Friday, 28 January 2011

My ultimate top fifteen of DKC music

I figured I'd post one of these since every cool kid does so nowadays. Donkey Kong Country has, in my mind, always stuck out as one of the games of which the soundtrack really enhances the experience. There is something about those beautiful, heartfelt tracks that strike my heart.
I'll be discussing Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, Donkey Kong 64, and Donkey Kong Country Returns (not counting remixes.). Other Rare soundtracks will be discussed later on. For anyone that hasn't played Returns yet, this post will contain spoilers!

15. Northern Hemispheres (DKC)

What appears to be an extremely minimalistic track, it builds its suspense up the farther it goes - and it does so with style. It really fits the barren, snowed-in wastelands of Gorilla Glacier, capturing the wintry feel of icy mountains without sounding overly cheerful. And you have to play the game to believe this, but the snow falling down is an amazing effect that really adds to the experience. This track made its triumphant return in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Even though the snow has seemingly melted away, the track also seems to work perfectly for barren mountainsides.

14. Donkey Kong Rescued (DKC2)

Ah, the credits theme! Should be remembered by anyone who triumphed over the game before. This amazing track is really powerful yet bittersweet, and really tells you that you've brought an amazing journey to an end. It begins with a characteristic squeaking of which I'm not sure what it's from, to some awesome percussion and a simply breathtaking trumpet solo, and ending it with the most awesome electric guitar... esque instrument I've ever heard. This is one of the many tracks in the series that really makes you believe, or want to believe, that Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong and all those other characters are real.

13. Jib Jig (DKC2)

I can already assure you that Diddy's Kong Quest is going to take up most of this list's space. But can you blame me? Jib Jig was, and is, one of the most divine tracks in the game, if I must say. With its simple elegance, it blends in perfectly with monkeys jumping around the rigging of a ship while being in the progress of attacking crocodilian pirates... Not to mention that this track really reminds me of Dreamworks' How To Train Your Dragon, which is one of my favorite movies. Moving on...

12. DK Island Swing (DKC)

The classic, the landmark. Pop this bad boy in and people who are at least a bit genre-savvy will recognize immediately it's DK. Barring its overuse in games such as Super Smash Bros., to this day it still portrays DK Isle's jungle perfectly with elegant wonder. Also noticeable is the change in mood - it starts off loud with the percussion, really portraying the immense experience of the jungle, but gradually changes into a much more subdued, 'nighttime' part that left a real impression the first time I heard it. Sadly, the latter part often gets left out in favor of the more upbeat earlier part, but in Returns, it got its own remix, all to its own, so I guess I'm in no position to complain about that.

11. Big Boss Blues/Baron K. Roolenstein (DKC3)

King K. Rool as a mad scientist... to this day I still don't know how that intertwines with the whole European theme of the whole Northern Kremisphere, but it's cool. I do believe this is the first instance that K. Rool actually had humouristic dialogue - he mentioned something about using his wife's pots and pans to make his evil robotic henchman. What. Moving on to the music however, it really portrays the dangerous part of his scheming - perhaps it's a bit too dark for a bumbling crocodilian overlord. That 'Whoooaowh' sound still sends shivers down my spine to this day.

10. Rockface Rumble (DKC3)

If you don't like this track, there's seriously something wrong with you. No really. No offense. I mean, it has the most kickass percussion EVER, ...something else, and GUITARS. DUDE.
Guitars may sound horribly out of place in a game like this, but it fits. Listening to this I imagine that Dixie is all alone on this crazy journey and often plays her guitar in angsty sorrow while she and Kiddy have to stop to rest for a while. Hey, can you blame her? Her boyfriend was kidnapped! And all company she has is a freaking TODDLER!

9. Mama Bird (DKC3)

This is a track rarely heard and even more rarely mentioned - it plays only when the Kongs encounter the Queen Banana Bird, who is imprisoned by K. Rool, apparently. It is extremely minimalistic, but beautiful. The floaty ethereal sorrow this piece portrays... it's beautiful.

8. Tiki Tong Song (DKCR) (no link available, it is available on YouTube though. Beware of trolololol.)

The last boss of Donkey Kong Country Returns is, compared to King K. Rool, quite a sorry bunch, but his menacing looks and sacrificing his mooks is really awesome. His song reminds me of something if Disney would make a Donkey Kong movie. And the background that's in the place where you fight him... oh my goodness. So awesome.

7. Stickerbush Symphony (DKC2)

Bet you weren't expecting this, huh? Why on 7, I hear you ask. Well, while this track certainly leaves an impression, it's incredibly beautiful at that, it just doesn't speak to me as much as number 1 and 2 and 3. I know it's cussing in the church, but I simply prefer other tracks. This track is still breath-taking and incredibly emotional even without lyrics, though, and proves that David Wise is a genius. That guy deserves more recognition for his work, seriously.

6. Forest Interlude (DKC2)

Another one of my personal favorites. It just sounds so serene, yet also has a feeling of impending doom, which is normal for a haunted forest. I don't have any more things to say about it though.

5. Fungi Forest nighttime (DK64) (track not available again. Sry.)

The only Donkey Kong 64 track that graces this list. While I'm a really big fan of Grant Kirkhope's work - the things he did for Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie are just unbelievably amazing - his style does not really fit the DK games as much as it fits Banjo... still, the game has some amazing pieces, such as this one. While Fungi Forest in daytime is a beautiful forest with giant mushrooms, the night version portrays a much different side - the fact that you're alone in a forest is really reminiscent of it. Howling wolves and owls hooting really enhance the whole nighttime forest mood.

Most final boss music has it's standards - it has to be awesome! While in Donkey Kong Country that is definitely the case, it is original for the fact that it begins as something sounding like a cheerful pirate shanty, but slowly turns into a menacing song that really suits the final boss.

3. Mining Melancholy (DKC2) (again, no link available. Noes.)

Mining Melancholy is hardly melancholy - it's in fact, one of the most impressive tracks in the whole game, in my opinion. It, for some reason, really suits the mine archetype - and strikes into the heart of anyone who listens to it. Anyone who doesn't has no heart. No offense.

2. Life in the Mines (DKC)

Another mine song? Right next to another one? But wait! This one is much different in mood. It sounds downright emotional, even. Just picture DK and Diddy travelling through a dimly-lit mine, unknowing what lies ahead.

That said, let me bring you to my ultimate number 1 of DK-music...

1. In a Snow-Bound Land (DKC2)

"Our love is like icicles - sharp and see-through, but also magical and enchanting. Everything just slides off, we have no need to worry..."
"That didn't make sense. I love you, and you're a lot of things, but a poet is not one of them."

I've always found In a Snow-Bound Land one of the most beautiful tracks in the whole game. It touches me in some way - just because Diddy and Dixie have to venture through enemy territory to rescue poor ol' DK, it may as well show that they grow closer and closer with each world. The music perfectly symbolizes that - the soundtrack starts off cheerful and adventurous, but it slowly gets more emotional and heartfelt during the time one reaches the third world. Sure, it may be just a way to find a way to insert my favorite OTP into everything, but it just makes perfect sense. I mean, why would a chilly ice world have - erm - music that sounds like making love in an igloo? Hmmm? (Even though it sounds a bit alike to Vangelis' Antartica - which is an awesome musician may I add, the music is really reminiscent of DKC) There is something about the main melody that makes me wonder...

Honorable mentions:

- The intros for the first two games. The definition of epic.
- The game over music for DKC3... it sounds creepy, yet for some reason, there is a glimmer of hope... and then the door slams shut.
- Cranky's theme from the first game. It's fun to listen to it while reading his rants.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns' intro song. It is really impressive to look at those amazing diorama's and promotional artworks while hearing it in the background.

Yeah, it should be noted that I enjoy the game's music as much as the gameplay. Maybe even more. Who knows. I am at least hoping that for a Donkey Kong Country Forever, that the music is just as memorable as my top fifteen.

So yeah, until next time, folks!

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