Steve Goldshein, Alex Abraham and Jeff Williams (and his daughter Casey) are just plain incredible at what they do. Every episode has a versatile soundtrack that makes the show all the more worth it to watch. From soft piano reprises and tear jerking pieces from episodes like "The Stray" to might-as-well-be-making-a-music-video from the team fights in "Players and Pieces" and "Painting the Town", the music has a life of its own and brings both the fight animations and the voice acting up to a much higher level. Honestly, it's much more challenging to find examples of pieces that aren't examples of awesome music than to find ones that are. Nevertheless, the list below showcases some of the best and brightest work from the RWBY soundtrack.
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- The trailer music:
- Special mention to "Red Like Roses Part II". Awesome battle music, heartbreaking lyrics. The song was actually so popular that the version that played during Episode 8 was released as a single before the OST came out. The full song wasn't even finished at the time. The finished version just expands the awesomeness and tragedy. The second verse is of the missing person, who tries to justify her actions while begging the first singer not to live her life as she did. The third verse, a duet, becomes an angry argument between the two which ends with:
Every nightmare just discloses
It's your blood that's red like roses
- The opening theme, "This Will Be The Day", is pretty awesome. Same for the acoustic version included on the Volume 2 soundtrack.
- "I May Fall", which plays through the credits. It's basically Aragorn's Return of the King speech in song form. When it was finally used in-show during Velvet's reveal of her weapon and abilities it easily went up at least three levels of awesome.
- The most emotional song of Volume 1, "Wings". It's the credits song for final episode, "Black and White", and the movie cut. It is incredibly moving.
- Jaune and Pyrrha's theme is a serene, atmospheric piece that perfectly counterpoints their scenes together.
- "Time to Say Goodbye", Volume 2's Opening Theme, noticeably has a certain Serial Escalation on "This Will Be The Day". The latter was encouraging one to Dare to Be Badass. The former goes farther by explaining, there's no waiting for the right time. Take your roles as heroes or people will die. Even if you're not sure that you're doing the right thing...
Are we heroes keeping peace?
Or are we weapons
Pointed at the enemy
So someone else can
Claim a victory...
- While the food fight between RWBY and JNPR at the start of volume two has a great tune to it on its own, it also incorporates snippets of the themes for each member of RWBY depending on who's center stage during the fight before reaching its climax with a bit from "Red Like Roses". That theme is part of a 9 minute song called "Best Day Ever". Even better, the portion that plays when Ruby ends the fight is now the theme for Rooster Teeth Animation!
- The ending song of "A Minor Hiccup" named "All Our Days", a beautiful follow-up to Volume 1's "Gold" about Yang's love and admiration for her little sister.
- During Team RWBY's fight with Torchwick's Atlesian Paladin mecha in "Painting the Town," a rockin' blood-pumping song called "Die" kicks in when Yang's power kicks in to turn the tides against Torchwick. The full version is even better.
- During the Rooster Teeth Extra Life live stream, Jeff Williams released the full version of Shine, used when Team JNPR perform a cheesy, yet awesome dance number in "Dance Dance Infiltration". Going off of the lyrics, it's about Pyrrha's feelings towards Jaune, and how grateful she is for having him in her life.
- Team JNPR gets another romance song in Boop, which is about Nora's feelings for Ren.
- "Dream Come true" is another one for Team JNPR, specifically for Pyrrha and Jaune. Not only is it catchy, it's hilarious since it's basically Pyrrha singing "Notice Me Senpai!" It even manages to squeeze a little dig at Weiss in, about which she is less than happy.
Why don't you, Forget about the little chick in white? / She don't care about you and she's so uptight.Weiss Hey!
- "Caffeine" is a dynamic rock song that perfectly highlights how badass the members of Team CFVY are, playing as they easily wipe out swarms of Grimm. It may also have contributed to Coco instantly becoming an Ensemble Darkhorse. Not to mention how many songs out there are about going crazy on caffeine, even a small rap about coffee.
- "Sacrifice". Aside from notable lyrics and music, it is famous for causing mass debate among fans over every line's meaning. Alex Abraham, the score composer, has used samples of it on his score and referred to it as "Cinder's theme", confirming whose perspective it is from. Given the lyrical parallels between it and "Divide", it's almost certainly directed at Ozpin.
- The Volume 3 soundtrack includes an absolutely beautiful (and tragic, considering the events that happen in the volume) acoustic rendition of "Time to Say Goodbye", similar to the arrangement of "This Will Be The Day" on the Volume 2 soundtrack.
- "When It Falls", the new opening theme. Not only does the song take a darker tone musically from the past two openings, but also visually and thematically. It has no qualms in showing that this will be the world's Darkest Hour. After "Fall", this opening easily fits with the tone of the volume. And if you thought the intro version was foreboding, read the released full lyrics. Seems like it's promising widespread military conflict, the decimation of the entire civilization of Remnant, socio-economic collapse, atrocities from both the faunus and human side, civil war, and the grimm menace running unchecked. And, worst of all, the bridge directly quotes Cinder's speech from PvP. Whereas the Volume 1 and 2 openings seemed to come from the students and team RWBY in particular, volume 3 turns things dark yet again by having the opening come from the Big Bad herself.
- Basically all of the battle music from Episodes 1-4.
- The fight between Team RWBY and Team ABRN provides us with a kickass song called "It's My Turn", which tells how Weiss is stronger now than she was as a child and she's no longer under her father's influence anymore, and that she's now going to make a mark on the world herself.
- During Team SSSN's fight, an incredibly cool Pirate-styled theme plays, "S.S.S.N. vs N.D.G.O." complete with Adventurous Irish Violins.
- Qrow and Winter get background music that's slightly reminiscent of JRPGs and Touhou during their brawl. It's effectively a mashup of their respective leitmotifs, too.
- In the fight between CFVY's duo and our villains, Jeff and Casey sing "I'm The One", a song that harkens back to the days of Red vs. Blue: The Project Freelancer Saga with its hard and fast nature. Part of its lyrics allude to exactly how dangerous Emerald and Mercury are, even when faced with established badasses such as Coco and Yatsuhashi.
I'm the one that your mama said
'Don't mess with them or you'll end up dead
That type they don't follow any rules'
You're looking tall, you're looking tough
I'm sorry dude, it's not enough
Your girlfriend's purse won't help you win this duel
- Blake and Sun's Ship Tease moment shortly after Team SSSN's fight was accompanied by the song "Not Fall In Love With You" playing in the background. Upon the soundtrack's release, it was revealed to be (most likely) a song about Sun's feelings for Blake. It describes how cool Sun thinks she is, how he loves everything about her, and how there's no doubt that he's fallen in love with her. But there's also mention of how he thinks Blake is out of his league, that he's foolish for trying to pursue her, and that he's unsure if she could return his feelings.
- At the very end of Weiss + Winter's talk ('Lessons Learned'), we get "Mirror Mirror Part II", which sheds some more light on Weiss's character. While mostly somberly self-reflective, the lyrics begin to gain a hopeful bent towards the end:
Some believe in fairy stories, and the ghosts that they can't see.
I know that I could do so much, if I could just believe in me.
Mirror Mirror, I'll tell you something. I think I might change it all.
- The fight between Weiss, Yang and team FNKI, "R.W.B.Y. vs. F.N.K.I." is set to jazzy remixes of "This Will Be The Day" and "I Burn". And before those, a techno song plays during the very beginning of the battle, "Neon", whose lyrics seem to be from Neon's point of view, all about how cool she is and how her opponents shouldn't pine that they can't be as fine as her.
- "Fall" follows it up with a metal remix of "I Burn" that plays when Yang starts getting her Heroic Second Wind against Mercury, and a sad piano remix of "I Burn" playing when Yang is arrested after her incident with Mercury. Not that you'll really notice the latter.
- In "Beginning of the End", when Amber goes all "Maiden-state", it's accompanied by an Ethereal Choir backed by Jeff's powerful guitar work, pumping up the awesome of the scene.
- "Threat Level: Nine" — The ominous, choral soundtrack to all of the shit hitting all of the fans in "PVP". GOD DAMN.
- "Battle of Beacon" features a few memorable instrumental renditions:
- A somber piano and viola rendition of "When It Falls" plays in the opening scenes of Blake and Weiss at the overrun fairgrounds, Yang and Zwei at Beacon Academy and Ruby and Pyrrha in the aftermath of the tragedy at Amity Coliseum.
- An orchestral Triumphant Reprise of "Time to Say Goodbye" called "Taking Up Arms" is played when the Giant Nevermore attacking the stadium is taken down in a concerted effort by Teams JNPR, ABRN, FNKI, SSSN and CFVY.
- Ironwood's bombastic leitmotif blares again during his showdown against an Alpha Beowolf, only this time it's accompanied by rocking guitars.
- Right when Blake discovers Adam, an organ version of the opening lines of "From Shadows" plays.
- "Heroes and Monsters" has "I May Fall" return as a Theme Music Powerup for Velvet and Weiss.
- After this, the fight between Ruby and Neo/Roman is accompanied by some truly admirable musical performance. It really gets you pumped for a battle on top of an airship. The song itself makes heavy use of Roman's leitmotif, and reaches its climax on a booming, dark, and choir-backed orchestral version that wouldn't be out of place as a major boss theme in Final Fantasy!
- The last moments of "Heroes and Monsters" gives us the haunting, tear-jerking, and beautiful "Such Arrogance...". In the episode, the entire piece is punctuated by a series of Wham Shots, making it all the more heart-breaking... This track gets an AWESOME remix in the next episode, which plays during the fight between Ozpin and Cinder
- "Do You Believe In Destiny?", the absolutely EPIC music that plays during the Cinder versus Pyrrha fight in Chapter 12. It turns Cinder's iconic and menacing Leitmotif into a tragic battle theme symbolizing Pyrrha's desperate and fatal assault on Cinder. .
- "Divide" from "End of the Beginning", an epic rock ballad from Salem's point of view. It is one part Badass Boast with Salem saying how hopeless a battle against her is and one part What the Hell, Hero? with Salem calling Ozpin cruel for sending heroes to die in battle.
- "Cold", Season 3's final credits song — a short, sorrowful ballad and refection on the tragic events thus far, as well as an homage to both Pyrrha and Monty Oum.
- "Let's Just Live", the opening for Volume 4, fits in extremely well with the Anti-Nihilist theme of the series (and, indeed, most RT productions). Life's not a fairytale with a happy ending. The real world will kick your ass. It doesn't matter. Fight on.
- The first episode's score featured a number of standout moments.
- The scene with the Beowulf emerging from the dark pool is accompanied by an extra haunting string rendition of the opening to "Lusus Naturae".
- Salem's entrance in the first episode is scored with a quiet, eerie version of the bridge of "Divide". The effect, particularly if one is familiar with the lyrics, is chilling.
- The insanely epic guitar riff that plays during the latter half of Team RNJR vs the Geist really gets your blood pumping.
- "Remembrance's score" has an atmospheric and somber part during the final scene. It's a melancholic, cloying remix of Jaune and Pyrrha's leitmotif, which amplifies the pain of said scene.
- Two scenes feature heavily in the third episode's score. The first scene in "Of Runaways And Stowaways", which shows Blake examining herself on the ship, is punctuated with a subtle, but effective remix of the chorus of "From Shadows", and very much sounds like a continuation of the melancholic piano solo at the end of said tune. The sea battle sequence in "Of Runaways And Stowaways" contains a powerful orchestral rendition of "From Shadows", followed by the chorus of a new song called "Like Morning Follows Night". The full song is an actual theme for the friendship between Blake and Sun, although it is clearly romantic on Sun's end, with Sun trying to cheer Blake up and promising that she doesn't have to think about the past.
- The score to "Family" features a piano instrumental version of "Let's Just Live", which plays during Port and Oobleck's visit to the Xiao Long home. It's a somber, yet soothing backdrop to what proved to be the start of Yang's recovery. It also contains a sinister, string-laden mashup of Qrow and Raven's themes, which is played during their hostile exchange at the end of the episode.
- "Menagerie's" soundtrack has a remixed version of "Like Morning Follows Night" during the discussion of Menagerie that Blake and Sun have, followed by a calm cue in the Belladonna household, and then a chilling strings cue when the Albain twins arrive.
- "Tipping Point" has a fantastic score, befitting the mid-season finale.
- First, the discovery of Oniyuri is punctuated by a nails-on-chalkboard strings cue; it creates a stomach-turning, foreboding aura about the abandoned town ... as though Tyrian's arrival was being foreshadowed musically.
- Next is Weiss's concert scene. The wordless aria she starts out with is followed with a straight-up Take That! to Jacques, the second chorus to a song called "This Life Is Mine". The full version of the song is an intense "The Reason You Suck" Speech directed at Jacques, overlapping with Moment of Awesome for Weiss if she had the daring to sing that in front of that entire crowd (and awesome enough to qualify either way).
Iím not your pet, not another thing you own. I was not born guilty of your crimes.
Your riches and your influence canít hold me anymore.
I wonít be possessed, burdened by your royal test.
I will not surrender. This life is mine!
- In the full version, Weiss not only condemns her father, but also unflinchingly casts aside the mirror theme she's been bound to since her first trailer. Weiss is changing, and she wants everyone to know that.
Now this conversation's finally over.
Mirror Mirror, now we're done.
- The battle sequence in the second half certainly qualifies, containing a sublime backdrop to Tyrian's utter curbstomp of Team RNJR. His Ominous Music Box Tune theme is the icing on the proverbial cake.
- "Punished" has an excellent score, which certainly underscores the dark nature of the episode.
- First, Oscar's scene has a suspenseful, disconcerting orchestral track. The mental anguish Oscar is going through with Ozpin is powerful enough as it stands, but Oscar's rejection of his situation is even more potent with this.
- Weiss's scene has a track that's equally melancholic as the scene itself, containing a remix of "Mirror Mirror" during Weiss's darkest hour.
- The Qrow/Tyrian fight harbours a metal/orchestral mashup of Ruby, Qrow and Tyrian's themes, which punctuated the fight scene flawlessly. Qrow's leitmotif got reworked into a song called "Bad Luck Charm", which explains why Qrow prefers to work alone.
- With the score to "A Much Needed Talk", two points in particular stand out.
- Qrow's exposition scene was accompanied with a dramatic, dark piece befitting the tale Qrow tells about Remnant's creation and all it implies.
- The highest spot of "A Much Needed Talk"'s was the instrumental mashup of "All Our Days" and "From Shadows" during the conversation between Blake and Ghira. It really reinforces the fact that Ghira has always loved Blake, even when she joined the White Fang against his wishes.
- "Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back" had a decent score. In particular, Weiss's scene in "Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back" features a strings-driven, focused piece which creates the perfect backdrop for Weiss's first controlled summoning, and the realisation that she can escape her family. Blake and Sun's confrontation with the White Fang member Ilia is accompanied by an orchestral rendition of the main chorus of "From Shadows".
- "Kuroyuri" has an excellent score, with three points in particular standing out.
- The first of these is a dark, energetic orchestral track which absolutely amplifies the Nightmare Fuel and Tear Jerker shown in the fall of Kuroyuri, as well as the deaths of Ren's parents.
- A violin-led and piano-driven, slower rendition of "Boop" plays after this when we see a flashback of Ren giving a toy hammer to Nora. It underscores how heartwarming the scene is, as well as reaffirming the bond the two have with each other.
- The final scene, depicting Ren and Nora chancing upon the Nuckalavee Grimm's trophy cave, and watching it charge towards Kuroyuri, has a blood-curdling orchestral score that would have made Hitchcock proud. note
- Of "Taking Control"'s soundtrack, three high points can be observed.
- Yang's scene in "Taking Control" contains an orchestral version of the bridge and chorus of "Armed and Ready". The lyrics match up perfectly with her mental state at this point, with her determination in particular standing out.
- Weiss's scene in "Taking Control" has an excellently performed cue, which is dark, speedy and sparse. It lifts the sequence from being a silently spooky escape scene, to resembling a stealth mission from a good video game.
- The reveal of the Nuckelavee in "Taking Control" was accompanied, naturally, by "Lusus Naturae". The crazed song merely augmented the sheer Nightmare Fuel of that whole scene.
- The last episode had an amazing soundtrack:
- The fight scene's orchestral track, taking up roughly half of the episode, was sublime and frightening in equal proportions, accurately conveying both the horror of the Nuckelavee and the tide-turning efforts of Team RNJR.
- As Ren and Nora sit together on the airship, Boop's chorus gets replayed on piano ... then cuts out abruptly when Ren holds Nora's hand. The chorus finishes, then segues into the chorus of a new song called "Home". The full version confirms that it's a tender love ballad - specifically, a lyrical response from Ren to "Boop", finally confirming Nora and Ren as an Official Couple.
I don't know where we should go,
Feeling farther from our goal.
I don't know what path we will be shown,
But I know that when I'm with you I'm at home;
Yes I know that when I'm with you I'm at home.
- Additionally, the letter-writing montage contained a number of reprises of songs pertinent to the characters; "This Life Is Mine" during Weiss's departure, "From Shadows" when Blake reflects on her past, "Cold" around Jaune, Ren and Nora, "Let's Just Live" with Yang, and so on. It serves as a powerful reminder of how much our heroes have had to endure throughout this volume, and adds a sublime backdrop to Ruby's reflections.
- And last, we have the credits song, "Armed and Ready". A song filled to the brim with puns and references to what she's done over the past volumes, as well as a vow to rearrange Adam's face if she ever runs into him again, there's no better way to demonstrate that Yang is on her way back.
I am the golden one,
who burns just like the sun.
Next time we meet is your disaster,
I'll bring the punishment,
Your song will be lament,
Revenge my happy ever after
- 'Bmblb' is an exclusive to the Volume 4 soundtrack and is sizing up to be what 'Boop' is for Renora, but for Bumblebee (Blake/Yang). The structure of the piece sounds absolutely wonderful, with the lyrics complementing the message behind it, seemingly from the perspective of Yang.
- Weiss's training via battling her sister's Beowolf summonings in her character short is accompanied by a song that seems to serve as the impetus for her rebellion against her controlling father. Casey's vocals combined with a magnificent orchestral and piano track and the awe-inspiring near Monty-level fighting choreography make for an absolutely beautiful display. The lyrics themselves also reflect Weiss's search for her own identity after escaping her father's grasp. Although the words themselves are Tear Jerker with a dash of Nightmare Fuel, the song's awesome in that it accurately reflects how people can struggle to redefine themselves after escaping an abusive life.
- At the end of Blake's character short, the audience is treated to a 20-second teaser of a new song named 'Smile'. The song appears to be about Blake's former friend Illia Amitola, a member of the White Fang who lost her family in a mine collapse in Atlas, and is looking for revenge on the human race. The song, while short, gives a glimpse into her mindset and pumps up the listener.
- During Yang's character short, as her battle with the Ursa starts, her new song "Ignite" begins to play. It's a perfect song for the scene, showing Yang's upbeat attitude during her fights. The song also contains references to the opening line of Yang's original trailer, "Scathing eyes ask that we be symmetrical, one sided and easily processed. Yet every misshapen spark's unseen beauty is greater than its would be judgement", with the lyrics of "Scathing eyes that see things from only one side/Yet every misshapen spark/Suffers the judgement and pain".
- Although not part of the official sound track, "Answer To Me" was made to be Taiyang's theme, sounding like an old-school rock version of "I Burn" in which Taiyang talks about his feelings towards his daughters and how any who dare to harm Ruby or Yang will face his wrath. And this was made BEFORE Taiyang was officially introduced. The real awesome, though, is that in the comments for the song Jeff Williams himself praised it. With the release of Heroes and Monsters and End of the Beginning the lyrics have become even more relevant for Taiyang. Some fans are actually sending messages into Rooster Teeth requesting that this song becomes Taiyang's official theme. No word on if it is, but people like it enough to actually send in emails to Rooster Teeth for a fan-made song to become an official theme.
- The Videri String Quartet made arrangements of "Red Like Roses" and "Mirror Mirror" for string quartet and they sound duly gorgeous.
- Grimm Eclipse has Merlot's Villain Song "Lusus Naturae", which plays during the credits. It starts of with a horrifyingly haunting beat as he says how he wishes to "purify and evolve" the Grimm to save humanity, before jumping into an explosive metal track as he begins his Motive Rant. The tempo becomes more insane as Merlot does, showing how low his sanity has fallen because of his research. His lyrics go from saying how his ideas will save humanity to forming a God Complex, the whole song becoming one big Villainous Breakdown.
What Nature warped, I will restore, I will love, what all abhor!