M (song)

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For the Chantal Kreviazuk song, see Colour Moving and Still. For the song by the band The Cure, see Seventeen Seconds.
"M"
Single by Ayumi Hamasaki
from the album A Best and I am...
Released December 13, 2000
Format CD single
Genre Pop rock, alternative rock
Length 54:16
Label Avex Trax
Writer(s) Ayumi Hamasaki (lyrics)
CREA (music)
Producer(s) Max Matsuura
Ayumi Hamasaki singles chronology
"Audience"
(2000)
"M"
(2000)
"Evolution"
(2001)
Ayumi Hamasaki German
singles chronology
"Connected"
(2003)
"M"
(2003)
"Depend on You"
(2004)
Music video
"M" on YouTube

"M" is a song written by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki from her album I Am... (2002).[1] The lead single from the album and Hamasaki's nineteenth overall, "M" marked Hamasaki's increased creative control over her music, as it was the first song she composed, under the pseudonym "CREA".

The single is to date one of Hamasaki's most commercially successful; it peaked at the top spot on the Oricon weekly charts, selling over 500,000 units on its first week. Moreover, the single eventually sold over 1,000,000 copies over its seventeen-week run and became an RIAJ-certified million-seller; "M" also won the Japan Gold Disc Award for "Song of the Year".[2]

Background and themes[edit]

Shortly after the release of her studio album Duty, Hamasaki began writing "M". Before then, Hamasaki's staff had composed the melodies; Hamasaki only wrote the lyrics. However, with "M", Hamasaki felt that none of the melodies composed by her staff fit her vision of the song. Consequently, she decided to compose the melody herself.[3] She began work on an electronic keyboard; however, as she had little proficiency in the instrument, Hamasaki eventually resorted to singing the melody into a voice recorder.[3]

Throughout the song, Hamasaki addresses "Maria". Hamasaki is ambiguous as to the identity of "Maria"; however, she has stated that the song was inspired by a story told to her by a friend about a saint named Mary.[4][5] The story was pivotal in the shaping of the theme of the song, which, according to Hamasaki, is about a "woman who won't change with time".[4] Finally, like other songs from I am..., Hamasaki explores the topics of couples and love.[6][7]

Composition and musical style[edit]

At 0:15 of the clip, Hamasaki's voice shifts from C-sharp major to A-sharp minor.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

According to Hamasaki, the melodies composed by her staff for "M" did not fit her image for the song because they were too "warm"—she had envisioned a melody with a "cold" feeling. That, according to Hamasaki, meant a melody that was "difficult to grasp" and started in a lower key before progressing to a higher key.[4] The song is written in common time and begins in the key of C major before progressing to the key of C-sharp major.[8] The song uses piano, electric guitar, triangle, and various stringed instruments.

"M", unlike Hamasaki's antecedent songs, does not follow the verse-chorus form; rather, the song opens with an introduction that is followed by a brief instrumental bridge that precedes two verses.[9] The verses are followed by a pre-chorus after which comes an instrumental bridge; that is followed by a repetition of the pre-chorus and the verse. The chorus and a repetition of it follow; the chorus and its repetition are separated by another instrumental bridge. Finally, a second verse is sung before the repetition of the introduction, at which point the song ends.[10]

Music video[edit]

A scene from the music video

The music video for "M", directed by Wataru Takeishi, opens with Hamasaki singing the introduction against a stained-glass window. The first instrumental bridge follows, during which is seen the exterior of a church. When the first verse starts, the doors of the church open and glowing particles sweep into the church; at the start of the second instrumental bridge, the particles merge and Hamasaki appears in a white gown, at the intersection of the transept and the aisle, also in this scene she is wearing blue contacts. When the chorus starts, Hamasaki is seen outside the church (no longer in a gown) singing with her band; subsequent scenes switch between Hamasaki singing outside the church and standing inside. At the end of the video, the glowing particles sweep out of the church and the gown-clad Hamasaki disappears.

Sales and chart action[edit]

"M" debuted at the number-one position on the Oricon weekly charts on its first week of release, selling 541,350 copies.[11] The single remained atop the charts the second week; however, the total sales for that week had dropped to 185,290.[12] The sales rose the third week: the single sold 246,150 copies; however, it was only able to reach the number-two position, as Every Little Thing's single "Fragile/Jirenma" debuted that week with 278,120 copies.[13] By the fourth week, "M" remained at the number-two position with 95,770 copies sold.[14] It remained in the Top 10 the following three weeks, dropping from the number-five position to the number-seven position.[15][16][17] It remained in the Top 30 for two more weeks; it reached the twenty-third position before dropping out.[18][19] By the end of its nine-week run in the Oricon Top 30, "M" sold 1,279,830 copies,[20] making it the best-selling single from I am... and adding to Hamasaki's million-selling singles.

Release history[edit]

Country Release date
Japan December 13, 2000
Europe October 27, 2003

Chart[edit]

Chart (2000) Peak
position
Oricon Weekly Chart 1

Personnel[edit]

Track listing[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The title of this single is properly rendered thus: Ayumi Hamasaki - M symbol.gif Whenever the title of this single appears on any track listing released by Avex, the aforementioned symbol is used.
  2. ^ The 16th Japan Gold Disc Award 2001. RIAJ. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Shikano Atsushi. Rockin'on Japan. February 2001. Volume 165.
  4. ^ a b c J-Point. December 22, 2000. Volume 75.
  5. ^ Barry Walters of the Village Voice speculates that the "Maria" in question is Mary Magdalene; however, "Maria" in Japanese most often refers to the Virgin Mary.
  6. ^ "Interview with Ayu". U Weekly SG. February 2002. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  7. ^ In the lyrics, words for "love" appear five times in total: ai (愛, love) appears four times and koi (恋, love) appears once. Also, the Japanese word for "couple", futari (ふたり, couple, literally two people) appears twice.
  8. ^ According to musical theory, this would be a shift to the parallel key.
  9. ^ The sheet music of "M" from Ayumi Hamasaki - Piano Solo - New Piano Sounds Top 25. Volume 7. ISBN 978-4-89638-944-9
  10. ^ By "repetition" is meant a repetition of the melody, not the lyrics.
  11. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the fourth week of December 2000. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  12. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the first week of January 2001. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  13. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the second week of January 2001. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  14. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the third week of January 2001. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  15. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the fourth week of January 2001. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  16. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the first week of February 2001. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  17. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the second week of February 2001. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  18. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the third week of February 2001. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  19. ^ Oricon Weekly Charts for the third week of February 2001. Oricon. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  20. ^ According to the total of the sales while "M" was in Oricon Top 30 charts. Oricon does not publish the sales or positions below thirty; therefore, it is possible that "M" sold more.
  21. ^ Takeuchi Cullen, Lisa. "Empress of Pop". TIME. Retrieved July 5, 2008.

External links[edit]