The Music of Borderlands: Ranked
One of the absolute best things about the Borderlands franchise has always been the music. Starting with the first game's intro cinematic, the series has used music to help set the mood. When Telltale brought us the Tales from The Borderlands, they also brought the music. Each episode brought a unique part of the story, and with it came a fitting song to help put you in the right mental place.
We’ve ranked the music of Borderlands (so far), limiting our options to songs used as either introductions, or end credit sequences. This leaves us with 12 songs between the three proper Gearbox/2K titles and the five episodes from Tales.
Let the countdown begin...
12. Black Dragon (The Vines)
While I don’t actually consider any of the songs on this list to be bad, Black Dragon is the one that really confuses me. To whatever degree the songs on this list have anything in common, this is the one that feels the least cohesive. Used as the opening song for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, nothing else in the franchise is quite so hard driving. While that might make it a favorite for many people, it’s the thing that puts it at the bottom of the list for me.
11. No Heaven (DJ Champion)
The song that concluded the first Borderlands experience was something of a let down after the song that had brought us into the game (more on that later). It’s also a bit outside what I would call the usual Borderlands sound. While it feels cruel to penalize the song for that, considering there really was no “sound” to the series yet at the end of the first game, we have to make our determinations somehow.
10. Pieces of the People We Love (The Rapture)
From about this point on it would be easiest thing in the world to just say, “this song is great, but the next one is just that much better." Smack in the middle of Tales from the Borderlands is this road trip song. It’s not a bad song for a road trip. It’s a fun little tune to listen to and enjoy, but on a Borderlands playlist you’ll find yourself waiting for the tune to wrap up so you can enjoy something you like a little better.
9. My Silver Lining (First Aid Kit)
The song that wrapped up the Tales from the Borderlands series says everything it needs to. It’s a song that signals the end of a story while giving the distinct impression that there’s another adventure somewhere down the road.
8. To The Top (Twin Shadow)
The opening credit sequence for Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4 happens comparatively late in the game. It waits for the right moment to give you the biggest possible impact. To the Top’s powerful vocals build up toward lift off just the game does, and when the characters begin to soar, so does the song.
7. Retrograde (James Blake)
The final episode of Tales from The Borderlands opens differently than any other. The music begins to play before the gameplay sequence ends. It begins to build as you prepare for a moment, which, you can tell from the music, is not going to go well. It sets the mood perfectly to start you on the home stretch of the game.
6. What Makes a Good Man? (The Heavy)
If Gearbox had a house band it would be The Heavy. The band has three songs on this list and they’re all great. While the beginning of The Pre-Sequel may not have struck the right chord, the game ends in exactly the right place. Who is Handsome Jack? Hero or Villain? After all, what makes a good man?
5. Busy Earnin' (Jungle)
Nobody knew what to expect from the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands. How would the Gearbox FPS translate to a Telltale episodic story? It was really the opening credit sequence that gave us the answer. Jungle’s Busy Earnin’ building in the background while one Pandoran scavenger puts a bullet in the head of another, right before a car gets dropped on him. Everything looked right, and with the music everything sounded right too.
4. Ain't No Rest for the Wicked (Cage the Elephant)
The song that started it all. It’s become an official Gearbox theme song of sorts and it’s still one of the best tunes in the history of the series. It sets the standard by which everything on this list is judged, and while a few songs have actually surpassed it, all owe it for inspiration.
3. Kiss the Sky (Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra feat. Nino Mochella)
While the first episode of Tales may have reassured fans that they were getting an authentic Borderlands experience, it was this moment when I realized this was going to be a great game, period. Everything appears to be heading in one direction when things are literally stopped in their tracks. Time slows down, leaving the player to listen to the music and wonder where it will all go next.
2. Short Change Hero (The Heavy)
“Ain’t no place for no hero” may be the greatest possible phrase to sum up the Borderlands. The Heavy’s opening to Borderlands 2 is one of the more chilled out tunes on this list, but somehow it fits perfectly with the introduction of four violent Vault Hunters.
1.How You Like Me Now? (The Heavy)
The only thing better than the way Borderlands 2 starts is how it ends. After the epic battle with the Warrior at the end of Borderlands 2 you likely felt like the toughest S.O.B. on Pandora. What else is there to say at that point other than: How You Like Me Now?
Do you agree with our ranking? Of course you don't. Let us know in the comments!