It’s not everyday that J-Pop idol sensation Namie Amuro, once dubbed the “Queen of J-Pop” releases a track on her latest album as a duet with a virtual voice. Well, Queen, meet the Diva from the near-future of idols. B Who I Want 2 B feat. Hatsune Miku is a song released on the Dimension Point label on June 10th, 2015.
More recently, a fully animated music video was posted to the singer’s official Youtube channel, which has hit a million views. It is a colorful blend of 2D animation and 3D modeling that capitalizes on both singers’ unique styles, pairing off perfectly with the cheerful electronic pop song. How well it is pulled off sets a great precedent for professionals collaborating with Vocaloid software.
B Who I Want 2 B is playfully titled to match the very modern sound of the song, and perhaps also both singers’ accent in singing the “engrish”-sounding lyrics. The song appears as track #9 on Namie Amuro’s eleventh album “_genic”. Namie herself has experimented with a variety of genres, but this song has a distinctive pop sound and departs from the feel of her later albums.
The online video’s preview only really cuts off the last chorus to encourage viewers to actually buy the product. Still, the good three minutes they do show is a well-made PV that is full of different outfits and models all pieced together with expertly edited animation. Watch below:
The accent both singers have make the lyrics a little hard to decipher at certain points without the help of the translation that can be found here, including both translation and what is originally written in English. However, the effect is something pretty cute and to be expected of J-Pop.
After all, Miku Hatsune’s Japanese and English interface has its own quirks. Namie’s own accented English doesn’t stand out, and the meaning keeps its trendy feel without sacrificing much. Aside from the comprehension issues, the English is phrased with decent grammar that sounds fairly natural next to the Japanese.
Miku’s tuning and some of the lyrics, handled by Mitchie-M, has significant improvement over a lot of her usual English songs, and even the Japanese feels smooth. B Who I Want 2 B manages to pair the lyrics with its light sound. Both Namie and Miku are depicted as fashionable, carefree girls in Tokyo that are basically fine as they are. Ignoring the “fashion boys and millionaires,” they enjoy life and don’t need a guy to complete them.
Instead of the kind of self-congratulatory songs you’d expect from Beyonce or K-pop girl groups nowadays, the tone bears no double-edged ill-will. Lines like “I’m actually ecstatic, I’m so happy” and “It’s not because I want you to hold my hand” read as they are.
Neither of them are too good for any boy, they just haven’t found anyone that could give them the same kind of satisfaction they get from being themselves. As a result, the entire mood is uplifting and makes you want to join in on the fun. It feels exactly like the kind of song you would want to go shopping to and have on repeat.
On the bridge, the line “I don’t need, don’t need anyone to do what I want to do, Yume shibaru nara machi mo anata mo BABIRON” is given as a solo to Miku, interestingly enough. We actually don’t get a close representation of Namie’s voice without the heavy autotune and pitch change throughout this song. A quick listen of the other tracks in the _genic (and past) albums quickly reveal that Namie’s vocal talent is real, and this track is the only one where it is purposefully altered to sound synthetic. Therefore, it’s a deliberate choice to showcase Miku over Namie.
In part, it’s because the song is written to suit Miku’s range and expression. Mitchie-M (also known as Tucada) is a Vocaloid producer known for a very realistic rendering of Miku’s vocals such as in Freely Tomorrow. He is also popular for creating happy sounds like Viva Happy. B Who I Want 2 B hits a sweet spot within the two pop audiences, making it a solid release for both singer and producer. On his blog, he wrote he was impressed at how well the finished PV turned out.
Though the PV is a standard length, it manages to carry the message of the song across while having both 2D and 3D animated models of Namie and Miku looking the part of stylish Tokyo girls. In between shots of their various outfits, pink-haired Namie and blue-haired Miku are neatly edited dancing against a kaleidoscope of backgrounds.
They go from playing a virtual reality game (that is very reminiscent of Splatoon) to riding makeup across a mall, to a night out at a club. Overall, the PV is very eye-catching, professional, and measures up to any of Miku’s signature music videos.
What is most interesting in this choice is taking the image of a singer like Namie Amuro, who easily captures a sexy allure with pop, R&B and deep ballads, and making the decision to join her voice with Miku’s. At 38, Namie is pretty old in entertainer years (older than say, Utada Hikaru), though her musical output has been on the whole consistent, even if she experiments in style.
Her latest experiment in working with Miku Hatsune can be deemed a moderate success simply by comparing B Who I Want 2 B’s views (1 mil+) with her other album’s songs (also averaging a mil+, though with full PVs and usually a very different sound). Although it might not affect current fans, perhaps the addition of Miku might attract new fans into Namie’s other genres. At the least, it has further paved the way for more mainstream Vocaloid collaborations.
-Colorful PV packed with great animation and 3D modeling.
-Cheerful, easy-to-listen-to sound typical of Vocaloids.
-Well-rendered vocals that showcase both parties equally.
-Lyrics are well-phrased and their meaning is clear, including the English.
-The future of singer x Vocaloid collabs is looking bright.
-Not Namie Amuro’s usual style, which might not have fans stick around.