Good things come to those who wait. And by good things, I mean The Untamed
soundtrack which I finally got my hands on last month. Though well over half a year has passed since The Untamed
's broadcast in that summer of 2019, one simply does not forget about this drama. I could make a very long list of all the things great about this Chinese period fantasy series, and high up among those reasons would be the music.
The Untamed's beautiful score was created by composer and pianist Lin Hai who fuses classical Chinese instruments and traditional styles into an RPG-worthy collection of epic battle songs and delicate, evocative numbers. Notably, music itself plays a role in the story of The Untamed as both protagonists play instruments. Wei Wuxian brandishes the flute as a weapon whose notes control powers and minds, and Lan Wangji can use the guqin to attack, heal and communicate with spirits. Wei Wuxian's dark, eerie flute instrumental Yudi (Track 8) and Lan Wangji's guqin instrumentals Wangji (Track 4) and Qing Xin Yin (Track 9) are both on the tracklist, along with other atmospheric BGM. With or without the drama, The Untamed score can very much be enjoyed as simply a "Zhongguo feng" music album.
Of course, the most iconic song of the drama is Wuji ("The Untamed") which represents the protagonists' bond. Wuji appears multiple times in the soundtrack with the instrumental score version, a piano version and several theme song versions. I will never tire of listening to leads Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo's duet version (Track 1), the opening theme of the drama. This song has yet to leave my playlist since its release. Xiao Zhan's rich tone and Wang Yibo's gentle vocals complement each other perfectly, and the song itself wonderfully merges traditional instrumentation, a catchy melody and stirring lyrics referencing the characters' story. Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo also both sing solo versions of the song (with the same arrangement as the duet version), and there's actually a Bibi Zhou version (Track 2) that was used for promotional purposes. The piano ballad arrangement and the diva's voice do bring a different flavor to the song, though I very much prefer the leads' version. Bonus: the music score sheet for Wuji is included in the soundtrack's book
Besides Wuji, Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo each sing another song that corresponds to their characters. Wang Yibo's Bu Wang (Track 6)) is probably the most memorable theme song after Wuji. There's a classic line associated with Lan Wangji: 13 years of inquiry, waiting for one who won't return. Opening with a few plucks of guqin chords reminiscent of the Wangji instrumental, this soft ballad gently unfolds heartbreaking lyrics that fill in the untold feelings of those 13 years when Lan Wangji searched fruitlessly for Wei Wuxian's spirit. The sudden change in the song's melody at the 3:36 mark also seems to embody an entire story in a few lines of notes. Xiao Zhan's Qu Jin Chen Qing (Track 5) really highlights his clean and clear voice. Though the melody itself isn't particularly remarkable, the Chinese opera-style flourishes in the arrangement add a lot to the song, especially the middle eight when Xiao Zhan sings in an opera tone.
Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji aren't the only ones with character image songs. All the major characters in the drama each have a representative OST song. Wang Zhuocheng, Liu Haikuan and Yu Bin, who played Jiang Cheng, Lan Xichen and Wen Ning in the drama, all sing their own character songs, and younger generation disciples Zui Xue, Zheng Fanxing, Guo Cheng and Qi Peixin sing a "Juvenile Group" character song. Of these, Yu Bin's sweet and expressive Chi Zi (Track 7) leaves the greatest impression, thanks to his idol training as a former M4M member and Idol Producer contestant.
There are some other rather unexpected names on the soundtrack. Another Idol Producer breakout, J.zen (Zhu Xingjie) sings and raps antagonist Jin Guangyao's song Duo Hen Sheng (Track 17), which stands out with its fittingly aggressive rock melody that nonetheless integrates touches of traditional Chinese music. Produce 101's Naomi Wang sings the "group song" Bu Wang (Track 18), while former Nan Quan Mama member Lara and Lollipop's Fabien Yu sing Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan's song Yong Ge (Track 15). Fans of Super-Vocal can also rejoice because Ayanga and Charlie Zhou bless the soundtrack with their flawless voices in the Nie Minghao and Nie Huaisang song Qing He Jue (Track 10) and the Xue Yang song Huang Cheng Du (Track 12), respectively. Ayanga's Qing He Jue, in particular, is one of my favorites of the soundtrack as his deep and dramatic vocals really suit period drama songs.
On top of the beautiful music, a big reason to get The Untamed physical soundtrack is its beautiful packaging design. The soundtrack comes in a hardcover book with an outer slipcase, both featuring ink-painting-style illustrations of the waterfall scene location. The music is split into two CDs, one with the score and the other with the theme songs. Besides song lyrics, the book has full-color drama stills and behind-the-scenes photos as well as short interviews with the soundtrack singers including Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo. If you're a fan of The Untamed, this soundtrack is definitely worth collecting.