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Reincarnation - Ami Suzuki (lyrics available)

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Ami Suzuki Ami Suzuki (鈴木 亜美 Suzuki Ami, born February 9, 1982) is a female singer and songwriter from Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Suzuki was one of the most...
Ami Suzuki
Ami Suzuki (鈴木 亜美 Suzuki Ami, born February 9, 1982) is a female singer and songwriter from Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

Suzuki was one of the most popular female singers between 1998 and 2000 and the known rival of Ayumi Hamasaki, but in 2000 after some legal problems with her management company, she was dumped from her label and fell from popularity, becoming unnoticed in the Japanese entertainment business for years.

With the help of Max Matsuura, Suzuki finally "returned" to the music scene under the Avex Trax label in 2005 with her comeback single, Delightful, a dance song that reached No. 3 on the Japanese Oricon charts and became one of 2005 summer's hits. In October 2005 the singer released her first studio album on Avex entitled AROUND THE WORLD, which has sold over 62,000 copies.

Early life

While she was attending high school, Ami auditioned for the Japanese talent show ASAYAN, which was looking for young girls who could sing. The grand prize winner would be rewarded with a contract with Sony Music Entertainment Japan and a high-profile music career.

The TV show became very popular and the number of viewers watching it grew and grew as the series progressed; its popularity was such that soon it was aired in other Asian countries. From 13,500 contestants, only five girls were chosen to be in the final round, and Ami won the competition supported by 802,157 phone calls from the audience. She was only 15 years old.

Sony Music signed Ami to the label, and Tetsuya Komuro sponsored her on his own sub label on Sony, TRUE KiSS DISC, with Komuro as writer and producer on all of Ami's songs.

Debut and Success

In April 1998 Ami recorded her first song and single "love the island." The song was written and produced by Tetsuya Komuro, who was on the top of his career at that time, working with popular singers like Namie Amuro and hitomi. Sony Music and the government of Japan made a deal for use of Ami's song "Love the Island" as the main theme of the "Guam Island Campaign Summer '98", which campaigned for an increase in Japanese tourism in Guam. The song was well promoted, with Ami appearing on covers of magazines like Young Jump and even traveling to Guam to promote the song live on the local version of the international music channel MTV. The single was finally released on July 1, 1998, and debuted at No. 5 on the Oricon charts, which was good for a debut single. Ami's second single, "alone in my room" was also used for the Guam campaign, and also did well, debuting at No. 3 on the charts and selling even better than the first single.

As the "Asayan" show has already ended its run, Ami made her radio début in October 1998. The show was called RUN!RUN!AMI-GO! (RUN!RUN!あみ~ゴ!!, RUN!RUN!AMI-GO!?), which topped the radio rankings in popularity. She also signed a deal with the Japanese product Kissmark for advertisements and promotion all around Japan and Asia. Sony began promoting her third single, "all night long". The dance song was featured constantly at the most famous discotheque of Japan, Velfarre, and was a big hit. It debuted at No. 2 on the Oricon charts. Later that year, Suzuki Ami won various awards including the Japan Record Award for Best New Artist. Ami was constantly compared with "rival" Ayumi Hamasaki. The two young female singers were often called "enemies" by the tabloids because they began their careers at the same time and each had potential to be the next "Queen of J-Pop". Both Ami and Ayumi have always denied the rivalry existed. It should be noted that Avex President Max Matsuura who ultimately signed Ami, ending her blacklisting, is also Ayumi Hamasaki's friend and manager, so the rivalry seems a friendly one.

1999 started well for Suzuki with the huge success of her first photo book titled Ami-Go, which sold around 200,000 copies. Later in March of that year, her debut album "SA" was released, becoming one of the Top 10 best selling albums of 1999.

At the release of her highly-expected 7th single "Be Together" (which was a cover of TM Network), Ami competed with "rival" Ayumi Hamasaki for the first time for the top position in the charts. Ayumi released her 9th single "Boys & Girls" on the same day. Ami went to the first position at Oricon, leaving Ayumi behind in second; this was the first time Ami reached the number one position in the charts with "Be Together" becoming one of the most popular songs of 1999. Her next single, titled "Our Days," also ranked number one in the charts later that year, becoming a huge hit inside Japan Asia.

As Ami evolved into a more mature artist, she began writing her own lyrics. The first song Ami wrote, with the help of Mitsuko and Tetsuya Komuro, was her 10th single "Don't need to say good bye." The lyrics were influenced by events occurring in her personal life at that time, specifically her upcoming high school graduation.

Legal Problems
In 2000 the young singer's career came to an abrupt halt after her parents sued her management company, Tokyo-based AG Communication (whose president, Eiji Yamada, had been convicted on tax evasion charges) in order to terminate what they saw as an unfavorable contract. AG Communications was avoiding tax by underreporting their earnings, and by consequence they were underpaying royalties to artists. As part of the lawsuit, access was sought to AG Communication's Financial Records to determine if they were properly compensating her. Even worse, AG was paying her very little to begin with: Despite eight-figure record sales that year, Ami Suzuki was revealed in court to earn just $1500 a month at the start of her career, and a minuscule 0.4% royalty rate on CDs, raised to $9780 and 0.55% in 1999. Additionally her parents were afraid that the AG corruption scandal would by association tarnish her squeaky-clean image. The Tokyo District Court found in her favour, but the lawsuit resulted in Ami Suzuki's blacklisting because of an unwritten rule of the entertainment business in Japan: artists who get into legal trouble are blacklisted.

Despite being a felony and the scale of the tax evasion, Eiji Yamada escaped Jail Time. He was only fined. It was revealed that Government officials were linked to the corruption. Former secretaries of former Education Minister Takashi Kosugi and two other legislators allegedly received 34 million yen in "unofficial payments" for referring clients seeking tax evasion which included AG Communication.

Ami was faced with the problem of production companies refusing to sign her in and she tried to make a comeback in the next two years with little to no success. All her fair-weather friends deserted her, including her producer, Tetsuya Komuro. Many people were convinced that her chances for making a comeback were basically zilch, since there was no shortage of idol wannabes out there.

2001 wasn't a good year for Ami. In March of that year her radio program RUN!RUN!AMI-GO!! was canceled, and in April her official fan club ami spice (which had at that time at least 15,000 members) was abruptly closed. In the middle of this earthquake, Sony Music released their last Ami's album, her Best Of collection entitled "Fun for Fan", already considering Ami a retired artist. Many people and fans started to show their support to Ami, and the Best Of album reached the first position of the Oricon charts, despite a lack of major promotion. Even more reflective Ami's continued popularity, her first single, "love the island," once again appeared in the Oricon charts in April 2001, four years after its original release, and it was one of the Top 50 best-selling singles for days (selling approximately 1,000 more copies that week). However, the support of Sony Music and Tetsuya Komuro to Ami's career was not there anymore. In 2003, Ami finally negotiated an out-of-court agreement with Sony. Her contract with the label was scheduled to end in December 2004 with no singles or albums released after 2001 by Sony due to her blacklisting.

Legal Coverage
Particular credit for covering Suzuki Ami's legal problems should go to Music Journalist Steve McClure writing for the Japan Times. The blacklisting was not discussed in the mainstream Japanese Press,and McClure himself was warned against reporting it. Nearly all coverage of Suzuki Ami's legal problems on the web has been copied-and-pasted (usually without attribution) from a series of articles by McClure writing for the Japan Times, and also Rori Caffrey for the Daily Yomiuri.

Going Independent
Ami decided to change her stage name from 鈴木あみ (kanji/hiragana) to 鈴木亜美 (completely in Kanji) to try to make a comeback to the music industry. In April 2004 the singer released a photo book called "Tsuyoi Kizuna" with a CD Single included, published by Tokyo-based Bungei Shunju. She made few appearances on TV shows to promote it, and it sold pretty well despite the low promotion, reaching the No. 1 place of the best-selling non-fiction books. In August of the same year, she released a single called "Forever Love" under her own independent label, Amity. The release sold well despite poor promotion and ranked #21 on Oricon's General Singles Chart and #1 in Oricon's Independent Singles Chart. In addition, a mini-concert DVD was released. The DVD included the two singles released during the year and was titled 2004 SUMMER FLY HIGH -ami shower-.

Everything changed drastically for Ami when she performed live at the annual festival of her school, Nihon University. Max Matsuura, the president of Avex Trax (one of the largest record labels in Japan) was in the audience. Matsuura is famous for finding and developing artists into famous stars. After watching Ami's performance, Matsuura asked her to sign on to his label, Avex. At the last performance on Ami's nationwide tour, AMI's LOVE FOR YOU-LIVE, held on December 30 at Tokyo public welfare annuity hall, the transfer to Avex Trax was officially announced and Ami's return to music after three and a half years began.[edit]Last edit by ASIAROLL on Saturday 11 Apr, 2009 at 23:13 +1.6% Reason: Incomplete.[/edit]
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