GENIUS 2000 is the third album released by Amuro Namie. It was her first studio album in almost three years and was her first after her marriage, pregnancy hiatus and mother’s death. The album signaled a change in Amuro’s sound as she started to dabble in hip-hop and R&B with Dallas Austin and less in the Komuro Tetsuya dance sound of the mid to late 90’s. The album proved to be another success, peaking at #1 and selling over 800,000, although it was a significant decline from her last. All four singles were relatively successful, with each peaking within the top five.
Released: January 26, 2000
1. Make the Connection Complete
2. LOVE 2000
3. RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE
4. LEAVIN’ for LAS VEGAS
5. SOMETHING ‘BOUT THE KISS
6. I HAVE NEVER SEEN
7. STILL IN LOVE
8. MI CORAZÓN (TE’AMOUR)
9. YOU ARE THE ONE
11. THINGS I COLLECTED
12. NEXT TO YOU
13. ASKING WHY
14. GIVE IT A TRY
15. LOG OFF
The album opens with the intro, Make the Connection Complete. It’s pretty much a crazy computerized intro that is a bit creepy but does a good job of transitioning into the next song.
LOVE 2000 is a really weird song, but it is one of the most interesting songs in Amuro’s discography. It has a robotic electronic sound to it but also has a plethora of different synthesizers in it that give it a very dramatic quality. This arrangement tied with the gospel-like background vocals makes the song almost haunting. The song starts off pretty straightforward in its structure, but there are so many layers that come popping in. It’s a bit messy at times, but it’s a cool starter and was the album’s final single.
RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE is one of my favourite Amuro songs. Released as a single on the day that her mother was murdered, the song has a haunting sadness to it and I think it is one of her most emotional tunes. Still with that classic Komuro Tetsuya sound, it has a powerful and uplifting dance quality to it that is backed by a heavy electric guitar. It makes me think of an upbeat version of her ballad, CAN YOU CELEBRATE? as it has similar instruments and a gospel tinge to it. Great tune.
LEAVIN’ for LAS VEGAS is the album’s first album track and it really shows that change in sound with its heavy R&B influence. It starts off pretty cool as Amuro’s lower register works great with that pounding beat. The chorus is a bit of a mess though. I like that it tries to blend the melody with the harmonies in a weird swerving blend, but I can’t hear anything that’s going on. The actual melody also doesn’t have a lot of energy to it so it gets a bit boring after a while. Not a horrible song, just needed a little more of a push.
The album’s third single is the first that really showcased her transition. SOMETHING ‘BOUT THE KISS is similar to the last song as it has a heavy R&B beat and really sounds like something from the early 00’s in the U.S. Fortunately, this song is much stronger than the last song, but it still doesn’t quite hit the spot as a single. The arrangement does come off a little empty and it feels like it needs a little more energy to lift it up. It’s catchy though.
Despite being the album’s oldest track, this is actually my favourite of the songs. I HAVE NEVER SEEN gets a bit of a flack from fans as it isn’t seen as quite up to par to her other Komuro-era songs. However, I absolutely love the emotion behind the song. The song is so powerful and I quite like how it leaves you on the edge of tension. The melody doesn’t particular flow well, but I love the rawness that Amuro brings with her voice.
STILL IN LOVE is probably the most lighthearted tune up to this point, which is a nice change from the heavy beats and pounding guitars of the previous songs. The song has a light R&B sound, but it is the most “pop” of the newer songs. It’s not as in-your-face, but I actually like this song. It has a sweetness to it that is heard throughout the song and the chorus is actually pretty catchy.
MI CORAZÓN (TE’AMOUR) is absolute fire and one of my favourite Amuro album tracks. It differs from all the other songs on here because it blends latin sounds with dance. That Spanish guitar really brings a different edge and helps the verses. While the chorus is more pop in its delivery, I love it. The arrangement is full and just continuously swirling while the melody is simple and works wonderfully with the harmonies. It’s such a cool track and brings what was missing from some of the other tracks, energy.
YOU ARE THE ONE features singer IMAJIN and was originally released as B-side on one of the singles. It’s a pretty powerful R&B ballad, but I’m not quite sold on this one. The song just sounds poorly produced and the music just feels like a blurry mess. Amuro’s vocals are decent, but she does strain quite a bit and I’m not a big fan of IMAJIN’s parts because I feel like their two parts just don’t mesh. The melody wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t overpowered either.
With some neo-soul elements, KISS-AND-RIDE was something I was not expecting coming into this album. I do find Amuro’s distorted vocals to be a little odd here considering this is one of the more organic songs on here, but the actual song itself is pretty interesting. I just wish it pushed things a little more. The structure is a bit odd as the chorus isn’t quite obvious, so I feel like the whole song blurs together. It unfortunately ends off a little flat for me.
THINGS I COLLECTED is a nice and slow R&B ballad. Although R&B is my favourite genre, these kinds of songs can be a hit-or-miss depending if the chorus is interesting. The song does have some promise with Amuro singing in her lower register. Unfortunately, I feel like the melody gets a bit shaky and uncertain. The chorus isn’t terrible, but it just ends up lulling me to sleep. It’s just too long as well.
NEXT TO YOU finally brings us something a little more upbeat and it’s a great early 00’s R&B tune. This totally sounds like something that would’ve been released in America if it was in English. It has a funky arrangement and a really catchy chorus. It’s not the most refined track, but at least it has some much needed energy and melody. It does get a little repetitive though.
ASKING WHY was also released as a B-side, but it is one of the stronger songs in the second half of the album. I do find it starts off a little lackluster and doesn’t quite bring the needed energy. Luckily, when the chorus comes around, the beat comes pounding in and the sweetness of the melody really helps propel the song forward. It’s a very cute song and even though the Komuro influence is in there, it comes off a little different.
GIVE IT A TRY tries to end things on a sweeter note that references back to her early days in sound. It reminds me a little of SWEET 19 BLUES with the nostalgic quality. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hit the mark and there are too many moments where the songs goes up and down and transitions into a weird sound. It’s not a terrible song, but it just ends up a little lackluster.
Finishing things off with an outro there is LOG OFF. It’s a pretty interesting way to close things and I actually quite like it.
Overall: This album is usually at the bottom of a lot of Amuro fans’ lists for her best albums. I don’t think it is any worse than her first two studio albums as it has some really high points and then some really low ones. I find the dual sound of R&B and Komuro-pop to be a bit of an odd combination as they don’t mesh as well and many of the Dallas Austin tunes ended up being a bit flat. With that said, this album could have easily been cut down by quite a few songs, especially in the second half. I actually enjoyed a lot of songs and there are a few favourites on here for me. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it this much.