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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lightning Returns (FF 13-3) Music:

I'm well aware that many of my Star Wars themes have overlapping melodies, that Bland Logo and Prologue Movie from FF Tactics share some notes, that Summoned Beast Battle and FF 10's Ending theme overlap, etc.  The important distinction here is that the rest of the song for each of these songs is independently worthy of greatness, and the rest of these songs are different from each other, so just dismissing them as remixes is disproportionately counterproductive.

It's okay for two of my songs to occasionally overlap with each other before they move off again in different narrative streams.  What's not okay is for one song to completely copy another, or for one song's only redeeming trait being the part of another song they plagiarized.  That was my complaint with Stealing the Tiny Bronco and the like.

With so many songs cut, though, I decided it wouldn't be untoward to seek to expand again by reaching out to previously untouched soundtracks.  I had already included the music to FF XIII and FF XIII-2, but not Lightning Returns.  Why?  Well, I'd played the first two games but not the third.  However, that's an obsolete standard that hasn't applied to my game music for a long time, so why haven't I tried out Lightning Returns yet?

The real reason is I have very low confidence in the quality of the music when it's being made by the likes of Masashi Hamauzu.  However, 2/3 of the soundtrack isn't even done by him, 1/3 is by Mitsuto Suzuki, and 1/3 is by Naoshi Mizuta, my fifth favorite composer of all time.  It would be a tragedy if I let Masashi's reputation interfere with Naoshi's accomplishments and left some great music stranded for no good reason.

Completing the trilogy musically is more aesthetically pure and satisfying than just having music from the first two games and then suddenly moving on to FF XIV, too.  If I can find any good songs at all from the game, it would be nice to have them just to say I've finished the cycle and finished what I started.  For someone interested in FF 13 music, it would be bizarre for them to find all their favorites from the first two games on my list and absolutely none from the third.  That smacks more of partiality than objectivity.  'Some ultimate video game music collection.'  'Some all-inclusive music hall of fame.'  I can see the sneers from here.

So what was the result?  Out of the 74 songs that made up the soundtrack, five qualified for hall of fame status.  All by Naoshi Mizuta, the genius behind FF 11's music, as expected.  The rest were remixes, trash, or just generally forgettable.  Digging through 74 songs to find just five at the end seems like a lot of wasted effort, but these five really are good, and every good song is precious in the eyes of God.

More importantly, the giant gaping void in my Final Fantasy coverage, that went from FF 1 all the way to 13-2, then jumped to 14, and then went on to 15, is now closed.  I now have songs from all the Final Fantasy numbered games, which corresponds to the fact that I've now thoroughly vetted them all.  The cycle is complete, and now I am the undisputed master (read: owner) of all good FF music.

Which were the five?  Equilibrium, The Wildlands, Prowlers of the Night, Divine Love and Endless Lives.  None of them are world altering phenoms or anything, but they can hold their weight.  Meanwhile, The Fall of Neo-Kuja from FF 9 is a remix of Wicked Melody, so it's out.  The new total for my music hall of fame is 4280 songs, and back to 9.7 days.

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