The music in Final Fantasy VII is emotional, entrancing, and reflects the game’s story while adding special context of its own. Between the original game and Remake, sometimes the message is nuanced, sometimes conspicuous. Since Cloud and Aerith’s relationship is a huge element to the game’s story, it’s no surprise that there are many (and I mean many) tracks that reflect their bond. Sit back with a cup of hot tea and take an audio tour of the “Clerith” songs of the story!
- Aerith’s Theme
- Flowers Blooming in the Church
- The Promised Land
- Midnight Rendezvous
- Collapsed Expressway and High Five
- A Certain Gaudiness (Red Dress Entrance)
- Stand Up
- The Cetra
- Interrupted by Fireworks (“Words Drowned by Fireworks)
- End Credits
- Cloud Smiles
- Honorable Mention: Lifestream Warping
- Honorable Mention: “Words Drowned by Fireworks” Symphony Version
When it plays: At various points in the original game, Remake, and other Compilation titles, but usually – this may shock you – at Aeris-related scenes.
Why it’s a Clerith song: Did you know that Square Enix considers Aerith’s Theme to be a love song? (Seriously – read about it here!)
Including it here may be a little uninspired, but having it at the top is also a convenient to remind you what it sounds like, because we are about to hear a lot of it. Her musical motif entwined in other pieces and themes, usually pertaining to Cloud. It’s one of the most important (and recognized) pieces in the story, so keep your ears sharp.
Flowers Blooming in the Church
When it plays: As the title suggests, this theme is usually used in Aeris’s church, though it’s utilized in several scenes beyond this particular setting.
Why it’s a Clerith song: It’s the place where Cloud and Aerith have their “reunion” after first bumping into one another on the streets of Midgar. After a chaotic first several missions, where Cloud runs through an industrial wasteland and mechanical hellscape of Mako Reactors, being in Aeris’s church and seeing nature for the first time as he falls into her flowerbed represents a moment of respite.
Here’s what the composer of the Remake version said about the piece:
The Sector 5 church scene in the original game had this really beautiful juxtaposition of the building’s dilapidated state with the romantic music that plays. Since the church was so beautifully remade, I knew my arrangement had to follow suit. I decided to incorporate some of the sadder, more heartfelt moments from Cloud and Aerith’s rooftop wanderings into the song, which gave the track a “dilapidated” quality, almost…Shotaro Shima, Final Fantasy VII Remake Material Ultimania
So Shima-san specifically calls the piece romantic. It’s played not only in the church, but as Cloud and Aeris are jumping rooftops and getting to know each other with cute banter. This moment – called a date by the developers – is sweet, awkward, and endearing – one where we not only get to know Aerith a bit better, but Cloud as well.
The Promised Land
When it plays: Originally a piece in Advent Children that plays at the Marlene-narrated introduction, as well as after Sephiroth is defeated and Kadaj dissipates into the Lifestream – as Cloud and Tifa seem to acknowledge Aeris’s presence as a healing rain cures Geostigma. In Remake, this piece is used in Chapter 2 right before meeting Aeris for the first time.
Why it’s a Clerith song: In Advent Children, this piece is used at a very beautiful moment – when Kadaj dissolves into the Lifestream and Aeris welcomes him. Cloud stands in the healing rain, closing his eyes and looking at peace, while Tifa up on the airship thanks Aeris for being there. The official Advent Children script describes this scene like this:
Cloud hears Aerith’s voice and abandons himself to it, silently watching over Kadaj. A (Lifestream) rain begins to fall.Official Advent Children script
But interestingly, this piece – which does not appear in the original game – is used in Final Fantasy VII: Remake. In the beginning of Chapter 2, after Cloud has a confrontation with the image of Sephiroth, the piece begins to play as he traverses Sector 8 – leading up to the moment where he meets Aerith, waiting on Loveless Street to sell him a flower.
Could there be some connection between this piece in Advent Children, and the usage of this piece right before meeting Aerith in Final Fantasy VII: Remake?
When it plays: At the beginning of Chapter 9, after Cloud and Aerith reunite again to traverse the ruins of Sector 6.
Why it’s a Clerith song: This piece is new to Remake, with no original-game equivalent (though perhaps you might hear some homage to “Words Drowned by Fireworks” if you squint.) It’s a beautiful, gentle piece sprinkled with a big of night-time magic, and plays while Cloud and Aerith exit the bustle of Sector 5 and enter the quiet ruins of the beginning of Sector 6.
Of course, Cloud and Aerith are growing closer by the moment. Let’s take a look at what the composer said:
This piece plays during the scene where Cloud and Aerith are walking together under the night sky, when she joins him under the guide of acting as a guide. The awkwardness between the two of them is so sweet; it really is one of the more romantic moments of the game. I found inspiration for this piece while walking through town around Christmastime, with all the bustle of the crowds and holidays decorations. Whenever I listen to the track now, I get pulled back into that moment, pondering the approaching end of the year. I think the sparkling sequences and the warm pads really bring out that Christmas feeling. In regard to the song’s placement in the story, I feel that it helps foster a moment of calm and respite between battles.Mitsuto Suzuki
This scene is called “one of the more romantic moments in the game” – that’s pretty darn Clerith! Suzuki-san’s inspiration from “Christmastime” is romance-coded as well, since in Japan, Christmas is generally treated as a romantic holiday, where couples get together for dates with a special appreciation for the illumination of twinkling lights.
Collapsed Expressway and High Five
When it plays: While Cloud and Aerith are making their way through the dungeon of ruins in Sector 6.
Why it’s a Clerith song: I’m combining two songs for this entry – Collapsed Expressway and High Five – because together, they are intended to show the bond between Cloud and Aerith growing. Let’s look at what the composers say:
This is the music that plays while Cloud and Aerith traverse the collapsed expressway, a portion of the game that brings with it both excitement and unease. [..] I hope you can sense Cloud and Aerith gradually growing closer through the music, too, from “Midnight Rendezvous” to “Collapsed Expressway,” then finally “High Five.”Mitsuto Suzuki
[…] This song acts as a companion piece to Mitsuto Suzuki’s “Collapsed Expressway,” so I hope yo ucan enjoy how these unique songs work together as you play the game.
A Certain Gaudiness (Red Dress Entrance)
When it plays: When Aeris makes Cloud’s jaw drop by showing up in a stunning red dress, she crosses a bridge like a bride walking down the aisle, and firewoks shoot off as Cloud blushes and stammers.
Why it’s a Clerith song: This one couldn’t be more obvious. It’s one of the most overtly romantic moments in the game.
Aeris will appear in the “red dress” if you have completed all of the sidequests in Chapter 8. If you complete fewer, there are two other possible dresses that she will appear in, and the song that plays changes accordingly. If you have completed some but not all the sidequests, she will appear in an elegant pink dress as the song Rock On, Aeris plays (and Cloud seems to be attracted to her in this dress, too!) If you don’t complete any sidequests, Aeris will wear a “cheap” pink dress, and walk in embarrassed – which Cloud offers some cute comfort toward her, saying the dress doesn’t matter. In this case, Aeris’s Elegy will play.
But no doubt the “canon” option is the red dress. This is the dress she wears in the original game, this is the “completionist” route scenario, and, in terms of music, “A Certain Gaudiness” is the only track to appear on the original Final Fantasy VII Remake soundtrack. Rock On, Aeris and Aeris’s Elegy are only on the Plus soundtrack, which features music that didn’t make it on the original.
Additionally, in the Final Fantasy VII Remake: Material Ultimania book, in the section dedicated to music, only “A Certain Gaudiness” is listed. It’s pretty obvious that Aeris’s red dress scene is the most intended scenario.
When it plays: During the Honeybee Inn cabaret performance, where Cloud dances and Aeris cheers him on
Why it’s a Clerith song: After Cloud has a moment to ogle Aeris after she makes her grand entrance dolled up in a fancy dress, the tables turn and it’s Aeris’s chance to go goo-goo for Cloud – as he makes his grand entrance dolled up in a fancy dress! Cloud takes the stage and dances with Andrea to win his cross-dressing makeover, and Aeris watches delighted from the audience at the entire spectacle. When the cross-dressing begins, we hear Aeris’s literal-for-real heavy panting and then jaw-dropped attraction at Cloud’s reveal!
Just take a look at how these scenes compare:
Now let’s take a look at what Toriyama said about the song itself, as he describes its English song title:
[Translation] I wanted the English song title for the dance battle at the Honeybee Inn to give off a sexy image, where romantic feelings are gradually rising between the two.Toriyama, Famitsu interview
So Stand Up is yet another song made to demonstrate Cloud and Aerith’s growing bond – and this time, demonstrate the romantic and sexual tension between them!
When it plays: In Chapter 17 when Cloud wakes up in Aerith’s cell in Shinra HQ, and Aerith tells Cloud and the others about being an Ancient.
Why it’s a Clerith song: Listen closely – what is “The Cetra” composed of? You don’t need a keen ear to make out Aerith’s Theme, but can you hear that it’s been combined with Final Fantasy VII’s “Main Theme”? The Main Theme, alternatively called the Overworld Theme, also serves as the official character theme of Cloud Strife himself. Therefore, “The Cetra” is literally a mashup between Cloud and Aeris’s theme songs.
(Need additional proof that the Main Theme is Cloud’s theme? The official 25th Anniversary Final Fantasy VII Compilation Vinyl was released “containing the character theme songs from FINAL FANTASY VII,” as per the official description – and in addition to the Aerith’s Theme, Tifa’s Theme, etc. – it contains the Main Theme . Check it out on Square Enix’s official online store here.)
Interrupted by Fireworks (“Words Drowned by Fireworks)
When it plays: During the date scenario in the original game
Why it’s a Clerith song: Aeris is the most likely and the default date option for Cloud. As the devs have stated, if you “play the game normally,” you will date Aeris at Gold Saucer. Read more about the significance and legacy of Cloud and Aeris’s date here.
Furthermore, the theme plays in the Temple of the Ancients when Aeris asks Cait Sith to predict her compatibility with Cloud – and Cait Sith calls them a perfect match, and offers to officiate the wedding ceremony himself when they are ready.
Interestingly, the theme also begins to play when Tifa locates Cloud in Mideel – and we can sense her dream of a romantic reunion with the man she, too, loves. However, the theme goes silent the moment she finds him, suggesting her romantic aspirations have shattered – and Interrupted by Fireworks never plays again in the game.
When it plays: At the end of Final Fantasy VII Remake – it serves as the game’s theme song.
Why it’s a Clerith song: Listening once to the lyrics is all it takes to reach the most obvious conclusion: Cloud is singing about the pain of losing Aeris. The devs have shared that the song is meant to be from Cloud’s point of view and expressing the loss of something “important.” The lyrics mourn the loss of someone who “smiles brightly”, who “heals” him, who hides “dark mysteries” and “tears” behind a smile. Cloud sings that if only he had “thought it through,” this person would be “here in [his] embrace.”
While Aeris is not dead yet at the time of Remake, her death is alluded to a number of times – and Cloud himself sees visions of her murder and funeral.
Even more, the instrumental version of “Hollow,” called “Hollow Skies,” is the background theme song for the Sector 5 slums – Aeris’s home! Read more about why Hollow is almost certainly about Aeris here.
The song is as mournful as it is inherently romantic – a ballad that suits the Clerith romance.
When it plays: At the end.. during the credits.. in Remake.
Why it’s a Clerith song: In Final Fantasy VII: Remake, Aeris’s Theme and Main Theme (Cloud’s Theme) are played one after the other for the end credits – no other character songs are used. It’s a meaningful recognition of the game’s heroine and hero, together in musical reflection – if not in person.
When it plays: At the end of Advent Children, when Cloud sees a vision of Aerith and realizes he is not alone.
Why it’s a Clerith song: He sees a vision of Aerith and realizes he is not alone! The movie ends on him finally gazing upon her face, and unleashing a “smile” – the first of his in the film, and a moment so important its used to name the song. The movie fades out after this smile as Cloud says “I’m not alone.” He’s not alone because he knows she is still there, in the Lifestream and in his heart.
As an added bonus, let’s look at “Cloud Smiles” a little more closely – did you know Nobuo Uematsu snuck in a motif from Aerith’s Theme in the piece? That only underscores how she’s a crucial element to helping him smile – something she was noted for being able to do in the original game, too.
Honorable Mention: Lifestream Warping
When it plays: Right before the final 1v1 battle between Cloud and Sephiroth, when Cloud is warping through the Lifestream.
Why it’s a Clerith song: Okay, it’s not a song at all, really. But as Cloud tunnels through a wormhole, we hear a distinct melody – the first motif from Aeris’s Theme. What could this suggest other than Aeris was guiding Cloud to where he needed to go within her own realm – the Lifestream?
Honorable Mention: “Words Drowned by Fireworks” Symphony Version
Final Symphony, an officially licensed Square Enix concert series, offered an extrordinary Clerith-centric piece in its “Final Fantasy VII: Symphony in Three Movements.” The second movement, titled “Words Drowned by Fireworks” after the piece above, is a musical story exploring the love triangle between Cloud, Aeris, and Tifa – entwining all three of their themes to express the waxing and waning of their romantic stories together. The song unambiguously has Cloud choose Aerith, with Tifa’s ultimate removal from the piece and a climactic harmony between Cloud and Aeris, until finally the movement ends in her heart-wrenching death.
The official description for the concert can be found here:
Here is a portion of the text:
The second part of Cloud’s theme plays, timidly once more (1:06:52). The birds return with Aerith, who tries to find her way back into his theme (1:07:09). Eventually the solo violin and cello are able to harmonize, and Cloud realizes his feelings for Aerith. Her theme is finally allowed to blossom (1:08:08), and Cloud’s theme fits perfectly with hers. Despite this, Aerith still shows some reservations (1:08:31), partly troubled by the resemblance that Cloud bears to an old friend named Zack. Aerith tries to shake off those feelings (1:09:07), but they are no longer in perfect harmony as their themes play simultaneously in higher and lower registers (1:10:06). Although they are able to reconcile briefly, Sephiroth suddenly interrupts and things are left in disarray (1:10:06). Aerith and Cloud try to find each other again (1:10:28), fragments from each theme appearing in different keys in a desperate attempt to return to harmony. […]
Read more about this concert here, or watch in on YouTube (or purchase the BluRay from Square’s shop!)