Kingdom Hearts OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: TOCT-24768/9
Released On: March 27, 2002
Composed By: Yoko Shimomura, Hikaru Utada, Jimmie Dodd, Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, Alan Menken
Arranged By: Yoko Shimomura, Kaoru Wada, Russell McNamara, Kei Kawano, Hikaru Utada, Takahito Eguchi
Published By: Toshiba-EMI
Recorded At: Sumida Triphony Hall, Bunkamura Studio
Format: 2 CDs
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Disc One
01 - Dearly Beloved
02 - Hikari - KINGDOM Orchestra Instrumental Version
03 - Hikari -PLANITb Remix- (Short Edit)
04 - Dive into the Heart -Destati-
05 - Destiny Islands
06 - Bustin' Up on the Beach
07 - Treasured Memories
08 - Mickey Mouse Club March 09 - Strange Whispers
10 - Kairi I
11 - It Began with a Letter
12 - A Walk in Andante
13 - Night of Fate
14 - Destiny's Force
15 - Where is This?
16 - Traverse Town
17 - The Heartless Has Come
18 - Shrouding Dark Cloud
19 - Blast Away! -Gummi Ship I-
20 - Tricksy Clock
21 - Welcome to Wonderland
22 - To Our Surprise
23 - Turning the Key
24 - Olympus Coliseum
25 - Road to a Hero
26 - Go for It!
27 - No Time to Think
28 - Deep Jungle
29 - Having a Wild Time
30 - Holy Bananas!
31 - Squirming Evil
32 - Hand in Hand
33 - Kairi II
34 - Merlin's Magical House
35 - Winnie the Pooh
36 - Bounce-o-rama
37 - Just an Itty Bitty Too Much
38 - Once Upon a Time
39 - Shipmeister's Humoresque
40 - Precious Stars in the Sky
41 - Blast Away! -Gummi Ship II-
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - A Day in Agrabah
02 - Arabian Dreams
03 - Villains of a Sort
04 - A Very Small Wish
05 - Monstrous Monstro
06 - Friends in My Heart
07 - Under the Sea
08 - An Adventure in Atlantica
09 - A Piece of Peace
10 - An Intense Situation
11 - The Deep End
12 - This is Halloween
13 - Spooks of Halloween Town
14 - Dopsy-Daisy
15 - Captain Hook's Pirate Ship
16 - Pirate's Gigue
17 - Never Land Sky
18 - Kairi III
19 - Blast Away! -Gummi Ship III-
20 - Hollow Bastion
21 - Scherzo di notte
22 - Forze del male
23 - HIKARI -KINGDOM HEARTS Instrumental Version-
24 - Miracle
25 - End of the World
26 - Fragments of Sorrow
27 - Guardando nel buio
28 - Beyond the Door
29 - Always on My Mind
30 - Hikari
31 - March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra
32 - Hand in Hand -Reprise-
33 - Dearly Beloved -Reprise-
Bonus Track
34 - Having a Wild Time -Previous Version-
35 - Destati
Total Time:

From the moment I learned Yoko Shimomura was composing Kingdom Hearts, I eagerly awaited the chance to pre-order my copy. Considering her last two composing duties (Parasite Eve, Legend of Mana) have made her one of my favorite composers of all time, I had faith that her most recent project would not disappoint. Besides, who else could take on the task of composing a Disney/Square project other than the woman behind Super Mario RPG's musical notes? And although I admit Kingdom Hearts isn't completely what I had expected or hoped it to be, I still enjoy it immensely, and it continues to grow on me.

The music of Kingdom Hearts is a bit difficult to describe. The best way I can put it is to take Legend of Mana, mix in a little bit of Super Mario RPG, a tiny smidgen of Parasite Eve, and a teaspoon of Disney and you've got the soundtrack. All of these games' musical influences can easily be heard in this most current work of hers. And unlike what most people feared, this isn't Square's rehashing of all of Disney's old tunes; only 5 of the 76 tracks on the album are arrangements of familiar Disney melodies, and these are handled wonderfully.

This album really can't be compared to the rest of Square's recent soundtracks. It's a different type of game, and to sit down and expect to hear music on par with an epic, world-spanning RPG wouldn't be fair, although there are some incredibly awesome themes here. These pieces don't sound so much like they belong in a cartoon than in a feature-length animation score. Full-scale, sweeping melodies keep the listeners interested while we are aurally transported through all the different cartoon realms.

What I really found impressive is how Shimomura takes the style and sound of the different cartoons' music/scores and incorporates them into original compositions while managing to retain her own distinct style. The Tarzan and Winnie-the-Pooh area themes are excellent examples of this. This helps the album flow much more easily, and the arranged Disney themes don't sound like they're out of place. More than a few of her original tracks sound very similar to her work on Legend of Mana, but this is just fine by me.

Of course, along with the good is the bad. Unfortunately, the battle themes in Kingdom Hearts are a bit lacking compared to Shimomura's previous work. I'd been looking forward to more blazing, heart-pounding battles, and although the final battle theme, "Fragments of Sorrow" and "Guardando nel buio," are well done with the choral undertones and spectacular orchestration, it just isn't the same.

I feel I must make mention of the two-fully orchestrated tracks, "Hikari - KINGDOM Orchestra Instrumental Version-" and "March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra." These were both arranged and orchestrated by Kaoru Wada (Silent Möbius, Record of Lodoss War, 3x3 Eyes) who is also a renowned Japanese orchestral arranger/composer. In one word, these arrangements are breathtaking. I was initially a fan of Hikari's melody, but Wada takes it to a new level transforming this vocal into an epic and energetic dramatic piece. "March Caprice" is what I imagine is the ending theme. Here we're treated to some of Shimomura's wonderful piano work arranged along with a majestically sweeping orchestra. Clearly, Wada is worthy of all the praise he has previously received.

After carefully listening to Kingdom Hearts I believe I can honestly say that most people will be quite surprised with this soundtrack. With so many great talents showcased here, it's amazing this album wasn't more highly anticipated than it was. Don't let Disney's name scare you away, though. Yoko Shimomura is a wonderfully talented composer, and she has crafted a truly magical piece of art with Kingdom Hearts, and both Square and Disney fans alike will find something to love here. As newly-released, you can find a copy at Animenation for $40.

Reviewed by: Lucy Rzeminski

Just as the Kingdom Hearts RPG is a collaboration between Squaresoft and Disney, so is the soundtrack - well, for the most part, anyway. Most of the soundtrack is original material written by Yoko Shimomura, known for her Parasite Eve, Front Mission and Legend of Mana soundtracks. It didn't surprise me too much when I found out she was the composer for Kingdom Hearts; she had also worked on Square and Nintendo's only RPG collaboration, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. There's still quite a few familiar Disney tracks sprinkled here and there, reworked to fit the album yet still pretty true to the original and very easily recognizable.

If you're expecting more lighthearted, cheesy, and/or fruity Disney-like musical tunes to be represented here as well, don't. Just like the game, you have to expect more than just Disney style although there's a fair share of new material that's still lighthearted in a Disney way. The soundtrack is two CD's long (75 tracks), with four versions of the theme song, "Hikari": the vocal sung by Hikaru Utada which is pretty upbeat and almost has a Western feel, the techno remix of the vocal which may take some getting used to (it seems out of place on this album), and its orchestral instrumental version. Along with that is yet another instrumental, which is quite beautifully done and I can't stop listening to both of them.

The first Disney song that you'll recognize is "Mickey Mouse Club March" - I'm almost ashamed to admit I was tempted to sing along when I heard it. "Winnie the Pooh," "Captain Hook's Pirate Ship," and "Under the Sea" (I miss the vocals, though) also show up in the album, among others, and some non-Disney, yet still light songs, such as "Destiny Islands." And of course, there are the tracks with a slightly darker feel, "Destiny's Force" (which almost sounds like it might be a battle theme), "An Intense Situation," and "Fragments of Sorrow" - the last one has some background vocals and comes off as pretty cinematic. In fact, the last few tracks seem generally more cinematic than the rest of the album. A song in particular that I like is "Kairi," and there are three variations of this song, simply titled Kairi I, II and III, which are fairly short and simple, but sound almost sad. And finally, near the end, there's a sad but beautiful song called "Always On My Mind," which ends as just a music box playing, much like "Kairi III."

Although Legend of Mana's soundtrack had more charm to it than this one, and much of the album can be slow, Kingdom Hearts still has a great soundtrack, its own charm, and is one of Shimomura' s best works. I doubt many of you can say that you hate Disney music enough to justify not buying this album since there's only so many actual Disney tracks here. The tracks range from the lighthearted tunes to more serious, so there's something for everyone in this one.

Reviewed by: Liz Maas

Usually, I don't think I would have bothered with Kingdom Hearts OST. Squaresoft's output over the last few years didn't impress me for the most parts, and lord knows I'm no big fan of Disney. And seeing the previews of the game, I don't think that the KH game is my style, exactly. Then, why did I get it? Two words will suffice: Yoko Shimomura. I've been a big fan of Shimomura since before I even knew about her. From the powerful blasts of "Street Fighter 2," through the intense techno and rock of "Parasite Eve 1," to the over-worldly prowess and majestic fantasy-themes of "Legend Of Mana," she has almost never failed me.

I say "almost," because I'm no big fan of her "Super Mario RPG OST." I've noticed that Shimomura's weakest point is (with some brilliant exceptions) the more light-hearted themes, which SMRPG was chock-full of. Therefore I somewhat feared that Kingdom Hearts would fare the same fate. But, luckily, I was wrong. After just listening to the first four tracks I was very happy indeed, and after completing my first time through the CD, I was, as always, spellbound.

A fine job she did, indeed! Where to start? Why not at the beginning? The opening piece, "Dearly Beloved," is a sweet piano bit that sounds just like the kind of fair fairy tale-style music the game needs. It's kind of slow, but there is an unmistakably "magical" quality to it, like the feeling of floating on gentle clouds. It is a simple piece, yes, but it is not short on emotion, that is for sure. While not being predominant, the piano makes several appearances throughout the score, but strings, guitars and wild percussion are also thrown into the mix. And not to forget orchestral elements. The first indication of this is track 04 on disc 1 ("Dive Into The Heart -Destati-"). A theme that will become quite familiar to the listener appears for the first time in this composition. It starts out fairly quiet and simple with lush choirs, and gains strength, evolving into an orchestral piece vibrating with power. It always astounds me how sophisticated Shimomura's orchestral compositions can be, especially if you take into account the fact that she doesn't sacrifice any of the melodic power. Any fan of Legend Of Mana's music will feel a smile stretching across his/her face when hearing track 04 - the kinship with the similar pieces from LOM (like "Earth Painting") is something no one can dismiss. Powerful, grand, but never without a strong melody that firmly takes a place in the back of your head and refuses to leave.

Most of the OST is made up of calm, happy music. The touch is very light-hearted, very reminiscent of music you'd expect to hear in a cartoon. Listening to it is very strange - while not directly groundbreaking, you still feel that the score possesses unique qualities. There are many happy and whimsy game soundtracks out there, but I could never confuse any of them with Kingdom Hearts. Being all sunshine and such, there is of course a downside. The general frame of the OST doesn't allow too much stepping out of the boundaries. So, unfortunately, there isn't much of the old trademark Shimomura rock/techno here. Fans of the mighty guitar blasts heard in PE1 and LOM might find themselves being disappointed, and I would say that, despite all the ravings heard about them, the action tracks/battle themes in KH are one of the album's weaker points. Of course, they're far from being bad, but don't expect another "Pain The Universe" or "Primal Eyes." That being said however, there are some superb action tracks. I don't know whether "Night Of Fate" is supposed to be a boss battle theme, but it sure rocks. Not "rocks" in the general Shimomura sense (since it doesn't use guitars), but it is very fast-paced, using both piano, wild drumming and some violins. It is without doubt one of the highlights of the CD, and the "integral piano" style reminds me of Hamauzu's work for Final Fantasy 10 (which one of course can take in many ways). There are also some panic-style tracks like the incredible (but short) "No Time To Think." On second thought, "No Time To Think" sounds like you'd expect a Shimomura "hurry"-theme to sound - strip it down to the bare basics and you've got the same root as in for example Parasite Eve's "Escape From UB." Most other action-oriented tracks are wonderfully crafted, but overall lacking the kind of power LOM had to show for itself.

Well, the game doesn't seem like it will need that kind of power-rock, anyway. As I previously stated, it is comprised of mostly happy, bouncy, sweet music. A good example is "Mickey Mouse Club March." This track sounds very happy and care-free. It could be one of the few arrangements of classic Disney music that are present on this CD. Unfortunately, I can't tell you if it is or not, since my knowledge of Disney music is very limited. The only one I was able to pinpoint was "Under The Sea," which is the theme of the Little Mermaid, if I'm not mistaken. One thing that is unmistakable though is the quality of "Under The Sea" - very happy, very bouncy, and VERY good. The mellow tracks on the CD cover almost the entire rainbow of calm feeling. There are slow, sad tracks (like "Kairi I"), bouncy, fast tracks like the aforementioned "Under The Sea" and the wonderful "Blast Away! Gummi Ship"-themes (I'm especially fond of the second one, the last track on disc 1). And then there are happy-go-lucky pieces like "Bustin' Up On The Beach," which comes very close to sounding cheesy. But they are very melodic, and still manage to impress me every time I hear them. Some tracks though, for example "Bustin' Up On The Beach," will be recognized easily by the experienced Shimomura-fan - in fact one part of that particular track sounds much like LOM's "Pastoral." But it's no big deal when it sounds so fabulous. And (for me, at least) it comes as a pleasant surprise that the KH OST sounds more like Legend Of Mana than Super Mario RPG. In fact, if I were to sum up this OST in a sentence for another Shimomura fan who hasn't heard it yet, I would say; "Imagine an entire OST made up (mostly) of Legend Of Mana's quieter moments." Of course this is generalization to some degree, but nonetheless it is a fitting analogy. Continuing on the LOM-trail are such tracks as "Having A Wild Time" and the wonderful "Deep Jungle." Tracks like these are what adventure music is all about, and especially "Deep Jungle" is very reminiscent of LOM.

There is also one of those vocal themes present on the album - "Hikari." I'm definitely NOT a fan of most of these pop-esque affairs, the majority of them come off as cheesy and insignificant to me, and more often than not they have absolutely nothing at all to do with the game. I have no idea if "Hikari" is somehow related to the storyline of Kingdom Hearts, but somehow it isn't quite as bad as most others of its kind. The first time I heard this song was late one night and I was very sleepy, and then I actually liked what I heard. The next day I discovered that this wasn't due to my sleepiness, the song was actually pretty OK. Nothing major, but still bearable. The vocals are in Japanese, the singer does a great job, and the instrumentation is good. I actually found that I like the remixed version better, though. It is faster than the original, and gains a certain feel of attitude thanks to it. Coincidently, one of the other few vocal game music songs I like is PE1's "Somnia Memorias," which was also composed by Shimomura. Maybe she has a certain talent for it?

I could probably go on and on and on about the great compositions on this album, but I think I've given an adequate description of what to expect from Kingdom Hearts OST. Actually, even though I find this album excellent, I still feel that this is one of Shimomura's weaker albums overall. Sometimes you get a little fed up with the happy-peppy feel of it. While not a new "Front Mission" or "Legend Of Mana," it is still great, no doubt there whatsoever. So far it is the best game music album of 2002, and if you're looking for something sunny to light a smile in your face, don't hesitate! This is a soundtrack you shouldn't miss.

Reviewed by: Daniel Kalabakov


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