Review

The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap: V6 – Take Me Higher

If you were to map my musical DNA, a sizable portion would be indebted to 90’s J-pop. To me, this is a truly magical time in music, but it’s rarely discussed or shared outside of Japan.

Being an aficionado of certain sounds within this era, I’ve tracked down hundreds of highlights over the years. And I think it’s time to share my carefully curated playlists with the world.

With this in mind, we have a new ongoing Bias List feature – The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap.

I’ll be writing about (and rating!) a number of singles from Japan’s 90’s pop boom, constructing a timeline of the era piece-by-piece.

Whether you’re familiar with these artists or not, I invite you to go on this journey with me and discover new classics you may have never heard before.

The roadmap in full


V6 – Take Me Higher

Released September 16, 1996

Good ol’ Johnny’s Entertainment was a force in the 90’s, as it is now. With SMAP reigning supreme and Arashi waiting in the wings, 1995 marked the debut of V6. They’re currently the longest running Johnny’s group who still has all its original members and is still releasing music today. That’s over twenty-five years of hits!

V6’s first four singles were firmly within the Eurobeat genre, with each being an actual cover of a European song. As cheesy as this genre may sound, I hold its high-energy charms close to my heart. At this point, Johnny’s had long embraced cheese and theatricality, but none of its acts had gone so brazenly techno. Take Me Higher is the fourth of these Eurobeat singles, and a blistering shot of energy. It was tied to the popular Ultraman series, and sounds every bit as bombastic as an action movie fight scene.

Though I’m including the truncated youtube version of the music video, I’m also embedding the full (nearly six-minute) album version. This is one of those songs that I can never get enough of, and those six minutes fly by like the wind. The high-octane instrumental intro eats up over a minute on its own, though you’ll hardly notice with all those dramatic synths coming at you like bands of a hurricane.

As with many Johnny’s singles of this era, the entirety of Take Me Higher is performed in unison. But whereas past acts like the popular Hikaru Genji had more youthful-sounding voices, V6 imbue the track with a lower-toned – almost combative – energy. There’s an urgency to every element here, including that over-the-top electric guitar during the bridge. There’s no way you listen to this without moving your body. It’s the ultimate workout song, and not for those looking for background music!

**And for those who have already asked: no, not every track in this feature will be a 10/10! In fact, now that I’ve unveiled a few of them, I’m going to move onto some 9’s for the next few entries.

 Hooks 10
 Production 10
 Longevity 10
 Bias 10
 RATING 10

8 thoughts on “The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap: V6 – Take Me Higher

  1. I love to listen to Eurobeat when I’m working out (or well..when I used to anyway. The months lasting lockdown has taken it’s toll on my motivation). I love the energy of the beat, the guitar is giving me all the spirit- yet again, I feel myself longing for some more passion, some more power in the vocals. I think I’ll get used to the general vocal style of J-pop as I listen to it more, though.

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    • Unrelated, but WordPress just told me I registered 2 years ago! That means I started reading this blog regularly around that time. Fun fact..?

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  2. Just curious Nick, are you going to review something by X Japan in this series? I know their music is not your style, but something like Art of Life is amazing. In fact, I think that song is my favorite Japanese song of all time, and it was released in the 90s. I’ll be pretty psyched if I see that song or another from them on this list!

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  3. Definitely one of my fav. jpop songs too! Probably also my first introduction to the whole Johnny’s world. I think I even own this video on a DVD somewhere in my parents’ place. LOL.

    If I were to look back at what shaped my musical DNA, I think that ’90s jpop sounds would also play a very big role. My golden triangle of fav. jpop groups from the era are v6, kinki kids and SPEED. Are you familiar with SPEED? They were my first ever girl crush!!

    Also, considering your taste in music, do you like koyote? You should like them if you like eurobeat. They’re one of the first kpop groups that I got into, and some of their early singles are absolutely my fav. kpop songs ever (their original group formation is also the best one in my opinion). I don’t think I’ve ever seen you write about them though.

    -Rina

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