Passion (Hikaru Utada song)

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Single by Hikaru Utada
from the album Ultra Blue
Released December 14, 2005
Format CD single, digital Download
Genre Electronic, ambient, alternative rock
Length 4:44 (Album version)
4:27 (Opening version)
5:58 (After the Battle)
Label Toshiba-EMI
Writer(s) Hikaru Utada
Producer(s) Hikaru Utada, Akira Miyake, Teruzane Utada
Hikaru Utada singles chronology
"You Make Me Want to Be a Man"
"Keep Tryin'"
Alternative cover
International version

"Passion" is a song by Japanese singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada for her fourth studio album Ultra Blue (2004). Written by Utada, "Passion" was used as the official single for the Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts II that was released the next year. Produced by Utada, Akira Miyake and Teruzane Utada, the ethereal wave-influenced electronic song was then released as the fourth single from the Ultra Blue on December 14 2005. The English-spoken counterpart "Sanctuary" was released the next recurring year on July 20 for the international version of the video game.

Lyrically, the song talks about the past, present and future upon someones life. Upon its release, "Passion" received favourable reviews from most music critics, who singled it out as one of the highlights from the album and praised the experimental production. Commercially, the song was not a success, mostly because of the lack of promotion for the single. The song peaked at number four on the Japanese Oricon Singles, her lowest charting single and her first single to miss the top three position, but eventually tied with her 2006 single "Boku wa Kuma". The song was certified gold in Japan, respectively.

The accompanying music video for the single "Passion" was issued for the single as well, directed by Kazuaki Kiriya. The video features scenes of anime culture and features Utada in a grand hall, shot all by green screening effects.


In 2004, Island Def Jam asked Utada to be part off the soundtrack for the American film Rush Hour 2. She accepted the offer and recorded "Blow My Whistle", a duet with American rapper Foxy Brown and written by Utada, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo with production held by The Neptunes.[1] After Island had discovered Utada's successful musical career in her native Japan, Island offered Utada a record deal for an album. As she complied, Exodus (2004), the first English album by her, was released in September 2004. The album was a success, selling over one million units in Japan but only obtained limited success in the United States, charting at 160 on the Billboard 200.[2] A year after the international release and promotion of Exodus, Utada moved back to Tokyo and returned to the Japanese music scene.[3]

In early 2003, Disney and Square Enix executives had development plans for Kingdom Hearts II but did not provide specific details until July 2003.[4] Tetsuya Nomura, the creative director of the series, engaged an early release for the game, but Nomura noted several obstacles particularly with Disney's approval of using characters and series; one of the prime examples were off Tarzan and Mickey Mouse, which the latter was approved and the first being declined due to management and provider changes.[5] said that he only had Utada in mind to record songs for the soundtrack because he believed she was an iconic singer that could break both foreign and international barries.[6] The announcement for the sequel was announced in July 2005, saying ""When we were creating the original game, there were a lot of factors that were influenced by Utada-san's theme song. That influence will once again be felt in [our development of] Kingdom Hearts II [...]"[7] Nomura chose not to have a different singer perform the second theme song because he believed fans associated Utada with Kingdom Hearts.[8] Utada derived her inspiration from the worlds and characters in Kingdom Hearts and she also received written explanations of the stories from Nomura.[8] Conversely, Nomura commented that Utada's theme songs influenced several factors in creating the games.[9]

Recording and production[edit]

Utada begun work on with "Passion" when producers of Kingdom Hearts approached her to consider in working again.[6] During this, Utada felt inspired by the animation and storyline of the new game and felt it was "these things [...] that the ending theme will build on all this from here onwards. It was a really hard thing to do."[10] When she recorded "Hikari" for the first Kingdom Hearts, she felt her contribution towards the "soulless" game was uneasy but felt that the overall look of the game "was so crucial that I got a lot more info on the characters."[10] In an interview that promoted Ultra Blue, and the English counterpart for the game, Utada expressed;

According to Utada, she said that she wrote "Sanctuary" before writing "Passion" because she felt the composition was easier to write for "Sanctuary" than the latter song. Utada found it difficult to write Japanese lyrics for the melody. [10] Utada confessed that when the song was finished, she had to create a B-Side that was identical to the other.[10] This resulted into ~after the battle~, which was featured during the credits of the video game.[11]


Music Samples:
A sample of "Passion". The production and vocals slightly differ from the English version

A sample of "Sanctuary (Opening)". The production and vocals slightly differ from the Japanese version

Problems playing these files? See media help.

Similar to most of the songs on Ultra Blue, "Passion" is an electronic song that features several musical elements including ambient, alternative rock and ethereal wave. According to the sheet music of the song published by BMG Rights Management at, it is composed in the key of F major and features a moderate tempo of 108 beats per minute.[12] The music site identifies the musical composition as pop rock and was published by Walt Disney Music Company.[12] The song talks about the past, present and future of the character in my song relate to each other, and the arrangement builds a peculiar, almost floating feeling.[10] Utada commented; "People who have listened to Passion have wanted to daydream; to really see the places and times that I wanted to portray to them. While they listened to Passion. They're like, "What? How old is this person in the song? What day and month is this set? What? Where is this taking place!?"."[10] According to Miko Amaranthine from Yahoo! Music, he said "Passion" is another love song that resembles a missing love but leaving life without him/her [...] This song reminds me that without my past, the present wouldn't be as it is."[13] Within the themes of "Passion" and "Sanctuary", the song includes multiple themes of trust, hope and safety.[14]

In the song, she starts 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.[15] Then the verses are cited as "edgy" and "rocky" and "the whole sound is a much more mature and darker mood [...] 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."[15] The song's theme is very "mellow and sad, shown quite clearly from the opening synthesizer notes and Hikaru's ghostly vocals."[16] Throughout the song, there are backward messages and layers of vocals on top of each other and is filled with drums and a guitar solo.[14] Like the parent album, "this really sums up the theme of this album – it is not happy, but filled with hope."[14] Played throughout the song are the lyrics "I need more affection than you know", as well as the phrases "So many ups and downs" and "I need true emotions" in the "battleground" stanza of the "Opening version".


"Passion" was released on December 14, 2005 as a digital download, and was included in the Kingdom Hearts II Original Soundtrack and a CD single was released on December 22, 2005.[17] Because the music video had not been shot during that time period, only the CD Single had been issued in Japan. One year later, "Sanctuary" was released on July 20, 2006 as a digital single in Japan only. "Passion" was included in the Kingdom Hearts II Original Soundtrack and a CD single was released on December 14, 2005.[18] The song was intended to be released worldwide on her second English studio album This Is The One, but was only released on the physical copies in the United States.[19] In early 2006, the CD+DVD edition came out in Japan. The cover, taken by Mitsuo Shindo and Takayuki Aoya, features Utada looking directly towards the camera where a small part of the background is shown, where she is on a field.[20]


Critical response[edit]

"Passion" and "Sanctuary" were generally compared to works of American band Nine Inch Nails.

Both songs were well-received from music critics. Eli Kleman, a staff member from Sputnikmusic, gave the songs both positive remarks from the parent album. He stated ""Passion" is the albums closer, and easily the second best. Released in the United States for Kingdom Hearts 2 as the English language song "Sanctuary," "Passion" shows Utatda at her most varied. Much quicker in pace and just as passionate as the rest of the tracks, it is a truly interesting song."[21] said the song is frankly one of the most captivating vocal songs I have heard in an extremely long time.[15] David Jeffries from Allmusic first discussed about the parent album's riddled with clichés with plenty of "whispers in the dark" and whatnot. He stated that because of this, the epic, emotional "Sanctuary" suite that closes the album has to rely on arrangement and delivery, and Utada nails both, combining the grandness of a Disney song like "A Whole New World" with the angst of, remarkably, Nine Inch Nails.[22] Giving the parent album four stars out of five, Channel-Ai awarded "Passion" four-and-a-half stars out of five, saying " it is without a doubt that “Passion” is superior to “Sanctuary” in every way. This is proof that Utada’s Japanese works are better than its English counterparts, and it would be a long time before Utada transverse into an English career again."[14]

Bradley Stern from MuuMuse said "The passionate drumming, ambient sounds, and ethereal vocals bring the track to another level, transcending the patterns and limitations of most modern pop. To me, “Passion” is the defining point of Utada’s artistic craft." He concluded saying "Above all, “Passion” is a remembrance of times past. It is a symbol of beautiful memories, nostalgia, and looking toward the future."[23] said "Sanctuary is quite an earthly song, nothing similar compared to the other songs in the TITO album. It’s kinda like a new age track."[24] Michael Pascua from said that adding both "Sanctuary" and "Simple & Clean" were "happy additions" to the parent album, saying "Both songs showcase a strong musical style that isn’t necessarily in the R&B flare that This is the One provides. They also help connect any video game player who hasn’t necessarily listened to any of her Japanese albums or even knew that she had another English album [...]"[25] Channel-Ai had originally given the parent album This Is The One a lambasted review, but stated that "Simple & Clean" and "Sanctuary" were the only songs that didn’t sell herself out completely with older classics and "[reminded] of the genius Utada is capable of manifesting."[26]

The song, both the English and Japanese version, have been notified as one of the best songs on a video game ever. The song was listed at the top spot on AOL Radio's 10 Best Video Game Music Soundtracks.[27] There was a fan poll on Enix Origin, and "Passion/Sanctuary" was placed a number four on their Top 10 Favorite Final Fantasy/Kingdom Heart songs.[28] Miko Amaranthine from Yahoo! Music listed "Passion" as his sixth best Utada song.[29]

Commercial response[edit]

"Passion" had peaked at number four on the official Oricon Singles Chart, selling 49,242 copies in its first week. The song peaked at two on the Daily charts, while it peaked at 91 on the yearly chart.[30] With these first week sales, "Passion" resulted as Utada's lowest selling single since "First Love", with sales off 68,040 in its first week.[31] "Passion" also resulted as the Utada's lowest charting single since her debut single "Automatic/Time Will Tell", which peaked also at four respectively. In total sales served by certification, the sold over 112,345 copies, which eventually made it her lowest selling single in her career until it was superseded by "Heart Station" / "Stay Gold".

Music video[edit]


The music video for "Passion" was directed by Kiriya Kazuaki, and filmed at Gung-Ho Films studios in Beijing, China. Throughout the music video, there are many scenes which include CGI-imagery (which was produced by N-Design), and the opening even included an anime-style animation sequence. The anime sequence was produced by Morimoto Koji and his company STUDIO 4°C (the same people who created the Fluximation-style animations for cellphone services using songs from Utada's EXODUS album). In fact, the same character shown at the start of the music video for "Passion" is shown in the Fluximation for Utada's song "Opening". Utada commented "Some dancers and drummers that were in the music video really gave it their all. I thought I'd made so many mistakes, and I had to apologise so much!! I also kept on trying. Despite that I kept saying, "Taihen da nee (How awful!)" and like, "Ganbarou nee (I'll keep trying)" in Japanese!"[10] She also commented "The people who were doing the on-the-spot filming seemed to have my sort of make. Like, not very adult-like and not very feminine. We all seemed to have wild feelings, much like as if we were all Princess Mononoke (film character who was raised by wolves in the wilderness). Uggh, it looks like I'll be getting more female fans now!"[10]

In the video, the animated woman in the first chorus was a representation of Utada.[10] She commented;


The opening features computer generated effects that looked orb-shaped, then zooms out showing an anime-woman flying through the sky. The end of the first chorus shows the woman dashing downwards towards buildings within the sky. The first verse features Utada walking through computer-generated clouds and then zooms out to show Utada in a huge hallway, showing creatures in cloaks, hitting drums to the songs beat. As she walks inside a hall, she stands upon a platform and summons creature-like dancers, dancing with the song. The third and final chorus shows the room change and extends the interior, summoning more dancers while dancing to the song. While in the room, there are computer-generated blossom leaves falling from the ceiling. During the bridge, it continues to show Utada and the dancers dancing in the room, but intercuts scenes of Utada overlapped images of clouds, which are seen at the start of the video. The hall starts to disconnect and the walls start to disappear, only to show a herd of horses running through a field. The video ends with Utada stretching her arms against the sunlight, as the camera zooms away from her via birds eye view.[32]


"Sanctuary" was first previewed on in early 2006.[33]

Usages in media, performances and covers[edit]

In 2008, "Passion" was sampled for artist Stevey Jay's EP, The Streets Are Watching, for the song "Kingdom of Hearts". Although it shares the similar name of Kingdom Hearts it is not known to share any relation with the exception of the theme. The song was released under Suburban Entertainment. In 2011, "Sanctuary (Ending)" was sampled by American rapper XV in the song "When We're Done" contained in his Zero Heroes (2010) mixtape. In French Montana's mixtape Mac & Cheese 3 (2012), there is a song called "Sanctuary" which has Utada's song sample. In 2014, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Peabo Bryson covered "Sanctuary" for Utada Hikaru no Uta, a tribute album celebrating 15 years since Utada's debut.[34]

During her 2010 international tour, Utada: In the Flesh 2010, Utada combined "Passion" with "Sanctuary", alternating between the Japanese and English versions of the songs. "Passion" was performed during Utada's two date concert series Wild Life in December 2010.[35]

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital download (Both songs are not digitally released together; released separately on parent albums)
  1. "Passion"
  2. "Sanctuary"'
  1. "Passion"
  2. "Passion" (After The Battle)
  3. "Passion" ~Single version~ (Video)
  • Japanese CD Single[37]
  1. "Passion"
  2. "Passion" (After The Battle)

Chart rankings (Passion)[edit]

Charts Peak
Oricon Weekly singles[38] 4
Oricon yearly singles[39] 91
RIAJ Digital Track Chart Top 100[40] 75

Certifications and sales (Passion)[edit]

Chart Amount
Oricon physical sales[41] 112,000
RIAJ physical certification[42] 100,000+
RIAJ full-length cellphone downloads[43] 100,000+


  • Artwork By – Mitsuo Shindo, Takayuki Aoya
  • Drums – Forrest Robinson
  • Guitar – Ben Mauro
  • Mastered By – Tom Coyne
  • Mixed By – Goetz B.*
  • Piano [Acoustic] – Matt Rohde
  • Producer – Miyake Akira, Utada Skingg Teruzane*, Utada Hikaru
  • Programmed By [Additional] – Alexis Smith
  • Programmed By, Keyboards – Matt Rohde, Utada Hikaru
  • Recorded By – Atsushi Matsui, Pat Woodward
  • Technician [Pro-tools Operation] – Glenn Erwin
  • Written-By, Arranged By, Vocals – Utada Hikaru


  1. ^ Rush Hour II Soundtrack. Retrieved on 25 November, 2014.
  2. ^ Hikaru Utada - Chart history | Billboard. Retrieved on 25 November 2014.
  3. ^ 女王復活!宇多田ヒカル新記録達成 (in Japanese). Daily Sports. April 19, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2008. [dead link]
  4. ^ GameSpot Staff (2003-10-10). "Kingdom Hearts II's Tetsuya Nomura Q & A". GameSpot. Retrieved June 15, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania—Tetsuya Nomura Interview". Kingdom Hearts Ultimania. Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved August 10, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Coleman, Stephen (2002-08-22). "Square, Disney and Japanese Pop Star Utada Hikaru Collaborate on Kingdom Hearts". IGN. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania - Tetsuya Nomura Interview". Kingdom Hearts Ultimania. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  9. ^ Niizumi, Hirohiko (2005-07-29). "Kingdom Hearts vocalist returns for sequel". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-06-15. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Interview with Utada. Ultra Blue album interview. November 2005.
  11. ^ Utada Hikaru - Passion (CD, Album).
  12. ^ a b Music Notes | Utada Hikaru - Passion (Music notes).
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c d
  15. ^ a b c
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Hikaru Utada/Passion (CD+DVD)". CD Japan. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  18. ^ "Hikaru Utada/Passion (CD+DVD)". CD Japan. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Music Review: Utada – This is the One
  26. ^ Utada – This Is The One
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Utada's discography.
  31. ^ "First Love - 宇多田ヒカル/ オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  32. ^ Official Video for Passion ~single version~. YouTube.
  33. ^ Vore, Bryan (2006-02-24). "Square Enix Reveals KH2 Main Theme In English, Plus Interview With Haley Joel". Game Informer. Archived from the original on April 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  34. ^ "『宇多田ヒカルのうた』全貌明らかに。井上陽水、椎名林檎、浜崎あゆみ、吉井和哉ら参加アーティストコメント" [All details revealed for Utada Hikar no Uta, comments from contributing artists such as Yosui Inoue, Ringo Sheena, Ayumi Hamasaki and Kazuya Yoshii.] (in Japanese). Barks. December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  35. ^ "宇多田ヒカル一時休止前ラスト公演で感涙&Ust新記録樹立" (in Japanese). Natalie. December 13, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2010. 
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Passion - 宇多田ヒカル/ オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  39. ^ シングル 年間ランキング (in Japanese). Oricon. December 2006. Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2010. 
  40. ^ "レコード協会調べ 2009年05月27日~2009年06月02日 <略称:レコ協チャート(「着うたフル(R)」)>" (in Japanese). RIAJ. 2010-06-05. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  41. ^ "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」". Oricon. Retrieved 2010-09-18.  (subscription only)
  42. ^ ゴールド等認定作品一覧 2005年12月. RIAJ (in Japanese). 2006-01-10. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  43. ^ レコード協会調べ 4月度有料音楽配信認定 <略称:4月度認定>. RIAJ (in Japanese). 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 

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