Japan Jams highlights the marvellous music of Japan. From bubbly bops to melancholy grooves, we’ll showcase what gets our feet tapping.
Nobuo Uematsu – “Theme of Love” from Final Fantasy IV (SNES)
Final Fantasy IV’s story, a predictable jaunt between good and evil (with some powerful crystals thrown in for good measure), may have not aged well in the years since its release, but its music has more than maintained its luster. This powerful rendition of the “Theme of Love” by the Distant Worlds orchestra gets to the heart of Uematsu’s piece, underlining the subtle sweetness and despair of FFIV‘s story of transformation.
Nobuo Uematsu – “Zanarkand” from Final Fantasy X (PS2)
I’ve never cared for Final Fantasy X, oftentimes finding aspects of its gameplay and story dated or simply boring. However, this Uematsu masterpiece captures the heartbreaking tone of FFX masterfully, cementing its place as one of the Final Fantasy series’ greatest pieces. “Zanarkand” underscores the desolation of Spira and the cycles of destruction and faith that FFX touches upon.
Nobuo Uematsu – “Twilight over Thanalan” (Arr. by Matt Fuss) from Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 (PC)
Final Fantasy XIV‘s initial release was an unmitigated disaster, plagued by poor design decisions and terrible engine performance. One part of the initial release that wasn’t an issue, however, was its monumental soundtrack. As good as FFXIV’s relaunch in 2013 was, some great Uematsu tracks were left in the wake of transition. One such piece, the eloquent “Twilight over Thanalan” (here arranged by pianist Matt Fuss), is a testament to how good Uematsu is at producing music that feels epic, and yet cozily familiar.
ACE+ – “Gaur Plain” from Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
There’s prototypical JRPG “in the field” music, and then there’s this beautiful masterpiece. Sitting at the heart of one the genre’s most outstanding titles, “Gaur Plain” transports the player to the world of titans, adventure, and friendship that defines Xenoblade Chronicles.
Utada Hikaru and Skrillex – “Face My Fears (JP)” from Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4, Xbox One)
Fans have waited a long time for Kingdom Hearts 3. The main theme, sung by Japanese pop star Utada Hikaru, and remixed by famous American producer Skrillex, is a treat for long-time fans and newcomers to the series alike.
That’s it for this episode of Japan Jams. Check back for more killer records that deserve a spot in any good music library.
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