Game That Tune

Rayman Origins

The Cut Of Their Gibberish

The upbeat nonsense of Rayman Origins’ soundtrack keeps us from asking questions.

By Derrick Sanskrit • February 28, 2013

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

On their third album, Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Rós wanted audiences to come to their own personal conclusions regarding what the songs truly meant. All eight tracks were left untitled, the album art was nothing more than high contrast black-and-white photographs of flowers, and—most notably—the lyrics were sung entirely in a made-up language referred to as “Hopelandic.” Without the standard verbal or graphic cues to clue audiences in to the songs’ intent, they were open to interpretation. The songs could be whatever the listener wanted them to be, based simply on how they reacted to the sounds.

Cristophe Héral and Billy Martin took a similar approach on the soundtrack to Rayman Origins. The instrumentation takes its cues from the tropical art direction, but there are a few tracks that feature vocals, largely from the shimmering gold “lum” characters that float throughout every stage of the game.

Rather than have the lums sing to us in a known Earthly language, they sing in a made-up language that would sound like gibberish were there not several voices singing in unison. While Ubisoft is well aware of the cost and effort in translations for the world market—have you seen the credits to an Assassin’s Creed lately?—it seems likely that, as with everything else in Rayman Origins, integrity of artistic intent was the driving factor.

The upright bass and ukulele in “Village On The Water” create a sense of warmth. The arpeggiated crystalline synth in “The Lums’ Dream” fosters an ethereal air of mystery and wonder. The gently brushed snare on “Lums Of the Water” couples with lounge pianos and laid-back strings to create a welcoming environment. And all the while, there’s that chorus of lums, taking turns singing their equivalent of folk standards, intermittently breaking into jazz scat that sounds like somebody strumming their finger across their lips to amuse an infant. Most of us will simply assume these are songs of casual celebration because that’s what 1960s surf and beach party films taught us to believe, but the lums could just as easily be singing something hateful. Even if they were, though, could you be mad at the lums? They’re so gosh-darned cute, you just want to sing along. Not knowing is better. This way makes it easier for us to believe the best and adventure forward full of hope and cheer.

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32 Responses to “The Cut Of Their Gibberish”

  1. Cloks says:

    This is one of my absolute favorite soundtracks – it’s just so warm and inviting even when the game gets mean. I might be playing frantically to avoid being eaten or squished or drowned but in the background there’s a reassuring “do-bee-da-doo da-doo-ba-dee-dee” that just relives all the tension.
    There’s also the music during the challenge level that helps you into just the right racing mindset. It’s really an all around wonderful game.

  2. My wife generally opts to don some headphones and crank project runway reruns when I start gaming, because generally the music is abysmal or it’s just the sound of loud guns and swearing soldiers.

    But when I first started playing Rayman Origins she perked up and was like, “This, this I like!”

    Lums of the Water is one of her all time faves but we’re missing the power-up Mario esque song so I’m dropping it in the comments yo!

    Seriously, buy this game.

    • PaganPoet says:

      @ChumJoely:disqus was saying in another topic the other day that he’s started playing this game with his young kids. It sounds perfect to me since the game is cartoonish and funny and colorful and the music is great…other than the fact that it’s also unforgivably hard! I warned him to keep “Land of the Livid Dead” hidden from his kids as long as possible. It took me 4-5 hours to get through that level, I’m not sure how a 5 year old is going to deal.

      • Chum Joely says:

        Yep, even my almost-4-year-old loves this and I’m pretty sure it’s because he gets to BE the cartoon guy instead of just WATCHING the cartoon guy. The music is a big part of that, along with the slapstick humor.

        But yeah, the game is super-hard after the first 2 worlds or so, and now the kids (or I should say: the kids and I) are up to the second group of 5 worlds where you have giant bosses at the end… basically my daughter now plays the first 90 seconds (1-2 rooms) of any given level and then it’s all DADDY! I NEED HELP!!!

        I was happy for a while that they were doing video games (well, THIS video game) instead of TV in the morning, but then I realized that TV episodes are self-contained and end at a pre-determined time, so you can say “1 episode” and that’s it. But “just one level” can take forever, and now I get drawn into it to “help” as well. So no more video games in the morning when we need to get on the road in a hurry!

        • I tried introducing my wife to co-op but she lost interest after seeing the weird-balloon-death-pop animation one too many times.

        • Chum Joely says:

          @twitter-88752419:disqus Do you mean she got sick of that animation itself, or sick of dying all the time? I actually think the way they implemented co-op is pretty damn friendly to less-skilled players in this game.  Dead (er, “bubblized”)? Heck, just float on over here and I’ll slap you back to life.

        • Jackbert322 says:

          “I was happy for a while that they were doing video games instead of TV in the morning, but then I realized that TV episodes are self-contained and end at a pre-determined time, so you can say “1 episode” and that’s it. But “just one level” can take forever, and now I get drawn into it to “help” as well”
          This is my situation exactly. I was so happy when my little brother developed the motor skills to start playing video games. Now I didn’t have to suffer through his awful television shows any longer. Plus, video games are active, rather than passive, which helps slow down the brain rotting slightly. I figured I’d start him off with LittleBigPlanet; easy, fun, and very creative. When he got stuck in the story, I showed him the community level hub. Seeing his face light up with delight was pure joy. We were both so happy. Then the little shitbucket discovered survival levels and now he won’t turn off the fucking game.

        • Chum Joely says:

          @Jackbert322:disqus Woah there hitler. That obviously turned around in a hurry.

          Also, the controls on LBP are not as easy as you might think. Even I get stuck on objects somewhat frequently due to the incredibly convenient feature where the game decides for you when you are going to move along the Z axis (into/out of the screen). My daughter might have gotten good enough to avoid this by now, but last time we checked out LBP she just couldn’t get the character to do what she wanted.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          Just make sure they don’t delete your save. YOUR SAVE. But yes, a great game to play with the kids.

        • Chum Joely says:

          @drflimflam:disqus Oh yes, we certainly had a discussion about whose savegame is whose. Mine is the one with 205 or so Electoons, theirs is the one with 60. DON’T TOUCH MY SAVE.

      • duwease says:

        At the same time, if they never play that level, they never get to play the boss.. which IMO is no-contest the best boss of the game!  The fact that they hid it at the end of such an unforgiving twitch-fest of a bonus level is almost a crime.

  3. Destroy Him My Robots says:

    Gotta love Rayman Origins. It’s the best Les Baxter album I ever played.

  4. PaganPoet says:

    Lums of the Water always reminded me of the LocoRoco games as well, which featured similar catchy pop tunes sung in a squeaky gibberish language.

  5. Chum Joely says:

    Really happy to see Rayman Origins make an appearance here. I’ve been lobbying for it in a low-key way for a while. Good picks, too– I wouldn’t have thought to pick out “Lums of the Water” but it is quite unusual within the game for that spacey, ethereal beauty. Good call.

  6. Aaron Riccio says:

    This is why I’m so glad that the new Rayman game isn’t a Wii exclusive. One of my favorite games/soundtracks/art styles, and the first and only game that I’ve gotten 100% in. Mainly because all of the achievements made sense and didn’t require random, time-killing, game-breaking stuff.

  7. Aaron Riccio says:

    By the way, did anybody else start all three of these playing at the same time? It’s *really* trippy. My head wanted to explode. Which might explain why none of Rayman’s body parts are actually connected.

  8. KingGunblader says:

    This game is friggin excellent. I’ll admit that I didn’t actually notice the music that much, but every bit of attention for this game is good.

    Can’t wait to play Legends… oh wait.

  9. Brainstrain says:

    Wonderful. I guess I really have to pick this game up now.

  10. BROedipus says:

    Rayman Origins is one of the few games in the last few years where, I feel, every single element is cohesive to its artistic vision. It achieved exactly what it set out to do and for that, I’ll always love it. Slapping your friends and weirdly competitive co-op are pretty hilarious, too.

  11. DrFlimFlam says:

    This game has such a great, joyful soundtrack that helps leaven the difficulty. Even the little moments of collecting have that great musical sound. It’s just awesome.

  12. logicalDemoness says:

    Interesting, I just finished this game last night. “Lums of the Water” and “The Lums’ Dream” were definitely my favourite tracks. I’ve never been a fan of water stages in platformers (too many are marred by awkward swimming controls or an annoying oxygen timer) but the ones in Rayman Origins not only played like a dream, but had me grinning like an idiot with those songs.
    I also really dig the Latin flavour on the fire stages in Gourmand Land/Luscious Lakes:

  13. grovberg says:

    Possibly just curbed from from Origins, but the soundtrack for Rayman Run (the iOS, Origins-insipred Rayman game) is equally amazing.

  14. Carol Jean Subtle says:

    Listening to the cute little little Lums singing makes me tear up laughing. Seriously, best game soundtrack ever.