Namie Amuro’s embrace of EDM has been on the rise for the last few years, and it seemed like it was finally paying dividends — she down-low released one of the better Zedd-produced songs, and her new album _genic features an immediate pop jam designed to be blasted out of cars. That full-length comes out today, and with it the arrival of what was probably the most anticipated track on it, “B Who I Want 2 B.” That one generated a bit of excitement because of the person producing the music, SOPHIE, who has gotten a lot of attention for songs such as “Bipp” and his connection to PC Music*. How would the British producer — who was once doing something with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, but ehhhhh that vanished — handle working with Amuro?
The end result is way more unpredictable than expected, but not because of SOPHIE. His production work is fizzy and Euro-poppy enough without being to overwhelming — it stands out in the world of mainstream J-pop (very welcome!), but it critically makes room for the singers. Which, yeah, there is the twist…Vocaloid avatar Hatsune Miku joins Namie Amuro on this song, which turns out to be a big celebration of independence, of Amuro and Miku not needing any of “those boys in Tokyo town.” That falls right in Amuro’s wheelhouse, and is always a welcome attitude in J-pop.
Miku’s tuning here comes courtesy of producer Mitchie M, who focuses on making the singing-synthesizer sound as human as possible. He does a good-enough job here though, because what makes this song so dizzying is that, despite in theory being a duet between the two, it ends up sounding like Amuro morphing into Miku, and vice-versa. The vocals are just so liquid (Miku sounds a bit more digital, but not by much) as to make this both extremely catchy and slightly unnerving (which, is SOPHIE and PC Music at their best). This sounds bonkers, and seems like someone really finding a truly great way to use Vocaloid, an extremely intriguing instrument most artists lazily have embraced as just a voice, just a way to make rock songs about welsh onions without having to interact with other people. Few people have gotten experimental with Vocaloid, but here it merges with Amuro, creating a really lovely singularity.
Listen above before it inevitably gets taken down.
(*SOPHIE probably should be working overtime to make a little distance with them at the moment, though!)