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 recorded by Japanese American singer Hikaru Utada for her fourth studio album Japanese studio album Ultra Blue (2006). It was written by Utada while production was by her father Teruzane Utada and enlisted Akira Miyake as an additional producer. The song premiered on December 14, 2005 as the soundtrack single to the Disney video game Kingdom Hearts II and was digitally released the same day as the lead single to Ultra Blue. Toshiba-EMI served it as a Contemporary hit radio in Japan. "Passion" is an electronic song that utilizes musical elements of alternative rock and pop music. The song was compared to her previous single "Hikari", as Utada herself referred "Hikari" as a "dawn" and "Passion" as the dusk. Lyrically, the song talks about the past, present and future upon someones life.

"Passion" was well-received from music critics, who praised the song's experimental production and felt it was captivating and interesting. "Passion" became the first song on the accompanying album to miss the top spot on the Japanese Oricon Singles Chart, placing at number four and resulted as the lowest charting single off the studio album, where "Keep Tryin'" went to two. An accompanying music video was issued for the single as well, directed by Kazuaki Kiriya. The accompanying English version, "Sanctuary" was issued as a single on July 20, 2006 to be part of the Kingdom Hearts franchise of the second video game Kingdom Hearts II released the same year.

Background and production[edit]

Like the rest of her productions, Utada (inset) co-produced and written the song for both "Passion" and "Sanctuary".

A year after the international release and promotion of Exodus, Utada moved back to Tokyo and returned to the Japanese music scene.[1] When asked to describe the song, Utada referred to "Passion" as the "22 year old version of "B&C"; a song from her debut album, First Love, which she had written when she was merely 15 years of age. When heard back to back, these two songs show how much Utada has grown since the birth of her career. The artwork was a caption taken from the end of the songs music video. 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.[2]

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. It was used as the theme song for the Disney Interactive Studios/Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in Japan, while an English version also sung by Utada, titled "Sanctuary", was used for the international release of the games.[citation needed] "Passion" was included in the Kingdom Hearts II Original Soundtrack and a CD single was released on December 14, 2005.[3]

The English version, "Sanctuary" is the theme song for the international release of Kingdom Hearts II. It is also the second single from her second English album This Is the One (2009), released only in Japan (both the "Opening" and "Ending" versions), thereby under the name Utada, not Utada Hikaru.[4] However, Sanctuary was not included in the Japanese version of the album (it was on the US as a bonus track [physical release only]). "Sanctuary" was first previewed on in early 2006.[5]

Along with "Hikari", Tetsuya Nomura, creative director of the Kingdom Hearts series, 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] Nomura stated that the vocals of the second theme tie in more closely with the game's story than "Hikari"/"Simple and Clean" did with Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.[8][9] Conversely, Nomura commented that Utada's theme songs influenced several factors in creating the games.[10][8]

In the videogame Kingdom Hearts II, the "Opening version" of the song is played during the opening movie; the more emotional "After the Battle" (titled "Ending" on This Is the One) version is played after defeating the final boss of the game, much like the theme song of the first Kingdom Hearts, "Simple and Clean". The arrangements of the two songs differ in some aspects, much in the same nature as "Simple and Clean" did in comparison to its "Hikari" counterpart.


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

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The song is utilized as an ethereal song, that incorporates alternative rock, pop music and electronic productions. According to the music sheet that was published at, the song is set in the key of F Major.[11] The song has a tempo of 109 beats per minute.[11] According to the website, the music has influences of pop, pop rock, Japanese music and Video Game influenced music.[11] The song was published by Walt Disney Music Company.[11] Lyrically, the song talks about the past, present and future upon someone's life. In an interview, Utada said, "It's like... as if 'Hikari' was the dawn, and 'Passion' has a concluding or 'dusk' feeling to it. The lyrics of 'Passion' show how phases of the past, present and future of the character in my song relate to each other".[citation needed] Within the themes of "Passion" and "Sanctuary", the song includes multiple themes of trust, hope and safety.[12]

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.[13] 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."[13] The song's theme is very "mellow and sad, shown quite clearly from the opening synthesizer notes and Hikaru's ghostly vocals."[14] 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."[15]

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

Problems playing this file? See media help.

It is worth noting that the version of "Passion" found in this single differs slightly from the version used for Kingdom Hearts II, which is missing the last verse, and also has the added lines, "Hito shirezu/My Heart's a Battleground" (Hidden Away/My Heart's a Battleground). It has been titled the "Opening version" on the Kingdom Hearts II soundtrack. Its counterpart, also known as the "After the Battle" version, is a stripped version of the single version, with only piano and vocals, following by the instrumental with piano, drums, guitars and cold electronic foreground synths.

Unlike "Passion", the English version "Sanctuary" has altered production. Utada's background vocals are not present on the English version as it is on the Japanese version. "Sanctuary", like "Passion", includes several instances of reversed lyrics throughout the song; these lyrics are the only official backwards lyrics. 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.[12] Like the parent album, "this really sums up the theme of this album – it is not happy, but filled with hope."[12] 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".


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."[16] said the song is frankly one of the most captivating vocal songs I have heard in an extremely long time.[13] 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.[17] 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."[12]

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."[18] 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."[19] 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 [...]"[20] 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."[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] Miko Amaranthine from Yahoo! Music listed "Passion" as his sixth best Utada song.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26] "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 reprised 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. 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.[27]

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".

There was not music video shot for "Sanctuary", however. "Passion" is Utada's 11th best-viewing music video, with video views over 4.5 million.[citation needed]

Usages in media and performances[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 new mixtape Mac & Cheese 3 (2012), there's a song called "Sanctuary" which has Utada's song sample.

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.[28]

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[30]
  1. "Passion"
  2. "Passion" (After The Battle)

Chart rankings (Passion)[edit]

Charts Peak
Oricon Weekly singles[31] 4
Oricon yearly singles[32] 91
RIAJ Digital Track Chart Top 100[33] 75

Certifications and sales (Passion)[edit]

Chart Amount
Oricon physical sales[34] 112,000
RIAJ physical certification[35] 100,000+
RIAJ full-length cellphone downloads[36] 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. ^ "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]
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Hikaru Utada/Passion (CD+DVD)". CD Japan. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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 c d "Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania - Tetsuya Nomura Interview". Kingdom Hearts Ultimania. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  9. ^ Studio BentStuff (ed.). "Tetsuya Nomura interview". Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania (in Japanese). DigiCube/Square Enix. ISBN 4-7575-1621-5. 
  10. ^ Niizumi, Hirohiko (2005-07-29). "Kingdom Hearts vocalist returns for sequel". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-06-15. 
  11. ^ a b c d
  12. ^ a b c d
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Music Review: Utada – This is the One
  21. ^ Utada – This Is The One
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Utada's discography.
  26. ^ "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. 
  27. ^ Official Video for Passion ~single version~. YouTube.
  28. ^ "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. 
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "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. 
  32. ^ "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. 
  33. ^ "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. 
  34. ^ "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)
  35. ^ "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. 
  36. ^ "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. 

External links[edit]