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April 24, 2021

The Best Mortal Kombat Songs from the Games and Movies

By DJ Pangburn 13 min read

Mortal Kombat, like any iconic arcade and video game series, features some equally memorable tunes. The music, written by a range of composers throughout the years, covers not only the game’s arcade and console titles but the film franchise as well.

Whatever the medium, the Mortal Kombat soundtracks are known for a combination of pulsating techno rhythms, heavy metal shredding, industrial noise and foreboding Electronic sounds that wouldn’t feel out of place on a 1980s thriller. In short, the series has something for everyone. 

With the release of the new Mortal Kombat film, we thought it would be a good idea to return to some of the great tracks to appear on Mortal Kombat titles.

Songs that you can hear on the arcade, console games and films, from original compositions to licensed songs from major artists. And be sure to check out the epic songs inspired by the original video game in our Mortal Kombat collection.

Songs from the Mortal Kombat games

There are dozens of Mortal Kombat games, so we’ve assembled some select tracks from across the series to save time. Each fan no doubt has their favorites, and this is all up for debate, but these tracks certainly stand out. 

Mortal Kombat (1992 ) - Player Select Screen

To those who played the first game back in the 1990s, this track will be instantly identifiable. It’s the memorable background music to the screen where players select their character. 

Mortal Kombat II - Friendship 3 (Shang Tsung's Rainbow)

A short musical cue instead of a full song/theme, 'Friendship 3 (Shang Tsung’s Rainbow) is an oddity in the Mortal Kombat series, like all the other 'Friendship' themes, and that’s what makes it great. It sounds like it should be in a Final Fantasy or Legend of Zelda game instead of Mortal Kombat, with its upbeat ambient textures and sampled harp arpeggio. 

Sky Temple – Mortal Kombat: Deception/Armageddon

'Sky Temple' is a Mortal Kombat theme that matches its bombastic subtitle—Armageddon. It’s tribal, atmospheric and immersively apocalyptic in flavor. 

Graveyard - Mortal Kombat Trilogy

With its gated drums, electro-influenced bassline and sci-fi-themed synth leads, 'Graveyard' sounds less like horror music and more like something from the sci-fi cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Even so, it’s one of the better-produced tracks in the Mortal Kombat soundtrack lineup. 

Courtyard - Mortal Kombat Trilogy

Like the 'Graveyard' musical cue, 'Courtyard' has a distinctly 1980s-meets-1990s game soundtrack vibe. A sort of 8-bit meets 16-bit, if you will. 

Mortal Kombat: The Album

In 1994, Virgin Records released Mortal Kombat: The Album as a tie-in to the console games. Written and produced by The Immortals (Maurice 'Praga Khan' Engelen and Oliver Adams, from the electronica group Lords of Acid), it’s full of high octane, over-the-top techno. Each of the playable characters got their own techno tracks, with the Immortals throwing in another 2 songs for your listening pleasure. 

The Immortals - Techno Syndrome (1994)

This track is largely synonymous with the franchise. A voice names characters and another yells 'Mortal Kombat!' repeatedly, all amidst the big beat and synth sequences. While written for The Immortals album, it can also be heard throughout the films, including as a remixed version on the franchise’s latest cinematic entry. 

The Immortals - Scorpion (Lost Soul Bent on Revenge)

The Immortals almost outdid themselves on this track. If only they’d shown a bit more restraint. It starts with some fantastic Ambient synths floating atop a drum ‘n bass beat, but all too soon switches into trancey arpeggios and questionable vocals that nearly torpedo the track. However, The Immortals redeem themselves with an excursion into drill ‘n bass before pivoting back into the song’s opening moments. 

Songs from the movies

Mortal Kombat(1995)

Like pretty much any blockbuster, especially from the 1990s, the music in the original Mortal Kombat movie is a bit of a mixed bag. Stylistically, it’s all over the place, from the soundtrack tunes to the original music. Industrial rock sits alongside rave music and heavy metal. Nevertheless, there are some real gems on it. 

Orbital - 'Halcyon On and On'

Few songs in electronic music are as iconic as UK techno duo Orbital’s 'Halcyon On and On’. A highly cathartic and gorgeous 1990s rave anthem, it was a strange inclusion in the original Mortal Kombat movie. But for many kids who grew up in the 90s, it was one of their first doorways into dance music. Orbital’s tune plays at the ending of the film when [SPOILER ALERT] Liu Kang wins and says goodbye to his brother’s spirit. 

KMFDM - 'Juke-Joint Jezebel (Giorgio Moroder Metropolis Mix)'

To prove the movie’s versatile soundtrack, look no further than KMFDM’s 'Juke Joint Jezebel.' However, this isn’t the original cut but a remix by electronic music pioneer and movie soundtrack legend Giorgio Moroder, who reinterprets KMFDM’s industrial rock into a much dancier affair. 

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Many of the artists that appeared on the original soundtrack pop up again on the sequel’s soundtrack—like KMDFM, techno group Psychosonik, and Belgian electronic group The Immortals. While the songs are not as memorable as Orbital’s 'Halycon On and On' (how could they be?), there are a few choice cuts on the Annihilation soundtrack. 

Future Sound of London - 'We Have Explosive (Radio Edit)'

Future Sound of London have always been one of the more adventurous electronic groups, synthesizing different cultures’ sounds into their unique brand of IDM. On 'We Have Explosive (Radio Edit),' FSOL gives the Mortal Kombat franchise perhaps its most experimental sonic moment. 

Psykosonik - 'Panik Control'

On 'Panik Control,' American techno group Psykosonik gave Mortal Kombat: Annihilation the type of loud, up-tempo Electronic tune the series demanded. It synthesized the then-popular Big Beat sound (The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers) with acid basslines. What it lacks in subtlety it more than makes up for in chutzpah. 

Mortal Kombat (2021)

For the latest installment of the franchise, the filmmakers brought in Hanz Zimmer’s co-composer, Benjamin Wallfisch, who helped with the fantastic Blade Runner 2049 score. There are some techno numbers on this soundtrack, but also moments where Wallfisch showcases his more subtle compositional talents. 

Benjamin Wallfisch - Hanzo Hasashi

This is one of those subtle yet complex numbers that one expects from Wallfisch. Written for the backstory of Scorpion (Hanzo Hasashi), it’s an Electronic and Classical medley. As such, it is moving and diverse in its sounds and musical themes. 

Benjamin Wallfisch - Bi-Han

A theme for Bi-Han (Noob Saibot), this theme is a tonal and textural callback to Wallfisch’s work with Zimmer on the Blade Runner 2049. Here he combines that soundtrack’s various drones and atonal elements with orchestral swells, tribal beats, and warped synth arpeggios. A really impressive track.  

The Sounds of Mortal Kombat

Looking back at Mortal Kombat, its many soundtracks are notable for fusing various genres into high-octane rhythms, often with foreboding atmospheres. Industrial, techno, 16-bit era sounds, heavy metal, and even 1980s-Esque horror/thriller soundtrack cues all take their turn amidst the deadly hand-to-hand combat. 

If you’re looking for similar sounds for your short film, video game, or another project, check out our Mortal Kombat collection. These tracks comprise an epic collection inspired by the original video game.

 

About DJ

DJ Pangburn is a New York-based journalist, videographer, and fiction writer, with bylines at ViceFast CompanyDazed and Confused, and other publications. DJ records ambient techno and IDM under the name Holoscene.