What do sequels, remakes, and recycled songs have in common? They will always be compared with the original, which 99% of the time is better. Naturally, there are exceptions, but when i am already loving the original, i’d usually eschew the later versions. Which isn’t so easy in the last case. I mean, with music, you can hear it playing anytime anywhere without making an active effort to look for it.
Anyway, this time i’ll talk about one of that 1% — an oldie but goldie song titled True Colors.
I bet you all are familiar with this song, given the number of times it’s been covered over the decades. The one i remember the most is Phil Collins’ version, which i’ve always thought as the original. (Turns out, it isn’t.) He was one of my favorite singers at that time, though i wasn’t in love with this song back then, which could contribute to me drawn to the newer renditions more.
Regardless, i don’t remember hearing the song for years on end until this Justin Timberlake/Anna Kendrick’s duet at Cannes last May. It didn’t take the full clip for me to fall head over heels with that acoustic performance. The magic probably lies in the simple instruments, the soulful delivery, and/or the chills-inducing harmony; whatever it is, this is hands down my favorite version of True Colors. By a long shot.
While i usually hate it when uptempo track is re-arranged into a sappy ballad, that rule of thumb doesn’t apply here because THIS is exactly what i love about this rendition. Yup, it is mellowed down considerably, but it’s in that rawness the vocals truly shine, the melody captivates, and the message resonates. It’s such a beautiful heartfelt piece that one listen is never enough. I’m always reaching for the replay button once the track nears its end.
My love for this particular soundtrack of DreamWorks’ Trolls got reignited recently by its Korean version, sung by Park Hyung-sik and Lee Sung-kyung. Thankfully, it has no awkward/offbeat phrasing, and while i still prefer the English version, this one also has a nice blend of vocals and gave me goosebumps.
The thing that truly revived my attachment to this song is Karera ga Honki de Amu Toki wa (Close Knit), the first Japanese movie around LGBT starring Ikuta Toma and Kiritani Kenta, as Gospellers’ rendition keeps playing in the background whenever the movie promotion is covered in any news programs.
True Colors has an empowering message: to be unafraid of being yourself and letting your true self show. True enough, it’s also about loving people for who they are, regardless of the surface, yet it never occurred to me how fitting it is to be used for movies like this. I didn’t watch Trolls so i have no idea how it’s used there, but here, there’s this scene where Makio tells Tomo-chan whether it’s a she or he doesn’t matter to him, most likely referring to his girlfriend Rinko.
“You with the sad eyes — don’t be discouraged
Oh, I realize it’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people, you can lose sight of it all
The darkness inside you can make you feel so small
Show me a smile then — don’t be unhappy
Can’t remember when I last saw you laughing
This world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
Just call me up ’cause I will always be there
And I see your true colors shining through
I see your true colors, that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors, true colors, are beautiful like a rainbow.”
Telling the story of a transgender woman Rinko, her boyfriend Makio and his niece Tomo-chan, Close Knit is a human drama which ultimately gets you to think about what true happiness really is. I’ve been intrigued by this movie since the casting news was out some time last year, as well as curious to see Toma’s portrayal of this challenging role, and simply hope it’ll be screened in my country. Because the waiting time till the DVD/BD release and then for a kind soul to sub the movie is… But i digress.
Which version of True Colors is your favorite, by the way?