diotrans (Amy Hsieh, real life significant other of the panel's own Palpable) makes her OCR debut on a vocal/acoustic Kingdom Hearts collab with co-newcomer adrian, aka Adrian Porter, on cello. 'Simple and Clean' (or 'Hikari') is of course a huuuuuge VGM crossover hit, fueled by the considerable popularity of original vocalist & composer & megastar Hikaru Utada and the gargantuan franchise appeal that comes from marrying Disney with Square. Of their acoustic makeover, diotrans writes:
"Simple and Clean" has been one of my favorite songs ever for a long time. I've been playing acoustic guitar covers of this for years, so I thought it would be only fitting for it to be my first attempt at an OCRemix. For this remix, I decided to do something completely new by adding a string quartet. In this recording, adrian played cello; I played violins and viola. Many thanks to Palpable who taught me so much about FL Studio for me to produce this mix, and also to adrian for his mad cello skills!
The title comes from the lyric "unmei wasurete" from the Japanese version of the song, which translates to "Destiny Forgotten" from a translation I read on the internet. Yeah, I actually don't speak Japanese at all (which is probably evident to any listeners who are fluent in Japanese), I just learned the pronunciations phonetically, so I hope I didn't butcher it too much ^_^; I just love both versions of the song so much, and each has differences in the vocal melody, so I wanted to include parts of each."
First off, on the overall arrangement, while it's somewhat conservative, the measures taken to convert the song to an unplugged, acoustic guitar + strings-driven track all played out rather well, I think. The song lends itself to this style, so it feels quite natural and is well-executed. I think for most folks this mix is gonna sink or swim on the vocals, so let's get one thing out of the way upfront: this be a damn hard song to sing. Intervals and range are both pretty ridiculous, so kudos to Amy for taking it on. I think she does a great job, too, with two caveats: towards the end, some of the REALLY high stuff starts getting a little sketchy, and I'd have liked a bit more vibrato. Amy's a good singer, and I'm not, so you can take that commentary for what it's worth. I also found that I couldn't get into this mix nearly as much on headphones, for whatever reason, but when I played it on speakers, I was feelin' it a lot more, and found myself humming it long afterwards. Your mileage may vary, but I find that some rare mixes do seem to play better on either phones or speakers. Jimmy Circles, lookin' like a fool with his pants on the ground, writes:
"Nice track. Because it's inevitably going to come up in the review thread, it's worth noting that while Amy's voice (intonation mostly) is not flawless, I think she does a well enough job, especially without using any autotune or other vocal fixer-uppers. I suppose it gives the track a more organic feel, and there's definitely nothing wrong with that. That being said, I don't think a subtle amount would have hurt it necessarily, but I do want to make it clear that she can certainly carry a tune well enough for it to not impede my ability to admire her voice. Alright, now that that's out of the way, this is a really nice arrangement. I am especially appreciative of the strings, and kudos are most certainly in order."
Amy's performed this and other tracks live at OCR panels before, and once even juggled vocals, keyboard, AND flute while Vinnie backed her up on acoustic guitar and I looked on uselessly from behind our token PowerPoint presentation. It's great that she fleshed out this arrangement and developed the string accompaniment into something substantive enough to complete a track, and attained adrian's assistance for the cello piece of the equation. Fans of acoustic rock & KH should definitely dig.
on 2012-07-23 16:11:37
You know, for someone who put herself out there and tried to do a song in both English and Japanese, nicely done. It's not easy to sing and sound incredible at the same time. I actually think that for some reason the Japanese bit sounded better than the English parts. I'll admit that I had a hard time making the lyrics out without straining (and without a lyrics tab on this ReMix) because of the highness of some lines, but you have a wonderful voice and I can't really fault anyone for trying their best here. The instrumentation was great and I enjoyed the acoustic guitar and easy feeling of it all. Again, I liked your voice, but it just went too high or nasally sometimes which made it hard to make things out. Nice work.
on 2011-12-23 08:52:49
I enjoy this song a lot. It's a nice listen (there's really not many KH mixes on the site) and I like how she transitions between the English lyrics and the Japanese ones instead of sticking to one language.
on 2011-12-22 00:06:31
As someone who's had vocal training and is studying Japanese, this song was absolutely painful to listen to. I can't really comment on the instrumental work--it sounds nice, but is unfortunately drowned out by the singing. So let's get to the vocals, since they're so prominent. Hsieh's vowels are very "wide", so the singing's very nasal. When she gets to the higher notes her voice gets quite flaky. She's put much effort into this, which is always a good thing--but sometimes the (nasal) forcefulness of her singing is actually quite abrasive, and clashes with the background, making both hard to listen to. With those two issues combined, I couldn't help but think that Hsieh sounded very much like a child throughout the song.
For all of the work she put into this, it seems none of it went to studying Japanese enunciation. There's many unclean vowels, at times even the consonants aren't pronounced right (it's "zutto" with a Z, not a TS), and the strange emphasis (and lack of) on certain syllables will leave anyone familiar with the language nonplussed. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at how close she was to the R, though it was a little soft in some places. That trill is usually the most difficult thing for native English speakers to to learn.
Hsieh has a lot of enthusiasm, and a lot of potential. But she really needs professional training. And for god's sake, if you're going to sing a song in another language, study the enunciation.
on 2010-05-13 12:18:40
On the plus side, the arrangement is pretty good. I've been waiting for more KH ReMixes, and vocals aside this one doesn't really disappoint. However, while I do see that there is possibly a great deal of potential in diotrans's voice, I have to say that I'd much have preferred for that potential to be realised before this ReMix was made. Much as I genuinely do want to, I find it hard to really listen to this ReMix because of the vocals.
I think that the main thing that was lacking was oomph. I'm no expert, but I reckon that a bit more energy in the performance could go some way to improving on some issues such as the oft-mentioned "nasally and shaky" aspects. Overall, I rate this highly enough that if it were, hypothetically, redone with more energy (and admittedly a slight autotune) I'd be first in line to give it another chance.
P.S. What's with the abrupt end? I don't strictly speaking dislike it, but it seemed rather out of place.
on 2010-04-06 03:44:33
I love the song and seem to have listened to it religiously everyday since I first downloaded it a few weeks ago. I love her voice.
on 2010-04-05 20:37:35
I'm sorry but I have to say that...
Personally I find the singer terrible.
Alone as she are frantically trying to sing a high is a qual to the ear. D:
The remix itself sounds great, but the singer ruined everything, especially from the places where she even tried to sing in Japanese ... Ridiculous...
on 2010-03-17 23:42:57
The remix is good and personaly i think you sing better in japaniesse but this song is like FF 7 One winged angel its must be reconizable and not to be destroyed
over all it was good
on 2010-02-22 18:02:09
Personally, I rather enjoy the mix as a whole. The vocals, while the majority seem to be taking as reason to dislike the arrangement, I actually rather like. Perhaps it's because I can hear how it will progress in future songs, or perhaps because the tone actually has that feel that she doesn't want the other person to leave, an almost sorrowful and longing feel. It's not a feeling one can get as easily with technology-enhanced vocals. Let them be "flat, off-key, nasally, shaky," because it sounds perfect that way with how it's put together.
As for the instruments, well...I really have nothing to say aside from I like them. I look forward to hearing more from you both in the future.
on 2010-02-17 22:39:10
Yeah, I'm gonna have to go with the majority on this one. I love the rare mix that has well done vocals, but this is far from one of them. They're flat, off-key, nasally, shaky, the list goes on. I'm sorry for sounding harsh, but it's true. This is a really, really, really disappointing mix.
on 2010-02-12 20:32:25
The song was ruined by the vocals. They were too nasally, restrained and off-key. In order to add some more dynamics to the singing you really need to belt it and not be so timid. Don't tense up and let the sound carefully creep through your mouth and nose. Rather, belt it from your gut and carefully listen to what tensing up different parts of you does to your voice and relax the parts that are having an adverse effect on it. It can be your face, your nasal passage, your mouth, your vocal chords, your chest, or gut. Just pay careful attention, tune into your good singing stance and belt it.
on 2010-02-11 16:12:15
This remix really grew on me, especially the vocals. Hearing completely natural (i.e. absolutely no autotune or other technical wirardry) vocals is strange at first, but I came to really enjoy it; it feels as if this song scratches an itch I didn't know I had.
About the Japanese part of the song: for someone who doesn't speak a lick of Japanese, your pronunciation is pretty good. Better than that of most Americans I met who did speak the language.
on 2010-02-09 03:44:47
Can't say I liked it. It's a decent remix, but it just didn't sound quite right. Keep practising on those vocals and that instrumental work!
on 2010-02-07 17:04:59
OCR going into unplugged mania these days, eh?
While I personally enjoyed Dreams of Absolution's transition a lot more, this one is not a bad effort overall. The vocals are commendable, but as most of you pointed out they're not perfect...and maybe they don't have to be. It's understandable to nitpick because this is an extremely hard song to get right...the bar is already really high. Not to mention the millions of fans who already memorized the song from top to bottom (including me). As a first attempt to remix this song for OCR, it's not bad. The high-pitched parts sound strained, especially towards the end. The low-pitched ones, on the other hand, are really good. I'm impressed that you included both the Japanese and English parts. Japanese sounded awkward at first, but picked up well later. Finally, the vocals do indeed sound very high compared to the instruments...and it would've been great if you included back-up vocals and more harmonies. Perhaps that would've covered up the small weaknesses.
Maybe the imperfection of the vocals gives the song an organic unplugged vibe as some of you mentioned. Also, it helps that diotrans is a talented singer. Nobody's perfect. Finally, I have no quips with the instrumentation; violins and acoustic guitar sound great!
Gutsy attempt, people! Hope you collab for "My Sanctuary" next!
on 2010-02-06 22:31:58
Very nice mix. I personally don't like the vocals and the parts that were in japanese because i found it very irritating. Either way it was still a very beautiful song.
on 2010-02-05 04:38:59
You got really nice voice i hope you will continue making song
Sources Arranged (2 Songs)
- Primary Game:
Kingdom Hearts (Square, 2002, PS2)
Music by Hikaru Utada, Yoko Shimomura
"Simple and Clean"
- Acoustic Guitar, Cello, Singing, Strings, Vocals: Female
- Lyrics > Lyrics: Existing
Origin > Collaboration
- 4,250,571 bytes
- Size: 4,250,571 bytes
- MD5 Checksum: 361cb64c02feb779f7b4d2bfd4fe286b
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