Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 5

    
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And here we arrive at last in our multi-week countdown to the final seven. It has been a fun and delightful journey through World of Warcraft’s soundtrack, and I have eagerly anticipated getting to the end so that I could share my absolute favorite tracks with you.

As we wrap up this look at WoW’s score — at least, until the next expansion arrives! — I would love to hear from you about this soundtrack. What pieces are special to you? What have the most nostalgic value and why? Let me know in the comments!

7. Howling Fjord

Wrath of the Lich King stands out in my mind for how its music really nailed the feeling of a new and wild frontier, one far in the north that was full of ice, crags, cliffs, and pristine beauty. For those who sailed into the Howling Fjord for their starting zone, they were treated to this soulful violin or fiddle that put one right in the mood for a different kind of adventure. The echoes and gradual fading of these notes makes it sound as though you could hear them from a long way off, suggesting space and distance.

6. Dun Morogh

My very first steps in World of Warcraft were to this music, and to this day, it remains among my absolute favorite beginning zone tracks of any MMO. The score managed to strike a balance between the wonder of a fresh start and the uncertainty of what was to come, and I love how it never tilts firmly in either direction. It’s still a magical piece, even with the heavy synth, and one that conjures up in my mind images of snow, of a warm plume of breath in the cold air, and of a small valley sheltered from the larger world.

5. Elwynn Forest (original)

I thought it was a travesty that Cataclysm replaced this classic vanilla track with a different version, because Elwynn Forest always had one of the best pieces of music in the game. It’s a slow, creeping track that almost seems to nudge players out of their comfort zones and into this beautiful and still forest. I can’t help but feel enormous pangs of nostalgia whenever I hear it for all of the days I spent back in 2004 (and 2005 and 2006) exploring that narrow forest and all of its secrets.

4. Light in the Darkness

While it’s the most recently published track on this section of the countdown, Light in the Darkness simply had to be this high up in the list. It’s an amazing track that builds up in grandeur and mastery with an arsenal of instruments and vocals, occasionally growing quiet before bursting forth with an epic explosion of music. It’s simply terrific video game music, period, and should be brought into the conversation whenever people are discussing the new classics.

3. Castaways

Some may look at this pick and feel that I’m frittering a high spot away on what is clearly a goofy, silly song. And while that’s one way to see it, I prefer to be unashamed in my love for the catchy qualities of this Goblin track. It’s got a tropical vibe and tosses in some ambient environmental sounds, creating a very unusual sounding track that is quite different than most of the rest of the game. But I’ve always loved it ever since its debut in Cataclysm and have no compunctions against including it here.

2. Totems of the Grizzlemaw

Also known as “that Grizzly Hills theme,” Totems of the Grizzlemaw is a fan favorite that I happen to share. It’s this gorgeous, soulful track that provided some of the best questing zone music that Wrath had to offer. It was so good, in fact, that the team brought it back for Legion with an alternate take that was a bit more subdued and slower yet no less wonderful.

1. A Call to Arms and Vanilla Login Theme

And for my number one pick… two different tracks. Yes, I know this is a bit of a cheat, but when I was debating what I should put as my all-time favorite World of Warcraft music track, I couldn’t decide between either of these two. For me, they ARE the classic World of Warcraft themes, one being the cinematic and the other the login music that we heard day in and day out for over two years. Both hold up surprisingly well over the years, and even if there have been more technically superior tracks produced since, I don’t think anything could overtake these in my ranking.

Catch up with the countdown:

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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Loopy

Holy crap original Elwynn Forest music does wondrous things to my brain. Also, Light in the Darkness is an amazing piece of music – how come i haven’t heard this before??

kofteburger
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kofteburger

WoWclassic can’t come soon enough.

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Scotty

Always thought the Burning Crusade version of the theme was pretty great, too. Not sure I could pick between it and the original.

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Armsbend

Is any wow music going to be left out of this series?

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

Yes, but you know that, classic alone have about 4 hours of tracks, each expansion add about 3-4 hours of tracks.