Friday, February 28, 2014

Top Ten Most Underappreciated Zelda Songs

After last month's post, which was created out of a Zelda song so underappreciated that it apparently wasn't even in the Link's Awakening soundtrack (or at least the one I was looking at on Zelda Universe didn't have it), it made me start thinking that there are a lot of pieces of music in Zelda that are really glossed over. The Legend of Zelda is obviously known for its music. Sound has always been an integral part of gameplay and the music is praised and loved and brings tears to the eyes of Zelda fanboys and girls everywhere. Including myself, of course. I'm kind of a music person -- my YouTube channel has been a place where I can show off myself playing these video game songs.

But I want you guys to ahead and look at any "What's your favorite Zelda song?" answer anywhere. Topics about Zelda music spring up everywhere -- on forums and fansites and blogs. Just compare a few of them. And you'll quickly notice that a lot of the time, the same songs are repeated over and over again. Gerudo Valley, Midna's Lament, Ballad of the Wind Fish, Dragon Roost Island. These are awesome songs. I'd totally rank them at the top of any of my favorites, too. But sometimes, there are songs that are almost as good, or even equally good, that are just kind of pushed into the background. I guess they're just not as memorable or as beloved or something.

So I'm doing something a bit different today. Instead of just rant or... whatever I do on a regular basis, I'm going to make a top ten list. These are the songs that I felt were the top Zelda tunes that deserved far more love than they receive. I rarely see these ones mentioned. If you see them often... eh. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places, haha. But I'm thinking that at least some of these, you might not even know off the top of your head without looking them up. They're ranked here according to both my personal opinion of them as well as their obscurity.

10. Wing Dungeon (Oracle of Ages)

Oh my goodness. I swear, this song is the catchiest song in the entire Zelda series. Like, seriously. I have only played two dungeons of Oracle of Ages, and this song is in the second dungeon. I haven't heard it in-game in over two years. BUT I CAN'T GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD. Any time I think of Oracle of Ages, this song just... pops into my brain. It's only 18 seconds long and it just loops repeatedly but it's so ridiculously catchy that... I don't know. It just kind of appeals to me. Some people might think I'm crazy and actually find this song more annoying than anything... and I can totally see where they're coming from. But I had to mention it here somewhere. It deserves more recognition where annoying/catchy Zelda songs come in.

Speaking of annoying/catchy...

9. Plum's Theme (Twilight Princess)

So... you know what I just said about Wing Dungeon? Forget all of it. It is NOTHING in comparison to the annoying catchiness of this impossible song.

Whenever I hear this, I have it stuck in my head for DAYS. It's gotten to the point where it's my generic song that I resort to when I'm playing the harp or piano. If I'm doing something else and just happen to be sitting at an instrument, one hand just automatically starts playing this song without me even thinking about it. It's just so... agh! Just listen to it! It's like a carnival but so much more... I don't know! You can't even tell me this doesn't at least KIND of get stuck in your head. You MUST want to hum it at some point. It's just that kind of some. And it deserves recognition for that! I mean, it's not a bad song -- at least I don't think so -- but it's sooooo memorable. But no one ever calls it their favorite.

In fact, I had this one time that I was humming this song so much that I got it stuck in my friend's head once, and she'd never even played the game it was from. It was pretty hilarious.

8. Mayor's Council Room (Majora's Mask)

Does this count as underappreciated? A lot of people kind of like it... eh. Whatever. I'm including it.

The Mayor's Office theme plays -- you guessed it -- in the mayor's office. Why is this song so good? Like, really, who cares about the mayor? It plays while Mutoh and Viscen are arguing about what the town should do with the moon descending upon them. And it's... likable. I like it a lot. XD It sounds quite heated and emotional and it really emphasizing the debate and the time it's wasting. Plus... I hate to say this, since I just said it about the previous two, but... it's catchy! It find myself humming it quite often without realizing it. I think it's the Majora's Mask Opera's fault, though, partially... they put lyrics to this song and brought it into the spotlight for me.

7. Maiden Freed (Four Swords Adventures)

This tune just makes me want to smile! Now, unlike most of these other songs, this is actually very common in its source game. However, Four Swords Adventures is one of the worst-sold Zelda games, so I feel justified in calling it at least someone obscure and underappreciated. After all, who has ever said that Four Swords Adventures has their favorite soundtrack? The majority of its songs were ripped off from A Link to the Past, anyway.

This is one of its few original tunes and it's so catchy and memorable! It occurs whenever one of the Shrine Maidens is rescued. Its music box-like charm really captures the innocence of these kidnapped maidens. It's kind of like a lullaby... it's very calming to listen to, but it's happy at the same time. Like I said at the beginning, a small grin just creeps on my face hearing this. Not only from the actual tune, but from the happy, relieved memories it inspires from finally completing all the levels of Four Swords Adventures.

6. Introduction (The Minish Cap)

This song is gorgeous. This is what I consider the main theme of The Minish Cap. And it is, quite possibly, one of my favorite Zelda songs of all time. It's right up there with Ballad of the Wind Fish.

But, weirdly, while Ballad of the Wind Fish always sticks out in everyone's memory, this song never does. Why is that? It's kind of the same thing. Like Ballad of the Wind Fish, it appears in the game over screen, some emotional portions of the game, and probably elsewhere as well. I mean, okay, Ballad of the Wind Fish was actually PLAYABLE in the game, and yeah, The Minish Cap wasn't nearly as successful in general as Link's Awakening, but still -- how come no one ever mentions this? I don't even think of it very often, but I always hear it with fond memories in my heart.

The only reason it isn't higher on this list is because... I don't really know if it's underappreciated, haha. Obviously it's in the game very often, and I'm sure that others like me really love it. Maybe it doesn't even deserve to be up this high. But it's very beautiful and I wanted to bring attention to how awesome it is. I highly suggest that you also listen to the other versions of this song. I kind of wanted to include them all and cite the melody in general as the "underappreciated" tune, but I just chose the intro for the sake of simplicity. But make sure you also hear Minish Village, which is a more cheerful take on the song, and Ezlo's Story, a slower, sadder version. The Game Over theme is similar, too, but not identical.

5. Royal Valley (The Minish Cap)

Yeah. Two The Minish Cap songs. That's a surprise, isn't it? Knowing me? I don't even like The Minish Cap.

But I couldn't help it. For the sake of writing this list, I went ahead and listened through the soundtracks of games I couldn't remember well. The top among them was The Minish Cap, because I really couldn't remember a thing from playing it. When this song began, I was completely caught off-guard by the... surprisingly realistic calls of mysterious animals, instead of actual music. It's so unsettling and out of place from the rest of the soundtrack that I was utterly confused for a moment. Then the low, minor chords started playing over top of the animal calls, and they match up so perfectly... I was stunned. I knew INSTANTLY that I had to include it. This song is so effectively creepy, unique, and pretty much the definition of underappreciated. I don't even remember what Royal Valley IS, for goodness's sake, and even though I am notorious for not really caring for The Minish Cap, I doubt that it's really a stand-out location in the series. I'm glad I heard this song. Its eeriness was really different from the rest of the cheerful songs that I was used to while listening to the game's music and it definitely deserves some recognition.

4. Sage Fado (The Wind Waker)

What an interesting spin on this song! You hear this song quite frequently through The Wind Waker. The game's opening backstory is told with this very same song, and the sage Laruto has a version of the same one. But this is my favorite variation. It is heard when Fado first introduces himself to Link after the hero plays the Wind God's Aria. I love the steady drumbeats and the melody played by the flute and then the violin. The violin's even Fado's instrument, so... good for them for referencing that, I guess. It's very catchy and lovable.

Unfortunately, this melody overall is very well known due to its frequency in The Wind Waker. Honestly, it probably shouldn't be ranked this high for that very reason, but... I couldn't help it. I even saw it mentioned on a "you favorite Zelda song" thread the other day, and that couldn't deter me from placing it here. It's so fantastic.

3. Sky Keep (Skyward Sword)

Perhaps this isn't obscure enough. In fact, like Fado's Theme, I just saw someone the other day say this was one of their favorits. I was looking at a thread on Zelda Dungeon about favorite Zelda songs, and this showed up. But... it only plays once in the entire game, in the first room of the final dungeon. That's pretty obscure. Not everyone who plays Skyward Sword is going to get that far, and most people won't even bother to listen since it's just in one room. (At least, I'm pretty sure it is.)

Sky Keep just has such a unique, unusual, and strange theme. It has an extremely ethereal feel to it that few other Zelda songs quite manage to capture. In some ways, it even feels ominous, which is good for a final dungeon. It excellently captures the mood of the weird room-changing puzzles that you'll encounter while listening to this song. I really love it. It's a shame that it's not more widely used.

2. The Final Exam (Spirit Tracks)

This song caught my attention recently, when I decided to start replaying Spirit Tracks. As I started the game and boarded my train for the first time, this song started to play. And I was stunned. I mean, I've advocated since the game's release that is has the best soundtrack, but... this is such a happy, upbeat song! It's in the classic Spirit Tracks style, which is known for its very... agh, I can't describe it. But it has this really happy mood to all of its songs. They're all very similar and catchy. This song certainly doesn't disappoint. I adore Realm Overworld and Troubled Realm, and this sounds like it fits right in.

This and the number one spot were, of course, the first two I immediately thought of when this list came to mind. This song really shocked me, since I'd never heard it outside of the game. Despite having played Spirit Tracks twice already, apparently it took me three times to really take notice of this gorgeous piece and enjoy it. The only time it plays is at the beginning, so it's easily missed, and I'm sure most people don't really know about it. That's why I'm here! Spreading uncommon Zelda songs to the masses with love and joy!

1. Zora Prince (Twilight Princess)

Holy Din, Nayru, and Farore. This song is gorgeous. Maybe it's just me, but... wow. How is this not more popular? I like it even more than other emotional tunes, like Midna's Lament or Fi's Theme!

Zora Prince seems extremely obscure. To the best of my knowledge, it plays only once in the game, when Link first finds Ilia again, watching over Ilia. It's there for such a short time; if you were reading through the dialogue quickly, this song would barely even have time to start. In fact, from what I saw, it appeared that it wasn't even included with the official Twilight Princess soundtrack. The only versions I could find were those that have Prince Ralis's deep breathing over top of them. Perhaps when you hear it, you might recognize it. But I really didn't think much of this until I heard the Twilight Symphony's rendition of this beautiful tune. I fell in love with it immediately. The strings are so beautifully done.

It's just such a subtle, soft song. And it's sad -- Ilia doesn't remember Link, the doctor can't help the sick Zora boy... it's really gorgeous and fitting. I can't get over how this doesn't get more attention. How did they not want to exploit the beauty of this song more in the game? I love it! You know what? THIS should have been Ilia's theme. Wouldn't that have been incredible? Ilia's current theme is so bland and... meh that I don't really care for her or her song. But this... come ON, Nintendo! You could have at least used it one more! At least given us a version that doesn't have breathing in it!

*sigh* But I disgress...

This is my number one underappreciated Zelda tune. I hope I'm not alone in loving the beauty of this song. You should also follow up listening to it by hearing Prince Ralis is saved, which, oddly, seems so much more popular. It's also beautiful and kind of follows the same style, but it's a remix of the main theme, so I didn't want to include it on this list.


That's all I have for today! I'm very short on time -- I started this too late, haha. I might come back and edit this later; I wanted to provide a brief list of some of my honorable mentions. For now... tell me what you think of this! It's different from what I usually do, but I really enjoyed it. I have an idea for another few lists like this -- especially music-related lists. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Have a nice day, everyone!