Nostalgia: The Most Memorable Music of Pokémon

By Qwilphish. Art by chameleonskyes.
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First and foremost, an article like this is impossible to write without 100% objectivity. As such, if you disagree with the inclusion or exclusion of a certain song, that is your opinion and this is my attempt to understand the overall consensus of the Pokémon community. Note that this is also not necessarily a list of the best tracks from the series; rather it is more so a list of the ones that are most memorable.

For over 15 years, the Pokémon series has continuously composed songs that have an emotional connection on its players. Music is one of the few things that is universal and Pokémon music is no different. With each generation comes a couple tracks that leave a lasting impression on each of us. There are various reasons as to why these tracks stick in our heads. However, whatever the reasoning may be, these tracks have the ability to bring up a deep-rooted sense of nostalgia which is the reason why many people play Pokémon to this day.

Generation 1:

Route 1 - The first route kicks off the game and the list with one of the most iconic tracks in the series. It, in all of its 8-bit glory, introduced trainers to the brand new world of Pokémon with its upbeat tune. This track sets the base for the game's fantastical theme, which is why it is memorable to many players today. This track symbolizes the beginning of a new adventure: an adventure with friends, foes, and most importantly, your Pokémon. However, this track is not the only one which symbolizes that. Other first route themes like Route 29, 101, and 201 all bring back memories of nostalgia to people whose first games were these.

Wild Pokémon Battle - This is one of the few themes that will probably live in infamy. Almost everyone who has played a Generation 1 game can easily recognize this music from the hordes of Zubat and Geodude in Mt. Moon, or from the swarms of Tentacool that you run into every three spaces while surfing. No matter how infuriating that you may get after hearing this theme over and over again, there is no other type of excitement like that when you run into a rare Pokémon like Clefairy at Mt. Moon or a Cubone in Pokémon Tower, so it may be worthwhile to keep your repels off and bear the music.

Lavender Town - Lavender Town is an example of how music can turn a seemingly unimportant place into one of the most memorable ones in the game. Lavender Town's haunting music perfectly compliments its equally creepy story. Its simple introduction leading into a series of long notes that almost sound like white noise creates a feeling of eeriness in the town. Despite the fact that this is likely the creepiest track in the game, the reason why this track is so popular is from the "Lavender Town Syndrome" story which ranks among one of the most well-known (and disturbing) urban legends from Pokémon. Although this story is only a rumor and not connected to anything official, it is a staple in Pokémon folklore and thus is integral when talking about this theme. Lavender Town's theme stands above the test of time by having a theme that still haunts many who listen to it and being stuck in the minds of even those who wish it wasn't there.

Team Rocket Hideout / Silph Co. - It seems only natural that the hideouts of Team Rocket would have some of the most memorable tracks of the game. Although they are different in several key ways, both tracks fit Team Rocket's crazy and evil character with their high frequency backgrounds and quick melodies. Team Rocket Hideout's theme portrays the adrenaline rush of having your first formal encounter with Team Rocket with its fast and upfront tempo that leads to a sudden eery section. On the contrary, Silph Co.'s theme sounds more mature with its predominant use of staccato notes throughout the entire song, especially in the final section with the ear-piercingly high notes. The first generation villain's themes still hold today as one of the timeless tracks of Pokémon and as the standard for the villains that follow.

Bike Theme - The Bike was such a game-defining item and thus it is only fit that its theme would be included, considering that many players heard this theme throughout the majority of the game. However, this music does have the tendency to become repetitive and even annoying to listen to after long periods of time, but in short bursts it is one of the cheeriest themes on the list. This track may not be the most epic, or the most creepy, or even the most nostalgic song on this list, but this song is certainly one of the most cheerful and it just makes you happy whenever you hear it, and that is the way that the bike should feel like.

Generation 2:

Gym Leader Battle (Johto) - Depending on your experience with Whitney, this track can either invoke feelings of hatred or joy. The Johto Gym Leader Battle theme is not necessarily known for the music itself; rather, it is because of the times during which it is played. The Johto Gym Leaders as a whole are considered to be some of the toughest Gym Leaders in the entire series. With Bugsy's Scyther, Whitney's Miltank, Morty's Gengar, Chuck's Poliwrath, and Clair's Kingdra, it is likely that the player is going to spend a lot of time listening to this theme. Besides the bad experiences though, this theme is just as good as any other Gym Leader theme. It gets you invigorated to fight and to persevere through the battle (even though it may hurt to watch as you slowly get haxed to death).

Goldenrod City - The largest city in Johto certainly doesn't hold back when it comes to its theme. With music that sounds strangely familiar to a song you might hear at a wedding, Goldenrod City's theme is grand compared to the rest of GSC's soundtrack. It is not difficult to find yourself suddenly humming this song while playing due to how cheerful and happy it is. This statement is especially true considering that Johto's Bike Theme is simply a sped-up version of this song. Although this track may not be as instrumentally complicated as many of the themes today, for its time it was one of the more extravagant themes of the game.

Surf Theme - Despite the fact that most people detest Surfing in Pokémon due to the hordes of wild Pokémon, this theme probably made the experience a little more bearable for some. The rises and falls of the song are like waves which compliment the song perfectly. The soothing vibes of the track is one of its best features, being able to calm even the most rage-filled trainer. Johto's Surf Theme had a presence whenever it came on, unlike those of other regions that just felt like background music (which they were). This is most likely due to the surprising amount of complexity within the song which kept the listener interested throughout the entire time. Although Johto may not have had the largest Surfing section, its theme has remained in the—A WILD TENTACOOL APPEARED!

Lance's/Red's Theme - One of the single most epic themes from Pokémon is Lance's and Red's Battle Theme, and it is easy to see why. The beginning of the track, with its climb up to the full speed of the song, is one of the most well-known sections from the series. Even after that, the track continues to become more and more exciting as it progresses. The song itself can't take all the credit as for why it is so memorable, though. The reason why this song is so nostalgic to many players is because of the battle against Red, which is one of the most iconic Pokémon battles in the series. As a kid, beating Red was the greatest accomplishment that you could do in the game, and that feeling still continues on through this theme.

Generation 3:

Abandoned Ship - The Abandoned Ship is one of the most unique areas in any Pokémon game and its music reflects this as well. Although the ship may not actually be abandoned, the music certainly makes it feel that way. The mysteriousness of the track gives the feeling that the ship is more than it actually is, and it makes you want to explore and inspect every nook and cranny on the boat. Part of what makes this track memorable, however, is the ship itself. The side-plot of the ship and the scanner wasn't very difficult, nor long, but for some reason it remained as one of the most interesting parts of the game. For this reason, the music from the Abandoned Ship has become one of the most memorable tracks from the third generation.

Dive - It is a shame that they didn't bring back the Dive HM in its original form after Generation 3, because this theme was one of the most fantastical songs in the series. With its smooth melody and bubble-like notes, this song seems like it could be the theme for any underwater civilization. The small effects of bubbles and waves crashing in the background is what makes this song so memorable though; it makes the player feel like they are actually underwater, instead of just feeling like they are surfing slower and with less wild Pokémon along the way. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Generation 6 will bring back Dive and a remix to this already memorable theme.

Battle Factory (Generation 3 / Generation 4) - Although we are still in Generation 3, there is something to be said about the Generation 4 version of this theme. In Emerald, the Battle Factory had an extremely pumped up theme—in both meanings. The music had a fast tempo to go along with its variety of sounds that you might expect from a sound effects studio. This combination, although normally distracting, works in the Battle Factory due to its futuristic motif. In Generation 4, the Battle Factory theme takes a twist. The music sounds much less produced, has a lower tempo, and is all-around more mellow. However, the theme still sounds just as futuristic as it did in the previous generation, just without all the effects. It is a matter of preference as for which one you personally like better, but both are equally as memorable in their respective generations.

Sky Tower (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon 1) - Sky Tower's theme follows a similar progression across the song as the player cycles through the dungeon itself. The first part of the song is very clean with only the main rhythm in the background until the chorus and strings come in. From there, the song suddenly becomes more complex as the player learns how the song and the dungeon progresses. The next section is when the song comes in full swing, which is where the melody comes in which correlates to when the player knows the dungeon. The song returns to its original state when you are almost there and you begin to tire or slow down until the song comes back to pick you up again. This all leads up to the final section which leads you to the final battle of the game. The progression and the different layers of sounds is why many people acclaim this track as the best from PMD 1.

Miror B.'s Theme(s) (Pokémon Colosseum / Pokémon XD) - Aaaahh... Miror B. There are not enough words in the world to describe these themes. I guess that the only way to try is from the beginning. Colosseum's Miror B. Theme is one of the, if not the most, crazy and fun themes in any Pokémon game with its Spanish flare and upbeat tune. This is further accentuated by Miror B.'s over-the-top persona, which makes his theme easily one of the most memorable from the game. However, his theme from XD takes a different turn. While it isn't as crazy as its former, it is more edgy and fits the Miror B. in XD better than his old theme. Miror B. himself though is such an iconic character by himself that having not one, but two memorable songs just further accentuates his spot in Pokémon culture. SALSA~

Generation 4:

Old Chateau - If Lavender Town was creepy for its simpleness, then this track is creepy for the exact opposite reason. The Old Chateau's music is one of the most suspenseful themes in the series, which is its defining creep factor. Like a game of tug-of-war, this theme easily pulls you in with its crescendos and then pushes you back just as easily as it builds up for the next pull. This game is how the song continues for the duration of the track. Beyond the music though, the chateau itself is one of the scariest places in the game, with the ghosts that appear randomly at night or the story of Rotom, making this track one of the most unforgettable from DPP.

Route 209 - It is possible that this track isn't that memorable due to its original appearance in DPP. Route 209's music was a fun route tune that played from Hearthome City to Solaceon that picked you up after going though Lost Tower and the Solaceon Ruins. While it was one of the better route themes in DPP, it wasn't as memorable as the other tracks from the games. This was until the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which includes a remix of the route on the Spear Pillar stage, made it into one of the most popular route tracks in the series.


Stark Mountain - With a theme that is akin to that of a CO from Advanced Wars, Stark Mountain certainly captures the tough and rugged nature of the mountain. This is one of the only songs in the series that features a heavy use of percussion, which definitely works in its favor to get its mood across easier to the listener. This track also gives the desire for exploration for the same reason as the Abandoned Ship's theme. It also gives this effect because of the trills and contrasting percussion that gives the player the idea that something is happening in the mountain. As one of the most adventurous and mysterious themes in the game, along with its history with Smogon, Stark Mountain remains a memorable track from DPP.

I Don't Want To Say Goodbye (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon 2) - For anyone who has played PMD 2, this song is easily one of the most heart-wrenching themes in the series. Unlike most of the songs on this list, this one is here because of the story behind it more so than the music itself. However, the fact that the music is able to hold meaning is what makes this song memorable. Its sweet melody is incredibly calming at the beginning but as it begins to die off, the melody becomes much more somber and eventually leads into a comforting section. By having the track play out this way, the players go through moments of peace, sadness, and comfort, making this track one big roller coaster of emotions.

Generation 5:

Emotions Theme - This song is sweet in a simplistic and effective manner. The Emotions Theme embodies the struggle and strife that occurs to the characters within the game. From Bianca's resolution with her father to the final meeting with Cheren after the game is completed, this theme symbolizes both the ending of one path and the beginning of another. This track is fitting for the events that happen when this song is playing because it makes you sympathize with whoever is in the scene. The simplistic nature and the dichotomy of this piece compared to the music that surrounds it is what truly makes this piece shine among many of the other memorable tracks from Generation 5.

Opelucid City (Black / White) - Depending on the game you chose, Opelucid City can have one of two tracks. While there are conflicting opinions as to which one is better, they have the same melody and similar progressions within each version, so it is very difficult to choose which one is objectively better than the other (which is almost hypocritical considering this entire list is almost entirely subjective). Despite that, the drastic differences between the two is what makes them so perfect for this city. Opelucid City is based around contrasts and having two songs that seem completely unrelated, yet are the same thing, is the perfect way to compose the two themes.

Route 10 - It is difficult to describe why this song is one of the most memorable beyond saying that it is just good. Perhaps it is the build-up, perhaps it is because it is the final route before the Elite Four, or perhaps it is due to the wide variety of instruments that are used (which is uncommon to the series). Whatever the reasoning may be, Route 10's music is widely considered to be one of the best tracks in the series. If Route 1 represented the beginning of a new adventure, then Route 10 would represent the ending of it. It isn't a sad theme, but it makes you reflect upon your past journey and reminisce among all of the memories that you made along the way. I know this sounds cliche, but it does; it makes you think about your encounters with Team Plasma, earning your eight Gym Badges, and the friends you met along the way. To do that with a song is certainly impressive and it is part of the many reasons why this track is as well-known as it is.

N's Room (Black and White / Black and White 2) - The music box of horror is the best description I can come up with to symbolize the music in N's Room. In BW, it wasn't as haunting; it was a very juxtaposed room among the rest of the bleak and mighty castle but it was not scary. The room was a flashback into N's twisted childhood which included being brainwashed and basically growing up as a child his entire life. This realization combined with the music is what made N's BW Room stand out. In BW2, however, things took a turn for the demented. As a metaphor for N's childhood being ripped apart, his entire room including its theme got ripped apart as well. Although the theme is exactly the same, it randomly slows down and speeds up, which just seems all-around broken and thus creating an extremely haunting song.

Champion Iris's Theme - In one of the most surprising twists in BW2, Champion Iris emerges with a theme that is as colorful as her personality. The high tempo and upbeat tune is able to get almost any trainer pumped up to battle. While other champion themes are certainly epic, Iris's was chosen over the rest due to how fitting it was to her character. Part of this comes with the surprise factor of having this super upbeat track after the gloomy and powerful music from the Plasma Frigate and Victory Road, which is very much like Iris's entrance and her character herself. The final battle of Unova ends the game and list with a track that is sure to remain in the memories of trainers everywhere.


Whether you've been a fan of the series from the beginning or if BW2 was your first game, the music of Pokémon is timeless and can be enjoyed by any of its fans. Obviously, there are tracks that were not included, but that doesn't mean that they aren't memorable in some way. Even while writing this article, it was shocking to see which tracks were being suggested by others, not because they were bad songs, but because I never would have thought that those would be at the top of their lists. Each track brings something special to the series with their unique take on the subject they accompany. The tracks that were listed are some of the most nostalgic tracks in the series and are cherished by many players. If you normally play Pokémon with the sound off (as I am guilty of doing sometimes), next time turn it on and just listen and enjoy the amazing music Pokémon has to offer.

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