You know, going in… I expected Arcane to be pretty okay. The trailer looked perfectly fine with an interesting art style and hey, as a bonus it even seemed to focus around characters I was familiar with from my dark and distant days of playing League of Legends myself.
But I also expected it to be a rather… undemanding affair. Switch brain off, watch the pretty colours and people go boom boom and smashity-smash. I did not expect to be confronted with contemplating ideas such as the selfishness in sacrifice, or perhaps more generously, the unintended consequences of self-sacrifice. Nor did I anticipate that the writers would spend any time on allowing the more emotional elements of their story to breathe.
But here we are, a few days after completing Act 3 and it’s still sitting with me. Truth be told, I was pretty eager to Netflix to just release them all at once so I could binge at my leisure. But in retrospect, I think releasing in three separate acts, of 3 episodes at a go — or 2 hours each week — was a wise choice.
If you have no idea at all what I’m on about, perhaps a trailer will help.
I would like, at some point, to do a full no holds barred spoilers galore look at the series — but it’s perhaps a bit early for that. Plus; I’m not sure I have my thoughts in sufficient order for that just yet. Suffice to say though, that I agree with the likes of IGN’s 10/10 and Rotten Tomato’s (at time of writing) 100% critic and 98% user approval. Even IMDB has the series as a whole at 9.4, with the final few episodes on 9.9.
Instead, I’m channelling a little Bhagpuss here and doing a bit of a music post!
Now, while I won’t discuss any spoilers — it’s probably worth noting the soundtrack was held and released act by act as well. I won’t discuss any of the story contexts in which the songs were presented but they may still spoil, if nothing else, the general tenor. Particularly relevant given the three songs I most liked from the soundtrack capped each of the three acts.
‘Goodbye’ – Ramsey (Track 3, Arcane Soundtrack)
I couldn’t tell you a single other song that Ramsey performs — but I like this one. A rather wistful, almost regretful piece — with a blend of sounds from electronica through to more orchestral style strings.
It has already spawned a number of covers, with possibly this one being my favourite so far being backed by piano as it is. Listening again, I think I prefer the vocal performance of Aloma Steele in this cover as opposed to Ramsey’s original as well. (Hopefully saying so isn’t about to get me shot!)
‘Guns for Hire’ – Woodkid (Track 6, Arcane Soundtrack)
Woodkid is another artist I’d never heard of before but is one I will no doubt eventually go on a Spotify journey of discovery for now that I have.
The opening of this song I could take or leave. But come the chorus, it had me. I do have to give some credence to the possibility at least that it grabbed me as heavily as it did alongside the context of the story being told in the moment with it. I know for a fact that I’ve previously liked songs for their tie into the experience they were presented to me in moreso than from any value intrinsic to the song itself.
There seems to be some shared DNA here with a song you’d attach to a modern James Bond project, and scanning through the comments on the track — it looks like I wasn’t alone in thinking so. Although note: I don’t recommend scanning through the comments if you’re worried about spoilers — key plot points are openly discussed.
‘What Could Have Been’ – Sting ft. Ray Chen (Track 11, Arcane Soundtrack)
Oh hey, Sting! I’ve heard of him!
Although I cannot claim to have recognised his voice while hearing the track the first time. In fact, I did a double-take, maybe even a quadruple take upon discovering the fact. I then had to go investigate whether Riot had really been able to get Sting onboard for an original song or whether it was an existing piece of work adapted for the series.
Turns out, Riot has a lot of money and this is brand new. Sheesh.
That aside though? This one… This one has been on repeat altogether too much. Even so, it can deliver quite the gut punch when a moment is taken to stop and put focus on it again. Lyrically, it speaks to the desire to inflict pain in equal measure to that received — not exactly a laudable desire to hold — but it comes from such a broken place that one can hold an utter rejection of the sentiment expressed simultaneously with deep empathy.
I can only imagine how they’re going to top this for the already confirmed Season 2.