This started as a challenge of sorts.
I had just watched the Top 700 Final Fantasy songs on YouTube. In its entirety. (I had some spare time, alright?)
Shortly after, I’d shared the list with my sister, who brought up the idea that we could so make our own lists. Maybe not 700, but definitely 100.
Working on this list went a long way into rekindling my passion for Final Fantasy music and really helped me put such ideas into concrete form. In a way, this list went a long way into the creation of this website.
This list is far from complete and is just for fun. It’s not meant as a judgment of all Final Fantasy songs. It’s just my opinion of what I think is the best. Rankings are always fun and do a great job of showing how different people have such varying tastes, even within something like a collection of Final Fantasy songs. Feel free to disagree with every word written below here. But remember, it’s all in the name of fun.
With that out of the way, here’s how I graded the songs on the list:
A — Personal Preference: Because shut up, it’s my list. Includes:
- Nostalgic preferences
- Personal connection to song
- Did I find it grating or overplayed?
- Did I enjoy that part of the game?
B — Quality of the Work: How it ranks as a piece of music.
- Marches are dumb
- If it was good enough to warrant orchestration, etc. that will be factored in
- How it has held up outside of the game itself
- Length: deduction for short fanfares, bonus for fully composed pieces
C — Impact of the Song: Henceforth known at the “One Winged Angel” modifier.
- If it was used in the context of the game
- Popularity won’t really play much of a role
- I’ll try to weed out biases as they relate to the game
- No guarantees
Here’s how the list breaks down by game:
FF1: 8 | FF2: 6 | FF3: 7 | FF4: 14 | FF5: 8 | FF6: 22 | FF7: 12 | FF8: 8 | FF9: 10 | FFX: 5 | FFX-2: 3
Before we get to the list itself, let’s see what didn’t make the cut.
- FF9 – You’re Not Alone – I straight up don’t remember this song.
- FF4 – Within the Giant
- FF4 – Tower of Zot – Good theme, got annoying.
- FF5 – We’re Pirates!
- FF5 – Four Valiant Hearts (World Map) – This song was on there at one point before I realized: You know what? I don’t like this song that much.
- FFX -Blitzball Theme (Blitz off!) – Sports!
- FF9 – Dark Messenger
- FF8 – Liberi Fatali – I believe that no song has benefited more from the accompanying cinematic than this song.
- FF7 – Rufus’ Return Fanfare: Apparently people really dig this song. But it’s a pretty standard march, which means it’s dumb. SCREW YOU SOUSA!
And now, the list:
FF6 – The Fierce Battle – OK. Let’s get one thing straight. This song is a balls-to-the-wall clusterfucktastrophe of a battle theme. And that’s in a good way. I’d put this song on originally because I remember it being cool. Then I took it off because I’d thought it was erratic. Then, I came to my senses and realized the song is goddamned nuts and all over the place and I love it. The instrumentation is bonkers, the arrangement is three levels of complex beyond anything else in the game. Plus, it helps that it’s set to fights against energydragon/dinosaurs with gears in them that are literally dripping magic. It perfectly sets the tone of “What in the actual fuck is going on? Why is this thing caster Flare on me again and why won’t it die?”
The Top 100 Final Fantasy Songs
100: FFX-2 – 1,000 Words – Ehh……… I mean……
99: FF4 – Chocobo Theme – The only chocobo theme that played with the arrangement without doing anything weird to it.
98: FF7 – J-E-N-O-V-A – This is a solid late-boss theme. Too bad it’s really just a speed bump enemy in the midst of the longest dungeon in the game.
97: FF7 – Motorcycle Chase – The motorcycle chase is, in my opinion, the most overlooked part of FF7. With so much emphasis put on the endgame stuff, it’s easy to forget this scene. The
music for it was also a great scene-setter and unique in a game that had a lot of similar tracks.
96: FF9 – Final Battle/Grand Cross – All the drama and setting of Dancing Mad, but melody and arrangement aren’t as good. Much more creepy, though, which is good considering the context of the song.
95: FF6 – Slam Shuffle – Zozo Theme – The inclusion of this song officially cements my belief that it’s a good thing when they go weird with songs. This is a weird, funny place, and the quirky melody and instrumentation fits that. This is where a lot of newer games went wrong. They take themselves too seriously. Zozo does not take itself too seriously – there’s dead people in the streets, secret clock chainsaws and it’s filled with outlaws, and it’s kinda funny.
94: FF2 – Magician’s Tower – Man, I took this song off the list for a while because it had gotten grating at points (It’s a really long, hard dungeon, you know). But then I listened to it again. This song does a great arrangement with pretty limited audio technology. That harpsichord-eqsue synth is great here and matches the tone of the dungeon perfectly.
93: FF8 – The Extreme – Big, cumbersome, but does hit its stride at a certain point. Black Mages really made the song better than it should be.
92: FF8 – The Oath – I’ve listened to this song more than any other on this list in an effort to give it a fair evaluation. It didn’t really stick with me in the game and is really pretty forgettable. Sorry.
91: FF4 – Big Whale – It’s a spaceship, that’s also a whale, that takes you to the magic second moon. This isn’t really an airship theme so much as a late-game mission-setup fanfare. That’s a good thing, since airship themes usually aren’t that good.
90: FF4 – Mystic Mysidia: I love how goofy and light-hearted this song is. It does a fantastic job of setting up the atmosphere. Although in my head I sometimes mix it up with the Saturn Valley theme from Earthbound. It’s about as far removed from the contemporary town themes of the game while still having the same mood, which is cool.
89: FF1 – Battle Scene – This is a good song. It’s well arranged and has aged well. The GBA version doesn’t help it out much, but it’s the original battle theme and has a solid pacing and melody.
88: FF7 – Barrett’s Theme – I straight up forgot about this song. Big, lumbering, lovable, this does a good job of describing what’s really a weird character: a giant black man with a machine gun hand. Great tone-setter for early in the game.
87: FF3 – Chocobo Theme: This arrangement is where it really figured out what the chocobo theme was all about. It’s presented in a light, straightforward piece that doesn’t get into the way of the theme, like other ones do.
86: FF1 – Dungeon Theme (Marsh Cave): This song did a really good job of setting the tense theme of the Marsh Cave, which was helped in large part because my first memories of the place was that it was an unforgiving hell hole.
85: FF6 – Kids Run Through the City Corner – I honestly had no idea where to put this song. I really like this song, but it’s not the best song. It’s prevalent in the game and doesn’t get repetitive, which is good. However, it’s not the most memorable, impactful or well-arranged. I think I’ve moved this from every between the mid-60s and off the list before settling on here, wherever that ends up being. Aaand I just moved it again.
84: FF9 – Airship Hilda Garde: I kept thinking this wasn’t a good song, even though I liked it. And then I realized, man, I really like this song. The guitar at the beginning is kinda over the top and out of place, but it’s the best opening for any airship theme in the games.
83: FF1 – Undersea Shrine – At this point in the game, you’ve gotten pretty deep into the conflict and the water temple is sort of the real meaty third act dungeon where the end-game type of battles really start to emerge. It’s the first late-game plot dungeon and this song is really indicative of that. The melody is solid and the accompaniment is really good in adding to that tone.
82: FF3 – Eureka – This gets a huge boost from the fact that his part of the game was super difficult and tense. But it creates the atmosphere of a mysterious, really difficult dungeon.
81: FF7 – Cosmo Canyon – Yeah, this is a good song. It’s not the best song. The instrumentation is solid and does a great job of setting the theme for Red XIII as a character and all that. But the melody’s not the best thing ever. It’s fine.
80: FF6 – Shadow’s Theme – I’d originally left this off because I didn’t want too many Final Fantasy 6 songs. That was a dumb decision. Whistle, simple guitar chord progression in 4/4 and the occasional twangs. It was always good when early games took it simple with a song approach. Rarely are they pulled off as well as it is here.
79: FF4 – Battle with Zeromus – Standard issue final boss theme. Fortunately for this song, final boss themes are usually some of the better tracks. Not much to say other than it sets the tone for a pretty hard, hectic battle that involves throwing a spoon for 9999 damage.
78: FF2- Ancient Castle – It’s weird that a mid-game dungeon like this gets its own melody. The one big thing going against it is that it’s placed in the middle of goddamn nowhere and you spend the whole time in there slowly dying, low on potions and wanting to get there hell out of there.
77: FF5 – Ahead on our Way (FFV Main Theme) – This is a good song with a good melody. Every time I listen to it, I think “oh, it’s the world map theme” before remembering it isn’t. It should have been the main world map theme.
76: FF6 -Gau’s Theme: I really like this one. But it’s very niche, and hard to put higher. The choice for this song is fascinating. The easy choice would have been to compose a really wacky theme for what’s essentially the game’s most ridiculous non-optional playable character. However, it relay relays the fact that this is a really sad, lonely character that was abandoned at a young age. The theme does a really good job of reflecting that in a way that emulates a bastardized theme of the game’s Victorian-esque culture with the cello at the beginning before transitioning into the solemn flute melody.
75: FF6 – Figaro Theme – It’s strange that one of the most un-castley castles has one of the better castle themes.
74: FFX – Battle Theme – I keep forgetting how good this theme was. I mean, not that good, but good.
73: FF1 – World Map – I know for a fact I think this song is way better because it may what encompasses one of my five earliest memories of my life (character select screen being my earliest memory). Still it’s a solid melody with a light arrangement that doesn’t get in the way. Also, it doesn’t get grating after a while, which is always a plus with a world map theme (thanks for nothing FFV).
72: FF6 – Blackjack – For some reason, I’m not that high on airship themes. But this one does a really good job of enforcing the happy cruising theme that you get when you acquire the airship. It’s indicative of the World of Balance as a whole of giving you the option of going anywhere you want and that place being intact. It’s emblematic of the most frivolous thing your characters can do in the game (flying around in the world’s only airship), so it’s also fitting that this is the song you’ll hear the most before the entire planet is torn asunder.
71: FF6 – Phantom Train – Yo, I heard you like your ghost train theme’s in 6/8. Good thing, I got this guy right here, it’s crazy, plodding and erratic in a good way. It’s indicative of a crazy, possessed stop-and-go motion that suddenly changes what it’s about with no notice. A lot of these sequences are non-sensical (the ghost joining your party, selling you stuff, serving your food) and it’s fits really well.
70: FF8 – Force Your Way – Very underrated battle theme. It doesn’t set the “EPIC” tone that a lot of piece try to do. Instead, it goes for moderate tension, which is what the battles set to this song are really. They’re mid-game bosses. It’s a theme that signifies a higher pace battle and a greater sense of foreboding. It does its job and does it very well. That, and it’s a good song.
69: FF1 – Chaos Temple/Temple of Time
68: FF7: Tifa’s Theme – This is the disc 1 song for that game, setting up for the whole “this place kinda sucks and we’re trying to figure stuff out but at the moment things are fine and we’re kinda happy just being here” mood. As I type that out, that makes no sense, but that’s how I feel about it. The xylophoney countermelody is really nice and paired with a simple, yet sweet melody.
67: FF8 – The Landing (Dollet Mission Landing): This part of the game was really good and the music for it did a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere as though there was something at stake when it was the freakin’ tutorial mission.
66: FFX – Battle with Seymour: Unh! It’s got a funky-ass beat. Or a funky ass-beat. Depends how you look at it.
65: FF5 – The Day Will Come
64: FF4 – Troian Beauty
63: FF5 – Music Box
62: FF4 – Main Theme/World Map
61: FF1 – Matoya’s Cave
60: FF8 – Eyes on Me – It was gonna be higher, but man, this song’s kinda lame. But cheesy in a good way.
59: FF4 – Fight 1 – Bass line and synth violin
58: FF3 – The Boundless Ocean – Like the FF2 world map, this theme is sad, which is should be. The world’s dying and these four kids should probably do something about it. It’s also a beautiful arrangement and does a good job of setting up a world where there’s constantly new lands to explore, which in turn ends up becoming “where the hell am I?” While that last part’s a pain in the ass, it’s part of the atmosphere.
57: FF6 – Relm’s Theme – This is one of the better character themes. What’s really cool about it is that it’s really indicative of what Relm’s character is – a frail, light little girl in the midst of the apocalypse – rather than what she tries to be – Arya Stark. While it does seem to clash with her personality most of the time, when she does come out and show emotion (to Strago in the ending and when you find her in WOR and comes off as sweet), that’s where it fits and pays off in the long run.
56: FFX-2: Real Emotion (What Can I Do For You) – If Ke$ha, Carly Rae Jepson or Jessie J sang this song, it would literally sell a million copies. I totally don’t care who judges me for liking this song. It is awesome. Screw it, I’m moving it up the list.
55: FFX – Someday the Dream Will End
54: FF9 – Ending Theme
53: FF3 – Have You Seen Me/Tozo Village
52: FF8 – Don’t Be Afraid (Battle Theme)
51: FF3 – Eternal Wind
50: FF9 – Hunters Chance
49: FF5 – Last Battle (ExDeath battle)
48: FF6 – Locke’s Theme: Great for when you want to steal stuff go treasure hunting.
47: FF8 – Waltz for the Moon – If Final Fantasy 6 showed us anything, it’s that life needs more waltzes
46: FF1 – Opening Theme/Overturlogue – First use of the great melody, but limited in its use. Better utilized in other games, which dilutes it prowess as a song.
45: FF2 – Battle 2
44: FF1 – Gulg Volcano – Interestingly, the FF1 some with the most staying power. Great melody.
43: FF7 – Opening – Bombing Mission
42: FF3 – Elia, Maiden of Water
41: FF4 – Rydia’s Theme
40: FFX – Suteki Da Ni
39: FF5 – Dear Friends
38: FF4 – Prelude – Classic crystals, yo
37: FF4 – Fight 2 – Gets a boost from the fact the hard boss fights added atmosphere.
36: FFX-2:Eternity – Memory of Lightwaves
35: FF4 – Melody of Lute
34: FF4 – Red Wings – As close as to the Imperial March that anyone’s going to get.
33: FF7 – Sending a Dream into the Universe – A reprise of Cid’s theme, indicative of a lot of the really well-done parts of the game that often get overshadowed by Weapons, Jenovas and Saucers.
32: FF5 – Lenna’s Theme
31: FF4 – Golbez Clad in the Dark – Top classic evil theme. Was the only villain that was legit scary.
30: FF7 – One Winged Angel: Isn’t it kinda weird how the choir straight-up just sings “Sephiroth?” I mean, it’s kinda like he put a boombox on in the background playing his theme song. I just thought of that. Anyway, despite all the grief I give this song, it’s really good, although
29: FF6 – Forever Rachel
28: FF7 – Interrupted by Fireworks
27: Final Fantasy – Main Theme
26: FF6 – Searching for Friends – What made this song so good is that it’s such a departure from Dark World, which I found so unnerving as a song. I couldn’t wait to get off the world map when it played because that song was so desolate and uncomfortable. Meanwhile, this one has the same feel of an open, empty world, but with hope.
25: FF2 – Ending Theme
24: FF6 – Kefka’s Theme – What’s brilliant about this song is that it’s equal parts light-hearted and menacing. It’s also unlike a lot of other songs in the game in it’s instrumentation and composition, as it was created to set him apart as a villain early on in the game. Whether or not it was intentional, it was a great call and makes Kefka really stand out throughout the game. Also, the light-heartedness of it has a different meaning late in the game. Instead of a playful, clown connotation, the end-game usage brings up the image of a maniacal deity, which is cool.
23: FF9 – Melodies of Life
22: FF9 – Rose of May/Beatrix Theme/Loss of Me
21: FF7 – Main Theme
20: FF6 – The Decisive Battle
19: FF9 – The Place I’ll Return to Someday
18: FF6 – Celes Theme
17: FF3 – Dark Cloud – Overlooked as a final boss theme
16: FF9 – Eternal Harvest – Best pure piano piece in Final Fantasy.
15: FF2 – Main Theme (Promised Land) – Reflective of the desolate, depressing setting of the game.
14: FF5 – Battle on the Big Bridge
13: FF7 – Those who Fight Further – This is a great battle theme. This is a great, great, great battle theme. It doesn’t have the in-game impact of a lot of these other songs this high up on the list, but it’s exciting, it’s fun to listen to, it sets a great tone for a boss battle, it drives the tension and atmosphere of the fight. It does so much without over extending itself in the arrangement.
12: FF4 – Theme of Love – Theme of Love has a solid candidacy as the best pure melody in the games. It’s used a bunch of different ways in the game and is the one big changeup song that’s brought in for a game that’s big on crystals, grandiose anthems and light-hearted dwarf/chocobo pieces.
11: FF6 – Coin Song: While other songs in Final Fantasy 6 mark really great moments in the game, Coin Song really symbolizes what 90% of the game. Meanwhile, the other top tracks of the game kinda transcend it as just great songs.
10: FF8 – The Man with the Machine Gun: This is the best standard battle theme in Final Fantasy and no one will ever convince me otherwise. This was the only positive of playing as Laguna in that game, and it pissed me off, not because it meant I had to play as Laguna, but because I knew I had to listen to the original battle theme when I got back to the original characters. Every standard battle without this theme was a horrifying waste of potential.
9: FF9 – Vamo alla Flamenco – FF9 has really underrated music, and this may be the most underrated song among them (also the best).
8: FF5 – Home Sweet Home: I think this song is criminally underrated. It’s a fantastic melody (one of the simplest and best) and doesn’t mess around with it. Humming this song is the bomb.
7: FFX – To Xanarkand – If it was any other song, FFX would’ve played it to death. This song doesn’t stop being good.
6: FF6 – Terra’s Theme – Perfect combination of character theme and solid world map track.
5: FF2 – Rebel Army Theme – The complexity of the song really comes out in orchestral arrangement. But has a ridiculous melody and accompaniment considering when it was used in a game. Really carries the soundtrack.
4: FF7 – Aeris’ Theme – Best character theme in Final Fantasy.
3: FF6 – Dancing Mad: Let’s not even get into the fact that this song is just really cool and well arranged. Let’s get into the fact that the final battle had multiple movements in the music that seamlessly transitions as you moved on in the fight, all of which were really cool, different and fit the different moods of all the enemies.
2: FF6 – Aria di Mezzo Carraterre: They put a freakin’ opera in the game.
1: FF6 – Ending Theme – Most brilliantly arranged OST piece in the history of Final Fantasy