Puffy AmiYumi


Puffy AmiYumi
▪ 2007
 Pop supergroup Puffy AmiYumi celebrated a decade of success in 2006 by kicking off their Splurge! Splurge! Splurge! concert tour in Japan and finishing it in the United States in July. Though the supercute, superrockin' Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura (the vocalists for Puffy AmiYumi) regularly filled large stadiums for their concerts in Asia, where they were revered as giants of Japanese pop music (familiarly known as J-pop), the duo played smaller venues in the U.S. Sold-out concerts and critical praise for their new album, Splurge, however, suggested that they were winning over North American fans and critics.

      The creation of Puffy AmiYumi had some parallels to that of the 1960s American group the Monkees. Both bands were manufactured to appeal to young teens, and both exceeded their narrow corporate expectations to produce well-crafted, intelligent pop music that appealed not only to fans but also to fellow musicians and critics. Puffy, as the group was known in Asia, was formed in 1995 when the Sony Corp. began a talent search for two appealing young women to form a pop duo that would be a hit with schoolgirls. Tokyo native Ami Onuki (b. Sept. 18, 1973) was selected after she submitted a demo tape in response to an advertisement. Yumi Yoshimura (b. Jan. 30, 1975) of Osaka was discovered by a talent agency. The two had a unique chemistry from the start, showing a remarkable ability to complement each other vocally and connect personally. Both women credited Tamio Okuda, a respected Japanese singer-songwriter and producer for mentoring them through the early stages of their joint career. In 1996 they released their first single, “Asia no junshin” (“True Asia”), which was a huge hit throughout Asia. The single was soon followed by their debut album, AmiYumi. The skinny Japanese girls dressed in T-shirts and ripped jeans and boasted a style of vocal harmonizing that made two voices sound like one. Their next five albums expanded their audience and the range of their music. They collaborated with such artists as Andy Sturmer (formerly the drummer of Jellyfish) and Yasuharu Konishi of Pizzicato Five to create a jangly pop sound that freely melded with other styles, including country, hard rock, and bossa nova. In their first five years, Puffy sold more than 14 million CDs in Japan alone. Their albums Jet CD (1998) and Fever Fever (1999) were regarded as J-pop classics.

      Puffy AmiYumi made its first venture into the North American market in 2001 with the album Spike. The band got airtime on college radio stations and appeared at popular alternative music venues in big cities. Five years and three albums later, the group was still huge in Asia and was picking up momentum in the U.S. Puffy AmiYumi also saw its musical popularity translate into success on television and in fashion. The Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Puffy variety show appeared on Japanese television from 1997 to 2002; the animated series Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi debuted on American cable television in 2004; and the Hi Hi PUFFY Club debuted on TV in 2006. The group also had a line of merchandise that included toys, shoes, and clothing.

James Hennelly

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Universalium. 2010.

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