Music to My Ears: Persona 3

This series has unintentionally turned into something of a retro review of older soundtracks, for the most part. Other than Lost Odyssey (which was released in 2007), the other titles I’ve covered so far have been super mega ancient old.

So it’s time to get back to something a little more recent.

Persona 3! Yes, this modern-day classic is finally up for examination in Music to My — what’s that? P3 was released in 2007? Well…damn. At least it’s not another mid-90s game.

Persona might be one of the most underappreciated series in gaming history. It’s not for everyone; the combination of Japanese influence and dungeon crawling probably turned some people away from the get-go. Those who stuck around were rewarded with rich characters, a deep battle system and an Engrish soundtrack that is extremely catchy.

Friend of the show Jason and I played through this game by switching off and taking turns every month. Having played through both P3 and P4 in this way, we put together a CD of music from the series for his car and found it hard to condense the best tracks down to 80 minutes. Shoji Meguro has a distinct style that mixes jazz and pop with vocals that are sort of in English but not really. Hell, his work is so popular that they’ve had three Persona concerts in Japan, including one just last month where the stage was huge and the turnout even bigger.

Adding to the difficulty of narrowing down this tracklist is the multitude of P3 versions out there. There’s the original PS2 game. There’s Persona 3 FES, which added “The Answer” as post-game content. There’s Persona 3 Portable for the PSP, which added 10 tracks if you decided to play the main character as a girl. And after all that, there’s also an entire remix album and multiple live performances to choose from. It’s kind of a mess, but when the music is this good, having a ton of options is not a bad thing.

I could talk about this series and this music for much longer, but I don’t want your eyes to glaze over. So here’s five of my picks for the best tracks from Persona 3:

Burn My Dread

Each of the three versions of P3 has its own intro music, but I’m going with the original here. You want a 90-second track that epitomizes the music of this game? Here you go. This track is also remixed and used for the fight against the penultimate boss, but I like the title theme for its slow build into driving guitars and what some fans of the series like to call “Burn My Bread.” There’s nothing worse than burning toast for breakfast, kids.

Mass Destruction (aka BABYBABYBABYBABYBABY)

This is the regular battle music and probably the most well-known theme from this game (I’d say series, but Poem for Everyone’s Souls [see below] gets that distinction). Let’s address the elephant in the room first: Out of context, this probably seems bizarre. Yes, every fight starts with BABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABY and rap. But if you don’t think the chorus is catchy as hell, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. When I talk about tracks in context in this series, this is a prime example — it really grows on you once you get immersed in the game.

Wiping All Out

I’m trying to pick at least one track from the three versions of the game, so here’s one from P3P. This song is divisive for some folks because of how much they love Mass Destruction — the thought of replacing it is probably incomprehensible to them. Still, Wiping All Out is a much more fitting battle theme for the female main character. I love the background synths, and the lyrics tell a story of their own as you annihilate a bunch of monsters (“I’m not a princess; not a cutie girlfriend oh no don’t you know”).

Persona

Oddly enough, a song bearing the series’ name doesn’t even appear in the original version of P3. “Persona” is one of the four choices for alternate Tartarus music that first appears in FES. This additional music is greatly appreciated, because the default theme that you were stuck with in the original is boring and dull, especially after having to hear it for 250+ floors of a dungeon. The other choices are pretty solid, but once Jason and I added Fuuka to our party, this was the theme we went with.

The Battle for Everyone’s Souls

It’s no secret that I love boss themes (and final boss themes in particular), but P3’s might be the best I’ve ever heard, especially when you put everything into context. You’ve battled your way through almost an entire calendar year while climbing up a seemingly endless tower. You’ve forged strong relationships with your friends. Now, you’re facing a foe that you supposedly can’t beat with the fate of the world in your hands. And it’s a good thing this song is amazing, because this fight is 15-30 minutes long unless you’re painfully overleveled. Considering that this track also reworks series mainstay “Poem for Everyone’s Souls,” it really represents the entire series to me.

Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games on a recurring basis, which is basically whenever Chris gets around to writing it. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.

4 thoughts on “Music to My Ears: Persona 3

    1. It is indeed. Heartful Cry probably would’ve made the top 10, but it’s tough when I like this many songs from the series. Between this game, P4 and Arena, there might be 40 tracks on my playlist.

  1. Ha, these are great songs! I never played Persona 3 (or any of the others) so I was kind of expecting the standard epic RPG fantasy-type music but these were so poppy. An innovative shift, for sure.

    1. The soundtrack definitely caught me off guard when we finally got around to playing this series — I hadn’t really heard much about it. You’d probably enjoy playing Persona, but it’s a tough sell for folks who are busy when a playthrough is going to run you 60-70 hours.

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s