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.
Access – Naked Desire
Released May 26, 1993
You’ve already heard the name Daisuke Asakura often during this feature, and Access (sometimes stylized as “AXS”) marks a very important point in his history. The duo is still active today, though their most commercially successful era occurred during the early-to-mid 90’s.
After working with TM Network, Asakura made his solo debut in 1991. One of his tracks featured vocalist Hiroyuki Takami, and the rest is history. The two quickly formed Access, and made their debut the following year. To me, the duo’s 90’s work actually shares more connective tissue with 80’s trends, featuring a synth heavy blend of dance and rock. There’s even a keytar in the music video!
Naked Desire was Access’s third single, and their first truly great work. I adore the ultra-rhythmic verses, which move rapid-fire along the pulsing dance beat. There’s a tactile nature to this segment, with lyrics coming at you a mile a minute. The chorus isn’t quite as strong, but has a fun punchiness that upends the song’s flow in a delightful way. Access would go on to release a string of fantastic singles (and some really great album tracks on 1994’s Delicate Planet), but this remains one of their most addictive.