Game music has seen a wonderful evolution along with video games themselves. From the simple polyphonic scores of the NES to the fully-orchestrated works we have today, game soundtracks have evolved as much as games. There are an innumerable amount of talented composers working to produce lovely soundtracks. While I love the music we have now and the works composers produce, I can't help but wish some of my favorite bands would score or contribute to some game soundtracks as well. Stewart Copeland has worked on the Spyro series; so why don't more bands give it a shot?
As with all lists, it's hard to narrow down candidates (especially when you listen to as music as I do), so I tried to focus on the bands who might deliver something special and unique. Are you ready to go down the rabbit hole of dreams?
The Sex Pistols
While The Sex Pistols are not the only punk band nor are the necessarily the progenitors of the "punk" sound, but The Sex Pistols were perhaps punk personified. We are talking about a band from the U.K. who wrote a song ragging on THE Queen. They also refused to attend their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only did their music tap into a vein of anger, the band themselves embodied the rebellious, punk spirit (as self-destructive as it was). The band only recorded one album, but that one album has proven to be one of the most influential albums not only in rock and punk, but music as a whole.
The punk world of Sunset Overdrive would have been a perfect match for The Sex Pistols.
Sweden has proved to be a most fertile land for metal. At The Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquility are only a few of the legendary bands Sweden has given rise to over the years. In fact, these three bands were pioneers of a new style of metal called the “The Gothenburg Sound” which was named after the city where these bands were living when they became noticed.
Unlike their melodic counterparts, Meshuggah is about as far from melodic as it gets. Known for their odd time signatures, rapid tempo changes, and jazz fusion elements, Meshuggah has stayed true to their roots and delivered uncompromising, extreme metal on each of their releases. A gargantuan beast in the underground world, Meshuggah is not for the faint of ears.
They could make one hell of a soundtrack for a precision platformer. Meshuggah + Super Meat Boy!
Modest Mouse remains one of the quirkiest and interesting bands in independent music 22 years into the game. After 22 years, vocalist Isaac Brock still possesses a remarkable energy with a delivery few others can match. Besides having a unique vocalist with Brock, Modest Mouse has also embodied quirky with their music. While they are classified as indie rock, there is no other band that does what Modest Mouse pulls off effortlessly. Couple unique rhythms and sounds with thought-provoking and usually less-than-sunny lyrics, and you have an exceptional musical cocktail.
Pair this band with the demented geniuses at Dejobaan Games and you have a winner!
Devin Townsend is one of the hardest working and talented people in music today (not to mention possessing one of the best set of vocals cords around). Devin formed the beloved Canadian extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad way back in 1994. Despite being a hugely influential metal band, Devin also did solo work on the side which was vastly different from SYL’s catalog. When SYL disbanded in 2007, Devin began working on his solo career in earnest and has released nine albums since, on top of producing, remixing, and working on countless other albums. Thankfully, he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The most striking thing is how varied his catalog is. His work with SYL sounds completely different from his solo work. However, even his solo work is incredibly varied.
His album Ghost would be the perfect fit for a zen-like puzzle game, whereas Deconstruction would be right at home being the soundtrack to a gonzo, over-the-top action affair like Bayonetta.
I’ll be honest; Needtobreathe is on here simply because Bear Rinehart singing in a game would be bliss. Seriously, this guy is insanely talented with one of the most passionate and soulful voices around. I had the privilege to see this band perform live not long ago, and I was blown away. While Bear’s vocals are great, the entire band comes together to create a beautiful harmony which is heaven for your ears. This is a band you want to see live if you possibly can.
Let these guys make some vocal tracks like Darren Korb and Ashley Barrett did on Transistor, and you have a match made in musical heaven. Maybe even put Darren working with these guys since Bastion had such strong country, frontier-like sounds. I’m drooling just imagining the possibilities.
The Big 4 and Exodus
Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax are the bands commonly referred to as The Big Four. The Big Four are known for pioneering thrash metal and bringing it into the limelight. Although Exodus is not considered to be a part of The Big Four, they deserve to be recognized with the rest for their work in the genre. Do I really need to explain why having these bands working on a soundtrack would be amazing?
Let them have a crack at Devil May Cry and watch the sparks fly. Very metal indeed. \m/
While Weezer’s newest album was a solid return to form, they have made some lackluster ones lately as well. As solid as any new albums may be, sadly, Weezer will never be as great as their peak as they were with Blue and Pinkerton. Blue was a masterwork of alternative power pop. With introspective and honest lyrics of being nerds, being rejected, and dealing with an alcoholic, Blue was a welcome departure from self-obsessed music at the time.
For the follow up to the catchy, hook-filled Blue, Rivers Coumo went into self-imposed isolation and poured his being and soul into music. The result was Pinkerton, a startlingly, and at times, disturbingly honest release filled with anguish and loathing. Needless to say, the album was reviled upon release. Rivers went into a deep depression and subsequent Weezer releases returned more to the sound of the Blue album. In the following years, fans and critics realized the masterwork of Pinkerton and have clamored for a return to the sound.
Titles full of teen angst such as Life is Strange and Gone Home would be a perfect fit for the Weezer of yesteryear.
Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman
Nothing quite says over-the-top like Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell album series. However, many people fail to recognize the massive influence Jim Steinman had on the two Bat out of Hell albums he composed. Meat Loaf encapsulates grandiose and overblown at its best, and the music is glorious for it. No one else could pull off performances like Meat Loaf does or the compositions Steinman effortlessly unleashed upon the world. Given the overblown nature of some games, they are practically begging for collaboration with these two.
Racing along at breakneck speeds, causing vehicular mayhem and crashes in Burnout while Meat Loaf blares over the speakers would be a suitable match. Honestly though, is there anything Meat Loaf does not go well with?
Like their namesake, Mastodon is a mammoth in the metal world. Despite only being around for 15 years, the band has racked up countless awards and success for their music. Starting out as sludge metal, the band has added progressive elements, which make for one trippy and fantastic live performance. Known for immaculate musicianship, jaw-dropping drumming skills, and killer solos, Mastodon has become a fan favorite and metal mainstay.
Their more progressive songs would be a great fit for the Escher visuals of Monument Valley or Antichamber. For their heavier stuff, a new Painkiller or Bulletstorm with Mastodon doing music duties would be pretty damn great.
The Pogues with Shane MacGowan
As much as I enjoy Flogging Molly, The Dropkick Murphys, and other Irish/Celtic punk bands, there is no topping The Pogues, especially with Shane MacGowan on vocals. Along with fiendishly clever lyrics laden with black humor, The Pogues also had a knack for taking traditional Irish music and reformatting the folk songs to fit their punk sound, making the old new again. Look no further for your Irish punk fix!
An interactive, multiplayer drinking game. I know you didn't see that one coming.
What do you think about my crazy ideas? Which of your favorite bands would you like to see work on a game soundtrack? Let me know in the comments below!