Welcome to the Friday edition of Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for all of Hell’s angels and Heaven’s demons. Today we’re attacking and dethroning god with a deep dive into the Bayonetta soundtrack.
Bayonetta (playlist / longplay / VGMdb) was one of those games that got me on aesthetics alone. I missed out on Devil May Cry and the only hack-and-slash game I’d ever played before Bayonetta was the super-serious, super-bloody God of War. But, seeing the commercial of the capable and sexy Bayonetta, Gun Kata-ing and err...stretching, all over the place while the Skream remix of La Roux’s “In for the Kill” blares sold the hell outta me. Didn’t care what the hell the game was about or what it was like, I wanted to play:
In retrospect, Sega did itself a disservice using “In for the Kill” in its launch trailer when “Fly Me to the Moon’’ was right there. “Fly Me to the Moon” (the Climax Mix) is the game’s battle music and one hell of a song. You know the ending theme to Neon Genesis Evangelion that’s also “Fly Me to the Moon”? Well Bayonetta’s FMttM is an upbeat, jazzy, girl-pop version of Frank Sinatra’s hit that he could never hope to top. Sorry Ol’ Blue Eyes, Hiroshi Yamaguchi got you beat:
Believe it or not, “Fly Me to the Moon” is not Bayonetta’s personal theme song, that distinction belongs to “Mysterious Destiny.” I think this song is used in battles like “FMttM” is but I can’t think of where else it shows up in the game—a sign it’s been criminally underused since it’s another banger. “Mysterious Destiny” gets overshadowed by “FMttM” but it’s just as bubbly and sexy.
When Bayonetta’s not remixing hits from the golden age of lounge singing, its orchestral songs are damn good too. “One of a Kind” evokes the same emotion as John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates,” which is fitting because you first hear this song as Bayonetta fights an onslaught of demonic angels on a chunk of masonry that’s slowly—very slowly, considering terminal velocity—hurtling toward the earth. It’s over the top to the point of jarring ridiculousness, but done so damn well that it loops back around to cool.
I was never one of those people who took issue with the way Bayonetta is sexualized in her games. I was always firmly on the “empowerment” side of the argument. One of my favorite scenes is when she first equips her famous guns Scarborough Fair. As she puts them on, she cavorts about her demon friend Rodin’s bar in increasingly suggestive poses that I felt should have clued me into my burgeoning “you’re not quite straight are you?” feelings right away—all while the eponymous “Scarborough Fair Equipped” song plays.
Speaking of Rodin, his bar in Purgatorio is where Bayonetta goes to purchase items as she fights her way through the choir of angels. The bar/item/weapons shop is a place that radiates cool, especially as the smoky, sultry, “The Gates of Hell” croons with its muted trumpet and soft brush sounds. God, I love a good brush percussion:
PlatinumGames / allaboutVGmusic (YouTube)
In Bayonetta, you collected golden LPs that you traded in at Rodin’s in exchange for a new weapon. The LPs always referenced an actual classical song that you could listen to on the jukebox in his shop. I never cared for any of them but the sax-playing former band geek in me remembers performing Gustov Holst’s “Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity,” so I appreciate its remixed inclusion on the soundtrack.
Bayonetta was a game that took itself seriously but also didn’t. It kept its cheekiness restrained just enough for it to be refreshing, funny, and titillating, but never tiresome. The game also knew you were playing to have fun and so, as a final send-off, the game’s credits were a series of battles you needed to complete in order to earn the coveted but hard-to-attain Pure Platinum rating. It ditches “Fly Me to the Moon” and instead plays the campy “Let’s Dance Boys!”—making you feel like you’re watching the end of an anime or movie. Which, you kinda are.
That’s all for this angelic entry of Morning Music. Please join me in the comments to pray for PlatinumGames to save 2020 by sneak releasing Bayonetta 3. See y’all here next week.