Passion / Hikaru Utada

Passion / Hikaru Utada. Front. Click to zoom.
Passion / Hikaru Utada
Front
Composed by Hikaru Utada
Arranged by Hikaru Utada
Published by Toshiba EMI
Catalog number TOCT-5003
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 1 CD - 2 tracks
Release date December 14, 2005
Duration 00:10:41
Genres
Rate the album!

Overview

Utada Hikaru, queen of the vocal tracks due to the general success of "Hikari" / "Simple and Clean" returns to the Kingdom Hearts and VGM fray with a brand new song to appertise us for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts II soundtrack. The offering is a two track single entitled "Passion" which is available with just the tracks or with an additional DVD containing the music video.

Body

"Passion" is frankly one of the most captivating vocal songs I have heard in an extremely long time. Starting with soft backing vocals and electronic pulses, the song rip roars into a mass drum fest — almost verging on pop tribal. It beats out a stomping stadium anthem chorus to Utada's sublime vocals, which are in both Japanese, and, if you reverse it, you'll catch many lines of English too. The verses are equally rocky and edgy; the whole sound is a much more mature and darker mood which seems to suit the overall look and feel of the Kingdom Hearts game too. The song then finally reaches up a notch for a climax of guitars, drums, electronics, and bleeding vocals to return to its very soft beginnings. Amazing. While I must admit I am a huge follower of Utada Hikaru's previous works since hearing "Hikari" and going on to hear "Colors", I must state that I have rarely had my breath taken away by a song so easily.

That's the single version. Also on the single we have "Passion ~after the Battle~", which takes away every element of the single version except the vocals and then adds a soft and simplistic piano backing. Beautiful. Although the warped vocals can distract at times, it really takes the same song and adds a completely different spin. Once the song has gone through its paces, it then strikes up the guitar and carefully goes through a karaoke version of half the song again to finish off which I believe is quite unique — almost like the tune you'd get after you hear the victory fanfare in a game and you're adding up your exp. points! Clever stuff if you look at the title me thinks!

Now if you have bought the CD+DVD version (as I did) you'll also get a separate DVD with the music video on which involves anime Utada, lots of drum banging, even more horses, and even more dancing kachinas! A visual spectacular but those of you after Kingdom Hearts footage will be left dissapointed.

Summary

I'd recommend this single to absolutely anyone without hesitation. Far deeper than "Simple and Clean", while still fitting the Kingdom Hearts universe, it's a masterpiece!



Album
9/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Simon Smith

Overview

Perhaps Squaresoft's last masterpiece before merging with the equally successful Enix was when they collaborated with Disney to create the popular Kingdom Hearts. The game was unique with its combination of hugely admired storylines and likeable characters that the famous game company was known for, and Disney's famous light-hearted characters and overall content tone. The music was composed by Yoko Shimomura, who scored games such as Super Mario RPG, Parasite Eve, and Legend of Mana, and presented a wide variety of amiable themes in both light and dark styles respectably. However, she wasn't responsible for creating one of the game's most important themes, as that job was left for the renowned Japanese pop princess, Utada Hikaru. Undoubtedly, the theme song, "Hikari," was one of the standout compositions on the Original Soundtrack with the singer lending and challenging her voice, singing the tune in both her native tongue and English for "Simple and Clean." With Squaresoft's (now Square Enix) success on hand, they introduced us to the idea of Kingdom Hearts II only a year later. Speculation insisted that Yoko Shimomura would return to compose for the sequel, but no news about the composing role was released until November, 2005, when Shimomura announced that she would be the leading lady once more. But months before this declaration, Square confirmed that Hikaru would, again, return to compose the theme song called "Passion." But does it truly live up to "Hikari"? This review will tell all you need to know...

Body

For starters, one cannot simply say yes or no based on a bare comparison to Hikaru's previous venture, because it is simply completely different in every way. The album only contains one song, but it's arranged into two similar, but noticeably different, tracks — "Passion ~single version~" and "Passion ~after the battle~" — the former being the exclusive version to the single and the latter being the track which will be included on the Kingdom Hearts II Original Soundtrack.

But, first, let's talk about the single version, the main reason why you'd buy this two track disc. On first listen, you'd definitely recognize the composer's pop-ish technique from "Hikari,"; however, don't come to this theme expecting a happy vibe because chances are you'll be pretty disappointed. The theme is very mellow and sad, shown quite clearly from the opening synthesizer notes and Hikaru's ghostly vocals. This is good as it shows a good deal of maturity on the composer's side, which is something that we couldn't see a lot of in "Hikari." Listening to the instrumentals alone isn't a rewarding experience as it is too dull and mediocre in some places and consists of some pretty poor use of the electronica genre, but placed with Hikaru's vocals, it seems almost flawless. Lyrics-wise, there isn't a boatload to comment on, as most of the vocals are widely spread through the track. Admittedly, they aren't the most complex I've ever seen, and, at most times, standard of a pop composition. However, they aren't bad and are well-written, fitting the song in a charming way.

The second track on the album, "Passion ~after the battle~" is the version you'll find after completing Kingdom Hearts II, and so to speak, it's much more deep and meaningful than the previous theme. To be straightforward, the track is split into two different sections — vocal and instrumental — each unique in style. The vocal section contains the exact same lyrics by Hikaru, but she performs them with a much more dramatic effect, which means I like it more than the former track. The instrumentals are also vastly improved, though more simplistic. Again, Hikaru uses this to her advantage, mainly operating and utilizing a one-dimensional piano melody, supported eminently by the sorrowful synthesizer, but the texture is beautifully achieved. As mentioned earlier, the piano is simple, but the repetitive 'cold' notes are memorable, adding colour and depth to the vocals. There is a change in the final quarter of the piece when the perfect instrumentation dissipates, with the composition becoming more lively and less grief-stricken, while Hikaru's pop influence becomes much more noticeable. Basically, if you listened to the previous track, this is primarily a partial instrumental version of it, and as I mentioned before, the instrumentals prove to be somewhat lacking without the cosy company of the vocals. It's interesting, but, unfortunately, fails to boast the same quality as the first part.

Summary

Kingdom Hearts fans waited almost two years for this song to happen, and Hikaru delivered better than I first expected her to perform. "Passion" is a more than worthy competitor to "Hikari" and surpasses it in many ways, but may not be the most worthy purchase nonetheless. On this short single, only one of the two tracks simply stands out ("Passion ~after the battle~"), and, while it is cheap to purchase, you aren't getting your money's worth. I would suggest that you wait for the Kingdom Hearts II Original Soundtrack, because not only will you get Hikaru's magnificent theme song, you will also receive Shimomura's score, which is almost destined to be amazing. Overall, there's a high amount of effort put forth into this album's production, and if you are a fan of well-produced vocal compositions, then don't just let your read of this review go to waste. Consider it!



Album
7/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Harry Simons

Overview

This is Utada Hikaru's 15th single and it was released on December 14, 2005. This single reached #4 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and it has sold 112,345 copies, making it her lowest selling single to date. Not only was it used in Kingdom Hearts II, but it's also one of her best songs to date. Here are my thoughts about the release.

Body

The first track is the ~single version~ of "Passion". I love the beginning of this song because it sounds so epic. Her voice sounds so mystical and ethereal throughout the whole song. The strong mix of synth and percussion is amazing. Hikaru's vocal range at the end of the song is astounding as well. I only wish the verses were a little longer and the my "heart's a battleground" sequence from the Kingdom Hearts II opening version was included in the single version.

The next track is the slower piano-based ~after the battle~ version. This version is used as the ending theme of Kingdom Hearts II. The chorus is the biggest change for me because there are no background vocals and her voice is calmer and more relaxing. I also thought it was a nice touch to add the instrumental of the single version at the end because the instrumental alone is great and unique compared to her past work.

Summary

Overall, "Passion" is an excellent song in both its version here. However, the single might not satisfy as the English version "Sanctuary" is not present and there are no B-sides. But for what it features, this release is delightful.



Album
8/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Lex

Written by Hikaru Utada
Arranged by Hikaru Utada

Keyboard and Programming: Hikaru Utada, Matt Rohde
Additional Programming: Alexis Smith
Guitar: Ben Mauro
Acoustic Piano: Matt Rohde
Drums: Forrest Robinson
All Vocals: Hikaru Utada

Mixed by Goetz B. for 365 Artists
Mixed at Bunkamura Studio, Tokyo
Recorded by Pat Woodward and Matsui Atsushi
Pro-Tools operation: Glenn Erwin
Recorded at Westlake Audio, LA., Bunkamura Studio, Tokyo
Mastered by Tom Coyne at Sterling Sound, NY
Art Direction and Photography: Kiriya Kazuaki


'Passion' served as the theme song for Kingdom Hearts II.
Album was composed by Hikaru Utada and was released on December 14, 2005. Soundtrack consists of 2 tracks tracks with duration over about 10 minutes. Album was released by Toshiba EMI.

CD 1

1
Passion ~single version~
04:44
2
Passion ~after the battle~
05:57
30.04.12
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