Namie Amuro

Essential Albums

  • Concentration 20

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About Namie Amuro

Whichever way J-pop icon Namie Amuro went, Japanese music followed. She helped define the sound of the Heisei era, the 30-year period from 1989 to 2019, with energizing singles that pushed techno-inspired dance pop and hip-hop into Japan’s mainstream consciousness. Amuro was born in Okinawa in 1977 and began her entertainment career as an adolescent. At first, she took part in a group called Super Monkey’s, but her undeniable singing and dancing skills quickly pushed her into the solo spotlight. In the mid-‘90s, she linked up with producer Tetsuya Komuro, whose Eurobeat-inspired style resulted in driving pop songs, such as “Body Feels EXIT” and “Chase the Chance,” which complemented Amuro’s forceful vocal delivery. She also showed sonic diversity early on, delivering both reggae numbers (“Me Love Peace!!”) and soaring ballads (“Can You Celebrate?”). Perhaps most impressively, Amuro achieved superstardom as a solo artist at a time when the majority of popular J-pop acts were groups. In doing so, she laid the path for future titans Hikaru Utada and Ayumi Hamasaki. Amuro went on to set the standard for the sound of J-pop in the 2000s by merging hip-hop with pop. She also branched out to work with American producers such as Teddy Riley and Tricky Stewart and collaborated with Japanese MCs including Verbal and Zeebra. Even in the years leading up to her 2018 retirement, she remained a vital force, creating brass-heavy pop (“Golden Touch”) and dueting with digital pop avatar Hatsune Miku (“B Who I Want 2 B”).

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