There’s nothing about this single I can find remotely disturbing, odd enough to say the least, when a triple A-side sampling three different subgenres takes on the epic task of reinventing itself via self-proclaimed Hip-Pop (and now Dancing) Queen. What makes this single so brilliant where it can go horribly awry – it samples The Supremes’ “Baby Love”, Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady”, and Irena Cara’s “Flashdance…What a Feeling” – is that instead of liberally peppering the songs with loops, it asks, “What if, in 2008, we just never stopped making that kind of music?” It’s not an update, it’s a whole new perspective (see: lyrical references to Twiggy beside ‘LOL’ and ‘OMG’ in 60s inspired “NEW LOOK”) that manages to sound captivating instead of condescending – or worse: nostalgic. Taking three of America’s best selling singles from three of music’s most successful decades can seem a bit intimidating, but if there’s one person who can pull it off, it’s probably Amuro.
Then again, maybe I shouldn’t offer all the credit to a pop star with a boatload of promotion and a dynamo set of dance skills but with little nerve to claim any of it; it’s the production and arrangement that flawlessly tie the three decades into a fantastic overview of the hypothetical, first with sweet-faced “NEW LOOK,” a tribute to Amuro’s (marketed) passion for fashion, maybe not so much glam but definitely glitz, “ROCK STEADY,” a genre Amuro’s probably most familiar with on a contemporary level, but humbly bidding tribute to its origins, and “WHAT A FEELING,” the show stopping hybrid of fierce dance and femme fatale. Amuro offers little to the equation (still not showing any signs of a pulse, although I’m now attributing it to the hardcore dance routines she memorizes and performs while singing live), but she’s still one heckuva vehicle for Vidal Sassoon’s new campaign. Sure, there’s still a fair amount of stereotyping in the music videos which begs for a few chuckles not from the audience, but from Amuro herself who is way too self-serious to indulge, even a little, but you’re unlikely to find a better representation of sampling-done-right from the original 90’s Japanese chanteuse who came back with a vengeance and refuses to give up the reign again.
You didn’t seriously expect Amuro to come up with anything less after PLAY, did you?