Game That Tune

Plants Vs. Zombies

Potted Dance

The sweet music of Plants Vs. Zombies can help you forget it’s the end of the world.

By Derrick Sanskrit • August 8, 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).

Tower defense—the label given to games where you construct stationary lines of defense to blast away waves of enemies—is such an intrinsically nerdy concept, with all its multitasking and resource management. Making it cute and funny isn’t enough to win the public over. You need to grab their attention and hold it. You need to burrow your way into their brains and live there. You need an incessantly catchy theme song that is both endearing and conveys the core elements of your game in an easily digestible format. Oh hey, it’s “Zombies On Your Lawn” from Plants Vs. Zombies:

Laura Shigihara’s original score for Plants Vs. Zombies is full of gentle moments that keep the mood lighthearted yet grounded in creepiness. This tune, though, is pure pop perfection. In case the soft synth bass and whirling organ lead don’t do enough to make the listener feel welcome and safe, there are plenty of hand drums throughout. Nothing says, “Relax, everything is fine,” quite like the gentle pom-tom-pom of a conga, bongo, or djembe. Laura, as the sunflower, makes light of an all-too-familiar apocalyptic threat in a manner that eases the audience past acceptance of the scenario and straight into enjoying their part in the end of the world. There’s no real negativity to bring the listener down, either, as she sings that “we don’t like zombies” and “we don’t want zombies on our lawn.” It’s as though the zombies are the drunk neighbors that embarrass themselves every year at your block party.

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21 Responses to “Potted Dance”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    There’s butter on my head~

  2. Enkidum says:

    True story: after winning the game and watching this video a few times, my then 7-year-old son insisted that “cholesterol” is pronounced coal-est-tree-all. And used to get into tearful arguments with me about it.

    In short, kids are dumb.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      The one and only time I got into a spelling bee in grade school, I was so petrified of speaking in front of a large crowd that I screwed up on my first word, even though I knew how to spell it.

      That word was cholesterol.  They said I missed an “E”, but I’m pretty sure I just slurred T and E together speaking too fast.

      • apple_mummy says:

        What kind of jerk starts a kid off with “cholesterol”, anyway?

      • Andy Tuttle says:

        You shouldn’t have had all those shots before the spelling bee started.

      • Uncle Roundy says:

        In one of my school’s spelling bees, one guy got up there and his word was “argument”. He didn’t think going into it and just started right off with the R. The most brilliant part though, was not that he realized immediately that he’d screwed up, but the sublime fuck-it attitude that just instantaneously washed over him. He didn’t even bother finishing the word, he was like “R … argument”. One of my most favorite memories of middle school. I was a poncey annoying little know-it-all for most of my youth, and I remember being so envious of his ability to do something so incredibly wrong and just be so okay with it. Hilarious to reminisce about with schoolmates even now.

  3. SamPlays says:

    We’re so inundated with zombies in pop culture that they’re no longer creepy. Every zombie story, whether it’s a movie, TV show or video game, would become even better if the soundtrack was composed entirely of instrumental surf music. 

    • Better yet, Stubbs The Zombie‘s soundtrack of indie bands covering 50s and 60s pop songs, which came out in 2005 and inexplicably disappeared into obscurity rather than starting a new revolution in game soundtracks.

      • SamPlays says:

        Very nice. I like the Raveonette’s cover of “My Boyfriend’s Back” (one of the great pop songs to begin with so how can you go wrong?) but I have to stick with the version of “Earth Angel” by Marvin Berry and the Starlighters with Marty McFly on rhythm guitar.

      • SamPlays says:

        Oh, and this entire discussion about monsters reminds me of this free album download from the Adult Swim music site… http://video.adultswim.com/promotions/201305_garageswim/

      • Andy Tuttle says:

        Oh my gosh, thank you so much for the link, I had no idea this existed. I was able to get a copy of the CD on Amazon for 98 cents!

    • Bureaupath says:

      Yeah, surf music worked very well with Atom Zombie Smasher. Especially since in that game, it’s about directing waves of zombies instead of trying to kill them all.

  4. DrFlimFlam says:

    The game of course is great, and the music  throughout is as Derrick has described here; fin, playful, slight tone of creeping dread. It mostly hangs out in the background, but then you beat the game and “There are zombies on your laaawww-haaaan.”

  5. Andy Tuttle says:

    I can’t believe that game came out four years ago! Man, time flies.

  6. Chalkdust says:

    In World of Warcraft, for the third expansion (Cataclysm), a series of quests was added to the Hillsbrad Foothills zone, which is basically a direct injection of Plants vs. Zombies (PopCap even helped with implementing it).  Upon completing this chain, players are awarded with a Singing Sunflower that hums and sings a few verses of the above song (specially recorded material from Laura Shigihara!)