A song specific in content and tone to a character from an anime, often sung by the character's voice performerusually on a soundtrack CD.
The animation houses which produce anime are nothing if not masters of cross-marketing and cross-promotion. One means by which a series is promoted and supported in the Japanese media marketplace is (as is sometimes the case in the United States) the original soundtrack CD. In the early days of this practice, such CDs usually contained nothing more than the program's opening and closing themes, as well as most or all of the incidental music heard in the show. Eventually, though, the producers of such discs began to take advantage of the fact that most Japanese voice performers are also professional singers, often of the "idol" variety which drives the Japanese pop music market. They began to write songs that typifiedand sometimes explored more deeplythe characters.
Thus was born the "Image Song", a uniquely Japanese variety of All There in the Manual. While a viewer can enjoy and understand a series without ever hearing the soundtrack, those that do listen to the music often receive a "bonus" in the form of a deeper understanding of the nature of the characters. Occasionally the Image Song makes its way back to the series, where it may appear as a character's theme music, or to punctuate a sequence which features them. As time goes on, this has become more frequent, to the point where in some shows the Image Songs almost (but not quite) supplant the traditional soundtrack entirely. And in some cases, the show's theme song is treated as an Image Song — usually sung by the most important female member of the cast, but also remade any number of times by other voice performers from the show.
The Image Song differs from the leitmotif in that it primarily exists outside of the show, whereas a leitmotif is created specifically for use in the show to represent a character or idea. In Western musicals, the Cut Song has a similar function. "I Want" Song is similar but occurs in the show.
- All the main characters from Brazilian comic Monica's Gang.
- Mega Ran's album "Black Materia" is a collection of raps about Final Fantasy VII, of which most are done from Cloud's perspective. "Cloud Strife" in particular is Mega Ran, in character as Cloud, rapping about Cloud's life story.
framerate's mad spotty like a PS1
the story's still cloudy, sorta like my namesake
so wait— it turns out that what was in my mind
was a memory, a dream, that wasn't even mine
- Miracle of Sound creates songs based on video games. When he did one for Portal 2, he decided to create Wheatley's Song, and it fits Wheatley just perfectly. ("So don't call me a moron / I'm super astute / There is no conundrum that / My core cannot compute.")
- Another very good example of this is the metal-tastic Hell to Pay for DOOM (2016), which is all about Doomguy and his rage against the demons.
Wake up, Im a bullet loosed / Into the heart of a wretched age / I breathe just to beat and bruise / An evolution of the burnin rage / Gonna get mine / Get outta my way / There's gonna be (Gonna be) / Gonna be Hell to pay!
- Another very good example of this is the metal-tastic Hell to Pay for DOOM (2016), which is all about Doomguy and his rage against the demons.
- The Picard Song for Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation closely fits this trope, including being "sung" by Patrick Stewart through some very well-edited voice clips.
- Touhou fandom is filled with these, using a character's respective leitmotif to create appropriate songs for them.
- Japanese fandom make an enormous amount of original music based on the games' music. A lot don't have much to do with the character, but some fit them almost perfectly, including Byakuren's White Lotus... ~ Piano, Remilia's Serenade to Red Rose, Sakuya's XXI (Quoth ZUN: "You can't have a maid without hard rock."), Flandre's Who Killed U.N. Owen? and Sweets Time Midnight, Utsuho's Flames Within These Black Feathers, Marisa's Magus Knight, and many, many more.
- Meanwhile, in the western fandom, asa uses the leitmotif itself and dubs it with an original song for the character. For example, Yuuka's is about the transience of lesser beings using flower metaphors, Mamizou's is about how much fun it is to be a shapeshifting trickster, Seija's is about her impending revolution, often inverting and reversing itself, and Yukari's is about the thin barriers that define existence and how easy it is to twist them.
- Similarly, the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom create many songs sung from the perspective of one character or another. Merely some of the more popular ones include Lullaby for a Princess (a Tear Jerker about Celestia's greatest failure), Picture Perfect Pony (complete with show-quality animation), Knights of Time and Space (a duet between Derpy and Doctor Hooves), and Anthropology (Lyra singing about humans). And the parody series Friendship is Witchcraft gave its version of Pinkie Pie (known as "Gypsy Pie") the tragically cheerful Gypsy Bard.
- The album Working for Peanuts by Jimmy Wallace contains image songs for eight Peanuts characters. Some of them are really catchy.
- As a tribute to the show Gravity Falls, Ken Ashcorp created the song Supernatural, a "slower and more melodic song" where Dipper expressing his feelings about the paranormal activity.
- The show The Legend of Korra has Queen of Future Industries by Finer which is a song describing the character Asami.
- Pokémon × Nimja: Play the Game used to have an original image song for all four of its main characters, but out of all of them only "Ballad: WMYD?", Nimja's theme, took on a life of its own as a Leitmotif for the whole series. Eventually, image cover songs were selected for all four main characters, along with two cover songs for HyPN0se and one cover song for each member of the Spoken. In order, they are:
- Nimja: "Fireflies," which represents his creativity. Not to mention all those lines about dreams and sleeping...
- OGiNiM: "Waterloo," in which he expresses his loyalty to Nimja.
- HyDrO: "Confident," which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Slang: "Wolf Bite," in which he asks Nimja for his help in overcoming his fears.
- HyPN0se ( controlled): A Dutch cover of "Ultimate Battle." For obvious reasons.
- HyPN0se ( uncontrolled): "Unwell", which mentions how he's a completely different person when not under his mother's influence.
- Inside Out has "The Bing Bong Song", which is a song by Bing Bong about himself.
- Pixar put out cassette tapes with corresponding songbooks including songs "sung" by the characters in A Bug's Life and the first Toy Story.
- Around when An American Tail: Fievel Goes West was being released in theaters, an entire album of original songs titled "Fievel and Friends" was produced. Only Fievel was voiced by his original actor, however, with more professional singers hired to play other characters. He did a solo version of "Somewhere Out There" among the more original tracks.
- The Little Mermaid (1989)'s Ariel has "One Dance" (contrary to popular belief, not a Cut Song composed for the film), written by Chris Martin (not the Coldplay singer) and released on the compilation The Little Mermaid and Friends.
- The Ugly Dolls soundtrack has a song on the soundtrack that's sung by Blake Shelton called "Wallflowers and Weeds" that seems to serve this purpose for his character Ox, since it doesn't appear in the film.
- James Bond:
- For the film that eventually became Thunderball, a theme tune was written for its previous title, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. While the title was changed, necessitating a new theme, "Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" typifies Bond's character so well that it served as Bond's Image Song. Though the replacement theme, Tom Jones' "Thunderball", still fits the trope.
- For Casino Royale (2006), Chris Cornell wrote "You Know My Name" to serve as an Image Song for the inexperienced Bond (as the Leitmotif is only used at the final scene).
- Six years after My Cousin Vinny, Joe Pesci revived his character for the album Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You. Many who heard it wished that he hadn't.
- "Gollum's Song" (Gollum) and "Into the West" (Galadriel) from The Lord of the Rings films seem to fit.
- Batman Forever has "The Riddler" by Method Man.
- For The Fly (1986), Bryan Ferry's "Help Me" was originally commissioned for the end credits, but since Howard Shore's lush orchestral score was so powerful it was clear to writer-director David Cronenberg that a rock song wouldn't work as a playout, though he did like it. Instead, it serves as background music in the first half of the bar scene. Out of context it comes off as a simple Sanity Slippage Song in which the singer appeals to his lover for help; knowing the plot of the movie specifies it as the film's Doomed Protagonist metaphorically pondering his Slow Transformation into a monster.
- Mercedes Lackey's talents as lyricist as well as a fantasy writer allowed her to create image songs for several of the characters from her novels, most notably Tarma, Kethry, Idra and Vanyel in the Heralds of Valdemar novels.
- Seanan McGuire has used her songwriting talents to create two image songs for her Urban Fantasy character Rose Marshall: "Pretty Little Dead Girl" tells the urban legend (or as McGuire puts it, the "filthy libel") version of Rose's story as a hitchhiking ghost, while "Graveyard Rose" tells the flipside of Rose's legend as the "Lady in the Diner" truck driver's psychopomp.
- Super Sentai releases yearly Image Album songs by the heroes ever since Abaranger, with variable degrees of singing. Gekiranger had villains Rio and Mele be such major characters that they too got to sing.
- Even before that, there were Sentai image songs-not usually sung by the characters, usually done by anime singers such as MoJo or Isao Sasaki. The villain songs were usually done up until the 90s by vocal trio Koorogi '73.
- Some Sentai characters did perform their own image songs, including Goggle Pink, Blue Dolphin and Black Condor. There was also an album named Sentai Heroine that included most of the female rangers' and villainesses' (including Bandora) songs sung by their actors from 90 to Gaoranger.
- In Abaranger, the song "Evolien's Hymn" sung by Lije (Kasumi Suzuki) made it into episode 29 of the show.
- On Go-onger, along with the three female leads (Saki, Miu and Kegalesia), Hiroto also got not one, but two Image Song(s), which is not so surprising since actor Hidenori Tokuyama has an established music career (he sang the opening themes for Saiyuki).
- Kamen Rider occasionally does this as well, but how many of the actors sing on the album depends entirely on whether their characters would be the type to sing. Additionally, most songs are used in lieu of ending credit themes and instead play over climactic fight scenes for the episode.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki has one for each of its four main riders (for any measure of 'main' given in the setting). "Lonely Soldier" for Ren, "Kienai Niji" for Kitaoka and "Spinnin Around" for Asakura.
- Kamen Rider Den-O really started the trend in later series when there was an edition of "Double-Action" for each of Ryotaro's Imagin partners as a duet, including Sieg which only ended up used in the finale and the director's cut of The Movie. Yuto and Deneb also had "Action-ZERO", while "Double-Action" duets were made for Naomi & Airi and Teddy & Kotaro, while Kamen Rider Gaoh has a solo rendition of the same song. The second half of the series even used a new version of the opening theme sung by Ryotaro's four Imagin partners!
- Kamen Rider Kiva gives it a twist in that the primary Riders (and Kiva's alternate forms) all have Image Songs, but these are all sung by TETRA-FANG, a "limited band" formed for this express purpose, with Kiva star Koji Seto providing the vocals. An alternate version of one of the songs is sung by Keisuke Kato as his character Keisuke Nago, and later albums released for the series feature an entire image album for every character who was ever Kamen Rider Ixa on screen and an album where the actors cover other songs in the series in character.
- Kamen Rider Decade has "Ride the Wind" for Tsukasa Kadoya and "Treasure Sniper" for Daiki Kaito.
- Kamen Rider Double had twist not unlike Kiva in that there were image songs for each of Kamen Rider Double's "main" forms and for Kamen Rider Accel, and each song was performed by a band made for the series, but the bands were all different and were incorporated into the fiction of the show as popular bands in the city of Futo (all named after major Atlantic and Indian Ocean hurricanes): Labor Day's "Cyclone Effect" for CycloneJoker and "Extreme Dream" for CycloneJokerXtreme, Galveston 19's "Free your Heat" for HeatMetal, Florida Keys' "Finger on the Trigger" for LunaTrigger, and Wilma-Sidr's "Leave all Behind" for Accel. Wakana Sonozaki has her own radio show in universe, and she sings its theme song "Naturally", and Shotaro's confidantes Queen and Elizabeth (themselves played by now former AKB48 members Tomomi Itano and Tomomi Kasai) participated in an in-universe music talent show with their song "Love♡Wars".
- Kamen Rider OOO follows suit with each of Kamen Rider OOO's Combo forms getting their own theme song sung by Shu Watanabe as Eiji Hino: Tatoba Combo's "Regret nothing ~Tighten Up~", Gatakiriba Combo's "Got to keep it real", Latoratah Combo's "Ride on Right time", Sagohzo Combo's "Sun goes up", and Shauta Combo's "Shout out". He gets duets with Ryosuke Miura as Ankh on Tajador Combo's "Time judged all" and Akira Kushida (anison royalty and voice of the OOO Driver) on Putotyra Combo's "POWER to TEARER". The two bearers of the Kamen Rider Birth belt also get a duet in the song "Reverse/Re:birth".
- Kamen Rider Fourze pares back the per-form image songs and doesn't have the cast performing them; while established band everset and a few for-the-show singing duos of Astronauts (May'n and Yoshiharu Shiina) and SoutherN (Minami Kuribayashi and Yosuke Yamashita), the only cast-sung songs are JK's "Love is Overdrive" and Yuki Jojima's "Ganbare Hayabusa-kun", which featured in episodes. Its follow up Kamen Rider Wizard doesn't bother having anyone on cast sing at all, and instead relies on the franchise-wide official bands RIDER CHIPS and Kamen Rider Girls for all its theme music for Wizard's and Beast's many forms.
- Kamen Rider Gaim decribes its insanely twisted character dynamics with two songs - "Ranbu Escalation", the duet of Kouta and Kaito and Mitsuzane's "Point of No Return".
- Kamen Rider Drive has "Spinning Wheel", sung by of the series' rider trio - Shinnosuke, Gou and Chase.
- Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has "Real Game" for Parado, "Wish In The Dark" for Kuroto Dan, "JUSTICE" for Masamune Dan, and "PEOPLE GAME" for Poppy Pipopapo, which was sung by the character herself and used in-universe in commercials for Kamen Rider Chronicle. Also the inexplicable "Jingle Bells" cover "Pinple Pells"
- Kamen Rider Zi-O has "Zi-O, Toki no Ouja", for the title character Sougo, and "Future Guardian" for The Lancer Geiz. Tsukuyomi also has "Tsuki no Ochiru Toki", Woz gets "Black & White", and the three Timejackers get "Revolutionize".
- Lizzie McGuire has "I Can't Wait", a Brooke McClymont that Hilary Duff covered, singing "as" her character. The song is on both of the Lizzie McGuire albums and caught a lot of airplay on Radio Disney back in the day, and was actually released as a single in Happy Meals in 2004 (along with another CD that had "Lizzie" narrating a few episodes, although the voice actress was not really Hilary).
- Doctor Who:
- Jon Pertwee released a spoken-word single titled "Who is the Doctor?" after his character in Doctor Who. (Sometimes called "I am the Doctor" after its "chorus.")
- John Barrowman did a song called "The Doctor and I" which can be read as in-character as Jack Harkness, although it can also be read as a fantasy about John Barrowman being the Doctor's companion. In a rather physical sense.
- A Thunderbirds spinoff single had Lady Penelope singing "Parker, Well Done!" as part of a short dramatization featuring the original voice actors for Parker, Lady Penelope and Jeff Tracy.
- Dinosaurs has the famous I'm the Baby (Gotta Love Me) song and music video, as well as the 1992 album Dinosaurs: Big Songs, which included songs made for the regular characters, all sung by their respective voice actors. A version in Spanish was also released, but it didn't feature the voice actors from the dub (at least not the Mexican dub).
- Edd Byrnes recorded the hit song "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" (with Connie Stevens), which was based on his character in the ABC Detective Drama 77 Sunset Strip.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- "The Inner Light" is based on the episode of the same name, synonymous with Picard and the character development he goes through in that episode. There's the original flavor, the flute and piano duet, or the complete orchestral version.
- Leonard Nimoy recorded a song entitled Highly Illogical which, while it never mentions Spock by name, is pretty obviously sung in-character as him.
- Glee has "Get It Right" for Rachel.
- Bill Mumy sings The Ballad of William Robinson, from the perspective of his character at age 42, having been Lost in Space with his family for 30 years. He also did Stronger Than Gravity, an image song for his character Lennier from Babylon 5.
- Walter White from Breaking Bad has "Negro Y Azul : The Ballad Of Heisenberg"
- Batman (1966) had a So Bad, It's Good one for The Riddler, released as a 45 and with a song by Frank Gorshin as himself as the B-Side.
- For the Studio100 series Kabouter Plop. Some of the characters have a song dedicated to one characters.
- Kwebbel (Jij Praat Teveel)
- Klaus (Klus Wil Vligen and Klus Heeft Her Gedaan)
- Luis (Ich Word Daar Zo Moe Van)
- Small (Ik Been Small and Snuffeltje)
- Smul (Hoipiepeloi)
- Dos Gringos, a band comprising United States Air Force fighter pilots, has a song called "Last of the Breed" that (aside from being written in a future where they're all Retired Badasses) describes what modern USAF fighter pilots are like. "I'm A Pilot" is more satirical and Self-Deprecation (it's written from the perspective of crew chiefs and their perceptions of fighter pilots).
- Sting's "Englishman In New York" is one of these for Flamboyant Gay British expat Quentin Crisp.
- Gloryhammer has a few songs about the characters on their albums: "Angus McFife" for Angus and "Hollywood Hootsman" for Hootsman.
- Several albums of songs sung by their wrestlers were put out that are supposed to provide more insight on the characters, including The Wrestling Album, Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II, Wrestlemania: The Album, and WWE Originals. With few exceptions, they all pretty much suck.
- Both of John Cena's best-known and longest-lasting entrance themes ("Basic Thugonomics" and "The Time is Now") were written and performed by him. Basic Thugonomics was good. The Time is Now? YMMV.
- The second and most familiar version of Shawn Michaels' entrance theme, "Sexy Boy", was performed by him.
- BlazBlue includes one for almost every female member of the cast...and Bang. Kanako Kondō, Noel's VA sings the vocal version of her theme, Love so Blue, during one of Calamity Trigger's final battles, as well as singing in duo with Asami Imai for the vocal version of the Noel vs Tsubaki theme and Continuum Shift's credits. Other entries include the VA for Rachel, Tsubaki, Litchi, Makoto and Bang singing each character's theme. Chronophantasma adds up the new characters' vocals... but Amane has none, in conjunction with how his VA (Akira Ishida) has an aversion of singing Image Songs.
- Sakura Wars might be one of the most extreme cases. There are literally dozens of versions of the original theme song, recorded by every possible cast member or combination of cast members. In addition, there are straight Image Songs for each of the main cast, which sometimes find their way into the actual games as individual themes.
- Galaxy Angel has a massive amount of image songs across its various seasons and games, and throws in a few duets for good measure.
- "Ai No Uta" (Love Song), the image song for the eponymous creatures of Pikmin first appeared in a Japanese commercial for the original Gamecube game. It later became a phenomenon over there, actually outselling the game it was about. The most popular demographic was middle-aged working men, who strongly identified with the themes of loyalty despite abuse which the Pikmin expressed:
Uprooted, we'll follow you alone.Today once again we'll carry, fight, multiply, and then be eaten.Dug up, we'll meet again and be thrown around.But we'll follow you forever.
- There's also Ai no Uta's B side Namida ga Afureta (The Tears are Overflowing) which is sung from the perspective of Captain Olimar. Who is crying because after everything he forgot to tell the Pikmin he loved them before leaving. It makes a great contrast. The Pikmin loved Olimar without any need for reciprication, and Olimar loved the Pikmin but never got to tell them.
- The King of Fighters has a few image songs on every arranged sound track from '94 to '98. Most of them are usually sung by Athena's VA, but '95 has a song where the entire cast gets in on the action, and '97 has a Kyo/Iori duet. Hell, even Choi gets to sing! The tail end of it is the short song that's played in his intro during KOF '98 if he's the first character out on the team or if it's a 1v1 match, "Choi Bounge Ondo."
- Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) have character songs for all the playable characters plus the game's theme tune. Sonic Heroes replaced individual character themes with team themes (fitting the game's gimmick). The trend varyingly continues with the most recent games (different songs for different endings in Shadow the Hedgehog, only one theme song for Sonic Unleashed, etc). Sonic's theme song It Doesn't Matter is particularly noteworthy since the Adventure games only bring up that aspect of his character on a surface level, but the Sonic Storybook Series expands on what he means by those lyrics.
- The Masou Kishin/Elemental Lords in Super Robot Wars mostly had their Leitmotifs turned into Image Song. Other than Masaki's, they're usually sung by their own seiyuus (Masaki's Image Song is sung by Ichiro Mizuki and Hironobu Kageyama.) There's also image songs by JAM Project about the SRX Team's Leitmotif.
- Mai Shiranui from the Fatal Fury games has gotten 2 image songs, based on her background music themes: "Kachou Fuugetsu Otome Mai" (not by her voice actress, but Reiko Chiba) and "Dear MAI Boy" (by her actual voice actress, Akoya Sogi). Blue Mary also has an image song, "Blue Mary's Blues" which has a sprite-based video.
- Some image songs for Samurai Shodown exist, at least for Nakoruru and Rimururu (like Egao de Iru for the latter). A couple of albums made of them were once released by SNK: SNK Gals Vocals Collection and SNK Guys Vocals Collection; the former included one for Yuri Sakazaki.
- A couple of albums made of them were once released by SNK: SNK Gals Vocals Collection and SNK Guys Vocals Collection; the former included one for Yuri Sakazaki.
- Laharl, Etna, Mid-Boss and Axel each have one ("Lord Laharl's Hymn", "Etna Boogie", "Ah, My Magnificent Life" and "White Tiger", respectively), featured in the characters' respective endings.
- Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has ones for Mao ("Go Mao!"), Almaz ("Unlucky Hero"), and Raspberyl ("Love Combination").
- In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, Valvatorez's Image Song, "Arcadian Vampire", is even brought up within the story - Some of the Prinnies write it in the first half of the game to use as a Hub Level theme. Meanwhile, Fuka gets a humorous remix of Flonne's Leitmotif With Lyrics (or one lyric, rather), and the song "Naked Requiem" appears to serve as one for Fenrich and Val in Tyrant Valvatorez Mode (which ups their occasionally lampshaded Homoerotic Subtext even further).
- Xenosaga Episode II contains a track called "The Image Song of Xenosaga Episode II" (a portion of it is played while fighting Margulis). However, it doesn't appear to be from the point of view of any particular character.
- The three leads of Final Fantasy X-2 all got their own CDs.
- "Edge of Dawn" from Fire Emblem: Three Houses serves as one for Edelgard, as its Japanese title "Young Lady of Hresvelg" makes clear. On three out of four of the game's routes, it also doubles as a Villain Song.
- F-Zero GX featured image songs for all of the characters, some with lyrics. Yes, including Captain Falcon.
- Super Mario Bros. combined this with Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics to create Super Mario Compact Disco. Oddly enough, Peach is only mentioned once throughout the soundtrack (specifically during the "Super Mario USA" song), as the rest of it is spent playing up Daisy as Mario's Love Interest.
- The Harukanaru Toki no Naka de franchise got quite a bit of these; in fact, the Hachiyou Shou anime TV series makes a point of using the ten associated character songs — eight for the main team plus two for the villains — for the character-centered episodes: either within the episode itself, often as a Theme Music Power-Up, or replacing the regular Ending Theme. Even Yasuaki, who is voiced by Akira Ishida, wasn't spared (one episode has a remake version of his Image Song as the ending).
- Angélique has mulptiple image songs for all of the datable guys, including plenty of duet and group songs. The third set of OVAs even includes music videos for the Cherry Blossom/Sunflower set of image songs.
- Metal Gear:
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has plot-important image songs for Paz and Peace Walker that play in game, and an image song for Big Boss and Kaz each that came on a supplemental drama CD.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance every distinct boss has their own song, which plays in instrumental during their fight, then turns to play in full glory with spoken lyrics when their health drops past a certain point. The Final Boss song "It Has To Be This Way" mixes it up a bit, as it isn't clear whether the song refers to Raiden or Armstrong, working equally well for both of them.
- One could argue that both "Rules of Nature" is a shared song for both the UGs RAY and Grad and Raiden. One interpretation is the song has the idea that the "strong" (i.e. the two UGs) can be overpowered by "the agile prey" (Raiden) through quick thinking. Another is that all 3 are "a predator on the verge of death"; due to how quickly cybernetics advanced between Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Rising: Revengence Unmanned Gears, with the slight exception of Gekkos and other UGs, have become obsolete as cyborgs can quickly handle them as well as Raiden's own cybernetics have become outdated, letting Sam beat him with little effort despite only having a artificial arm.
- In Metal Gear Solid V, licensed 80s music with double meanings for the characters is included, as well as several original Synthwave songs which are more clearly about the characters (particularly the song "The Phantom Pain").
- Young Maylay, the voice of Carl 'C.J.' Johnson in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and accomplished rap musician, used the game's theme song as a backing track for the first song on his LP, San Andreas: The Original Mixtape, where he raps about the game in character.
- Star Salzman from OverClocked ReMix turns "Robo's Theme" into this with the addition of lyrics, recounting several incidents from Chrono Trigger that focused on Robo, using first person language.
- Saints Row: The Third's [adult swim]-themed radio station includes a song by Unknown Hinson sung in-character as Early Cuyler titled "Save Me From Myself".
- The Idolmaster has it in spades, even down to character cover songs. Doesn't help that this game is all about Idol Singers...
- Two were released along with Um Jammer Lammy - one a fairly straightforward extended version album with Katy Kat singing to the game's songs along with the tutors (with occasional rap guest verses from Parappa), and a more interesting hip-hop remix album by Parappa, whose voice actor was presumably given carte blanche to rap about whatever he wanted and so did a kid-friendly 70s Conscious Hip Hop throwback that darkens up the character. The implication of the album is that while Parappa is a good, diligent kid who stayed well away from gangs, drugs, underage drinking, institutional police violence and so on, he grew up in an environment where he had to work to avoid it, instead of being in a situation where he never had to face that at all. (These topics are not even mentioned in the games.)
- Child of Eden has Lumi's "Heavenly Star", originally from Q Entertainment's previous game Lumines II, during the final stage.
- Final Zone II has the title theme, "Bowie's Chance"; and Momoko Ring's theme, "Don't Stop"; both sung by the respective characters' voice actors.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon: "Mimikyu's Song".
- The Killer Instinct reboot has TJ Combo's theme "I'm Back (To Rise)" - a hard-hitting rap number with lyrics detailing his attempts to recapture his pride and glory after his fall from grace, and prove that he can still fight at the top of his game.
- Max Payne 3 had "Tears", performed by HEALTH and specially made for the game, which would later catapult the band into success. The song is about Max's constant hanging onto the past and how he needs to let go of the death of his wife and daughter. It's a very gritty song which fits specially well with Max's depressed character.
- Myst III: Exile's ending theme seems to have the sole purpose of fleshing out its narrator (Tamra, the Big Bad's wife), a minor character who never appeared in the game.
- Higurashi: When They Cry:
- One that stands out the most has to be Keiichi and Ooishi's duet from the first season set of songs featuring Gratuitous English rapping. Following true Higurashi fashion, it's a funny song to listen to. Until Keiichi claws out his throat at the end.
"Do you know Oyashiro-sama?"
"I kill you, you kill me."
- The song for Shion and Mion called "Birthday of Two". The difference is, however, that it sounds happy and upbeat...if you don't speak Japanese. Insert Mion begging, probably for her life, and Shion's creepy laugh right before the final chorus and you have something that will does a thorough job of creeping the hell out of random passerby. Shion then got her own image song, called "Sora No Mukou".
- Everyone's various renditions of "Dear You".
- Several of the characters have image songs. Rika has two different ones, because she's the main protagonist, called "Mugen Kairou" and "S-A-G-A ~Rinne no Hate ni~".
- One that stands out the most has to be Keiichi and Ooishi's duet from the first season set of songs featuring Gratuitous English rapping. Following true Higurashi fashion, it's a funny song to listen to. Until Keiichi claws out his throat at the end.
- Umineko: When They Cry:
- During the airing of the anime, we had Jessica's "Dokkyun Heart" and Maria'a absolutely adorable "Happy Halloween MARIA", as well as Beatrice's "Chain" and George's "Love Declaration".
- The album Rokkenjima in Love (released alongside EP6) contains Image Songs for Battler, Maria, Bernkastel, Kumasawa/Virgilia, Kyrie, Beatrice, The Seven Sisters of Purgatory, Ange, and one for the EP3 myth battle between Beatrice and Virgilia. Beatrice's second Image Song deserves mention, though, for being instrumentalized and used as epic BGM in EP7.
- Rokkenjima Yakai, which gives Battler and Beatrice a new song each, and also one for Kanon, Clair, Dlanor, Erika, Ronove, and Chiester 556. Will and Lion share a song, as well as Kinzo and Genji.
- 'La Tragedia Divina' is considered one for Kinzo despite the fact that it's not sung by his actor.
- Fate/stay night has one of these for Saber, Shirou, Rin, Archer, Illya, Sakura, Rider, and Caster, respectively. They come with a remix and an instrumental version. There's also the image song for both Taiga and Illya, We Are Tora Buru, which is Fun Personified and hilarious insanity condensed into a single song.
- Hate Plus has "It's Not Ero!" for *Hyun-ae. It assumes the listener completed both games with *Hyun-ae as a lover and is about her desire to be with the investigator who salvaged her from the Mugunghwa, while—as the title suggests—making a Take That, Audience! at the parts of the eroge fanbase who views characters purely from a sexual standpoint and nothing else.
This is no ero story
Won't show you smutty CGs
Those things aren't romantic to me
- The Tokimeki Memorial series has had loads of CDs released. The first game in particular had MANY image songs and that was just for the lead character, Shiori.
- In 2003, the creators of Homestar Runner released an album called Strong Bad Sings and Other Type Hits, mostly featuring new versions of songs from the site.
- Red vs. Blue is fond of doing this as extras on the season soundtracks. So far Sarge, Donut, Caboose, Church, Tucker, and York have all had one.
- RWBY, fitting its anime inspirations, has Image Songs for almost every primary character, and for some, more than one. Some of these songs also appear in the show itself as battle songs, though the lyrics can be out of context to the action onscreen. Others are used as leitmotifs, most prominently seen with the songs from the original trailers.
- The TOME 5-year anniversary soundtrack has a lyrical version of Survive the Drama, which features Zetto singing about how he wants to destroy the Forbidden Power. Also, the theme songs Battle On and Heroes Don't Ask Questions are sung by the voice actors for Alpha and Kirbopher (with the latter being exclusively sung by Alpha's actor), while the song 100,000,001 is sung by the voice actress for BaileySmith13 (although it doesn't seem to be from her perspective).
- Of special note here is the song "Starlight Road" by Rocket Ship Resort, which only appears in the credits for Episode 7. Although Starlight Road was a pre-existing song prior to its use in TOME, the version heard in the show is a cover by Blake Swift (Alpha's voice actor) and another singer (who is meant to represent Flamegirl) , turning it into an Image Song for the two of them.
- Fans! actually had an entire chapter about a musical vampire that included Image Songs for most of the main characters.
- Erfworld has "Quest for the Arkentools", sung by the comic writer, from Warlord Stanely's POV.
- The songs in Homestuck don't normally have lyrics, though a handful of album exclusive ones do, a few of them acting as Image Songs for the characters. The first is the original (Scrapped) version of The Ballad of Jack Noir, which serves as an image song for, well, Jack Noir. The second is Eridan's Walkabout which, while not having a vocal track, was released with a set of lyrics that serve as this for Eridan... or at least, for his pirate persona. Interestingly, the lyrics seem to indicate that Eridan is not, in fact, the one singing. The third is Temporal Shenanigans, which acts as a theme for Aradia, illustrating her character development through the comic. "G4m3 Grl" serves as one of these for Latula, although perhaps not with Latula singing.
- Shimmer and Shine gives us "Make a Wish" from the show's Origins Episode "The First Wish". It describes Shimmer and Shine word-per-word as well as their wishing ability and how they embrace it.
- Spongebob Squarepants:
- The "Best Day Ever Album" contains several original songs performed by the main characters: Employee of the Month for SpongeBob, Under My Rock for Patrick, Superior for Squidward, You Will Obey for Plankton, Who Wants to Race Me? for Sandy, and Fishin' For Money for Mr. Krabs.
- In Germany, there are multiple German Spongebob albums that contain original/cover songs sung by the characters, such as Bargeldlos (Mr. Krabs), Tief im Ozean (Spongebob and Patrick), Witzig, Witzig (Sandy),Weil ich ein Burgerbrater bin (Spongebob), and Lecker Lecker (Spongebob).
- The two-part episode of Kappa Mikey had a karaoke theme and each character had his or her own song included. Being a parody of anime, this is appropriate, although the voice actors' singing abilities are far from American Idol quality.
- "I Don't Need No Instructions (To Know How to Rock)" from Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters would fit this trope for Carl down to a T if it weren't for the fact that Carl's voice actor never actually sings this in any known media.
- The Simpsons had "Do the Bartman" and "Deep Deep Trouble" (among others; the cast recorded an album called The Simpsons Sing the Blues which was about half these and half blues songs sung in character, which was followed up by The Yellow Album, but those two are the best known). The former gets referenced in later episodes occasionally in order to poke fun at the show's initial reception; in one episode, Bart sings a bit of it only to be dismissed by Ralph Wiggum —
Ralph: That is so 1991!
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did this in the early 1990s with the Coming Out Of Their Shells, an album featuring the eponymous characters as a rock band, singing character building and motiviational songs about their lives. It's obscure because it's terrible, and not sung by the actual voice actors. (On the bright side, one song from the album - "Pizza Power" - was good enough to be featured in the arcade/SNES title Turtles in Time.) This album also gave birth to a live stage tour, which Shredder temporarily takes over to sing an image song of his own, in which he sings about... how much he hates music. Figure that one out.
- The Around the World with Willy Fog soundtrack CD features image songs for Romy, Rigodón (joined by Tico), and Dix and Transfer (as antagonists with different goals, they share a Distant Duet).
- June had her own image song in KaBlam!, titled "I'm Flying", which she (most likely) wrote herself. However, she got a neck injury and never finished. As well as "I Love to KaBlam"
- Action League NOW!: "THUNDERGIRL, FLYING LIKE THUNDER, WHILE OTHERS MUST WONDER, WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
- Christy Carlson Romano, Kim Possible's voice actress, sings "Say The Word" as Kim, which is a braggy song about her released on the soundtrack CD. She later sang a remixed version in the "Hidden Talent" episode.
- Toad in X-Men: Evolution has one.
- Each of the Winx Club girls has one of these released as part of the Winx Club In Concert CD. (However, this excludes Roxy, as the album was released before season 4.)
- While not sung by any voice actors from the cartoon adaption, there were a few songs back in My Little Pony G1 that described some ponies. The CD was based off the toy line and was European, so it makes sense they wouldn't use anyone from the American cartoons.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- "A Friend In Deed" gives us Pinkie Pie's "Smile Song," which perfectly describes her personality. It bears noting that back when it was leaked onto the Internet (as an audio track with no sound effects), many fans speculated that it was meant to be a soundtrack CD exclusive.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks has Rainbow Dash's "Awesome As I Wanna Be," whose chorus calls back to her part of "At The Gala", which inspired many fan music pieces. The OST-exclusive second verse even includes her memetic catchphrase "20 percent cooler." There's also "Tricks Up My Sleeve" for Trixie, and Hasbro later released "My Past is Not Today" and "Life is A Runway," for Sunset Shimmer and Rarity respectively.
- The Dutch national anthem Het Wilhelmus is a song written from the point of view of William of Orange, and why he's fighting for the Dutch.
- Folklore in many countries takes a similar approach, with folk songs singing the praise or perspective of historic people. For example, in the United States the radical abolitionist John Brown was immortalized in the song John Brown's Body, which explains John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry to free its slaves & his subsequent execution.