Jukebox Heroes: MMO music for the holidays

I absolutely adore Christmas music — in moderation and in season. I keep to strict personal rules not to listen to it before Black Friday or after New Year’s Eve, which for me keeps it special and doesn’t overstay its welcome. There’s just a sound about Christmas music, both religious and secular, that is so happy, hopeful, and unique. It brings out so many great emotions and coats the holiday season in an extra layer of musical joy.

As we downshift for the holiday season, taking a break from the routine to spend some extra time with friends and family, I want to give you the gift of a half-dozen MMORPG tunes that embrace the Christmas music genre. Some are new, some are traditional, and some are just plain weird.

If you’ve listened to Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys one too many time this season already, here’s something different that ties together your love of gaming with the holidays.

“Jingle Bells” from Dragon Nest

Don’t let the name fool you: This track is actually a medley of many well-known Christmas tunes, including We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Jingle Bells, and what sounds like a smidge of jazz. It all has a very nice lounge sound or something you might hear while passing by a shopfront the week before Christmas. Stay tuned for a bonus track here with Silent Night and some other classics.

“Christmas Theme” from Overwatch

Brand-new for this year (obviously), the Christmas lobby music is sparkly and inspirational. I could definitely picture this as the title theme for some sort of holiday movie about a boy, his dog, and the girl who takes them on an interstellar adventure to the planet made of frosting and candy canes. My only gripe here is that the track is so short (it clocks in at well under a minute) and doesn’t give itself time to develop into something even greater.

“A Very Merry Walrus” from Club Penguin

Can you take a zoo animal and turn it into a holiday? Disney can, obviously! This catchy little ditty declares war on Christmas in favor of antarctic critters as part of the introduction of Club Penguin’s winter holiday. Did you know that you can “deck the eagles?” Now you do.

“Gotham Winter Holiday” from DC Universe Online

What does Christmas sound like in the town plagued by Joker, Scarecrow, the Penguin, and other Batman archvillains? Like a sinister circus, struggling to be merry but collapsing under the weight of crime and oh-so-much darkness. DARKNESS! NO PARENTS! CONTINUED DARKNESS!

“Smorgasbord” from RuneScape

As one might expect from one of the most musically prolific MMOs, RuneScape has a slew of holiday tunes. I am partial to the tuba-backed Smorgasbord, because it sounds like a German Christmas to me. And who knows how better to party the season away than the Germans!

“Winter Veil” from World of Warcraft

There’s a new suite of Winter Veil music for this year’s World of Warcraft holiday. It’s nice, although a little ponderous and too-serious in a way that WoW’s soundtrack can often be (hey, I like the score, but lighten up once in a while Blizzard!). There are moments here that I like, especially when it goes quieter and brings in a humming choir, but overall it seems very sad and pensive to me.

Which one of these six did you like the best?

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don’t miss the author’s MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
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