I love the music of the Mother series. It's quirky, weird, funky and emotional all at once, and there's really little else like it.
One of the many pleasant surprises in experiencing the recently-released (for the US) EarthBound Beginnings was hearing how much solid music was packed in that little 1989 RPG. I'd say its songs--like its story--are a little more dramatic than EarthBound's, and the soundtrack has really stuck with me while playing.
One thing to note--around the time this game came out in Japan, Nintendo made a full album of its music complete with live instrumentation. Some of the songs are instrumental remixes, but seven of the songs were fully sung with original lyrics (in English!) and everything. I picked up that CD several years ago and it's still enjoyable. If you like the remixes you hear in this thread, feel free to import that bad boy yourself!
Without further ado, here are my ten favorites from EarthBound Beginnings.
In what might be the most hardcore song in the series behind EarthBound’s “Pokey Means Business,” “Roving Tank” cranks the metal factor to eleven. In a game full of pop-style anthems, it’s a refreshingly Konami-esque sound, and it works nicely with driving a beefy tank through the desert.
The Paradise Line
“The Paradise Line” captures all the fun and excitement of going on a train adventure across the country! I really like the little nod to Pollyanna during the verse as well. It’s just a catchy song implemented nicely into the game.
BONUS: For extra 80’s-rock fun, check out the official vocal version of this track!
Humoresque of a Little Dog
A familiar track to EarthBound fans, but it got its start here! Encapsulating that small-town mom-and-pop store feel to a T, “Humoresque” has become one of the series’ most iconic tracks. Just hearing it again makes me want to nab a Super Plush Bear and a couple of burgers.
Like the above track, this one also appears in EarthBound (although it’s known as “Paula’s Theme” there). “Youngtown” is named for the town it’s played in, a melancholy area full of orphans. The main verse is appropriately sad, while the refrain has a hint of hopefulness to it. For stirring some bittersweet emotions in me when I hear it, this tune lands at a respectable number 7.
A classic Mother theme! “Snowman” got its start in the first game, but can also be heard in EarthBound’s boarding school sequence when you first meet Jeff. Few gaming snow themes capture the delicate peacefulness of winter like this one, and even this early 8-bit version of the song sounds soft and welcoming, like a light snowfall.
Late in the game, the party comes across a cabin and takes a moment to rest there. While inside, Ana shares a dance with Ninten to this music. I gotta be honest, it’s pretty entrancing, and a surprisingly romantic-sounding song, particularly for the NES. Unconventional chords and counter-melodies make for a very striking tune to me. One of the most underrated songs in the game, IMO.
BONUS: Speaking of romantic, check out the official orchestral version. It’s got a little too much of a Barry White-ish “bow-chicka” sound for backup, but the strings and vocals are super nice.
All That I Needed Was You
After a few emotion-driven songs, this one’s just plain fun. About 2/3rds through, the gang rocks out onstage to this song, and it’s catchy and enjoyable throughout. I think I’d actually prefer this song to be the overworld party one more than Bein’ Friends. It’s got that pop feel that Mother captures so nicely.
BONUS: Here’s the vocal version! This one’s a little weird, though—they got a member of the boy’s soprano choir to do the vocals, and it doesn’t quite work (his diction is terrible and he’s hard to understand). It’s a shame too because the instrumental arrangement is terrific. I’d love to see someone do justice to this song.
8 Melodies/The End
This is the ending theme! Spoilers!
Throughout EarthBound Beginnings, you’re collecting segments of a single melody from a variety of surprising places, and this leads to some of the most memorable sequences in the game. Naturally, all the segments come together nicely to form “8 Melodies,” which also has some plot-relevant purposes too. It’s a nice song but this version is my favorite, particularly when the refrain from “Mother Earth” (the intro song) comes in with an awesome arrangement. It’s not quite “Smiles and Tears” for me, but it’s gooood stuff!
BONUS: Here’s the St. Paul’s Cathedinal Choir of young boys singing the Eight Melodies! Pretty awesome.
Wisdom of the World
This tune sort of grabs you from the get-go, doesn’t it? It’s especially nice given the context of the game and the character of Queen Mary, but even outside of that, it’s got a great feel to it. Regal and comforting, with a hint of sadness. It’s surprising how funky EarthBound’s soundtrack is in comparison to Beginnings’, but I enjoy the variety of moods in the series’ music.
BONUS: Catherine Warwick (14 years old at the time) sings “Wisdom of the World” on the official soundtrack. It’s gorgeous.
Could it be anything else? “Pollyanna” is the ultimate feel-good melody and a stone-cold classic video game song. The descending bass line gives it a nostalgic tone and the upbeat tempo makes you want to go adventuring! The lyrical version makes it even better, transforming it into an anthem of hope which has become a signature of the series. It’s also one of the few songs to appear in every game in the Mother trilogy.
BONUS 2! Michelle Heafy does this BEAUTIFUL version of the classic theme, with new harmonies and a few melodic nods to other songs in the series. A must-listen, although the video contains Mother 3 spoilers, so don’t watch too closely!
That's a wrap! Hope your ears derived some pleasure from this tuneage. It was cool seeing that some of my favorite songs in the series got their start here. If you haven't picked up EarthBound Beginnings yet, supporting the series helps Mother 3's chances of being localized go up, and I'd be happy to make my top ten songs from that game as well...!
Hah, I thought that might be a slightly controversial placing. I think the sheer amount of times you hear it in the last section of the game dulled it slightly for me by the time it all came together during the end. And personally, I prefer EarthBound's 8 Melodies. Even so, it's still a great song and I really like the ending version of it.
EDIT: Screw it. You guys are right, bumped it up some.
Somehow even still early in the game I knew number 1 would be number 1. Shirley has heard me playing before and she likes it too. I was playing last night and she was like "go to the place with that song!" I was like "I'm nowhere near it right now!" Then she got sad and called the song in the place I was in creepy.
I'd like to give an honorable mention to Magicant's theme. I don't love it with the NES samples in EBB, but it remixes really well. Smash Bros 3DS's take on the theme really brings out its otherworldly appeal:
Great list! I listened to everything you posted in their entirety. I think a Mother series music top ten is in order!
As for the Michelle Heafy version of Pollyanna, it's just wonderful! The Mother 3 spoilers are pretty darn huge though. I remember initially getting to that section of the game and getting blasted with emotions.
A good list, and a couple I didn't remember from the game. I won't be checking out the live album though, since lyrics tend to ruin music.
#1 is probably my fave game tune of all time, particularly the version in SSBMelee that's labeled there as "Mother 2." I'm not really sure why it's called that since it seems based on the Mother 1 version.
I feel this game has better music than the SNES game, which surprised me when playing it after the SNES one. It isn't just the compositions, but also this game has some of the best sound quality on the NES, whereas I feel like the SNES game's quality is kinda low. Maybe it was just a stylistic choice, but it sounds more like a game released in 1991 or maybe 1992 than 1994, especially when compared to stuff like Final fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger.