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.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Namie Amuro with Super Monkey's -- TRY ME ~Watashi wo Shinjite~ (私を信じて)

It was about a couple of months into my long stay in Japan from late 1994 when I was watching my tiny pull-knob television with bunny-ear antenna, and on came this commercial which featured what looked like a teenage girl in grown-up clothing suddenly spinning into this Shibuya nightclub vamp, all the while the words "TRY ME" were sung. My first impression was "It's a bit early in the day to show this sort of commercial, doncha think?" Erghh...

Well, it turned out to be an ad for a singing group but still I was thinking about what sort of message this was sending. The above video, incidentally, isn't that commercial but it is similar in style and it's the same song hyping Minami sporting goods.

This was my introduction to Namie Amuro(安室奈美恵)with Super Monkey's, this group of singing and dancing teenage girls from Okinawa, and it all started with "TRY ME ~Watashi wo Shinjite~" (Trust Me) which was released in January 1995. Officially, the song was the 5th single by the group and the previous singles were simply credited to Super Monkey's before Amuro came out in front.

With TRF already making inroads up the charts and then hearing Namie Amuro with Super Monkey's for the first time, I mused about how quickly Japanese music can change in 3 years. When I left Japan in 1991 after the JET Programme, it was all about mellow/happy-go-lucky Girl Pop with ladies like Miki Imai(今井美樹)and Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里)and girl rockers such as Princess Princess. Now it was dance club music that seemed to be at the forefront. And with "TRY ME", it was the Super Monkey's leading the listeners in dancing the night away. It's been labeled a Eurobeat song although I think it was more along the lines of the parapara music craze that would hit the clubs with a vengeance later on.

I hadn't been sure at the time but as it turned out, the song had nothing to do with Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉)who would provide a number of Amuro's later hits as a solo artist. "TRY ME" is actually a cover of a 1994 song performed by Ann "Lolita" Lee, a Eurodance singer and songwriter. However, the Japanese lyrics were provided by Kazumi Suzuki(鈴木計見)with composition by HINOKY TEAM. The video above has Lee's original following the music video for Amuro's version.

The song started out modestly by entering the Oricon charts at No. 49 about a week after release, but it slowly crept up the ranks before finally breaking into the Top 10 almost 2 months later, and then peaking at No. 8 a few weeks after that. It would end up as the 45th-ranked single of the year, selling about 750,000 copies, a fine hit. It was also a track on Amuro's first album, "Dance Tracks Vol. 1" which came out in October 1995. On the Oricon weeklies, it was a No. 1 hit and became the 21st-ranked album of the year and only inching down one spot on the 1996 annual charts. It is currently the 88th-most successful album in Oricon's history.

Of course, Amuro would go even higher as a solo artist and the rest of the Super Monkey's would undergo a name change into MAX and gain some success of their own.


  1. I first got into J-pop and J-dramas late 1995 and Namie Amuro was a BIG part of my J-pop experience. The first j-drama I watched was The Chef, and Namie's song "Chase The Chance" was the theme, so it was the first song I knew from her. My friend had tapes of the past year's Hey Hey Hey and that's how I saw performances of both Try Me and Stop The Music for the first time, both big classics now!
    So funny that at the time, Hey Hey Hey host Hamada was surprised how young she and the rest of the Super Monkeys were, who would have dreamed she would still be around as an almost-40 year old lady!

    1. Hi, zdorama, and thanks for your reminiscences of Namie Amuro. Yes, it's hard to believe that she's starting to approach middle age especially since I first got to know her as that teenager as well. And now, she's doing Olympic theme songs! Plus, her son has just turned 18.


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