Weekend Playlist: Songs About Gaming
Welcome to a new feature here on SF Signal, The Weekend Playlist, a regular look at science fiction references and popular music and a mix tape of music for you to tide you over until next week. Over the last couple of years, I’ve amassed a lot of songs that reference the genres that I really love, and am continually surprised at how much music is out there that is inherently geeky. This week, we’re looking at songs that are based relating to gaming of all types:
This was probably the first Who song that I really listened to when I was a kid: it’s certainly the one that I remember the most. Off their album Tommy, Pinball Wizard a song where I see a gamer, far before the age of video games. There’s obsessiveness, practice and perfection implied here, something that I generally associate with most hardcore gamers. It’s a lighter song amongst a pretty dark album.
You are likely to be eaten by a grue. Another first for me, It Is Pitch Dark by MC Frontalot introduced me to the world of Nerdcore rap. This particular song is rife with geekiness, drawing from the older text-based role playing, particularly from the game Zork, and other similar games. There’s a lot in the lyrics here, and together with Frontalot’s style, it’s an awesome song.
This song hit the web a couple of months ago, and it’s one that I’ve really loved. It brings back a ton of memories from when I played D&D more frequently: late night sessions and day long marathons of the game. This is the perfect song for those times, beyond the song, the music video that they put together for it is just as much fun to watch.
One of two Kirby Krackle songs for this week, Up Up Down Down refers to the infamous cheat code on the old Nintendo systems. The group works the trick into their trademark lyrics that link geek culture with a good story, this song is an amusing one.
Firmly in the realm of modern video games, Vault 101 is about 2008′s Fallout 3, and it looks as though it both captures the look and feel of the Fallout Games (I’ve only watched one of them played, never played myself) but opens up E for Everyone (a gaming reference in and of itself), with a great blast of sound that feels absolutely solid.
I’m combining these two songs because they’re both in the same franchise and from the same artist, geek musician Jonathan Coulton, who penned the end credit songs for both Portal and Portal 2. I’ve seen Coulton perform Still Alive in concert: it’s a cute, fun song that ties in with the game well, and it works far better than a song that’s simply thrown into the game because it’s popular. GlaDOS has a very characteristic Coulton sound.
Want You Gone, attached to Portal 2, feels a bit darker, with a bit more of an edge, but retains everything that made Still Alive great the first time around. It’s a good incentive to go out and play Portal.
Off of the Halo 2 (Volume 1) soundtrack, alternative rock group Breaking Benjamin wrote their song Blow Me Away specifically for the game. The song fits well with the Halo games: the lyrics fall closely with the energy level and imagery that I typically associate with military science fiction or related games.
The last song for this week is also from the Halo franchise, one the first of several songs that the group Incubus provided for the Halo 2 soundtrack, Follow (1st Movement of the Odyssey). Energetic, fast and mostly ambient, the song is used in the game (without vocals), and overall, it feels like it fits extremely well with the character of the orchestral Halo music for the first game.
Thanks for the comments from last week’s list: none of the lists are going to be all-inclusive (indeed, some of the recommendations have songs already slated for another list!), but keep the suggestions coming – I’m jotting down the tracks to add to the epic list of geek music. Next week, we’re going to a movie franchise that’s near and dear to my heart: Star Wars.
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