Uncontrolled (album)

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Uncontrolled
A blue-tinted close-up face shot of a woman, with long hair being windswept to her right. In the background is an extreme close-up of an annular solar eclipse.
CD+DVD and Playbutton editions' cover
Studio album by Namie Amuro
Released June 27, 2012 (2012-06-27)
(see release history)
Recorded 2010–2012
Prime Sound Studio Form
(Meguro, Tokyo)
Azabu O Studio
(Nishi-Azabu, Minato, Tokyo)
Avex Studio
(Azabu, Tokyo)
Bunkamura Studio
(Shibuya, Tokyo)
Record Plant
(Los Angeles, California)
Sound City
(Azabudai, Minato, Tokyo)
Genre R&B,[1] dance,[2] electro-pop,[3] euro disco[4]
Length 50:17
Language Japanese, English
Label Avex Trax
Producer Takashi Kasuga, (exec.) Shinji Hayashi (exec.), Hisahiko Iida, Shintaro Higuchi, Daisuke Shimokawa
Namie Amuro chronology
Checkmate!
(2011)
Uncontrolled
(2012)
Feel
(2013)
Singles from Uncontrolled
  1. "Break It" / "Get Myself Back"
    Released: July 28, 2010 (2010-07-28)
  2. "Naked" / "Fight Together" / "Tempest"
    Released: July 27, 2011 (2011-07-27)
  3. "Sit! Stay! Wait! Down!" / "Love Story"
    Released: December 7, 2011 (2011-12-07)
  4. "Go Round" / "Yeah-Oh!"
    Released: March 21, 2012 (2012-03-21)

Uncontrolled is the 10th studio album by Japanese pop and R&B musician Namie Amuro, released on June 27, 2012.[5] The album was released before her 20th anniversary concerts — one in Okinawa in September, and seven across Japan in November and December 2012. The album consists mostly of songs sung in Japanese, however this was the first album of Amuro's to feature several songs sung entirely in English.

The album spent three weeks at number one on Oricon's albums chart, making Uncontrolled the second album of Amuro's to do this after Best Fiction (2008) spent six weeks at number one. The album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan. This is her fifth consecutive number one album since 2007, and her sixth consecutive double platinum album since 2005.

Background and development[edit]

Uncontrolled is Amuro's first original studio album since 2009's Past < Future, and follows her collaboration compilation album Checkmate!, released in 2011. Unlike Past < Future, which was released after only one physical single, Uncontrolled is a compilation of nine songs from singles released between 2010 and 2012, as well as four new songs. Amuro revealed later in an interview that an idea for the album was conceived in early 2012.[6] The album was created as a collection of songs that Amuro wanted to sing, in contrast to a concept or theme-based album.[7]

Of the nine tracks released as singles before the album, four were digitally successful enough to receive certifications from Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ): "Fight Together," "Get Myself Back," "Love Story" and "Sit! Stay! Wait! Down!."[8] All of the songs were certified gold for full-length cellphone downloads, except for "Love Story," which was certified triple platinum for ringtones, and double platinum for full-length cellphone downloads.[8][9][10][11][12] It was Amuro's highest certified song in four years, since 2008's "New Look."[13]

Most of the songs were recorded in Tokyo, at Prime Sound Studio Form, with additional recording at Azabu O Studio, Avex Studio and Bunkamura Studio. The exception is "Let's Go," which was recorded at Record Plant in Los Angeles.[14] Amuro had previously recorded at Record Plant in the 1990s, on her albums Sweet 19 Blues (1996), Concentration 20 (1997) and Genius 2000 (2000).

Writing and production[edit]

Five of the songs on the album are sung entirely in English — three new tracks "In the Spotlight (Tokyo)," "Hot Girls" and "Only You," as well as English versions of the songs from her preceding single "Go Round / Yeah-Oh!." During an interview with Billboard Japan, Amuro stated that the English tracks were not made with overseas audience in mind. She chose to sing them in English because she thought they would sound better in English.[6]

The album's songs featured seven different sound producers, with longtime collaborator Nao'ymt and new collaborator T-SK producing four songs each. Nao'ymt, who had worked with Amuro since 2005 on songs such as "Baby Don't Cry" and "Hide and Seek," worked on four tracks, "Break It," "Get Myself Back," "Fight Together" and "Tempest."[14] T-SK, who began working with Amuro in 2011, produced "Go Round," "Let's Go," "Love Story" and "Yeah-Oh" — all songs written by Australian band The Nervo Twins.[14] In addition to the songs with the Nervo Twins, Amuro worked on three additional songs with the Nervo Twins' music publishing company, the Sweden based Razor Boy Music Publishing. "In the Spotlight (Tokyo)," "Hot Girls" and "Only You" were produced by Henrik Nordenback, Michael Smith and Peter Mansson respectively.[14] Of the seven songs featuring Razor Boy Music Publishing artists, five were sung entirely in English. Of these songs, Tiger wrote Japanese lyrics for "Let's Go" "Love Story,"[14] and the Japanese versions of "Go Round / Yeah-Oh!" that appear on the single were written by Aili and Double respectively.[15]

The remaining two producers are also previous collaborators of Amuro's: T. Kura ("Funky Town" (2007), "New Look" (2008)) worked with Michico on the track "Sit! Stay! Wait! Down!," while Japanese DJ Shinichi Osawa ("What a Feeling" (2008)) produced "Naked" with M-Flo member Verbal writing the lyrics.[14]

Promotion and release[edit]

The most commercially successful single of the era, "Love Story" is a medium tempo ballad used as the theme song for the drama Watashi ga Ren'ai Dekinai Riyū.

The pop song "Fight Together" was Amuro's first Japanese anime collaboration in eight years.

The Shinichi Osawa produced dance track "Naked" was used in a nationwide Kosé campaign.

Problems playing these files? See media help.

Songs from Uncontrolled were featured in two major commercial campaigns featuring Amuro as their spokeswoman. "Break It" was used for the Coca-Cola Zero "Wild Heart" campaign in 2010, a tie-up that has also featured her songs "Wild" (2009) and "Wonder Woman" (2011).[16] Japanese cosmetic firm Kosé used "Naked" and "Go Round" in campaigns for their Esprique line of eye-make up.[16] "Hot Girls" will be used in an upcoming campaign.[17] Amuro had previously worked with Kosé in 2001, in a lipstick campaign featuring "Say the Word."[16]

Of the single tracks, four were used in prime-time television shows as their theme songs. "Fight Together" was used as the third theme song for the anime One Piece's 14th season. This was the first time in eight years since Amuro had a song associated with a popular Japanese animation, the last being "Come" and "Four Seasons" from her 2003 album Style.[16] "Tempest" was the eponymous theme song of Tempest (2010),[16] based on Okinawan novelist Eiichi Ikegami's 2008 novel. "Sit! Stay! Wait! Down!" and "Love Story" were used as the theme songs for the ensemble drama Watashi ga Ren'ai Dekinai Riyū (2011),[16] starring actresses Karina, Yuriko Yoshitaka and AKB48 member Yuko Oshima. Amuro made a cameo performance on the December 12, 2011 episode of the drama, performing the theme song.[18]

"Only You," an album track, was used as the theme song for the WOWOW TV broadcast of the UEFA Euro 2012 soccer tournament. WOWOW also broadcast three TV specials about Amuro for her anniversary. Namie Amuro 20th Anniversary Special: Live History & Document of Namie Amuro, broadcast on June 2, 2012, featured behind the scenes footage of the "Only You" video, as well as archive footage of Amuro's lives, music videos and an interview.[19] On November 3 and 4, 2012, Namie Amuro 20th Anniversary Special #2: Live Future & Document of Namie Amuro will be released, followed the next day by live footage from her September 16 performance Namie Amuro 0th Anniversary Live in Okinawa. The preceding documentary will feature rehearsal footage for the live, interviews with collaborators who will participate in the concert, and footage of Amuro's promotional tour across Asia.[20]

In May 2012, a smart phone application was released to Apple's App Store and Google Play, in promotion for the album, Amuro's 2012 tour, and her 20th anniversary.[21]

In late May 2012 outside of Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, an 8m high billboard painting of the album cover was created over two days, revealing the album cover for the first time. The background of the cover features the annular solar eclipse of May 21, 2012, which was seen as a total eclipse in Tokyo.[22] Amuro made appearances at radio stations in Fukuoka, Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto.[23] In Sapporo Station, a temporary Namie Amuro exhibit was erected at the Paseo department store.[24]

For promotion of the album, Amuro was featured in many fashion magazines, including Blenda, Gisele, Glamorous, Mina, S Cawaii!, Spring, Sweet and Vivi.[25]

Namie Amuro travelled to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore in late June and early July 2012 to promote the album.[26][27] During the stop, Amuro held several press conferences, and a series of club dance events called Amuro Night were held. While Amuro herself did not dance at the events, she attended the event at Singapore's St James Power Station.[28]

Promotional singles[edit]

The four new songs from the album received a gradual ringtone release before the album. The first of which, "Only You," was released as a digital download to cellphones on the day of the album's release.[29] Prior to the album's release, "Only You" received enough radio airplay to chart at number 7 on Billboard's Japan Hot 100 chart.[30] on RIAJ's cellphone download chart, "Only You" charted at number five for two consecutive weeks.[31]

"In the Spotlight (Tokyo)" was released on July 4, 2012 as a full-length cellphone download.[32] The song received enough radio airplay prior to the album's release to chart on the Japan Hot 100 at number 46.[33] The song reached number 15 on RIAJ's download chart.[31]

"Let's Go" was released in full on July 11, 2012, and "Hot Girls" was released later on July 25.[34][35] "Let's Go" reached number 29 on RIAJ.[36]

Music videos[edit]

Two dresses from "Only You" and one from "Hot Girls" on exhibit.

Uncontrolled features the largest number of MVs in Amuro's career: seven MVs from singles, and the remaining four of the new tracks.

"Get Myself Back" was shot at her birthplace, Okinawa, and was the first video of hers to be shot there.[37] The location was chosen to express the sentiment of the song.[37]

"Only You" was directed by American director Thomas Kloss.[38] The music video for "Only You" was shot overseas, in desert near Los Angeles.[39]

"In the Spotlight (Tokyo)"'s music video was shot with the concept of "making Tokyo a gigantic dance floor," with scenes of the Shuto Expressway, the pedestrian scrambles in Shibuya, Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower featured in the video.[40] "Let's Go" features scenes shot with a high-speed camera that revolved about Amuro while she was performing the song.[41]

At the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards Japan, "Love Story" won the Best Female Video award, while "Naked" received a nomination for Best Pop Video.[42] [43] At the previous year's 2011 MTV Video Music Aid Japan awards, "Break It" was nominated for the video of the year.[44] For the upcoming is nominated for the Best Female Video award, and "Naked" is nominated for the Best Pop Video award.

On June 23, 2012, Space Shower music video channel aired a special compilation of Amuro's music videos.[25] Amuro was chosen as the "artist of the month" at MTV Japan for July 2012.[45]

Tours[edit]

On September 16, 2012, the 20th anniversary of her debut as a member of the Super Monkey's, Amuro was planned to hold a special live concert in her birthplace of Okinawa. The live features guest appearances by Ai, Chemistry's Kaname Kawabata, Mummy-D (of Rhymester), Anna Tsuchiya, Verbal (of M-Flo) and Zeebra.[46] However, due to the approach of Typhoon Samba, the concert was cancelled the day before the show. Because of the nature of the concert, the management of Amuro announced that the concert will not be re-scheduled. An 8-day dome tour across Japan will be held in November and December 2012 featuring performances in Fukuoka, Osaka, Sapporo, Nagoya and Tokyo.[47] On July 24 after all of the concert dates selling out, an extra concert was added in Nagoya.[48]

Some songs featured on the album were previously performed in past tours of Amuro's. "Break It" and "Get Myself Back" were performed on Amuro's Past<Future Tour 2010 tour,[49] and "Break It," "Fight Together," "Get Myself Back," "Naked" and "Tempest" were performed at Live Style 2011.[50] "Love Story" was performed at later dates on Live Style 2011; however, it was not included in the performance DVD.[51]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Hot Express (favorable)[3]
Listen Japan (favorable)[4]
Rolling Stone Japan 3/5 stars[52]

Yoshiki Aoyuki of Listen Japan agreed with the album's title, hearing that the music sounded unrestrained. He was impressed with the variety of songs even though many of them were dance tunes. He likened the "euro-disco" sound of "Only You" to the sound of Kylie Minogue.[4]

Tetsu Hiraga of Hot Express was extremely impressed with the album, in particular "In the Spotlight (Tokyo)," calling it "the best kind of electro pop." He felt that every song had a similar impressive impact.[3] He described the first single, "Break It," as "Amuro's voice dancing over a tricky guitar and bass." He found her "agressively shouted singing" very exciting.[53] He enjoyed the mis-match in the song "Sit! Stay! Wait! Down!" between the music, a "thick track with deep vocals" and the "girly in-love lyrics."[54] Hiraga felt that "Yeah-Oh" had a "densely Western sound" that was not seen in any other Japanese musicians.[55]

Hiraga believed in all the reviews of her singles that Amuro's music was "aiming for the highest quality music."[53][3][56]

Rolling Stone Japan author Kazumi Namba felt the album was "consistent and unshaking," and called the album "approximately Western" and noted how it followed current global trends in global pop music. He called the English recordings "ambitious," and was surprised at how different the work was to her roots in 1990s J-pop. He rated the album three out of five.[52]

Chart performance[edit]

Uncontrolled was Amuro's 10th album to debut at number one on physical data provider Oricon's weekly albums chart, with 292,000 copies.[57] The album stayed at number one for three weeks, and was the second album in her career to achieve this after Best Fiction.

Much like her previous album Checkmate![58][59] 105,000 copies of the album were sold on the first day.[60] In its first week, it outsold the second place album, Greeeen's Uta..., by 200,000 copies.[61] The album after one week's sales became the top selling album by a soloist released by that point in 2012 — surpassing Ayaka's The Beginning's total sales by 84,000 copies.[57] It has since been topped by Keisuke Kuwata's I Love You: Now & Forever.[60] The CD+DVD version of the album outsold the CD Only edition by more than eight times in the first week, according to physical data tracker SoundScan Japan.[62]

The first week total was better than Amuro's previous album, the collaboration compilation Checkmate!, which had sold 252,000 copies.[63] However, Amuro's previous studio album, Past<Future, outsold Uncontrolled's first week by 39,000 copies.[64]

In Taiwan, Uncontrolled debuted at number five, underneath Yoga Lin, Big Bang, Nick Chou and Christine Fan.[65] In its second week, it fell to number 15.[66] In South Korea, the album reached number 36 on the Gaon albums charts, and in its second week fell out of the top 100.[67]

Track listing[edit]

The finalised tracklist was first released on Amuro's official YouTube channel on June 8, 2012.[68]

CD
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "In the Spotlight (Tokyo)"   Henrik Nordenback, Christian Fast H. Nordenback, C. Fast 3:58
2. "Naked"   Verbal Shinichi Osawa 4:22
3. "Go Round ('N Round 'N Round)"   Liv Nervo, Mim Nervo T-SK, Kim Tesung, L. Nervo, M. Nervo 3:21
4. "Sit! Stay! Wait! Down!"   Michico T. Kura, Michico 3:14
5. "Hot Girls"   L. Nervo, M. Nervo, Michael Dennis Smith, Stefanie Ridel L. Nervo, M. Nervo, M. Smith, S. Ridel 2:59
6. "Break It (Al Ver.)"   Nao'ymt Nao'ymt 3:22
7. "Get Myself Back"   Nao'ymt Nao'ymt 4:32
8. "Love Story"   Tiger T-SK, T. Kim, L. Nervo, M. Nervo 4:44
9. "Let's Go"   Tiger, L. Nervo, M. Nervo T-SK, T. Kim, L. Nervo, M. Nervo 3:11
10. "Singing "Yeah-Oh!""   L. Nervo, M. Nervo T-SK, T. Kim, L. Nervo, M. Nervo, 3:23
11. "Fight Together"   Nao'ymt Nao'ymt 4:17
12. "Only You"   Didrik Thott, C. Fast, Peter Mansson, Sharon Vaughn D. Thott, C. Fast, P. Mansson, S. Vaughn 4:14
13. "Tempest"   Nao'ymt Nao'ymt 4:35
Total length:
50:17

Personnel[edit]

Personnel details were sourced from Uncontrolled's liner notes booklet.[14]

Managerial

Performance credits

Visuals and imagery

Technical and production

Chart rankings[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
Japan Oricon daily albums[69] 1
Japan Oricon weekly albums[57] 1
Japan Oricon monthly albums[70] 1
South Korea Gaon weekly album chart[67] 36
South Korea Gaon weekly international album chart[67] 8
South Korea Hanteo Daily J-Pop Chart[71] 1
South Korea Hanteo Weekly J-Pop Chart[72] 1
Taiwan G-Music J-Pop Chart[73] 2
Taiwan G-Music International Chart[74] 2
Taiwan G-Music Combo Chart[65] 5

Sales and certifications[edit]

Chart Amount
Oricon physical sales[60] 540,000
RIAJ physical shipping certification[75] 2× platinum (500,000+)

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Distributing Label Catalogue codes
Japan June 27, 2012 (2012-06-27)[5][76] CD, CD+DVD, playbutton Avex Trax AVCD-38523, AVCD-38522, AQZD-50725
Hong Kong June 29, 2012 (2012-06-29)[77][78] CD, CD+DVD Avex Asia AAJCD20103, AAJCD20102D
Taiwan CD, CD+DVD Avex Taiwan AVJCD10510, AVJCD10510/A
South Korea July 5, 2012 (2012-07-05)[79] CD+DVD S.M. Entertainment/KMP Holdings SMKJT0189B
Japan July 11, 2012 (2012-07-11)[80] Digital download Avex Trax
July 14, 2012 (2012-07-14)[81] Rental CD
Singapore[82] August 3, 2012 (2012-08-03) CD, CD+DVD Universal Music AAJCD20103, AAJCD20102D
Philippines[83] October 20, 2012 (2012-10-20) Universal Records (Philippines)

References[edit]

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