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RWBY’s music is perhaps one of the most celebrated parts of the series whether somebody enjoys the series, hates it, likes it but recognizes its flaws, or something else. One of the first things to happen after a new volume ends is people ask when the soundtrack is coming out. It seems like almost everyone in the fandom (and a lot even in the hatedom) look forward to it.
Every song has people enjoy it or dislike it. What can be powerful and impactful to one person may just be a bop or a jam to someone else.
However, there are two (arguably three) songs that stand out above the rest. Perhaps not necessarily in quality but in content. They are Cold from Volume 3, Let’s Just Live from Volume 4, and Indomitable from Volume 6.
These are the legacy songs dedicated in loving memory to Monty Oum, the series creator who unfortunately passed away between Volumes 2 and 3. Each captures a moment in time of the process at least Jeff and perhaps the rest of CRWBY were going through.
Cold is the first of these legacy songs, the last of the non-remix/acoustic tracks for V3. It’s a slow, somber piano melody that captures the sorrow that captures the loss of Monty. It speaks to how lost and afraid everyone felt without his direction. Before Volume 3 came out, they weren’t sure if they should continue the series or not. But, in the end, they did so. Like the lyrics state: “But your star’s still in the sky / So I won’t say goodbye / I don’t have to say goodbye.”
Let’s Just Live is the second legacy song and is the opening theme for Volume 4. It fits the tone of the volume perfectly and it gives a bit of insight into how they felt behind the scenes. The song is all about being able to keep moving forward (Monty’s mantra) but being afraid of doing so. But, despite that fear, you shouldn’t let it hold you down and. You need to embrace the current moment and just love life. It’s a song of healing but uncertainty and trying to find the right way after losing almost everything. You have to Move Onward (even if you’re) Not There Yet.
Indomitable is the last of the legacy songs (at least until the V7 soundtrack comes out?) and, to me, it is the crowning jewel of songs in the series. This song throws away all pretenses of alluding to things that happen in the series and just goes all out in remembering Monty. The entire song was a tribute to his famous quote:
“I believe that the human spirit is indomitable. If you endeavor to achieve, it will happen given enough resolve. It may not be immediate, and often your greater dreams are something you will not achieve within your own lifetime. The effort you put forth to anything transcends yourself, for there is no futility even in death.”
It starts off with a slow gospel feel and slowly builds up to a peak before pulling back several times. It’s massively inspirational, talking about how you shouldn’t stop no matter how hard things get. Even in your darkest hour, you still have the power to make things better. The strongest part of the song is the bridge (probably the wrong term, I don’t know much lyrical terminology) between Verse 3 and the final chorus. Just hearing the emotion in Casey’s voice about how unfair losing him still gets to me sometimes almost a year later.
As stated earlier, these songs seem to chart a pretty good course of how CRWBY felt. During Volume 3, things were at their lowest because they weren’t sure what to do. During Volume 4, they were still figuring things out especially while working with Maya. They were healing and making their way the best they could, learning to love things again. Volume 6 is their triumph, returning stronger than ever especially after the disaster that was Volume 5. They know that, even without Monty, they can keep pushing forward and continue trying to improve. They’re still hurting deep down and will always miss him, but they have the confidence to try their best.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things I found when listening to the songs was how much Indomitable is a direct response to Cold down to its very structure.
Obviously these are my own thoughts and observations, not necessarily the true intent.
When one lines up the first two verses of Cold and Indomitable (with a little bit of finagling), it’s honestly startling how much Indomitable echoes Cold. Obviously, Jeff has a pretty specific style of writing songs and there are many established conventions. But, in the case of these two songs, it feels like it might have been intentional.
The first verse of each song is comprised of three stanzas followed by the first repetition of the chorus. The second verse of each contains four stanzas followed by the last/next repetition of the chorus. Each stanza does have a different line length per song, but the general structure for each of them is the exact same.
However, it gets most interesting when you look at the lyrics side by side.
[Image description: A two-columned table with the lyrics for Cold on the left and Indomitable on the right. It goes up to the first use of the chorus. (I apologize to any TTS users; this is just too much text to put into an image caption. It’s over a dozen lines of lyrics for each song.)]
There isn’t much to say about the first stanza as they don’t really have any points about each other. However, Stanzas 1 and 2 in Indomitable go more into the creative process behind RWBY, echoing Stanza 2 in Cold. Together, they shed some light on each other, especially with a bit more context. Monty obviously had a lot of confidence in what he did and poured his entire heart and soul into his projects. That sort of confidence and passion can fan the flames in other people. Even if they’re uncertain about things themselves, others believing in them can help things happen. Stanza 3 of Indomitable bleeds over into this sentiment as well, showing that Monty’s strength of spirit was what encouraged them to keep going.
But Stanza 3 of Indomitable does seem to be a distinct response 3 of Cold. Even though he died, the strength of Monty’s spirit taught so many people how to keep moving forward. They didn’t realize it at the time, but it did happen.
And that rolls us into the first appearance of the choruses. Cold, of course, talks about how disabling losing Monty was. It felt like the world had ended and it’d never get better. They didn’t know what to do next, but there was one tiny glimmer of hope: continuing to work on the series in his memory.
Indomitable shows what 3-4 years can do to change perspective and, like Salem in the opening V1 narration echoes, “even the smallest spark of hope is enough to ignite change.” Indomitable speaks to how that tiny glimmer of hope of not having to say goodbye to the series helped a lot. No longer does it feel like things are ending, but the future is brighter than ever. The strength that Monty gave him while he was alive continues on and lives inside everyone.
Onto Verse 2.
[Image description: Cold lyrics on left, Indomitable on right. It covers Verse 2 and the chorus of each song. Cold ends though Indomitable continues out of the image. The first line of Indomitable’s bridge can be seen, cut off at the bottom: “Don’t be afraid.”]
I do find Stanzas one for both kinds of interesting. They have the exact same number of lines. Most of the stuff isn’t directly in my interpretation, but indirect. Sometimes you’ll join a group of people and it’s a singular dream that pulls you together. Even if that dream is huge, working little by little can make it a reality. You now belong in that place and have a direction.
Stanzas 2 is where I feel like my theory of Indomitable being a direct response to Cold has serious validity. Like seriously. It’s almost basically the same idea but in different wording. There’s not a whole lot I can say here to try to expand on it. It’s just…so straightforward.
Stanzas 3, again, feels like a direct response here. Once again it talks about the little spark of hope that’s there even though it feels impossible to keep going forward. However, in Indomitable, they’re going to carry that torch of hope. What felt like an almost insurmountable challenge was overcome and more than they possibly ever might’ve dreamed in that initial aftermath. Even though Monty’s gone, his dream and light aren’t. They continue to burn brightly in the hearts of those working on the show. They recognize that Monty wasn’t going to live forever, but his spirit will due to his creation.
And, once again, we find ourselves at the chorus.
The thing I find kind of cool is that this is where Cold ends, yet Indomitable continues on. I don’t know if it was intentional to make Indomitable longer than Cold, but it just almost feels symbolic. Cold is a short song that’s to the point. It’s straightforward in its message and feelings. It doesn’t need to be longer than it is.
Indomitable, however, is a decent length longer and goes on to try to inspire the listener.
“Don’t be afraid!
Get up, get going, a step everyday
I’ll meet you there.
When we strive, we transcend
Even death cannot end our climb”
Of course, the “Get up, get going” part is a reference to one of Monty’s tweets:
[Image description: A white background with a singular highlighted tweet. It’s Monty’s Twitter account, the tweet saying, “We are never fighting alone. Get up, get going, I’ll meet you there.” Dated 12:30 AM Aug 20, 2013]
I can imagine that Jeff and other members of CRWBY have had to repeat similar things to themselves so they can keep going. But I do like to think this song is also for the listeners. I detailed how this song and others saved me from myself in another article. This song is something that can hit all creators deeply. Whether drawing, writing, sculpting, performance art, or whatever other medium use you choose, this is a message to never stop creating. You may go through slumps, but the power is inside of you to get through it. It may be hard now but the light will come again.
And that’s the legacy that Monty’s left us with.
No matter how dark or difficult things are, you can keep moving forward. It may not be easy, but you can.
The human spirit is indomitable and will never stop burning unless you let your light go out.
Something I’ve always been was the one who went against the grain and was always weird and obscure throughout my life, and nothing interests me more than obscurity in technology like computers and forgotten consoles, but the most obscure thing is usually music. Music in the modern era has been a primary thing we always listen to on a daily basis, really since the Sony Walkman was released in 1979, we could finally bring albums and our own mixtapes on the go with a friend or two and even on the road on the way to the mall or the beach, and music has always been ingrained in culture and society in some way. But sometimes, songs get lost in time, never released, or are completely lost in mystery, with no one knowing who wrote it, who the band is, or even anything about the band members who contributed to the making of the music. Now even though I love Vaporwave and it’s possibly the most obscure music genre to exist that isn’t Noise Punk, No Wave or just general Noise, but nothing is more obscure than a song no one knows the name to. But what if the band was unknown, the people who published the song are unknown, the song isn’t copyrighted, the song’s lyrics are somewhat unintelligible, and doesn’t have an official title?
This is easily one of the biggest internet mysteries that are on the level of the Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion incident that happened in 1987, and this song is easily the biggest music mystery on the internet.
This is the curious case of The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet. Also known unofficially as: Like The Wind.
The 1980s was an explosion period of culture and progressing technology especially since the radio was actually still relevant in the 80s, actually being far more relevant during this time with the explosion of so many genres to exist like Punk, Prog Rock, Hair Rock/Hair Metal, Thrash Metal, Grunge… unfortunately, and a genre that would actually be somewhat of the opposite of Punk, New Wave, which is the genre of the song we’re talking about today. The radio was the main way to get yourself some sort of exposure for your band if you were an up and coming band from the underground, and if your song got on the radio, you pretty much were gonna get somewhere from it. However, it was a bit different in Europe, specifically in Germany, where this song was originally aired for the first time.
Germany was in really bad shape in the 80s as the Cold War was still going on and a divided Germany still existed, with Berlin still in severe division with the Berlin Wall still up and running, and tensions were really high in the 80s. Luckily this story starts in Hamburg in West Germany, so no sadness from this. The largest radio station in Hamburg was and still is known as Norddeutscher Rundfunk or in English, Northern German Broadcasting but we will go with the official abbreviation of NDR. The NDR is easily the largest radio station in Hamburg, and it’s a member of the ARD, which if you’re wondering what ARD stands for, strap in, because this name is longer than the I-95 highway. The ARD stands for: Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland or in English, The Working group of public broadcasters of the Federal Republic of Germany.
It’s about time one of my articles has a bit of filler, and the one time where I might have to ask Dr. Steven Landser, one of the writers of AAOG, why German words are so long. Also this is your German lesson folks.
In 1981, NDR had a program called “Musik für junge Leute” or in English, Music for Young People, and the host of the show was a Manchester man called Paul Baskerville, and unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information on this radio program but from YouTube videos like the two from YouTuber, Justin Whang who has been keeping a close eye on any progressing mystery on the internet, as well as a dedicated group of people on Reddit have been on the hunt to find out the whereabouts of this song.
Here are the links to both of Justin’s videos he’s made on this mystery, as he has a lot more detail to this mystery, and my inspiration to make this article came from these two videos.
I stumbled across this mystery after I had a sudden flashback of a bass that I’ve been wanting since I was 16, and it was one of the first instances that my music teacher realized that I had a very creative mind that probably didn’t have limits. This bass was the Ibanez SRKP4 and after seeing a few videos of people demoing the bass, there was this man who had this bass, and was covering a song called “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet” and I was intrigued, and low and behold, I fell into a rabbit hole that keeps me up at night. After discovering this song, and also finding a version of “Pumped Up Kicks” where the guitar and whistling was a bit more prominent and the pitch was shifted down three semitones to the point it sounded like a Gorillaz song, the next thing in my recommendation was just theories up the wazoo about this song, specifically from Justin Whang. And in case you were curious, which at this point you’ve made it this far in the article, what the song sounds like, I will now provide two links to the song, one that is the original recording of the song from the German radio station when it played, and the second that is a full remaster of the song.
Words really can’t describe how much of a mystery this song truly is, and it doesn’t help much that this song has a somewhat eerie feeling to it, to the point that it sounds like a song playing to the end credits of a movie that had a shocking end to it leaving you to wonder what the actual hell happened as this song plays while the credits roll. Unsurprisingly, the comment section in the original video has been a gold mine of theories and jokes about the song, most notably the pinned comment saying “When the internet dies, this will be in the credits” or another comment saying this is something you’d hear from a post-apocalyptic world. I want this song in the next Fallout game now, and I want it when Fallout is actually decent.
This is a mystery for the ages and this is a mystery that makes me foam at the mouth because I want to know who was behind this song, especially since this song has been actively sought upon since 2006 and it hasn’t been solved since, with the fact that it’s been unknown for as long as nearly 40 years and while the internet has scratched the surface on the investigation of this song, it’s gonna be a long time until we finally solve this case. At this rate, we don’t know what the circumstances are as multiple theories have been thrown around like the Mandela Effect, where people have heard the song before, but don’t know who the band is or who wrote it or what the title song is, the parallel universe theory where the radio waves of a parallel universe got mixed with ours and that song aired or the song exists in another universe where it’s a very well known song, but in our universe, the song is completely unknown or similar to The Beatles still existing in another universe where Lennon and George Harrison didn’t die and the band were still together and had an album called Everyday Chemistry, this, however, has debunkings, but I’ll leave that up for debate as that’s something I’m not 100% sure of, and the last theory is that this is what Area 51 is hiding from us, which is interesting timing since the raid happened in September, and the full song was finally discovered and released onto YouTube two months before the raid. That could be a possibility.
Internet mysteries will forever be a thing we have to deal with one way or another, but when there’s a mystery that’s music-related and literally nothing is known about the song, you can’t help but want to contribute something to solve this mystery or just hope that it gets solved soon. Most mysteries are solved, while some will never be solved for as long as we live, but these are the mysteries we shouldn’t give up on because if we give up, like the wind, it’ll be gone like there’s no tomorrow. So for the people who are searching for the answers to this mystery, don’t give up, or the sun won’t ever shine.
Note: This is a personal article and includes themes of mental illness, identity struggle, and other kinds of heavy topics. If you’re sensitive to these sorts of things, this may not be the article for you.
RWBY is a fandom divided into innumerable factions. Almost anything you say will generally be met with vehement disagreement at best and outright vitriol and even death threats at worst.
However, there is one thing even many of the most ardent of haters and even the most deeply in love with the series can agree on: the music is freaking fantastic and the best part of the series. I’m sure there will be people out there that do disagree, but it’s one of the few things most people can seem to agree on.
And, for me, that music has led me on a personal journey that I never imagined it would.
This is my journey with the series and why it means so much to me.
I was a long-time Tumblr user and, after Volumes 1 and 2 came out, I was aware of the series existing. It was obviously very popular at the time and it was to the point I had to put the RWBY tag into my blacklist just from seeing it everywhere. I didn’t hate the series; it was just a bit of overexposure making it a little annoying to see.
However, there was one night between Volumes 2 and 3 where I hadn’t slept very well (maybe, like, four hours). When I get like this, usually only one thing can hold my attention. And finding that thing can be very, very hard. However, one of my best friends suggested I check out this series called “RWBY.”
“Oh, yeah, it’s pretty short, shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon,” he said.
I watched them and, yeah, I liked it. I didn’t find it to hook and reel me in like so many other series, but I liked it well enough.
During that time, I was vaguely aware of people talking about the creator, Monty, passing away.
“Oh, that’s kinda sad,” said past me before moving on and not being affected whatsoever.
The next three volumes roll around and I watch them casually, following week to week. I wasn’t super invested, but, as said, it was a series I liked well enough.
So how did I go from “liking it well enough” to writing exhaustive analytical essays on Yang’s PTSD?
Three words: Path to Isolation.
I don’t remember how or why, but I rewatched the V5 Weiss character short and the vocal track actually caught my attention at that time. It…it hit me pretty close to home in a big way. I’ve struggled with a lot of identity issues. From being possibly bi or gay to being nonbinary to struggling with religion due to those and other things, that song hit me so hard. I’d used Reflection from Mulan as my own personal anthem for years at that point. It was the song I held closest to my heart because it just followed my own personal journey.
And then I learned there were full soundtracks.
My descent into RWBY hell had begun.
I ate up the rest of the soundtracks while waiting for the release of the V5 one with bated breath. I needed Path to Isolation in full and, well, it didn’t disappoint when I did finally hear it.
However, while listening to the rest of the songs, the rest of Weiss’ hit me even harder. Each and every one of her songs followed my own personal journey with identity. I learned to sing them. I poured my heart and soul into them along with the vast majority of RWBY’s other songs. They came to mean the world to me.
In March of 2018, I finally decided to jump into writing the canon RWBY characters. I started with Weiss in an RP that now surpasses 100,000 words. I couldn’t get enough of writing these characters. My main partner and I came up with AU after AU after AU for them (and still do), AUs we love, AUs that make us cry, ones that make us laugh. There’s always some part that makes us cry, but we still have fun even through the pain.
I started writing fanfiction, slowly building my own take on the universe piece by piece. I posted something every week for months. I even started an Instagram to promote my fics there.
However, things came to a screeching halt just a couple of months later in the summer. I was at my dojo and did a backwards roll, smacking the bottom of my mat shoe into my right wrist. For the next week or so, it hurt pretty badly and I wore my brace to make it feel not quite as bad.
To stop for just one moment, let me explain something. I’m a very traditional sort of author. I write all of my stories by hand, then type them. It’s a tedious process, but it’s just how I’ve done things for twenty years and continue to do so. However, this caused me to develop tendonitis in my right arm. It was annoying as I had to wear the aforementioned brace, but it wasn’t debilitating.
However, when the pain continued on for that week, it was obvious something had happened. I had an x-ray taken at urgent care and I had actually manages to break off a chip of bone from the sheer force of my kick. It meant I couldn’t write by hand.
And that started one of the worst downward spirals of depression in my life.
I stagnated for basically the next year. I didn’t move up from my red belt in my dojo. Our testing cycle for a new belt is two months. I started struggling in school. I took an Incomplete in one of the classes I need for my major.
I gave up on writing fanfics, the thing that brings me the most joy, the thing that is my identity and how I make sense of the world. However, I did keep roleplaying which helped keep me doing some sort of writing. I continued listening to the music, continued committing the songs to heart. Songs like Path to Isolation and All That Matters gave me solace in the darkness of my mind.
And then, the last chapter of Volume 6 rolled around.
Once again, I found myself waiting with bated breath for a song from the volume—this time, Indomitable. It was only a thirty second clip, but just from the way things were written, I knew it’d be something special. I listened to that one clip so many times I had it memorised down to the instrumentation.
And in June of last year, it came out and anybody that knows the fandom…there was not a goddamn dry eye when they listened to that song. It took me about three listens to fully understand the lyrics, but when I did, I bawled like a baby. Within twelve hours of the release, I was able to sing along with transcribed lyrics pretty well.
That song literally saved me from myself.
It made me remember that only I could create my own future, only I could push myself forward. People like my teachers at my dojo and my family could support me, but it was only through my own efforts that I could move forward.
I applied myself at my dojo and moved up the next two belts until I got to Level 3.
I started focusing in on the research for a massive RWBY AU I love. I didn’t start actually writing again, but I at least started on something related to fic again.
I got back into school and enjoyed the fall 2019 semester so much.
My life felt so much brighter and I had home again, a hope that had eluded me for over a year.
Why didn’t I start writing fic again after that?
Anxiety and perfectionism.
I have very high standards for myself with my writing and, after so long, I knew I wouldn’t live up to them. I knew it’d be awful so I just keep putting it off and putting it off. I didn’t want to disappoint my readers. I didn’t want to disappoint myself.
But, because of the quarantine, I’ve had literally no excuse to not write. And so I’ve been doing that. My writing is about as bad as I thought it’d be, but you know what? That’s okay. You sometimes just have to be a beginner again and give yourself permission to be horrible. Just learning to enjoy the act of creation again took a few weeks, but I’m there again now. I look forward to writing on my specialty tablet and seeing where the story I’m working on now (a Snowbird fic) will take me. I want to see what will happen to Winter and Qrow next. I want to know how he’ll gain her trust. My prose skills will return in time.
Unfortunately, that’s just been in the past couple of weeks. I did have a breakdown about a month ago where I just gave into the doubt and anxiety. I didn’t want to be a subpar writer when I know I can be so much more. It was one of my lowest periods since I started to feel so much better.
I was heading to work and put on my long playlist (800+ entries) and the third song on it was Indomitable. Once again, the song that brought me out of my depression was there for me. So, after that, I put on my “Inspiration” playlist at work (I clean buildings) which includes songs like Rising, Let’s Just Live, Armed and Ready, and others to remind me that I control my destiny, I choose to move forward with things and that I shouldn’t be held down even by myself.
I can honestly never, ever thank Jeff and Casey Lee Williams enough for this fantastic music. It’s touched the hearts of myself and my others deeply, in ways both tangible and intangible. Even if all of the songs don’t resonate, those that do have struck a chord deep in my heart that will reverberate for the rest of my life.