Namie Amuro is a Japanese pop singer, dancer, and actress. With over a hundred songs in a twenty year career, it may be daunting to try to decide where to start listening if you're interested in checking Namie's music out. Never fear, because the top ten best songs list is here!
Namie's career can generally be divided into eras: her 1990s Tetsuya Komuro dance music, and her 21st century "hip-pop" music. I tried to bring a balance of the two here, while also crosschecking my own favorites and general fan favorites. Also, please note that some of the sample videos aren't the best quality or the best representations of the songs, since HubPages pretty much only allows Youtube videos (a couple others, but nothing with many vids I can use) and Namie's label is pretty on top of things on Youtube while, also, not liking to upload their own versions. Hence.
Is there any song that better represents the Queen of Hip-Pop than her 2009 Coca-Cola endorsing hit, "WILD"? Probably, but who cares? This super smooth dance jam got endless plays in 2009 and beyond, becoming the only single to represent the 2009 studio album "PAST < FUTURE". Its infectious beats incite you to get up and attempt dance moves your body probably can't achieve; its chants get stuck in your head all day (ex: "GET WILD! GET WILD! GET GET WILD! LET'S GET WILD!"); and its English samples provide endless hours of entertainment. Where were you when Namie said, "Japanese people don't think hard!"?
2. Do Me More
As the new lead radio single for the best album "BEST FICTION", "Do Me More" inherits the theme of fairy-tales with its surreal arrangement and unnerving composition. The lyrics, meanwhile, are deliciously seductive. It made perfect sense to include this song as the introduction to the literal best album of Namie's "hip-pop" era, as it represents the top-notch production all her previous songs went through. It only gets the #2 spot instead of #1 because it's not as catchy or as danceable. Unless you go that way, I suppose.
3. How to be a Girl
Our first 90's TK era song on this list is "How to be a Girl", a moderate hit with a big punch. In this quirky electro-rock song Namie tells us all about how she doesn't know how to love, kiss, feel, or to be a girl, reflecting on society's...something...about girls...well, the best way to appreciate this song is through the music video (good luck finding it!) in which Namie's traveling through train cars and finding other people who don't know what's going in their surrealistic world either. The unease of the song compounded with the unease of the video makes for a, guess what!, uneasy experience. But it's a memorable, uneasy experience nonetheless - one that stays with you for a long while and makes you think "yeah, this is what 90's J-pop was all about".
4. I HAVE NEVER SEEN
This dreamy ballad (not to be confused with her other great hit "Dreaming I was dreaming, of course) marked Namie's return to music in 1998 after her year-long hiatus to get married and give birth to her son. It's also one of her last TK singles and #1 singles of the 90s. It was a single worth waiting for back then, with its intriguing chorus filled with fantastic vocals that will loop through your head over and over. The best part is the ending with the male backup vocals coming in over Namie's vocals. "I HAVE NEVER SEEN" is one of those songs that most fans can agree on as being one of "the best".
5 . WANT ME, WANT ME
"WANT ME, WANT ME" is often credited as the single that solidified Namie's reemerging popularity in 2005. With its sitar sample lending to its dancehall roots, "WANT ME, WANT ME" is one of those fantastically naughty diddies that get stuck in your head, make you laugh, and make you dance. The song was originally supposed to be held off until the album following it, but Namie loved it so much she decided to release it as a single first. Glad she did, because it's one of her best!
6. Hide & Seek
When the album "PLAY" came out in 2007, it did two things: reshot Namie to the top of the album charts, and brought the lead song "Hide & Seek" that not only rocked the radio and video charts but also got Namie invited to the various award shows around Asia. "Hide & Seek" has a really playful sexiness to it, supported by marching beats and slick brass instrumentation. It's a great song for starting up some "criminal" mischief. (Get it because omg police officer Namie!)
7. Body Feels EXIT
Namie's debut solo single is also decidedly one of the best of her career. With classic TK sensibilities such as slammin' keyboards, gospel choirs, riffin' guitars, and of course all the quirks of electronic music, "Body Feels EXIT" personifies the debut of Namie's era as the upcoming Princess of Pop. Even though it's both ridiculous and rather dated, it still takes itself seriously and represents what it meant to do J-pop in the 90s. You may laugh when you first listen to it, but i bet you'll also start jammin' along and wonder how you'll make room for it on your iPod.
8. Put 'Em Up
"Put 'Em Up" is one of the most pivotal songs of Namie's career with a lengthy history. It went through at least three incarnations behind the scenes before finally being released as Namie's first official urban single in 2003. However, it also became her lowest selling single to date, as fans weren't sure how to react to Namie's iconic switch in styles at the time. But it was my first true exposure to Namie Amuro at the time, and I thought it was just the hottest thing ever. I still whip this song out at karaoke (that chorus is smoooooth) and act like it was written for me. As both a great sounding and game-changing sound, "Put 'Em Up" is not one so snub at.
9. NEVER END
"NEVER END" was written in honor of the G8 summit hosted in Okinawa in 2000, as requested by the then Japanese Prime Minister of TK and Namie. (They also performed it at the summit!) It's a sweet song, with an inspirational (but not cheesy) sound and message centering around world peace. It's easy to get completely lost in this song and pretend you're in a different world where all the song's lyrical contents are a possible reality. And then it ends, proving that nothing really "NEVER ENDS".
10. NO (@ 5:35)
Our final (officially) song on this list is also the only one not a single: "No" was the final track of 2005's return to prominence, "Queen of Hip-Pop". When this song first came out I could. Not. Stop. Listening. To. It. This song became an aural drug in my life, mostly because of the amazing beats and the incredibly sexy presentation. For the longest time this song was not only my favorite Namie song but also one of my favorite J-pop songs ever. Goodness, just listening to it again for this article is making me all nostalgic and wanting to go become a hip-pop artist right now. Alright, maybe not. But I can dream~.
BONUS: CAN YOU CELEBRATE?
Even though this song is not one of my favorites (I think it drags, has some whiny vocals of the time, and is just generally uninspired by TK's standards), I cannot let this article go by without mentioning "CAN YOU CELEBRATE?", the most popular song of Namie's career. Oh, not only is it popular, but it still remains the best selling single by a female solo artist in Japan. And something about being a popular wedding song. Meh.
Zoelle from Southern California on July 07, 2012:
Interesting... I'd never heard of her before.
hildred (author) from Oregon, USA on July 02, 2012:
Hello bode! And thanks! I agree that her TK era is fantastic, and I feel like these days she doesn't get enough love for that era. And, actually, I will be writing a Top 10 Akina post as soon as I finish the one I'm working on! (What timing, ha!) So you'll be seeing that by the end of the week.
bode1967 on July 02, 2012:
I really like her TK era, especially I HAVE NEVER SEEN and Body Feels EXIT. And i'd like to discover your Top 10 Best Akina Nakamori songs. I know it may be difficult for you to choose, as it is for me, but it would be interesting to read about your thoughts. Greetings from Brazil!
flashmakeit from usa on July 01, 2012:
I like the fairy tale theme in Do Me More! Thank you for sharing.