Monday, 30 May 2016

Top 10 Warcraft Soundtracks

Obligatory disclaimer that listicles like this are intrinsically subjective and fallible and don’t mean much.

Warcraft is a grand series of video games about to make its way to the big screen. In anticipation of this film (and Ramin Djawadi’s score!) I’ve decided to look back at the many Warcraft soundtracks over the years. And hey, why not try to rank them?

The Warcraft series differs from other extended fantasy franchises like The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit because it’s simply much bigger. Whereas the Tolkien films were all scored by Howard Shore, Warcraft has seen contributions from dozens of composers over the years. And with many games over the years with many different styles and huge amounts of content, the sheer amount of musical material in Warcraft is just enormous. For most of the World of Warcraft releases there is around 10 hours (!) of music available to listen to on YouTube (for this article I'm really only looking at the official releases though). And it’s all incredibly varied, as Warcraft has touched on genres of fantasy, war, science fiction, melodrama, romance, horror and even comedy.

So much brilliant music to get through! Here’s my ranking:

10) Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994) by Gregory Alper, Rick Jackson, Chris Palmer, Glenn Stafford

The original WarCraft may not have many lasting themes, but it's a high energy soundtrack that forges a path for what's to come. The fast marching drums and taut, dancing brass define the WarCraft style to this day.

9) Taverns of Azeroth (2007) by David Arkenstone, Jason Hayes

A change of pace: gentle, hearty and warm shanties from the Warcraft world.

8) WarCraft II (1995) by Glenn Stafford

Similar to Orcs & Humans, but brings Tauren-sized bucket loads of fun. Electronic, but oozing with rhythmic marches and fist-pumping motifs. Lots of attitude and personality. Highly memorable.

7) WarCraft III (2002) by Tracy W. Bush, Derek Duke, Jason Hayes, Glenn Stafford, Victor Crews

Diverse; often ethereal, intermittently creepy, sometimes grand.  Enormous and rich, it builds upon some WarCraft II themes, and is the origin for some of the greatest in the series. While it may not be wall-to-wall fun like WarCraft II, Warcraft III is when the series began to become beautiful and sentimental.

6) World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (2007) by Russell Brower, Derek Duke, Matt Uelmen, Jason Hayes, David Arkenstone, Brian David Farr, Neal Acree

Adding some terrifying sting to the vanilla World of Warcraft.

5) World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (2010) by Russell Brower, Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford, Neal Acree, David Arkenstone

Many of the best themes from the series are vividly re-imagined.

4) World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (2008) by Russell Brower, Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford

A cold, operatic despair harks the terror of the Lich King.

3) World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (2012) by Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Sam Cardon, Edo Guidotti, Jeremy Soule

Warcraft meets Eastern styles. It works ridiculously well. And Jeremy Soule's flourishes are fun.

2) World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor (2014) by Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Clint Bajakian, Sam Cardon, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Edo Guidotti, EĆ­mear Noone

Some of the most powerful melodies I've ever heard, and some of the most heartbreaking. Like Pandaria and Lich King, Draenor's score feels truly unified in a theme - here the Orcs' quest for a home.

1) World of Warcraft (2004) by Jason Hayes, Tracy W. Bush, Derek Duke and Glenn Stafford

World of Warcraft takes the fun of Warcraft II and the beauty of Warcraft III and blends them into something unforgettably glorious.

Special Mentions:

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Sweet, gentle, toe-tapping music is featured in this Warcraft spinoff game.

Echoes of War

Some of the best recordings of Warcraft pieces ever.

Heroes of the Storm

Warcraft has a place in this mishmash of Blizzard IPs, and it’s pretty rock’n’roll.

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