Link playing the Goddess Harp in 'The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword'

The Best Songs From ‘The Legend of Zelda’ Series

The Legend of Zelda consistently has some of the best music in the entire world of video games. There, I said it. The more Zelda games you play, the more bangers you find. From incredibly silly and light-hearted ditties to epic battle themes and deeply emotional treasures—Zelda excels at it all.

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In order to cull the possibilities and make room for some lesser-celebrated gems, I decided not to include any themes here which appear in more than two games. Two, because Majora’s Mask / Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild / Tears of the Kingdom are sets of direct sequels, and so somewhat inevitably share cues. That excludes a few series favorites composed by Koji Kondo and mostly originating from Ocarina of Time, like “Zelda’s Lullaby,” “In A House,” and, yes, the main theme.

12. “Animal Village,” from Link’s Awakening remake

In the original Game Boy version of Link’s Awakening, this is just a normal, kind of annoying melody. But for the remake, composer Ryo Nagamatsu stepped it up to 11. He made the stupidest, greatest decision a composer could possibly make for a song called “Animal Village”: map the melody to dog barks and cat meows. Deep respect. 10 out of 10.

11. “Milk Bar,” from Majora’s Mask

You’re probably already getting a sense of what my general taste in music is like. I love pieces that just lean right into their ridiculous premise and come out stronger for it. So many lists rightfully place the “Song of Healing” in their top 10s, so I decided not to be redundant and instead give a shoutout to “Milk Bar,” the ultimate Little Ditty.

10. “Ghirahim Battle,” from Skyward Sword

This battle theme makes me feel like I’m in a lost scene from Fantasia. Except instead of the volcano demon guy from “Night on Bald Mountain,” we have the Zelda series’ sexiest villain. Skyward Sword really went in on giving the Zelda series its first big orchestral score, and the results are stunning. My personal favorite, “Ghirahim Battle” is both menacing and playful. The way the violins bop around stopped me from getting endlessly frustrated when, unceasingly, my arm flailings and Link’s sword movements didn’t sync up.

9. “Hidden Village,” from Twilight Princess

Welcome to the Wild West, friends. And guess what? It’s full of cats. Look, I don’t make the rules. All I know is that this song from Twilight Princess, which features an incredibly choice utilization of the mouth harp, is an absolute winner. The intro of “Hidden Village,” with its genre-perfect whistling line and three big bap!s, have me hooked every time. And for reasons I can’t fully explain, when the synth starts to harmonize with the guitar melody, it’s shockingly beautiful.

8. “Kakariko Village—Day,” from Breath of the Wild

If you were to ask me which Zelda game has the best music, I would say Breath of the Wild with absolutely zero hesitation. Yes, Ocarina of Time birthed several themes which would come to define the series, so this might be a hot take. But Breath of the Wild‘s score is so immersively lush, I just want to sink into it. And there’s no better example of that than “Kakariko Village,” especially the daytime version.

“Kakariko Village” feels like a warm blanket and a fragrant cup of tea. Part of its beauty is the use of several traditional Japanese instruments, namely the koto (that incredibly vibrant strummed string instrument) and the shakuhachi (a wooden flute). It’s so warm, and the orchestral choices elevate it immensely.

7. “Gohdan,” from The Wind Waker

The Wind Waker was my first Zelda game, but I did not advance all the way to the Gohdan battle when I was a kid. I barely scratched the surface. I only made it there when I was in my early twenties, and I remember playing the fight very clearly because I was jamming to this battle theme. “Gohdan” is very Philip Glass-y—but evil Philip Glass as it gets rolling and unveils those clusters. In short, this was my first favorite Zelda song.

6. “Guardian Battle,” from Breath of the Wild

We all associate the “Guardian Battle” song with a massive amount of stress, so it might be hard to separate that feeling from the song itself. But if you can, you quickly realize how much of a banger this song is. The contrast between the ever-so-slightly warbled piano and the high violin melody is choice. The way the whole track lands heavily on the first beat of each measure propels you through the fight. And that electronic stutter in the piano when you come back around to the melody? Unh.

5. “Gerudo Valley,” from Ocarina of Time

“Gerudo Valley” from Ocarina of Time is a full-on classic. I’ve heard this covered multiple times by people hailing from all kinds of musical backgrounds. Everyone loves it, everyone respects it. The very clear flamenco influence, even when not played by a real guitar, is obvious, infectious, and perfectly executed. That this all came through on the N64’s now-limited-feeling sound chip signals this piece is nothing short of genius.

4. “Frog Song of Soul,” from Link’s Awakening remake

“Frog Song of Soul” from the Link’s Awakening remake is completely unhinged, and I adore it more than words can say. I have actually arranged this buddy for my ol’ Legend of Zelda cover band (no shame!), so I can tell you exactly why it sounds so wonky. The three vocals are only spaced a half-step away from each other, and ascend up and down a scale only two beats offset from one another. For the non-musicians reading this, that means you get a lot of “ugly” chords. But I love ugly chords, especially when set to a dance beat. Ergo, I love this song.

3. “Lost Woods,” from Ocarina of Time

Like the number one pick on our list, “Lost Woods” is very simple. But like all the best video game music, its simplicity is all the more astounding because you can listen to it endlessly. The song just has two short sections, but they complement each other perfectly. The moment it starts, you can’t help but start grooving along. In short, “Lost Woods” is a freaking bop.

2. “Akkala Ancient Laboratory,” from Breath of the Wild

I am something of a self-appointed missionary in spreading the awesomeness of the “Akkala Ancient Laboratory” theme from Breath of the Wild. Turns out, not everyone was chilling in the Akkala Lab just to listen to this track like me. But that frantic processed synth line pulls me in every time, and the slower, gorgeous piano melody’s entrance keeps me there. I love the quick guitar bend at the end of the phrase and the little “yeh!” calls, which are both musically incredibly satisfying and an excellent way to tie the cue to Robbie.

1. “Windmill Hut / Song of Storms,” from Ocarina of Time / Majora’s Mask

“The Song of Storms” is my happy place. It’s one simple melody, repeated over and over again. The bass line is very basic, the tambourine even more so. I could literally listen to this all day because it’s so easy to listen to. It’s catchy, whimsical, and hopeful. In other words, it’s all the best qualities of Zelda music crystallized into a single line.

(featured image: Nintendo)

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Image of Kirsten Carey
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.