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
Utada Hikaru's pop hit "Simple and Clean" is probably not among the most distinguished, unique and important songs in the history of the human race.
This Simple J-Pop techno-ballad about banal, stock themes of love and strained relationships is probably not a monument of unfathomable heights in pages of humanity.
Yet... That vigorous blend of Hikaru's airy vocal prowess, haunting the hint of dreamy synthesizers, mixed bells with windchimes and strummed acoustic strings with holy back up harmonies- a tender crescendo of sakura blossoms burning and falling against the late autumn horizon, inciting a revolution within sound itself, transforming the very definition and nature of how civilization interprets audio sensory input.
Well, probably not by most people's accounts except for mine. The aesthetic and artistic accomplishments of the song are far outweighed by the catchy pop-produced melodies and lyric hooks, but I still consider it a damn fine piece of music bust out the ultra high falsetto for sing along fun... Yet... damaging the ears of friends doesn't necessarily constitute enough evidence to argue a song is favorable. So, why all the pretense and delusion on my part about the superiority and righteousness of this song? Well, the best argument I have is that Simple and Clean is among the forerunners in an increasingly respected multi-media memeplex: popular video game music.
Simple and Clean was featured on Hikki-chan's Japanese single COLORS under the title of Hikari (light in Japanese) and sold 860,000 copies in about five months. Being a bilingual songstress, she redid the song in English and it became Simple and Clean. To clarify, Hikari was the original Japanese version and Simple and Clean is a dramatically altered English version. They are nearly two different songs. In the US, the English Simple and Clean version is most famous as the theme song from the bizarre Square / Disney collaboration Kingdom Hearts.
Wishing to seduce the minds of consumers on multiple fronts, the unholy bond between these two unlikely corporate partners spawned a plan to use an incredibly famous idol to do a video game (as opposed to some pseudo non-stars like the case with ALL commercial Pokémon music). They netted a diva no less than Hikaru, the highest monarch in all the kingdom of J-Pop, then proceeded to market Simple and Clean much like one might expect from a pop or AOR CD. Instead of pushing sales for a CD, however, it was used to promote a video game.
If any sort of pretentious greatness is to be bestowed upon Simple and Clean, the song is one representation of the growing economic, cultural and sociological bond between video games and their music. Simultaneously, as this bond between games and their music grows, the commercial aspect of the music further becomes further removed, if not independent, to the games themselves. This is precisely what Simple and Clean did in Japan. As the musical aspects of video game media gain more respect (think the mad beatz of Dance Dance Revolution games, the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and the soundtracks for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games), I think it's an educated guess this phenomenon will occur on both sides of the Pacific at a much higher rate in the near future.
So there. Simple and Clean rocks.
Lyrics from the verses were omitted to remain with E2's fair use boundaries. The choruses and interlude/outro kick a bit more ass more anyway.
Whatever lies beyond this morning
Is a little later on
Regardless of warnings the future doesn't scare me at all
Nothing's like before