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Plants vs Zombies – “LoonBoon” (Laura Shigihara)

April 4, 2010

At the Game Audio Network Guild (GANG) Awards, Laura Shigihara won best original vocal piece for the main theme to Plants vs Zombies (2009), that quirky Tower Defense-style game where players build an army of plants to defend against the zombie invasion. The game has kept many an addict up to the wee hours of the AM. Ms. Shigihara’s music is absolutely delightful, lighthearted with comical references to the horror genre. I can certainly see how the music would get stuck in your head after a few hours of play! Ms. Shigihara did all the music and sound effects, as well as the lyrics and female singing for the game. All of the songs in the soundtrack are happy, delightful, and hummable, with a twist of creepy zombie to them. I have asked Ms. Shigihara about the possibility of releasing a soundtrack to the game, but a lot of this has to do with Popcap Games’ desire (or seeming lack thereof) to commodify the game’s music. We’ll see if a soundtrack gets released. You can read more about Ms. Shigihara’s work in an interview she had with Gametunes.

“LoonBoon” is a fan favorite that plays during the bonus stages. The track is primarily piano, but it has a hip combination of percussion and piano. The fast-paced, rapid movement of the keys and wide range of notes makes for a bit of a hectic pace – there is a lot going on during the bonus stage. Ms. Shigihara adds a vocal line for the creepy graveyard feel of the zombies, but later on (about 1:15 into the song), there is some wicked percussion that to me feels like a reference to Tim Follin’s Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts on the C64. Of course, the graphic and audio feel is also somewhat reminiscent of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, another lighthearted zombie classic.

Ms. Shigihara has also uploaded to Youtube video of herself playing the theme in piano. A piano-only version of “LoonBoon” doesn’t quite have the musical diversity, but it does place greater emphasis on the melody while sounding a bit like “The Entertainer”. Sadly, the clip’s audio quality is pretty poor as it comes from an iPhone – but YouTube also decides to skimp on audio encoding, which doesn’t help things very much either. Ms. Shigihara goes by the appropriate handle supershigi. She also has a video for “The Roof“.

The game’s theme song, “Zombies on the Lawn”, is also fantastically cheery. This catchy tune served as the main theme to the trailer of the game (as well as its opening/loader). The track is pretty clever too because it communicates a lot o the gameplay throught he lyrics – what you are supposed to do (“there’s a zombie on your lawn; we don’t want zombies on the lawn”), the types of enemies and what they do (“I have a screen door shield!”). I have to wonder though if Ms. Shigihara identifies with the singing sunflower – after all, this is the character who does the vocals! Again, also very addictive theme, perfect for advertising. There is also a Japanese version that I also think is sung by Laura.

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