Megalovania: A Study

Thanks to Masahiro Sakurai and the team behind Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, all the Sans memes are back, and of course, “Megalovania” along with them. And while that may seem like a complaint, in many ways, I couldn’t be happier. I get a new composition of it on a new platform, and a reminder of just how good the Undertale soundtrack really is. So, as I was watching the internet explode over the last Nintendo Direct, I asked myself “Why does everyone love this song so much?” Of course, there are memes which will always explode the influence of something, but I think it goes a bit beyond that. Despite being released about 11 years ago, in its initial form, it remains incredibly well-loved by pretty much anyone who isn’t simply burnt-out on it. So I’m here to attempt to answer the question, with the bit of knowledge I have on music and trends.

For clarification, because I know there are several editions of this song, from Toby himself: I’m talking specifically about the one featured on Undertale for this post.

Repetition

That’s right. All of your English teachers were correct when they said that repetition is key to sticking something in one’s mind, and that’s definitely something that’s quite true with “Megalovania.” No matter how epic the song gets, I think the most-remembered section will always be its intro and conclusion, despite being maybe the quietest and perhaps the most underwhelming part (in terms of grandiosity). While listening to this song numerous times, I’ve naturally gotten it stuck in my head a solid number of times, and that’s definitely the part that it always happens with. Of course it helps that it’s just a killer hook as well, though, no disrespect to Toby.

The Pixies’ Soft and Loud

Piggy-backing off the repetition point, it uses the Pixies’ patented dynamic-switch, going from soft to loud to soft, or vice versa. The juxtaposition is incredibly effective in creating the intensity and drive that’s often associated with the piece, making it so good at what it does; get you pumped; another reason I’m glad that it’s in Smash. But after the epic that it indeed is, it once again brings you back to the catchy chorus, drawing your attention to it even more, as they cut away all the surrounding instrumentation.

The Instrumental Features/Solos

This sounds weird, but I couldn’t find a better way to label it. By “instrumental features,” I mean the fact that there’s basically a fanfare, synth solo, and more, that all people love. After the initial chorus, when they break into the true meat of the song, the amazing melodies grab onto you and don’t let go. I don’t know whether to call them fanfares or solos or what, and I don’t really know what instrument to label them either, but they’re fantastic and provide something for pretty much anyone to enjoy.

The Metal-ness

Finally, something that I always knew was there, but never paid much attention to, is the percussion and rhythm section backing everything. Sounding like it could be straight out of a thrash metal section, it provides such a dark and kick-ass feeling to pretty much every part of the composition. It’s not quite present enough to change the whole feel of the song into something overly heavy, but it does provide a lot in terms of sheer force and attitude, and brings the whole piece together.

Finally…

I know this was a fairly short post, and in a lot of ways not the most interesting, but I had to explore “Megalovania” a little bit to understand its qualities, and what makes it such a fantastic and catchy track. I may not have said anything that you didn’t already know, or expect, but I learned a bit from my continuous listening, and eventual writing of this. All in all, it’s definitely a kick-ass tune that Toby Fox should be proud of. I can understand why he features it on so many projects of his.

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