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Namie Amuro

Namie Amuro

by Spyro on August 31, 2005 · 31 comments · AddThis

Namie

Namie Amuro (安室奈美恵) was born at Naha, Okinawa prefecture, on 20th of September 1977. Her parents divorced while she was only a toddler, leaving her mother responsible for bringing up Namie and her 3 siblings all alone. The low funds of the family didn’t prevent Namie from chasing her dreams to be a star. She was attending Okinawa Actors School successfully, despite her having to walk everyday for 2 hours to go and return from the school – her family couldn’t afford public transportation.

At her fifteen, she formed a girl group with some classmates of hers, called “SUPER MONKEY’S”, under TOSHIBA EMI label. At first, their sales were pretty decent but after the 5th single “TRY ME ~私を信じて~” (01/25/1995), the group started having proper recognition at the charts, getting into the top 10 and being invited at 紅白歌合戦 (Kouhaku Uta Gassen), a big annual music show. During that period, the group had already moved in Tokyo and changed its name to “Namie Amuro with SUPER MONKEY’S” with Namie taking the upper hand and the lead role of the group. The two following singles made big success as well, resulting to Avex, through the superstars’ producer Tetsuya Komuro, noticing the band, offering a solo career contract for Namie. The rest of the members regrouped with the name Musical Active eXperience or, simply, MAX.

Sweet 19 Blues

Her first single “BODY feels EXIT” (10/25/1995) was a huge success debuting at #3. Soon Namie could claim her stardom with her trendsetting style and an organized base of thousands fans, notably known as “amura” (media contraction of Amuro and admirer). The following singles – “Chase the Chance” (12/04/1995), “Don’t wanna cry” (3/13/1996) and “You’re my sunshine” (06/05/1996) – were all a huge success, each of them selling many thousands of copies, foretelling the massive success of the upcoming album. Indeed, Namie’s first Avex Trax solo album “SWEET 19 BLUES” (07/22/1996) sold over 3.4 millions copies, becoming the best selling album in Japan at that time. She released another single called also “SWEET 19 BLUES” (08/21/1996) as a soundtrack to the movie “That’s CHEATING” where she was starring. The next release was “a walk in the park” that debuted at #1.

Her upcoming single was the best selling of her career; “CAN YOU CELEBRATE?” (02/19/1997) sold over 2,600,000 copies and even now its #14 at the best selling singles in Japan. In 1996-1997 Namie did 2 tours where she was the first female solo artist to perform at Chiba Marine Stadium and at Four Domes (respectively to each tour). In the meanwhile she released the single “How to be a Girl” (05/21/1997) and her almost 2 millions seller album “Concentration 20”(07/24/1997).

Namie fashion However, Namie caught in surprise the media and her fans appearing in a press conference with cut short hair announcing that she was about to marry Masaharu Maruyama a.k.a. SAM from TRF and she was carrying his baby; the most important though, she announced a pause at her career for a whole year. She released the next single “Dreaming I was dreaming” (11/27/1997) and officially took her break performing as the special last artist at the Kouhaku Uta Gassen show.

On May 18th her son Haruto was born. Her next single “I HAVE NEVER SEEN” (12/23/1998) was released on 23rd December 1998 and debuted at #1, though her comeback wasn’t intense before her touching tearful performance of “CAN YOU CELEBRATE?” again at the Kouhaku show on New Year’s Eve; crying, she barely could finish her lines at the end.

The mini-skirts, platform high boots and the brown hair used to be her fashion trademark that many wannabe fans were imitating. She has changed her style though to a more casual and, now, R&B look. However, her style is always rather flexible.

Unfortunately in 1999 a very sad event happened. On March, her mother Emiko was brutally murdered by her mentally unstable new brother-in-low Kenji Taira who committed suicide afterwards. Namie had to face the loss of her most important support in her life and her career came almost in an end. It was the hundreds of supportive fan letters that gave her the strength to continue. She even started directly thanking them by approaching the fan sites and their forums, posting with them or quietly leaving her messages to the webmasters. However, her single “RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE” (03/17/1999) debuted at #2 breaking the row of #1 debuts. Apparently “toi et moi” (07/07/1999) and “SOMETHING ‘BOUT THE KISS” (09/01/1999) continued like that.

Namie fashion

In January of 2000, Namie released “LOVE 2000” (01/01) and her 3rd original album “GENIUS 2000″ (01/26), which debuted at #1, but failed to sell over a million copies (803,000 copies). She then released the single “NEVER END” (07/12/2000) which was the theme song of the G-8 summit being held at Okinawa. Namie performed the song in front of many world leaders including Bill Clinton, the USA president at then. Her next album (4th) “break the rules” (12/20/2000) was released but sold poorly around 335,000 copies debuting at #2. The singles of that period – “PLEASE SMILE AGAIN” (10/04/2000) and “think of me/no more tears” (01/24/2001) weren’t successful either; “think of me/no more tears” debuted at #7. At the next release “say the word” (08/08/2001) Namie was for the first time co-producer by writing the lyrics. In collaboration with VERBAL of m-flo she released the successful single “lovin’ it” (12/27/2001) as part of Avex’ Song Nation (non-profit charity project to raise money for the victims of 9/11). She wrote the lyrics for her new single “I WILL” (02/14/2002). Furthermore, by that time, her working relationship with Tetsuya Komuro ended.

In July of 2002 Namie and SAM announced their friendly divorce though SAM took full custody of Haruto but since Namie lives at the same apartment building she didn’t miss seeing her son. She then released “Wishing On The Same Star” (9/11/2002), a Japanese version of a popular American song; the single debuted at #2 and was a big turning point for Namie.

Her next music steps were totally in R&B. Since her debut one could see the R&B and Hip Hop elements gradually being more and more notable at her songs. She started a project called SUITE CHIC. Under the pseudonym SUITE CHIC she approached many popular Japanese R&B/Rap/Hip Hop artists (like AI, ZEEBRA, FIRSTKLAS) and released 2 singles, one original album and another one with remixes.

suite chic

After moderate success but with the fans’ acceptance, the SUITE CHIC project ended and Namie got back in her solo career. Her main producer was now the famous American, Dallas Austin. She started releasing singles again – “shine more” (03/05/2003), “Put ‘Em Up” (07/16/2003) “So CRAZY/Come” (10/19/2003). The 5th album though, “STYLE” (12/10/2004), released almost 3 years after her previous one, wasn’t much of success for Namie as it sold the very low number of 222.000 copies. The next single “ALARM” (03/17/2004) mirrored this situation: it was the first single debuting out of the top 10. However, She soon released her new fresh ballad “ALL FOR YOU” (7/22/2004) which successfully sold more than 100,000 copies, somewhat balancing the financial disaster of the previous single.

Along with these releases, she was touring throughout Asia for nearly half a year and she became the first major Japanese artist to hold a concert in South Korea after the normalization of the cultural-political relations between teh two countries. Namie’s popularity now seemed to start returning and her next single “GIRL TALK/the SPEED STAR” (10/14/2004) surprisingly debuted at #2. In spite of that, she refused to attend the Kouhaku show, breaking the 9 years in a row performances. Six months later she released another successful single, “WANT ME, WANT ME” (06/04/2005), which debuted at #2 as well and became her highest selling single since “lovin’ it”. In May SAM friendly gave Namie Haruto’s custody (she officially got it by court on August). She also became the first person to win an award for 4th time in a row at MTV Video Music Awards. Her next album “Queen of Hip-Pop” was released on July 13th and at the first week it managed to peak at #2; so far it has sold 430.000 copies making it a very successful release after all the past ones with low popularity. For this album she also got licensed by MGM to use Pink Panther as a theme to the album booklet and the PV of WoWa (so far); a female panther was also made.

Namie - black background

Namie’s career always had the ups and the downs, and rumors always accompanied her along the way. Supposed things like: a detestable rivalry with Ayumi Hamasaki, that keeps her out of every A-NATION (Avex artists’ concerts) in the past years, in fear of the presence of Ayumi in the same stage; the incapability of her to claim custody of her son right after the divorce due to her negative diva lifestyle; the “queen” syndrome of hers. All these attract the media (Asian, non-Japanese most of the times) attention trying to blemish her image. Nevertheless, Namie still is one of the crucial artists of the Japanese music scene having sold over 27,000,000 copies of her albums/singles. With her Mediterranean classiness (she’s 1/4 Italian), both at looks and vibes, she altered the mid 90s music standards and manifested with the best way the “female solo career” theme in Japan music industry. She donated 10,000,000 Yen to Unicef shortly after the tsunami disaster at south Asia.

Scawaii Magazine

New Single Promo Namie

Namie with cap

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Joann UNITED STATES February 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I have been listening to Namie since Genius 2000. I really enjoyed her style back then, but I was also thinking it would be great if she did some R&B or Hip Hop. She sounded like she had a good voice for it. I was so excited when she actually did transition into said genre. It’s as if she can read my mind! Namie is an incredible artist who evolves. She tweaks her music as her interests change and it works!

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Sarah PHILIPPINES November 7, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I first to know NAMIE AMURO when I watched her commercial on TV. It made me wonder that she’s the first japanese star with a huge billboard on Manila..SOOOOO…I made a research at YOutube..She’s a great dancer..I Love her steps>>>
Some one who dance without needing much effort…she looks great dancing on stage…I like her vocals…though I Don’t understand it…I love the tone and her voice..
She’s the first Japanese singer..I Like ..She’s hot,sexy,cute,and unique,very original…plus a humble person..I watched her vedios..believe me…she’s so humble…
:) LOVE NAMIE AMURO>>>age doesn’t matter talent is more important…

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grezy PHILIPPINES November 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm

love namie very much..

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kelly August 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

she’s come a long way since she was a kid
http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/namie-amuro-as-a-child-star/

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tonii July 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

also this so called fear of the presence of Ayumi in the same stage, is bullshit.

the reason she does not participate in A-NATION is because of her status. she defies the accepted image what Japanese girls should be. Namie is a divorced, single, working mom. in a conservative country, Namie does not seem to be a good influence.instead of being an obedient, little child-bearing machines, Namie inadvertently encourages girls to be independent, strong women although she does not preach it, don’t get me wrong.so if AVEX might be playing it safe.but by 2008, although not completely changed, the conservativeness might have been softened, it’s the modern times also.what with Namie’s strong and unstoppable come back, AVEX would be stupid not to jump on the money-making bandwagon.money makes the world go round.

Before Ayumi, there was Namie. Namie helped revolutionized Japanese music industry. she helped paved way for it’s modernization before anyone else.

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Sweetpea April 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Hi im 15 nd i really love her music but its hard to find in the U.S.A it took me 7 days to find just one of her cds hopefully u guys and girls can find one with more hope than me. On my spring break i went to her home town and all over Japan, Germany, Ireland, Greece ect.

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Sweetpea April 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Hey ive heard of her but never really heard her music. Im trying to find one of her Cd’s But it must be inpossible to find them in america

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brianna UNITED STATES September 10, 2009 at 6:33 pm

I’ve only started listening to Amuro’s music over the summer, so it’s good to know this article gives us so much information on her past work.

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Vivien Chang June 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I wonder if anyone has a picture of her son, Haruto?

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phuong September 16, 2009 at 6:47 am

You’ll NEVR see him!!!!!!!!
He is seen EXTREMLY rarely. Only a hong kong magazine took two pictures of him and blurred his face, so you’ll never hve a pictue of him. I tried t in the Internet but i gave up.

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Rima CHINA December 31, 2008 at 1:12 pm

i think that Namie is the REAL queen of Jpop/hoppop, but i just think that Ayumi Hamasaki is a follow up with a different style and she’s just aliitle more popular but Namie is more original. Ayumi has a different style but she takes away Namie too much,.., i don’t like that part of Ayumi.

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Ayu Fan 999 PHILIPPINES July 9, 2010 at 2:19 am

excuse me, pls don’t misunderstand but just because Ayu is equally or more popular to Namie does not mean Hamasaki took anything away from Amuro, it’s not Ayu’s fault that Namie has a supposed ‘diva complex and can’t sytand being around Ayu

if you wanna blame someome blame the media for outting them together in the first place

also, Ayumi has had many rivals in the past including Utada, Ami, Kumi among other

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tonii July 9, 2010 at 7:03 am

hold up, what is this Queen syndrome anyway?never read anything about it.

she is so shy and so introverted that her having a syndrome of some sort…is kinda out of character.

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mywahlen December 5, 2008 at 6:36 am

Namie Amuro you are so cute
you are the cutest japanse i ever seen ! :D

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kuchiki MALAYSIA November 8, 2008 at 11:15 am

i luv namie amuro too

i like her song very much…

gambattle^^

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Fac Zardy August 9, 2008 at 4:12 pm

I know onething, she is the best in J-pop. It is only to see her evolution. She is so beatiful, but she is more then this! She is WONDERFUL. As my brazilian friend Franciele, I say “good information”!

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USAFHOG April 2, 2008 at 11:11 am

I lived in Okinawa during Namie Amuro’s early years, and was one of the few Americans at her concert in the Ginowan Convention Center in ‘96. Okinawan girls have a look all their own, and Namie chan took it one step further. She won the hearts of many in Japan, and not just her Japanese fans… She was the sweetest girl from Okinawa with a pure but sexy look. Obviously, her producer saw something wonderful. One of the most memorable performances was during the New Years telecast of 1997, when she sang her latest hit “Can You Celebrate.” Half way thru her song, she had to stop, because the tears of joy effected her singing. She finished her performance, and all that watched that night also had tears in their eyes… Great job Namie!

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toni AUSTRALIA March 1, 2008 at 9:17 am

what is this queen syndrome?i have never heard of that.and that rivalry thing…hm….

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tegs November 20, 2007 at 5:11 am

10,000,000 yen?? wow.

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lili UNITED STATES July 12, 2007 at 8:16 pm

l luv namie amuro so much and never knew all this stuff happened to her and how much she went through to get where she is now, but im glad that even the bad album sales didn’t stop her and im also glad that she is willing to own up to her flaws instead of trying to hide it like many others. she shows how human she really is and not some diva who wants to be perfect all the time,all though there was that little “qeen” syndrome she had, but every one goes through that one time or another. she is kinda my idol, and she can really move and sing, and she looks soo young. i luv her soo much and im not even asain!, im african-american!! AND I LOVE HER SOOOO MUCH!!!.

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Angel UNITED STATES June 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Lol I know what you mean. Im African American also too! I have been listening to Namie every since 2005. She is a very cool person and a great idol. I hope to go to one of her concerts in the near future.

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Franciele July 11, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Oooooooh, Namie is really the best!!
I Love Namie Amuro!
Good Information, Thanks!

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Icegirl June 7, 2007 at 2:40 am

Namie, to me, is a great singer, dancer, performer… I like her so much! Her look, her dance, her personality, her character, her music especially her hip-hop style… I love to see her perform on the stage! She is so cool and great in controlling the whole situation, bring all the audience to get so high!
I was really shocked when I get to know that she has gone through so much in her life, some feeling… I don’t know how to describe it, maybe sympathy, but I think most people will have this kind of feeling too when they first know about Namie’s misfortune. However, It makes my admiration on her becomes greater because she is strong and keep going with her singing career… I hope she will lead happy life and success career! And I think she deserves it because we do see how hard and serious she works. Ganbatte Namie san! You will have my support all the time! With love for Namie….

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Patrick UNITED STATES May 24, 2007 at 6:32 pm

To, Aprilis, the album is called “Queen of Hip-Pop”, a play on the word hip-hop. I think Amuro and her producers realized that she couldn’t do R&B completely because of her j-pop roots.

btw: she has a new album on June 27, 2007! its about two years since Queen of Hip-Pop so i’m really excited! Amuro is one of my favorites!

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Dickson Farith May 11, 2007 at 6:14 pm

Is simply wonderful her life, She seems as little teenager girl, although I live in Colombia, I would like she comes here to know her at least at any concert. An finally, she really so pretty and beatiful Japanese woman. Blessings.

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Chisato UNITED STATES April 8, 2007 at 2:49 pm

i liked this article very much.
like ayumi hamasaki, namie amuro went through a lot while
there are some people who are happy throughout their whole life (like kudou shizuka who married kimura takuya). I like namie amuro very much. i can’t believe she’s gonna be 30 this year. she’s sooo young!

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Elizabeth UNITED STATES November 7, 2006 at 7:31 pm

I like the article it has a lot of information!
I wonder how her child looks like?

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tejung UNITED STATES January 29, 2006 at 4:03 am

her ex-husband SAM, I recall from BoA’s Live Tour 2003-Valenti, the Music Manipulator was also called SAM; they look so alike…can they happen to be the same person?

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Aprilis CANADA September 10, 2005 at 12:02 am

Up to this point, I’ve only heard of “Queen of R&B” and Namie’s name on forums. So when I saw this blog, I thought it’ll be the perfect time to learn about this “Queen”.

This is a very informative article, especially for people who know nothing about Namie’s past or present. And I really like the choice of pictures for this article: from her j-pop days to her R&B style, it all help to see and learn who Namie really is.

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Rinoa September 4, 2005 at 8:23 am

Quite an insightful article. I didn’t know Namie went through so much.. it must have been really hard for her. But it’s interesting to see how she was one of those first people who contributed to shaping the 90’s J-Pop and is still doing so in the present day.

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spellcheck UNITED STATES September 4, 2005 at 6:32 am

This article is very long, but that’s a good thing. I do like a lot of Namie’s recent work and it feels good to know about some of the things that have happened before now. I also like that you told the truth (i.e. horrible sales) instead of covering it up to promote her. Very informative and I like it!

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