Video Games

The Best Zelda Songs

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the best songs in the legend of zelda video game franchise from nintendo

While music plays an integral part in most games, The Legend of Zelda series has delivered countless memorable songs and orchestral masterpieces with every single game. The series has given us everything from delightful 8-bit jingles, to intimate chamber orchestra pieces, to beautifully bombastic full ensemble pieces, and everything in-between. Here is a list of the best songs from the Legend of Zelda games.

The Top 20 Best Songs from The Legend of Zelda Series

The Main Menu / Fairy Fountain Theme (Multiple Zelda Games)

What better way to start the list than with the song most players will hear before they boot up most iterations of Zelda? The Fairy Fountain theme plays both in-game as well as in the file selection screen of nearly every Zelda title and offers a soothing series of arpeggios, most often played on harp. It captures this sense of awe and wonder while its harmonies still remain a tranquil balm to the soul.

The Dark World Theme (A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds)

A Link to the Past’s Dark World theme is equal parts adventurous and mysterious, taking obvious inspiration from the Zelda series main theme, but adding in elements of uncertainty with some minor contrasting chord progressions alongside its more courageous melody. Though it’s nearly the same song in A Link Between Worlds, the track was renamed to “Lorule Theme,” and its emphasis on acoustic guitar and percussion makes the track a bit more playful in its second iteration, yet there’s still that sense of courage against the unknown.

Dragon Roost Island (The Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild)

Dragon Roost Island’s fast strumming mandolin and melodic pan flute work to create this odd hybrid of Peruvian folk music and gypsy jazz, creating a world music mashup that will have players wanting to break into a jig any time they hear it. While the chord progression is just the slightest bit melancholy, the flute embodies the literal and figurative soaring nature of the Rito people. While we still prefer the iconic original, its return as a much more airy free form in Breath of the Wild’s Rito Village was a serene moment for many fans as well.

Kass’s Theme (Breath of the Wild)

Speaking of Rito, the bright blue parrot Rito, Kass, was one of the most unique NPCs of Breath of the Wild, and his theme was equally memorable. Kass is somewhat of a Rito bard, and his song is just him playing a sea shanty on his accordion. But not only is this song an absolute earworm, but his entire sidequest is Link solving riddles to help Kass finish the song. Once completed, the final measures include a nod to the series’s iconic theme song.

“Saria’s Song” (Ocarina of Time)

Also known as the Lost Woods theme, as well as the bop that gets Darunia jamming at Goron City, “Saria’s Song” is a plucky, happy-go-lucky little tune that feels more important than the sum of its simple parts. The song plays a major role in the story, representing Link’s friendship with Saria, and it keeps coming back throughout the game in important moments, up until the Forest Temple. It’s cute and simple, but it’s also iconic.

Clock Town Theme (Majora’s Mask)

The Clock Town theme is the perfect sample piece to pull from Majora’s Mask, as it’s the only track in the game that fluctuates based on the day and the position of the incoming moon. Day 1 offers a quaint small-town jaunty tune, and as days 2 and 3 come in, it slowly devolves into an eerie, frantic, and hopeless rush, filled with countering ominous chords to back the once cheery, now almost psychotic melody. Clock Town’s ability to run the gamut from its friendly small-town starting place to one of visceral horror is yet another reminder of the power of Majora’s Mask’s story.

“Midna’s Lament” (Twilight Princess)

Keeping on the theme of darker and depressing themes, Twilight Princess has its own share of eerie themes. So it should come as no surprise that the somber piano drive “Midna’s Lament” is one of the game’s most iconic tracks. There are short moments of hopeful strings, but when this plays in the game, Link is racing to carry Midna to some form of healing while she sits at death’s door. The melody is haunting and sporadic, but it’s the song’s steady driving broken-up bass clef chords that drive home the sense of desperation that’s so important to the in-game moment.

The Forest Temple (Ocarina of Time)

Ocarina of Time’s Forest Temple is delightfully spooky. Much like the haunted mansion the dungeon takes place in, its theme focuses more heavily on ambient rattling percussion and ghostly wailing melodic repetition to create a foreboding sense of uncertainty and intrigue at the same time. It’s the type of song that feels like it’s fluctuating reality and could drive Link to madness, especially as it plays while he walks down twisting corridors or witnesses disappearing ghosts in stairwell picture frames.

Tal Tal Heights (Link’s Awakening)

Few Zelda songs are as adventurous and daring as the one for Tal Tal Heights. The track plays while climbing Koholint Island’s northern mountain range, with a pushing triumphant rhythm and a cautiously courageous melody. This song shouts with gumption in the face of danger, with small Spanish flourishes you’d hear in a Zoro film, and it makes the ascent to the mountaintop all the more exciting and memorable.

Realm Overworld Theme (Spirit Tracks)

The Realm Overworld theme perfectly blends a chugging tempo with some world music elements for an adventure that has Link conducting a locomotive. Right at the song’s opening measure, the pan flute comes in like a train whistle, and then the percussion has players rolling down the track. From there, there are a lot of great off-tempo drum beats, guitar trills, and other instruments to keep the track interesting. And as the overworld theme, this depth of musicality makes hearing the track so often a pleasure, no matter how far into the game you are.

Skyloft Theme (Skyward Sword)

The Skyloft theme is one of the most relaxing songs on this list, blending bright accordion with flute, some warm french horn, and a short but sweet fiddle solo. The closest comparison for this track is its subtle similarities to the instrumentation used in The Fellowship of the Ring’s Shire theme, and it blends perfectly with the sleepy fantasy lives of the city’s inhabitants. By crossing over the central town bridge, the tune becomes even more airy with a soft acoustic guitar and mandolin taking the forefront, making it the perfect tune to listen to while taking a nap in the clouds.

Gerudo Valley (Ocarina of Time)

This flamenco-style masterpiece is one of the most transportive tracks in the entire Zelda series, with the Andalusian guitar and Spanish clappers honing in on that feeling of riding through a windy, sandy desert. But while its fast rhythm and pronounced horns pack a much needed melodic punch, the song’s emphasis on consistency make the song’s subtle mantras of perseverance in the face of the unknown all the more powerful.

Hyrule Castle Theme (Breath of the Wild)

The Hyrule Castle theme has had many iterations over the course of the Legend of Zelda series. But as timeless as the Link to the Past version is, we’re going with the potentially more controversial pick with the Breath of the Wild version. With a full strings and horns backing, as well as some sinister pipe organ, this theme meets its location with the epic finale orchestral swell the game’s climactic ending deserves.

“First Search” (Link’s Awakening)

While the original iteration of “First Search” on Game Boy was an equally playful and exciting way to start Link’s adventure, its Switch remake version shows just how incredibly special this song is. The chamber orchestra instruments each take turns trading the lead, almost telegraphing all the varied and unique characters Link is about to meet. It creates an odd sort of whimsical decorum as well, playing into the absurd, more dreamlike elements of Koholint.

Hyrule Field Theme (Multiple Zeldas)

It may be cheating, but we’re considering the Hyrule Field theme as one of many iterations of the original iconic Zelda theme song. And above all other versions, the Ocarina of Time version is the one that best embodies Hyrule Field’s hope and excitement. From the trill at day break, to the driving beat, to the soaring strings, to the more sinister moments when facing an enemy, Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule Field theme simply oozes with a sense of adventure.

Kakariko Village (Multiple Zelda Games)

Kakariko Village is a simple little tune that exudes feelings of safety and comfort. It has a sleepy demeanor, while still remaining friendly with its melody. But while it isn’t very complex and often is introduced at a slower part of Link’s quest, its simplicity amongst other bombastic tracks or ambient soundscapes is part of why it stands out so well.

“Song of Healing” (Majora’s Mask)

In a game of horrifying monsters and world-ending events, “Song of Healing” is a track that seems to be about acceptance in the midst of tragedy. The song is predominantly used as a means to bring peace to the souls of the departed, and while the song is hardly happy, there is this serenity that engulfs each note that seems to gently whisper, “it’s okay – you can rest now.” There’s a lot of nuance in such a simple package, and it’s one of the biggest reasons that those emotional Majora’s Mask cutscenes hit so powerfully.

“Zelda’s Lullaby” (Multiple Zelda Games)

Perhaps even more iconic than the game’s classic theme itself, “Zelda’s Lullaby” is a simple, sweet melody, filled with calming chords and a familiar flow of soothing notes that have serenaded players in many different Zelda games. It’s also the titular princess’s theme and often is played during important or emotional story beat moments, like when you first meet the princess in Ocarina of Time or before Zelda enters into a protective slumber in Skyward Sword. But whichever version you’re listening to, you’re in for a treat for your ears.

“Ballad of the Goddess” (Skyward Sword)

Nintendo surprised fans on Zelda’s 25th anniversary when its newest game’s triumphant titular march turned out to just be “Zelda’s Lullaby” played backwards. Drawing from such an iconic Zelda song for “Ballad of the Goddess” would somehow place the Skyward Sword theme song right up there amongst the best tunes from the series. Trading in any subtlety for a proud and bombastic chord progression, it still maintains plenty of regality to truly celebrate the power of the goddess.

The Wind Waker End Credits Theme (The Wind Waker)

Many would argue The Wind Waker has the best music in the entire Zelda series, and the fact that its end credits theme blends the majority of the game’s tracks into a full medley is a main reason it’s on this list. It brings in elements from The Great Sea, Medli’s and Makar’s Prayers, and other tracks to create this beautiful, hopeful seafaring shanty, filled with rounds of harmonizing melodies sure to lift your spirits.

That is our list of the 20 best songs from the Legend of Zelda series. Be sure to let us know the songs you think should’ve made the list by letting us know in the comments!

About the author

Jeff Levene
Jeff Levene is an avid lover and writer of games, film, and theatre, who plays a little too much DnD in their free time. You can follow them on Twitter at @jefflevene498