I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Akina Nakamori -- Desire

Get up, get up, get up.....BURNING LOVE!

For me, it's hard to say which song is the ultimate Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)tune. Is it "Tattoo" or is it "Kazari ja nai no yo Namida wa"飾りじゃないのよ涙は)? Or is it "Desire"? Probably a lot of her fans, casual or devoted, would pick that last one.

Released in February 1986, it was composed by Kisaburo Suzuki(鈴木キサブロー), who has woven songs for everyone from Mariko Takahashi to Kenji Sawada, and written by Yoko Aki(阿木耀子), who had written several of Momoe Yamaguchi's latter hits the decade before. Aki had written a track for Akina's 1983 album, "Etranger"エトランゼ), but "Desire" was her first Akina song released as a single. I'd heard in the past that Nakamori was seen as the musical heir of Yamaguchi (and the former had sung the latter's "Yume Saki Annainin" on the talent TV show "Star Tanjo"スター誕生) when she was starting out), so perhaps writing for Nakamori was a bit of deja vu for Aki. Her husband and fellow collaborator on those Yamaguchi songs such as "Imitation Gold" and "Playback, Part II", Ryudo Uzaki(宇崎竜童), wasn't involved in "Desire", but composer Suzuki certainly amped up the dynamism in the music; I could've imagined Yamaguchi trying this song if she had continued her career beyond 1980.

As for the singer herself, Akina took "Desire" and crafted that now-husky voice of hers to ride the music like a roller-coaster veteran. Velvety in the relatively quiet sections, she unleashes the full force of that voice in most of the refrain, including the lyric written above....a challenging but fun song for all those karaoke fans.

"Desire" debuted on Oricon at the top spot from the get-go and became the 2nd-ranked song of 1986, just behind Akemi Ishii's(石井明美)"Cha-cha-cha", although I think "Desire" has probably stayed in the memory a lot longer. It won a number of awards, three from the Japan Record Awards alone: Best Artist, Gold Prize and Grand Prize. Not surprisingly, the Kohaku came knocking as well.

But one of the other factors that helped launched "Desire" into the stratosphere was her performance at concerts and on the various music shows. Akina may have been known for that cute peacocky ponytail in her early years, but with this song, it was the short bob wig. It was also her wish to wear a stylized kimono and the high heels. As for the dance, there is that one point in her performance where she cries out "nante ne" and suddenly bends like a ratchet going down; apparently that was inspired by a baseball pitcher's windup. In any case, it would be hard to separate the song from the choreography. And it will be impossible to separate Akina from "Desire" in any retrospective on her.


  1. I really believe this is one of the greatest 80s jpops. It has the energy and it is unique. Akina enhanced the song with her perfect performance.

  2. Hello, Patrick and thanks for posting. Yup, it was definitely a popular one at karaoke all those years ago. I think this was the song that put her over the top and pretty much immortalized her.

  3. This is a challenging karaoke piece and I am so looking forward to try it soon. I don't know if you might have heard of Mizuki Nana's cover of this song, the arrangement was more modern but she sang it following Akina-sama's lead. I didn't know the tidbits about her unique look for this performance, but that made me think how much of an artist she is as she was involved in that aspect of her career. Truly remarkable, unforgettable and iconic! Thanks for the info. Just recently I watched her bowling battle against Seiko (years ago in Hey! Hey! Hey!) and how I wished she's active again and releasing more new material rather than just compilations.

  4. Hi, axel, and thanks for your comments. Yeah, I wouldn't be able to touch "Desire" in the karaoke box....requires a certain level of energy I've never been able to generate on the mike. I've never heard of Nana Mizuki's cover of the song...I'll see if I can track it down you YouTube and take a listen.

    Akina and I are the same age...approaching but not yet at the big 5-0. I think it would be great if she could come up with some new material. If she wanted to, I'm sure she can still kick it up a notch.


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