop idols (namely raising a family and divorce) to remain on top. And like any J-pop starlet worth a theme song to a hit anime movie, Amuro has built up a solid rapport with her fans through her sense of...
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Sweet 19 Blues, Namie Amuro
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