Friday, February 3, 2017

Ep. 53: Popability

Josh and Emily have gotten so many track recommendations from the Final Fantasy franchise that it's time for a Final Fantasy fan focus. Join your hosts as they take a chronological stroll through the musical landscape of this flagship RPG series and discuss interpretive dance, potential VGMJB matrimony services, the concept of dynamic village songs in real life, and the possibility of their own presidential bid. Adachi/Glyph 2020!

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This episode was made possible by:
Game Track Title Composer(s)
Final Fantasy Prelude Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy V The Prelude of Empty Skies Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy VI Awakening Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy IX Danger in the Forest (Rustling Forest) Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy XII Near the Water Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Bluesy Chocobo Naoshi Mizuta Mitsuto Suzuki, Masashi Hamauzu
Final Fantasy XV Braver* Yoko Shimomura, Afrojack

...and listeners like YOU.

*Since this track was omitted from the podcast proper, listen to it here for extra credit!


  1. How is FFV like IV, VI, and Tactics? Let me break it down:

    IV, V, and VI are JRPGs with gorgeous storylines in which you are tasked with preventing the apocalypse, make you heavily invested in the characters, and thusly take you on sweeping emotional journeys.

    Unlike IV and VI in which the abilities of each character were mostly locked down, FFV used the Job system in which skills from multiple classes are available to all characters if you give them the proper training, which is something I so loved about Tactics. For me, this was a welcome additional dimension to the JRPG format I was used to.

    Thank you for doing this episode from this devoted FF superfan and Hajuhead.

    1. Thanks for the breakdown! Job systems are neat... I gotta say, I'm intrigued!

  2. I don't know that I'd say that Nobuo doesn't make poppy or singable tracks. Ahead On Our Way, Rydia, and a few others seem like they could easily have vocals over them. Personally, I think the tracks that he made for the more comedic sections of FF, like Don of the Slums for ffvii, are underrated. The inclusion of the old FF soundtracks in FFXV is a cool feature but unfortunately you only get a small set list from each game and they leave out some of the better tracks. I think Josh mentioned he prefers the Shining games if I'm remembering correctly. The shining force games are probably my favorite strategy rpgs of all time. For some reason that genre never went back to that format of letting you explore towns in between battles.

    1. What makes Nobuo Uematsu brilliant is that while his orchestral, sweeping pieces are not really singable or "poppy", when he creates a theme that gets used and repurposed throughout each game he works on, those are all very poppy. His work stands out in his use of recurring motifs.

  3. Does this mean I'm in trouble for having recommendations appear on consecutive episodes?

    Oh well, whatever. I'm happy to be a bad dude.

    1. Nah, not in trouble! I was just making a joke. I realized after we recorded that I should have explained myself better.

      But if someone must be in trouble, it's me! So maybe you're a bad dude by proxy.

  4. Is it strange that this makes me want to request even more FF tunes?

    1. Not strange at all. My goal is to request every single FF IX track.

    2. I really like 'a place to call home' :)

    3. DO IT GUYS


      Seriously though, it's feasible that we could do another focus. We can't make promises, but maybe recommend some ultra poppy ones just in case!

    4. Weirdly, I've always thought that Final Fantasy IX was one of his weakest soundtracks. It's got certain bangers (the first overworld theme is lovely) as highlights but there's a lot of meandering stuff in between imo

  5. I liked how you stood up for yourself on whether you could sing/hum along to the FF9 track Keyglyph :)

    I personally find a lot of Uematsu hummable (although personally that track not so much though I like it a lot) and I think that's a key trait of Uematsu's: Classical mixed with pop music rhythm and a nice melody.

  6. Put me down as delighted to learn that there is an MSX version of Final Fantasy, with ~~FM Synthesis~~ to boot.

    And Prelude of the Empty Skies, oh boy! Here’s one of the first VGM remixes I remember finding and liking on Youtube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSGMzcHTpaU

    That bassline that is the first thing you hear? It’s similar to, albeit less colourful than, the bassline from Ahead on our Way, the game’s main theme. It is certainly close enough that I see it as a deliberate connection, and I love that that open, ready-for-adventure piece of music from the beginning of Final Fantasy V foreshadows the discombobulating final dungeon.

    I’m a fan of the atmosphere of that final dungeon and the way the music is used, so let me indulge myself for a moment here:

    It’s the end of a Final Fantasy game, so naturally you have a flying ship. You’ve taken it to the stratosphere and to the ocean floor. The world, such as it is, is wide open.

    But the last challenge isn’t in the world. You and your companions turn the ship towards a void, a sphere of absolute blackness that has taken a bite out of the landscape. It starts to suck you up alongside your world’s air. Everything goes dark…

    Stillness. The turbulence stopped. You can see again: the ship is stationary, its propellers are not moving, it’s beached. Calm, calm water laps at its sides. A gangplank is already set up.

    It is the mundanity of it that is strangest of all.

    We can’t see beyond the edges of the screen but my imagination paints endless, level ocean in one direction. And in the other it paints endless sand, not flat at all but piled up and twisted strangely into little passages like the part that the screen does pass over. The only place to go is along the beach, to where a stone door is built, somehow, into the edge of the water.

    It is when you leave the ship that silence gives way to this music. Mounting syncopation. A cymbal crash played backwards. You know in your bones that you have stepped out of space and time.