Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.
Hey! Alright! Did you submit a guess yesterday? Well then today you get to find out if you were correct or not!
You get 1 point if you guessed my #1 favorite video game music composer, so let’s get on with the list! These are the soundsmiths that get my inner ear all aflutter.
#7. Kristofer Maddigan
Kristofer Maddigan is a BAFTA award-winning percussionist who is here for a single solitary reason: the award-winning soundtrack for Cuphead. This soundtrack is easily my most listened-to album for a game I have never even played! When do we get Cuphead on the Switch? Energetic, incredibly authentic, and demonstrative of incredible musical skill, I listen to Maddigan’s Cuphead constantly, like an average of three or four times through a week. In fact, I’m listening to it right now!
#6. Manami Matsumae / Setsuo Yamamoto
Can I really pick two composers for one spot on a top seven list? Sure, it’s my list. Like any self-aware, autonomous adult, I do what I want! Manami Matsumae and Setsuo Yamamoto are here because of my love for the Rockman, the Blue Bomber, Super Fighting Robot, Mega Man! His games feature some of my favorite video game music of all time. Matsumae is responsible for the music of the first Mega Man game, setting the precedent for the sound design to come. She also took part in Mega Man II’s “Air Man theme”, which is probably my favorite Mega Man song ever. Then there’s Yamamoto, who crafted a majority of the soundtrack for Mega Man X. For their foundational work with Mega Man, I’ve got to name both of them here.
#5. Yoko Shimomura
Unlike the composers above who I noted for singular favorites, Yoko Shimomura is a composer with a body of work massive and magical enough to win her a slot on my list. Seriously, she’s been making music for over 30 years! Maybe you’ve heard of some of these obscure titles? Street Fighter II, Final Fight, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Parasite Eve, Kingdom hearts, or Final Fantasy XV? She’s even set to compose Kingdom Hearts III and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey. Maybe she’ll compose the Bowsette theme. If anyone could do it, Shimomura could! Did I just mention Bowsette…?
“SIMPUHL AND CUHLEEEEEEN IS THE WAAAAY THAT YUR MAKIN ME FEEEEEL TONIIIIIIIIIIIIIITE!!”
#4. Koji Kondo
There are heroes, there are legends, and then there is Koji Kondo. Perhaps the most heard video game composer in human history, Kondo was the wizard behind Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, and he’s worked with those series ever since. Who hasn’t heard the Super Mario overworld theme song? Even your mother has since you played it incessantly as a kid. It’s synonymous with video games! Some of the most iconic songs in gaming history can be traced back to Kondo, the international treasure.
#3. Yasunori Mitsuda
Of course. I know that Mitsuda has done much more than just the music for Chrono Trigger but none of his other soundtracks have had the impact, longevity, and iconic status of this dream-inspired, ulcer-creating masterpiece of music. Composing the music for Xenogears, Mario Party, Chrono Cross, Shadow Hearts, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is nothing to sniff at, but of course he’ll always be remembered most for his work on the Dream Project. As well he should.
#2. Austin Wintory
I first encountered composer Austin Wintory in the incredible experience that was Journey, and I’ve never looked back. I hunted down his other work in flOw, The Banner Saga, and Abzû, and I love the realism, the tenderness, and peace of his music. Its intimacy immediately sets it apart from the vastness of video game music, to my mind.
Few video game composers have ever been as transportive for me as Wintory has. One word: Apotheosis.
#1. Nobuo Uematsu
There can be only one.
Nobuo Uematsu will forever be that one when it comes to video game music composers. So eloquent, diverse, melodic, and character-driven it ought to come as no surprise when I mention that he helped complete the Chrono Trigger soundtrack and that’s not even what he’s most known for. This is a Final Fantasy-themed site so that might’ve been a dead giveaway for some, but I have to say that his career spanning three decades of video game history has brought forth some of my favorite songs of all time, not just in video games, but all time, period.
3-D WorldRunner, Rad Racer, Romancing SaGa, Lost Odyssey, and the freaking main theme for Super Smash Bros. Brawl are just a few titles off his intense list of works, and that’s not even mentioning his work in every single numerical Final Fantasy game (and some spinoffs!) from the first all the way to the twelfth. How can Square salvage the Final Fantasy VII Remake? Get Nobuo Uematsu to recreate the nuclei of that incredible soundtrack.
Uematsu is also a man I owe much personal thanks to. It’s his work which inspired me to take up the ivory keys. I taught myself how to play the piano because I wanted to feel his music in an even more profound way. I learned “To Zanarkand” happily. Uematsu’s work is literally a part of who I am.
Uematsu stands upon the validity, the legitimacy, and the craft of video game music:
“I believe that there are still people who believe that game music is something equal to just an effect incorporated into the game, something like a BGM. And therefore this is something that I would like to show that is not true.”
Special shout outs to Peter McConnell and David Wise! I love you guys and you for sure would appear on my Top 10 list of VGM composers. Please don’t be disappointed with me.
GUESS TOMORROW’S #1
All that’s left is to prompt you to guess tomorrow’s #1 pick! Tomorrow’s Top 7 list will be my 7 favorite developers!
So let me know who you think my #1 top favorite video game developer is in the comments below TODAY! Remember to leave your name or username so I know who you are! Link to your Twitter or blog if you want to. Follow the event on Twitter with #TWRM7top7.
I’ll reveal my Top 7 favorite developers in a post on this site tomorrow (Friday), so come back and discover the truth! OR you can poke around the site and see if you can pick up any clues… or review the rules.
Good luck and happy gold-digging!
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