Since we all know that I am a shameless fanboy and that I will indubitably give this album an A+, I thought that instead I would celebrate the best album of 2008, offically now thanks to the Japan Record Awards, with a short overview of Namie Amuro’s career that spans the length of BEST FICTION.

安室 奈美恵
Amuro Namie
July 30, 2008
Daily Album Chart: #1 (28+ consecutive days)
Weekly Album Chart: #1 (6 consecutive weeks)
Monthly Album Chart: #1 (August 2008)
Yearly Album Chart: #2
Billboard Japan
Hot 200: #1
Hot 100 Airplay: #6 (Do Me More)
Avex Trax


Since 2003, Namie Amuro has been putting out arguably some of the best JPop in the industry. Along with fellow label mates Kumi Koda and Ayumi Hamasaki she has released a best of album in the last year. Unlike Kuu or Ayu, she doesn’t do this every other thirty seconds and so this is actually something rather special. BEST FICTION is a perfect end to a new beginning for Amuro, whose career following her messy divorce and custody hearings was on the skids and most had assigned her the heap bin of pop princess has-beens.

Reinventing herself, she released her comeback single, a cover of the ballad Wishing on the Same Star which reached #2 on the Oricon charts. After a slew of mediocre selling singles, most of which were only slightly better than mediocre musically, she released her first album since 2000’s Break the Rules which was a terrible attempt at mimicking American R&B. The album, entitled STYLE, was a fresh take on her flailing JUrban status which reseated her on the charts at a healthy #3.

By 2004, she had started her single buildup to her newest effort, the smash hit Queen of Hip-Pop, arguably her best album since her debut Sweet 19 Blues in 1996. The first single, ALARM was unmemorable, but the ballad ALL FOR YOU, reversed her trend in declining sales and reestablished her popularity. After this well-received effort, she teamed up with hit-making duo, T.Kura and Michico who wrote her first true hit single since 2000’s NEVER END, the up tempo GIRL TALK, which drew in her estranged fan base and gave the artist her first #1 single since 1998. The sexually aggressive WANT ME, WANT ME also drew in a more varied crowd with her first club banger with the hint of bhangra. With the release of Queen of Hip-Hop in 2005, Amuro saw a resurge in sales and popularity, her album debuting at #2 and achieving Double Platinum status within the year.

Soon after, riding the wave of renewed interest, she released the double A-side White Light / Violet Sauce, one a Christmas ballad and the other the sexually ambiguous “sauce” song she is famous for in the JPop community which was used for the Sin City release in Japan. The single, despite the renewed interest failed to live up to its predecessors with disappointing sales. She would release another single, another double A-side: CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK / Ningyo. The single debuted at #2 with a popular video with choreography by famed American choreographer Shawnette Heard. It would be almost a year, January of 2007, before Amuro would release another single. Baby Don’t Cry by JUrban mastermind Nao’ymt would give Amuro her best opening sales since 2001. The song was a huge success and was used in multiple commercials and was the theme song to a popular television drama. The next single, FUNKY TOWN would once again disappoint in physical sales but with a popular music video made good digital sales. The album PLAY completely reinitialized Amuro’s popularity, staying at #1 for two straight weeks in the summer of 2007. The album spawned a hugely popular recut single, Hide & Seek, which won a the MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video. The album has since gone Double Platinum.

One single led up to the release of BEST FICTION, the critically acclaimed 60s 70s 80s which gave Amuro her first #1 single since 1998’s I Have Never Seen. The decadal music revue covered songs by The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, and Irene Cara with a decidedly modern twist. With the release of BEST FICTION, Amuro brought another hit single by Nao’ymt to the radio, Do Me More which helped sales of the album top the one million mark within three weeks and is the world-wide third best opening sales of any female artist, behind Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. BEST FICTION spent a grand total of six weeks at #1 (the first female artist to accomplish this feat since 1979). Among other awards, BEST FICTION has the prestigious place of being chosen as Best Album at the 50th annual Japan Record Awards.

In short, Namie seriously came back this year in a big way. No half-assed performances on Good Morning America or staged mockumentaries, Amuro did it by the sweat of her brow and the immense talent that lies in her astonishingly small 5’2″ figure. And best of all, she deserves it.

~ by vinyabarion on December 22, 2008.

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