Kingdom Hearts: Simple and Clean – Hikaru Utada
Kingdom Hearts: Simple and Clean – Hikaru Utada
January 29, 2003
Buy Used Copy
A mixture of a Japanese single of Hikaru Utada’s, “COLORS,” and the English version of “Hikari” from Kingdom Hearts, “Simple and Clean,” this single is an unusual fusion that is intended to appeal to two different audiences. When “Simple and Clean” is available on the American version of the Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack, why would a game music fan want to reach out into the depths of a Japanese artist’s single to hear the international version of “Simple and Clean” rather than buy the Original Soundtrack? To be honest, I don’t know. Is it an album for two groups of people or something that nobody would love? Read on and see…
“COLORS” is a simple fusion of traditional J-Pop and chillout electronica. Featuring a sweet and dreamy melody projecting against a simple synthesizer bass line and a drum kit, colours are created with the contrast of the ethereal synthetic and tuned percussion elements of the theme, Hikaru Utada’s mesmeric Japanese vocals, and an eventual piano line. Though instrumentally a tad cheesy and repetitive, when the vocals are added, everything seems to fit and become enchanting. Unfortunately, the theme barely develops, based on a simple popular song format that lacks a memorable chorus or interesting instrumental bridges. The timbral diversity of the track and Utada’s gorgeous vocalisation of the verse is the track’s only asset. Given this is the title song, it’s quite a blow for the single that it really doesn’t offer much original. Can the album recover? (7/10)
2) Simple and Clean
The track most Kingdom Hearts fanatics are looking for, “Simple and Clean” is the English version of “Hikari” used in the international version of the game and the domestic Tokyopop soundtrack. It’s not as good as the original due to the jarringly cheesy English lyrics, lack of relation to the Kingdom Hearts storyline, and Hikaru Utada’s somewhat cringe-worthy pronunciation, which almost sounds like a southern USA accent in places (I swear she says ‘Simple and Cletus’ (aka the slack-jawed yokel) rather than ‘Simple and Clean’). However, on a stand-alone basis, it’s a pretty good light-hearted J-Pop theme with a gliding and catchy melody, interesting echoing and manipulation of vocals, and functional but effective instrumentation. People who enjoyed the performance at the end of Kingdom Hearts‘ international version should consider listening to it in album or single, though also ought to be aware of the strength of the Japanese version “Hikari” and the fact this version is available in the domestic soundtrack. (7/10)
3) Simple and Clean -PLANITb Remix-
“Simple and Clean -PLANITb Remix-” is an extended version of the opening theme to the international Kingdom Hearts. It’s very similar to “Hikari -PLANITb Remix-” with the exception of the lyrics. Russell McNamara daringly transforms the original J-Pop ballad into an unrecognisable dance remix featuring lots of electronic effects and vocal distortion. Upbeat, funky, and fun, the vibrant beats synchronise well with Hikaru Utada’s superb vocals and the unusual music technology manipulation makes the track original and intellectually appealing. The extended and highly experimental opening of the track will be unfamiliar for those who have played the game or heard “Hikari -PLANITb Remix-” on the Original Soundtrack. It’s long-winded and techno-influenced with little relevance to the core of the track and was likely added to the track after the so-called ‘short edit’ so that those who have heard the Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack think they have something to gain. Unfortunately, they don’t, though the remix is perhaps the highlight of the CD and the only game-related feature not directly included in another album. (8/10)
4) COLORS -Original Karaoke-
A rendition of “COLORS” except without the vocals. All those who have checked out Japanese vocal singles before will know the trick. Blah. (5/10)
This single only really exists for a commercialistic purpose. Were Square to place “Simple and Clean” and its PLANITb Remix into the Kingdom Hearts: Hikari – Hikaru Utada single instead of this one, the redundancy of having two Kingdom Hearts singles would have been avoided and the empty “Hikari” single would have had more meaningful content. It seems rather like a cheap trick to get game music fans to buy two singles and the lack of relevance of “COLORS” to Kingdom Hearts makes “Simple and Clean” seem further misplaced. Though this album might appeal to hardcore fans of Hikaru Utada, given it constitutes an official single from her and “COLORS” is fairly pleasant, most Kingdom Hearts fans would be better off without it.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Dave Valentine. Last modified on August 1, 2012.