15 of the most famous songs in video games
From early chip-tune melodies to complex orchestrations, video games have always been home to some of the catchiest and most creative tunes. While man...
From early chip-tune melodies to complex orchestrations, video games have always been home to some of the catchiest and most creative tunes. While many video games have showcased brilliant music and audio designs, there are a few themes that have reached enough listeners to be recognizable worldwide.
The most well-known themes tend to come from older titles, classic games that have been enjoyed by multiple generations and have had enough time to successfully spread their earworms. Here, we explore the most famous songs in gaming and the games they belong to.
15 Green Greens - Kirby
Introduced in Kirby's Dream Land, Green Greens serves as the unofficial main theme for gaming's hungriest hero and as the soundtrack for Kirby's very first level ever. A lively and cheerful tune that perfectly matches Kirby's initial stroll through the classic green plains/forest stage, it has been consistently rearranged and remastered throughout the series as it evolved.
While other Kirby songs like King Dedede's Theme and Gourmet Race are notable, the simple melody of Green Greens is undoubtedly the catchiest and most iconic of the series.
14 Techno Syndrome - Mortal Kombat
This cheerful techno banger from one of the bloodiest fighting game series in gaming is certainly unforgettable. Used in the 1995 film Mortal Kombat and other remixes, this song is famous for its synth syncopation, gong crashes, and the iconic "Mortal Kombat" scream.
Completely created on an Atari computer, the song carries the same confident and quirky humor as the game's exaggerated finishers: brutal, bloody Fatalities, even bloodier Brutalities, and inexplicably, Friendships. One of the few gaming songs to make it onto the Billboard charts, the catchiness of Techno Syndrome is truly deadly.
13 Megalovania - Undertale
Undertale captured countless hearts upon its release and is unforgettable for numerous reasons. Created by independent developer Toby Fox, who previously worked as a composer before venturing into the world of video games, the most iconic song of Undertale is undoubtedly Megalovania, a gritty and frantic boss theme for the nihilistic skeleton Sans.
The intense guitar bassline and wild chip-tune synthesizers create a sonic tapestry that perfectly matches an infamously challenging battle. While Undertale may present you with some questionable choices, this song is always a good pick. The song also has a rich history, as it previously appeared as end boss music for a popular fan-made Earthbound ROM hack version and as part of the Homestuck soundtrack.
12 Dearly Beloved - Kingdom Hearts
The thoughtful and emotional "Dearly Beloved" serves as the main theme of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Composed by Yoko Shimomura as a solo piano instrumental, this beautiful and simple song plays on the menu screen of these games.
Although it has been rearranged in orchestral and even big band versions, the simple piano melody and ambient sounds of ocean waves remain the most memorable form of this song. "Dearly Beloved" is a sentimental and melancholic main theme that reminds us all of the heart of these games.
11 Main Theme - Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Although "Lifelight" from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is quickly becoming a modern classic, 2008's Super Smash Bros. Brawl still holds the top spot as the most iconic theme in the Smash series. With an epic orchestration of string instruments, energetic snare drums, and a Latin choir, this song exudes immense seriousness.
Composed by Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, this song transforms this Nintendo fighting title into a clash of epic Roman warriors. As one of the few video game songs with vocals, the choir lends glory to this melody like no instrument could.
10 Sweden - Minecraft
Given the dominance of Minecraft in the gaming world, it's no surprise that its music is also in the spotlight. Sparse and unassuming like the rest of the soundtrack, the slow and simple piano theme "Sweden" has become a favorite in the industry.
While other songs like "Wet Hands" and "Minecraft (Overworld)" are also iconic, "Sweden" has been praised by critics and revered by fans, making it one of the most streamed video game songs on Spotify. This thoughtful and lonely piece will surely capture the hearts of all future survivalists.
9 Mii Channel - Wii
The Mii Channel theme, along with many other songs from the Nintendo Wii, is famous (or perhaps infamous) in the gaming community. Although it accompanies the Wii's avatar creator and is not a standalone game, its simple organ and sharp strings have granted it a legendary status.
Alongside the Wii Shop Channel theme, this song has been reused in countless memes and immortalized on the internet. Undeniably catchy, this Nintendo song has captivated thousands of listeners with its quirky beat.
8 Zelda's Lullaby - The Legend of Zelda
This catchy melody appears as frequently as the hero and the princess themselves. Composed by Koji Kondo for "A Link to the Past" in 1991, this song gained popularity primarily through the widely acclaimed "Ocarina of Time," which significantly contributed to Zelda's musical canon.
A simple five-note melody, characteristic of Kondo's simple genius, has also been reinterpreted and reused throughout the series as a royal motif or leitmotif for the princess. Simple and elegant, this piece is recognized worldwide.
7 Main Theme - Pokemon Red & Blue
The early installments of the Pokémon series feature an iconic piece of music and the main theme for the series. Created by Junichi Masuda in 1996, the shared main theme of the games utilizes an energetic progression along with funky sound effects.
Although loved by fans and reimagined multiple times throughout the series, this Pokémon theme is often overshadowed by the epic title song of the anime, "Gotta Catch 'Em All". Nevertheless, the main theme of Red and Blue asserts its own place as a standalone iconic piece.
6 Green Hill Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog
Composed by Masato Nakamura, the starting theme of the Blue Blur remains one of the most iconic songs of the 16-bit classic era. This game and its lively synth-pop theme were composed with the aim of competing with Nintendo and establishing Sonic as a rival to Super Mario.
Inspired by Japanese pop and able to capture an unusual richness by utilizing the advanced audio capabilities of the Genesis, this theme has remained an outstanding song despite Sonic's rich development of musical styles into the modern era.
5 Underground - Super Mario Bros.
While one could argue that it is not a song due to its tiny runtime of eleven seconds, the Underground theme of Super Mario is undeniably remarkable. Koji Kondo's simple 8-bit melody, repeated in arrhythmic intervals, has been reused countless times in the Mario series.
This vaguely eerie song represents a dark and peculiar contrast to the rest of the game's soundtrack, which values bright and rhythmic melodies. It is likely that both the strange and relatable nature of this melody have contributed to its immense fame.
4 Main Theme (A-Type) - Tetris
Arranged by Hirokazu Tanaka in 1989, the Tetris theme is ubiquitous among gamers and non-gamers alike. Lively and energetic, the theme is, in fact, a Russian folk song called "Korobeiniki," which tells the tale of a tense encounter between a traveling peddler and a peasant girl.
Regardless of its origins, this song is recognized worldwide as "the Tetris song" and has been remixed and used in various other media. Although the game itself may be small and simple, the impact of its theme is anything but insignificant.
3 Opening Suite - Halo
Perhaps the finest example of video game orchestration as musical icons is the opening suite of Halo, a cornerstone in video game music. It combines grand orchestration with Qawwali devotion singing and the opulent harmonies of Gregorian chant.
The composer Martin O'Donnell, who clearly understood the impact of the music they created, spearheaded one of the first standalone releases of original video game music independent of the actual game. This suite has ingrained itself in the ears of countless enthusiastic players.
2 Main Theme - The Legend of Zelda
From its humble beginnings as an 8-bit chiptune title song in 1986 to its magnificent orchestration in concert halls, the main theme of The Legend of Zelda is undoubtedly one of the most iconic video game songs of all time. Composed overnight by Koji Kondo, its melodies have spread throughout nearly every Zelda game.
Adventurous and hopeful, the piece is held in the rhythm of a march and blends a mysterious B-flat minor with hopeful and heroic accents in major. Undoubtedly, this video game song will be cherished through countless incarnations.
1 Ground Theme - Super Mario Bros.
Koji Kondo strikes again with the ground theme of Super Mario Bros. While the theme of Zelda is slower and more mysterious, reflecting the exploration-focused gameplay, the theme of Mario is lively and cheerful, reflecting the action-oriented platform game.
Set in confident C major and featuring a syncopated calypso sound, this song is globally recognizable. Its fame is so extensive that it became the first video game song in history to be inducted into the Library of Congress. In terms of recognizability, this song is the undisputed superstar.