Good morning children of the Alliance and welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make.. Today we’re vendoring trash, cleaning out our bank tabs, and disenchanting for dust as we prepare for the launch of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands with a musical nostalgia roadtrip through the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, and beyond.
I started playing World of Warcraft (playlist / gameplay / VGMdb) 14 years ago. I’ve stuck with my same human warlock, Mirabai, ever since, leveling a handful of alts across different races and factions, but always returning to my girl. From the start, the theme that plays when you log in, ever-changing with each new expansion yet still maintaining the same off-sounding but iconic 7/4 time signature, makes me want to get up and kill shit whether that be boars, gnolls, Hogger, or my hated foes from the Horde.
I’m an Alliance girl to my marrow (sorry Horde friends), and my favorite place, which makes me feel so at home, is Elwynn Forest. Traditionally the starting zone for humans, I spent so much time traipsing through Elwynn, leveling up my warlock and other human alts, that I’ve come to think of the forest as home. That clarinet flourish (10:33) that rings above the strings in Jason Hayes’ composition brings an immediate smile to my face and triggers an almost Pavlovian response: “Welp, time to kill some gnolls.”
Blizzard / Everness (YouTube)
This playlist here includes the tracks as you hear them in-game, because the ambient noise of birdsong and whistling winds are as integral to my musical memory as the tracks themselves. The bell that sounds in Stormwind Harbor signaling the arrival of the boat bound for Northrend and the winds of the Howling Fjord aptly accompanied by wailing strings (are they strings? bagpipes?) come to mind.
I know a lot of Alliance players prefer to make Ironforge their base of operations in the Eastern Kingdoms, but I’ve always preferred Stormwind and the almost holy sound of the chorus that chants as you walk through the town. The song exudes strength and nobility without the harder, militaristic edge that I hear in Ironforge.
World of Warcraft deftly uses its music to tell a story in the absence of quests. For example you can hear Stormwind music in Stromgarde Keep in the Arathi Highlands (Arathi Basin soldiers let me hear you say “For the Alliance!”). Once abandoned after war and now slowly being reclaimed, Stromgarde uses the music of Stormwind to serve as a reminder of the city’s past when it was a member of the powerful Lordaeron Alliance.
I’m glad the pending release of Shadowlands has me visiting the old WoW zones of my youth in a quirky video game road trip. I could go on forever about the good times I had in Honor Hold, Nagrand, the Valley of the Four Winds, Karazhan (oh my god I love and miss Old Karazhan) and more. But duty of the non-killing gnolls variety calls.
That’s it for today’s Morning Music. It’s time to portal home or wherever else you’ve set your hearthstone. How did you feel about Battle for Azeroth? Are you excited for Shadowlands? Or just, well, Wednesday? Let us know in the comments! For the Alliance!