Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There With The Persona 5 Soundtrack

Image: Atlus / Kotaku
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Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today we’re gonna steal your heart with some tunes from the Persona 5 soundtrack.


I’d never played a Persona game before Persona 5 (playlist / longplay / VGMdb). The game came highly recommended by friends, so on a whim, precipitated by depressed boredom, I gave it a shot. Turns out, I didn’t need my Persona-loving friends to vouch for this game; from the first notes of the opening cinematic I was obsessed. Check it out:

Atlus / MeriStation (YouTube)

I’m a huge Yuri on Ice fan, so seeing all the protagonists ice skate through the streets of Shibuya while the catchy and damn inspiring “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There,” played was enough to reel me in before I even got to any gameplay or story. (Ironically, Sayo Yamamoto—who directed Yuri on Ice—was also the storyboard director for Persona 5’s opening cinematic.) I first played Persona 5 at its 2016 release, during a moment when I was trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with my life. I hadn’t started writing professionally yet, and I had absolutely zero confidence in my abilities—”You have no formal writing credits to your name and it’s too late to start—give up!”

I was mired in that depressive mindstate when I picked up Persona 5 and had my emotional teeth kicked in with the message “wake up, get up, get out there.” Perhaps even more inspiring are the lyrics that come later on:

Let your voices ring out, yeah
Take the mask off and be free
Find yourself in the debris
If you hold on life won’t change

“If you hold on life won’t change.” I think when I first heard those words, I had to lift my hands and shout like the aunties did in the old Pentecostal Baptist church my mom used to take me to. What a fucking inspiring message delivered to me right when I needed to hear it! *Praise hands*

I chose Persona 5 to highlight instead of the more recent Persona 5 Royal specifically because of this opening, which got changed out for something far less inspiring (or even catchy) in the Royal release:

Atlus / atlustube (YouTube)

Boo! Thankfully the differences between the two games end there as beyond “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” the Persona 5 soundtrack is so good that I’m surprised my colleagues didn’t snatch this one up the second Morning Music became a regular feature.

I’m a person who favors her music with a lot of jazzy vibes. Even though the first couple hours of Persona 5 lock you in a seemingly never-ending cycle of going to school and going to bed (thanks Morgana, you joyless jerk) I never minded too much because I could keep listening to “Beneath the Mask.”

I love every version of this song. There’s a neat one that plays when it rains in the game that takes the bassline and drums out, giving it a lighter feeling almost like raindrops on your face:

Atlus / re uploader (YouTube)

Persona 5’s combat and dungeon music has some of the best guitar/bass work on the entire soundtrack. “The Days When My Mother Was There” is my favorite dungeon track of all. It’s so chill and downtempo that it almost seems out of place in a video game dungeon crawling with monsters, and is better suited to be on someone’s roadtrip playlist (as it is on mine). The bass sounds of “The Days When My Mother Was There Another Version” are so warm and comforting, fitting given the track’s name and its association with the character Futaba, who—and I won’t spoil specifics—has mother issues.

Last Surprise,” the song that plays during every general encounter, is another certified triple-plat banger that I have distinct memories of people making funny videos with using its iconic “You’ll never see it coming” lyric. And the “oh shit it’s time to fight the boss” track “Life Will Change” has such a funky guitar opening and a killer bass line, segueing into the hard-rocking guitar riffs of the actual boss music, “Will Power.” You seem nice, so here’s a cat grooving to it:


That’s all for today’s pre-pre Thanksgiving installment of Morning Music! If you were a victim of the Phantom Thieves, what would be your treasure? Or wait, are you actually a Phantom Thief? What’s your call sign? Let us know in the comments!

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DISCUSSION

Y’know, after you pointed out the ice skating in the opening cinematic, it really made me wonder about the design choice to have them do that. Like... it’s brilliant. It works perfectly, showing how they treat the streets of Shibuya like their performance space. I would love to hear the discussion behind it, about why they made the intentional choice to go with ice skating rather than, say, skateboarding, or just having them do more thief-oriented body language and movements. Like, the comparison between the original opening and the P5: Royal opening are so wildly different. Royal’s opening has lots of fun colors that explode across the red and black background, but it just doesn’t carry the same sense of freedom or, funnily enough, “control,” where they’re so good at what they do, it’s a performance, as compared to the blunt-force imagery of Royal’s opening.


It’s fascinating because, design-wise, the literal image of ice skating does nothing to foreshadow plot or mechanics, but symbolically, it’s a very distinct, intentional action meant to comment on the personality of the characters and their relationship with Shibuya/the city.