Destiny Line – Ai no Matador –

Amuro Namie – PLAY [7th Studio Album]

Posted on: July 11, 2008

Amuro Namie’s 7th studio album, entitled PLAY, was released on 06.27.07. The album experienced even more success than her previous album. Variety is the album’s strong points ranging from the sexiness of Top Secret and Full Moon to the attitude of Hello, PLAY is a strong collection of songs. The singles released before the album are White Light / Violet Sauce, CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT I’M SICK / 人魚, Baby Don’t Cry and FUNKY TOWN. Hide & Seek and Hello were used to further promote the album. Top Secret was also used as the theme song for the series Prison Break in Japan while Pink Key was used in a Lipton CM.

Hide & Seek serves as the album’s brilliant opening number. A marching beat instrumental starts off the song with Namie speaking in English to really make it pop. The first verse sounds great and the slight electronic tints come through as Namie’s vocals sounds slightly distored but they work with the music perfectly. The chorus is addictive as Namie shows off her vocals and the English such as “bounce bounce” and “bang bang bang your head” really stand out to the listener. Namie’s vocals shine even more with the third verse and the English is a nice touch as she sings “boy you sexy thing, like a sexy ring.” Hide & Seek is one of the album’s best songs and is definitely the perfect introductory track to enter the world of PLAY.

One of the more interesting songs on the album is the second one, Full Moon. The song starts off with a very cool and sleek instrumental with Namie repeating “under the full moon.” Her vocals during the verses are smooth and she sings somewhat softly to keep with the mysterious atmosphere of the song. The chorus sounds great as Namie shows a little more vocal strength and the mysterious vibe remains untouched.The hook features English lyrics such as “somebody wants somebody” and an energy that is perfectly at home on this song. The howling wolf during the second verse is definitely a nice touch as it helps show the world of the song. The pure instrumentation sounds absolutely fantastic as the song’s interesting feeling shines through strongly. Full Moon is a fantastic album song and is one of the more memorable numbers on PLAY.

CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK appears as the third track and is a fantastic dance song with pop flares to make it one of the best songs on PLAY. After a small instrumental section, the chorus starts and is one of the song’s strongest points. Her vocals sound great and hit the notes flawlessly, capturing the song’s overall atmosphere. The verses are sung with consistently strong vocals and the English phrases such as “love is always first” and “ask me what I dream about” really pop and stick in the listener’s mind. The hook is a nice transition into the chorus, particularly the “my god” that she sings. The third verse consists of the repetition of “I’m falling, I’m falling in love with you” and is a great asset to the album. The song ends strongly with more instrumentation to make the listener enjoy the song from its beginning to its finish. CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK is a fantastic number and one of the biggest standout songs on PLAY.

Namie comes back to exploring rock with the fourth song, It’s all about you. After a great instrumental section, Namie starts off the first verse strongly with “what a nerve.” Namie portrays the anger the lyrics create in order to form a cohesive effort. The hook is nice as she sings “you’re such a selfish,” which really pops. The chorus is the most addictive part of the song as Namie sings and the emotion comes across strongly. She holds her notes nicely and the instrumentation remains interesting as always. The third verse consists of Namie “you’ve got me so sick of this, you got me real sick of this” and this shows off her anger perfectly and once she sings “don’t, oh girl please,” the listener really gets into the song and is set up for another ride for the hook and chorus. Namie strongly returns to the rock sound with It’s all about you and is one of the tracks to look out for.

The fifth song, FUNKY TOWN, is what inspired the whole album’s theme and it is certainly an enjoyable dance song. After a fun instrumental, the chorus comes in. The English used really makes it pop as seen in phrases such as “livin’ in the funky town” and “come on down.” The chorus is sung with pretty deep vocals and they have a certain attitude to them that Namie is so strong at portraying. During the second verse, the cartoon sounds in the background really help to push the free and light-hearted elements of the song that make it so enjoyable. The third verse is slower than the others as Namie sings “breaktime” repeatedly. With the final choruses, Namie shows off her vocal power, particularly with the final “funky town,” when she holds her note effortlessly and powerfully. The song ends with the sound of a car and people cheering. FUNKY TOWN is definitely one of the more fun tracks that just hits the listener in the right way.

Step With It is an excellent album track that has a certain attitude and shows off Namie’s sexy style. The song opens up strongly with the hook, which sounds great and the English such as “I know you’re really wantin’ me” and “we’re doin’ it all night” pop excellently. The EnglisThe first verse then starts and Namie sings with a bit of rapidity that hooks the listener. Her vocals are smooth and sexy, capturing the song’s atmosphere perfectly. The pure instrumentation section is nice and features a man vocalizing as well Namie doing some nice vocals of her own in addition to saying “uno, dos, tres, quatro,” which only adds to the sex appeal of the song. As the song comes to a close, Namie speaks and even does a little giggle, which is really cute. The song fades out, making Step With It an unforgettable song from beginning to end.

Hello is a fantastic album track and one of the true standout songs on PLAY. The song starts off with Namie asking “hello” over a sassy instrumental with the sound of a telephone ringing added to give the song the extra kick. Then she sings the hook, which has attitude written all over it as she sings “wait for the beep and do your thing.” The verses are sung kind of deeply but the attitude is definitely there, particularly seen in English phrases such as “maybe I’ll call you back” and “because I’m so fly.” The chorus is really enjoyable as she shows a little more vocal strength and stands to the listener’s ear. The third verse continues the fun of the song as she brags “you want it, you need it” and that slight cockiness really adds flavor to the song. With the final, Namie does some gret adlibbing before a part of the hook is repeated. The repeated “hello” is always enjoyable and are the last words as the song fades out with instrumentation. Hello is definitely a highlight for its attitude and cool sound.

Much like her previous album, PLAY only holds one true ballad and that comes with the next track, Should I Love Him? After a nice instrumental, Namie sings the chorus. The counting really does stands out in the listener’s mind and is a nice way to draw attention to the words. The verses are sung somewhat deeply and the English phrases like “his mistakes are endless” really pop nicely. The third verse shows off the flare of th choir as well as more vocal strength from Namie to really capture the song’s emotion and the last line “love, love, love me do” sounds great. Should I Love Him? is a very nice ballad and although it is not as strong as previous ballad, ALL FOR YOU, it gets the job done nicely.

Top Secret features a sexy sound that really captivates the listener. Namie sexily opens with “I wanna taste you tonight” before the thumping instrumentation comes in. Namie’s vocals during the verses are smooth and capture the sexual atomsphere perfctly. Her vocalizing during the hook is fantastic and the counting of “traps” are really cool. The repetition of “top secret” during the chorus is very enjoyable and really sticks in the listener’s ear and the final line “tonight I taste you” is a perfect finish. The third verse features Namie whispering lyrics such as “I won’t bite so close your eyes, come and sit by my side” and the whole whispering only adds more sex appeal to the song. The song ends with a dark and interesting instrumental, making Top Secret a fantastic album track and a reason to check out this album.

Violet Sauce (Spicy) features a more rock-centered arrangement than the original version and its newly updated sound is welcome on PLAY. The song starts off with a cool rock sound with Namie saying “you know what…who is hot…collaboration” and there is such a fierce attitude to her voice that makes it pop. She then repeatedly sings “dip it in the sauce” and there is a sexiness to it that makes it memorable. The verses are sung with smooth vocals that go perfectly with the rock-backed instrumental. The third verse is the strongest voice as Namie shows off her vocal strength, particularly as she holds the note as she sings “come with me.” The song then ends with a more mysterious sound as Namie delivers her lyrics with a slickness, starting off with “enjoy my play land.” Her vocals here sound great and bring the song to an excellent close. Violet Sauce (Spicy) is a great new version of the song and a treat on PLAY.

The sweet midtempo number, Baby Don’t Cry, is the album semifinale. There is a more personal vibe from this song that really resonantes with the listener. After a small instrumental sequence, Namie sings the first verse. Her vocals sound great and capture the overall atmosphere. The English phrases such as “three years” and “T-shirts” pop nicely. The chorus is what really sticks out as Namie shows off more vocal strength. The repeittion of “baby don’t cry” makes the chorus all the more enjoyable and sweet and there is something so comforting in Namie’s voice that is soothing. The third verse further shows off Namie’s vocals and is the strongest verse. When Namie sings “let me you smile again,” the listener can’t help but smile. Baby Don’t Cry has that personal appeal that draws the listener into the song and it is certainly a song not to be missed.

The album closes with the upbeat and inspirational, Pink Key. After some instrumentation centered around the ringig of bells and Namie whispering, the hook comes in as Namie sings “now it’s time to find your way” repeatedly. It gives her a chance to show off her great vocals and then the chorus starts. There is a poppy element that really makes it fun and the English lyrics such as “left, right” and “say hi” add to the certain ctueness. The verses are great and her vocals sound great. The inspirational message of the song really stands out and is something to listen to. The third verse features some more great vocals, particularly with the final line “believe you can surely find your way” and then the hook comes in again. The song finishes with a wonderful glittering instrumental to bring the song to a close. Pink Key is a great way to end the album and shows off Namie’s vocals, giving the listener hope and inspiration.

Album Ranking: A +

PLAY is an absolutely fantastic album featuring twelve tracks that show off just how much of a talented artist Namie is. Both the opening song (Hide & Seek) and the closing number (Pink Key) show versatility and Namie brings new light to her dance tracks such as FUNKY TOWN and CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK. Full Moon and Top Secret are excellent songs that show off that style even more. PLAY is one of the standout albums of 2007 and Namie’s best.

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