Sweet 19 Blues

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Sweet 19 Blues
An image of a Japanese woman (Namie Amuro) seated on a small sofa, which is placed in front of introcate wallpaper details in the corner of a room. She looks towards the camera, with her legs overhanging the chair's arm, with a small camera also placed on the sofa.
The CD cover that commercializes the album. This cover was used as the front page of the inserted booklet, whilst four additional cardboard sleeves housed the packaging.
Studio album by Namie Amuro
Released July 22, 1996
Recorded 1995–96
Genre
Length 66:46
Language
Label
Producer
Namie Amuro chronology
Dance Tracks Vol.1
(1995)
"Sweet 19 Blues"
(1996)
Concentration 20
(1998)
Singles from Sweet 19 Blues
  1. "Body Feels Exit"
    Released: October 25, 1995
  2. "Chase the Chance"
    Released: December 4, 1995
  3. "Don't Wanna Cry"
    Released: March 13, 1996
  4. "You're My Sunshine"
    Released: June 5, 1996
  5. "Sweet 19 Blues"
    Released: August 21, 1996

Sweet 19 Blues is the second studio album by Japanese recording artist Namie Amuro. It was released on July 22, 1996 by Avex Trax and their Hong Kong headquarters, her first record with the label after Dance Tracks Vol. 1 (1995). The album was composed, produced and arranged by Globe musician Tetsuya Komuro, with additional music credits to Cozy Kudo. Additionally, Japanese businessman and musician Max Matsuura, served as the records executive producer. Musically, it is a J-Pop record that incorporates elements of contemporary dance music, acid house and jungle. Lyrically, it delves into love, adolescense and enjoyment.

Upon its release, Sweet 19 Blues received positive reviews from music critics. Majority of the critics commended the dance-driven production, alongside its commercial appeal and lyrical content. However, Amuro's vocal deliveries were noted as a fault. Commercially, it experienced huge success in Japan, peaking atop of the Oricon Albums Chart. Furthermore, it achieved a record-breaking first week sales, accumulating over 1.9 million units. Five singles were spawned from the album, including the million-sellers: "Chase the Chance", "Don't Wanna Cry" and "You're My Sunshine".

In order to promote the album, Amuro conducted several live television performances throughout cities in Japan and promoted the album's material through commercial endorsements. Since its release, Sweet 19 Blues has been noted by commentators as a significant factor to the Japanese music industry for the singer's idol-image and further re-inventions. Additionally, Sweet 19 Blues was a predecessor of being the third best-selling Japanese release of all time, and held the record for being the best-selling album by a Japanese female solo artist, boasting nearly 4 million sold copies.

Background and development[edit]

After splitting with the Japanese girl-group Super Monkey's, Amuro signed a solo contract with Avex Trax in 1995. Avex enlisted Japanese musician and Globe member Tetsuya Komuro to produce Amuro's record Sweet 19 Blues, with the assistance of co-producer Cozy Kubo and executive Max Matsuura.[1] This was Matsuura's second time working with Amuro, whom crafted majority of the content—alongside remixing additional tracks—on the singer's debut album Dance Tracks Vol. 1 (1995).[2] Between 1995–96, Komuro was in the process of producing Globe's debut self-titled album and Matsuura had continued scoping other young upcoming artists, resulting into limited studio sessions with Amuro.[3]

Komuro, with the help of Kubo and Akio Togashi, incorporated several instrumentation into the album's composition including synthesizers, keyboards, string ensembles, a grand piano and a drum machine.[1] Furthermore, Avex enlisted several English-speaking backing vocalists to record with Amuro; this effect reflected on the tracks "Let's Do the Motion", "Private", "Rainy Dance", "I'll Jump", "I Was a Fool", "Present" and the title track.[1] The album was recorded at various studios in Japan, such as Avex Studios and Prime Studios, and additionally recorded vocals at studios throughout Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York.[1] By the second quarter of 1996, the material from Sweet 19 Blues was mixed and mastered by Avaco Creative Studios and Souds Innc Studios.[1]

Composition[edit]

Musically, Sweet 19 Blues is a J-Pop record that incorporates elements of contemporary dance music, acid house and jungle.[4] Each of the album's singles, apart from the title track, were remixed and re-arranged by Komuro, adding a "slinky dance" aesthetic to the sound. Additionally, AllMusic's Ted Mills described the sound of entries "I'll Jump" and "I Was a Fool" as "1970s jazzy-soul".[4] Mills explained that the "sophisticated" appeal of the album's tracks "came as a shock", as he described Amuro's prominent work as a "eurotechno" sound.[4] Alongside this, staff members from the same publication believed Sweet 19 Blues was a collection of "highly polished dance-pop sound(s) characterized by disco rhythms and funky basslines."[5] It featured eight interlude tracks, two of which were a cappella deliveries by the singer: "Watch Your Step" and "Scratch Voices". Two of the six remaining interludes: "Don't Wanna Cry (Symphonic Style)" and "...Soon Nineteen", were altered versions of already-added tracks to Sweet 19 Blues—an orchestral version of "Don't Wanna Cry" and an alternative edit of the title track—whilst the final five were original compositions made by Komuro and Cubo.[1]

Release[edit]

Sweet 19 Blues was released on July 22, 1996 by Avex Trax and their Hong Kong headquarters, her first record with the label after Dance Tracks Vol. 1 (1995).[1][6] The cover art was photographed by Himaru Itaru, depicting Amuro sitting on a small sofa with a camera next to her.[1] Additionally, the record was distributed in four different cardboard sleeves photographed by Itaru and with art direction by Tycoon Graphics.[1] The first has Amuro tying up her hair on the small sofa, the second is a close-up of her face, the third being a body shot whilst the singer is standing in front of a intricate wallpaper, and the final sleeve being a low-angle shot of her legs and the small sofa.[1][5] Avex printed one million sleeves for the first three slipcases, whilst the latter served for digital consumption.[1][7] In order to promote Amuro's 20th anniversary, Avex Trax re-issued Sweet 19 Blues on September 19, 2012 at a "special price edition"; the latter sleeve was used as its official cover.[8] According to Ted Mills from AllMusic, the title of the album was a reflection of a "melancholic passing of another sweet year of youth", which he described as a "particular Japanese obsession".[4]

Singles[edit]

The album contains five singles, released between October 1995 and August 1996. They were very successful; four reached the million mark and all hit the top five on the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart.

The first single from the album was the upbeat dance number Body Feels Exit, released only nine days after the Dance Tracks Vol.1 album. Her two previous singles, Taiyou no Season and Stop the music, featured the singer exclusively and the four others members were only credited as backup singers, so although Body Feels Exit can be considered as her third single, it marks her official solo debut. It opened at No. 3 with over 200,000 copies sold in its first week[9] and spent 4 consecutives weeks in the top 10.[10][11][12] The single also became the 70th best-selling single of 1995 with over 500,000 units purchased that year.[13]

Chase the Chance, the second single, became her first number one and million selling single. It went straight to number one with opening sales similar to those of her previous single.[14] and spent 9 non-consecutive weeks inside the top 10.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21] She also made her first appearance at the annual Kokaku Uta Gassen performing the song.

The album's third single, Don't Wanna Cry, helped her to win the "Grand Prix Award" from the 38th Annual Japan Record Awards. Today, she still remains the youngest artist awarded this prize. The single was a huge success, spending three non-consecutives weeks at No. 1 and reaching sales of over 1,5 million copies in Japan.[22] Don't Wanna Cry is her second most successful single after the ballad Can You Celebrate?. The 13th track of the album, Present, was a b-side to the single. It is not stated on the liner notes of the booklet, but the album version of the song is different from the version included on the Don't Wanna Cry single.[23]

You're My Sunshine, her 4th single, was also a big hit, spending two consecutive weeks at the top spot. The song is mix of dance and gospel and became one of her signature songs. It became her third consecutive number one and million selling single, debuting at No. 1 with over 430,000 units purchased.[24] You're my sunshine became the 13th best-selling single at the end of the year.[25]

The final single, Sweet 19 Blues, was released as a recut single a month after the album due to popular demand. It did not achieve the success of her previous records but debut at No. 2 with over 100,000 copies sold in its first week and sold about 500,000 units,[26] a great feat for a post-album single.[27] This single also contains an extended version of the interlude Joy. The single version of the song is slightly different from the album version.

Others songs from the album I'll Jump, Private and Let's Do the Motion were not released in a physical format, but were also popular hits across Japan, as they were used as radio singles prior to the release of the album.

Commercial tie-ups and theme songs[edit]

Many songs of this album were used as themes songs for movies or dramas and commercials, or were simply used to promote the album itself.

Let's Do the Motion was a special avex commercial to promote the album.[28][29]

Private was the theme song of four ad campaigns for the Nissan cars.[30]

Body Feels Exit, the first single released from the album, was used in eight Taito X-55 TV ads as the image song.[31] Amuro appeared in some of the commercials.

Chase the Chance, the album's second single, was the theme song of the drama the The Chief, that was broadcast on Nihon TV.

Don't Wanna Cry was the CM song of two commercials for the DyDo Mistio Soft drinks. I'll Jump was also used in a commercial for the brand.[32] Amuro appeared herself in the two commercials promoting the brand.

You're my sunshine was the theme song of the three commercials for the Sea Breeze products. The first ad was promoting a sun lotion, the second a shampoo and the last a deodorant.[33] It was also used in commercial for the "Digital Dance Mix", a video game developed and published by Sega. Namie is the main character of the video game.[34]

Joy was used in a commercial for the Maxell UD2 as its image song.[35]

The title track, Sweet 19 Blues, was choose as theme song of the teenage Japanese movie That's Cunning!: Shijousaidai no Sakusen, which Namie starred in as the lead female role, and was available on the film's soundtrack.[36] The singer appeared at the movie premiere in Japan. The song was also used to promote the Namie Amuro World '96 home video.[37]

Sales[edit]

When the album was released, it debut at the top spot with nearly two millions units purchased in its opening week, which was the largest opening sales for a record at that time.

Sweet 19 Blues reached No. 1 in on the Oricon Album Chart with 1,921,850 copies sold, which is Namie's best first week sales for an album to date and 9th highest opening sales of all time in Japanese music history.[38] The album was also at No. 1 in its second week on stores, but with only over 300,000 units sold. It stayed in the top 10 for nine consecutive weeks and in the top 20 for twelve weeks, selling over 3.3 million units in Japan during its original chart run[39] Sweet 19 Blues is currently Namie's highest selling album and is the 104th million selling album in Japan.[40]

For a brief period in 1996, the album became the biggest selling album of Japanese music history[41] before being outsold by her own producer. Sweet 19 Blues ranked 2nd in 1996 Oricon Yearly Chart after globe (to which Tetsuya Komuro belongs).[42] This album ranks at 13th for total sales in Japanese music history[43] and 6th best-selling album from a Female Solo Artist.

Sweet 19 Blues was the biggest selling album of all time album by a female artist in Japan until the release of First Love, Hikaru Utada's debut album, which is now the best-selling album ever in the country.[44]

Track listing[edit]

The liner notes included in the album are not clear on who wrote what particular song. As it is presented in the CD booklet, all songs are attributed to Tetsuya Komuro, Cozy Kubo, Akio Togashi, Takahiro Maeda and Randy Waldman as it makes no other distinction otherwise.

CD
No. Title Lyrics Music Arranger(s) Length
1. "Watch Your Step!!" Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen 0:04
2. "Motion" Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
0:50
3. "Let's Do the Motion" Tetsuya Komuro,
Takahiro Maeda
Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
4:07
4. "Private" Tetsuya Komuro,
Takahiro Maeda
Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
5:36
5. "Interlude: Ocean way" Tetsuya Komuro Randy Waldman
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
1:05
6. "Don't Wanna Cry (Eighteen's Summer Mix)" Tetsuya Komuro,
Takahiro Maeda
Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
5:40
7. "Rainy Dance" Takahiro Maeda Cozy Kubo Cozy Kubo
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
3:32
8. "Chase the Chance (CC Mix)" Tetsuya Komuro,
Takahiro Maeda
Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
3:42
9. "Interlude: Joy" m.c.A・T Akio Togashi Akio Togashi
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
1:19
10. "I'll Jump" Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
5:19
11. "Interlude: Scratch Voices" Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen 0:04
12. "I Was a Fool" Tetsuya Komuro,
Takahiro Maeda
Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
4:36
13. "Present" Takahiro Maed Cozy Kubo Cozy Kubo
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
4:35
14. "Interlude: Don't Wanna Cry Symphonic Style" Tetsuya Komuro Randy Waldman
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
1:23
15. "You're My Sunshine (Hollywood Mix)" Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Strings: Randy Waldman
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
5:42
16. "Body Feels Exit (Latin House Mix)" Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
8:51
17. "'77" Cozy Kubo Cozy Kubo
Strings: Randy Waldman
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
1:45
18. "Sweet 19 Blues" Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Strings: Randy Waldman
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
5:38
19. "...Soon Nineteen" Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro Tetsuya Komuro
Mix Engineer: Keith Cohen
1:52

Personnel[edit]

  • Namie Amuro – vocals, background vocals
  • m.c.A.T – vocals
  • Sheila E. – backing vocals, percussion
  • Joey Johnson – backing vocals
  • Lynn Mabry – background vocals
  • Ricky Nelson – background vocals
  • Tracey Whitney – background vocals
  • Valerie Williams – background vocals
  • Kinbara Chieko – strings
  • Cozy Kubo – keyboard, synthesizer
  • Tetsuya Komuro – backing vocals, keyboard, synthesizer
  • Kazuhiro Matsuo – guitar
  • Tatsuya Murayama – strings
  • Raphael Padilla – percussions
  • Michael Paulo – saxophone
  • Neil Stubenhaus – bass guitar
  • Michael Thompson – guitar

Production[edit]

  • Producers – Tetsuya Komuro, Cozy Kubo
  • Mixing – Keith "KC" Cohen
  • Vocal Direction – Akihiko Shimizu
  • Photography – Itaru Hirama
  • Art Direction – Tycoon Graphics

Charts[edit]

Album – Oricon Sales Chart (Japan)

Release Chart Peak Position First Week Sales Sales Total Chart Run
July 22, 1996 Oricon Daily Albums Chart 1
Oricon Weekly Albums Chart 1 1,921,850 3,359,420 42 weeks
Oricon Yearly Albums Chart 2 4,000,000

Singles – Oricon Sales Chart (Japan)

Release Single Peak Position Chart Run Sales
October 25, 1995 "Body Feels Exit" 3 19 weeks 881,640
December 4, 1995 "Chase the Chance" 1 20 weeks 1,361,710
March 13, 1996 "Don't Wanna Cry" 1 22 weeks 1,389,700
June 5, 1996 "You're My Sunshine" 1 12 weeks 1,098,520
August 21, 1996 "Sweet 19 Blues" 2 13 weeks 452,890

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Amuro, Namie (1996). Sweet 19 Blues (CD album; Liner notes). Namie Amuro. Avex Trax. AVCD-11463. 
  2. ^ Amuro, Namie (1995). Dance Tracks Vol. 1 (CD album; Liner notes). Namie Amuro. Avex Trax. AVCD-11463. 
  3. ^ Globe (CD album; Liner notes). Globe. Avex Trax. 1996. AVCG-70001. 
  4. ^ a b c d Mills, Ted (July 22, 1996). "Namie Amuro – Sweet 19 Blues (album review)". AllMusic. Retrieved November 4, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Namie Amuro – Biography & History". AllMusic. 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2016. 
  6. ^ Amuro, Namie (1996). Sweet 19 Blues (CD album; Liner notes). Namie Amuro. Avex Hong Kong. AVTCD-95068. 
  7. ^ "Sweet 19 Blues – Album by Namie Amuro at Apple Store". iTunes Store Japan. July 22, 1996. Retrieved November 4, 2016. 
  8. ^ Amuro, Namie (2012). Sweet 19 Blues (CD album; Liner notes). Namie Amuro. Avex Trax. AVCD-38601. 
  9. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of November 6, 1995. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  10. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of November 13, 1995. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  11. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of November 20, 1995. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  12. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of November 27, 1995. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  13. ^ 1995 TOP 100: SINGLES Archived March 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of December 18, 1995. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  15. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of December 25, 1995. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  16. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of January 1, 1996. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  17. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of January 15, 1996. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  18. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of January 22, 1996. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  19. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of January 29, 1996. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  20. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of February 5, 1996. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  21. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of February 12,1996. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  22. ^ List of number one singles of 1996 in Japan. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  23. ^ Wiki theppn:SWEET 19 BLUES
  24. ^ Oricon Weekly Singles Chart of June 17, 1996. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  25. ^ 1996 TOP 100: SINGLES Archived March 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ Sweet 19 Blues single informations. Members.tripod.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  27. ^ Sweet 19 blues single opening sales. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  28. ^ Sweet 19 Blues Special CM (LET'S DO THE MOTION)
  29. ^ Screencaps of Namie's avex CMs
  30. ^ Screencaps of Namie's Nissan CMs
  31. ^ Screencpas of Namie's Taito CMs
  32. ^ Screencaps of Namie's DyDo CMs
  33. ^ Screencaps of Namie's SEA BREEZE CMs Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ Screencaps of Namie's Sega Saturn CM Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  35. ^ Screencaps of Namie's Maxell CMs
  36. ^ That's Cunning soundtrack chion.com, website about Amuro Namie (Movie section)
  37. ^ Amuro Namie World CM captures
  38. ^ List of highest opening sales for an album in Japan. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  39. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 1996年8月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. August 1996 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese). Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan. 443: 5. October 10, 1997. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  40. ^ List of million selling albums in Japan. Homepage1.nifty.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  41. ^ Japan's star puts new meaning into girltalk The London Independent, September 30, 1996 by Richard Lloyd Parry (findarticles.com)
  42. ^ List of best selling albums in 1996 in Japan Archived December 15, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.
  43. ^ List of best selling albums in Japan of all time. Musictvprogram.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  44. ^ Hikki's page. Angelfire.com. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.