As I was knee-deep in a particularly large composing gig last week (and still am, sort of), I was unable to talk about a piece of video game music that I like, which is a huge shame (for me and hopefully for you too). This week, I shall try and make up for that and talk about a cue that has two different versions within the same game, one acting as its main theme, and a shorter, instrumental version that plays during the game’s climax. This weeks #TuneTuesday is ‘Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There’, from Persona 5. It was composed by Shoji Meguro and sung by Lyn.
I've discussed the Persona games in great detail before, so I will just give a brief overview. Take your favourite shonen, slice-of-life anime, slap it with Pokemon with an existential crisis, and you've got yourself every Persona game. The plot of Persona 3 revolves around a group of Japanese high school kids (surprise-surprise) who hit the books by day and hit the Shadows (daemons essentially) with their powers of Persona summoning by night. These are manifestations of one's inner self, which are essentially more mature 'Pokemon' based on real-life mythic deities.
Persona 5 is the latest main entry to the series, with the enhanced version, ‘Persona 5: Royal’ expected to release later this year. Like so many, Persona 5 was my introduction to the franchise and was rather hesitant playing a game where I would have to micromanage animu friends and save the world from corrupt adults. 80hrs later, turns out that shit is loads of fun!
I knew I was going to enjoy this game the very moment the opening titles rolled with all that pop art inspired artwork and the first thing you hear is the main theme, titled ‘Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There’. This track, as well as most of its soundtrack, is effectively Acid Jazz. Given that this may well be the most accessible Persona game to date, this musical direction is incredibly bold and brave, as Acid Jazz is not always the easiest form of Jazz to easy to listen to. A form of Jazz that is easier to listen to is Swing, An example of a game that is Swing-based is ‘Cuphead’, (composed by Kristofer Maddigan) which got a great deal of praise and yet.
Anyway, back to Persona 5!
To further my point about it being an Acid Jazz soundtrack and as to why it was a brave stylistic choice, I shall dump some music theory on you to soak up. The opening track, ‘Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There’ has a clear G Dorian sound (The use of the C chord gives this away as opposed to C minor). The intro then immediately going to G major for the verse (who does that?!). I believe the chord progression here is GM7, Gm7, GM13(?) and GmM7. This repeats before the brilliant use of a D half-diminished chord on the words ‘it’s useless’ which is fantastic word-painting I think. It’s not quite the four-chord progression that we all loathe and love of modern pop songs is it?
The point I am attempting to make here is that these folks at ATLUS their in-house composer, Shoji Meguro and the rest of his team, had a very clear vision of the world and sound they wanted. You do not compose an Acid Jazz soundtrack by happenstance, or for the shits and giggles. For a track as polished and deliberate as this, I knew the game was going to be great as they clearly cared for the music, so they must care for the game just as deeply and therefore, would be a fantastic overall project.