The Best ‘Final Fantasy’ Vocal Themes

J.P. Paulonis
Games Final Fantasy
Games Final Fantasy

It’s been a real mix of good and bad news regarding Final Fantasy XV lately. The bad news is that the game is delayed by two months to November 29. The good news is that hit band Florence + The Machine released Songs from Final Fantasy XV, containing three awesome pieces of music for the game, each a contender for best Final Fantasy vocal theme. Give this track a listen…

The new tunes seem to fit Final Fantasy XV pretty perfectly, fitting the tone and style of the RPG series. Furthermore, the epic, ambient feeling of the music really immerses the listener in a fantasy based on reality. It’s a great combination of music and gameplay for such a long-awaited game.

Florence + The Machine work now joins a long list of vocal themes from the long-running RPG series, many that mean so much to Final Fantasy fans. To celebrate new musicians joining the series, and to alleviate some of pain from the delay, here’s a list of some of the best vocal themes in the series so far.

“Eyes on Me” – Final Fantasy VIII

“Eyes on Me” details Squall and Rinoa’s relationship, and plays each time they share a major moment. In the game’s canon, the soulful ballad was written by Julia about Laguna. In reality, it was written by legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu, with lyrics by Kako Someya, and vocalized by Faye Wong. It’s an award-winning song that sold millions of copies as Final Fantasy VIII‘s theme song.

While it was a successful song, it’s not everyone’s favorite. And the CGI scenes the song appears in haven’t aged all that well. But with that said, it’s a fitting song for FFVIII‘s romantic story.

“real Emotion” – Final Fantasy X-2

real Emotion” is sung at the very beginning of Final Fantasy X-2 by Leblanc posing as Yuna. It sets the tone immediately and tells the player straight up: “forget about Final Fantasy X‘s Spira. Forget about the Summoners, about Sin, about Yevon, this Spira loves fun.” It’s a fairly typical J-Pop song, with instrumentation very reminiscent of the core soundtrack of the game. This one had both English and Japanese versions, but neither are about anything in particular.

This song is divisive precisely because it sets the tone of the game. For some, it’s a warning shot that Final Fantasy X-2‘s tone has little in common with Final Fantasy X. For others, it set the stage for a much more lighthearted game with familiar characters. And hey, it’s super catchy.

“Kiss Me Good-Bye” – Final Fantasy XII

“Kiss Me Good-Bye” is Final Fantasy XIIs only song written by Uematsu, sung by Angela Aki, both in Japanese and English. It plays at the very end of the game in the final cutscene, so, you know, SPOILERS. It’s a soft love song not unlike “Eyes on Me” in composition.

It’s a really nice theme, well sung and well written. The only issue is that it barely fits with FFXII at all. Its lyrics don’t really allude to any of the main characters. It does, however, definitely set the tone for the cast leaving their old lives behind at the finale. So while it works with the end of the game, the song doesn’t fit within the setting of Ivalice at all. While motifs and elements from other vocal themes tend to appear throughout the games, none from “Kiss Me Good-Bye” do. So while it’s a nice theme, it adds little to the game.

“Otherworld” – Final Fantasy X

If “real Emotion” sets the lighthearted tone for Final Fantasy X-2, then the heavy metal of “Otherworld” does for its game. It speaks of a crushing reality that Tidus stumbles into, with blasting guitar riffs to set the mood. The hard rock-influenced piece was composed by Uematsu, with lyrics by Takuya Sugimoto, and sung by Bill Muir. It plays not just at the start of the game but during a boss battle with Braska’s Final Aeon.

This song fits so perfectly during the opening scene and the boss battle. The vocal delivery may not be everyone’s bag, but it shows that Final Fantasy can easily pull off heavy metal-style. Final Fantasy X‘s soundtrack was all over the place in instrumentation, but this song suits it spectacularly. It’s easily one of the highlights of the soundtrack.

“One-Winged Angel” – FFVII:AC

“One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII needs little introduction. The orchestra and choir paint the picture of Sephiroth’s grotesque final form, in the series’ first vocal performance. It’s considered by many to be a classic, and well-known by fans and non-fans alike. The Latin lyrics expertly give the feeling that this form is truly a demon from hell.

But Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children‘s version of the song finds a way to improve on that stellar composition. The new Latin lyrics now describe Sephiroth as a haunting memory that won’t go away. The orchestra and choir are now accompanied by The Black Mages changing up the style. The blend of orchestral scores and heavy metal guitars completely changes the genre of the piece. And yet, it fits so well that it arguably does a better job than the original. Uematsu commented after that the heavy metal sounds were what the original piece needed all along.

“Melodies of Life” – Final Fantasy IX

“Melodies of Life” plays at the end of Final Fantasy IX. However, motifs and elements of the song play throughout the game. Its lyrics describe not only Zidane and Garnet‘s relationship but the game’s theme of the meaning of life and death. Were they fated to meet one another, or was it happen-stance? Will their relationship live on in a “melody” after they’re gone?

This piece is just beautiful. While some people could make a strong case for another theme, I’d argue that “Melodies of Life” is the best composed vocal theme in the series. It fits FFIX so brilliantly well and embodies much of what its story represented. Not only that, but it really gives you the feeling that you’re in a theatrical play, another key theme of the story. Final Fantasy IX is such a wonderful game and this piece at the end just reminds you that everything you experienced was so remarkable.

Honorable Mentions

Several other really neat vocal themes include “Answers” from Final Fantasy XIV and the untranslated “Suteki da ne” from Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy XIV‘s themes for its Primals and many of Final Fantasy XIII2‘s boss battles also contain nice vocals as well. Furthermore, while the lyrical Opera “Maria and Draco” doesn’t actually contain vocals, it does a great job emulating them with the SNES’s sounds in the unforgettable moment from Final Fantasy VI. And who knows, maybe there’s an even better vocal track waiting at the end of Final Fantasy XV? We’ll just have to wait and see.

J.P. Paulonis
I've been gaming since playing Crash Bandicoot: Warped at 6 years old, and my favorite game of all time is now Metal Gear Solid 3, while my favorite series is Final Fantasy. I've also been wiki-ing since a long time, so you'll find me writing and coding throughout the site.
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