“What Could Have Been” by Sting (ft. Ray Chen)

As we have pointed out with the recent release of “Enemy” by Imagine Dragons and JID, the League of Legends is a videogame franchise that isn’t afraid to go the extra mile when it comes to putting together music related to their product. 

And this includes not only enlisting more recent artists like those mentioned above but also Sting, one of the most legendary musicians to ever come out of the UK.

But the thing about pieces like the song we’re dealing with today is that, since it is in fact based on a videogame, it may alienate or confuse some of a musical act’s, such as Sting, established fanbase. 

That is to say that the lyrics are in fact based on the relationship between certain characters from the franchise. And that means a listener would have to be familiar with said characters to fully appreciate this piece. And we would presume most of Sting’s fans for instance are not familiar with the franchise.

But that said, videogame-related music has evolved a lot from the days of doing the Pac-Man for example. And now the wording of songs such as these are granted a certain degree of vagueness and thus general applicability and appeal.

But that said, sometimes treading the thin line between catering to a specific niche audience while simultaneously being considerate of the masses at large can produce mixed results. And such is sort of the case with “What Could Have Been”. 

Narrative of “What Could Have Been”

Despite the above, we are not implying that narrative of this song isn’t discernible. What we are dealing with, generally postulated, would be the singer addressing someone he is close to, possibly a loved one. 

And his relationship with this individual has left him worse for wear, specifically from an internal standpoint. So now it’s like Sting wants to “hurt” this person just as badly as he or she has done to him. And ultimately, concerning the way the title is utilized in the song, what this reads as, most simply put, is a case of unreciprocated love. The singer is simply wondering why the addressee can’t simply ‘love him for who he is’.

And of course that is a basic enough narrative in and of itself. But what may throw some listeners off is certain terminology used to relay the intricacies of the story which, despite not reading too out of place in today’s music industry, still arguably make this song more lyrically complicated then it could have been. 

But still you have to appreciate the effort, that a videogame actually went as far as to employ Sting to drop a track. And at the end of the day, we would presume that the actual fans of League of Legends will relish this track more so than us outsiders.

Sting, "What Could Have Been" Lyrics

Facts about “What Could Have Been”

The featured Ray Chen is a violinist, not a vocalist. And he is granted a solo segment about two-thirds of the way into this song.

This track was written and co-produced by a musician from L.A. known as Mako. And the other producer is Sebastien Najand.

This song is not a part of League of Legends per se but is rather included on Arcane (Soundtrack from the Animates Series), with said series being based on characters from the LoL. And besides Sting, Imagine Dragons and JID, Riot Games, the company behind the franchise, also managed to get the likes of Denzel Curry and Pusha T involved. 

And to note, “What Could Have Been” is the closing song on the soundtrack’s playlist.

What Could Have Been

Sting, the Great!

Sting is one of the most recognizable and decorated singers in the Western music industry. He has been professionally active since the 1970s, initially as part of a band called The Police and not too long thereafter venturing out on his own. 

His heyday was back during the 20th century, with the singer currently being 70 years old. But he’s still dropping studio albums, with Sting’s most recent LP, The Bridge, coming out on 19 November 2021. Meanwhile “What Could Have Been” was released just a day after, on 20 November.

6 Responses

  1. Kailuun says:

    In terms of the context of this song with regards to the story of Arcane, this song characterises Jinx’s relationship with the two most important people to her. The first verse is towards her sister Vi and the second is towards the man who turned her into the person that she became, Silco.

  2. Tamás says:

    JFC, this is actually the point of the whole song.

  3. ODESSA JAMES says:

    Jesus, the addition of an incredible bias against video games and a total ignorance of the context (it feels like the writer thought the song was made for a video game) doesn’t make for a good review of that song.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well interestingly I have been a Sting fan for a long time and this song is not confusing to me. Since now I have kids that are teenagers. We want to connect with them so we just watched Arcane with them and I thought it was so cool that Sting sang a song for the series. So this fan is not alienated.

  5. kismuth says:

    I grew up with Sting and he has always been an individual and did what moved him and I am so impressed with him. I am so here for it!

  6. Nimbrennil says:

    I was only vaguely interested in this before but this song is a huge buy in for me. I love Sting he is a nuanced lyricist and I do feel that he captured well the the wistfulness and joy as well as the pain and heartbreak of these characters. I love anime but I would not have watched this on my own.

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