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Occam Thoughts: Music in Video Games

Music. We like it. We love it. We want some more of it. It feeds our mind thoughts and helps grease the wheels of life. The right song at the right moment can make a lasting memory or sour your heart and soul with the first few notes. As someone who takes music super duper seriously I always pay attention to the music in video games. Something I have noticed recently is that more and more games are using licensed tracks either in their games or for promotional purposes. Sometimes this works pretty damn well, such as with this lovely Bioshock trailer:

The song is “Beyond the Sea” as sung by Bobby Darin. A badass song and it works so well here, not only thematically but the style of the song fits the style of Bioshock very well. A win/win for the game and music fans alike.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have songs in trailers that fit as well as someone shoving a jeweler’s screwdriver into your urethra then trying to jerk you off on a roller coaster. Here is the latest trailer for Assassin’s Creed III:

The song is "Coming Home" by Diddy featuring Skylar Grey. Ugh, where to begin? It doesn’t mesh well at all, unless Ubisoft is trying to market to the maudlin tween demographic. Maybe if there was some war movie starring Channing Tatum, this could play during the credits.

Also, nothing to do with the song but “Skylar” is an awful name.

I just don’t get what they are going for with this. I get the “I’m coming home” aspect what with AMERICA and all but there’s nothing inspiring or interesting about this whatsoever to me. So while the game may be enjoyable, this trailer is a gas leak during nap time at a special needs day care.

Thinking about licensed songs in games got me thinking even more, at which point I pissed myself and passed out. But when I came to, I realized that video games could use all sorts of great songs that aren’t dupstep, shitty Channing Tatum war movie credits music or screeching butt metal. So I compiled a list of songs I thought would be pretty neat to see in video games, either in the game itself or in trailer. Now, I realize that it’s probably a red tape nightmare to get certain songs in game and pay royalties and all that but let’s just assume for the sake of this clbog that it’s a perfect world and Jim Henson is still alive and things are easy.

Petula Clark – Chariot

I don’t parlais francais but fucking hell I adore some Petula Clark. This song would be great background music for a scene in a quiet and mostly empty bar or any scene that needed badass background music to let the atmosphere soak in.

Pixies – Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons

Bird Dream is a beautiful and kind of desperate and aching song to me. So I hear it and think if there was a scene in a game where a character was driving or flying a vehicle of some kind on a suicide run this would be perfect.

Bruce Springsteen – State Trooper

My favorite Springsteen song ever. Also one of the most intense, creepiest amazing songs I’ve ever burned onto my heart pieces. Imagine this playing at the beginning of a survival horror game (I’m thinking Alan Wake-esque). It would get your attention and set the tone perfectly.

Television – Marquee Moon

Perfect driving music for a game. Its got that lovely rhythm to it that just sets a pace in your mind. I could hear this in a GTA-type game on a radio station and just drive around watching this digital world exist and be very content.

Robert Palmer – Johnny and Mary

A sweet song that could play while people dance and smile and are in love, just before someone gets kidnapped/killed and the conflict begins.

Rollins Band – Ghost Rider

First off, SHOUT OUT TO THE CROW SOUNDTRACK!!!!!!! 8th grade me say wassup and Nirvana rules. There's this weight to the song, like it has a spine made of lead and the drums just just step on your neck and Henry’s voice is a growling, grating thing that hates you. I hear this and I picture it being the song for the best fucking Max Payne type trailer ever in my head.

The Beatles – Helter Skelter

Imagine a hand to hand fight scene in a game set to this song. Fast drums, Paul's kinda screaming at you. Its fast and kinetic and jarring. I can see this with either a big kung fu fight scene like Bruce Lee vs the entire dojo in Chinese Connection or a really nasty bar fight.

PJ Harvey - 50-ft Queenie

Another gem of a song for a fight scene where the main character is a woman...and possibly a giant. Something where a lady destroys a bunch of assholes in business suits.

Wow, this was harder to write than I thought it would be. There are so many genres of music and songs out there that could be used in games. This was just my initial brain thoughts on what I could see in games. Hope you enjoyed it and let me know if you have any songs you would enjoy seeing in your video games.

- Sent from my Lisa Frank Dungeon

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About Occamsone of us since 7:53 PM on 02.11.2009

I am a Community Moderator for Destructoid. I am also the resident Resplendent Black Grandmother. My mind is broken glass and my heart is swollen and corpulent, like a cheeto left in a puddle of Diet Coke.

Well that certainly sounded dramatic.

LOL Andy was here LOL
PSN ID:Mother_Meat


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