Best VGM 487 – Kingdom Hearts II – Dance To The Death

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Video Game Music Continues To Impress On 2016 Classic FM Hall Of Fame

With Easter having just passed for another year, it means that over on Classic FM the annual Hall Of Fame competition, where listeners vote for their top 300 pieces of classical music, has been drawn to a close. For the past five years now, there has been a push to have classically influenced/performed pieces of music from video games represented on the list in a similar way to films, and this year has been another success story; albeit with the focus more on the breadth of games represented rather than hitting the very top of the charts as was the case in 2013 and 2014. I’ve written a result analysis for the past two years, and if you are interested you can find the links to those articles here and here. Continue reading

Video Game Soundtracks Enjoy Success On 2015 Classic FM Hall Of Fame

As has become a tradition each Easter weekend, Classic FM have been counting down the Top 300 pieces of classical music as voted for by the public in its annual ‘Hall Of Fame’ – and it has once again provided an excellent opportunity for the campaign to get more recognition for classical and orchestrated video game music to have their voices (and music) heard. With the countdown now at an end (SPOILERS – ‘The Lark Ascending’ was voted into top spot for the second year running), I am delighted to report that video game composers enjoyed another year of success.

With ClassicVGMusic once again doing a sterling job of reporting on the countdown on Twitter, the soundtracks came in thick and fast – 2015 has seen twelve video games represented on the Hall Of Fame (4% of the total entries), setting a new record for the campaign in terms of overall representation. If you want a refresher of last year’s results, then my summary article can be read here.

The Results

Before lavishing praise on those soundtracks which made the list, sadly Austin Wintory’s moving score for Journey was unable to match its debut on the 2014 chart, falling out of the Top 300 completely. I would nominate ‘Apotheosis’ as a superb example of why it should be included on the charts.

  • Halo made its debut on the charts at #244 – now that Marty O’Donnell has left Bungie, one wonders whether Halo 5: Guardians will feature such a memorable score
  • Double Oscar winner Gustavo Santaoalla’s soundtrack for The Last Of Us was also a new debutant at #193. While I adore the soundtrack though, I find the inclusion of The Last Of Us to be the most contentious video game entry on the chart; the music is more designed for atmosphere than for orchestral/symphonic adaptation
  • The music of South Korea’s national sport – StarCraft II, composed by Glen Stafford led a zerg rush to #163
  • Nobuo Uematsu was always going to get on the list (see further below), but in the shape of Blue Dragon he can now claim two entries in the Hall Of Fame – another debutant for 2015 at #118
  • The final debutant was a long overdue entry – the music of The Legend Of Zelda composed by Koji Kondo, slotting into #84 and earning the prestige of being the highest new entry on the chart. There’s still no place for Mario though, so this is the only entry representing Nintendo’s wares

And so what of the returning old guard?

  • Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning, the first of three works from British composer Grant Kirkhope (who therefore maintains his title as the most prolific video game compose in the Hall Of Fame) managed to rise by sixteen spots to claim #59
  • As the only MMORPG to make the chart, World Of Warcraft holds a heavy burden and slipped one place to #53 – still a great showing for Russell Brower et al
  • Kirkhope’s breezy and fun soundtrack for Viva Pinata, which has now been in the last three Hall Of Fame lists, rose 13 spots to #41
  • With a huge leap of 147 places, Kingdom Hearts is #30 on the chart – a brilliant feat also making composer Yoko Shimomura the highest placed female on a chart dominated by the male composers of the past. The recent release of 5 HD REMIX featured re-orchestrated versions of several tracks, no doubt helping to enhance the appeal of the series
  • The big surprise entry of last year, Kirkhope’s soundtrack for Banjo-Kazooie made even bigger waves this year; it made it to #13! The game specifically being recognized was the 2008 release, Nuts & Bolts
  • Having peaked in 5th place in 2013, Jeremy Soule’s superb soundtracks for The Elder Scrolls series dropped a little last year but has regained momentum to earn #11 on the charts. Whereas ‘Dragonborn’ has been used in the past to represent the series, this time the opening theme to The Elder Scrolls Online was played
  • And so finally, as has been the case for the past four years, Uematsu’s scores for Final Fantasy was the highest placed video game soundtrack on the list. While it was unable to match the heady heights of 2013 when it threatened Beethoven to be voted in 3rd spot (and it is unlikely to do so as the vote has become fractured for several different pieces including the mainstay ‘Aerith’s Theme’ and others such as ‘Dancing Mad’ rather than the series as a whole), remaining in the Top Ten at #9 is still a fantastic achievement. And to top it off, they played ‘Zanarkand’…one of my all time favorite pieces of music

2015’s Hall Of Fame was therefore a case of strength in numbers; a trend which I personally hope will continue and allow more soundtracks to be either played and recognized on Classic FM or at least be featured on the 2016 countdown. What did you make of the charts, and what soundtracks do you think would make great ambassadors for video game music? Let me know in the comments below, and a Happy Easter (or what’s left of it) to you all.