Thursday, 26 January 2017

3 Times Final Fantasy Played With Pop Music

When it was announced a few weeks ago that Ariana Grande was to be a character in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, I was a little confused. Since when was Ariana Grande a Final Fantasy fan? Is this a marketing move? Why can I put Ariana Grande in my party and not the pop star version of Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2? My confusion was as a Final Fantasy fan, despite the fact I'm actually a fan of Ariana Grande’s music and think she has an incredible voice. Considering she’s not a story character and I think her character design is undeniably adorable, I'll live with the choice, but I definitely think it's a bizarre choice.

Ariana Grande aside, this collaboration made me remember something about Final Fantasy and pop music - they've played together a few times. From theme songs to revamped characters, recent Final Fantasy games have seen pop music mixed in both in subtle and obvious ways. Whether you like the incorporation of pop or not, the Ariana Grande collaboration isn’t the first time Final Fantasy have played with pop music and the collaboration with Ariana suggests it’s probably not the last. So in light of Ariana's appearance in Brave Exvius, here are a few of the other times Final Fantasy played with pop music.

1) Final Fantasy X-2 - Songstress Yuna
Final Fantasy X-2 was one of Final Fantasy’s most prominent ventures into pop music, a choice made on purpose by the creators of X-2 to give a lighter feel and sound to the Final Fantasy X sequel. The opening cutscene says it all: Yuna is seen dancing and singing in the Songstress dressphere to an extremely catchy song on stage in Luca, heavily contrasting the traditional-style Yuna seen in Final Fantasy X. In spite of the heavy contrast, I really liked Yuna’s change of style in X-2, probably because I played it as a teenager that loved music and seeing that reflected in one of my favourite characters made me feel a new kind of connection to Yuna. Music is tied into X-2 in multiple ways, thanks to the nature of certain dresspheres, such as the Songstress dressphere that featured abilities such as Sing and Dance. The dressphere is a big part of X-2’s biggest story moments, with Yuna singing 1000 Words in the later chapters being one of my most memorable JRPG moments when I was getting into JRPGs.

It’s also worth noting that Real Emotion and 1000 Words were both sung by pop musicians, with the Japanese version sung by Koda Kumi and the English version by Jade from Sweetbox. At the time, neither pop artist was mainstream but this shows Final Fantasy looking outward when it comes to musical talent, a trend that would continue with Final Fantasy games to come.

2) Final Fantasy XIII - Leona Lewis’ ‘My Hands’
The US Final Fantasy XIII trailer featured a notable track from well-known X-Factor winner and the singer of ‘Bleeding Love’ Leona Lewis. Her song ‘My Hands’ was chosen for the trailer and contributed by Leona as she liked how it connected with Lightning’s character. The song received mixed reviews by critics and the Japanese audience and it's noticeably different to the Japanese track used in the Japanese trailer. Personally I like the way Leona’s song fits with the trailer and I really like the way the trailer feels like a music video.

3) Final Fantasy XV - Florence and the Machine
The most recent example of Final Fantasy using music from a big musical artist is none other than the Final Fantasy XV, the most recent addition to the main series of Final Fantasy games. During the Uncovered Final Fantasy event, it was revealed that the theme song to Final Fantasy XV would be Florence and the Machine covering ‘Stand by Me’. I really like this track as the theme song of Final Fantasy XV - it fits the tone of Final Fantasy XV’s road trip journey perfectly, along with showing the importance of Noctis’ friends for the events to come. That and the arrangement is pretty magical version of an already good song.


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Do you like pop music in Final Fantasy? What's your favourite track (pop or otherwise) from the Final Fantasy series?
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