With the impending release of Michael Dougherty’s GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, I’ve been listening to Bear McCreary’s new soundtrack, and revisiting all of my favorite classic Godzilla tunes as well! From Masaru Sato to Akira Ifukube (and every other composer in between) I’ve been sampling them all to further pump myself up for the upcoming mega-budget followup to Gareth Edwards’ GODZILLA.
After much internal debate, I decided to create a list of my Top Ten Favorite Godzilla Soundtracks. With so many different styles and themes, it was difficult to narrow this list down. But I finally succeeded, and now present to you my personal top ten Godzilla OSTs that I enjoy on a regular basis. It’s a pretty eclectic mix, and I think you’ll be surprised at what makes the top five!
Note: Track information is derived from the enormously cool, expensive, and rare 50th ANNIVERSARY GODZILLA SOUNDTRACK PERFECT COLLECTION.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973) & GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (1971)
Composer: Riichiro Manabe
Favorite Megalon Track(s): #2 – Main Title, #27 – Jet Jaguar, #30 – Godzilla Appears, #35 – Godzilla’s Strong Punch, #38 – Jet Jaguar & Godzilla: Punch, Punch, Punch
Favorite Hedorah Tracks: #10 – Multiplying, #30 – Arano’s Guitar I, #46 – Godzilla in Flight, #52 – Ending.
Towards the end of the Showa dynasty of Godzilla movies, the budgets for the films decreased to a point where they had to reuse battered monster suits and stock footage from previous outings. Also, most of the monster showdowns moved from crowded cities to mountainous areas where people would be less likely to get squashed. Despite these issues, the final Showa Godzilla films were all quite watchable and fun. Case in point: GODZILLA VS. MEGALON.
When the people of Seatopia are angered by nuclear tests that have ruined their underground nation, they send up a giant drill-handed insect named Megalon to dole out justice to us careless surface dwellers. Megalon teams up with Gigan and has a tag-team brawl with Godzilla, and super robotic hero Jet Jaguar for the fate of Japan. The music in this flick is great and centers around the catchy Jet Jaguar theme, which takes center stage during the film’s final moments.
If you want to save the Earth, then come raise your voice…
10. SON OF GODZILLA (1967)
Composer: Masaru Sato
Favorite Track(s): #28 – Godzilla vs. Spiga
SON OF GODZILLA was the first film of the series to be aimed totally at children, with a drastic redesign of Godzilla’s face, and the introduction of his adopted(?) son, Minya. (a.k.a. Minilla) The soundtrack by Masaru Sato is a really playful for the most part and perfectly fits the tropical island locale of the film.
While I dig the main title theme, it’s the music that accompanies the film’s monstrous co-stars that won me over. The Kamakuras (giant mantis) theme is really cool and makes use of guiros to maintain its unique rhythm, and the Spiga (a.k.a. Kumonga) theme is also a great piece of music that adds menace to the film’s giant villainous spider.
9. GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (2001)
Composer: Kow Otani (with a sprinkling of Akira Ifukube)
Favorite Track(s): #38 – A Salute to the Spirits of the War Dead, #39 Great Monster War March
GMK is an alternate universe Godzilla film where mythology and spirituality, not super-science, are the norm. Godzilla returns as a possessed harbinger of death and destruction, and it’s up to brave soldiers and three elemental “Sacred Guardian Beasts” (Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah) to stop the demonic Gojira. Originally I was not a huge fan of Kow Otani’s music in this film, but over the years it has really grown on me.
Each monster has it’s own distinctive theme, with Godzilla’s being the most notable, and (appropriately) also the most menacing. But the one track that really won me over, was Otani’s “A Salute to the Spirits of the War Dead.” It’s a beautiful and emotional composition that ends the film on a hopeful note.
8. GHIDRAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964)
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Favorite Track(s): #1 – Main Titles, #17 – The Fury of the Gravity Beam, #24 – The Greatest Battle on Earth
Godzilla’s fifth feature film boasted an all-star monster cast! Mothra and Rodan joined Godzilla to take on a brand new kaiju villain: Ghidorah! Infusing mobsters, assassination plots, and alien possessed fortune-telling princesses with the biggest monster mash moviegoers had ever seen, GHIDRAH is easily one of the best films in the Showa series!
Composer Akira Ifukube delivers the goods with this soundtrack, which introduces us to Ghidorah’s trademark theme for the very first time. The music here contains a heavy dose of trumpets and brass, with a harp filling in some gaps in the background, and it’s just fantastic. Give it a listen below, won’t you?
7. MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1964)
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Favorite Track(s): #1 – Main Title, #5 – The Little Beauties’ Theme Song, #19 – Mothra’s Song, #24 – Plan A: Electrocution, #29 – Ending
MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (a.k.a. GODZILLA VS. THE THING) is one of the absolute best in the Showa series. The design of the Godzilla suit in this one is a fan favorite (he looks so cranky!), and it features the first ever interaction between Godzilla and Toho’s second most famous monster: Mothra!
In this film, humanity teams with Mothra to try and stop Godzilla from destroying her egg, which was “purchased” by unscrupulous businessmen who would literally KILL to make a profit. Luckily the egg hatches before any harm can come to it, and two giant silkworms squirm out. They eventually trap the rampaging Godzilla in a cocoon of silk during the climax, and temporarily end his reign of terror.
For this film, Akira Ifukube slightly altered his “Godzilla theme”, merged it with Mothra’s theme, and created a very satisfying hybrid. He also includes a heavy piano accompaniment in the background of several pieces of music (e.g. the electrocution attack on Godzilla), which gives a little more oomph to the proceedings.
I’m also a big fan of the dreamlike quality of Ifukube’s “Little Beauties’ Theme” which plays earlier in the film when we’re introduced to Mothra’s super-miniature spokeswomen. (a.k.a. The Shobijin) It’s a great Godzilla movie, and it has an equally great soundtrack to boot. Click below to enjoy a snippet of Ifukube’s music:
6. DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968)
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Favorite Track(s): #2 – Main Titles, #15 – Counter Monster Warfare, #21 – SY-3 Sortie, #24 – Remote Control Destruction!
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS was, and still is, one of the most ambitious films in the Godzilla series. Alien invaders take control of all the Earth’s monsters and attempt to conquer the world. Naturally humanity refuses to quietly go into the night, so we take the fight to them, on Earth as well as space. Eventually Earth’s heroes take out the invading Kilaaks’ moon base, free the monsters from their mind control, and step back as Godzilla and friends put a major hurting on King Ghidorah.
This film contains one of my absolute favorite Ifukube military marches, which thankfully plays during many key scenes. Give it a listen and allow it to get stuck in your head on a constant loop:
5. TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975)
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Favorite Track(s): #1 – Main Titles, #14 – The Appearance of Godzilla.
After its defeat in the previous film, Mechagodzilla is rebuilt and teamed with a giraffe-necked amphibious dinosaur named Titanosaurus. Controlled by vengeful aliens and a mad scientist, the terrible duo attack Japan until Godzilla arrives on the scene to stop them.
TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA is quite entertaining, and ends the Showa series on a pretty decent note. (Even though it was the least commercially successful of the bunch.) The soundtrack from this one was one of my favorites growing up (I used to rent this movie frequently from one of the local mom & pop video stores), and that still holds true.
Essentially there are only two themes throughout the movie, with slight variations here and there, but who cares, because this was Akira Ifukube’s triumphant return to the series after a long hiatus. Click below for a small taste of the brilliant music from this final Showa Godzilla adventure.
4. GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974)
Composer: Masaru Sato
Favorite Track(s): #1 – Opening, #2 – Main Title, #10 – Godzilla vs. Anguirus, #12 – The Appearance of Mechagodzilla, #28 – Miyarabi’s Prayer, #35 – Ending.
GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA is one of my all-time favorite Godzilla films, and is one of the few that I’ve been able to see in 35mm on the big screen! Aliens from a dying world come to Earth to conquer it. Knowing that Godzilla could be a major thorn in their side, they construct a mechanical double to deal with Godzilla and any other monster that gets in their way. Eventually Godzilla teams up with an ancient Okinawan kaiju-god called King Ceasar, and together they defeat the nefarious cyborg.
The music in this movie was done by Masaru Sato (GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN, SON OF GODZILLA), who composed a completely insane big band jazz soundtrack for it. It’s very atypical for this type of film, but amzingly it totally works! What’s funny is that every time I hear it, I imagine Godzila in a top hat, twirling a cane, and dancing in front of an orchestra.
Sample Sato’s musical genius below, preferably dressed in a three-piece suit, while standing in an empty ballroom!
3. GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972)
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Favorite Track(s): #1 – Main Title, #10 – Identity Investigation, #13 – Defense Force Deployment, #18 – Godzilla, Anguirus Depart, #29 – Earth Monsters Counterattack, #30 – End Titles. (Godzilla March).
GODZILLA VS. GIGAN was one of the later Showa films that relied heavily on stock footage for its monster action. However, it had an interesting storyline, and a group of likeable human heroes. This time around, aliens come to Earth, do some body-snatching, and plan to kill Godzilla with a death-ray hidden within an amusement park Godzilla tower.
The plan nearly works, but with a little help from a comic book artist, a corn-cob devouring hippie, and a cute martial arts expert, Godzilla (and his teammate Anguirus) pull off a big win and send King Ghidorah and Gigan packing.
The soundtrack to this film utilizes several classic scores, but brings a lot of new music to the table. Akira Ifukube truly outdid himself here, and damn it, I just can’t help but love that groovy “Godzilla March” song that plays at the end of the film. Though I have absolutely no clue what the actual lyrics are, I just make up my own when I sing along.
Give it a shot yourself. Hit play and rock out with your cock-roach aliens from M-Nebula Spacehunter out!
2. GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (1989)
Composer: Koichi Sugiyama
Favorite Track(s): #1 – Godzilla vs. Biollante Suite, #3 – Scramble March, #7 – Bio Wars Suite, #10 – Super X-2 Suite.
Taking place after THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (aka GODZILLA 1985), this film questions the morality of DNA splicing. Should man play god? The answer is a resounding “hell no” after a grieving scientist splices the DNA of his dead daughter into a rosebush, then decides adding Godzilla cells into the mix would be a grat idea. (Spoiler alert: It’s not!)
This results in a gigantic Godzilla/plant hybrid that the King of the Monsters battles once he is set loose from his volcanic prison. Later in the film, Godzilla is infected with “anti-nuclear energy bacteria,” then gets TKO’d by the combined might of the JSDF and Biollante.
I love the music from this film; it’s absolutely fantastic! The orchestrated portions hearken back to the stylings of Akira Ifukube, but the movie’s soundtrack also has a modern edge to it. The Bio-Wars piece includes electric and bass guitars and quite simply rocks!
Click play below and prepare to shred on your air guitar!
1. THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984)
Composer: Reijiro Koroku
Favorite Track(s): Pretty much all of them!
When Godzilla reached his 30th Anniversary, the execs at Toho decided that they would bring back their famous mon-star in a new film that would ignore everything that came before it, save for the original GOJIRA. Thought killed in the original classic, Godzilla returns to his favorite stomping grounds and battles the modernized JSDF, and a secret weapon called “The Super X!” Nothing the military throws at him works, so everyone goes to Plan B, and ends up tricking Godzilla into taking a lava bath in an active volcano. Much sadness ensues.
It’s a shame that composer Reijiro Koroku did not do any more music for the Godzilla series, because his work on THE RETURN OF GODZILLA is astounding. The military marches, the “love themes,” and everything in between is the heart and soul of this movie. The Super X theme is triumphant as all hell, and the “Godzilla into Mihara” theme is such a beautiful, powerful, and emotional piece that even Raymond Burr can’t one-up it.
The film also had a sad, but catchy pop tune written for it (in English and Japanese!), called “Goodbye Godzilla!” The fact that it exists kind of blows my mind, even more so after I found that it’s been covered by singer Josie Cotton.
I would like you to share in my appreciation of Reijiro Koroku’s masterpiece, so be sure to click below and listen to the entire soundtrack from THE RETURN OF GODZILLA!
So those are my top ten favorite Godzilla soundtracks Vault Dwellers! I’d love to hear what yours are, so please feel free to share your favorite Godzilla OSTs and themes below in the comments section! Thanks for reading fellow Godzilla fans, and don’t forget to go see GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS in theaters on May 31, 2019!