Well, I guess an era has finally come to an end. Supposedly, Namie Amuro's（安室奈美恵）career won't officially head off into the sunset until later this September on her birthday, but apparently she had the final concert of her final tour last night. NHK's "News Watch at 9" had one of the co-anchors perform an interview with Amuro, and this time to me...and for Amurers everywhere, this isn't an insult at her...she finally looked her age. She didn't look like a teen or a callow twenty something but a fully mature woman talking about her business.
As I mentioned in a previous article, "TRY ME ~ Watashi wo Shinjite ~"（TRY ME 〜私を信じて〜）was my introduction to Amuro and the future group MAX when they were known as Namie Amuro with Super Monkey's, just some months into my second stay in Japan. I gather that by that time, the group had embraced the mix of pop and club culture which would give birth to that whole Amurer fashion boom.
I often looked at the discography of Amuro in J-Wiki and noticed that there were a number of songs that had come before "TRY ME", and realized that there was a time before the superstar Amuro. This is a weird analogy but humour me, since I am a geek by nature, y'know. My feeling in this paragraph is rather akin to my early memories of "Doctor Who". I first got introduced to the famous Time Lord via his foppish third incarnation played by the late Jon Pertwee (although at that point, I hadn't been keeping count) before meeting Tom Baker's Bohemian Fourth Doctor. But then, through a poster celebrating the arrival of the Fifth Doctor, I noticed that there had been two incarnations prior to Pertwee's: the cranky original and the clownish Second Doctor. In conclusion, bringing things back to J-Pop, there were those four songs before "TRY ME"...when Amuro hadn't even been named at all in the byline but was represented simply as part of Super Monkey's.
Therefore, I went all the way back to the equivalent of Precambrian times...to the debut single of Super Monkey's, "Koi no Cute Beat/Mister U.S.A." which came out in September 1992, a mere few days before Amuro would turn 15.
I couldn't find "Koi no Cute Beat"（恋のキュート・ビート...Cute Beat of Love）but did come across a few YouTube copies of "Mister U.S.A.". All I can say is "Wow!". Considering all of the slinky R&B and dance music that Amuro and MAX were known for over the decades, it was still quite a revelation to hear "Mister U.S.A." sounding as if it came from the day-glo candy side of Eurobeat. It's quite catchy, actually, as Super Monkey's dance and sing about what could have been a Japanese teenager's thought and dreams about living on the West Coast of America at that time.
Written by Masao Urino（売野雅勇）and composed by Minoru Komorita（小森田実）, "Mister U.S.A." does sound like something that would have been in the discography of Debbie Gibson or Tiffany. And it didn't do too badly although it didn't break into the Top 10...it peaked at No. 29. It was also a track on Namie Amuro with Super Monkey's BEST compilation, "ORIGINAL TRACKS VOL.1" which was released in September 1996. That album hit No. 3.
This was another reason that I've enjoyed writing this blog with everyone!