game music j-pop j-rock review singer songwriter VGM

Utada Hikaru – “Passion” Review


Utada Hikaru, queen of the vocal tracks due to the general success of Hikari / Simple & Clean returned to the Kingdom Hearts and VGM fray with a brand new song to tantalize us for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts II soundtrack. The offering is a 2 track single entitled “Passion” which is available with just the tracks or with an additional DVD containing the music video.


“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 and 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 and 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 onto hearing Colors – I must state that I have rarely had my breath taken away by a song so easily.


That’s the single version which also appears on the album Ultra Blue. 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 disappointed.


I’d recommend this single to absolutely anyone without hesitation, a masterpiece!


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