Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Utada Hikaru: Passion

(Originally 23 December 2005)

Opening for Kingdom Hearts II, Passion is the most unique song that UH has written for the Japanese market. Passion takes a lot of the Exodus aesthetic: exotic percussion, foreign scales, drawing out the notes to give a detached ethereal feel to the music. Despite the near constant percussion in the background, the overall accompaniment still feels sparse. Bursts of colour quickly fade away.

I found myself paying more attention to the arrangement than her vocals, which contribute to the overall effect. She sings at a relaxed pace and dynamic level, and keeps her voice a bit on the thin side. Even in the middle, when she switches to a new melodic line, she doesn't push her voice. In the background, she interjects reversed English, and far-off wails.

Passion is so different that it's potentially fan alienating. It's not mainstream; it doesn't have the instant mass appeal of a ballad or peppy dance number, precisely because it's detached. It's kind of ironic. I think it's caught in the grey area between pop and indie. Maybe it's an indie song with pop production values.

There will probably be an English lyrics version of Passion when KH2 is released in North America come March 2006 (I think). If that made it on to Exodus, instead of something like Easy Breezy, my opinion of Exodus would have been much higher.