In our third part of this five-part countdown of World of Warcraft’s best music (at least, you know, in my opinion), we’ll be heading into the teens and some of the most iconic music of the MMORPG to date.
I think we’re getting a bit of everything in today’s list, from vintage Vanilla WoW to the Legion era, from silly to serious. One of the more difficult aspects of putting together this countdown is considering the “old” and “new” versions of songs, especially when Blizzard has remade or revisited areas, characters, and themes. I find that some people are heavily biased depending on which era they played the most, and thus that music means more to them than the others.
I’d like to hold myself up above that bias horizon, but alas, none of us can escape it. So I’ll endeavor instead to be as fair-handed as is gnomingly possible.
20. Song of Elune
The Night Elves’ starting area heavily emphasized nature and magic woven together, and the original beginning zone music reflects that. Sure, it’s so heavy on the synth as to make it a soap opera score (a hallmark of Vanilla’s OST), but there’s a definite charm to this, especially when the vocals come in to lend more of a personal touch to this race and its homeland.
19. Dalaran (Wrath of the Lich King)
So here’s the great debate: old Dalaran music or new? For me, it’s so very hard to decide, because both have their charms (not to mention a sheer wealth of runtime). It’s probably my favorite city in the game, and one that I will miss come Battle for Azeroth. Wrath’s version was grand and eerie at the same time, giving us a perfect introduction to an entire floating city of the mages.
18. Dalaran (Legion)
To reflect my conflicted views on the rating of both Dalaran scores, I’m pretty much putting them as a tie. I’ll give Legion the top spot because not only do I have to for the purposes of this list, but because it’s a more expansive series of tracks and slightly more enjoyable to my ears. Man but it was great to return to this city!
17. Garden of Life
Obviously, I have great affection for World of Warcraft’s quieter and more peaceful tracks, especially when they weave in a lovely melody. This Wrath piece was the audio foundation for the Sholazar Basin, a pocket of primeval life in the middle of a frozen continent. It has effervescent undertones, yet can fade into near-ambiance at times to almost be invisible. It’s just wonderful.
16. Jaina’s Theme
It may not have the nostalgic ties, but there is absolute mastery and majesty at play in tracks like Jaina’s Theme. It’s a cinematic piece that manages to be both inspirational and tragic at the same time. I love how it resists going full-overblown bombastic, but instead keeps the theme under firm control as it tells the story of this conflicted character. Gives me the chills, it does.
15. Operation: Gnomeregan
I make no apologies for my affection and devotion to Gnomes in this game. They’re one of the most underdog races and inspire some to frothing hatred, but I just adore them. The Gnomeregan theme here is emblematic of the race: Kooky, intense, and driven. Plus, it’s just so dang catchy that I sometimes put it on repeat.
Once again, the Night Elves are treated to some of the best music in the game. I know that this piece has its die-hard fans… and I can’t disagree with how terrific it is. You mileage may vary on how much you like or hate female vocals in MMO tracks, but for me, the singers are simply haunting and prophetic. Plus, when the action cue kicks in at 1:30, the track gains forward momentum and doesn’t slow down until it ends.
Catch up with the countdown: