Kiss Me Good-Bye
|Composed by||Анджела Аки / Гэри Брукер / Кейт Рейд / Нобуо Уэмацу|
|Arranged by||Анджела Аки / Кэнъитиро Фукуй / Мотоки Мацуока / Shin Kono|
|Published by||Epic Records|
|Release type||Game Soundtrack - Official Release|
|Format||1 CD - 4 tracks|
|Release date||March 15, 2006|
The Final Fantasy series has always been very picky about the vocal pieces that appear in their games. The artist needs to fit the mood of the game in both style and musicality. For Final Fantasy XII, Square Enix couldn't have picked a better vocalist than Angela Aki. In my opinion, she is the strongest vocalist to appear in a Final Fantasy game to date. Her ability with the language (both Japanese and English) makes for an almost seamless transition between the two versions of the title track, "Kiss Me Good-Bye."
We begin with the Japanese version of "Kiss Me Good-Bye." The first time I heard this track, I thought it was going to be really different. The first few bars of the piece are quite varied, in that the vocal themes haven't had that beat pattern before. But, to my dismay, the piece then melded back into the traditional four-beat ballad. Not to say this is a bad thing, but I would have liked to hear a little variation. The rest of the piece, however, is actually quite a joy to listen to. The melody is strong without being overly screechy, and the contrast between low and high vocal ranges is crisp and clean. The instrumentation of this track, however, could have used a little more. One thing that I really liked about "1000 Words" from Final Fantasy X-2 was that the instrumentation was a little bit different; the same instruments were all there that you would expect, but there were a few additions which really made the track sound unique. With "Kiss Me Good-Bye," you don't necessarily get that.
The English version of "Kiss Me Good-Bye" has similar strengths and weaknesses. Aki's voice is as strong in English as in Japanese, and the words are clear and easy to understand, very much like what we've seen from Utada Hikaru in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. But again, the instrumentation doesn't fully support her voice in the way that it could. There was tons of potential with this track, but in my opinion the need for a traditional ballad outweighed that potential.
Also included on this album were two additional tracks. "Santa Fé" is a great example of just how great Aki is with the English language. The lower octave sounds fantastic and is a great contrast to the low piano. The funky beat also suits her voice perfectly, giving a fantastic impression of this song being preformed in a lounge. Oddly enough, the best track on this album isn't the title tracks for Final Fantasy XII.
We've all heard at least one version of "Whiter Shade of Pale" in our lives, whether it be the original version, the version by Annie Lennox, or for those of us who sample into opera now and then, the version by Sarah Brightman. Aki's version blows all of them away. Titled "Blue Shadow" on the album, this track was a complete surprise for me. When I first heard it, I thought it sounded familiar, and when I recognized the song, I couldn't believe my luck at hearing Aki sing it. I knew I was in for a treat, and I wasn't disappointed. The track is made up of Aki's voice with a piano. That's it; such a simple combination but such a powerful result. Aki sings in Japanese for most of the song, before switching to English for the final chorus, and I've got to tell you, it's rare to hear those notes sung with the true perfection and clarity that Aki presents.
We've waited a long time for Final Fantasy XII. Much like every new James Bond movie, fans of the games are always looking forward to hearing that new vocal piece that becomes the stand-alone icon for the game. "Kiss Me Good-Bye" doesn't disappoint, but we've heard it before. Square-Enix seems to enjoy using the same type of theme over and over again, which doesn't do justice to the game or the vocalist. A real departure from the love ballad would be a fantastic and unique step for the Final Fantasy series, but it would appear we may have to wait for a future game to see it.
Final Fantasy XII sure has a lot of singles. First there was Angela Aki - Kokoro no Senshi then the orchestral Symphonic Poem "Hope" and, thirdly, Aki reprises her role as singer with the game's theme song "Kiss Me Good-bye," composed by our very own Nobuo Uematsu. So how does Angela Aki's second game-related single do?
With the Japanese version of "Kiss Me Good-Bye", you'll notice two things right away. The first one is that Ms. Aki has a very lovely voice. The second one is that Uematsu wrote a pretty good tune. Those of you who were disappointed with his more recent works might enjoy this song, which has an instrumental accompaniment I consider to be better than his last love song, "Suteki da ne." Of course, credits also go to Motoki Matsuoka and Shin Kono, who arranged the composition. Aki, besides doing all the singing and playing the piano, has also written the lyrics to this composition, which is a first in the numbered Final Fantasy series. Now, unfortunately, the song is mostly in Japanese, so it's hard to judge the lyrics, but if they're as good as the vocalist's voice, this has all the makings of a great tune. With some light string backing, as well as piano, drums, and bass, "Kiss Me Good-Bye" sure is a nice stand-alone song. What I mean is that it sounds good, but it's not the game version, which is the last track of the album.
"Santa Fé" is my favourite song from this single, easily. It's a shame this kind of music isn't on video games, just so I can rub it in people's faces while shouting "Yeah, THIS is VGM!" "Santa Fé" is a jazzy tune, very groovy, with a nice rhythm and with, get ready, lyrics in English! Yay! We can understand what Aki is singing now, and I must say she has a very good English pronunciation, given she is completely bilingual. If you walk into a night club, this is the kind of music you can expect to hear there, this type of lounge-music. If you have seen the movie "Lost in Translation," remember the part with Bill Murray in the hotel's restaurant? Well, "Santa Fé" is that kind of music. It's so great. After a little love ballad, "Santa Fé" comes as quite a surprise, with, yet again, a very good performance by Aki and her band. This song had me at the first piano chord.
"Blue Shadow" is a cover of Procul Harem's classic "A Whiter Shade of Pale," already arranged by many artists. Yet this song is all Aki. It's a solo performance, composed, of course, by Keith Reid and Gary Brooker, with the lyrics in Japanese because she translated them, save for the last few lines. For better or worse, there's not much to say about it. "Blue Shadow," if anything, shows us that Ms. Aki has not only a lovely voice, but a great vocal range as well. The piano accompaniment is effective, and it doesn't try to dominate the song with fancy runs. It's simple, just like the original theme, and it does the trick. I'd say was the hardest song for a vocalist, and inexperienced singers could have problems with the longest and highest notes. Our girl Aki, fortunately, is a great musician, and could and does sing this song perfectly with great sensitivity and maturity.
The fourth track is the moment we've been waiting for. This is it: the game edit version of the theme song, arranged by none other than Kenichiro Fukui himself. Fundamentally, it's still a love ballad. What he did was simply change some of the accompaniment to make it more emotional, with strings given a more prominent role, the addition of a harp and a guitar, and softer percussion and piano lines, much more fitting with a slow love song. The lyrics are now in English and they still work wonderfully with the song. I imagine they have nothing to do with the ones in the Japanese, but I hope the difference isn't as drastic as with "Hikari" and "Simple and Clean," where the English song had some bad lyrics that had almost no connection to Kingdom Hearts whatsoever. With "Kiss Me Good-Bye," that remains to be seen.
As usual, Aki's singing is top notch, and, honestly, I expected nothing less. If you have been chosen to write and sing a song, you have to be at least mildly competent. Aki is much more than that, and she has proven that again and again, with each of these songs, as well as the ones on the other single, Warrior of the Heart and her previous Indie albums. Overall, "Kiss Me Good-Bye" is a great piece of music. The combined efforts of Uematsu, Fukui, Aki and the performers resulted in a wonderful song that is sure to please the fans.
With the Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack having been delayed for over a month, enjoying the single albums released is all you can do. And luckily, "Kiss Me Good-Bye" is one heck of an album. Each one of the four songs adds something different to album, proving to be a very satisfying experience. "Santa Fé" is worth alone the price of admission, though you might not want to ignore the title theme, which is a great piece of music as well. And now, for the pun everybody's been waiting for. Do you kiss this album good-bye or not? Only people who dislike good music do that kind of thing. Be smart, and don't.
This is Angela Aki's 3rd single and it was released on March 15, 2006. This single reached #6 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 68,968 copies. If you have been living under a rock for this past year, "Kiss Me Good-Bye" is the Final Fantasy XII theme song and it was composed by the great Nobuo Uematsu himself. Here are my thoughts about the release.
Note that this is the Japanese version of the song and it is NOT used in the game (it has a PV though). The 4th track is the English version and it is used in all versions of the game during the ending. Well, the Japanese version is very dramatic because it begins with a sweeping piano and string intro. Since this song was composed Nobuo Uematsu, it features a lot of strings and percussion during the chorus. The bridge is the best part of this song because it sounds so epic.
The first B-side, "Santa Fé", just shines because it's the only original song on the single. It's completely in English and it contains the most mysterious and cryptic lyrics I have ever seen. The piano and percussion is very jazzy. Here is a lyric from the song: "I call him Santa Fé, someone to bleed with on this lovely day. He will bring me all the empty reasons to be sure of what I'm only not so sure about. Will he take this grand illusion; add his love to make his own conclusion?"
The third track is a Japanese cover of the song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" originally performed Procol Harum. Aki renamed the song "Aoi Kage". I love Aki's vocals in this song and piano is very nice. Aki's voice is powerful when she sings the original English lyrics at the end.
The final track, "Kiss Me Good-Bye -featured in Final Fantasy XII-", is the English version and it is actually used in the game. This version features a calmer music arrangement and vocals. I can't say which version I like better because I think they're both amazing (I heard the English version first though).
Overall, an excellent single. The A-side is enjoyable in both its variations and works excellently as Final Fantasy XII's theme song. The original and cover are also highly enjoyable and reflect the depth of Angela Aki's sound further.
vocal & piano Angela Aki
produced by Motoki Matsuoka (Tracks 1,2,3)
Nobuo Uematsu (Track 4)
01. Kiss Me Good-Bye
lyrics Angela Aki compose Nobuo Uematsu arrange Motoki Matsuoka & Angela Aki
Masayuki Muraishi : drums
Yuji Okiyama : bass
Motoki Matsuoka : electric guitar & chorus
Ittetsu Gen Strings : strings
Angela Aki : piano
Shin Kono : strings arrangement
02. Santa Fé
lyrics / compose Angela Aki arrange Motoki Matsuoka & Angela Aki
Masayuki Muraishi : drums
Yuji Okiyama : bass
Angela Aki : piano
03. Blue Shadow
lyrics / compose Keith Reid and Gary Brooker translation Angela Aki
arrange Motoki Matsuoka & Angela Aki
Angela Aki : piano
04. Kiss Me Good-Bye -featured in FINAL FANTASY XII-
lyrics Angela Aki compose Nobuo Uematsu arrange Kenichiro Fukui
Isao Arima : drum, percussion
Shou Yamamoto : bass
Mitsuhiro Ohta : guitar
Ittetsu Gen Group : strings
Angela Aki : piano
Kiss Me Good-Bye (Japanese Version)
Blue Shadow (Procol Harum Cover Tune)
Kiss Me Good-Bye -featuring in FINAL FANTASY XII (bonus track) (English Version)