I’m back for a new review set, and this time, I will be taking a look at several Utada Hikaru releases. For this review set, I will tackle the recent releases leading up to their new album “BAD Mode”, which is set to be released on January 19.
The first single of the bunch, having actually been released three years prior (gee, that is a while!), is “Face My Fears“, which is the much-anticipated tie-in release to the video game Kingdom Hearts 3. Having offered several theme songs to the game series with “Hikari/Simple and Clean” (“Hikari”, which I reviewed here) and “Passion/Sanctuary”, “Face My Fears” shows Hikki taking on two songs for the game.
With this single, were they successful in facing those fears, or did they have to think twice contrary to what their song says… read on!
The single begins with “Face My Fears (English Version)“, which is the attached song for Western audiences to the much-anticipated video game of 2019, Kingdom Hearts 3.
In collaboration with Western electronica musician known for bringing dubstep into the mainstream, the English version of “Face My Fears” maintains the original’s instrumental (which I’ll talk about later), incorporating an English interpretation by Hikki themself. It’s very forward lyrically, not leaving much to interpret, but the message is still one of hopefulness that resonates with its tie-in. It isn’t my preferred version, since I’m more akin to Utada’s Japanese take, but it still slaps, and its video animation (as with its predecessors) continues to amaze. ⬛
“Don’t Think Twice” follows and is the English version of “Chikai”, previously released on Hikki’s album Hatsukoi and is the ending tie-in for the same video game.
Now, the problem here is that I’m not particularly fond of “Chikai”, so already, “Don’t Think Twice” kind of takes a hit in rating – it’s a very disjointed, very melancholic song, which I believe what Hikki was going for; yet, it doesn’t seem to resonate very well, nor does it really have an epic feel that I would expect for an ending to a video game trilogy that was literal years in the making. Its lyrics are interesting, and I imagine they must have some attachment to what happens in the game (which I still need to complete). That said, it continues to not be of any real interest to me, and that’s me not thinking twice about it. ⬛
The next track, “Face My Fears (Japanese Version)“, is Hikki’s take of the song in the game’s and singer’s native tongue, written in conjunction with the English version, though the lyrics have a more profound feel to them than the very upfront lines of the English version.
As a result of the different tones with each song’s lyrics, I find the Japanese version to be more effective with its epic dubstep-and-piano instrumental, and in addition, the Japanese version seems to have more additional vocalizations and distortions to give it a goosebump-like feel to the listener. Musically, this is Hikki’s first real take into the genre, and it’s effective – it absolutely gives off this fight feel that works in conjunction with the soft twinkles throughout to also add a melancholy vibe. It’s a great song, though it definitely took me by surprise by first listen. Certainly a good thing, facing my fears first listening to this, because it is worthy of repeat listens. ⬛
“Chikai” is the final song on the single, having been added to the single due to its tie-in with the game and it being the original version of “Don’t Think Twice”.
Again, there’s not really much more I can say, other than that the lyrics are much better around, once again, due in part to the Japanese language having a more profound take on the song’s themes. It’s still a boring song, despite its disjointedness. While I understand the placement of songs on the single, it just feels so wrong to have this track end the single; alas, it is what it is. Perhaps I may enjoy listening to this more upon a few more listens, but as of this time, I don’t have to think twice to avoid listening to this vow another round. ⬛
“Face My Fears” is not my favorite Utada Hikaru single, but it is still a worthy addition to their discography; the title track is formidable in its Japanese-language form, and its English-language form doesn’t trail far behind either, even when sharing the same instrumental. However, the release has a damper on it through the carryover track of “Chikai” and “Don’t Think Twice”, two songs that don’t really offer any feeling, especially when it comes to its tie-in.
That said, it’s still something worth checking out; perhaps all four songs are your cup of tea, and Hikki doesn’t always disappoint.
I give this single a soft recommend. Now that you’ve faced the fears of reading my opinion, I hope you can face your fears of how you feel!
MUST-LISTEN: Face My Fears (Japanese Version)
For more Utada Hikaru reviews, visit the archive!