Whatever (Ayumi Hamasaki song)

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"Whatever"
Original 8cm version.
Single by Ayumi Hamasaki
from the album Loveppears
B-side "Whatever" (J version)
Released 10 February 1999 (1999-02-10)
Format CD single, digital download, 7" vinyl, Mini-CD
Recorded Tokyo, Japan. 1999
Genre Dance-pop, trance
Length 5:36
Label Avex Trax, Avex Trax Taiwan
Writer(s) Ayumi Hamasaki
Producer(s) Max Matsuura
Certification Gold (RIAJ)
Ayumi Hamasaki singles chronology
"Depend on You"
(1997)
"Whatever"
(1998)
"Love (Destiny)"
(1998)
12cm re-release cover.

"Whatever" (stylized as "WHATEVER") is a song by Japanese recording artist Ayumi Hamasaki from her second studio album, Loveppears (1999). The song was released on 10 February 1999, as the lead single from the album. It was released as a CD single on 28 February 2001. "Whatever" was written by Hamasaki and production was by Max Matsuura. Backed by synthesisers and keyboards, it is an dance track. The lyrics revolve around a relationship.

"Whatever" received mixed reviews from music critics, some who commended the production and lyrical content. However, some critics dismissed the vocal delivery and composition. Released in Japan and Taiwan, it peaked at number five on the Oricon Singles Chart. This was Hamasaki's highest charting single at the time, until surpassed by the following single "Love (Destiny)". The song was certified gold by Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ).

To promote "Whatever", Hamasaki performed the song on several Japanese television series. It has also appeared on several tours and countdown live shows conducted by Hamasaki. Wataru Takeishi directed the song's music video, which features Hamasaki in a white room with small waterfalls. It features interludes of a young boy in an angel costume.

Background[edit]

Ayumi Hamasaki's track "Whatever" appeared on her second album, Loveppears (November 1999). During mid-1990s, Ayumi Hamasaki moved to Tokyo to pursue a modelling career through modelling agency SOS; they deemed her "too short" for modelling, so she started a small music venture through Sun Music, a musician agency.[1] She released an extended play Nothing from Nothing (December 1995) on Nippon Columbia, but was dropped after the release failed to make an impact in Japan.[2] During her schooling years before and at Horikoshi High School, Hamasaki refused to study as she believed the subjects were at no use to her.[1] With no job or school attendance, Hamasaki spent much of her time shopping at Shibuya boutiques and dancing at Velfarre, an Avex-owned disco club.[1][3]

At Velfarre, one of her friends introduced her to Max Matsuura. After hearing Hamasaki sing karaoke, Matsuura offered her a recording deal, but Hamasaki suspected ulterior motives and turned the offer down.[1] He persisted and succeeded in recruiting her for the Avex label in the following year.[1][4] Hamasaki started vocal training in early 1997, but skipped most of her classes after finding her instructors to be too rigid and the classes dull.[1] When she confessed this to Matsuura, he sent her to New York to train her vocals under another method. During her foreign sojourn, Hamasaki frequently corresponded with Matsuura and impressed him with her style of writing. On her return to Japan, he suggested that she try writing her own lyrics.[1]

Hamasaki release her debut single "Poker Face" (April 1998). The song was not a major hit and peaked at twenty.[5] Her second single "You" also reached twenty in Japan.[6] The next singles "Trust" and "Depend on You" were more successful, peaking inside the top ten on Oricon and was certified gold by the RIAJ.[7][8] Her debut album A Song for xx was a huge success, selling over one million units in Japan and was certified Million by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ).[9][10]

Composition[edit]

Recorded in Tokyo, Japan in January 1999, "Whatever" was produced by Japanese producer and manager Max Matsuura.[11] Music arrangement was handled by Izumi Miyazaki, under the alias DMX.[11] It was recorded in three version; a single version, an album version and an alternative version which appeared on the mini-CD format of the single.[12] The lyrical content includes the English word "Wow".[11] This became Hamasaki's first song to incorporate English language.[A] English featured on her songs "Love: Since 1999" (April 1999) and "Audience" (November 2000).[13] However, "Love: Since 1999" was not written by Hamasaki and "Audience" also contained a singular phrase, and by using only "Wow", it does not count in using English-language conversation like she did in her 2002 album Rainbow.[14] On Loveppears, all songs are based on loneliness, chaos, confusion, and the burden of her responsibilities, aimed mostly towards her image as an recording artist.[15] The songs also is performed in third person narrative.[16][17]

"Whatever" is Hamasaki's first musical transition from pop rock music to dance music.[17] When conducting the release of her first remix album Ayu-mi-x (1999), Hamasaki began moving beyond the pop-rock of A Song for ×× and began to incorporate different styles including trance, dance, and orchestra.[17] Dance music was prominent throughout her second studio album.[18] The song begins with a gentle keyboard melody, transitioning to a heavy dance beat provided by synthesizers and violin.[11]

Reception[edit]

A reviewer from Geocities.jp had awarded the parent album four stars out of five, and commended the songs "very high quality" and "innovative music." However, they did criticize Hamasaki's "thin" and "harsh" vocal delivery.[19] Morimasa from Nifty.com was positive towards the tracks "Whatever", "Love (Destiny)" and the EP single A. He commented that despite the "easily" written lyrics, he commended Hamasaki's emotional delivery in both the production and the lyrical content, favoring it as an album stand out.[20] The song was among all tracks on A Complete: All Singles that were commended for its remastering quality, which was reviewed by a staff member of HMV.[21]

In Japan, the 8 cm format reached number five on the Oricon Singles Chart and stayed in the chart for nine weeks.[22] It was Hamasaki's highest charting single on Oricon, beating her 1998 single "Depend on You" which peaked at six.[23] In 2001, the re-release CD single format reached number twenty-eight and stayed in there for three weeks, tallying the charting weeks to twelve.[24] "Whatever" was certified gold in April 1999 by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of 200,000 units.[25][B] "Whatever" is her thirty-fifth and fifty-seventh best selling single in Japan, her lowest in both the Loveppears and format re-release era respectively.[26][C]

Release and promotion[edit]

"Whatever" was released in Japan on February 10, 1999.[12] On February 28, 2001, Avex Trax re-released all of Hamasaki's singles from her first two albums as standard compact discs.[24] The cover sleeve has Hamasaki in front of a blue backdrop with white clothes and wings on.[12] An alternative cover was shot for the single release but was re-issued.[27] The first pressing was released in Taiwan by Avex Trax Taiwan, Hamasaki's first single to be released outside of Japan.[28] In mid-1999, Avex Trax released an exclusive vinyl version, featuring an orange-tinted close-up of Hamasaki's face.[29] A standalone version was released digitally worldwide.[30]

The music video opens with the title phrase "Ayumi Hamasaki: Whatever".[31] It then it glitches to Hamasaki singing in white clothes in a room of waterfalls. Throughout the video, it features a girl with a white dread wig in an angel costume, as she walks curious in an abandoned and destroyed town, looking for any sign of life.[31] At the end, it shows Hamasaki in a similar white wig with a tear in her eye, as she is trapped in a cage with barbed wire.[31] Currently, the music video is not officially released on YouTube, but on Ayumi's official YouTube account, a small snippet of the song is featured on her profile.[31]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the singles's liner notes.[12]

Song credits[edit]

  • Ayumi Hamasaki - songwriting, vocals
  • Max Matsuura - production
  • Kazuhito Kikuchi - composer
  • Izumi Miyazaki - arrangement
  • Shigeru Kasai - design

Video and artwork credits[edit]

  • Kiyoshi Utsumi - art direction
  • Wataru Takeishi - director
  • Yoshiko Ishibashi - production manager
  • Tetsuji Nakamichi - assistant director
  • Tetsuya Kamoto - photographer
  • Koji Noguchi - lighting
  • Koji Matsumoto - stylist
  • Chu and Tamotsu - hair and make-up assistant

Track listing[edit]

  • 8 cm single;
    (February 20, 1999)
  1. "Whatever" (version M) – 5:33
  2. "Whatever" (version J) – 4:30
  3. "Whatever" (version M – instrumental) – 5:33
  4. "Whatever" (version J – instrumental) – 4:30
  • Re-release 12 cm single
    (February 28, 2001)
  1. "Whatever" (version M) – 5:33
  2. "Whatever" (version J) – 4:30
  3. "Whatever" (Ferry 'System F' Corsten vocal extended mix) – 6:31
  4. "Appears" (JP's SoundFactory mix) – 8:00
  5. "Immature" (D-Z Dual Lucifer mix) – 4:36
  6. "Whatever" (version M – instrumental) – 5:33
  7. "Whatever" (version J – instrumental) – 4:30

Charts, peaks and positions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The exclamation "Wow" is commonly used in the English-language and French-language. Technically, "Wow" is spoken and written in an English format and has been listed in the 1913 Webster Dictionary, so it proves that "Whatever" is her first song to use an English-language word.
  2. ^ The Recording Industry Association of Japan had changed their criteria in July 2003 for shipment and sales, meaning that "Gold" certifications are now 100,000 units and "Platinum" are 250,000 units. But since "Audience" was released before then, the sales shipments were 200,000 units.[35]
  3. ^ Thirty-fifth place is awarded to the original release, while the fifty-seventh place is awarded to the re-release format.
  4. ^ "Whatever" charted in conjunction with her single "Appears".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Takeuchi Cullen, Lisa (25 March 2002). "Empress of Pop". Time. p. 3. Archived from the original on 3 April 2002. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ True, Chris. "Ayumi Hamasaki". Allmusic. Retrieved 17 April 2008. 
  3. ^ Shikano, Atsushi (20 February 2001). "Interview with Ayumi Hamasaki". Rockin'on japan (in Japanese). 
  4. ^ Belfiore, Michael. "Ayumi Hamasaki Biography". Musicianguide.com. Retrieved 5 June 2008. 
  5. ^ "Oricon.co.jp - AYUMI HAMASAKI - POKER FACE [CD]". Oricon (Bulletin) (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on 8 November 2006. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Oricon.co.jp - AYUMI HAMASAKI - You [CD]". Oricon (Bulletin) (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on 29 April 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 1998年9月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. September 1998 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 468: 9. 10 November 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 24, 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 1999年1月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. January 1999 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 472: 9. 10 March 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Siege Mentality". South China Morning Post (Hong Kong, China: SCMP Group). May 13, 2002. p. 1. 
  10. ^ "You Can't Top This". Straits Times (Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings). Reuters. 25 November 1999. 
  11. ^ a b c d Loveppears (Album liner notes). Ayumi Hamasaki. Avex Trax. November 1999. AVCD-11740/B. 
  12. ^ a b c d Whatever (CD single). Ayumi Hamasaki. Avex Trax. February 1999. AVDD-20291. 
  13. ^ Duty (Album liner notes). Ayumi Hamasaki. Avex Trax. 2000. AVCD-11837. 
  14. ^ Takeuchi Cullen, Lisa (25 March 2002). "Empress of Pop". Time. p. 4. Archived from the original on 22 March 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2008. 
  15. ^ Author, Unknown (22 December 2000). ""Review of Ayu's Year 2000 & M".". J-Point (in Japanese): 75. 
  16. ^ "Loveppears". Beatfreak (in Japanese) 142. November 1999. 
  17. ^ a b c Walters, Barry (5 March 2002). "Turning (Japanese) Point". The Village Voice. Retrieved 19 April 2008. 
  18. ^ "HMV Review - LOVEppears by Ayumi Hamasaki". HMV. 9 January 2002. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  19. ^ "Music review site Source of the Music - Ayumi Hamasaki". Geocities.jp. Published by Yahoo! Music. 16 April 2015. 
  20. ^ "love. Ayu - LOVEppears". Nifty.com. Linked through as homepage2.nifty.com. 16 April 2015. 
  21. ^ "A COMPLETE: ALL SINGLES [3CD + DVD]". HMV.co.jp. 16 April 2015. 
  22. ^ a b "Ayumi Hamasaki - Release - ORICON MUSIC style". Oricon (Bulletin) (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  23. ^ "Ayumi Hamasaki - Release - ORICON MUSIC style". Oricon (Bulletin) (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  24. ^ a b c "Ayumi Hamasaki - Release - ORICON MUSIC style". Oricon (Bulletin) (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  25. ^ a b "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 1999年2月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. February 1999 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 473: 9. 10 April 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 June 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Ayumi Hamasaki single sales ranking" 浜崎あゆみ売上ランキング シングル売上ランキング. Oricon. 2 April 2015. 
  27. ^ "Ayumi Hamasaki Gallery - Unreleased artwork". ayumi.primenova.com. March 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  28. ^ Whatever (CD single). Ayumi Hamasaki. Avex Trax. 1999. AVJSG40010. 
  29. ^ Whatever (Vinyl). Ayumi Hamasaki. Avex Trax. 1999. AVJT-2365. 
  30. ^ "iTunes - Music - Ayumi Hamasaki". Phobos.apple.com. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  31. ^ a b c d ayu (9 July 2010). "浜崎あゆみ / WHATEVER". YouTube. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  32. ^ "CDTV PowerWeb:! Ranking Date for WHATEVER by Ayumi Hamasaki". Count Down TV (Bulletin) (in Japanese). TBS. 20 February 1999. Archived from the original on 11 January 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  33. ^ "CDTV PowerWeb:! Ranking Date for appears/WHATEVER by Ayumi Hamasaki". Count Down TV (Bulletin) (in Japanese). TBS. 5 February 2000. Archived from the original on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  34. ^ "CDTV PowerWeb:! Ranking Date for WHATEVER (12cm) by Ayumi Hamasaki". Count Down TV (Bulletin) (in Japanese). TBS. 24 March 2003. Archived from the original on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  35. ^ "The Record - August 2003 - Page 15" (PDF) (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 

External links[edit]