What comes to your mind when you think of "epic videogame music"? Truly epic, not "epic" in the sense that it's an overused spammed word. (Looking at you, Jane McGonigal and marketing departments.) The music you like and admire.
A lot of people would bring up themes like Final Fantasy VII's "One-Winged Angel", whether it be its original form or one of its many remixes. The Advent Children version literally has over 7 million views on YouTube on one video, and many millions more across other videos.
This theme alone is probably why people want that HD remake of Final Fantasy VII and why they cheered Square Enix for bringing it at E3 2015. It's why Sephiroth is part of the "Noble Nine" in the GameFAQs Character Contests.
Why is this theme so impressionable? Could it be because of it playing at a super-critical moment in the game? Is it something about its composition?
...Is it that ominous Latin chanting in the background?
Many videogames now try to throw ominous chanting at you to try to make scenes epic. Sometimes to make things more epic than they really have any business being. And many people fall for it. And now there is such a saturation of this kind of music in games that it is becoming too standard and not epic anymore...
Apparently chanting "SOAP SOAP SOAP SOAP" makes this one of the best songs in videogame history. Tense moment, right? King Dad is doing some weird gravity stuff and looks like he'll be in his rightful place as master of the galaxy. If you took away the choir here there isn't much left to the song. And no offence to King Dad (all of that goes to the Super Mario Galaxy folks and Shigeru Miyamoto too), but the actual fight wasn't really... um... much of a big deal in terms of actions. It's cool to describe in retrospect, but actually playing the fight is sorta bland.
I always think every new Final Destination theme in the newest Super Smash Bros. game is the coolest one, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl had ominous Latin chanting. The Latin here is the same (but sung OMINOUSLY) as the main theme of the game, which is an actual song with meaningful lyrics. Just in Latin.
It just so happens that, if you've played Super Smash Bros. Brawl's story mode, you've heard like a dozen variations of the main theme in that game. So it's very easy to say that your favourite isn't Final Destination. My favourite is personally Step: The Plain. No chanting at all. I would like to point out that Brawl's final boss music has no ominous chanting at all, and that's supposed to be a more epic moment than any ol' Fox vs. Fox game on Final Destination.
One more: Soda Popinski's fight theme from Punch-Out!! Wii.
Popinski's theme is the most-viewed video of the uploader's whole channel, which includes many other videos along with the themes of the other fighters. It's seen as epic because of the ominous chanting, which ain't even words and definitely ain't sang by Latin-speakers. Y'know, it'd be those Russians. Meanwhile, MY favourite songs from the game are the two that ended up in Trayvon Tyson's Punch-Out!!, being Disco Kid's and Mr. Sandman's.
Too many folks go to either an insane electric guitar or an ominous choir to try to hype up a moment and make it epic. I think that's a very narrow approach to music. I'm not one of those people who are against vocals in music, mind you. In fact, I think the reason why people are so attracted to ominous choirs in videogame music is because original videogame music so often lacks vocal accompaniment of any sort. I really think that if more original compositions for videogames had lyrics in them, then the ominous Latin chanting will be recognised as a novelty.
It's far easier to ominously chant irrelevant Latin than it is to write lyrics up — at least "One Winged Angel" has real lyrics, just in Latin. That's a big reason why chanting is more prominent than real lyrics, and it just sounds cooler in a mysterious musical way. Vocal accompaniment can attach real meaning to your song that wouldn't be present otherwise. The voice is a unique, irreplaceable instrument. You can use it more creatively than just as any other instrument.
Hey, does K.K. Slider's music from Animal Crossing count as chanting too? Now here's some pseudo-lyrics that are applied to genres that aren't epic orchestras or whatever. You get out-of-the-ordinary combinations like... K.K. Country! One of my favourites.
When original music is made for the games that KoopaTV makes, they all have lyrics. And those lyrics are clearly intelligible. It's another situation of KoopaTV practicing what it preaches, though now Ludwig wants to make an ominous-chanting version of one of the songs in the game KoopaTV is working on now, just to see what happens... Anyway, what are your thoughts on this topic? You can even ominously chant your comments in the comments section, just have it in English.
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We did it! KoopaTV got Ominous Latin Chanting in Capture the Confederate Flag!