Music of the Year 2012

Derek Heemsbergen's Awards

5) The World Ends With You -Crossover-
Composed by Takeharu Ishimoto
This year marked the (limited) return of The World Ends With You, a franchise I feel is woefully overdue for some expansion. Neku and company's cameos in Kingdom Hearts 3D, as well as the recently-released iOS port, were enough to temporarily sate my appetite, thanks in large part to – you guessed it – new music. TWEWY's uniquely funky stylings are still a breath of fresh air, and I hope we soon see a true sequel with even more fresh beats.

Favorite Tracks:
DTM -Crossover-
Twister -Crossover

4) Final Fantasy XI Chips
Composed and Arranged by Various Arists
As a long-time veteran of Final Fantasy XI (I feel like I've typed that sentence so many times) and a huge fan of chiptunes, I was exceptionally pleased to acquire this album. I have spent countless hours listening to the music of Vana'diel, to the point where it is permanently ingrained into my memory. For me, hearing a remixed version of a song from FFXI is like greeting an old friend with a new haircut. Well, in this case, I suppose it's a 16-bit haircut. Semantics!

Favorite Tracks:
Vana'Diel March
The Kingdom of San d'Oria - Ronfaure - The Republic of Bastok
Voyager - Airship

3) Piano Collections Final Fantasy XII
Composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto (Arranged by Casey Ormond)
Hitoshi Sakimoto's epic melodies tend to be more complex than most. When I hear "Sakimoto," I immediately think "bloody political strife," and there's no simple way to convey that idea musically. It's a good thing they put an expert in charge of transforming the Ivalice soundscape into piano tunes! Casey Ormond's arrangements are deep, varied, and exciting, making this my favorite piano album of the year.

Favorite Tracks:
Streets of Rabanastre
The Dalmasca Estersand
Near the Water

2) Etrian Odyssey IV OST
Composed by Yuzo Koshiro (Arranged by Takeshi Yanagawa)
"I am striking out on an adventure." That's how I feel when I listen to this latest effort by Yuzo Koshiro. The Etrian Odyssey series has had consistently good music, but I think the decision to go fully orchestral with EOIV was a very wise one. The labyrinth tracks have a superb mix of ambiance and melody, while the battle tracks rock with white-hot intensity that gives me goosebumps. You go, Koshiro-san!

Favorite Tracks:
Faith Is My Pillar
Unrest - The End of Raging Winds
Area II - The Red Stone Forest

1) Persona 4 The Golden OST
Composed by Shoji Meguro and Atsushi Kitajoh
If I had to describe the atmosphere of Persona 4 in one word, it would be "emotional." It follows suit that a game about forging bonds and making memories has to possess a strong musical focus. Music is a conduit to the soul, after all. Shoji Meguro and Atsushi Kitajoh are masters of setting the mood; one moment, I was fired up to fight alongside my trusted allies, and the next, I sat in quiet contemplation. At once nostalgic and fresh, these new tunes are married perfectly with existing classics. I cannot think of Persona 4 Golden without thinking of its soundtrack, and for that reason, it is my Music of the Year. "Heartbeat, Heartbreak" indeed.

Favorite Tracks:
Time To Make History
Maiden of the Empty Forest

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