It’s that time of the week again. It’s time for your weekly dose of feels, compliments of the top 10 greatest Zelda songs. Yes, everyone and their mum has an opinion on the best Zelda tunes, but we’re here to sell you on some of the songs that best capture the adventure we love. We’re aiming straight for your childhood.
- Dark World (A Link to the Past)
Let’s start off with a classic. The Dark World theme from a Link to the Past is one of the most iconic Zelda songs ever, despite only appearing in one installment of the series. The Dark World is a mysterious and twisted version of Hyrule, and the track captures this perfectly. The series’ signature sense of adventure remains while the song’s tone also hints at the danger awaiting Link on his journey. If you don’t like this song, you probably just haven’t played A Link to the Past. Seriously, seeing the friendly world turned hostile and ruined is something else. If you have some way to run an emulator, get on that shit.
- Lost Woods (Ocarina of Time)
This one had to be on the list. Even people who have never played Ocarina of time know this tune is Zelda. Lost Woods provides the perfect background to its region of name, capturing the fairy village feeling of the opening section of Ocarina of Time perfectly. The next time you hear it in the game is after a bunch of dark shit happens, and it’s amazing how the good feelings flood back when the song kicks in.
- Farewell Hyrule King (Wind Waker) (SPOILERS)
Hold on to your feels, this moment hurt. Farewell Hyrule king is a reworking of the original Hyrule Castle theme from A Link to the Past, reworked for maximum emotional impact. As you’ll see on this list, Zelda music is really goddamn good when done with a piano. This is a prime example. After we find out that the Noah’s Arc situation that followed Ocarina of Time can be undone by both the evil Ganon, the King of Hyrule sacrifices himself to ensure the survival of Tetra and Link, as well as the future of the world they call home. His wish for hope, as well as the minimalist piano clangs that build into a set of arpeggios, can make even the baddest gangster cry. Similar to the SNES classic, Farewell Hyrule King symbolizes the death of the Hyrule featured in games of old, forever lost to the sea.
Guess what? You’re old now too.
- Clock Town Themes (Majora’s Mask)
This one might be cheating. Cumulatively, the three clock town themes are one of the best parts of Majora’s Mask. Based on its own tune, it’s initially a peppy track to embody the spirit of the festival taking place in Clock Town. However, with each day that passes towards Termina’s impending doom, the song becomes faster, and more menacing. Once you get to the third day, the song sounds frantic, and contains off-key chords to offset the wild lead. It’s unsettling and keeps you on edge, which turns out is how you should feel when the moon is about to smash the dicks out of you.
- Gerudo Valley (Ocarina of Time)
This song is my personal favorite from Ocarina of Time. Gerudo Valley really shows the versatility of Koji Kondo and the music staff for Ocarina of Time. It’s a departure from traditional Zelda song form, but captures the Gerudo Desert in a great way that you can’t help but jam out to. The track has an incredible Latin, flamenco style that should seem foreign in a Zelda game, but instead makes it more timeless than the game itself. It’s a great backing to some stealth action; a cool song for a cool section.
If you think the MIDI horn samples sound like they’re stuck in 1998 (you’re right), you can hear the 25th anniversary live symphony version here.
- The Legendary Hero (Wind Waker)
I remember the first time I turned on Wind Waker as a young boy, and when this song came on, I shat my pants. A call back to the title screen music from the original Legend of Zelda, The Legendary Hero puts a new twist on the classic track, while staying true to the foundations that made the original great. The dips and crescendos synched up to the story being told really sell the impact of Ocarina of Time and the events that followed. Having this song as the backing to the game’s rendition of Hyrule history is awe-inspiring and is as close as you can get to feeling ‘legendary’, especially to someone just discovering the lore. When I die, having this song describe the events of my life will basically make me appear as a god.
- Dragon Roost Island (Wind Waker)
This is hands down the best song from Wind Waker. Don’t even argue, you’re wrong. You’re so fucking wrong. Wind Waker was a tremendous departure from the norms of Zelda and fittingly Dragon Roost Island is unlike any Zelda track to come before it. The high quality pan flute riffs really fit exploring a volcano island full of bird people, as weird as that may sound. It’s as timeless as Wind Waker itself, and will always sound great.
- Song of Healing (Majora’s Mask)
This one’s for you Neil. The Song of Healing is short and uncomplicated, but provokes more thought than you can wrap your head around. It’s sort of like thinking about the infinite blackness of space. This strange tune serves as the unofficial soundtrack to Termina. Termina provides a sense of the familiar due to its similarity to Hyrule (and the fact that the main riff is basically a backwards Lost Woods), but also creates intense unease. Although it never appears in the series before Majora’s Mask, it sounds familiar from the start which is why it works so well; playing off the feeling sense that everything you are experiencing is not as it should be. That too me is much more unnerving and scary than jump scares, and is the reason why Majora’s Mask is the most interesting Zelda game.
It’s sad. It’s a sad song. It’s also the creepiest song ever in reverse.
- Midna’s Lament (Twilight Princess)
Twilight Princess get’s a bad rap, probably because the people I know who grew up with Ocarina of Time moved on to PS2’s and Xbox 360’s. I know a lot more people who played the GameCube Wind Waker in 2003 than Twilight Princess, which is a shame because it’s not a bad Zelda. Midna, you’re ghostly companion as Wolf Link, is one of the most interesting Zelda characters ever. The two of you form a kind of bond through shared hardship, and then some asshole shows up and just wrecks your shit. The result is you running through Hyrule with her dying on your back, and instead of an urgent chase theme you get this beautiful piano song.
How touching is that song? It even has that ‘rough edge’ to the notes that contrast the violin when it kicks in, and fits really well with the feel of Twilight Princess. It’s not as unnerving as the song of healing, and not as sad as ‘Farewell Hyrule King’, but uniquely upsetting in a ‘paradise lost’ kind of way.
- Tal Tal Heights (Link’s Awakening)
Here it is, number one. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Zelda series is, at its core, an adventure based series. Some would say the best adventure series ever. To me, one song from the series perfectly encompases this foundation of adventure. Tal Tal Heights is the definition of the perfect Zelda song. Everything about it inspires a sense of adventure, awe, and above all, fun. There are few greater feelings in the world than playing a fantastic game with this song screaming from the Gameboy’s speakers. Tal Tal Heights is timeless, and endlessly listenable. For being the greatest adventuring song ever, Tal Tal Heights snags the number one spot on our list.
So what do you think? Are we full of shit? Are you mad that we didn’t include Fairy’s Fountain? Well sound off in the comments with your choices and let’s fight about it.