Concentration 20 is the second album released by Amuro Namie. The album includes three singles, one of which became her biggest hit and is still the biggest selling female pop single of all time in Japan. The album was also a big hit, peaking at #1 and selling over 1.9 million copies.
Released: July 24, 1997
1. Concentration 20 (make you alright)
2. B w/z you
3. Close your eyes, Close to you
4. Me love peace!!
5. No Communication
6. a walk in the park (album mix)
10. CAN YOU CELEBRATE? (album mix)
11. I know…
12. How to be a Girl
The album opens with the title track. Concentration 20 (make you alright) already shows such a big difference from her first album’s more new jack swing vibe as it brings in some industrial rock sounds. The music is pretty cool, but the whole song isn’t my type of style. It’s not particularly catchy and Amuro sounds particularly bored. Just not my kind of song, although I do like elements in the music. B w/z you keeps up the rock sound with the music, but the vocal arrangement is definitely something more in line with her first album. It is a pretty laid back ballad and while it isn’t that memorable, it does have a charm to it. I do like how everything comes together and the subtle guitar in the background helps to bring some edge. Close your eyes, Close to you opens in such a strange and frightening way that it really surprised me when the song transitioned into a pulsating dance tune. It’s a weird combination of dance and rock. When the singing starts, it sounds pretty cool and Amuro’s monotonous vocals surprisingly work nicely here. The chorus is a bit strange as it mostly comprises of some speaking parts. It’s certainly different. Me love peace!! plays up on sounds again by bringing a bit of reggae into it. The verses are laid back, but that chorus is quite intense and not particularly catchy. I feel like Amuro is just yelling her way through the chorus and her tone doesn’t quite lend itself well to this song. The music is pretty nice sounding though. No Communication has a lighthearted pop/rock vibe to it. This song is a bit of a mess though as the song transitions into different parts constantly and each part isn’t that memorable. I don’t quite know where the chorus is. Just sounds like a very 90’s pop/rock album filler. a walk in the park is the album’s first single and it is by far the strongest song up to this point. It keeps the dance sound of her older singles and brings a bit of rock edge to things. I actually find the verses to be more entertaining than the chorus because they are cooler and Amuro sounds great. The chorus is nice and catchy, but it is a bit too bright and brings an odd transition. To-day starts off in an eerie way and I quite like it. It slows things down a bit and brings a bit of funk to the album with its deep bass and electronic touches. I quite enjoy the gentleness of this song and it brings a nice contrast to the more experimental rock sound of the album. It’s not the catchiest, but it is definitely a needed addition. Storm is a really interesting tune and I don’t quite know how to describe it. It definitely has a heavier R&B/hip-hop edge to it with its heavy beat and rapping. With that said, I don’t quite think the vocal arrangement really fits the rest of the song. Amuro’s voice is too bright for this song. There are some cool musical moments though like the piano solo and touches of synths. Whisper is definitely the album’s pulsating dance tune and I’m happy for it to come in. It’s definitely experimental, but it reminds me of material from her first album. I quite like the music as it has some 90’s house elements tied in with a bit of rock. I wish the chorus was more memorable as it isn’t really catchy and becomes overshadowed by the vocally edited portions of the song that come up right after. Still a decent tune. CAN YOU CELEBRATE? is the monster hit of the album. The second single and Amuro’s biggest hit, this tune slows things down and we are given a pretty emotional pop/gospel ballad. It starts off in a gentle way, but I love how the music becomes fuller as it progresses and Amuro’s vocals get stronger and stronger. The melody is definitely one of the best on album and it’s really memorable and the type that is easy to sing along to. This is definitely the album’s strongest song. I know… is an interlude that clocks in at over three minutes long. I think this would have been better right at the start of the album instead of the beginning as it really summarizes the type of songs on here as it is also very experimental. The album ends with the final single, How to be a Girl. It’s definitely the one of the most “rock” of the songs on here, but it still does a cool job of bringing in some dance elements. I like the verses because Amuro’s voice is run through a vocoder and it really fits the song nicely. The chorus is pretty catchy though, but I don’t think it makes as strong of an entrance as I would like. This is probably the weakest of the singles, but it’s still a solid tune. I think it would have worked better earlier in album though.
Overall: The thing with this album is that it is really experimental compared to her debut and it is pretty cool to listen to at some parts. I quite like that it tried to do so many different things, however, the problem was that sometimes it didn’t really hit the mark. There were few songs that really caught my attention immediately and I felt like the melodies could have been stronger on the whole (except CAN YOU CELEBRATE?). It’s still a pretty cool album though.