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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Tale of Two Remixes:

Skies over Alexandria is a short, 55 second song in Final Fantasy 9 set to an in-game cut-scene.  Battle on the Bridge is a 3:31 second long song in Final Fantasy Tactics meant to carry an entire stage on indefinite repeat.  Both of them are remixes, but only one of them is being cut from my hall of fame.  Why?

Skies over Alexandria never quite totally copies the FF Main Theme, which already appears in my FF 4 epilogue 3 and FF 8 ending theme, but it's close enough that you can't help being reminded of it the entire time the overlap occurs.  In such a short song, even a small duration overlap can be half the song, which is what occurred here.  If you took out the remix-sounding segments there was very little left that was original song.  Add on to that the fact that the song wasn't really meant to be a musical masterpiece in the first place that could stand on its own two legs, but was instead just meant to emotionally narrate a full motion video that was occurring in-game, and you have a disaster in the making.

Battle on the Bridge has the same theme as found in Antipyretic, Bland Logo, Brave Story and Prologue Movie, and yet Battle on the Bridge -- and even all these other songs -- are all being spared the ax.  What gives?

First off, all these songs are slightly different, despite their similarities.  But more importantly, they all add something special and unique outside of the overlapping fragments.  Though the horns are still playing the same tune, the violin segments are new, and they just so happen to be an epic and marvelous accompaniment to what the horns are doing.  If anything, it feels like Battle on the Bridge is the real song and these others are the fakers.

However, it would be ridiculous to cut bland logo which has the amazing intro and outro portions that no other version has, or Prologue Movie with its Irish intro and unique second half.  Brave Story is a different take on the main theme entirely, and Antipyretic is its own theme for the first 38 seconds you won't find anywhere else.  Even when it does mimic the main theme, it uses all new instruments like flutes and bells and a slower, sadder pace, so it feels like an all new experience.

FF Tactics certainly likes leaning on its main theme, and due to that I've already been forced to cut 10 songs from the soundtrack as remixes.  But the remaining songs that lean on the main theme are too good, they simply cannot be spared, I'd be insane to stop listening to them.  You can only cut so much before you hit major veins and arteries and your patient bleeds out.  These songs are integral to FF Tactics, the whole soundtrack collapses without them.

FF Tactics isn't the only soundtrack being treated leniently.  My Star Wars songs almost all overlap with each other for sizable portions of every song.  They're allowed to stay because each of them has their own unique melody embedded somewhere in there alongside all the copycat moments.  If I cut the song for its copycat portions I'd end up losing an entire Star Wars tune, something I'm not willing to give up.  I kind of wish there were a Star Wars soundtrack that was shortened to only the unique themes, but I guess they prefer faithful adherence to what actually played during the movies, which I can understand.  Fans would complain no matter what they did with a decision like that.

Most of the remaining remixes to be found in my hall of fame fall under the latter category of Battle on the Bridge, as opposed to the former category of Skies over Alexandria.  While songs like Skies can be cut without much thought or worry, because they never really mattered to begin with, Antipyretic is a masterpiece that no lover of music could possibly discard.  As such, my era of remix cutting is trickling down to near zero.  Skies may be the very last one.  In any case, the pace has slowed dramatically from all the months prior.

The rule of thumb is if you're already a shaky-quality song, any hint of remix-itude is enough to get you cut, but if you're a masterpiece, the only thing that can't be forgiven is a complete note-for-note copy.  The goal is to create the ultimate music playlist, not to just zealously hunt down remixes no matter what.  So my playlist stands at 4351 songs.

The number of eminent composers/performers has gone down to 207, as Aoi Tada and Rita only sang songs composed by Jun Maeda, PMMK and Shinji Orito, who are already included in my hall of eminence, so rightly they should be credited for the songs not the singers.  It's the same standard I used to exclude Lia from any credits, so it should be applied consistently.  This ups Jun Maeda's total to 21 songs, 31st in terms of quantity (he'd be higher if quality were also considered).  Maybe Maeda will compose some new songs for Summer Pockets and he can get a bit more well deserved recognition by outranking the likes of Go Shiina.

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