(Missed yesterday’s discussion of the gameplay of Persona 4? Check it out here: [Persona 4] Reaching Out To The Truth Pt. 5: Gameplay, A Balancing Act)
(I’m not actually talking about P4: Dancing All Night, just the music of Persona 4)
Dancing All Night, The Music of Persona 4
So, this is going to be an extremely difficult write-up for me to pin down personally, because there are so many different tracks from the soundtrack for Persona 4 that I absolutely adore. The game has an incredible range of sounds and literally every track within the soundtrack has some great qualities I could touch on. As I don’t want this to be an entire essay covering 52+ pieces of music individually, I’ve decided to seperate my thoughts into three different segments covering the major types of music used within the game: daily life tracks (which accompany the real world segments), battle tracks (which obviously are used in battle), and scene tracks (used for the various different major cutscenes within the game). There is way too much good music to cover, so let’s not waste any time and dive right into the meat of it.
Starting off with the high-flying, tension-stacked numbers, we have the battle tracks featured within Persona 4. As I played Persona 4 Golden for my playthrough, I was treated to two fantastic regular battle pieces: “Reach Out to the Truth” and “Time to Make History“. Each track has their own claim to fame from the get-go, through fantastic composition and the killer vocals mixing from the rap-styled verses into the smooth, silky melody of the chorus. Reach Out to the Truth features the fantastic synth-organ sounds as the song leads out of its chorus and both feature fantastic driving guitar lines that carry the rhythm and melody of the tracks throughout, giving them a fast-paced bouncy energy to their flow. Reach Out to the Truth has easily been one of the tracks stuck in my head the hardest since completing Persona 4 and stands with my favorite video game battle tracks.
Moving into the more serious nature of the boss battles, we have a plethora of tracks that range from the serious, hard sounds of “I’ll Face Myself -Battle-“, the driving and triumphant sound of “Mist“, and even the gloomy, moody style featured within “A New World Fool“. I’ll Face Myself -Battle- earns points alone for being a harder battle re-arrange of one of my absolute favorite tracks from the game, which we’ll discuss a bit later on in today’s piece. Mist serves as a fantastic hype piece for some of the largest and most influential battles in the game, carrying that sort of “this is it” feeling and the sense that this marks a major turning point within the course of the entire game. A New World Fool was one of the interesting tracks for me personally from a music standpoint, as it differs so much from the theme of the dungeon it is originally featured in. It is deliberately dark and ominous, giving the player an uneasy, uncomfortable feeling as they deal with the behemoth of a boss standing before them. Each of these tracks really capture the emotions of the events surrounding the battle and encapsulate them into a single entity.
Moving away from the battle tracks, let’s take a look at a more mellow, easy-going set of songs that accompany the daily life portions of Persona 4. There are plenty of catchy and memorable tracks among these. Some of my particular favorites included the cloudy day anthem “Heartbeat, Heartbreak“, the standard evening track for the large majority of the game “Signs of Love“, and the standard school life track “Like a dream come true“. Each of these tracks really stand out in a different way for me, as each and many more are fantastic tracks that each really deserve their own analysis. “Heartbeat, Heartbreak” really captures the casual after-school moments and that kind of mood within its composition, encompassing the feeling of spending an afternoon wandering the streets of the Inaba Shopping District. “Signs of Love” carries that cozy, at-home feeling of spending an evening playing with Nanako, talking with Dojima, or even preparing your lunch for the next day. Meanwhile, “Like a dream come true” has a bouncy, fun feeling to it that goes well with the scenes it accompanies, spending time with your dear friends after school whether it be playing with the school band or just hanging around the school.
If the rest of Persona 4’s soundtrack is absolutely fantastic and deserving of praise, the tracks that accompany some of the game’s most emotional moments are on a completely new level from the rest. They stand as some of the most compelling and “tugging on the heartstrings” tracks I’ve ever heard from anything, be it video game or otherwise. Among these, it’s really hard to pick my favorite tracks. “SMILE” isn’t one of the most emotional tracks in the game, but it often accompanies personal backstory moments that delve deep into a character’s personality and backstory. It’s a mellow piece that has an uplifting sense of hope and the feeling that everything is going to be okay. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Reverie” is one of the most emotional tracks in the game. It accompanies some of the most heartwrenching revelation scenes from the game and it has a beautiful piano-centric instrumentation that gives it a melancholy feel, while at the same time giving that feeling of comfort that comes from self-realization.
As I mentioned earlier,”I’ll Face Myself” has quickly risen to be one of my favorite video game tracks of all-time and for very good reason. It’s the song that accompanies the aftermath of each of the major boss battles for a large portion of the game and its composition and mood are absolutely fantastic. The mix of the strong brass sounds that carry throughout the latter portions and the powerful orchestra backing, along with the guitar undertones, make the song immensely powerful in its execution. Its mood is fantastic, giving off that triumphant feel of the character finally owning up to their inner demons and accepting them as a part of themself. “I’ll Face Myself” has had a huge impact on me and it’s a tune that plays within my head constantly, giving me the strength I need to confront some of my own personal insecurities and inner demons.
There are so…so many more tracks I failed to mention during this write-up that are absolutely fantastic. Writing this and pouring out my love for the soundtrack of Persona 4 makes me want to make a short ranking at some point of my personal favorite tracks from the game or even analyze the entire OST as opposed to cherry-picking a few favorites. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the soundtrack to Persona 4 and I recently placed an order for a physical copy of the soundtrack on Amazon, which I’m immensely excited to own for myself. It’s an expertly-composed soundtrack that pulls all the right chords for capturing every emotion it seeks and it has enough meaning behind each song for far more analysis than I could accomplish here. We’re coming closer to the end of our adventure through Persona 4 and in our next piece, we’ll take a look at how Persona 4 has affected me on a deep, personal level, so stay tuned!