15 Most Recognizable Songs in Video Games


From early chip-tune melodies to complex orchestrations, video games have always been home to some of the catchiest and most creative tunes. While many video games have showcased brilliant scoring and audio design, there are a few themes that have captured the ears of enough listeners to be recognizable across the globe.

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The most recognizable themes skew towards older titles, gaming classics that multiple generations have been able to enjoy and that have had time to successfully disseminate the earworms within them. Here, we explore gaming’s most recognizable songs and the games they call home.

15 Green Greens – Kirby

kirby sat in some cake icing

First introduced in Kirby’s Dream Land, Green Greens serves as the unofficial main theme for gaming’s hungriest hero and the soundtrack for the very first Kirby level in existence. A sprightly and chipper song fitting for Kirby’s first stroll through the classic green plain/forest level, it has been remixed and remastered consistently as the series has evolved.

While other Kirby songs like King Dedede’s Theme and Gourmet Race are notable, Green Greens’s simple melody is easily the catchiest and most iconic of the series.

14 Techno Syndrome – Mortal Kombat

Scorpion stands on a stage with his fist in the air in the original Mortal Kombat.

This upbeat techno jam from one of gaming’s bloodiest fighting series is certainly one to remember. Used in the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie and other remixes, this song is famous for its synth syncopation, gong crashes, and the signature ‘Mortal Kombat’ scream.

Made entirely on an Atari computer, the song has the same self-aware oddball humor found in the game’s over-the-top finishers: brutal, bloody Fatalities, even more gorey Brutalities, and inexplicably, Friendships. One of the few gaming songs that has charted on Billboard, Techno Syndrome’s catchiness is truly fatal.

13 Megalovania – Undertale

Sans Smiling At The Camera Undertale

Undertale captured countless hearts after launch and is memorable for countless reasons. Created by independent developer Toby Fox, who worked as a composer before venturing into video games, Undertale’s most iconic song is undoubtedly Megalovania, a grungy and frenetic boss theme for the nihilistic skeleton Sans.

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The intense guitar bassline and ferocious chip-tune synths create a web of sound befitting of a notoriously difficult fight. Though Undertale might have you make some questionable choices, this song is never a bad time. The song also has a rich history, having appeared previously as both the final boss music to a popular Earthbound fan-made romhack, and as part of the Homestuck soundtrack.

12 Dearly Beloved – Kingdom Hearts

Key art from Kingdom Hearts showing Sora and Riku holding keyblades against a heart-shaped moon backdrop

The pensive and emotional Dearly Beloved serves as the main theme of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Composed by Yoko Shimomura as a solo piano instrumental, this beautiful and simple song plays on the menu screen of these titles.

Though it has been remixed into orchestral and even big-band versions, the simple piano melody and ambient ocean waves remain the most memorable form of this song. Dearly Beloved is a sentimental and melancholic main theme that reminds us all of the heart in these games.

11 Main Theme – Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Key Art showing some of the characters is Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Though Lifelight from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is rapidly becoming a modern classic, 2008’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl still takes the cake for Smash’s most recognizable theme. With epic stringed orchestration, energetic snare drums, and a Latin choir, this song carries immense gravitas.

Composed by the Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, this song transforms this Nintendo fighting title into a clashing of epic Roman warriors. One of the few video game songs with vocals, the choir brings glory to this tune like no instrument could.

10 Sweden – Minecraft

The title screen of Minecraft showing various figures from the game at a dirt block tower

With Minecraft’s dominance of the gaming world, it’s no surprise that its music has shared the spotlight. Spare and unobtrusive like the rest of the soundtrack, the slow and simple piano theme Sweden has become an industry favorite.

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While other songs like Wet Hands and Minecraft (Overworld) are similarly iconic, Sweden has been praised by critics and adored by fans, becoming one of the most-streamed video game songs on Spotify. This contemplative and lonely piece is sure to woo the hearts of any future survivalists.

9 Mii Channel – Wii

mii channel start screen

The Mii Channel theme, much like many other Nintendo Wii songs, is famous (or perhaps infamous) in the video game community. Despite accompanying the Wii’s avatar creator instead of a proper game, its simple organ and sharp strings have given it a legendary status.

Along with the Wii Shop Channel theme, this song has been reused in countless memes and immortalized across the internet. Undeniably catchy, this Nintendo song has captured thousands of listeners with this offbeat bop.

8 Zelda’s Lullaby – The Legend of Zelda

Zelda and Link from Ocarina of Time

This catchy melody appears as frequently as the Hero and the Princess themselves. Composed by Koji Kondo for A Link to the Past in 1991, this song was largely popularized in the universally lauded Ocarina of Time, which largely solidified Zelda’s musical canon.

A simple five-note melody characteristic of Kondo’s simple genius, Zelda’s Lullaby has also been remastered and reused throughout the series as a royal motif or a leitmotif for the princess. Simple and elegant, this piece is recognized the world over.

7 Main Theme – Pokemon Red & Blue

Blastoise and Charizard from Pokemon Red and Blue

The first installments of the Pokemon series contain an iconic piece of music and the main theme for the series. Created in 1996 by Junichi Masuda, the games’ shared main theme uses an energetic progression combined with funky sound effects.

Though loved by fans and remastered several times throughout the series, this Pokemon theme is often overshadowed by the anime’s epic title song, ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All.’ Despite this, Red and Blue’s main theme holds its own as an icon in its own right.

6 Green Hill Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone

Composed by Masato Nakamura, The Blue Blur’s starter theme remains one of the most iconic songs of the 16-bit classic era. This game and its bouncy synth-pop theme were composed with the goal of competing with Nintendo and establishing Sonic as a rival to Super Mario.

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Inspired by Japanese pop and able to capture uncharacteristic richness by harnessing the more advanced audio capabilities of the Genesis, this theme has remained a standout song despite Sonic’s rich progression of musical styling into the modern era.

5 Underground – Super Mario Bros.

Mario Jumping Over Question Mark Blocks Underground

Though arguably not a song due to its miniscule run time of eleven seconds, Super Mario’s Underground Theme is undeniably notable. Koji Kondo’s simple 8-bit melody, which looped at arrhythmic intervals, has been reused countless times throughout the Mario series.

This vaguely creepy song serves as a dark and offbeat departure from the rest of the game’s soundtrack, which values bright and rhythmic melody. It’s likely that both the strange and replicable nature of this tune is what caused its immense renown.

4 Main Theme (A-Type) – Tetris

Tetris blocks from Tetris

Arranged in 1989 by Hirokazu Tanaka, the Tetris theme is ubiquitous among gamers and non-gamers. Sprightly and energetic, the theme is actually a Russian folk song called ‘Korobeiniki,’ which describes a fraught encounter between a traveling merchant and a peasant girl.

Despite its origins, this song is recognized the world over as ‘the Tetris song’ and has been remixed and utilized in other media. Though this game might be small and simple, the reaches of its theme are anything but.

3 Opening Suite – Halo

Master Chief On The Halo 2 box art

Perhaps the best example of video game orchestrations as musical icons, Halo’s Opening Suite is an important keystone in video game music. It mixes grand orchestration with Qawwali devotional singing and the luscious harmonies of Gregorian chant.

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The composer Martin O’Donnell, clearly understanding the power of the music they had created, spearheaded one of the first original video game soundtracks released independently of the game itself. This suite has weaseled its way into the ears of countless eager shooters.

2 Main Theme – The Legend of Zelda

A screen showing The Legend of Zelda in bold font atop a pixelated waterfall

From its humble origins as an 8-bit chip-tune title song in 1986 to its magnificent concert-hall orchestration, The Legend of Zelda Main Theme is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable video game songs of all time. Composed overnight by Koji Kondo, its phrases have pervaded nearly every Zelda game.

Adventurous and hopeful, the piece is timed to a marching pace and intermingles a mysterious B-flat minor key with hopeful and heroic major-chord accents. Doubtless, this video game song will be appreciated through countless reincarnations.

1 Ground Theme – Super Mario Bros.

via nintendo-europe.com

Koji Kondo strikes again with the Ground Theme of Super Mario Bros. While Zelda’s theme is slower and more mysterious to reflect the exploration-focused gameplay, Mario’s theme is bouncy and bright to reflect its action-centric platforming.

Set confidently in C Major with a syncopated calypso tone, this song is recognizable the world over. Its fame is so all-encompassing that it is the first video game song in history to be admitted to the Library of Congress. In terms of recognizability, this song is the undisputed superstar.

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