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10 best mainline Final Fantasy songs

Which is the best Final Fantasy song of all time? There are so many to go through, but here are the top 10 (Image via Square Enix)
Which is the best Final Fantasy song of all time? There are so many to go through, but here are the top 10 (Image via Square Enix)

One of the many things that made Final Fantasy an exceptional series is the music. The ability to take an emotional scene and tie unforgettable music to it is a talent that not all game developers and composers have. There are so many songs across the mainline Final Fantasy games that are genuinely memorable.

Each character in a Final Fantasy game has a theme song tailored to their personality, hopes, and aspirations, making the music all the more special. There are moments that will be remembered forever, thanks in part to the story itself and the song that comes with it.

Dozens of musical styles have been represented in the series over the years. With hundreds of songs to choose from, not all of them can be considered the best. While some songs might be fan favorites, they might not have what it takes to make this list.

As with all lists, this one reflects the views of the writer.

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Final Fantasy is known for its amazing soundtracks, but which song is the best?

There are memorable songs that, unfortunately, did not make this list. J.E.N.O.V.A. and Sephiroth’s theme from Final Fantasy VII almost made it. While they are terrific pieces of music on their own and add a lot to the scenes they are played in, the music is a little on the weaker side. It’s a bit repetitive, and while good, not quite good enough to make the top 10.

Top 10 Final Fantasy songs

  • Melodies of Life (FFIX)
  • Man with the Machine Gun (FFVIII)
  • Otherworld (FFX)
  • The Temple of Chaos/Sunken Shrine (FFI)
  • Blinded By Light (FFXIII)
  • The Final Battle/Zeromus’ Theme (FFIV)
  • Cosmo Canyon (FFVII)
  • Maria and Draco (FFVI)
  • Battle on The Big Bridge (FFV)
  • Dancing Mad (FFVI)

A track that almost made this list but got cut was Maybe I’m a Lion. Another excellent song from Final Fantasy VIII, Man with the Machine Gun, does edge it out. The writer’s fondness for Maybe I’m a Lion stems from a Black Mages album and so was dropped at the last moment.

But what songs made the cut? They must be in a mainline Final Fantasy title, and remixes, remasters, and other versions of the song, while significant, are not considered.


10) Melodies of Life (Final Fantasy IX)

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Final Fantasy IX’s “Melodies of Life” is a powerful song all on its own and never ceases to bring this writer through a variety of emotions. Zidane and Dagger’s embrace at the end, right before the credits roll and this song hits, is just a rollercoaster of emotion. It was a pretty nice change of pace for Final Fantasy songs.

Melodies of Life, sung in Japanese and English by Emiko Shiratori, is a truly beautiful song and deserves to be heard more often.


9) Man with the Machine Gun (FFVIII)

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One of the best combat songs in the series' history comes from Final Fantasy VIII. It’s an often very divisive game in the franchise, but no one can deny that a number of absolute bangers came from this game’s franchise. The synthetic sound and quick tempo fit the game’s more modern visuals and aesthetic.

The techno/pop sound fits the game, and while this writer isn’t the biggest fan of Final Fantasy VIII, this song by Nobuo Uematsu is a classic.


8) Otherworld (FFX)

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Final Fantasy X is one of this writer’s all-time favorite games. The slow heartbeat at the beginning of the cutscene and immediately transitioning into a hard-hitting metal track for the Blitzball game? It was perfectly executed. This was another moment that felt like a first for the franchise, using a metal track as not only an important song but the first major moment in the story.

Auron just looked so awesome standing alone as Sin started to appear in the cutscene too. The Black Mages song hinted at the future of Tidus while also setting the tone for the game.


7) The Temple of Chaos/Sunken Shrine (FFI)

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The Temple of Chaos theme from Final Fantasy I has stuck with this writer since he first heard it on the NES. The slow hymn almost sounds like a funeral dirge in the background before picking up the tempo to address the danger of the place the heroes are in.

It only appears in a few places in the game and only when heroes are in great danger or fear. The Temple of Chaos and the Sunken Shrine are home to this particular melody, and it stands out as one of the all-time great Final Dungeon themes. The remixes of the song are all grand, but the original by Nobuo Uematsu is timeless.


6) Blinded By Light (FFXIII)

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Another particularly divisive game is Final Fantasy XIII. While not everyone appreciates the gameplay or the characters involved, the music is excellent. The violin-filled combat theme by Masashi Hamauzu is a memorable one, but kicking off with percussion, cellos and other parts of the orchestra really sells the importance of combat. It’s a track this writer finds humming at the oddest, random moments. It never really goes away.


5) The Final Battle/Zeromus’s Theme (FFIV)

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There are a few ways to approach a final battle, and one way is a single movement of powerful music. Final Fantasy IV’s final battle with the monstrous Zemus/Zeromus is capped off with a high-tempo synthetic track composed by Nobuo Uematsu with a steady drumbeat tapping in the background. The tones and sounds used help give the battle the finality it deserves, while also sounding a bit otherworldly. Fitting as it takes place at the core of the moon itself.


4) Cosmo Canyon (FFVII)

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Final Fantasy VII has too many incredible songs on the soundtrack, that’s for sure. But the ringing and beat of Cosmo Canyon by Nobuo Uematsu just goes too hard. It feels primal, a chant coming from the planet itself. It’s fitting to be in Cosmo Canyon, attached to Red XIII, considering how important saving the planet is to Red XIII. It has a very native sound to it, and the beat drives the whole song and makes it a truly memorable piece of music.


3) Maria and Draco (FFVI)

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One thing Final Fantasy VI does exceptionally well is create music that has a variety of movements and tonal changes. Since the Maria and Draco track is an actual opera, Nobuo Uematsu did an exceptional job of recreating what it’s like to sit through an emotional, powerful opera. While the actual singing voices can be a little annoying to listen to, the backing music swells and changes, from invoking tragedy, hope, and of course, combat.


2) Death Battle on the Big Bridge (FFV)

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Battle on the Big Bridge by Nobuo Uematsu was used several times in FFV and was also reprised again in FFXII and FFXIV. Despite FFV not showing up in America until later, it is still a track that people think of fondly.

It’s attached to a hilarious, weird, but also a powerful boss in the mighty Gilgamesh. It can only be described as epic battle music, a clash of heroes versus an overwhelmingly powerful single combatant. Then he and his friend. The piano and drums work together excellently to get the heart racing as the song pushes forward.


1) Dancing Mad (FFVI)

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Sorry Sephiroth, there’s only room on this playlist for one madman. There are no songs in the series that are more iconic and more powerful than Dancing Mad by Nobuo Uematsu. This multi-movement suite goes through the entire final battle with Kefka. As the player transitions from battle to battle, the tone and theme of the music change, swelling in the end, with Kefka descending from the heavens to battle for the fate of the world.

The choral chanting sings a song of doom for all living things, promising that life will come to an end as the party of heroes battles their way through the grotesque and horrifying visages of Kefka’s making. It’s iconic and memorable for so many reasons.


Are there any other songs that could have made this iconic list? Of course. The Final Fantasy theme, for example, and so many of the various overworld songs. It’s too hard to finalize just one list of this franchise's songs, but these are among the absolute best that many fans around the world immediately recognize.

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Edited by R. Elahi
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