Namie Amuro facts for kids
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Amuro at her 25th anniversary concert in Okinawa in September 2017
|Other names||Namie Maruyama (legally, 1997–2002)|
Masaharu "Sam" Maruyama
Namie Amuro (// nah-MEE-ay; Japanese: 安室奈美恵; born September 20, 1977) is a Japanese former recording artist, producer, songwriter, dancer, model, actress and entrepreneur who was active between 1992 and 2018. A leading figure of the Japanese entertainment industry since the early 1990s, Amuro is known for breaking the youthful idol stereotype of J-Pop, changing the fashion trends and lifestyle of women in Japan, her experimentation across music styles, and for her visual imagery in music videos and live performances. Due to her career longevity, resilience, professionalism, efforts behind-the-scenes in the music industry, and her way of life, she is considered a pop culture icon in Japan and Asia. She has been referred to as "Diva of Heisei Era" and the "Queen of Japanese Pop", and has been recognized as having the influence and career impact domestically equivalent to artists such as Janet Jackson and Madonna in Western music and pop culture.
Namie Amuro was born on September 20, 1977, at Okinawa Red Cross Hospital in Naha, Okinawa. She is one of four children of Emiko Taira. Through her mother, Amuro is a quarter Italian. Having divorced when Amuro was only 4 years old, Taira raised her children solely in Okinawa – she worked as a nursery school employee and a bar hostess to support her family.
Although Amuro had no ambition to become a singer, she was discovered at age 12, while visiting a friend. One year later, Amuro was scouted by Masayuki Makino, the owner of Okinawa Actors School, and eventually she was enrolled there. In 1991, Makino placed her in an idol group named Super Monkey's, with four other girls: Anna Makino, Hisako Arakaki, Minako Ameku and Nanako Takushi. The sixth member, Rino Nakasone, joined the group one year later. On September 16, 1992, Super Monkey's released their debut single, "Koi no Cute Beat/Mr USA". However, Anna Makino left the group at the end of that year. In 1993, the remaining members of Super Monkey's moved to Tokyo.
Super Monkey's did not gain much success and the group went through constant lineup changes. In 1994, the group changed their name to Namie Amuro with Super Monkey's to reflect Amuro's rising popularity as an upcoming actress and fashion model. Aside from group's musical activities, Amuro had bit parts in Japanese television series and small films. Super Monkey's experienced a large amount of success with their single "Try Me (Watashi o Shinjite)", produced by Italian eurobeat producer Dave Rodgers, and Japanese businessman Max Matsuura. Released on January 25, 1995, the song reached number eight on the Oricon Singles Chart, and stayed in the top 200 chart for 25 weeks. Despite the beginning success as a group, the other four members of the Super Monkey's formed their own sub-group, MAX, under the Japanese record label Avex Trax. As a result, Amuro released two more solo singles under Toshiba-EMI before moving to Avex Trax herself.
After signing with Avex Trax in 1995, the corresponding record company Avex Group enlisted Japanese musician Tetsuya Komuro to work with Amuro on her then-upcoming album. Amuro made her solo debut with Avex, releasing the single "Body Feels Exit" on October 25, 1995. It became a huge success in Japan, peaking at number three on the Oricon Singles Chart and sold over 882,000 units in Japan. Amuro's second single with Komuro, "Chase the Chance", became her first number-one single on the Oricon Singles Chart and her first single to sell over 1 million units in Japan. For Amuro's success with those singles, she won the Golden Arrow Award in 1995.
Her 1996 studio album, Sweet 19 Blues, sold over 3 million copies, setting the record at the time for the biggest selling album by a female artist in Japan and the highest selling album debut in the world (currently ranked #15 in the world's largest first week album sales). One of the singles from her album Concentration 20 (1997), "Can You Celebrate?", is the best-selling single by a solo female artist in Japanese music history.
During a press conference on October 22, 1997 Amuro confirmed her marriage to Japanese musician and TRF band member Masaharu "Sam" Maruyama. During the conference, she announced that she was three months pregnant with their first child. At the end of the year, she won the Grand Prix Award at the Japan Record Awards again for "Can You Celebrate?" and made her final appearance on the annual Japanese television music show 48th Kōhaku Uta Gassen before beginning her one-year hiatus from the music industry. She legally changed her name to Namie Maruyama, but continued to use her maiden name as her professional name.
From 1999, Amuro partnered with international musicians and producers on her records, beginning with Genius 2000 (2000). In early 2000s, Amuro's music evolved from pop to R&B, and she saw decline in sales.
In July 2002, Amuro divorced Maruyama, and legally changed her name back to Namie Amuro, having cited irreconcilable differences. According to reports, her divorce was due to her personal issues with Maruyama's family.
In 2003. Amuro released her sixth studio album and first album in three years, Style. The album became her lowest chart album on the Oricon Albums Chart, peaking at number four. It is also her lowest selling studio album
Play (2007), her eighth studio album, began the period of commercial resurgence. She continued to experiment musically, moving to electronic dance music and English language songs with follow-up records Uncontrolled (2012) and Feel (2013). She subsequently released her eleventh studio album Genic (2015) and her last compilation album Finally (2017), which contains re-recordings of her selected singles from 1992 to 2017.
Amuro is noted within the Japanese entertainment industry for "producing" and managing her own career. Aside from music, she has appeared in various advertisement campaigns in Japan and founded her own management company Stella88, and her own record label Dimension Point.
Having sold more than 40 million records, Amuro is recognized as one of the best-selling artists in Japan by Oricon. Since her solo debut, she achieved top 10 singles for 23 consecutive years (#1 for solo artist). All of her albums are certified Platinum, and her debut solo album, Sweet 19 Blues, was the best selling album in Japan. She is the only artist in Japan to sell a million albums in her teens, 20s, 30s and 40s. Her last album, Finally, topped the year-end album charts of both Oricon and Billboard Japan for two consecutive years (the first and only artist in the Japanese Music Industry to do so). Amuro has frequently been noted for her live performances at music award ceremonies and is the recipient of World Music Awards, Japan Record Awards, Japan Gold Disc Awards, and MTV Video Music Awards Japan, among many others.
On May 23, 2018, Amuro was awarded "Okinawa's National Honor Award" at Okinawa Prefecture Government Office in Naha.
On September 16, 2018, Amuro officially retired from the music and entertainment business.
Amuro has a mezzo-soprano vocal range. During the early stages of her singing career, she was noted for her limited vocal capabilities, and was criticized for constantly relying on production values to overlap these flaws. For example, her first two studio albums, Sweet 19 Blues and Concentration 20, were examined by Ted Mills at AllMusic, and labelled her voice very "limited" and occasionally sung "higher than she can manage". By 2000, the English language started to heavily mix in with her music, starting with Genius 2000. In several tracks, Amuro would record her vocals in Japanese (and additionally in English), whereas back-up vocalists would provide English translations and marry the two together. By Play, the singer would start to record tracks with less electronic synths and beats, particularly with the album track "Baby Don't Cry". According to Mills, he felt that the song focused more on her vocals than the production. Her final three studio albums, Uncontrolled, Feel and Genic, had multiple full-length English tracks and, although it received positive remarks for experimentation, she was frequently lambasted for her incomprehensible deliveries in most songs.
Throughout her career, Amuro has covered a wide range of musical styles and genres. Her music through the 1990s were influenced by eurobeat and the rise of J-pop music. Additionally, she identifies Madonna and Janet Jackson as her inspirations, despite constant comparisons with sound and imagery by critics and publications alike. Sweet 19 Blues stuck with J-pop elements, but she began to experiment with Western genres such as R&B, jungle, acid house, house and jazz. From Genius 2000, she worked with American producer Dallas Austin, resulting in a fully adapted hip hop record with elements of J-pop. She carried this sound on with Style (2003), another record produced by Austin, and eventually onto Queen of Hip-Pop (2005). Amuro's transition from J-pop to "more mature, transatlantic" R&B was noted by critics, and the aforementioned title "Queen of Hip-Pop" was used by the Japanese media to identify her (the term "Hip-Pop" is Amuro's combination of hip-hop and pop).
In 2007, Amuro released Play, which was highlighted as one of her key re-inventions of her entire career. Sonically, the record relied on R&B and hip hop elements, but started to involve contemporary dance-pop music. To an extent, Tills from AllMusic compared the effort to the works of Jennifer Lopez and En Vogue. Uncontrolled (2012) saw yet another transition with her sound, leaving R&B and focusing on electronic dance music. Additionally, this saw her first experimentation with full-length English language tracks. Unlike her previous records, Uncontrolled ventured into Western practitioners to helm the collection, including the likes of The Nervo Twins, Henrik Nordenback, Christian Fast and Peter Mansson. This trend also moved onto her follow-up album Feel, where she worked with artists such as Hook n Sling, Dsign Music and Zedd. Her final studio album, Genic (2015), was her first record not handled by Japanese producers, and her second record to include almost all tracks entirely in English (after her 2013 album Feel).
Ever since her debut, Amuro has been classified as one of Japan's most prominent and successful singers. In an opined article published by The Japan Times, writer Ian Martin encompassed the singer alongside superlatives Yumi Matsutoya, Hikaru Utada, Seiko Matsuda and Hibari Misora as the leading female figures in Japanese music history. Although Martin identified Utada as one of the "only contemporaries" to break the Western society, he felt Amuro was her "most immediate predecessor," based solely on the fact that "[Amuro] represented a period when Japanese pop was learning to see itself as something that could stand alongside the Western music from which it took many cues." Additionally, Amuro's career has been constantly compared to the likes of Matsuda's, both whom grew up in the idol routine and having achieved commercial resilience ever since; music author Motti Regev regarded the musicians as part of the "golden age of J-Pop", before records declined due to the rise of the digital market in the mid-2000s. Because of her longevity and the numerous musical and imagery re-inventions, numerous publications have referred her as the "Queen of Japanese Pop" and the Japanese equivalent to American singers Janet Jackson and Madonna.
Throughout her years active as a singer, Amuro has sold more than 36 million records in Japan according to Oricon. According to a report by Entertainment Weekly announcing her retirement, she has sold more albums in Japan than Lady Gaga, Katy Perry or Kesha have in the United States combined. As of 2017, this makes her the fifth highest-selling female act, and fourth best-selling female solo act overall, just behind Yumi Matsutoya, Ayumi Hamasaki, Hikaru Utada, and Japanese all-girl idol group AKB48 (see total list here). Additionally, Amuro was ranked the 12th best-selling digital artist according to Japanese digital site Recochoku. The singer has achieved nine number-one studio albums with an additional five compilation/collaborative inclusions, and 10 number-one singles. She is one of the only female solo artists to achieve the most accumulations of million-certified physical singles, with a total of five ("Chase the Chance", "Don't Wanna Cry", "You're My Sunshine", "A Walk in the Park" and "Can You Celebrate?" – see her discography for more). "Can You Celebrate?" still remains the best-selling physical release by a female singer—with estimate sales of 2.750 million copies sold in Japan alone. For a brief period in 1996, her second studio album Sweet 19 Blues was the best-selling album in Japanese music history. Additionally, she held the record for the highest-opening sales for a female or solo artist until it was challenged by Hikaru Utada's 1999 studio album First Love, which to this day stands as the best-selling album in Japan.
With her sudden rise to stardom, Amuro was noted by journalists and commentators as a trendsetter to the Japan and across Asia. She eventually became the most prominent figure in fashion magazines and the general press for changing the typical Japanese idol image and styles of women in Japan, in favour of "dyeing their hair brown, plucking their eyebrows... thick-soled/long boots, a miniskirt, tanned-skin and tattoos". This made her a fashion icon, and created a phenomenon fan base known as Amuraa in the 1990s, with many young girls and women looked up to her fashion, hairstyle and makeup. Additionally, her fashions also paved the ways for a Japanese fashion culture, kogal , and fashion trends known as gyaru, a Japanese transliteration of gal. Anthropologist Hiroshi Aoyagi said in 2003 that Amuro changed the stereotypical idol culture. Writer Marwan Kraidy described Amuro in 2005 as part of "Japan's rising cultural power" towards the world. Nichi-Bei Josei Jānaru, writing for the U.S.-Japan Women's Journal, believed the success of Sweet 19 Blues was the reason many people emulated her as a role model between 1996 and 1997.
- Dance Tracks Vol. 1 (1995)
- Sweet 19 Blues (1996)
- Concentration 20 (1997)
- Genius 2000 (2000)
- Break The Rules (2000)
- Style (2003)
- Queen of Hip-Pop (2005)
- Play (2007)
- Past<Future (2009)
- Uncontrolled (2012)
- Feel (2013)
- Genic (2015)
|1994||Toki o Kakeru Shōjo||Miyoko Yoshiyama|
|1995||Watashi, Mikata Desu|
|1995||Shounan Liverpool Gakuin|
|1996||That's Cunning! Shijo Saidai no Sakusen?||Morishita Yumi||Film debut|
|2011||The Reason I Can't Find My Love||Herself||Cameo
- March 23 – May 18, 1997: Namie Amuro Tour 1997 A Walk In The Park
- July 26 – August 13, 1997: Mistio presents Namie Amuro Summer Stage 97 Concentration 20
- March 20 – May 7, 2000: Namie Amuro Tour GENIUS 2000
- March 18 – May 27, 2001: Namie Amuro Tour 2001 Break The Rules
- October 17 – November 10, 2001: Namie Amuro Tour "AmR" 01
- November 29, 2003 – April 11, 2004: Namie Amuro So Crazy Tour featuring Best Singles 2003–2004
- May 1–2, 2004: Namie Amuro So Crazy in Taipei
- May 13–15, 2004: Namie Amuro So Crazy Tour in Seoul 2004
- August 27 – September 20, 2004: Namie Amuro Tour "Fan Space 04"
- September 1 – December 24, 2005: Space of Hip-Pop: Namie Amuro Tour 2005
- August 13 – November 23, 2006: Namie Amuro BEST Tour LIVE STYLE 2006
- August 18 – December 25, 2007: Namie Amuro PLAY Tour 2007
- January 26 – February 27, 2008: Namie Amuro PLAY MORE!!
- April 12–13, 2008: Namie Amuro PLAY MORE!! in Taipei
- October 25, 2008 – July 12, 2009: Namie Amuro Best Fiction Tour 2008–2009
- April 3 – December 15, 2010: Namie Amuro Past<Future Tour 2010
- July 30 - December 27, 2011: Namie Amuro LIVE STYLE 2011
- November 24 - December 21, 2012: Namie Amuro 5 Major Domes Tour 2012 ~20th Anniversary Best~
- February 23 - March 16, 2013: Namie Amuro ASIA Tour 2013
- August 16 - December 23, 2013: Namie Amuro FEEL Tour 2013
- August 22 – December 23, 2014: Namie Amuro LIVE STYLE 2014
- September 5, 2015 – March 26, 2016: Namie Amuro LIVEGENIC 2015–2016
- August 19, 2016 – May 3, 2017: Namie Amuro LIVE STYLE 2016–2017
- September 16–17, 2017: Namie Amuro 25th Anniversary in Okinawa
- February 17 – June 3, 2018: Namie Amuro FINAL Tour 2018 ~Finally~
- March 17 – May 20, 2018: Namie Amuro FINAL Tour 2018 ~Finally~ in ASIA'
In Spanish: Namie Amuro para niños
- Japanese popular culture
- Honorific nicknames in popular music
- List of best-selling music artists in Japan
- List of best-selling singles in Japan
- List of best-selling albums in Japan
- Japan Record Awards
- MTV Video Music Awards Japan
- Billboard Japan Music Awards
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