Instrumental video game music that actually has lyrics, it turns out

Let's post some game music that originally appeared as instrumental-only (due to technical limitations or otherwise) but actually, it turns out, has lyrics!

The mother (lol) of all examples in my opinion is the Mother vocal album (officially just titled _Mother_) released in 1989, featuring arrangements by Keiichi Suzuki and Hip Tanaka as well as English lyrics penned by Itoi and Linda Hennrick. I don't really know if these tracks were originally meant to have lyrics, but I can't help but love how goofy and earnest they are. I discovered this album well before I had played either Mother or Earthbound while doing a deep internet dive into those (then) mysterious tracks that accompanied the Earthbound stages of SSB Melee. I genuinely, unironically love these songs--so much so that I have about 7 copies on vinyl/CD thanks to the miraculous re-release from Ship to Shore Media in 2015. The whole album is worth a listen in my opinion, but here's "Bein' Friends," complete with Catherine Warwick's odd but lovely semi-operatic vocals:

The "Eight Melodies" arrangement featuring a children's choir actually makes me pretty emotional (and reminds me of Home Alone 2 for some reason):

Just last year Suzuki put out another Mother vocal album (Mother Music Revisited) with some new (and sometimes bizarre) arrangements and himself on's a bit of an acquired taste (that I may not have totally acquired yet lol):

The entire run of Falcom Vocal Collection albums are essential listening if you want that primo cheesiness factor...I think these were collectively my most listened to albums of 2021. Having only played Ys I, so far, I have not yet appreciated most of these songs in their original context, though I really love what was done with the Feena melody in this track from Vocal Collection IV:

The Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross Arrangement Album/To Far Away Times from 2015 has a few vocal arrangements. I'm a bit torn on the instrumentation and English lyrics for Corridors of Time, but this version of Schala's Theme is simply gorgeous:'s Mario...take your pick I guess!

I'm gonna save everyone some time and post this:

And, finally (for now) here are the canonical lyrics for Rainbow Road:

I’m envious of all the Japanese speakers that can sing the Opa Opa anthem. One of many highlights of the splendid Sega Saturn version.

@kory these are amazing. I too am known to cheerfully search for coins.

Oh, dang, speaking of Sega Saturn, how could I forget:


@“kory”#p56575 primo cheesiness factor

allow me to introduce you to the Kirby's Adventure Arrange album

Well… technically had lyrics the first time, but they were not sung by human voices (or even articulated) until later arrangements

@“Funbil”#p56581 yeeeeeahh that’s the stuff

Stating in Mother-world: Hirokazu Tanaka reused one of the OG Mother tunes for the Game Boy Camera, and he even included lyrics for said tune in the strategy guide, which you can see (in Japanese) on this video:

@“kory”#p56575 Damn dude, I remember being hyped for MOTHER music revisited, then totally forgot about it! Thanks for the reminder. Great to hear some new stuff from him, it‘s 100% the style I’ve known him for, haha.

The original version of the song that plays in the Rama / Dalaam area in Mother 2 was this. It came before/during Mother 2 development.

I can‘t think of many off top right now nor do I feel like posting videos, but there’s so much more besides Mother series stuff. Especially when it comes to RPGs. Good thread idea!

@“treefroggy”#p56752 Hope you enjoy it! I‘m curious to hear your thoughts. I had a pretty strongly negative reaction on first listen and just kind of put it away for a few months. After revisiting it I’m definitely more into it, but some of the instrumentation, vocal effects, and mixing choices are so bafflingly weird that I‘m still not quite sure what to make of it all. Suzuki’s heavily accented English vocals are also growing on me, as he clearly seems to be enjoying himself :slight_smile:

@“kory”#p56759 Maybe you‘ll appreciate it more if you familiarize yourself with his body of work over the past half decade or so? It should be a million times easier to find than it was when I was looking for it on the internet in the early 2000’s…. I still haven‘t gone back to find it, but there are two tracks I have had in my iTunes since 2007: Words, Colors, Noise, and Booms, and this:

The music I have listened to every day for my 22 of my 29 years of life has been weird, and I was amazed to discover much of what I enjoy is what directly inspired the Mother soundtracks…. You can easily find lists of the musical inspirations of Mother online, because there was an epic interview about it. One of the most epic and validating interviews I’ve read in my life. Tanaka listed tons of stuff, which is super rare for Japanese developers, they‘re often modest and don’t give that much info. He even said he wasn‘t about to include Zappa and can’t even say where it fit in the OST, but it's very clear to me with the trippy little aside tempo changes in the middle of many of the battle tracks.

So far listening to this I'm even getting some (early) TMBG vibes. It's also quite dark at times, a lot of the trippiest and inexplicable stuff reminds me of Susumu Hirasawa, they're the same generation so it totally checks out. Hirasawa also did a lot of stuff that came off as very janky and falling apart at the seams, like how did he think this was OK? It was all very confusing to me as a child, but now that I feel like I've seen everything, it's refreshing to hear something so disjointed, and may be where these old men are coming from too, hah. Just having fun!

I'm glad to finally have Keiichi's versions of all these, it lives up to the hype! I've listened to the vocal OST so much in my life, I would have been very disappointed if he had done anything but heavily depart from the original stylings of those tracks (no more WAY-OHH WAY-OHHs, which I love, but we don't need them right now, haha)

I'm only on track 6 right now, so I'll post again when/if I have more to say. I'm looking forward to hearing the battle and area themes, all the stuff that didn't have vocal or acoustic arrangements before! Very exciting! I'm blasting it on my nice speakers in my van. You need decent headphones or speakers for this one, lots of trippy stuff going on.

edit: Listening to Snow Man. This sounds like something from games with weird soundtracks like Love de Lic, Doshin, Katamari, Pikmin.

edit #50: these later tracks are just the original game rips, RIP. Well, the new tracks we got were awesome man. Love it.

@“treefroggy”#p56765 I was not familiar with Suzuki’s previous work or inspirations, but listening to this definitely tracks with what I’m hearing on the new album


@“treefroggy”#p56765 very janky and falling apart at the seams

Yeah, I think this is the quality of Revisited that most caught me off guard, though it’s really growing on me now that I’m in the right headspace


@“treefroggy”#p56765 Snow Man

I’m listening back to this one now as well—I agree, this does remind me of some of the quirky little one-off arrangements from Katamari…it’s very bold to eschew the classic bold melody and sleigh bells (the canonical “snow” signifier for a very understated melody, tabla drums, and this almost unsettling feedback creeping in and out. All That I Need (Was You) just came on and I’m mesmerized by the ghoulish barely comprehensible vocals. Wild stuff…

The Dragon Quest II Theme has a jpop version with vocals! It was released alongside the game as a promotional tie-in

The album version doesn‘t seem to be on YouTube (and the version I found won’t allow embedding), but the ending theme for Sonic 2 is basically identical to Sweet Sweet Sweet by Dreams Come True

@"GigaSlime"#p56782 I own the 7" single of this! It's fun! Also weird that they have a J-pop tie in for menu music most people probably don't spend a lot of time with.

Here is rather famous example in the fighting game scene: Blue Mary’s Blues from Real Bout Special, also featured in Real Bout 2 and several KOF games…

… Was turned into its own bonus ending “music video” at the end of the Neo Geo CD version of the game, and pretty unquestionably the coolest cutscene ever running on Neo Geo hardware. The same ending is also featured in the Saturn version.

I've always wondered (not enough to research it properly though sorry) if the verses from the Daytona USA song were part of the original composition or not.

I dunno if this counts since it‘s in another game as a vocal track, but Sonic 3D Blast’s Green Grove Zone (Saturn) vocal version:

Sonic Adventure, Emerald Coast Vocal Mix:

@“JJSignal”#p56881 That reminds me:

eventually became...

@“JJSignal”#p56881 Judges say yes:)

In fact, part of the reason I started this thread was because I swear there are some songs that were introduced as instrumental themes but later in the same game (such as in the credits) included lyrics. I have Nier Automata and MH World in mind, but I'm not 100% sure the ending themes had instrumental versions...will have to research this