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New Namie Amuro: “Golden Touch”

(First off, the “interactive” element of this video is hilarious, but also sort of genius, like Google releasing Google Glass a couple years back and now settling on some cardboard specs. Put your finger here, and you can pretend it squirts mustard! Also, a furry relationship sub-story.)

Namie Amuro’s switch from Japanese to Japanese/English singing three albums ago has been weird, because of how it seems like she’s not willing to go all the way with it. When she first made the change, she told the media it wasn’t part of a foreign push which…is kinda strange, as that could only hurt her in Japan. She’s Namie Amuro, she ushered in the era of big ol’ R&B-pop artists! Stranger still, the songs on these albums have veered mighty closely to what’s trendy in the West — she has Zedd producing tracks, for goodness sakes. On one hand, explicitly trying to crossover tends to only end poorly for Asian-pop artists (CL pending), but at the same time Amuro’s refusal to go all the way with this sound has resulted in two hit-or-miss albums (here’s a review of the last one).

Her newest, genic, comes out next month and…maybe…just maybe…Amuro is really diving into this? The trailer for it featured another Zedd song, a track from SOPHIE (!) and a general shift towards all-out radio-ready pop (give or take an “Anything“). It isn’t her big American gamble, but it sounds way more focused, and way more fun.

“Golden Touch” is an immediate highlight and the sort of pop song that in theory is dead set on capturing “song of the summer” status, even though that’s not really a thing in Japan. It’s a follow-the-bouncing-ball (thanks video) electro-pop number, simple because it knows that chorus is really all it needs. This is grade-A, solid pop, which isn’t to dismiss it as pulling this off isn’t easy. It sounds ready to be blasted out of cars and shitty laptop speakers and those speakers lining the streets in Shibuya. Listen above.