Sound Card 014: Get ready to kick some ass!
Like our last issue of The Sound Card, which focused on music to sleep to, this has also been on my back burner for some time. I have over 300 tracks on my exercise playlist in iTunes, and a lot of that is game music. I thought to myself, what better way to bring in the New Year with people hitting the gym to meet those weight loss goals than provide a list of ten tracks that I wouldn't be caught without at the gym!
Admittedly, putting this list together has been the hardest one yet. I had 33 tracks set aside to consider, and I had to make some excruciating cuts, but hey, maybe that leaves the door open to more lists like this in the future. Also, I only stuck to original soundtrack versions of tracks, as opening it up to arrangements (as much as I love them for the gym) would make the task even harder.
Count down with us our top ten picks for tracks to take to the gym, and, as always, chime in with some of your own personal favorites... if you're one of those weirdos who bring game music to the gym!
10. "Db 606" - de Blob (Wii)
Let's start with something energetic and fun! While you can probably guess that this list will be dominated by battle themes, this track, from the amazing soundtrack to de Blob, brings live instruments to the mix with a jubilant disco track. In the game, the tracks are named by mood, and this one is aptly called "Euphoric." Pretty fitting, and it will certainly put a smile on your face as you're torturing your body at the gym!
9. "Boss Battle" - Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
I have so much Hitoshi Sakimoto on my exercise playlist, it's not even funny. Kind of odd when you consider his orchestral style, but this track in particular has some epic buildups in the chorus section that will really get your blood pumping. You may also want to check out some of his themes from Valkyria Chronicles as they're surprisingly good for a workout.
8. "Geometric City" - Raystorm (PS1)
Raystorm has several tracks I'd like to include, but I love the smooth soundscape of this track. It's not too intense, and gently eases you into a workout, or gives you a much needed break towards the end of a tough session. You can also check out the NEU TANZ MIX remix album for more Raystorm goodness for the gym.
7. "Maze of Death" - Mega Man 9 (Wii / PS3 / 360)
There are so many Mega Man tracks to consider, but I had to pick this one. The track title, the pumping basslines, and the fast-paced notes make for such a great motivation for that workout. There's also an arrange album for this game which has a great version of "Maze of Death," and several other themes from Mega Man 9 and of course the entire franchise are great for the gym (check out our top ten underrated Mega Man tracks here).
6. "Sealed Time" - Ys III: Wanderers From Ys (PC)
This is one of my favorite songs of all time, period. So it goes without saying that I also love to take it with me for exercise sessions. It's a powerful '80s rock adventure, as is the rest of this amazing soundtrack, and all of it could be included on this list. Man, that melody is just so awesome!
5. "Dispossessed Eidolons ~Minudes~" - FFIV: The After Years (Wii / PSP)
I bet this one is a surprise to most. The chaotic nature of this track and the pounding orchestral elements are just so awesome, I couldn't help but bring people's attention to it here. In fact, the word "explosive" comes to mind with this track... it will really work you up into a frenzy at the gym.
4. "Awakening" - Xenogears (PS1)
This is one of my favorite final boss themes out there, and it always comes to mind when people ask me about my favorite battle themes, or heaviest game music tracks. Mitsuda really outdid himself with the orchestral elements and choir, bringing in a memorable melody and a perfect ending to such a powerful game.
3. "Glory Days" - Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4 (Arcade)
The Wangan Midnight franchise features music by Yuzo Koshiro, and this track in particular brings in the pumping electronics for which the series is known and combines it with a mean sax performance by Metal Gear Solid composer Norihiko Hibino (the two often collaborate on the Etrian Odyssey series, so this track is a trip to hear after hearing the style of music they create for those games). It makes me think of the "Glory Days" when I weighed a lot less, which gets me into gear!
2. "Worlds Collide" - Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3)
I absolutely love the Final Fantasy XIII-2 soundtrack, and this track and "Paradigm Shift" are absolute musts on your exercise playlist. This is one of the first songs featured in the early demos of Final Fantasy XIII-2, and it blew me away with its heavy electronics-infused hip-hop sound, and I think if you really give it a chance, it will grow on you and become one of your favorites as well.
1. "Argon Refinery" - Shatter (PS3)
The entire Shatter soundtrack is a gym playlist in itself. It's absolutely stunning, and "Argon Refinery" in particular with its 8:23 length will keep you going for a while. There's a part towards the middle where some killer electric guitar makes an entrance and will really get you in the mood to kick some ass. Go download this whole soundtrack now, in fact!
BONUS! "To Far Away Times" - Love SQ
I wanted to throw in a bonus, and this one is an arrangement of the ending theme from Chrono Trigger. This track has a special meaning to me in my life, and always managed to bring a tear to my eye, but this version is just so energetic and positive that I love when it pops up during a workout.