Supposedly, Nobuo is now busy scoring Final Fantasy XIV, and that's the only thing that interests me about that MMORPG project. In order to focus his energies there, he opted to pass on composing the theme song for FFXIII, instead leaving Masashi Hamauzu (SaGa Frontier 2, Dirge of Cerberus) to come up with a few vocal themes (along with the rest of the game's score).
But the story gets a little more complicated for the English-language releases. Alongside the announcement of the North American and European release date, it was revealed that the theme song for the Western releases would be "My Hands" by multi-platinum English singer and X Factor winner Leona Lewis, of "Bleeding Love" fame. Yesterday, Square Enix released a new trailer featuring the song:
I do like Leona Lewis's voice, and I think getting her to sing the theme song for FFXIII would indeed have been quite a coup. But that's not really what happened here. "My Hands" is just a track that has been borrowed off her latest album, Echo, which was released last November. I think it's a pretty good song, albeit rather generic. On its own merits, I definitely prefer it to Hamauzu's theme, and it's better-produced by far than the average video game song. But it has nothing to do with Final Fantasy, and I think it sad that, for all Square Enix's aspiring to present FFXIII as the most anticipated video game release of all time, the inclusion of licensed pop music for its main theme is somehow a strategic move to raise the game's profile outside Japan. It tells me that games are still far from attaining the prestige of movies. Even Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada has admitted that this was not the ideal route, but it's what we're getting.
Here's Masashi Hamauzu's Japanese theme song, performed by Sayuri Sugawara, for comparison:
This is also pretty boring and generic, but there is a certain comforting cheesiness and sentimentality that somehow feels more appropriate for a theme song to a young adult-oriented fantasy story. Does anybody else agree?
(Incidentally, the US Bayonetta commercial, featuring La Roux's "In for the Kill", is much slicker than the Japanese commercial.)