Aftermath--The Top Ten Soundtracks

Does the top ten need closure? Of course it does. After all, I was given a lot of feedback on this list, some of it good, some of it...not so good, but such things need feedback! On feedback, yes. That and I needed to tie up a few loose ends left behind by the existence of the list. After all, quite a few people wanted to know what soundtracks barely made it, others wanted to know why certain albums just didn't quite cut it. For the majority of these questions, I have answers. Bear with me, this is a long one.

The first thing that immediately became apparent as I worked on the list, at least to most people, was the staggering number of soundtracks that exist out there. One of my original caveats was that I could only review what I had heard, and even with my substantially large soundtrack collection, there were just some out there that I had never heard. So yes, there may well be several holes on my list that need to be filled, and special mention goes out here to those special readers who rather then scream because I had omitted a soundtrack, politely provided me with copies to listen to. As I type this, I am currently listening to a donated copy of Myth II's soundtrack, which is really quite good (I haven't finished it yet) and, I should mention, by Martin O' Donnell.

Which brings me to my second item of business. Now, I wasn't exactly unsuspecting of this reaction and I knew something similar to it would come but really: There is a lot of hate for Halo. I'm not kidding. I knew placing it on the list would raise some ire, but I must say that I was surprised by what really must be the stupidity of it. Now there were some who raised some logical question, such as whether a single series should be allowed three places on a top ten list. To this I say that it should simply because each soundtrack is separate, not a whole, and the series may (and in Halo's case, does) contain duds of a soundtrack. If this list had followed that route, it definitely would have been renamed "The Top Ten best Game Soundtracks by Series" or something similar. As an individual soundtrack list, each soundtrack landed its own position. Some may claim that it was redundant, but that's fair on a top ten. No one complains that Peter Jackson has 3 of the top spots for movies because they are good movies. The same applies for games, and in a much younger industry with a smaller overall pool, the top talent quickly moves to the top.

Alright, now, just for your reading pleasure, I give you the unintelligent responses to Halo's appearance. The most obvious of course, was a direct accusation of being a Halo fan-boy. Hmmm...sorry, but as I purchased each soundtrack before playing the games, I got pretty good at holding the two separate. Next was a wonderfully intelligent comment in which the writer declared that he had never listened to the Halo soundtracks, and never intended to, and they obviously didn't deserve to be on this list. Laugh at that one. The third that stands out in memory was a request to show evidence and proof that a statistically significant portion of non-gamers preferred Halo over other soundtracks. Wow...tell you what buddy, you do it. I don't have time to record video's of all the people I know who enjoy the Halo soundtracks just to prove something. If you want to fight it that badly, feel free. Just be sure to time stamp everything. And retorts, well, lets just say the internet as a whole is alive and well, and everything from my professional ability to my intelligence was called into question. For the record, similar was said about The Crystal Chronicles on account of the Final Fantasy tag in it's name. Some people just like to be close minded I guess.

I did learn something else: A decent percentage of my readers did not know how to distinguish musical types or genre's from one another, which did surprise me. A few accused the list of being almost entirely orchestral, which is right...sort of. Almost everything, short of cheap bargain bin games with 80s rock music and retro chiptunes, are orchestral. Starcraft? It's got a sort of "orchestral" element to it. Cripes, even Phantom of the Opera is orchestral music, even though it includes rock guitar. Swing music, Zoot, Jazz, and even rock are in one form or another orchestral music. So if you're one of the readers who consistently complained about orchestral music, realize that I say this as some heartfelt advice: TAKE A MUSIC COURSE OR TWO! You'll learn some stuff about genre, style and composition, then come back and facepalm yourself as you realize how much better music sounds when you understand it. A blanketed statement of 'orchestral' music is as bad as those who used to claim that any music that had been electronically altered was techno. If only Sinatra knew what MP3s where doing to his music eh?

Two sections down, on the the next! One of the questions I frequently got was asking why "insert name here"'s soundtrack had not made the list. Several specific ones floated to the surface, such as the Legend of Zelda, God of War, Myth, Kingdom Hearts, etc. Many others were asked, but in the end many of them earn the same answer: while good, they weren't good enough to make the list. Take for example Kingdom Hearts, another game which I have never played but own the soundtrack to. Now, KH's does have some great music on there, such as Destati or Simple and Clean, but by and by the majority of the music turns out to be two minute loops of remixed Disney classics. Neat? Sure! Greatest of all time worthy? Not quite, and although it was in the running, it met its death early on. Others, such as God of War or the Myth series (which I am learning is a very good listen, unmistakeably Martin O' Donnell with his percussion) had an easier answer. I'd never heard them. Which is all well and good, as I said I've received some lovely soundtracks to listen to through them. But others simply blew fuses, fumed and sometimes made fools of themselves. It seems some readers forgot over time this simple statement from the beginning of the entire list:

...after three weeks of making certain I was comfortable with my decisions and double thinking myself, I have reached my conclusion. Now, before I give you the #10 spot, let me give you the basis of my decisions.

Those highlights aren't accidental. This list is of course based on limited knowledge! I'm not omnipotent, nor can I read minds. At some point, every item on this list came down to a decision that I had to make. I'm sorry if anyone thought that every top ten list out there was the end all, but none it, because every single last one of them is different (although, if I may point out a quick search will show that almost all of them feature Martin O' Donnell in some form). Feel free to make your own list, which I will critique at my leisure.

Alright, so now the final questions. What soundtracks almost made the top ten? What booted them from the list? Two that were on many minds were classic Mario and any of the Legend of Zelda games. Well, each of these met an unfortunate end for a reason. Classic Mario tunes are all well and done, but when was the last time that you remember just sitting down and listening to any of them for more then a few moments? Not many do. Zelda follows a similar pattern. While it's main theme is very recognizable and well done, especially out of game, the rest of the soundtrack for the various Zelda games ranges from good to barely existent ambient.

But what about Final Fantasy "Insert Number here"? I'll admit, it was a tough call. But all the FF soundtracks that I have owned one by one met their doom as they clawed their way towards the top. The last to fall was FF6, just so you know. What else almost made the list? Donkey Kong Country 2 was a close contender and spent some serious time duking it out with Red Alert 2 and The Crystal Chronicles. Ultimately, it would have taken the 11th place had I made one. Portal was another hot contender, but failed as outside of "Still Alive", none of the songs really stand out unless you're thinking of the game. That said, "Still Alive" being such a hit almost carried it into the top ten. I'm not kidding, it's been played on my hometown's radio station more then once (I may or may not have been behind that, but people loved it anyway) Wow.

Several Sonic games almost made the list, but barely were edged out. Say what you will about the direction that blue blur has taken lately, (I enjoyed Unleashed and look forward to Sonic 4) he's managed to have some pretty good music, in some cases churning out much better then good. Sonic CD barely didn't make the list (maybe next year I'll do a top 25?) and several other Sonic titles were right behind.

Alright well it's getting late (or early) here and I need some sleep, but I thought it would be fun to give this list one last hurrah before closing off the top ten list for at least another year. Now that all is said and done (and you've reached the end of that humongous post) what do you think? Did this list do it's job?


Viking ZX said...

I hereby reserve the first post for the following statements:

Halo fanboy!
You suck!
Ur list sucks!
"Insert game name here" is btter than al of thes and u suk!

There, now those of you with those exact phrases can rest easy. They've been said!


Time Enforcer Anubis said...

Haters gonna hate. I wonder when the Halo haterbase is gonna realize that they're even more obnoxious for real than the playerbase is stereotyped to be.

In any case, this was a really well-done top ten.