I posted the best ten, but when I was coming up with the list, I did a mistake, and because of that instead of ten I got eleven. Hope it's readable enough!
The best/characteristic track of the album is in the brackets.
1. Persona 3 Portable Original Soundtrack ("Time")
I echo Cedille's sentiments, but on top of that the album really connects with me for some reason. It's a nostalgic trip back to Persona 3, and at the same time there's a sense of intimacy I feel with the album. Really hard to describe. Even if you don't have the same pull as me, it's still a very good album featuring Meguro, while keeping it safe, having fun to the fullest. If it wasn't for the short duration, I'd say it completely wipes the floor with P3 and P4, but alas, can't judge when it's very short compared to P3 & P4 OST's.
2. Shin Megami Tensei STRANGE JOURNEY Original Soundtrack ("Scepter of Justice")
When I first saw the trailer, I was immediately positive of the soundtrack, unlike every corner of the internet where people screamed because there were no electric guitars. It's cold, somewhat menacing, but there's touches of poignancy here and there. It's Meguro, people. I, for one, applaud Meguro for taking this direction.
3. Street Fighter IV Original Soundtrack ("Overpass Stage -Tokyo-")
To be perfectly honest, I've never been a fan of Street Fighter, game or music-wise. But this soundtrack puts a new coat of paint, paint made of fast-paced electronic beats infused with excellent synthwork. The original tracks are clearly the winners here, even though the arrangements are no slouch either, it's just that the originals weren't THAT good to begin with. Have to admit that Fukasawa's rendition of Guile's Theme really shines, though. Fukasawa shows promise!
4. Persona Original Soundtrack CD ("Sebec")
Oh, what a sad fanboy I am. It is one of the weakest efforts by him, but still manages to grip me. The thing that hurts it the most is the awkward choice to keep both old and new, yet doing that such way that neither of them is really good. It's like a woman who has found a new partner, yet clings to her ex. But as I said somewhere in the other thread, even Meguro's weakest work is awesome. The new tracks are pretty good, and as a stand-alone it's much more pleasant than in-game. The arrangements are a bit hit and miss, though. Deva Yuga is a mess, Persona isn't as dramatic. Fortunately, the new stuff ("Sebec" amends the negative points) is good enough for the album to reach the fourth place.
5. Planetary Pieces: Sonic World Adventure Original Soundtrack ("Super Sonic vs. Perfect Dark Gaia")
Again, I must begin how I'm not familiar with the series' music. But this is outstanding! World music, jazz, electronic, even a bit of rock, traditional orchestral = musical heaven. AND it's all very accessible. I think if I'm going to dive into the back catalog of Sonic music, the old classics have a serious contender as far as I'm concerned. All composers did their best on this one, that's for sure, because if you come up with three discs of music that keeps up the pace through the run, it has to be good.
6. 11eyes Original Sound Track & Arrange Sound Track ("Look, My Sword [Heart] Is As Yet Unbroken")
Talk about a surprise! I wasn't aware of the composer, but now I know that Shoichiro Sakamoto is a promising star in the VGM world. The original stuff combined with frantic arrangements = heaven. There's piano solos, extremely synthy rock, synthy pop songs. It doesn't stray far from the sound attributed to visual novel scene, but it's one of the more refined albums I've seen from that scene.
7. 7th Dragon Original Soundtrack ("Dungeon - Jungle Navigation")
The reason why I took notice of the soundtrack was because of the synth-rock goodness of "Battlefield - Swords Bursting", and while it was more of an exception than a rule, 7th Dragon still offered excellent chamber music imbued with ethnic touches. While many of the battle themes aren't as exciting, they transform into complete awesomeness in the chiptune versions. Yes, the last two disc feature chiptune renditions of the soundtrack. What's even better, both versions complement each other nicely and often convey different moods!
8. Demon's Souls Soundtrack CD ("Tower Knight")
Demon's Souls is an abstract beast. The reliance on few soulless instruments, somewhat campy "choir", lack of melodies. The ambiance the whole package creates is wonderful, and even better, it fits into the context. This has the potential to grow on me a lot!
9. Ryu ga Gotoku 3 Original Soundtrack ("Lyricism without tears")
"Cool". Yup, that's the best word for describing the series' music. It's aggressive, wicked and gritty. This music evokes images like someone's face kissing the asphalt, or Kazuma beating a thug with a baseball. Ryu ga Gotoku 3 injects some emotionality into series, as evidenced by the guitar solos. While Hidenori Shoji's contributions are top-grade material, I'm not so fond of the tracks other members bring to the table, and the arrangements of older tracks lack the punch (what did they to do End Point?). Still, with tracks like "Fly", "Pure Malice", "Lyricism without tears", it's one hell of a ride. I look forward to Ryu ga Gotoku 4.
10. Let's TAP SOUNDTRACK ("Milky Way Rendezvous")
It's party time! The reason why it's such an awesome album is because of Shoes and yam, the star composers of the album. They've composed one of the more memorable electronic tunes I've heard from VGM this year (take that, Cave arrange albums!). Not to mention Azusa Chiba whose sole contribution "Milky Way Rendezvous" made him one of my favourite artists right away. Too bad she's stuck in Basiscape.
11. Star Ocean The Last Hope Original Soundtrack ("Like The Wind")
I know it's regarded as Sakuraba on auto-pilot, but I still like it. It may have something to do with the fact that I'm unfamiliar with his previous works on Star Ocean, but the nice balance between orchestral and progressive rock won me over. While the dark bombastic choir pieces are the most forgettable of the bunch, I do enjoy a few of them, and the darker side of the soundtrack gives it a more distinctive flavour.
Oboro Muramasa & Crystal Chronicles are potential TOP candidates, too bad they were released in the end of the year, so I haven't had much time to digest them. Other good stuff:
Monster Hunter Tri ("Moonquake / Nabardeus")
While it didn't slip into my TOP, it's really a magnificent album. Maybe because I haven't had the time to listen to it closely, but the feel-good seaside tracks and majestic battle tracks are cut above your average RPG album.
Tales of Knighthood: Sonic and the Black Knight Original Soundtrax ("Misty Lake")
It's a good album, but can't contend with the heavy-hitter Planetary Pieces. I would've liked more tracks like "Misty Lake", "Blacksmith", hell, more violin in general, but both sides of the pond manage to create an enjoyable work.
Genso Suikoden Tierkreis Original Soundtrack ("The Plain and the Sky")
Overreliance on the main theme and many forgettable tracks is my main qualm about the soundtrack, but the main theme is pretty good, and Suikoden has always featured nice ethnic music (except for Suikoden III). I'm not digging the DS synth either. There's something about it that feels unnatural.
Silent Hill Shattered Memories ("Always On My Mind")
While "Always On My Mind" is jaw-droppingly good, the other McGlynn songs pale in comparison (Hell Frozen Rain has grown on me, that's true), and the original stuff, while improvement over the disappointment of Homecoming, doesn't leave a lasting impression. Yet again, this one's a potential growner, and may fare better in a future retrospective.
Tekken 6 Soundtrack ("G -Blast ver.")
The second CD doesn't do much for me, and it's too much of Basiscape doing it's own thing than keeping true to Tekken roots. The first disc has some rocking stuff. I just need to listen to this more for a final verdict, although I'm not sure it has the chance of infiltrating my TOP. Maybe if Go Shiina was the sole composer...
TOP 3 STINKERS:
No comments besides the fact that they're vomit-inducing or masterpieces of genericness.
1. Quantum of Solace Original Score From The Video Game
2. Shin Sangoku Musou Multi Raid Original Soundtrack
3. inFamous: Original Soundtrack from the Video Game
Other CDs good for frisbee: Megami Ibunroku Devil Survivor Original Remix Sound Track, Order of War Original Video Game Soundtrack, Gradius House Remix
What did you expect? I just love this guy, and he is only rivaled by kt2 in my opinion. Three albums, one of them a tad weak, but ultimately it was an excellent year to be a Shoji Meguro fan.
Go Shiina - I've heard only 4 tracks by him this year (Tales of VS., Tekken 6), but that was enough to give him the title of one of the best artists of the year.
Azusa Chiba - His "Milky Way Rendezvouz" was enough for me to add her to my favourites. Her contributions on Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu were excellent as well, too bad the other artists there weren't that great. Unfortunately, her small tracks on Tekken 6 fell into the "BASISCAPE" camp. Still, an awesome artist, and I hope she has a bigger breakthrough in the future.
Now for Last.fm statistics for this year:
The most listened artists:
1. Shoji Meguro
2. Hidehito Aoki, Kenichi Tsuchiya, Shoji Meguro, Misaki Okibe
3. Makoto Tomozawa, Akari Kaida, Masami Ueda
4. Motoi Sakuraba
5. Shinsekai Gakkyoku Zatsugidan
6. Hidenori Shoji
7. Nobuo Uematsu
8. Akira Yamaoka
9. Hideyuki Fukasawa
The most listened tracks:
1. The Final Battle
2. I'll Face Myself -Battle-
3. Battle for Survival
4. Kotowari Boss Battle
6. The Almighty
7. Battle for Everyone's Souls
9. When The Moon's Reaching Out The Stars
10. Signs of Love
The most listened albums:
1. Persona 4 Original Soundtrack
2. Persona: Be Your True Mind Original Soundtracks
3. DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA ~Avatar Tuner~ 1 & 2 Original Sound Track: Integral
4. Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon Soundtrack
5. Shin Megami Tensei III NOCTURNE Original Soundtrack
6. Persona 3 Original Soundtrack
7. Bio Hazard Sound Track Remix
8. Persona Original Soundtrack CD
9. Persona 3 Portable Original Soundtrack
10. The King of Fighters 94 Arrange Sound Trax