Hikari (Hikaru Utada song)

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Single by Hikaru Utada
from the album Deep River
Released March 20, 2002
Format CD, Regular Single
Genre J-pop
Length 5:02
Label EMI Music Japan
Writer(s) Hikaru Utada
Producer(s) Akira Miyake, Hikaru Utada and Teruzane Utada (1)
Russell McNamara (2)
Alex “Godson” Richbourg (3)
Hikaru Utada singles chronology
"Sakura Drops"
Audio sample
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"Hikari" (Japanese: ?, "light") is a song recorded by Japanese recording artist and producer Hikaru Utada for her third studio album Deep River (2002). The song was written, produced and co-composed by Utada herself, while additional production was handled by long-term collaborators Akira Miyake and her father Teruzane Utada. "Hikari" was originally written and recorded for the video game Kingdom Hearts and was eventually added to the video game as the official theme song, while an English-language version "Simple & Clean" was used for the international editions. The single was then added to her studio album, along with her compilation album Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol. 1 (2004).

Musically, the songs are acoustic pop songs that utilize elements of pop music, rock music and electronic synthesizers and keyboards for instrumentation. Both version also received a remix that incorporated dance music that was used as the opening sequence for the video game. Lyrically, the songs discusses a relationship between the protagonist and the lover. Utada found it hard to write the theme song for the video game because she felt the concept and plot of the game was "soulless".[1] Themes incorporated in the song include love, peace and the aftermath of it all.

"Hikari" and "Simple & Clean" received favorable reception from most music critics, who had highlighted the track as an album standout and praised it for its simple production, vocal abilities and composition values. Critics also suggested it to be one of the best video game songs in recent history. Commercially, "Hikari" was a success in her native Japan, peaking at number one on the Oricon chart and was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of 500,000 units. It was the second consecutive number one single from the parent album. This became her first charting single off 2002 and her first single to chart at number one during that year.

The accompanying music video was issued for the single as well, being directed by her then-husband Kazuaki Kiriya and featured Utada washing her dishes and drinking water in an kitchen area. The simplistic video was shot like this due to schedule conflicts between Utada and Kiriya, and managed to just record a video for this. The song has been performed on several of Utada's domestic and international tours including Utada United 2006 and Utada: In the Flesh 2010


During her four-year career since her 1998 debut with her single "Automatic", Utada's status as a Japanese singer and producer was enormous and had benefited with strong sales around Japan. Her first two singles since her debut; "Automatic" and "Movin' On Without You" sold over one million units in Japan, with the first selling over two million.[2][3] The parent album First Love eventually became the highest selling Japanese album of all time, exceeding sales of more than 7.6 million units in Japan and was certified octuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of eight million units; the album eventually sold an addotional three million worldwide, totaling to 10 million sales.[4] By the end of the year, Utada was rank number 5 on a Japanese radio station Tokio Hot 100 Airplay's Top 100 Artists of the 20th Century by the station and its listeners.[5]

After having a two-year break from the public, her second studio album Distance (2000) became another success in Japan and sold over four million units in Japan.[6] The album was backed by the singles "Addicted to You", "Wait & See (Risk)", "For You" / "Time Limit" and "Can You Keep a Secret?", with nearly all the singles achieving over one million sales in Japan.[7] After the promotion off the album was complete, Utada went on to create her third studio album Deep River, which served an July 2002 release.

Before its addition to Kingdom Hearts, the initial idea for Kingdom Hearts began with a discussion between Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi about Super Mario 64.[8] The game began development in February 2000[9] and originally focused more on the gameplay with a simple story to appeal to Disney's target age range.[10] After executive producer Hironobu Sakaguchi told director Tetsuya Nomura the game would be a failure if it did not aim for the same level as the Final Fantasy series, Nomura began to develop the story further.[10] According to Nomura, he had only Utada in mind to use her for the Kingdom Heart game, and further series, and approached her to record a track for the game.[11] He felt that because of Utada's strong status in Japan and her mixture of both American-Japanese heritage, he felt it would work better with some one to record both English and Japanese language tracks.[11] Her involvement, along with the first song's Japanese title, was announced in January 2002.[12]


Musically, the songs are pop songs.[13] According to Utada, she felt that the process of writing "Simple & Clean" and "Hikari" was uneasy because she felt the story-line and game features of Kingdom Hearts were "soulless" and was difficult for her to be inspired by it.[1] Hikaru commented about the process "[...] when I was making the song [Hikari], the whole outlook for the game and its entry onto the world was so crucial that I got a lot more info on the characters (so that [Hikari] would mirror the image that they wanted)."[1] According to the sheet music published by BMG Rights Management at Musicnotes.com, it is composed in the key of Bb Major and features a moderate tempo of 84 beats per minute.[14] The music site identifies the songs musical composition as pop rock music that is influenced by world music and modern Japanese music published by Walt Disney Music Company.[14]

During the first intro chorus off the tracks, Utada's vocals span from G3 to G5 through the lyric ("When you walk away, You don't hear me say, Please oh baby don't go, [Simple and clean] is the way that you're making me feel tonight, It's hard to let it go").[14] The album versions features electronic drums that go throughout the song along with synthesizers and keyboards. Throughout the song, it contains acoustic guitar elements.[13] For the opening version of the tracks, the song is transformed into a light techno song that incorporates dance music, trip hop and electronic music.[13] The song was digitally altered to fasten the tempo in order to make the lyrical delivery faster.[13] The second remix that is featured on the CD edition off the song was noted as a "summer’s day pop song."[13]

Lyrically, the song talks about the relationship between someone but taking it slow. During the process off the song and the parent album Deep River, Utada discovered a benign ovarian tumor and was omitted to undertake surgery to remove it.[15] This caused Utada to suspend work on both writing and composing the track along with any additional promotional activity.


Critical response[edit]

The song was released on March 20, 2002 by Toshiba-EMI as the third single off the studio album.[16] Both songs received favorable reviews from most music critics. David Jeffries, who had written the extended biography of Utada, had listed the song under [Untranslated] as an album and career stand out.[17] A reviewer from the online publication Higher Plain Music was positive towards the song, commenting "With a real beat and a catchy chorus, [Hikari] can easily be ranked up there with the great vocal theme tracks for anything."[13] In 2008, Guinness World Records listed it as the best-selling video game theme song in Japan.[18]

While reviewing her 2009 studio album This Is the One, Michael Pascua from BlogCritics.org stated that the inclusion to Kingdom Hearts made her best known worldwide and said about the English version and "Sanctuary"; "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 [...]"[19] Sljuni from Channel-Ai had given the parent album an negative review. In his discussion, he criticized her transition towards Western music and attempt to market in North America, but said "And while that certainly seems true given the current crop of successful artists in America, Utada certainly didn’t sell herself out completely with older classics [Simple and Clean] and [Sanctuary] serving to be a reminder of the genius Utada is capable of manifesting."[20]

Chart performance[edit]

The song was a success in her native Japan. The song debuted at number one on the Oricon Daily Chart, which prompt speculation it would peak at number one in the charting week. This became true and the song debuted at number one on the Oricon Weekly Chart with 270,370 in its debut week.[18] This became Utada's seventh number one single in Japan and became her second consecutive number one after her 2001 single "Traveling".[21] "Hikari" also became her first single off 2002 to peak at number one. By August 2002, it had sold over 598,130 copies in Japan.[11]

By the end of the year, the song peaked at number ten on the Oricon Yearly Chart. The song was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of 500,000 units. The song was also certified gold by RIAJ for total exceeding sales of 100,000 on digital units including cellphone downloads and computer downloads.[22][23]

Music video[edit]

The music video (directed by Kazuaki Kiriya) for "Hikari" is a fairly simple one. Utada washes dishes, and enjoys a glass of water through its course. Utada, in an interview, explains how she enjoys washing dishes at home as well, which contributed to her making this music video.[citation needed]

"Actually we were to shoot the PV of 'Hikari' with him (Kazuaki Kiriya) but it didn't come true due to his scheduling conflicts at the last moment and that's why we requested Kiriya urgently to shoot that dish-washing video." [24]

(They were able to reach Kazuaki Kiriya eventually, but they had no time to shoot a complex video.)

Live performances and covers[edit]

"Hikari" was performed during Utada's two date concert series Wild Life in December 2010.[25] In 2014, Love Psychedelico recorded the song for Utada Hikaru no Uta, a tribute album celebrating 15 years since Utada's debut.[26]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Hikaru Utada. 

No. Title Arranger Length
1. "Hikari (光)"   Akira Miyake, Hikaru Utada and Teruzane Utada 5:02
2. "Hikari (PLANITb Remix)"   Russell McNamara 5:46
3. "Hikari (Godson Mix)"   Xaiver “X-Man” Smith 4:39
4. "Hikari (Original Karaoke)"     5:01


"Hikari" - Oricon Sales Chart (Japan)

Release Chart Peak Position Sales Total Chart Run
March 20, 2002 Oricon Daily Singles Chart 1
Oricon Weekly Singles Chart 1[27] 598,130 copies 13[27]
Oricon Yearly Singles Chart 10


  1. ^ a b c Interview of Ultra Blue. November 2005.
  2. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 1999年2月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. February 1999 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 473: 9. April 10, 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 23, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  3. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 1999年3月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. March 1999 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 474: 9. May 10, 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 22, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 1999年9月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. September 1999 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 480: 8. November 10, 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Announcing the Top 100 Big Artists of the 20th Century as chosen by listeners and J-wave (リスナーとJ-WAVEが選んだ20世紀のビッグ・アーティスト100人を発表!)". www.j-wave.co.jp (in Japanese). 1999. Retrieved August 26, 2007. 
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  7. ^ "JaME – The 1st database and information website about Japanese music – www.jame-world.com". Jmusiceuropa.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011. 
  8. ^ Iwata, Satoru (April 2012). "Volume 12 : KINGDOM HEARTS 3D [Dream Drop Distance]". Nintendo of America Inc. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Kingdom Hearts キングダム ハーツ" (in Japanese). Final Fantasy 2000. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  10. ^ a b "KHU Interview w/Tetsuya Nomura". Kingdom Hearts Insider. Archived from the original on 2012-04-23. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  11. ^ a b c Coleman, Stephen (2002-08-22). "Square, Disney and Japanese Pop Star Utada Hikaru Collaborate on Kingdom Hearts". IGN. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  12. ^ "Hikaru Utada Sings Kingdom Hearts Theme". IGN. 2002-01-10. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Utada Hikaru - Hikari Single Review. April 15, 2010. Reviewer unknown.
  14. ^ a b c http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtdFPE.asp?ppn=MN0121062
  15. ^ "Japanese teen pop star home after bout with side effects of ovarian surgery". AP Worldstream. May 11, 2002. Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  16. ^ "RELEASE - Single 光". Toshiba-Emi. Retrieved May 16, 2007. 
  17. ^ Hikaru Utada | Songs | Allmusic. Retrieved in February 2015.
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  19. ^ Music Review: Utada - This is the One. Reviewed by Michael Pascua from BlogCritics.org.
  20. ^ Utada - This Is The One. Channel-Ai. Reviewed by Sljuni on SEPTEMBER 13, 2009.
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  22. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 2002年3月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. March 2002 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) (Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan) 510: 12. May 10, 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  23. ^ "レコード協会調べ 3月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: March Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. April 20, 2008. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Message from Hikki "びーでーおー"". Toshiba-EMI. Retrieved July 26, 2007. 
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External links[edit]