Sunday, November 10, 2013


A few months ago I posted about how a big chunk of the emotional experiences in my life come from art.  I've been collecting some of the melodies that I feel have had extraordinary emotional impact in my life, and I thought that I'd share them.  All of these are pieces that I think are really moving completely removed from their context (such as a movie or TV show or a life event), though most of them also have special significance to me personally.

I think it would actually be really fascinating to play these songs for people for the first time, completely out of context, and then find out what they felt, or what they think must have happened in the movie or show or game that the piece was from.  (If you do this yourself, please let me know!)

Storming New Caprica by Bear McCreary from season 3 of Battlestar Galactica is probably the quintessential track for this list.  Percussion has this primal effect on people, and Bear knows percussion.  (I'm sure dozens of people have done psychological studies on why that is, and why drums were always used in war.)  The track starts out by building tension with just drums and eerie haunting sounds, and then by a little after the two-minute mark it explodes into an amazing thrill ride that literally makes my hair stand on end when I hear it.  In the show, this was from the beginning of season 3, during the suicide mission. Bagpipes in the BSG soundtrack seem to signal desperation and sacrifice, so it's only natural that they're one of the highlights of this.

Atlantic by Keane is a lonely, sad, honest song and it may be my all-time favorite.  There's so much longing in his voice.

Goodbye by Apparat is the track that is played near the end of the episode "Face Off" from the end of season 4 of Breaking Bad (as an instrumental).  In addition to being haunting and creepy and generally incredible, in the show it's paired with a series of scenes that are written and filmed incredibly well.

Leaving Earth by Clint Mansell is the music you hear at the end of the Mass Effect 3 tutorial as people are boarding evacuation ships.  It's just... so sad.  It's melancholy with just a little bit of terror and tension.

The Riders of Rohan by Howard Shore from The Two Towers is basically perfect film music, and there's a reason that many of the comments on YouTube all point to the part around 2:53.  The Lord of the Rings movies have some of the finest scores I've ever heard.

Time by Hans Zimmer from Inception is the music that the movie closes with.  It's pretty simple by Hans Zimmer standards, but it has a great build to it, and it's excellent epilogue music.

The Armageddon's Blade theme by Paul Romero is one of my favorite melodies (specifically, the ending), and the game it came from is one of my favorites, but I completely missed this track until later.  It's just played at the menu for one of the campaigns in the game, and you'd completely miss it if you weren't looking for it.  If I were a superhero I would definitely choose this tune as my theme music.

I first heard Club Foot by Kasabian as a part of Alan Wake's American Nightmare, and it plays there as sort of a reward for doing something awesome.  (It's actually vaguely related to the story, but really any awesome-sounding song would have fit.)

1, 2, 3, 4 by the Plain White T's probably fits here the least, as it's a track with mostly just personal significance.  It's the track that my ex used to associate with me, so I began to associate it with him.  It's a nice song; I just don't know if it's as moving as the rest.

Evacuee by Enya is a very lonely song.  She wrote it when her mother died.  My mom made us promise long ago that her funeral had to be happy like a New Orleans party funeral, though, so this song definitely wouldn't work for her.

Set the Fire to the Third Bar by Snow Patrol is a strange duet with Martha Wainwright.  It's the only song on this list that I can sing along to.

Torture by Les Friction is a really powerful and beautiful song that I guess one could classify as a power ballad.  I feel confused and sad and angry like I've lost someone when I listen to this song.

Finally, Tristram by Matt Uelmen is the track that people associate with the Diablo series of games, and it's gorgeous and unsettling and instantly memorable.  I think it's responsible for a lot of the nostalgia of those games; when people think Diablo, they immediately think of that theme, and it's no mistake that when Diablo III was announced, they did so with a few notes from a guitar.

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