Album Review: Ami Suzuki - Supreme Show

Album Review: Ami Suzuki (鈴木亜美) - Supreme Show | Random J Pop

Ami Suzuki's career fell into a void after a scandal which unfairly saw her blacklisted, all because the president of the company she was signed to committed tax fraud and Ami's parents chose to sue his ass. None of this was Ami's fault. But in Japan, if you're in the entertainment business and you get caught in lawsuit, then it's a wrap for you. And if you're a woman, then additional thoughts and prayers. The entertainment industry is a whole mess, and Japan has messes all of its own. But that is a whole other post. This one right here is all about the album following Ami's eventual return as a Pop star, and one of her most well known releases. Supreme Show.

Even though Kylie Minogue's Fever had released 6 years prior, it seemed to have been a source of inspiration for many in J-Pop circa 2007 - 2008. Yasutaka Nakata, M-Flo, Namie Amuro, Ami Suzuki (and possibly more besides I've yet to uncover) all borrowed something from Kylie's hugely successful 2001 album. With M-Flo and Namie Amuro it was the visuals. With Nakata it was the sound (Half of Perfume's Game literally sounds like a Kylie album). With Ami it was kinda everything. The music video for "Free Free" was pretty much "Spinning Around" meets "In Your Eyes". And "Can't Stop the Disco" was a complete rip-off of "In My Arms". All of this is to say that Kylie was definitely a muse for Ami Suzuki, as she was for producer Yasutaka Nakata, and this is laid bare in the album.

When Ami Suzuki properly returned to music with Dolce, her image and sound was completely different to what she was known for before, which wasn't a problem. Given that it had been so long since she'd released anything, people forgot what a bitch was known for in the first place. So Dolce was a chance for Ami to be whomever she wanted to be, and Supreme Show marked the next evolution of that, with Ami grabbing Nakata by his fried wig to have him score it.

Album Review: Ami Suzuki (鈴木亜美) - Supreme Show | Random J Pop

Now, let's address the Elephant poppin' its coochie in the corner of the room. There are many songs on Supreme Show which sound similar to Perfume. Triangle's "One Room Disco" and "The Best Thing" sounding like parts of "Super Music Maker (SA'08S A Mix)". "Super Music Maker (SA'08S A Mix)" sounding like parts of Game's "Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow". Sections of "One" sounding like "Electro World". "Mysterious" sounding like a precursor to "Edge". It's to be expected, given Nakata Yasutaka's involvement, and that his work with Perfume is probably why Ami Suzuki wanted to work with him in the first place. Nakata's sound during this time was very much inspired by Electro, Disco, Trance and French House - and it was a sound that he gave to pretty much all the acts that he worked with from 2006 - 2009, which is why the likes of Supreme Show, Perfume's Triangle and Meg's Beam all sound identical. It's not necessarily a negative thing. Britney, ★NSYNC and Backstreet Boys all had albums which sounded like they were cut from the same cloth because of Max Martin having a hand in each of them. But in Nakata's case, it does strip some of the individuality from each album, given that it's not just the music which sounds similar across each of these albums, but how the artists themselves sound too. Nakata lived for making women sing like Alvin and the Chipmunks, then whacking up the auto-tune. But, if you're a fan of Nakata and this sound, then you won't care. It's more material for you to love and consume, and this is probably the reasoning behind it. Nakata knew many were here for the songs regardless of who was singing them. After all, more knew of him at this point in time than Ami Suzuki. It made sense. If you liked Meg's Beam, then you'll like Supreme Show. And if Supreme Show did it for you, then just wait until you hear what Perfume's second album sounds like.

The one thing that does make Supreme Show stand separately from Triangle is that the charged sensuality and sexuality in the songs suits Ami more than it did Perfume, because she was more grown at the time and her image fit it better. Also, she sings in a lower register than Perfume do. Perfume being teenagers and sounding like they were on helium whilst asking for their pussy to be taken on "Take Me, Take Me" and talking about getting piped by the speakers in "Kiss & Music" wasn't the best thing. Both songs are bops, but still. It's clear Nakata was a little horny when he was in his Electro Disco phase. "Climb Up To The Top" even has a woman moaning as part of the music. Climb to the top of what exactly? HMMMM!?

But with Nakata's insane talents come caveats. And the issue with a Nakata produced album is that you also have to also take on what feels like his ego and personal agendas. There are moments on Supreme Show when it's less about Ami and more about Nakata's branding. "Climb Up To The Top" has nothing to do with trying to give Ami a banger or push her in a new direction and is everything to do with putting a Capsule song on somebody else's album. Nakata does it with Kyary's albums by having her cover Capsule songs and did the same thing with Meg too. Nakata was at least slick with it when it came to Kyary, still ensuring the song fit her albums. But on Supreme Show, it just doesn't work. "Climb Up To The Top" is one of the worst songs on the album because it feels out of place and interrupts what would have been a great triplet of with "Ten", "Can't Stop The Disco" and "Super Music Maker (SA'08S A Mix)". It feels like he's imposing on Ami's album in the worst of ways.

Album Review: Ami Suzuki (鈴木亜美) - Supreme Show | Random J Pop

Supreme Show is a great sounding album. The production is meticulous, and Nakata keeps things interesting with his uncanny sense of musicality and melody. Nakata has songs shift, switch-up and change in ways that many other producers wouldn't dare. And he wasn't afraid to make Pop songs 5 to 6 minutes long without sounding like they were out-staying their welcome. A far cry from the Nakata of today, whose songs all sound short, shy of a minute of music, and can't seem to wait to be over. Even though Supreme Show borrows from so many other musical styles, there is a uniqueness to some of these songs which make it so distinctly Japanese and so distinctly Nakata - which make it different to your average Pop album even if it reminds you of them. The issue with this however, is that none of what this album offers is really about Ami at all. She's just a vessel for the music. In the midst of this, she doesn't really give us enough of herself, which can often be an issue when working with Nakata. This entire album could be sung by text-to-speech software and still slap. Be instrumentals and still slap. Ami only matters for the visual aspect, which is a shame. This is what separates Kylie from the Ami's. Kylie matters on all of her songs and puts her size 1½ foot so hard into them that you couldn't imagine them with anybody else. But maybe that's why these songs, Meg's songs and Perfume's songs worked as a hive of songs and didn't feel like a detrimental thing.

When all is said and done, this is still a fun album to listen to. Even if Ami's artistry is a non-factor. But that's what you get when you have Nakata produce your entire shit.


Album highlights:
■ Ten
■ Can't Stop the Disco 🏆 J's fave
■ Mysterious
■ Change My Life
■ A Token of Love
■ True