Wonder Woman brings original music to Fallout 4's extensive playlist
In the quest to bring more music to Fallout 4 than the franchise has ever seen before, game director Todd Howard and audio director Mark Lampert brought an entirely new concept to the series: original music. Lynda Carter (aka Wonder Woman) joined in on development to write and perform five songs for the upcoming installment, in addition to getting her very own musically-oriented character in-game.
Tunes for a post-apocalyptic wasteland
Howard sought a fresh experience for players that also fit Bethesda's biggest world yet. Music didn't just end and die off in the world of Fallout 4, and Howard wanted to explore the possibilities of new songs and a character in the game who could write and produce them. The music needed to mesh well with the surrounding environment, while specifically complimenting the events of the game.
This is where Carter comes in. Lynda Carter, famous for her role as Wonder Woman on TV in the late 1970s, has done voicework for Bethesda games in the past. Her resume goes on to include her Grammy award-winning band and personal status as an accomplished musician. Howard reached out to her with his idea, and Carter responded with unconcealed enthusiasm.
An abundance of talent joined the team for the project:
- John Jarvis, Grammy-award winning songwriter
- Kerry Marx, renowned guitarist straight from Nashville
- Paul Leim, musical director to Carter and drummer
- Blue Lou Marini, legendary horn player
Howard requested a variety of samples from Carter, so the team got to work in the recording studio. Carter drew inspiration from the character Magnolia, who would present the new songs while working at a bar and providing general respite for gamers. Rather than limit Magnolia's sound to a genre, the musician and voice-actress brought the character's personality to different flavors of music. The team's efforts resulted in songs that ranged from high-spirited sounds (similar to The Andrew Sisters) to breathy, sexy numbers stuffed full of double-entendres.
Rather than pick one direction for the sound, Howard chose all of the above. Lampert seconded his call, adding that Carter and the rest of the team hit the mark through sense of time and instrumentation on the first try. Four of the five songs transition seamlessly between the world of the game and a playlist for Carter's band in real life. This was part of Howard's goal, making Carter's intentions to feature some of the songs in a future album almost ideal.
The fifth song, however, resulted from Howard and Lampert's desire for a truly topical piece just for Fallout 4. The song "Good Neighbor" was directly influenced by the town Goodneighbor, where Magnolia lives and works. It features far less veiled references to the Wasteland, i.e. caps and mutants, in addition to a raunchier tone. You can give the song a listen in the video below.
Players will be able to hear any of the five songs while wandering by utilizing Diamond City Radio in-game. This station even includes a new DJ that weighs in with situation-specific and witty commentary.
Carter reflected positively on the whole experience:
“I am honored and thrilled to no end to have the belief of Todd and his team. I am really so grateful to have had the opportunity. I think it’s one of the highlights of my career to have been a part of the creative team.”
An exciting playlist
So just how big is this brand spanking new playlist outside of Carter's contributions? it turns out that the ambition of Fallout 4 extends to audio, as it presents three times the sheer volume of songs and variety of Fallout 3. Lampert divided the music into three categories:
- Instantly recognizable
- Lesser-known tracks from well-known artists
- Obscure tracks from forgotten bands
The instantly recognizable category includes Bing Crosby's hits. The second category features songs like “Orange Colored Sky” by Nat King Cole. The aim when it came to obscure tracks was to find songs with "ludicrous lyrics and a distinctive sound."
“It’s All Over But the Crying” by Ink Spots became the very first song decision for the newest installment, showing off "part of the Fallout vibe." You've probably already heard the tune in Fallout 4's announcement trailer.
Once the ball was rolling, Chris Parker, co-founder at music-licensing agency Brandracket, joined Howard and Lampert's efforts. Parker brought in selections that veered away from mainstream music with particular mentions of uranium and radioactivity. "Atom Bomb Baby" by Five Stars, featured in the Fallout 4 E3 trailer, came from these suggestions. Lampert enjoyed the naiveté of songs that played with the danger of atomic weaponry in a society fueled by Utopian optimism.
When it came down to testing whether or not songs had desirablility or re-playability, Howard would listen to possible playlists for three to four days straight. Songs that wore on his nerves or lost their edge over time were abandoned in favor of those that consistently felt fresh and fit the game's action.
The following songs have already been confirmed and listed in an official Fallout 4 collection on Spotify:
- "Pistol Packin' Mama" by Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters
- "Rocket 69" by Connie Allen
- "The Wanderer" by Dion & The Belmonts
- "Orange Colored Sky" by Nat King Cole
- "Crawl Out Through The Fallout" by Sheldon Allman
- "The End of the World" by Skeeter Davis
Players will be able to change the music at any time to better suit their mood with choices that jump between Diamond City Radio, classic tunes, and the original game score.
Fallout 4 launches on November 10th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. What do you think of the musical direction the game is taking? Excited to hear more? Disenchanted with one of the reveals? Discuss away in the comments below before any mutants interrupt our fun.