The 60 Best Songs in Final Fantasy
Having already put myself through mental anguish in an attempt to rank my favorite twenty songs from the Final Fantasy franchise, I would have never expected to find myself in such a position. However, because it is so dear to me and quite possibly the most important and influential video game franchise in my books, I wanted to show it the respect it deserved and rightfully do it justice.
Admittedly, as truthful as my last list was, it was merely a combined result of trendiness and not truthfully remembering everything. My selections were heavily influenced on popular scenes that everybody talks about, while the lesser known entries were simply forgotten. Sometimes a mind can wander off into the distance and you’re more focused on getting from a town’s point A to B instead of enjoy said town’s theme song. The important thing to take from this is: Opinions can change, taste can mature and expand, and with me and Final Fantasy, that’s surely the case.
Now, before I go further into discussion, the list you are going to see will only consist of songs from Final Fantasy VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and XIII. The reason for this is simply due to the fact that those titles were the entries I’ve played far more than the rest, and the weight of their songs is far too superior to even consider the unmentioned titles in my list. I know that would simply be reaching for an excuse to include them in my list and it would be unjust. That being said, I needed to put myself to the ultimate test, put myself through the same feeling of anguish, and do this list properly.
To even begin preparing myself for this massive list, I first had to subscribe to Apple Music, being that it has full access to the full Final Fantasy library, conveniently separated by installment. I then gave every single song in each installment’s library a listen to give it a fair chance, which is a lengthy process. For example, the library of Final Fantasy VII consists of eighty-five songs and a generous runtime of four hours and thirty-four minutes. Multiply that by six (assuming each franchise has about the song amount), and you could say that we are roughly dealing with an estimated five hundred ten songs and a runtime of just over twenty-seven hours. Why am I doing this again?
The way I will be ranking the songs will be six separate Top 10 lists for each game and then at the very end I will choose the Top 5 overall. Position in its respective Top 10 list does not guarantee its spot in the final top five, there could easily be multiple songs from one game and no songs from another. Sixty is a really big number, and I really don’t want to go mad getting too in depth for each entry, so I’ll do my best to get to point. With that being said, let’s begin with…
FINAL FANTASY VI
10. “Devil’s Lab”: While the track doesn’t possess the most captivating emotional effect of having to get back to work, its ability to possess the characteristics of a hidden factory is astonishing. Imitating conveyor belts and heavy hitting machinery, there’s musically an impressive amount to take in, given its technological limitations. With different variations of high and low effects without overdoing it, this upbeat dungeon theme is quite the toe-tapper.
9. “Edgar and Sabin’s Theme”: The theme of the two Figaro brothers has nothing but pride attached to it. While Edgar was kind of a player and Sabin was a bit of a hothead, they had the best of intentions for the others. Somehow, by listening to this, you kind of already have that feeling. It’s a simple song of drums and horns, but it has that emotional sense up triumph that could lift a sad chin up while you venture through the many twist and turns of Figaro Castle.
8. “Johnny C Bad”: You know that thing you do when you’re sitting in your chair and you point your feet and index fingers in the same direction and then continuously alternate directions? Listening to this soda pop parlor ditty is a sure-fire guarantee to get you to imitate that. The Colosseum is one of very few optional things to do in Final Fantasy VI, but this theme song is so astoundingly catchy that you’re guaranteed to go there every playthrough. This selection may be a shock to some of you, but this buoyant ballad will getting you craving a root beer float.
7. “Terra’s Theme”: One the most quintessential overworld themes in my opinion, and it also the theme of the story’s main protagonist. “Terra’s Theme” is both a marvelous, yet grim telling of a half-human, half-Esper under the control of Kefka, trying to find true love and discover who she really is, and what her ultimate purpose is. From the opening credits, to the finale, you’ll be whistling along side your adventure.
6. “Battle to the Death”: This song makes the list simply due to the importance of its situation. Every Final Fantasy has a Battle Theme with basic enemies, and a boss theme for boss battles. However, when you go to the Floating Continent and run into Atma Weapon, and a different, chaotic theme song such as this one hits, you know that things just got real and this guy is unlike anything you’ve come across in the game up to this point. It’s a musical reminder that if you did not come prepared, the battle will end before you even thought it started.
5. “Techno de Chocobo”: The “Chocobo Theme” is the theme song of the Final Fantasy franchise. It is well loved by diehard fans, and even well remembered by those not familiar with the franchise. And simply put, this variation feels the most pure to heart and authentic, and doesn’t try to do too much. Later installments would have its own different variation, but this one remains one of my flat-out favorite renditions.
4. “Kefka”: If you know me personally, then you know that Kefka is my favorite Final Fantasy villain in the entire franchise, and his theme song is purely 100% symbolic of who he is. The circus theme song from hell for this villainous clown is far more recognizable than any villain theme in Final Fantasy. Where Edgar and Sabin‘s theme took pride in the good-hearted nature of the Figaro family name, Kefka takes pride in being a mind controlling, manipulative, town poisoning, world ending, face painted tyrant that reigns supreme above all others.
3. “Ghost Train”: This is undoubtedly the biggest surprise of my Final Fantasy VI list, but I implore everybody to research this song and listen from beginning to end. For starters, this song has an introduction and conclusion to it. It welcomes you aboard the phantom train, followed by an eerie, funeral like melody. The chorus then dives into a full-bodied French-style carousel ride. When the song concludes, the train makes it stop, and thanks you for joining them on the adventure. It’s an actual crime how under valued and overlooked this song is. It really isn’t talked about much by others, which is a shame because it definitely should be on their favorites list instead. Plus, who could ever forget the moment when Sabin suplexed a train?
2. “Dancing Mad”: Sephiroth who? Did you seriously think I wasn’t going to include this near the top of the list? Miles and miles the best final boss theme in any Final Fantasy, this near thirteen minute operatic epic flawlessly manifests the entire fight with Kefka‘s true final form from start to finish. Each layer of the tower’s final battle has its own theme to it. From distraught to melancholy, from joyous to frightful, this anthem is the complete package. When you finally reach the top, you are greeted with the curtain call of all curtain calls. You will listen to the song from start to finish every time, and you will never, ever tire of its existence. That is not only just a demand, that is also a spoiler. Just do yourself a favor and even don’t compare “One Winged Angel” to this.
1. “Aria Di Mezzo Carattere/Celes’ Theme”: You know I hate to do this, and normally I would feel bad about spoiling people, but this is still my most cherished Final Fantasy song, and it’s not even close. The weird thing is, I can’t explain why I go through the emotions that I do when this song hits, but every single time, without fail, I am reduced to a blubbering emotional mess. The last time I listened to it was at a grocery store wearing my earbuds, taking mental notes for this article. I ended up having to fight back tears, and turning off the song because there were people looking at me trying not to make a scene.
There is so much sentimental value behind this song and its meaning is of high importance to the game. It’s about wanting to reunite with your long lost love and the feeling of desolation and hopelessness, so I guess in a way I can relate to it. Maybe it’s a depression trigger, but whatever the case may be, the effects it has on me is prodigious. The Opera House scene is my favorite scene in any Final Fantasy game, I am still waiting for the remake of VI so that I could see this masterpiece done in a well deserved modern state. I would die happy if that wish became a reality.
FINAL FANTASY VII
10. “Gold Saucer”: By now some of you will conclude that I am a sucker for sidequest music. This joyous carnival tune from hell is going to embed itself into your psyche, and it’s going to live in your brain as a cancerous earworm. No matter if you’re enjoying a delicious steak meal, shopping for groceries, or filing your taxes. Once you hear this song, it will never leave you. It’s an infectious, joyous gem that will have you feel like you’re skipping down Rainbow Road all while eating a multiflavored assortment of cotton candy and downing it with an extra large soda concocted of every flavor because your inner child went ADHD and decided to push every button. You can’t help but acknowledge the catchiness, no matter how insane its endless loop drives you.
9. “One Winged Angel”: Now, I know I completely ripped this song a new one when I was fan-girling over “Dancing Mad”, but don’t let that fool you into believing I don’t like this song. I wouldn’t be talking about it right now if it wasn’t in my Top 10 of the series, you silly goose. In fact, the first seven or so seconds of the song is considered by most to be the most recognizable in video game history. Since Final Fantasy VII was the first series to introduce multiple discs because of its length, it felt like such a reward to finally hear this song rain down as Sephiroth comes falling from the heavens in God form to do battle with your party for the last time in the games finale. Undoubtedly a stellar piece of work, just don’t ask me to compare it to “Dancing Mad”.
8. “Shinra Company”: Sure, while Sepiroth was the villain you dealt with at the end of the game, Shinra was the cactus thorn in your ass the entire way through up until then. The evil corporation who manufactured mega generators to drain the plant’s live stream to create Mako energy, Shinra, in my opinion was the bonafide protagonist of Final Fantasy VII, and their theme song had nothing but evil intent to it. An absolute bullseye of song, its slow, menacing drum beat is sure to get your blood boiling.
7. “Bombing Mission (Opening)”: When Final Fantasy VII made its debut, it started a revolution in JRPGs. Transitioning from 8-bit to 32-bit polygonal figures proved to be an extraordinary thing of epic proportions. Everybody’s goddamn mind was obliterated to pieces when this game first came out, so how could I not include the opening theme to the first real cinematic scene in Final Fantasy? From the slow solemn intro, to the warm welcoming introduction of Aerith Gainsborough and her green eyes, to the slow reveal of the city of Midgar, to suddenly being thrown into your first mission and changing its tone from peace to chaos in the blink of an eye, this song will be remembered forever.
6. “Electric de Chocobo”: Imagine you’re on the beach, and you’re slowly savoring a chilled piña colada out of a hollowed-out coconut shell under an umbrella to keep cool while you munch on a fresh fruit platter. You then withdraw your sunglasses and gaze out into the open ocean, where you see a wild Chocobo wearing board shorts while riding a gigantic wave on a surfboard. I just described this song impeccably. Simply put, it’s a tropical twist on the well-known theme song and what’s not to love about it?
5. Don of the Slums”: Now, even though I decided not to include Final Fantasy VII Remake in this list, because that would be cheating, Chapter 9, from start to finish, is the most genius piece of video game art ever created, and the ever-beloved Wall Market scene from the original was brought to absolute life in that game. But in all honesty, that segment wouldn’t have that much weight of importance if Don Corneo wasn’t the absolute slime ball grease pig that he is. So when you hear his slithering yet inexplicably charming oboe music, you can’t help but feel uncomfortably captivated as he dry humps is way into the scene and drips his perverted sex thirst all over the dialogue.
4. “Aerith’s Theme”: I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this article, then you have already played through Final Fantasy VII in its entirety, and I will not be held accountable for spoiling a game released in 1997. Aerith’s theme is a gentle piano piece that gradually escalates to manifest her maturation from a mere flower girl to the implied white mage resistance to Sepheroth’s tyranny. Unfortunately, in one of the most shocking moments in gaming history, Aerith succumbs to a death not even a Phoenix Down can cure midway through the game, erasing her from existence, and removing her permanently from your party. No matter how much grinding you invest into her, all of her progress is wiped clean and rendered irrelevant. To top it all off, the game plays her theme song as you battle Jenova immediately following her death instead of Jenova’s Theme, a true rubbing of the lemon on a cheese grated wound that puts so much emotional impact and weight on the gamer. But would you believe there’s another female character in this game that has an even better theme song than hers? We’ll get back to that shortly.
3. “JENOVA”: The importance of this theme song is tied to the equally important character. An extraterrestrial life form brought to the planet by a meteorite, Jenova‘s cells were used by Professor Hojo of Shinra Inc. to create super soldiers. The reason behind such notable characters such as Sepheroth and Cloud Strife. Recall the entry I just did on Atma weapon in Final Fantasy VI, Jenova‘s theme is directly tied to a specific fight against, well, Jenova. Only this time it’s done throughout the entirety of the game, so you know exactly who you’re up against. Aside from one encounter being replaced by Aerith’s Theme, and additionally when you’re up against Hojo at the end, this historic piece has a distinct science-fiction sound to it that’s exceptionally fitting to the subject matter.
2. “Tifa’s Theme”: This particular entry makes a bulkier impact on me the more I listen to it. Being a retail manager, coming home every day after a tiring eight hour shift five times a week, this song perfectly illustrates that emotional atmosphere. It tells a story of Tifa, working day in and day out at the Seventh Heaven, keeping the residents of Sector 7 well fed and happy with alcohol, alongside providing the hideout for the ecoterrorist group AVALANCHE. It’s a truly faithful loveletter to those dealing with hard labor and wanting more in life. It’s another emotional investment to listen to and you can’t help but sympathize for her hard-working personification.
1. “Underneath the Rotting Pizza”: And the award for the biggest surprise on this entire list goes to…trust me, it gets even more crazy at the end. Now I know what you’re thinking, and you’re probably questioning whether or not you should stop reading this article, but I implore you, no I demand you: get a pair of high quality headphones, clean out the earwax that’s been residing in your canals for years, select the Bass Booster option, and prepare to be absolutely blown away. The simplicity of it melody allows the focus of the song to shift towards the usage of deafening bass and ear shattering sounds of horror. To make things even better, the melody is cool, suave, and hip. So mixed with that, this is surprisingly, but confidently the best song of Final Fantasy VII.
FINAL FANTASY VIII
10. “Waltz for the Moon”: The phrase “You’re the best looking guy here” will never be looked at the same ever again. This entire scene in itself has so much going for it, from the previously mentioned line from Rinoa, from Selphie guilting you into helping her in some party planning committee stuff, to the infamous dance scene. Who knew Squall could bust a move? Nevertheless, I was torn between this track or “Dance with Balamb-fish”, being just as equally catchy and joyful, but the nod goes to the Waltz simply for the weight of the scene its attached to.
9. “Under Her Control”: The main theme of Deling City, this contemporary jazzy theme has a perpetual laid-back feeling to it. At that point in the game, the residents of the city are under the dictatorial hold of Edea, who we later find out to be under the possession of Ultimecia, the ultimate sorceress and main protagonist. One of the many times where your party is split into multiple groups, roaming the streets of the city kind of makes you forget that it symbolizes being brainwashed because if its witty nature. Maybe the song itself is brainwashing you?
8. “Breezy”: This song possesses the absolute embodiment of mitigation. Listening to it puts one in the mood to take a stroll on the sandy beach and reminisce on the positives in life and put all of their worries past them. Little fun fact; this was the first song that I attempted to replicate in a finger style arrangement on guitar. While I have yet to come close in being successful in mirroring its beauty, that just goes to show you how much of an effect it has on me.
7. “The Man with the Machine Gun”: With a battle theme song of the alternative party that outshines the main party’s, you begin to question whether or not you’d prefer Laguna as the main protagonist, and not Squall. While there’s nothing wrong with the main battle theme, “The Man with the Machine Gun” is just a keen, funky trance song that makes you want to start a breakdance fighting session with the enemies. It really makes you want more segments with Laguna, Kiros and Ward, because honestly with a battle theme this good, it doesn’t have enough opportunities to make its presence rightfully known.
6. “Succession of Witches”: Being that your entire party consists of amnesia-ridden orphans with a dollop of teenage angst, it’s appropriate that a majority of the games soundtrack has a dark, gothic edge to it. One of the more discernible tracks comes at the moment when you find out that who you thought was the main villain was merely under the possession of the evil sorceress, Ultimetcia, whom the title suggests has successfully possessed many subjects into said “witches”. Containing the opening phrase from the game’s soon-to-be-mentioned best song, this chilling track is a damn well awesome way to introduce a villain.
5. “Balamb Garden”: There really isn’t much to say about this song, except that as a kid playing this game for the first time, roaming the entirety of an area never felt so inviting. Not once did I feel like my character was in danger and that everyone around me (with the exception of Seifer) welcomed me with open arms, making me feel at ease. The Alma Mater of Final Fantasy VIII easy earned its spot halfway down the list and is the only school worth attending.
4. “Fisherman’s Horizon”: You really do have to feel kinda bad for the inhabitants of this placid town. When Balamb Garden’s floating school malfunctions and collides into Fisherman’s Horizon, Squall makes an executive order to apologize to the major and implement maintenance assistance. It’s then we discover that regardless of the town being completely at peace and wanting no part in any retailiation, they actually have the nerve to profile you as a burdensome group only attracting danger into their city. Alright there, old man just accept the apology, focus on better posture, and try not to be a jackass about it okay? Nevertheless, this theme alone embodies the towns non-confrontational demeanor dealing with their conflicts and issues by means of peaceful, if not presumptuous, communication. It’s a lovely, tragic song of a town’s attempt in securing a constant state of truce, despite all that is around them.
3. “The Castle”: The introduction to the games final dungeon throws a huge curveball. As the team makes their way towards Ultimecea’s Castle, the track starts off full of hope and reconciliation and you wonder what the catch is going to be when you approach the doors. And then, boom. It’s like the composer performed a perfect-10 high dive and landed on the necessary keys of the worlds most boisterous organ, releasing a gothic audio blast of legandary proportions, followed by a sophisticated, inviting melody. Ultimecia plays the role of Dracula, luring you in with her charm and appeal, only to strike when you’re at your most vulnerable state. It’s a complete song and packs a colossal punch of emotion.
2. Shuffle or Boogie: Everybody’s favorite Final Fantasy sidequest/minigame is Triple Triad, and if it isn’t, it damn well should be. An imaginative card game that can break the game into making your party into damage dealing freaks, it also proves to be the most beneficial. But it’s not just the card game alone that is the addition. Oh no, it’s that heaven sent jingle that gets you bobbing your head more than a full Angels Stadium on a Friday. I can’t count how many times Ive imitated the musical instruments and the clapping every time I started a card battle because of this riffs deathly addiction. And on a side note, if you spent countless hours and soft resets trying to abolish certain rules to make life easier on you, I shame your intellectual malnourishment and revoke your gamer card. Do it the right way and suffer, peasant.
1. Liberi Fatali: As if it were any more obvious what the best song in this game is. Oddly enough, this prominent theme of Final Fantasy VIII is the first experimental use of a live choir and orchestra, also being tacked onto the franchise’s first fully CGI opening sequence. From a music free beginning with spoken latin that is sure to send chills down your spine, to a full on orchestral atom bomb that will ultimately have it crap out your backside, this track is far and wide the most complete masterpiece this game has to offer. A little bit of trivia juice for you all: the first four spoken words of Latin, “Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec”, don’t actually have a proper meaning when translated to English, but it is an anagram of two other songs in the game, “Succession of Witches”, and “Love”. The more you know.
FINAL FANTASY IX
10. A Place to Call Home: A lot of people will probably quarrel with me that this should be number one, or at least number two on my list, but as good as this track is, the following nine just have a little bit more depth and variety to them. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason why this track is on the list out of hundreds of songs from Final Fantasy IX, but I feel that just because it’s the prominent theme of a game, it doesn’t entitle favor in tier position, unless, of course, it’s Final Fantasy VIII. It’s an effective, warm, lighthearted tune that greets you every time you press the power button on your PlayStation, but repetition and a left to be desired sense of depth hold it back from being truly sensational.
9. Black Mage Village: Everybody’s favorite character in Final Fantasy IX is Vivi. He isn’t not mine (Freya’s my girl), but I will admit that the purpose of Vivi’s existence of being a mere puppet of destruction with a shortened life span is a sorrowful, depressing character arc. When you finally set foot in the Black Mage Village, meet all the other prototypes, and discover the truth of Vivi’s fate, it’s oddly satisfying to have an positive sounding tribal number to counter balance the emotional despair that your characters are going through. Synth keyboard, tribal drums and pan flutes give this village theme the depth and variety that sets the bar for the rest of the list. Yeah I’m still ragging on number 10, but you know I still love you.
8. Crossing Those Hills: One of the better aspect in Final Fantasy games is roaming the overworld, and it’s even better when you have an overworld theme that doesn’t wear thin and become annoying. Earworm is kind of a nasty thing: getting a certain song stuck in your head because of constant looping and repetition. Normally, the two examples that are more susceptible to causing that are the battle theme and the overworld theme. Thankfully for Final Fantasy IX, “Crossing Those Hills” is a warm, stoic, cordial and relaxing tune that makes long ventures across the overworld seem like a pleasure cruise.
7. Not Alone: “But Baylen, this is clearly the best song in Final Fantasy IX. The moment is so memorable and iconic, how could it not be your number one?” Yes, the revelation that Zidane was created by Garland to be an angel of death was a very shocking moment, and his personality change, becoming hostile towards his friends and refusing help in any way shape or form was a very big deal, and the songs title symbolizes that your true friends will always be with you no matter what. The song has a lot of emotion and utilizes pan flute and high octave guitar strings effectively, but you will clearly understand soon down the list that my taste in music thrives for something more fleshed out. While this song is good enough to make it on my list, it’s just not the perfect package that everyone claims it to be.
6. Something to Protect: This is where Final Fantasy IX’s list really takes off, the rest of the entries being far and wide the best. You can tell that this soundtrack’s theme is an Irish folklore scenario where everyone is just gathered around, slurping a frothy brew, munching on various meats skewered by a wooden stick, and frolicking around the campfire. Simply put, having a grand old time and not giving a damn about what people think, that’s the kind of attitude that this song exemplifies to set the bar for the remainder.
5. Battle 2: Let me just get this out of the way and prepare myself for the pitchforks. I don’t technically think the main Battle Theme of Final Fantasy IX is bad, but it is by far the most monotonous and annoying one. It just lacks so much in comparison to other games, to the point of occasionally making IX a chore to play. However, the same cannot be said for the main boss Battle Theme, a complete 180° polar opposite in terms of quality and effectiveness. It has everything you could ask for in a boss battle: theming, a strong build up, depth, and intensity.
4. Out of the Frying Pan: Now that I’ve hit the halfway point on my list, it’s time to pick the most unexpected top four in probably anybody’s list for this game. But again, I have to remind you that there’s a certain mood in Final Fantasy IX that just makes me feel at home. Being that the main protagonist of the story is classified as a thieving sky pirate, this track really captures the rowdy, swashbuckling feel with an effective use of tribal drums, keyboards and panflute. I think I’ve said panflute twenty times already in this game’s list alone. It just works, bear with me.
3. Freya’s Theme: The female rat dragoon character with the hidden face is the unsung hero of Final Fantasy IX, and my favorite character in the game. Her theme song is nothing short of an Irish classic. While it can be argued that the song suffers from some repetition, the octave changes, gradual intensity and instrument inclusion show that life can be a constant and steady flow, and then as things change and certain events happen, a persons mood can change for better or for worse, and adaptation is imperative. A tragic masterpiece of love and heartbreak.
2. Foolproof Loveletter Scheme: In what’s probably the funniest scene in the entire game, underage Eiko writes a secret love letter to Zidane that falls into the wrong hands. It’s an absolute cluster of hilarity and confusion with innuendos galore and nose bleeds, and this song perfectly captures that energy. With goofy annotations and a moment of a false sense of royalty, this track is a goofy riot that is sure to get your head bobbing up and down like an idiot. At number two, it’s the biggest surprise pick of the entire bunch, but I can’t deny its charm and silliness.
1. Vamo Alla Flemenco: Another case of a dead given, not even close, situation. When people talk about the game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, they always rave about the track for Gerudo Valley, which is, far and wide, its best song. Well, “Vamo Alla Flemenco” is the Gerudo Valley of Final Fantasy IX. This could be played anywhere and it would a hit. It translates to “Let’s Go, Flamenco”, which references to the type of Spanish guitar played in the song, as well as a request for the composer to speed up the tempo. An extremely appropriate situation too, because it’s played during a sword fight scene in the beggining of the game, where you are trying to appeal to as many crowd members as possible for a potential reward. A complete sounding song that can hold its own outside the franchise.
FINAL FANTASY X
10. Patricide: To avoid sounding like a broken record, I’m just gonna say right now that for almost all ten of Final Fantasy X’s choices, at times it’ll be difficult to find the words to express how I feel, simply because I honestly don’t have that much of an emotional connection with the game. Despite playing it numerous of times, it hasn’t really succeeded in fully grasping me like the others do. I chose this song at number 10 simply because it reminds me of the gothic characteristics that Final Fantasy VIII does better, but it does its job.
9. A Fleeting Dream: Final Fantasy X‘s soundtrack is a more religious sounding selection, but this particular track grasps my attention because of its subtle hints and usages of Final Fantasy IX‘s music before experimenting with its own religious material. It’s a harmless choice that doesn’t overbear the listener with preachiness like most of 10 does, so this one was a simple choice, yet lower on my list for being a tad safe.
8. Yuna’s Determination: Three songs down, three songs that made the list because it reminded me of another game’s more prosperous musical approach. While it’s not her specific theme, “Yuna‘s Determination” reminds me of both Tifa’s and Aerith’s theme combined. Being sweet and lighthearted yet showing signs of emotional wear and tear and yearning for answers in life, this one is warmly pleasant to the ear, ignores the common theme of Final Fantasy X and stands out as it’s own.
7. Via Purifico: Remember the good times before COVID was a thing where we all went to the mall and bounced around from store to store, checking out all the new things we couldn’t afford? Do you also remember the random piano sitting in the middle of the shopping center by the escalators, with some dude in a tux playing some depressing, yet sweet melody? That’s exactly what this song reminds me of. In fact, it has a very separate feeling from the game itself, and I actually have to remind myself that it has a connection. Expertly crafted and packed with emotion, this one I’m sure plenty of people have put on their “To Learn” list.
6. Yuna’s Theme: You know, sending spirits and summoning Aeons in temples as your calling can eventually take an extremely tasking toll on one’s body. And that’s exactly the message Yuna’s Theme delivers. It’s about exhaustion, but still trucking along and doing out what you set to do. Despite Tidus inviting the player to listen to his story, Final Fantasy X wouldn’t be what it is without the amazing character depth of everyone’s favorite White Mage, Yuna. While she’s sweet and caring, she is by no means a pushover and won’t stand for any nonsense. It’s one of those songs that sound great after an intense battle theme, setting things at ease and bringing them back to a calm state.
5. Seymour’s Ambition: Another classic example of a track’s effectiveness being tied to the situation. The second boss encounter with Seymour is a doozy, the first true roadblock in the game. Simply put, if you are even the slightest bit underprepared, get ready for a horrible time and reality check. The song in itself has a more eerie feeling to it, instead of the usual intensity found in directly related boss themes, but everyone who has played this game knows of the triggering effect this song has to the horrible situation they’ve just put themselves in.
4. To Zanarkand: “Listen to my story, this may be our last chance”. Okay there Tidus, it’s really Yuna’s story. Everybody’s favorite sad piano opening theme song to a Final Fantasy comfortably makes its way near the top simply because it’s an extremely beautiful and effective piano piece that helped cement X as one of the more universally beloved installments in the franchise. This piece cannot be denied of its beloved nature. Probably the song with the most cover attempts out of any game, this song is going to be talked about in JRPG history for eternity.
3. Spira Unplugged: While I just spoke of one of the more popular piano pieces attached to Final Fantasy, I’m more of a guitar guy myself, and lately I have become infatuated with the style of fingerstyle arrangements. The end result, regardless of the piece, is both beautiful and jaw-droppingly impressive all in one. Spira Unplugged is one of the prime examples of a fingerstyle arrangement done so right. The title cleverly hints that it is an Unplugged version of a theme song, meaning it’s completely done in acoustic fashion with no use of plugged-in electronic devices whatsoever. Simply beautiful and advanced in all techincal aspects, there is just so much to love about this piece.
2. Battle Theme: I truly wanted to put this one at number one, but there’s just one more song in this game that does a little bit more to my liking than this one. But that shouldn’t take away from this triumphant masterclass of battle theme genius. Every random battle is met with a screen shattering intro that would make Stone Cold Steve Austin cower into a corner, and then frantic trumpets make its way and blast a pirate party fiasco that makes getting into random battles less of a chore and more of an anticipation. One of the absolute best main battle themes of all time, but would you be surprised if I told you, that the best one has yet to come? We will get back to that one in a lightining’s flash…
1. Fight With Seymour: The final showdown with the main protagonist of the game proves to be at its best when it comes to the theme song. Starting off with a Final Fantasy VIII like gothic introduction complimented with a choir group intensifying the situation, until a barrage of crashing symbols flood your ear canals before the songs actual melody takes off. There’s plenty of variety and emotion all packed into one, but yet at the same time it manages to not be overbearing in its sense of overwhelming you in a desperate, frantic situation. Stands tall above the game’s rest, and it’s truly one of the greats.
FINAL FANTASY XIII
10. Eidolons: When your party members are branded by Anima as l’Cie, you are then given a task that you must complete in a certain amount of time to avoid being turned into grotesque monsters known as Cieth (yet completing it and turning to crystal doesn’t sound promising either). During certain segments of the story, each member begins to doubt their capabilities and contemplate giving up, causing their brands to illuminate and summon an Eidolon to battle them to the death, as means of motivation to press on. Embracing the sense of panic, confusion, and doubt, this hyper-paced track floods your ear with a filthy, grungy rock intensity. And with so little time to complete the fight it’s tacked onto, it does it’s job to replicate that needed sense of urgency.
9. The Yaschas Massif: As much as I love Final Fantasy XIII, I must agree with the complaints of it taking its sweet time to open up for exploration. Thankfully, when that time comes, there’s a lot of of additional content that is well worth your time. Most notably, the music that plays when you are venturing through a certain area consists of a peaceful melody that uses a brilliant combination of piano, acoustic guitar and an undetermined wind instrument of some sort. It’s extremely important to have a great track when you’re doing a lot of backtracking and exploration, and beautiful pieces like this one make you wish it was endless.
8. Taejin’s Tower: While Final Fantasy XIII is linear, everything blends in perfectly with each other. But that also does mean that it kind of misses out on the feeling that you’re in a dungeon. Thankfully “Taejin’s Tower” stands out as one of the best parts of Final Fantasy XIII, in terms of difficulty, puzzle solving, and enemy design. This dungeon’s theme song has an interesting mix of African tribal music whilst venturing through the marshes of Australia. It oddly works extremely well, despite not sounding initially appealing on paper. It’s fits the setting perfectly and sometimes blends into the distraction of exploration, and when the sense of the player come to, they realize how meant for this area the track truly is.
7. Daddy’s Got The Blues: I can hear it now. “Out of the entirety of Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack, this one made your top 10 list? It’s such a throwaway song that nobody even remembers!” That’s what this article’s main purpose is all about! Revisiting the game as a whole and letting yourself be surprised with how great a little to-be-known tracks can spark that big of an interest. I fully blame my love for Cowboy Bebop for influencing this pick. The beloved bounty hunter space western is packed full of this similar style of harmonica blues renditions that this track is a sure fire grand slam and tickles the nostalgia bone with all nerves included. A lot of people will still disagree with me, but oh well, whatever happens, happens.
6. Test of the l’Cie: Final Fantasy XIII’s music is technologically superior to other installments on paper, but I promised myself I would not let that influence which songs I liked the most as a whole. “Test of the l’Cie”, much like “Eidolons”, is a constant beat of increased tempo and structure to signify the importance of the battle. It is considered the standard boss battle theme of the game and differs from “Eidolons” because that one only relates to the boss fights against the summons. I give the slight nod to the “Test” over “Eidolons” because as similar to each they are, this one sounds a little clear and less audibly mess and therefore more focused.
5. The Archylte Steppe: Who would’ve guessed that the moment you were given the liberty to do optional content and roam around the world of Grand Pulse, that you’d be granted with this beautiful rendition of the game’s most popular 23 musical notes? We will get into that particular track soon, as well as another variation even sooner, but the first introduction of its presence to this list comes in the form of wonderfully orchestrated string quartet with a subtle helping of wind instruments with a complimentary dash of drums. Completing side quests never felt much more serene than this and a very good reason why completing this game is a must-do every time.
4. The Sunleth Waterscape: While the previously mentioned song was more of an orchestrated performance, this happy-go-lucky techno ballad gets the slight nod simply because it embraces it’s painfully self-aware lyrics and goes all out with the J-Pop cheesiness. It’s a song that will never fail to put a smile on your face, and at times I wished that this one wasn’t specific to a certain moment, but instead a replacement of “The Archylte Steppe”, which is saying a lot for both songs because there’s technically not much separation between the two except for a slight preference in song style.
3. Sazh’s Theme: I’ll admit that the character themes are a little forgettable in Final Fantasy XIII as they are heavily outshadowed by certain situations and locations. That being said, there is one character whose theme song stands miles away from the others in the group. In fact, it’s actually one of the best songs in the entire game. That song belongs to the comic relief father figure, Sazh, Chocobo in hair included. What makes his theme stand out from the rest is the ability to be unlike any other in the game. It’s a one of its kind; a hip, cool, groovy jazz piece complete with brass instruments and multiple dueling piano/guitar solos. Everybody loves the underdog, so why not give them the best theme?
2. The Promise: Literally the first thing you hear in the game, even before the damn thing begins, and you are greeted with the most emotional, sweet hearted piano melody in JRPG history. I don’t care what anybody says, with passion, this is how you make a simplicity effective. This song is so important to the fans that they made multiple renditions, some of which I’ve already mentioned. There is not a time I don’t skip the start menu until the song is over because it is that amazing. Talking about it makes me want to play Final Fantasy XIII right now, but to suffice, I’ll gladly listen to it in its soundtrack. Have you ever heard so much emotion in such a simple song?
1. Blinded by Light: We end the list with the absolute best Battle Theme in any Final Fantasy. There is no question about it; this is how you compose a balls-out go-for-broke battle theme, jam-packed with electric guitars and some of the most passionate string instruments you ever hear. Despite everything that’s been said about it, despite its polarizing effects, people will still play Final Fantasy XIII for the sole fact they’ll be pleasantly welcomed by this masterpiece of a composition. The millions of covers that you will find this song on YouTube are 100% justified, it simply is that amazing.
And finally, after skimming through these lists, the Top 5 Songs of All Time…
5. Under the Rotting Pizza (Final Fantasy VII)
4. Dancing Mad (Final Fantasy VI)
3. Blinded by Light (Final Fantasy XIII)
2. Liberi Fatali (Final Fantasy VIII)
1. Aria Di Mezzo Carattere/Celes’ Theme (Final Fantasy VI)
Bonus: The worst Final Fanrasy song of all time is Otherworld from Final Fantasy 10. The most unforgivable, out of place piece of garbage really takes away the enjoyment the final encounter with Jecht. This style of music has no right being in a game like this.