Ayumi Hamasaki’s Greatest Year: 2001 (part 1: January)

It’s now the 15th anniversary of Ayumi Hamasaki’s biggest, greatest, most spectacular, and highest quality year. I’m not being superlative here – Ayu’s best-selling album, A BEST, was released in march; she composed all the solo singles she released that year herself, in whole or in part; she sold the most CDs, appeared in the most magazines, and promoted the most products.

It was an incredibly fun and exciting year to be an Ayu fan.

So in order to bring the joy of Ayu Fandom in 2001 to more people, I wanna give you a visual timeline of Ayu’s activities that year, one or two months in each post. I’m starting today with January.

I hope you enjoy. 🙂

On January 1st, Ayu has just completed her first annual Countdown Live show. The set list included songs from her “Duty” album, a few fan favorites and classics like “A Song for XX,” and the brand-new track “evolution” which wouldn’t be released on CD for another month.

The show includes about 5 outfits, none of which are overly spectacular, but are mostly in line with ayu’s tomboyish, playful image at the time. They’re also designed to be easy to change into and out of – a red tank top is used with both matching shorts and a skirt, for instance, and a sporty jumpsuit is worn over other clothes. The show takes a simplified, stripped-down approach compared to Ayu’s major tours, just as future CDL shows would.

On sale at the concert is a booklet full of alternate cover art for Ayu’s CDs and original illustrations by collaborator Tadashi Ura. This hardbound book – called a “pamphlet” – is freaking awesome, and worth each of the 2500 yen it costs to buy it at the venue.

magazinead-sThe month of January brings with it several commercial promotions as well. Takanoyuri Beauty Clinic continues its work with Ayu, for instance. This time it’s a print-only campaign for their “PinkPink Festival.” Ayu appears in advertisements in a frilly pink dress, perched in a chair in an ornately decorated sitting room. Tu-Ka’s January 2001 print campaign has Ayu up in the clouds, wearing a wintery faux fur collared coat.

Teasing “evolution” even further was the TV commercial for Kose Visee’s Dynamite Curl mascara, which began playing on TV on January 16th. This was the first broadcast of the song to the general public (the song’s video hadn’t been shot yet).

Ayu’s Countdown Live concert was broadcast on WOWOW in two forms – the show performed the night of the 30th was broadcast on January 21st, and the actual New Year’s countdown was shown on the 25th. Not long after the first broadcast, fans began seeing a TV commercial for the “evolution” single, which included animated graphics of the single’s artwork because – again, the video STILL wasn’t out yet.

On the 23rd, the video was finally filmed and debuted shortly thereafter, just in time for the single’s release. The video takes many visual cues from Madonna’s “Rain” video, but in Ayu’s version, her character is being filmed in one location and projected as a hologram in another.

0c5f46020ea0cb32fde39110The same day as “evolution” is released, parts two, three, and four of Ayu’s “the other side” series of remix singles are released on CD. Part one, released in December 2000, included Hex Hector’s remixes of “kanariya” and “Boys & Girls” in their previously unreleased extended forms. The remaining three releases included extended & instrumental cuts of other remixes included on ayu-mi-x II version US+EU, like Junior Vasquez’s takes on “appears” and “Boys & Girls,” Ferry Corsten’s trance version of “WHATEVER,” and Thunderpuss’s remix of “Trauma.” Apparently the series was released by the request of music retailer HMV; perhaps they had a large number of house & trance fans wondering if extended versions of these remixes were available anywhere.

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So far we have a concert, rare photos, three remix singles, one brand new song & single, and three ad campaigns… and that’s just January.

 

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