Medley Melodies #1: Video Game Soundtracks
Medley Melodies #1
Welcome to another original article series by yours truly! Visual mediums of aesthetic work have always functioned hand in glove with music. But while arcade games used to require nothing more than a catchy beat, like any other commercial on television, the evolution of technology and the video game industry slowly developed full scores and grabbed rights to vocal songs. Let’s stack up a playlist together across this series as we explore gaming music from all its glorious past!
1.) “Blow Me Away” – Breaking Benjamin – Halo 2
What on Xbox is bigger than Halo? I’ll tell you. Halo 2. It outsold Halo and became one of the most ubiquitously acclaimed online experiences of all time, and remains as much a cornerstone of the gaming community as the original—if not more so. Hoobastank’s music was actually included mid-game, and though Incubus contributed their own song, in my own personal opinion it’s far out-shined by Blow Me Away.
Halo music has always been rooted in rock. The opening suite’s guitar work pumps you up, and this song delivers just as strongly. It’s so in tune with what Halo is all about, that just listening to it makes you want to grab some headshots down Blood Gulch again. A song can be good on its own merit, but here we have one that goes that extra mile.
2.) “Wake Up” – Rage Against the Machine – Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2
Now I’m positive all of you have seen the Matrix—that groundbreaking sci-fi revelation of 1999 with so many iconic scenes damn near the whole movie comes to mind when you think of it. When Neo takes off at the end of the film, you feel just as invincible as he is. Rage Against the Machine was always a powerful band, formed in 1991—just in time for the generation that wanted it, and it always reinforced that attitude.
Sports are all about freedom, movement of body, and sometimes rebellion. Skating certainly often is. But extreme sports and off-road biking, all of this kind of culture demands and thrives on music like Wake Up. That’s what gives games representing it such great soundtracks to listen to. Unique voices, individuality? That works too. An honorable mention here for the same game goes to “Doin’ Time” by Sublime.
3.) “Ready Steady Go” – Paul Oakenfold – Juiced
And from there we smoothly transition into racing. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a writer that loves being obscure. I thoroughly enjoy bringing up lost games, sometimes ignored games, but not unless it kicked ass. Here’s a game that better encapsulated what The Fast and the Furious series wanted to do its entire run.
Street Racing is a genre of its own, and allows for loads more personality than your typical run-of-the-mill racing game, even the terrific ones that have stood the test of time like Gran Turismo. But that illegal NOS-fueled attitude makes for some great music here, and Ready Steady Go has seen a few golden mentions in film too.
It’s in Collateral, when the club gets shot up by Tom Cruise, and most famously in spy classic The Bourne Identity’s car chase through the city. And who doesn’t want to feel like Bourne. It has a steady beat, and even does a decent job of making you feel like you’re clubbing while you’re racing. Does it get better than that?
4.) “Lowrider” – Cypress Hill – Street Hoops
Yeah, Basketball games are big on rap. It’s not a racial thing, it’s a culture thing. Not to mention, the beats just go, and whether or not you think you know Cypress Hill, you absolutely do. You all know Insane in the Brain. They have a strange voice, strange rhythm, and it puts you in the right mood for throwing up a deuce, let alone in a game.
Street Hoops feels exactly the way its title sounds, and takes you to all manner of different and famous courts around the country to take on teams with your very own customized characters. It was mostly full of instrumental songs, to be mentioned in a differently themed Melodies future article, but the few vocals it had were a snug fit that are decent to listen to on their own if not for nostalgia.
5.) “Aisle 10 (Hello Allison)” – Scapegoat Wax – JSRF
What’s that? You say there’s another game like Jet Set Radio Future? You must be talking about Jet Grind Radio (Jet Set Radio). This is the mostly unfairly ignored game of all time. There’s nothing like it, and its soundtrack is a pure reflection of its offbeat sub-culture cult status. Its music is as memorable as the game, and if I ever do a Nostalgia on Xbox games, then JSRF is sure to be right at the top of that list.
Many of the songs included in the games were developed and published through mostly foreign or anti-mainstream artists, adding to the experience. But if there’s one song with words in there that you remember, and can actually be listened to on its own, it’s Aisle 10. Nearly all the music to this game that included lyrics made no sense at all, so this is a neat song to grab. If you can find it!
6.) “Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat)” – The Immortals – Mortal Kombat
The Immortals? That’s the name of JSRF gang. So it’s an easy task to make our way into discussing one of the most well-known and popular video game themes of all time. In fact, you probably not only expected this, but likely thought of it when you realized this article would be about video game soundtracks.
That iconic scream of the game’s title can’t be outdone by any cover artists, and there’s very little acclaim to give that hasn’t already been given. You already know how awesome this song is, especially if you grew up with the games like myself. True, the movie swelled its popularity, but it stood strong on its own, and is as much a part of the Mortal Kombat series as Reptile eating heads.
And there you have it! A sturdy beginning to our Medley Melodies Video Game playlist. Have a good one, and I’ll see you all next week!