Ami Suzuki – new album ‘CONNETTA’
Posted by redracer on April 3, 2007
Released on the 21st March, this is the latest album release from Ami Suzuki (鈴木 亜美 – originally 鈴木 あみ), and her second studio album with her ‘new’ record label Avex (fifth in total).
I first saw her on the a-nation’05 DVD, and was captivated with her eyes and energetic performance. She was born in 1982 in Kanagawa, an area just to the south-west of Tokyo, and whilst in high school at the age of 15 entered the Japanese TV talent show ASAYAN. Based on votes from the TV audience, she won this competition from 13,500 other entrants, and was signed up to Sony with influential producer Tetsuya Komuro writing and producing all of her material. The first single was released in April 1998, and sold 288,000 copies, reaching #5. Later that year, Ami won various awards including the Japan Record Award for Best New Artist. Subsequent singles all reached the top 5, with sales of 300,000 to 400,000 copies and several #1’s. The highest achiever was ‘Be Together’ in July 1999, with sales of 870,000. Her first album ‘SA’, sold nearly 1.9 million copies and her next two albums ‘infinity nineteen vol.1 & vol.2’ sold 1 million, and 427,000 copies respectively. At one stage, new singles were being pumped out every couple of months 🙄
Ami was at the top of the industry, and a big rival as ‘Queen of Pop’ to the up and coming Ayumi Hamasaki, when it all went wrong !!! In 2000 her career came to an abrupt halt when her parents sued her management company, Tokyo-based AG Communication, whose president, Eiji Yamada, had been convicted on tax evasion charges. They wanted to terminate what they saw as an unfavorable contract and were afraid that the AG corruption scandal would by association tarnish her squeaky-clean image. Even though the courts found in her favour, this broke the unwritten rule of the Japanese entertainment business in that artists who get into legal disputes are blacklisted. In 2001 her radio show was cancelled, commercial endorsements dried up, her fan club was dissolved and other production companies refused to sign her. However her record label, Sony, rushed out a greatest-hits package, ‘Fun for Fan’ in May, as it became obvious Suzuki was too hot to handle, but fans showed their support by buying nearly 380,000 copies and making it a #1 hit.
In the next couple of years Ami attempted to make a comeback, but with little success. The sad but true fact is that for every idol star like Suzuki, there are thousands of eager wannabes every bit as talented (or sometimes untalented) !!! She did release a couple of independant singles and a photo book, but were not very successful. In late 2004, a chance meeting at a performance at her old school, Nihon University, attracted the attention of another past student, none other than Avex Trax record label boss Max Matsuura (the ‘creator’ of Ayumi Hamasaki, amongst others). He was impressed enough to sign he up, and her career was now back on track. So far she has released 11 singles for Avex, but although for the first one was moderately successful reaching #3, none have sold anywhere near the amount her Sony releases did. Her debut album ‘Around the World’ also only sold just over 60,000 copies.
This album contains a lot of collaborations with other artists like Hideki Kaji, Northern Bright, Scoobie Do, Ayano Tsuji, Buffalo Daughter, THC and others whom I have never heard of, as well as a song written for her by fellow Avex stablemate Ai Otsuka.
The track listing is …
- Aozora to Water
- Peace Otodoke!!♡ (Collaboration with THC!!)
- Dancin’ Little Woman
- Hare Moyou
- To be Free
- Sukouru ni Nurete
- Everything To Me
- O.K. Funky God (Collaboration with Buffalo Daughter)
- Soremo Kitto Shiawase (Collaboration with Kirinji)
- Like a Love?
- Aishiteru Kitto
Like most Japanese album releases, this contains all her singles released since the album ‘Around the World’ (‘Little Crystal’, ‘Fantastic’, ‘Alright!’, ‘Like a Love?’, ‘O.K. Funky God’, ‘Peace Otodoke!!♡‘ and ‘Soremo Kitto Shiawase’), and some B-sides (‘To Be Free’ from ‘Little Crystal’, ‘Hare Moyou’ from ‘Alright!’ and ‘Sukouru ni Nurete’ from ‘Like a Love?’). So there are only 4 new songs. She writes the words to most of her more recent songs, but not the music.
As well as the CD version, there were also 2 versions (with different covers) that include a DVD, which contains …
- Live footage from a25th Anniversary (birthday) concert – ‘Like a Love?’, ‘Negai Goto’, ‘Alright!’ and ‘Delightful’.
- Making Movie (behind the scenes during recording).
- SINGLE TV-Spot Collection
The ‘other’ DVD release contains a short movie set around the theme of the “unseen future,” replacing the live footage tracks. However it is disappointing that there are no music videos on the DVD 😦
Her web site, if you want to find out more info, is http://www.avexnet.or.jp/ami/
Conclusion: Ami is not just the cute little girl that she used to be, but a mature woman who has grown up though a lot of hardships – and for her persistence, I admire her greatly. This album is a real mixture of different styles (due to the many collaborations), so there is some rock, pop, dance and funk oriented songs, with the only common thread being her excellent voice. I wouldn’t say it is a fantastic release, but there is nothing wrong with it, and it is certainly worth a listen. I can’t see it being a really big seller though … So as she pleads in her return ‘debut’ song ‘Delightful’ which is very often sung live – ‘Give Me a chance. Give Me one more chance!!’. If you haven’t heard her before – give her a try and maybe listen to some of her earlier releases as well (hint – you can easily listen to song samples at the http://www.cdjapan.co.jp site)
P.S. – what is a ‘CONNETTA’ ??? Sounds nearly as bad as hitomi’s last album – ‘Love Concent’ 😆