This one's been on the back burner for way too long. While most recent editions of The Sound Card have focused on a single game franchise, I've been wanting to get back to the good ol' "What's on your playlist" kind of posts. I always get people asking me what kind of game music I cram into my general purpose playlists (sleep, gym, relaxing, etc.), so I thought I'd start by listing my top ten favorite tracks to sleep to, since there's so much great music to consider.
I'll admit that this was really tough, as I have hundreds of tracks on my playlist. I decided to go with original soundtrack versions as opposed to digging into arranged tracks (many arrangements are made to be relaxing and sleep-inducing, and could make for a whole new post).
Join us as we count down, and please, chime in with some of your favorite picks for your favorite game tracks to sleep to!
10. "Eruyt Village" - Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
I knew from the moment this track started in with its beautiful harp and woodwinds that it'd be perfect to sleep to. Not only is the music soothing, but imagery of a lush deep forest comes to mind, really putting me in the mood. This is also one of my favorites from the highly underrated Final Fantasy XII soundtrack, and one of my favorite Sakimoto compositions to date.
9. "The Queens" - Secret of Evermore (SNES)
Did you know that Secret of Evermore was composer Jeremy Soule's musical debut? This track, while somber, is simply magical. There are the peaceful harmonies in the beginning, followed by the warm bass, and finally the scattered woodwinds that seemingly drift off into a dream.
8. "Still of the Night" - Secret of Mana (SNES)
I could have easily made a top ten list of music to sleep to from Secret of Mana alone. I went with "Still of the Night" mainly because some of my other picks were either more relaxing than sleep-inducing, or they were already featured on past lists. The bell tones and choir pads get a nice rhythm going that will do just trick on those sleepless nights!
7. "Peace of Akatosh" - The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC / PS3 / 360)
My sleep playlist is loaded with Jeremy Soule's work from The Elder Scrolls. "Peace of Akatosh" is especially effective, however, with its dreamy pads, slow pacing, and effective use of silence. It's not as exciting as many of the other tracks here, but it's somewhat of a sleeper hit (hah!).
6. "The One Who Is Torn Apart" - Xenogears (PS1)
Okay, this one is a bit sinister, but man, that steady pad in the background and the fading bell tone backing does wonders. I often find the track contemplative, but given its length at over five minutes, I'm usually knocked out by the time it's through. This is another soundtrack with tons of great music to sleep to, though, so dig in!
5. "Subterra" - A Boy and His Blob (Wii)
This was such a charming and gorgeous-looking game. Daniel Sadowski really outdid himself with the soundtrack, with "Subterra" being my favorite track from the game as well as one of my favorite songs to sleep to. It's that rich reverb that gives the track such an encompassing feel.
4. "Dimension Break" - Chrono Cross (PS1)
Chrono Cross is another title with more than ten tracks that could easily be on this list. This lazy track moseys along with solo guitar, a measured pace, and a beautiful melody that is never intrusive. I can't help but remember the track's context, as well, in the bizarre yet beautiful space between worlds.
3. "Submerged Temple" - Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GC)
I was pleasantly surprised that this arrangement of the red soil area from Super Metroid found its way into Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. It's an exceptional example of memorable ambiance, and the updated version featured here really put the theme over the top. There's power in repetition, and I find a certain regenerative quality in this track.
2. "Lifestream" - Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
Okay, getting down to the bottom here, I had some really tough decisions to make. "Lifestream" is simply my favorite track from Final Fantasy VII, and for some reason, people never seem to pay it much mind! I remember going into Bugenhagen's observatory and leaving my TV on just to relax to this track, and I'll admit that it was first MP3 I ever encountered back in 1998. A friend brought over 21 floppy discs with three songs from the FFVII OST so he could show me "this cool new MP3 thing" (I now own the soundtrack legally, of course!).
1. "This Dream" - NieR (PS3 / 360)
Nearly the entirety of the NieR soundtrack is on my sleep playlist. However, I went with "This Dream" because it literally put me to sleep while I was playing the game. This forest town is foggy and dream-like to begin with, but this track plays during one of the text adventures that you encounter while trying to save the villagers from their eternal dream state. So beautiful!
BONUS! "Nao Chorra Menina" - Final Fantasy: Pray
Okay, I intentionally said I wouldn't be including arranged tracks, so I had to pick my very favorite and make it a bonus track. "Nao Chora Menina" is a lullaby-esque arrangement from the Final Fantasy vocal album, Pray, and covers "Kids Run Through the City Corner" from Final Fantasy VI. It's one of just a handful of songs that contain vocals on my playlist, and I think you'll find that it's a wonderful lullaby.