There’s just nothing like a Persona soundtrack. Lead composer Shoji Meguro and others such as Atsushi Kitajoh from Atlus’ sound team have churned out so many hits that stand out as fantastic songs, but are also able to perfectly communicate the emotions that you feel in the moments they’re played. And with each entry, Atlus finds new ways to incorporate different music genres into their soundtracks, making each game carry a distinct vibe and sound. Now, a good chunk of that work is available on Spotify.
While many fans are familiar with the bangers and jams from the more popular mainline games (let’s say, Persona 5, Persona 4, and Persona 3), there is more to dig into beyond the big hits. For this particular article, I want to highlight a few standouts from other Persona entries that may not have the same spotlight, but absolutely deserve that level of recognition.
Keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with not being familiar with every entry in the series. It’s okay! There’s no shame in that! I just want to spread the good word, and maybe let folks know about other songs that might become their new favorite Persona tracks. It’s also worth noting that music from Persona 5 Royal, Persona 3 and 5 Dancing, and the original Persona are not on Spotify at the moment. You can find a playlist at the bottom of this article that includes the songs mentioned here (and a few more).
Since this is a celebration of the series’ music, feel free to share your favorites that you want more people to hear in the comments section. I’d love to know, too, because I may have overlooked them myself.
Road Less Taken
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth – Opening Cinematic Animation
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This is the opening theme for Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, and since it was a 3DS game released in 2019, it unfortunately didn’t make it on many folks’ radars (fans or otherwise). But for those who still had a 3DS handy and a fondness for Persona 3, 4, and 5, it was an incredible treat to see all these characters bond and fight together. “Road Less Taken” is emblematic of the joy of having this ensemble cast and their collective strength to do what’s right with style.
In this uptempo swing-jazz-rock hybrid track, each vocalist from Persona 3, 4, and 5 jump in to sing and harmonize with each other, and play off of one another. We all know Lyn Inaizumi as the voice for the Phantom Thieves, Shihoko Hirata making Inaba feel like home, and Yumi Kawamura with Lotus Juice providing vibes for SEES’s somber journey. But Persona Q2, and this song in particular, also invites Mayumi Fujita, who sang the Persona 3 Portable-exclusive tracks for when you played as the alternate female protagonist. Where Persona Q2 is a celebration of the past three games, “Road Less Taken” is a celebration of their music.
Pull The Trigger
Continuing on the Persona Q2 appreciation train, it cleverly gives each cast their own distinct battle theme (which you can ultimately just choose). These songs carry the attitude and themes from each of those games, but the Atlus Sound Team snapped with “Pull The Trigger.” This is the song for the female protagonist from Persona 3 Portable, and I humbly nominate it as the best battle theme in all of Persona.
The entire track imparts a confident energy that fits perfectly as a battle theme, but is also an expression of P3P FeMC’s personality. It’s sung by Mayumi Fujita (who, as mentioned above, did the P3P-specific songs), reminding us of the distinct feeling this character gave. And it wouldn’t be a Persona 3 track without Lotus Juice’s bars.
Maze Of Life
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth – Opening Movie
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Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth sold much better than Q2 did, given it launched in the prime of the 3DS’ lifespan. But the game still deserves its recognition among the great Atlus soundtracks–it fused the styles of Persona 3 and 4 while still providing its own unique sound. The opening theme, “Maze Of Life,” is a tremendous showcase of that.
Singers Yumi Kawamura and Shihoko Hirata collaborate on this track with lyrics that reflect on the trials and tribulations of both casts of characters, and sort of honors their legacy. Its instrumentals also carry a bittersweet sound that reminds you that these journeys weren’t always sunshine and rainbows, but that they were always hopeful in their own ways.
Light The Fire Up In The Night
If you played Persona Q, you may be a bit exhausted by this song. But if you haven’t, “Light The Fire Up In The Night” is sure to light a fire inside you. It’s a super energetic song that immediately hits you with strong brass/horns leading into a guitar riff that carries the momentum, which then leads into Lotus Juice’s frenetic bars. And then it brings things back by having the respective vocalists (whether you hear the Persona 3 or 4 version) sing the hook. It’s a hell of a battle theme that stands among the best, and I claimed it for a future buddy cop film starring me and fellow GameSpot colleague Ben Janca.
Persona 3 Portable’s exclusive songs for the female protagonist deserve love and respect, and while they’re not entirely included in the Spotify collection (yet!), we at least have the P3P theme song. “Soul Phrase” has a sort of nu-metal sound with somber lyrics sung by Shuhei Kita, and it’s actually a perfect tone-setter for Persona 3 as a whole. It reminds me of where this story goes and how it ends, I cry every time. ;_;
Deep Breath, Deep Breath
“Deep Breath Deep Breath” is a really special song, but here’s the thing: it actually doesn’t play in Persona 3–at least not in the form that I’m suggesting here. This was originally a dark, creepy background track, but got a major remix for the Persona 3 Reincarnation album, and it’s basically a complete 180-degree turn. This remix is heartwarming, uplifting, and catchy. Lotus Juice brings some cheesy bars that you kind of just vibe with and Yumi Kawamura belts out a vocalized rendition of the song’s beautiful horn melody.
Live performances of this particular song can be found on the Persona Super Live 2015 and Persona Music FES 2013 albums that are included in the Spotify collection.
Invitation To Freedom
Okay, back to Persona Q2. We all know about “Last Surprise” and P5R players are now familiar with “Take Over” as the Persona 5 battle themes, but “Invitation To Freedom” might just be the best of them. This is the Phantom Thieves’ battle theme in Persona Q2, and of course, it’s sung by Lyn Inaizumi. Like many songs on this game’s soundtrack, it’s all about a frenetic jazz-rock momentum.
Lyn brings just heart and soul into the hook and verses with her emphatic vocal performance, and it’s backed by a groovy piano and a collection of strings and horns that play off the acid jazz styles heard in Persona 5. It’s also a statement for what the Phantom Thieves are all about.
The original Persona Q doesn’t let up in its boss fight theme song. “Laser Beam” is a bit dark and crunchy–metal-style guitars back up distorted synths and an intimidating melody, which is pretty fitting for the game’s difficult boss battles. Lotus Juice hits you with rapid-fire bars while Yumi Kawamura hits you with wailing vocals in the background. And the song’s hook is just a pretty sweet guitar solo.
What makes “Cinematic Tale” special is how Persona Q2 uses it throughout the game. It’s the theme that plays when everyone is hanging out in the theater hub area where you get the party ready before jumping into a dungeon. But the way Persona Q2 plays out, you gradually gain the members of each game’s cast.
When it’s just the Phantom Thieves at the start, the song features Lyn Inaizumi’s vocals alone. Once you get the Investigation Team from Persona 4, it turns into a duet that includes Shihoko Hirata. And once you pick up the SEES squad from Persona 3, the song features Yumi Kawamura and Mayumi Fujita, and turns into an incredible vocal mix between all four talented singers. It really drives the sentiment that all these characters have come together to support each other and fight together.
Admittedly, Persona 2 often gets lost in the conversation about the series. The franchise really took off and established its current formula when Persona 3 launched, so it’s easy to understand why, but Persona 2 Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment are special games in their own right. They also vibe much closer to the original Shin Megami Tensei games in terms of tone.
Persona 2’s soundtracks have their own distinct sound as well–it has the pop sounds indicative of its era and some hard rock tracks that the series still carries in a way. As for Persona 2 Innocent Sin’s PSP opening theme, “Unbreakable Tie,” it sort of bridges the gap in styles between itself and Persona 3.
I’m cheating a bit when it comes to abiding by the rule of songs that can be found on Spotify. A version of Maya’s theme is technically available on the Persona 2 collection, but while it might not be the best version, this song conveys a lot of the emotional weight that Persona 2 carries, especially for the titular character. It can be an upbeat and cheery tune, like the version available on Spotify, but it was remixed to communicate the sadness and pain in Persona 2’s story. Also, Maya Amano is just one of the best characters in the series.
You can hear what I think is the best version of this song, from the Persona 2 Special Soundtrack album, in the video above.
Ahh, “Heartful Cry” really is an apt name for this one. While this song is on part of Persona 3 FES you only hear it towards the end of the optional bonus story content called The Answer. It centers around Aigis and Metis, and man, this one kind of hurts.
It’s a really catchy electronic rock song, and even though there are no lyrics, it’s instrumentals precisely communicate the feeling of the moment. It’s angry, wistful, and tense all at the same time. While the necessity of The Answer is debatable, there’s no doubt that “Heartful Cry” embodies Persona 3’s best qualities.
The Live Albums, my lord, THE LIVE ALBUMS
First off, Persona Super Live is straight up just an incredible thing that happens every two years where a full band and/or orchestra perform with the singers of each game for a huge concert in Japan. Second, it reminds you that Persona soundtracks are stunning pieces of work outside their games while conveying the feelings you had whenever you’d hear them while playing.
And believe me, the seamless transitions between the three opening songs for Persona Super Live 2015 is probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard in live music: from “Dance!” To “Break Out Of” to “Maze Of Life.” It really shows off how fantastic and sonically diverse the music from the spin-off games are.