Here’s a chance to celebrate the musical excellent of the Monkey Island series. From 1990 up to 2022, it’s pelted out some truly banging tunes.
From smash hit #1 singles to global album sellers, this isn’t what that’s about.
But we do have a body of work here that’s ambient, mesmerising, and makes for easy background listening when you’re working. Onward!
The Chillout Vibes of Monkey Island’s Beautiful Soundtracks
Okay, whilst research for this we mainly went for the pelting tracks from two of the series’ games. You’ll soon see what they are.
That’s not to say the soundtracks from The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991) are no good. We just particularly love the work across the two we’ve gone for.
Plus, the compositions are thematic and carry over from one game to the next—altered one way or another. Developed, added to, adjusted etc.
The Monkey Island theme tune, for example, is quite legendary and is featured in every version of the game. It just appears in more primitive, but still charming, form on the 1990 MS-DOS versions and the like.
Out of all them, and very possibly, we think the series’ music works best with Curse of Monkey Island’s orchestral sweep. But, that’s, like… you know… subjective and that.
American composer Michael Land is responsible for most of this work.
He worked with LucasArts when Ron Gilbert was there, putting together the music for The Secret of Monkey Island and the subsequent games. Land has also worked on many Star Wars games and 1998’s point-and-click classic Grim Fandango.
As you can hear with his compositions, he has a lilting way of creating atmospherics. It kind of all shimmers in the background—rather ambient, non?
Caribbean steelpan drums play a big part of the whole musical odyssey provided by the Monkey Island games. They originate from Trinidad and Tobago, but were only developed in the early to mid-1900s.
Not antiquity or some such, as we were expecting.
2022’s Return to Monkey Island also has some wonderfully atmospheric music. Michael Land returned to the series to record all of it.
Oh yeah, we forgot to mention in our Return to Monkey Island review—scurvy mentions are everywhere! Hurray! It’s everyone’s favourite horrendous disease!
There’s even a full region named after it with Scurvy Island above, there. Don’t forget to consume some vitamin C you landlubbers, yarr!
Elsewhere, the Mêlée Island docks offer a particularly favourite of ours, something you can stick on a loop for many hours.
For non-gamers, you’ve got to realise the whole joy involved in all of this. You’re playing a video game you really love and all this stuff is playing along with it.
We’ve long said a fantastic soundtrack is more important to a game than the latest, cutting-edge graphics or whatnot.
And we feel the Monkey Island series has always proven this to be the case. So much so, we just had to include one more. This one being some backing music to Mêlée Island’s central town district. Lovely, eh?
And there we have it! But not quite… we’ve got a bit more ground to cover.
Live Versions of Monkey Island’s Music
Our favourite performance we’ve come across is with the Metropole Orchestra in 2006 Netherlands, Utrecht Vredenburg. As you can see, though, the person who uploaded the video 13 years ago blocks it from playing on other websites. For some bizarre reason.
Still, click the “Watch on YouTube” bit to hear it. As it’s an amazing rendition.
But if you can’t be bothered doing that, here’s a lovely street performance from some musicians in Nancy, France.
You see? Video games really are for hopeless losers who can’t get a girlfriend. That proves how uncultured it all is.
There’s plenty of stuff like that on YouTube. If you’re super lucky, you’ll even have an orchestra perform some of all this near where you are.
But if not, then you can just rely on some of this…
Monkey Island Ambiance, Ahoy
During the week, we came across the above ambiance tracks for much of the Monkey Island music world. These are created in a joint venture between BuzzMoo and UK artist Jim Clark.
The above setting will be familiar to anyone who’s played Curse of Monkey Island. The game has some of the most relaxing vibes in it out of any in the series.
Later in the game you visit Blood Island—the great holiday destination that never was.
Just wandering around the whole island is a visual treat, but we’ve always had a soft spot for the hotel run by Mr. Griswold Goodsoup.
Anyway, plenty to be listening to there if you’re interested in these type of hits. You can find more of this lot on YouTube, of course, so knock yourselves out. Yarr.