Bard Banter: Favorites From Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley never ceases to amaze me. It’s not merely that Eric ‘ConcernedApe’ Barone single-handedly birthed from naught one of the finest farming RPGs ever into existence, or that it has sold over 10 million copies since its 2016 debut, or that the ‘1.5 Update’ released on consoles earlier this year introduced a plethora of new features at absolutely no cost to players. What keeps me perpetually in awe of ConcernedApe’s programming achievements is that, aside from his obvious talents in creating one of the most aesthetically pleasing, beautifully written, and multi-varied gaming experiences to hit farming junkies since Harvest Moon 64, he’s also one heck of a composer!
In the last edition of Bard Banter brought to you by yours truly, I examined my choicest picks from RPG Maker MV’s vast library of retro-sounding tunes. This time around I’m once again keeping the vibes old-school, sharing some of the standout melodies from my favorite indie RPG currently on the Switch: Stardew Valley! With dozens of songs spanning several hours to choose from—all of which are not only available in-game via the jukebox at the Stardrop Saloon but on Spotify and YouTube as well, should you wish to pursue ConcernedApe’s catalogue further—I’ve decided to limit my offering as much as possible.
Every Stardew Valley fan is likely to have their own preferred selection of tracks; the following are mine! Enjoy!
Pleasant Memory (Penny’s Theme)
I’m kicking things off with my very favorite song at the top, which is none other than ‘Pleasant Memory (Penny’s Theme)’! It’s short but oh boy is it catchy, time and time again getting lodged into my brain on an endless loop and invoking plenty of pleasant memories indeed. Also, I assume it’s only natural to immediately begin singing the lyrics to ‘Earth Angel’ whenever ‘Pleasant Memory’ begins playing in the mini-jukebox over at the ol’ Farmhouse, right? Whatever the case, I just hope my Stardew wife Leah isn’t jealous that I keep ‘Penny’s Theme’ on repeat…
Stardew Valley Overture
Serving as the game’s main menu screen BGM, ‘Stardew Valley Overture’ always sends a warm, fuzzy rush of nostalgia throughout my bones whenever I revisit the Valley. It really encapsulates the cheer and comfort that my initial playthrough of Stardew Valley provided, particularly as I was at a transitionary point in my life which included a dead end job that I categorically despised. Escaping to the farm life proved cathartic for both my in-game character and my actual self, and ‘Stardew Valley Overture’ was like an extended pair of arms welcoming me into its homey domain.
Part of the new content featured in the 1.5 Update, ‘Ginger Island’ has just about everything you’d expect to hear from a Caribbean-inspired jingle that aims to sweep you away to some tropical paradise: steel drums, maracas, a güiro, and even the serene sounds of frolicking waves and seagulls during its bridge section. When the beat returns, its soft, buttery production transports me to a beach somewhere, its sandy shores adorned with tiki torches, a garland of flowers around my neck, joyfully dancing with a group of equally jovial vacationers. You know, like those rich White people in the Sandals Resort commercials. Or something like that.
Fall (Raven’s Descent)
‘Fall (Raven’s Descent)’ is another that includes the calming voices of nature; leaves ruffling in the wind and birds (er, ravens?) cawing in the distance, joined by a mallet percussion instrument and flute that ease into the track, gracefully accentuating the essence of autumn. The piano and other accompaniments involved paint the scene even further: a solitary reverie in the woods, or a park, with a burbling riverbed close by, stars beginning to emerge in pink and orange skies overhead, and the sweet musky smell of fall’s decaying leaves rifling past one’s nostrils. Well, that’s basically the setting of Stardew Valley anyway, which is why ‘Fall (Raven’s Descent)’ is a perfect song for harvest time!
There are no shortage of superb wintery themes to enjoy while trudging through ice and snow in Stardew Valley. I contemplated whether or not to include the beautiful ‘Winter (Nocturne of Ice)’, ‘Winter (The Wind Can Be Still)’, or ‘Winter (Ancient)’ in lieu of ‘Winter Festival.’ All three are laid back, airy tracks that conjure up in my mind the frosty chills of a long, harsh… winter! Ultimately, it was the gaiety of ‘Winter Festival’ that won me over, its upbeat tempo opening with the stereotypical jingling of sleigh bells and carrying on with a blissful melody that wholly exudes and epitomizes holiday cheer.
Volcano Mines (Forgotten World)
An additional newbie that was only introduced to the game within the past year, the kick drum that launches ‘Volcano Mines (Forgotten World)’ into its groovy cacophony of posh synth noises gets my head bobbing every time. Obviously, when you’re slaying magma-spewing monsters within the Earth’s crust, it’s best to do so alongside a beat that will keep those lava-hot juices flowing!
There are a great many treasures to be found deep inside the mines of Stardew Valley: ore, geodes, cave carrots, and some thoroughly mesmerizing musical numbers. Once again, it was difficult to select just one but in the end I had to go with the simple, melancholic elegance of ‘Mine (Cloth).’ It’s a doleful yet sanguine, piano-driven ballad that penetrates the soul of the lonely, exhausted spelunker as if to say, ‘Everything is going to be okay, buddy… only 57 more levels to go!’
These are but a handful of my most beloved tunes from Stardew Valley’s memorable soundtrack. There are many others that I could have gone with and I’m sure your list of favorites probably looks a lot different! So, drop a comment below, in our Discord chat, or on Twitter, and let us know what they are!