Guide for the Perplexed: Namie Amuro

Cover of Namie Amuro's Checkmate albumThe second in our series on The Learned Fangirl called “Guide for the Perplexed” is focusing on Namie Amuro. We’re hoping to describe corners of fandom that may not be known to mainstream audiences and aspects of fandom culture that demonstrate larger cultural phenomena, so if you have any suggestions for subjects you’d like covered, leave a comment!

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Namie Amuro is one of the best-selling Japanese musical artists of all time. Unlike much of the Japanese music industry, where idols stars come and go quickly, Namie Amuro has been popular since the 90s.

She is the self-proclaimed “Queen of Hip-Pop” — also one of her album titles. The use of the Pink Panther in the Wowa music video *is* licensed. Her latest album (March 2011) is called Checkmate!, so extending this framework, she is the Queen calling Checkmate on her opponents (in song collaboration). I’m not saying the metaphor works, but she is definitely *the* queen of Japanese hip-hop influenced pop.

But like many J-pop and K-pop stars, the line between licensing, merchandising, and actual music is blurred. For example, her mini-album 60s 70s 80s was sponsored by Vidal Sassoon. She is well-known as a fashion icon, and if you watch many Namie Amuro videos you will notice that yes, she does wear those same style over-the-knee boots in almost every video!

Also, unfortunately it seems like her record company has been pulling many of her music videos off of youtube. Oddly enough, it is still possible without any difficulty on other video sites to find music videos, including her entire concert DVDs.

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