Why Namie Amuro re-recorded so many of her songs for 'Finally' and re-affirmed her title as the Teflon Queen

What exactly did Namie Amuro re-record so many of her songs for 'Finally'? | Random J Pop

Namie Amuro's swan song aka final Best album aka self karaoke album aka 3 disc resignation Finally shouldn't have been problematic at all, but it has been. The tracklist left fans with a sour taste in their mouths, but the re-recording of 38 songs left a bunch of fans sucking on the most sour of grapes due to the quality of them, half of which don't have shit on the originals and sound pretty damn lifeless, even by Namie's usually adoring lifeless standards.

If a pop star retires because they are sick to death of their career and have done everything there is to do, why would they then voluntarily put themselves through recording so much of their old material? The short answer: They fucking wouldn't, unless they absolutely had to. Which is why nobody bought that Namie re-recorded so much of her material out of the goodness of her heart for a damn minute. It quickly came to light that Namie didn't have the rights to re-release pretty much her entire discography, because the rights belonged to Avex and she is now signed to her own label Dimension Point.

This isn't the full story though. So let us walk through this mess and try to make sense of it all.

Namie launched her own label Dimension point in 2012 not long after she has released her tenth studio album Uncontrolled. The one thing to understand about Dimension point is that it is not an entirely separate label from Avex. It's a joint venture with Avex. So Namie not having the rights to her older songs as a result of being signed to Dimension point is not the case, because she's still technically signed to Avex. The receipts are in the catalog numbers of every thing she has released since moving to Dimension point. They are still Avex SKUs. Which means Finally (which is a Dimension point release) would not require Namie to re-record anything if the rights issue was solely down to Avex. Unless, the formation of Dimension point was on the stipulation that Avex would take all of the rights to everything Namie had recorded up unto that point. This is a possibility, but one that has a massive hole in it to debunk it completely. Ballada. But we'll get to that.

When Namie formed Dimension point in 2012, she also formed a new management company, Stella88. But she didn't move over to it until 2015, with "Red carpet" marking Namie's first release under both Dimension point and the management of Stella88. Namie had been signed to Vision factory management pretty much since her debut, so this was big news. Also, shifting management companies is not something which is done lightly in Japan. The hold that these companies (known as Jimusho's) have on an artist can be so strong that an artist could face career suicide by leaving. Management companies in Japan can kill a career with a click of fingers and blacklist them if they feel that they have placed a heavy investment in an artist that they don't want anybody else to reap the rewards of. Namie Amuro has been the Teflon Queen for years and managed to maintain a career in the mdist of scandals and situations that would have killed most. But even she had to wait up until a point before she defected. A point in her career where blacklisting her wouldn't be remotely possible. Jimusho's mean business. Literally. So it's entirely plausible that in fact, Vision factory are the ones that own the rights to Namie's masters and recordings outright, with Avex having served no purpose other than fulfilling distribution of the music.

This is backed up by the fact that Namie's 2014 compilation Ballada was released through Dimension point, but still featured the original versions of songs that which were released prior. Yes, Namie had re-recorded "Sweet 19 blues", "Can you celebrate?" and re-worked "Contrail". But this was to have the songs fit better in line with the album theme and the rest of the material, not the result of a rights issue.

What exactly did Namie Amuro re-record so many of her songs for 'Finally'? | Random J Pop

Avex nor Namie not owning the rights to most of her discography doesn't completely prevent them from releasing songs from it. They could acquire the means to release them. There is no shortage of money between Avex and Namie's Scrooge McDuck vault full of coin to go about this. I strongly believe that there would had to have been a seriously iron clad case to force Namie to re-record her older songs and this is probably Vision factory's doing. With the way that Jimusho's work in Japan, these management agencies own the rights to everything their artists put out. If Vision factory don't want to give out the rights to Namie's recordings, they are under no obligation to do so. Which also means if Vision factory wanted to drop a Best collection with Namie's original recordings, they could do that without Namie nor Avex's consent. Vision factory being stingy with the song rights is purely personal. It's their payback for Namie leaving them. They thought they were slick. They never thought for a second that Namie would book an engineer, a studio and hole herself up for 2 weeks with a Joysound karaoke book and rerecord all of her shit, BUT A BITCH DID.

Then there is Namie herself. Namie is so done with her career. Like, fully done. Yet she went to all the effort of re-recording 38 songs. Why would she do that? She's either a troll and went into this thinking 'I'mma fuck half of these recordings up so bad that fans are forced to buy my old shit'. Or she's was legally obligated to re-record the songs because the rights issue is real and contractually she has to fulfil one more album and do whatever is required of her to do that. Which in this instance would have been having to re-record the songs to get Finally out the door.

So it would seem that the rights issue is very much real. But Avex aren't the ones with the key to the song rights. Vision factory are.

Seriously. Imagine being told upon your retirement that you have to re-record 38 of your own songs because you nor your label have the rights to release the originals.

Mess.

Namie re-recording the songs was more than a contractual obligation to fulfil a release. It was a 'Fuck you' to Vision factory, because she still managed to get all of her old material out. Vision factory could have easily granted Namie and Avex the rights to the songs. But they didn't. And what for? Namie's fucking up sales likenever before and Avex have got Ayumi Hamasaki sweeping up the Finally coin in the HQ foyer with a dustpan and brush.

Namie is waving with one foot out the door like 'Ya'll tried'.

What exactly did Namie Amuro re-record so many of her songs for 'Finally'? | Random J Pop

Namie creating her own record label and also her own management company during what was retrospectively the last stages of her career is interesting. Maybe Namie seriously thought that she would actually continue on with her career. It seems like a lot of effort to go through if you know you're going to be calling it quits. But then again, perhaps her contract with Vision factory was up and she wasn't willing to sign another 20 year contract and a soul siphon. Or perhaps Namie will continue to release products (contact lenses, hair extensions, thigh high boots, ruffled skirt collection) and manage other artists behind the scenes after she officially retires as an artist; something she has expressed interest in doing. Or it could all be all for her son, who was once rumoured to have been training to become an artist. Namie creating her own record label and her own management company could be a shelter for his career should he continue to go down that route; Namie knowing full well how Avex and Vision factory didn't always have her personal best interests at heart and wanting to prevent her son from being caught in similar conflicts. Or maybe Namie just did it all because she was in a position where she could and she thought 'Why the fuck not?!' Her forming her own record label and management company were probably what allowed her to retire on her own terms. Vision factory would have had a bitch dying on stage.

Of course this is all speculation. The end result of Finally is still a complete mess. But this shows that there was mess behind the scenes of a mess, in front of mess, that sat in the doorways of a bigger mess, all of which was bigger than Namie Amuro. But as Namie does, a bitch rebounded and stayed winning.

Vision factory. Ya'll should have known better than to try it with the Teflon Queen.

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