I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Namie Amuro -- Can You Celebrate?

The No. 1 song for 1997! No surprise there since for what I remember as a very long time, this song was just about everywhere at almost every time whether I was in a karaoke box or in front of a TV. I never saw the Fuji-TV drama, "Virgin Road" which used it as the theme song (I'm hoping that JTM will give his expertise on it someday), but I didn't need to watch it to realize the impact that "Can You Celebrate?" had on pop culture for the next year or two.

Namie Amuro's(安室奈美恵) magnum opus came out in February 1997 as her 9th single, and her 7th consecutive single written and composed by Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉). "Can You Celebrate?" kinda snuck up on me; usually when I thought about an Amuro/Komuro collaboration, my mind had always envisaged a dance-and-soul beat with the singer showing off her dynamic moves in the video. This time, it was different. It started out quietly, almost elegiacally....I'd probably say the song progressed just like the ideal Western wedding ceremony with the church doors opening to introduce the bride as Namie softly sang the first words. And as the ceremony eventually reached the vows and the kiss, Amuro's vocals started launching into a crescendo of power and joy before the happy couple drove off in that limousine as she ended the song in the same way it began. Quite the ballad indeed.

As popular as the drama "Virgin Road" was, "Can You Celebrate?" pretty much outgrew its status as a theme song and a commercial jingle for a Maxell mini-disc (remember that medium?) to become a phenomenon itself. I bet a good ton of professional and amateur wedding videographers couldn't resist using the song to commemorate their assignments with sage approval from their clients. And I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that the song has pretty much been stamped as Amuro's own theme song. "Can You Celebrate?" was re-released on Xmas Day 1997 to commemorate (but not guarantee) her wedding to SAM from the band TRF, and I recall her performing the song on consecutive Kohaku Utagassen shows bracketing her year-long absence from the spotlight.

According to Wikipedia, "Can You Celebrate?" sold about 2.3 million copies, and as mentioned, it was the No. 1 song of the year and even hung on to the end of 1998 as the 54th-ranked song. In fact, Amuro's most successful hit has become the most successful song by a solo female artist in the history of Japanese music and the 14th-ranked single in history.

Since that banner year, Amuro has released 31 more singles and will release her 41st single late next month. However, I think for most people who aren't die-hard fans of the singer, any mention of her name will probably invoke that title.

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