Duty

  • I. Introduction


    Duty is the third studio album by Japanese recording artist Ayumi Hamasaki. It was released on September 27, 2000 by Avex Trax. Duty is Hamasaki's first studio album inside the 2000 decade, and her third consecutive studio album to be fully produced by Japanese musician and businessman Max Matsuura. The album's composing and arrangement was handled by several music collaborators, such as Ken Harada, Kazuhito Kikuchi, Dai Nagao, HΛL, among many others. Hamasaki contributed to the album as the primary and background vocalist, and songwriter to every song. Three different formats were released to promote the album: a standalone CD, a limited edition Playbutton, and a digital download. The cover sleeve has Hamasaki wearing a leopard-print cat suit. Upon the album's release, it was met with favorable reviews from music critics. Critics highlight individual songs as stand out tracks, and found the album a memorable effort within the Japanese pop genre. Duty became Hamasaki's third studio album to reach the top spot on Japan's Oricon Albums Chart. The album has sold over three million units in Japan, making it her best selling studio album as well as the sixth highest selling Japanese album of the 2000 decade. Five singles were released from the album. Two of the singles, "Seasons" and "Surreal", topped Japan's Oricon Singles Chart, while the former sold over 1.3 million units in Japan. Hamasaki promoted the album through her 2000 self-titled concert tour.


    II. Production


    Duty is Hamasaki's first studio album inside the 2000 decade, and her third consecutive studio album to be fully produced by Japanese musician and businessman Max Matsuura. For the album, Hamasaki's record label Avex Trax hired several Japanese musicians, Ken Harada, Kazuhito Kikuchi, Dai Nagao, HΛL, among many others to work on the album. Those producers are just some of whom worked with Hamasaki on her second studio album, the predecessor Loveppears (1999). Duty is also Hamasaki's third consecutive album to be composed, arranged, and produced by Japanese producers and composers. For the album, she contributed as the main and background vocalist, and became her third studio album to feature songs written by her. Three songs on the album; the trilogy set "Vogue", "Far Away", and "Seasons", focus on the theme of hopelessness, a reflection of Hamasaki's disappointment that she had not expressed herself thoroughly in any of her previous lyrics and a sense of shame of her public image. Likewise, many of the songs she wrote for the album involved feelings of loneliness, chaos, confusion, and the burden of her responsibilities. She described her feelings after the song writing was done as "unnatural" and was constantly "nervous" for the finished result. The album is a J-pop and rock album with numerous musical elements of Latin pop and dance. According to Takako Tsuriya from Cawaii magazine, much of the musical style was "darker" than Loveppears. Likewise, the magazine labelled it a "rock"-influenced album with only one dance song, "Audience". "Audience" is also Hamasaki's second self-written song to incorporate an English word. The album opens with the house-influenced "Starting Over", which is an instrumental track. "Vogue" was influenced by the musical element of Latin pop. "Vogue", alongside "Far Away", and "Seasons" are all written about three different time frames; "Vogue" discusses Hamasaki's presence, "Far Away" details her past, and "Seasons" talks about her future. The title track, "Scar", "End of the World", and "Surreal" were referenced by a staff reviewer at Yahoo! GeoCities as "dark" rock songs with "mad[ness]" lyrics. "Teddy Bear" is a piano-only ballad track that discusses Hamasaki's nostalgia. "Key (Eternal Key)" is a midtempo pop rock song with several guitar riffs. The album's closer is "Girlish", a "warm" pop rock song.


    III. Tracklisting


    Number Name Length
    1 Starting Over (instrumental) 1:36
    2 Duty 5:15
    3 Vogue 4:27
    4 End of the World 4:40
    5 Scar 4:17
    6 Far Away 5:34
    7 Surreal 4:42
    8 Audience 4:06
    9 Seasons 4:26
    10 Teddy Bear 4:18
    11 Key ~Eternal Tie Version~ 3:21
    12 Girlish 4:58



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