Sonic and the Secret Rings marks the hedgehog's first venture on to the Wii console, and rather than following the traditional Sonic scenario of running through a city or a tropical beach, this game follows an entirely new direction by following on the classic story book of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. Since the game follows through a mystical journey of the fictional Arabian world, the composition behind the music for Seven Rings in Hand follows a very loose structure on the sound and culture of the Arabian night. Gone is the musical direction is Jun Senoue and instead we get a heavy contribution of music by the group called "Runblebee". In addition, there are compositions from Sonic veterans Kenichi Tokoi, Fumie Kumutani, and Seiro Okamoto, as well as the Arabian music performance group Le Club Bachraf, featuring Jun Chikuma, Takako Nomiya, and Yoshiko Matsuda.
When I say the music for this game loosely based on the culture of the Arabian world, I do mean loosely. The entire soundtrack doesn't make it a point to strongly follow any good choice of instruments that can best represent the sands of time. A few selected themes on the second disc are exceptions, in which we do get rather nice string performances from Yoshiko Matsuda's ud as well as a couple of well-performed passages from Jun Chikuma's wind instrument, th enay. There are also the usual echoing chants to fill in some gaps and some punctuated darbouka uses. Their highlight performances include "Ali Baba & Sinbad Rescued!", "King of King", and "The Legendary Blue Hedgehog", though tragically they were assigned a few short event cues too.
The authentic productions are only a small portion of the soundtrack, of course. The entire first disc, which is populated by Runblebee, is nothing more than energetic hard rock music. This isn't necessarily bad in theory, but the instrumentals are repetitive and the lyrics are so cheesy; you could be fooled into thinking you were listening to a Saturday morning English-adapted Anime that was given little to no thought whatsoever in terms of quality. Songs like "The Wicked Wild" contain lyrics such as "Dino! It's a jungle! Dino!". It's so shameful that the only way I am able to tolerate these songs if they come with instrumental sections. This is especially sorrowful, because some of the guitar performances are actually pretty decent. "No Way Through" starts things off with a guitar riff that is repetitively played all throughout the song, followed by a very well performed drum filler. In fact, "No Way Through" isn't entirely filled with lyrics for the most part, so it was one of the few songs I actually could enjoy.
OK, so not all lyrics are that bad. However, the only lyric-heavy song I actually could enjoy was "Unawakening Float", only because it comes it short burts. In addition, the song doesn't make it a point to state the obvious of what's going on, not like "The Wicked Wild" and their dinosaurs. I believe "Unawaking Floats" was one of the few songs that actually felt elaborate. It starts with an acoustic guitar, then slowly builds up with the rhythm guitar, then comes in very strong with the drums, all while the lyrics simply go on to sing "Must I float away?". Cheesy, but kind of decent. It almost reminds of some of Pantera's early work. That was only two songs. I couldn't really stand listening to the rest of the first disc, especially not the main theme, "Seven Rings in Hand", as performed by Steven Conte. It seems that the theme song that should have received an Arabian makeover actually doesn't. It's just a very repetitive rock song all the way through, save for some small changes in the lyrics, which I constantly forget what they are supposed to say and when. An uninspiring guitar performance is the final nail in the coffin and not even the decent solo could save it.
The entire first disc covers all the stage tracks, which makes it very convenient for people like me who enjoys going straight to the real deal behind the music. However, in this case, it's almost as if it was pointless to begin with. Had the music been memorable, I might've taken that into a better consideration. Moving on, the second disc is nothing more then the leftovers. All the cutscene cues, the menu tracks, and the party themes that come from multiplayer mode. There's really not much I can say here given all the tracks last around one to two minutes and they're nothing more than happy-go-lucky techno dance beat fillers. They're cheerful songs that only help to bring up the excitement of a 30 second mini game. I think these tracks tried to mimic the funkiness behind such SEGA classics like Jet Grind Radio, but came up way too short. Not worth a listen to on its own.
Aside the aforementioned tracks by Le Club Bachraf, the soundtrack does have one more decent song, "Worth a Chance ~Original Version~". It's a very peaceful and pondering piano performance worth sitting down to. The first disc has the final cut of "Worth a Chance", and the only change between the two is that the original is a Piano/Acoustic guitar blend, while the final version brings in the drums and a bit of the electric guitar. Both are equally wonderful, but I'll take the original because it's much more peaceful, and after hearing such a rough soundtrack all the way through the first disc, it's a fresh breath of air in the end.
I really can't see the direction Runblebee tried to fulfill on Seven Rings in Hand. The music could have done a better job representing Aladdin's world through the eyes of Sonic, but none of that appears here. What is left is a handful of cheesy songs and a number of short themes that can mostly be thrown aside. It's fine that Runblebee wanted to continue showing off Sonic's side of the hard rock, but it goes way out of bounds in the quality for this soundtrack. I'm willing to believe that Tomoya Ohtani (Sonic '06) would have done a better job in keeping with the worldly touch and still keeping it Sonic style. If you think Crush 40 is bad, try listening to Runblebee. Seven Rings in Hand is not an ideal soundtrack for any Sonic fan out there.