Bet you were waiting for this!
Next up in the Utada Hikaru series is a single that Westerners who know of Hikki know all too well. Having the exclusive tie-in to the Square Enix-Disney video game Kingdom Hearts (a formidable video game, at least by my standards), “Hikari” is one of Utada Hikaru’s most-beloved songs and continues to be by the PS2 gaming generation. With this being said, it has been nearly 17 years (holy), and one has to wonder if this song and its single still holds through the test of time. Is it a light enough song that it is still accessible to this day, or has its light flickered out?
“Hikari” is the Japanese-language Hikki song that Westerners are readily familiar with. Song-wise, it is MUCH slower than a lot of her other discography, and still takes into account the transformation of her sound from late 00s-R&B to experimental. Exploding with power from the get-go, it is a song based around a twinkling piano noise with a heavy guitar melody that continues throughout as Hikki belts with melancholy. The song even gets Hikki to do slight raps in between before kicking into high-gear with its chorus, mirroring its booming introduction.
A slight difference with this song is that it does not have the bridge that ‘Simple and Clean’, the English-language version of this song, has (taken from ‘Uso Mitai na I LOVE YOU’, of all songs), but even without this bridge, the song is still a lovely entry in Hikki’s discography. It is undoubtedly so simple and so clean, as light as a feather. Deserving of all its recognition.
Kingdom Hearts fans rejoice as this version appears on the game itself is “Hikari -PLANITb Remix-“! This remix is a hyper-electro remix of the title track that initially builds itself on a pulsing ‘Waiting for Tonight’ 00s techno beat that turns itself inside out with distorted vocals, synthy noises, booming bass, and 90s-like electronica beats. This is the formula that remains throughout the song, basing its beats on the workings of the original version. This is the track that Kingdom Hearts are entirely familiar with, and has enough of the oomph to really provide you with that nostalgic feel of when you were a budding gamer who knew this game would turn out cool with that slick opening song. Well planned, PLANITb.
The last remix on the single, “Hikari -Godson Mix-” is a completely 180 from the PLANITb Remix, going for a jazzier, toned down feel without losing any luster. The song feels like classic debut Utada, giving this song a slight ‘Automatic / time will tell’ vibe with its looping electronic piano melody and thumping drum beats. Approaching the chorus, we get a full-on sound experience, merging the overlaying melody with robotic noises and horns. It’s a rather enjoyable song, providing with enough groove to get you through the day. It’s not my favorite remix, but it is still good, son.
Undoubtedly, it still stands the test of time… at least for myself.
A lot of songs I can get tired of real quickly over the years, but “Hikari” remains to be a staple classic for my listening catalogue, and it may be due to my nostalgia kicking; but that’s also what makes songs so special, including Hikki’s. “Hikari” is so well-known, it only makes sense that this and her other tracks still kept her going as one of the best artists in Japan. Whether this song, or ‘Passion’, or ‘Chikai’, or ‘Don’t Think Twice’, got you into her, we will always know that each effort is of the highest quality, and “Hikari” and its remixes show that there is light in the heartless. A lovely single in her discography, give yourself this light.
MUST-LISTEN: 光 -PLANITb Remix-, 光