Azn Badger's Blog

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I Miss The “Old” Metal Gear Theme…

I miss the Metal Gear Solid theme.

More specifically, the old Metal Gear Solid theme.

That’s not to say the new theme music is bad, (it’s not) I just feel the old theme was a whole helluva’ lot better.

The composition was more interesting, the tune catchier, and the overall “feel” of the track seemed to fit the series like a glove.

For those that are unaware, the original Metal Gear Solid theme, used in all of the games up until the PSP exclusive Portable Ops; was removed from the series due to implications that the track had been plagiarized from an existing composition.

Composed by Tappi Iwase AKA TAPPY, the theme made it’s debut as the background music of the promotional trailers for Metal Gear Solid, and was also featured as an alternate ending theme:

The original version of the Metal Gear Solid theme was entirely synthesized, and had a very electronic and, unfortunately; “cheap” sound to it despite it’s instrumentation being intentionally implemented for the purpose of simulating an orchestral feel.

Despite it’s somewhat primitive sound, (at least by today’s standards) the theme possessed a rare combination of energy and catchiness that make it synonymous with the series to this day.

While the Metal Gear Solid theme was first featured in the game of the same name, the first time I can recall hearing it was actually in Konami’s Beatmania games on the orginal Playstation.

I had a couple of friends that had “Goldfingers” for their Playstations, and I remember one of them being really into Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution.

While I honestly wasn’t too keen on either of those games, (still aren’t) I remember playing a lot of co-op Beatmania specifically to hear the remix of the Metal Gear theme:

That, was my introduction to the Metal Gear Solid theme.

As a remix, it’s actually kind of shitty; however the core sound of the theme manages to give the track a lot of strength and memorability.

Gotta’ love that English dude yelling random shit in the background though…

I’M-GONNA’-KICK-YOUR-ASS.  PLEASE-DON’T-KILL-THEM-ALL!”

*Ahem!* Moving on, I think the last time we got to hear the Metal Gear Solid theme music, was in the sequel; Sons of Liberty.

Combining TAPPY’s previous motif with Hollywood film composer Harry “I do military themes that sound like Hans Zimmer’s early 90’s work” Gregson-William’s, this iteration of the theme represents my favorite version of it:

Essentially split into 2 halves, the first portion of the composition is essentially an orchestral and synthesized re-imagining of TAPPY’s original motif, while the second half is a decidedly more somber military march-esque tune composed primarily by Gregson-Williams.

The end result is a powerful and exhilarating theme that I had hoped would endure for years to come.

Sadly, this was not the case.

As mentioned earlier, facts surfaced regarding the composition of TAPPY’s portion of the theme that heavily implied that the tune was stolen from Russian composer Georgy Sviridov’s “The Winter Road”:

Most likely fearing a possible lawsuit, Konami pulled the tune from all subsequent Metal Gear Solid related productions, including Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

With the “old” theme gone, Konami ended up using Gregson-Williams’ half of the composition as the official theme of the series from that point forward.

As I said earlier, I really don’t have a problem with the “new” Metal Gear Solid theme, truth be told it’s rather good as far as themes go; it’s just that it simply doesn’t fit as well as it’s predecessor.

It’s like John William’s Superman theme:

You can make new movies, and you can reboot the series all you want, but the day you stop using Johnny’s theme music; is the day I stop believing a man can fly.

The original theme bore an energy and sense of urgency that really sucked you in.

If you closed your eyes listening to the Metal Gear Solid 2 version of it, I swear you could see Solid Snake running around chokin’ bitches in your head.

The “new” theme, which bears more than a few of Gregson-Williams’ somewhat one-dimensional compositional touches; feels a little slow and overblown if you ask me.

That being said, the Snake Eater version of Gregson-Williams’ theme was actually quite good:

Essentially a medley of most the major themes used in the game, the full length version of the Snake Eater theme was an intense and far more organic sounding track than previous compositions in the series.

Let it be known, the heavy percussive segment towards the end of this track is one of my favorite action cues in the entire series.

The instrumentation of the track did well to keep in line with the game’s dated Cold War setting and decidedly more somber tone by making use of a richer sounding orchestra, as well as a particularly effective acoustic guitar towards the end.

To date, the acoustic guitar version of the “new” theme remains my favorite version of it.

The Metal Gear Solid theme variant used in Metal Gear Solid 4, renamed “The Metal Gear Saga,” left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth:

While the core theme was retained, and the acoustic guitar element reused with the addition of a bugle for effect; the bulk of the track felt excessively busy and scattered.

The synthesized elements in particular stand out as being particularly noisy and extraneous, such that the track actually weakens the intensity of the sequence it plays over.

The Metal Gear Saga was used in a fight scene towards the end of the game, and I remember feeling genuinely disappointed upon hearing it.

Make no mistake, that scene was amazing; but the music that played over it, wasn’t the one I had been humming to myself while I was playing the game…

While I knew ahead of time about the lawsuit regarding the Metal Gear Solid theme music, I played through Metal Gear Solid 4 hoping against hope that Konami would sneak it in there in some capacity.

The “new” theme is passable, but suffers from fairly generic composition, largely brought on by Harry Gregson-Williams’ tendency to recycle his music… A LOT.

In my book, the “old” theme is the one true Metal Gear Solid theme music.

It’s what I hear in my head whenever I think of the series, and it’s what I scour the net for remixes of whenever I’m in the mood for good background music to write to.

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Brian Tyler: Complacent Genius, Or One-Note Wonder?

He doesn't think he's better than me. Not at all...

Brian Tyler is one of Hollywood’s foremost “up and coming” film score composers.

Well okay fine, he’s technically not really an “up and comer,” as he’s already firmly established in the business, but given his relatively young age, and fairly recent ascendance to high-profile marquee films, I can’t really justify placing him among the old (and still working) lions like Danny Elfman, Elliot Goldenthal, or even Hans Zimmer.

Good God, somebody get Elfman away from the kindergarten!

Anyway, I first ran across Brian Tyler when perusing the internet for chase themes for use in a film project that never got off the ground.

One gem that I happened to stumble upon, was a track (or should I say “the” track) from Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

I can’t find a clip of it at the moment, but the track is called “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and it’s track 2 on the score.

Anyway, I was blown away by the unrelenting energy, and raw power exuded by this track.

For one thing, it’s epicly long, yet somehow manages to consistently ramp up the tension and energy level throughout it’s entire running time.

More importantly though, it’s an incredibly complex composition, and yet the emotions produced when hearing it are wholly elemental to the point of being primal.

In short, though I wouldn’t see Tokyo Drift until, well, just a few months ago; Brian Tyler was instantly marked as a high priority on my radar (or should that be sonar?).

Since then, though I haven’t seen all that many of the films he’s composed, I’ve gone out of my way to look up a track or 2 from some of his higher profile works.

So far, my favorite album of his has to be his work on Rambo.

The face of approval.

While he was smart to include, and leave relatively untouched, the wonderful Jerry Goldsmith theme; every other piece of music on the soundtrack is absolutely stellar in it’s own right.

The action cues are violent and intense, and much like Tokyo Drift, have a very natural and engaging rhythm of rising tension throughout.

In particular, the Title Theme

and the final battle sequence track, No Rules of Engagement


Stand out as personal favorites of mine.

Another soundtrack of Tyler’s that I found to be quite good, was his far more subtle and restrained work on Annapolis.

Pictured: THE reason I watched Annapolis. Wasn't too bad a movie actually...

Given the naval academy setting, and slightly downbeat tone of the movie, the more casual, and stripped down feel of the music fits all too well.

To be honest, Annapolis is just about the only one of Brian Tyler’s scores that I’ve heard without being able to tell he composed it right off the bat.

Annapolis serves as a good indication as to the depths of Mr. Tyler’s talents, as though he’s since gone on to become sort one dimensional as of late; it’s movies like this that remind us that he can in fact do other things.

While I’m on the topic of Mr. Tyler’s one-dimensionality, it should be mentioned that; in my opinion, he’s already begun to phone in some of his compositions.

Off the top of my head: War, Fast & Furious, and Dragonball: Evolution were all projects of his that felt severely lacking in quality and inspiration.

No amount of musical awesomeness could've saved this pile of ass...

To be fair, those movies were severely lacking in quality and inspiration, but that shouldn’t figure into the composer’s commitment to the project.

Unless they paid him in Pogs.

 

Wow, those are shitty even by Pog standards...

If they did that, then I’d take it all back.

Anyway, Tyler’s work on these movies was bland, and honestly felt like he opened up his drawer of previously discarded action cues and just threw them onto the album.

War had a few nice motifs here and there, but most of the action cues sounded more like noise than anything else.

It’s sad really, as I read somewhere that War represented the first time Tyler got to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra.

The most recent Brian Tyler soundtrack I’ve heard, was his work on The Expendables.

Meatheads of the world unite, for your Gospel has been written...

As one would expect, being as both films involve a collaboration with Sylvester Stallone; Tyler’s music for The Expendables shares it’s tone and instrumentation with Rambo.

The only difference being that Rambo was a varied and passionate score with some killer action cues, while The Expendables is a fairly generic, almost made for TV quality score comprised largely of mediocre action cues.

Don’t get me wrong, Brian Tyler’s a damn good composer, and as such his work on The Expendables is better than a lot of Hollywood action movies these days, however personally, I expected more.

I expected the bombast and energy level to match or exceed Rambo, and instead we ended up getting the equivalent of a “meow” in comparison to the former’s roar.

Despite this, Royal Rumble is a track that found a home on my Ipod:

As it stands, Brian Tyler is poised to take the reigns as composer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

*Gasp!* We won't be shooting PEOPLE this time, will we?

Given his current “sound” that he seems to be stuck fast to, I would think he’d be a good fit for the series.

If he can access his inner Rambo, and once again marry thematic and dramatic elements to his action cues, I think he’ll do just fine.

Hell, as one note as people can accuse Brian Tyler of being, Harry Gregson-Williams (who composed the first Modern Warfare) is easily 10 times as guilty.

 

(Insert generic military hymn/Metal Gear Solid theme here)

Here’s hoping Mr. Tyler hangs around to give us great music for years to come.

Oh yeah, and it’d be nice if he tried mixing up his style too.

Jus’ sayin’ is all…

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