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.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Namie Amuro with Super Monkey's -- Paradise Train

Friday nights on TV Japan are split between Arashi's quiz variety show "Vs. Arashi" and the tarento-driven "Sekai no Hate made Itte-Q!"(世界の果てまでイッテQ!...Going to the Ends of the Earth)adventure variety series. With the latter NTV program, it has its cadre of tarento go all over the planet to search for famous and not-so-famous sites and experience the weird and wonderful with the emphasis on hilarity.

We were watching an episode from "Itte-Q!" last night which had been broadcast originally last year in which veteran member Ayako Imoto(イモトアヤコ)visited some exotic locales in China, and at one point, as you can see above, the lass, who is known for her thickly painted eyebrows and school uniform, professed her famous love for recently retired singer Namie Amuro(安室奈美恵). In fact, she even performed one of Amuro's early songs, "Paradise Train".

To be honest, I had never heard of the song before and frankly Imoto's rendition didn't particularly give me any great impression so I decided to search for the original. Over a year ago, I wrote about the debut single by Amuro and the future dance-and-singing unit MAX when they were together as Super Monkey's, "Mister U.S.A."(ミスターU.S.A.)in the latter half of 1992, and it was this cute teenybopper Eurobeat number.

"Paradise Train" came out as their 4th single in July 1994 and their first single under the new unit name of Namie Amuro with Super Monkey's. It was by no means a hit since it peaked at just No. 137 on Oricon, but it's still a fresh-sounding uptempo song with young Amuro. There was no Eurobeat in there and this had been before Amuro and company took on the dance beats of Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉). Instead, it was the happy-feels music of Keizo Nakanishi(中西圭三)with Masao Urino(売野雅勇)behind the lyrics, the same fellow who wrote "Mister U.S.A." a couple of years earlier. And yes, that is indeed Nakanishi on backing vocals.

I'm not quite sure, but I wonder half-jokingly whether "Paradise Train" could have been the love child of Nakanishi's other creations "Choo Choo Train" and "Ticket to Paradise". Anyways, "Paradise Train" was also included as a track on "DANCE TRACKS VOL.1" which did hit No. 1, after its release in October 1995 and ended up as the 21st-ranked album for that year.

My answer has been given. Imoto and Amuro finally had that get-together, and of course, plenty of happy tears were shed.


  1. Nice! I love Namie and the Original Tracks cd. I brought that cd with me on a trip to Hawaii in 1999 (I think). Mr. USA is a particular favorite, as are the other songs including Paradise Train. A few of the songs on that cd are actually covers of eurobeat tunes. Those can be found on the AVEX Dance cd’s vol 1 and 2.

    1. Thanks! For me, I enjoyed Namie for the first number of singles after 1994 but then lost interest. Now that I've been hearing some of these very early songs, I could be convinced to get "DANCE TRACKS". :)


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