Namie Amuro / CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK / May 17, 2006
CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK / 02. Ningyou
The former Queen of Jpop, now self-monikered Queen of Hip-Pop is back with her first single in 2006. I was never really a huge fan of Namie Amuro, as her peak years occupied much of the middle 90s. Before the turn of the century, Amuro stepped down from her throne to give birth to a child, and in the meantime, allowed newcomers like Hikaru Utada and Ayumi Hamasaki to garner a monopoly over the Japanese music market. Before long, however, Amuro returned with a sleeker, cleaner version of herself, and continued to put out bubbly pop tunes. However, because of her absence in the music market for a while, many had already lost interest in her records and had moved on. At this point, Amuro decided upon a total music and image makeover. Completely miming popular Western music, she took to hip hop beats, Adidas track suits, and smooth, slinky dance moves that brought bedroom activity to center stage; what we basically had after her soul/R&B/hip hop collaboration compilation When Pop Hits The Fan was an East Asian version of Britney Spears with a little more soul, a little less Federline (Amuro divorced her husband among a much publicized child custody battle). This image overhaul worked absolute wonders and before long, Amuro released a full length album, Queen of Hip-Pop in July of 2005, and has since performed sold out shows on her Space of Hip-Pop tour to pulsating beats complete with polished dance moves and live singing…she put Mrs. Federline to shame, she did. I could have done without the short skirts, though; the pseudo-humping is enough smut for one concert, thanks.
So even though I knew about Amuro for a while, it wasn’t until she released Say the Word that I started getting interested in her stuff. To be honest with you, I was already a die-hard Ayu fan and didn’t see the need to travel back in time to outdated music; 90s pop music is just not the same unless you were there in the era it was released and have attached memories or sentimental feelings toward it. So I left Amuro to get dusty on a shelf until a few months later when I received a tape with some old Japanese music talk shows like Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ and Pop Jam and chanced to see an old live performance of her single I HAVE NEVER SEEN. I didn’t like the song right away, but rather took to it gradually, until I decided I liked it enough to purchase it. So I did and tried some old Amuro songs again, found myself disappointed again, and promptly placed her back on the dusty shelf again.
So basically, I didn’t become an Amuro fan until she began releasing her hip hop styled music à la “Want me, want me.” I have zero explanation to defend this fascination with typical American pop music to the tune of Japanese interspersed with dirty American phrases…but I liked it. I liked the overly catchy choruses, the hooks that demanded I purchase the entire Queen of Hip-Pop record and I guess I especially liked that it was a guilty pleasure I didn’t have to feel too guilty enjoying; I mean, technically, not Britney Spears, not shame inducing.
So that’s my long Amuro adventure. I bought the album and ended up liking it, as cheesy as it all was, as hilarious as the mock Lil’ John screaming “Yeah, here we go, whaaat?!” in “My Darling” was…I ate it all up and was sold with the final track No. In fact, I will even admit I like watching dance performances. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that if I was held at gunpoint and told to dance well or die, I would be shot faster than I could attempt a lame excuse for a Charleston, so when I saw the live performance for “No,” I was mesmerized…all that coordinated dancing, the ease with which she performed the entire song and still managed to sing the song live had me applauding with the audience at the end. I thought if Amuro continued pursuing this angle, she just may make me a (very, very guilty but willing) fan.
Her last single definetely did not disappoint; “Violet Sauce” is a catchy, catchy song. When I heard a new single would be released, I was hoping for something similar. I guess it’s true, be careful what you wish for. “CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK” is another catchy pop song with a catchy hook and a saxophone for atmosphere, peppered with those English catcalls Amuro fans have come to expect. It sounds like something that would come right off of Queen of Hip-Pop, so I don’t know why I don’t like it more. I’m well aware it’s a great song, exemplifying the definition of pop music almost perfectly…but it just didn’t sit well with me, and I wonder if this means I’m all hip-popped out. Or maybe I’m looking for something more from Amuro…which isn’t good, because what can you expect from a formula pop singer?
The second track “Ningyou,” is a slower, more ballad-inspired song. I hate hip hop inspired ballads, so I hate this song. I even listened to the whole thing from start to finish just in case, and I still didn’t like it. I tried, I did all I could! Finally, aside from the standard instrumentals, the last original song is a remix of the title track. It’s almost exactly like the original song except that it has some extra beats thrown it; it’s mediocre, and a change from dancey-trancey remixes, but disappoints none the less.
As her 30th single, this is definetely not the best Amuro to date, and though the title track is catchy and I do like it, it’s missing that je ne sais quoi, that quelque chose spécial. It sort of reflects the reason I got bored and agitated with popular American music so many years ago and searched for something else, something more. It’s only so-so. Or wait, I mean comme ci, comme ça. Oui, oui (I’m nothing, if not consistent).