For the past several months or so, when I've been asked what my favorite soundtrack is, I respond with, "I actually have three: Mad Max: Fury Road, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Undertale." Well, I have a confession to make.
I actually now have an all-time favorite soundtrack.
I never thought it would happen. I've always had the mentality of "parents don't have a favorite child, so I don't have a favorite soundtrack." But I've been wrong before. And that soundtrack is . . .
There are many reasons why I would deem this my favorite, but I don't want to entirely bog down this post, so I'll cover a few of the main ones. Reason #1: the music is what got me hooked on the game in the first place.
Actually, I have Christine, a great online friend of mine, to thank for inadvertently introducing me to that phenomenon known as Undertale. She gave me the link to an online radio station, called RPGamers Radio, that, as the name suggests, only plays video game music. Plus, there's no advertising on it, only a reminder every now and then of which radio station you're listening to. (And how funny is it that when I go to the site to get the link, it's playing an Undertale track?)
Anyway, so I'm on the site one day, and a song starts playing. I perk up. This sounds really cool, I thought to myself. I wonder what it is. Lo and behold, it was the infamous track . . .
"Megalovania" from Undertale
Composed by Toby Fox
This song got me hooked on everything about the game, starting with its mind-blowing score, which is a mixture of retro-sounding tunes with modern instrumentation. All of it is done digitally, save for the song "Undertale" and the piano in "Last Goodbye." (Do not venture into the comments section of any track from this game if you wish to keep it spoiler-free.)
So here's where reason #2 comes in: Toby Fox himself composed all of the music in the game. Now that's some serious talent, I tell ya. And he only needed to rework a handful of the songs. Most of them he nailed in the first try, which takes his awesomeness to a "whole 'nutha level," as a friend of mine would say.
Reason #3: Toby is a master of the musical technique known as the leitmotif. For those of you who don't know, a leitmotif is a recurring musical theme associated with a person, idea, or situation. The Undertale soundtrack is littered with these. In fact, this game's official score has 101 songs on it; only 12 of those have no theme whatsoever. "Megalovania" is one of them, a song that plays in the Genocide route's final encounter with an extremely powerful character. (The top comment in this video I chose had a really solid theory about why that is, but I won't say because potential spoilers.) Almost of these theme-less tracks are either really short, really atmospheric, or both. I found this out through a video by Game Score Fanfare, but again, potential spoilers.
Not only do the tracks have various themes in them, but for some, if you speed them up or down, you find other themes contained in them as well. Can we 100% catalogue all the leitmotif in the soundtrack? Who knows, maybe one day.
There's something about leitmotifs tying the album--no, the entire game--together that makes it so spectacular. And recurring themes actually have made me enjoy certain tracks more. For example, I initially didn't care for the opening song, "Once Upon a Time." But after I kept listening to the music, and I found out that it's a primary theme that pops up in about 16 different songs, I began enjoying it more and more. It's like the biggest of several hearts pumping life into Undertale's story.
Reason #4 is that I can listen to the soundtrack over and over and over without getting tired of it. Most soundtracks I can only play several times before I need a change in my musical scene. If you forced me to only listen to the Undertale soundtrack for, say, a month, that would not be punishment for me.
My fifth reason is a bit different, and it has to do with the fandom again . . . but in a different way. You see, I've heard many, many remixes and covers of the Undertale music, along with original lyrical compositions. But I've found that the more I listen to these tributes, if you will, the more I appreciate the original. Don't get me wrong, I've heard a lot of good variations of the tracks, but the in-game score will always be the best.
I think it's time to finish this post now. I apologize if it's all over the place (it didn't end up as long as I thought it would), but I shall sum up: the Undertale soundtrack is my absolute favorite for several reasons. Some of the biggest are because the music led me to its source and caused me to fall in love with it; it was the work of one man; the use of leitmotifs is mind-blowing; I can continually listen to it; and the covers/remixes make my love for the original grow stronger.
If you have never listened to this album before, you're doing yourself a huge disfavor. It sparked a love in me I never knew I was missing. Maybe it'll do the same for you too.
What did you think of the track "Megalovania"? What're your thoughts on both the game and the soundtrack after hearing it? Would you listen to more by yourself, or do you need more proof from me that this soundtrack is incredible? (I will happily post more Undertale songs in the future!)