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Great Composers You Ought To Know: Reijiro Koroku Pt. 2

Pictured: Japanese composer, Reijiro Koroku.

I didn’t plan on dividing this post over 2 days, but as fate would have it, I just had too damn much to say!

That being said, today we’ll be continuing our look at some of my favorite works of composer Reijiro Koroku.

After Godzilla 1984, the next big soundtrack I can remember hearing from Koroku, was his work on the Kyoshoku Soko Guyver OVA series.

Guyver: The Man-Boobs That Kill.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, my cousin back in Hawaii turned me on to the Guyver manga way back in the day, and ever since it’s served as a huge influence on my creativity.

Something about the incredibly detailed, yet purposely hoaky character designs, combined with the darkness and severity of the storyline resonated with me in a way that makes me hopeful the manga will eventually reach a logical conclusion.

On that note, when I first found out that a Guyver anime existed way back in the day, you can sure as hell bet I went out of my way to track it down as soon as I could.

Unfortunately, as it turns out the 12 part OVA series was actually kind of ho-hum, even by the standards of an impressionable grade-schooler.

The voice cast was pretty good, and the animation was decent if not inconsistent, however the plot was an absolutely horrid distillation of the source material, cutting short many memorable sequences, and outright ignoring a number of important story beats.

Oh yeah, and unless you want to see some of the most hideous animation ever put to film this side of a budget hentai, then you’ll probably want to avoid even looking at a single frame of episodes 7 and beyond.

Aw, come on! Drawing gray bubbles on someone to symbolize melting DOES NOT count as legitimate animation!

Seriously, I loves me some Guyver, but that was some ugly shit.

That ugliness aside, much like the not-always-so-fondly-remembered Godzilla 1984, the Guyver OVA just happened to benefit from an incredible soundtrack courtesy of Reijiro Koroku.

Though the music is stylistically very similar to his work in Godzilla 1984 just a few years earlier, Koroku’s Guyver soundtrack incorporates synthesizer and electric guitar in many of the tracks.

What can I say, it was the late 80’s and synthesizers were very much “in” at the time.

That’s not to say Koroku’s more electronic approach to the Guyver soundtrack was at all a poor choice.

Heavily inspired by tokusatsu heroes like Kamen Rider and Kikaida, Guyver’s inherently tragic character and brutally violent atmosphere made the property a perfect match for Reijiro Koroku’s potent melodramatic style.

Just give a listen to probably my favorite track in the series, included in the first third of this video, to see what I mean:

Once again brooding and downright creepy at times, Koroku’s score for Guyver shows a great deal of restraint for what basically amounts to a superhero story, however in many ways I feel this is it’s strength.

Like chanbara films of old, the style of action present in Guyver is largely efficient, with each movement and attack being distinct as opposed to the more repetitive style found in Dragonball Z among other things:

I sincerely apologize if you were dumb enough to watch all of that.

Because of this, the music actually benefits from keeping it’s crescendos in check, as otherwise the music would overpower the intensely violent, but relatively low energy nature of the onscreen action.

This track, once again featured in the first third of this clip, serves as perhaps one of the better examples of how Koroku’s powerful, but relatively lax music could effectively supply the series with solid action beats:

Despite how much I love the soundtrack for Guyver, the one downside to it is that the score is very limited in terms of breadth.

Composed largely in suites intended to be recycled throughout the series, the music is quite beautiful by itself, but loses some of it’s luster when heard in the OVA, as the tracks become repetitive after a time, and as such, lose their distinction and sense of place.

Even so, the Guyver OVA soundtrack was once of the first import CDs I ever purchased, and to this day I’m glad I picked it up.

Moving on, the last time I can recall hearing Reijiro Koroku’s music, was from his work on the early PS2 title, Kessen and it’s sequels.

That's a pimp-ass mustache.

An RTS set in the Japanese warring states period, Kessen was a big hit that enjoyed several sequels, however it’s not one that I ever really got caught up in.

Chances are I was to busy playing garbage like Street Fighter EX 3 to give a shit about Kessen.

Despite my lack of appreciation for it, Kessen’s music was a whole ‘nother story altogether.

Truth be told, much like was the case with Noozles, I wasn’t aware that Koroku had done the soundtrack for Kessen, however when I did learn of this, I was not at all surprised given his track record.

Booming and proud, the soundtrack for Kessen brings to mind Koroku’s military marches for Godzilla 1984:

Lacking the brooding tone of Koroku’s previous works mentioned earlier, the Kessen series had an appropriately colorful sound to it, though one that was quite dignified despite it’s epic scale and over-the-top design aesthetics.

It’s funny, hearing this music again kind of makes me want to go back and actually give Kessen a try.

Based on what I remember hearing of it, I doubt I’d be disappointed if I did.

Anyway, that’s about everything I could think of to say about Reijiro Koroku.

Hopefully you learned something over these past 2 days, and if not, at least you got to hear to some nice music!

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Filed under: Comics, Games, Great Composers You Ought To Know, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Great Composers You Ought To Know: Reijiro Koroku Pt. 1

Pictured: Japanese composer, Reijiro Koroku.

It’s funny, amidst all the bitching I’ve been doing lately about my lack of inspiration for writing new posts, it dawned on me recently that I’ve neglected to cover one of the most obvious topics available to me:

My music library.

Most of the music I collect and listen to comes from movie and videogame soundtracks.

I think my interest in soundtrack music spawned from my having spent my childhood watching lots of movies with heavily thematic scores from an early age.

In particular, I think the iconic, and almost overbearing style of background music found in all the Godzilla movies I used to watch was largely responsible for me having grown up a “hummer.”

Wrong kind of Hummer, dumbass.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always taken good care to open my ears when watching movies; taking stock not just of the movie itself, but of the music that accompanies each scene within it.

That being said, in comparing my music library to that of some of my friends, it dawned on me that; like seemingly everyone in the digital age, the music in my collection differed extensively from most of the people I knew.

Because of this, I figured it might be fun if every now and again I took a moment to root through my collection and do a post on a particular composer you might like to know about.

I don’t intend for these posts to be biographies, as I honestly don’t know even know what most of the composers in my collection even look like, let alone what they’ve done in their personal lives, but I do hope to at least highlight the works of theirs that I am familiar with.

On that note, for absolutely no reason other than the fact that I mentioned Godzilla earlier in this post, today we’ll be kicking off this new series of posts with a look at prolific Japanese composer: Rejiro Koroku.

It’s funny, the earliest instance I can recall hearing the works of Reijiro Koroku, was one that I honestly wasn’t aware of until just now.

Do you remember a Nickelodeon show called Noozles?:

All I remember about the show was the theme song, and the fact that it involved painfully cute stuffed animal koalas that would come to life if you rubbed your nose against theirs.

Well, for what it’s worth, a quick IMDb reveals that the composer of Noozles was Reijiro Koroku.

I don’t remember a single note of the show’s soundtrack outside of the catchy-ass English theme song; but according to history, Noozles was the first composition of his I ever heard, even if I didn’t know he did it until just now.

Cosmic…

Fun facts aside, the first, and easily most impactful instance in which I ever truly experienced Reijiro Koroku’s music, was in Godzilla 1984.

The Heisei Godzilla movies had some of the most badass poster art ever. Seriously, look 'em up.

Many look upon Godzilla 1984 as a plodding and largely unimpressive entry in the series, however my appreciation for it has grown over the years.

That’s not to say I always looked upon it in a positive light.

In my youth I can recall feeling Godzilla 1985 (that’s the version we got in the U.S.) was a little bit boring, however that was also back when I was young enough to have felt it was also kind of scary.

What can I say, I grew up with Godzilla as my hero, so my tiny 6 year old brain had some trouble wrapping itself around the concept of Godzilla being a nasty bad guy that maliciously stepped on security guards.

Looking at Godzilla 1984 as and adult though, it’s much easier for me to appreciate the unrivaled scale of the miniatures, the atypically topical/political nature of the story, and the oddly designed, but mechanically impressive Godzilla suit.

As you might have guessed, on top of all of this, Godzilla 1984 has an absolutely beautiful soundtrack.

In stark contrast to virtually every other Godzilla soundtrack in history, Godzilla 1984 has a hauntingly brooding and melancholy sound to it that is downright chilling at times.

Just give a listen to the opening theme/Godzilla’s theme:

As the first film in the Heisei series of Godzilla films, as well as the first Godzilla film produced following a near 10 year hiatus, Godzilla 1984 was a big-budget (by Japanese standards) film meant to formally usher the character into the modern era of sci-fi.

Like many other tokusatsu compositions, Koroku’s use of brasses is bold and almost outlandish by Western standards, however at the same time his music has an elegance to it that goes a long way towards legitimizing the inherent melodrama of it’s sound.

While rarely pulse-pounding, the music in Godzilla 1984 covers a great deal of the emotional spectrum, with many of the more peaceful tracks embodying an almost Gershwin-like romantic quality:

The military themes embodying a boldly triumphant quality of strength:

And Godzilla’s cues coming across as malevolent and downright demonic at times:

Curiously enough, though one of the highlights of the soundtrack is one track in particular that is actually quite successful in it’s capacity to tug at your heartstrings:

One of my favorite aspects of the soundtrack, and one that I can’t quite explain, is it’s “clarity.”

I don’t know if it was a result of a special recording process, but for whatever reason, Godzilla 1984’s orchestra comes across as bigger, louder, and “clearer” than what I’m used to hearing in films.

I have no idea how this incredible effect was achieved, but one thing’s for sure, I wholeheartedly approve.

That being said, I figure I should finish today’s post with a nod to my favorite tracks from Godzilla 1984.

Truth be told, the “Main Title” and “Self-Defense Force” tracks embedded above are actually some of my favorite tracks, however my all time favorite has to be the theme of Super X:

Like I’d imagine was the case with most kids, Super X’s scenes were easily my favorite part of the whole movie, and as such; I feel it’s only fitting that it was bestowed with one of the better compositions as it’s theme music.

Godzilla 1984 was the first Godzilla movie in 30 years to feature no other monsters besides the Big G, and as a result, I’m guessing the Super X was inserted into the film, not just because it was fucking awesome, but because Toho likely felt the movie needed something for Godzilla to fight that was plausible, yet wouldn’t crumble in a single blow.

Unfortunately, the Super X, as resilient as it was withstanding a whopping 2 doses of blue nuclear death breath, displayed a severe weakness in the form of being vulnerable to having skyscrapers dropped on it’s hull:

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

Filed under: Great Composers You Ought To Know, Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I Kind Of Miss Kevin Riepl…

I know what you’re thinking:

“Who’s Kevin Riepl?”

Well, to be perfectly honest; I have absolutely no fucking clue.

That is, outside of knowing him as the man responsible for composing the first Gears of War soundtrack, I’m really not familiar with his body of work.

IMDb-ing him (IMDb track videogames? Since when?) brings to light the fact that he has some strong ties to Epic Games, in the form of contributing soundtracks to several entries in the Unreal Tournament series.

Despite being familiar with most of these games, I can honestly say their music failed to leave an impression on me.

Probably because I ever recall of the Unreal games, at least from an audio standpoint; is this:

That being said, ever since I first played it, the Gears of War soundtrack, more specifically the main theme of the game; has always stood out to me as one of the better and more memorable game soundtracks out there, particularly in the modern era where games tend to favor ambient tunes over more thematic ones.

If you haven’t heard it before, then you’re in for a treat:

Imagine my surprise when I discovered neither Riepl, nor his brilliant theme music would be returning for any of the Gears sequels.

I may be in the minority on this, but I grew up watching James Bond and Godzilla movies by the truckload, movies that have managed to go 50+ without ditching the legendary themes that helped cement them in our minds as the film classics that they are.

Like many people, I grew attached to those themes and have come to associate them as aspects of the characters they were written for.

Sure, there were occasional moments in time when the themes were cast aside for a movie or 2, but at the end of the day they would always come back somewhere down the line.

Gears of War 2 and 3 were both composed by Steve Jablonsky.

While I’m probably wrong, my gut tells me that Epic contracted his services likely due to a combination of their incredible financial success with Gears 1, as well as Jablonsky’s newfound mainstream fame due to his involvement in the live-action Transformers film.

Maybe it’s just me, but in picturing a bunch of newly wealthy videogame nerds getting geared up for their big sequel, I could honestly see them ditching their in-house composer in favor of succumbing to their own dorkiness and hiring “The Transformers Guy” on a whim.

I’m sure that’s not how it actually went down, but I have my suspicions…

Anyway, while Jablonsky did a terrific job with the franchise following Riepl’s departure, in truth I kind of wish he hadn’t ejected the original theme music in favor of his own take on it.

Give it a listen and see what you think:

I would never consider this theme to be anything less than “good,” but there’s just something about it that feels “weaker” and less engaging.

Don’t get me wrong, Jablonsky’s a great composer, but there are just some elements to the style of his militaristic soundtracks that rub me the wrong way.

While it could just be me still being bitter over the complete and utter failure of Transformers 2 and 3 in living up to the even the slightest of expectations, in general I’ve found his work on those movies, as well as the Gears series; to be somewhat pretentious and/or melodramatic.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel both the Gears and Transformers franchises tried way too hard to insert unwarranted emotion and drama into stories that were truly devoid of any.

I prefer my Gears minus the extra helping of “Dom and Maria” thank you very much.

Dom and Maria: A plot device that allows for many instances of Dom related emo-ness masked as "emotional masculinity."

Back to Jablonsky.

He does a wonderful job of creating a mood and a “feel” to the music in such a way that it seems to fit the “texture” of the imagery it is meant to be played over, but his incessant use of choirs and Dark Knight/Inception style droning really feels a bit overbearing to me.

His soundtrack or Gears 2 was solid, especially in terms of the action cues, but far inferior to the original in terms of the overall strength and memorability of it’s themes.

While I haven’t played the game as of yet, in listening to the soundtrack for Gears 3, I can honestly say I like it better than the second.

Check it out:


The choirs are less, uh, “manly,” such that the music is much more graceful/lyrical, and less like a rehash of the droning Decepticons theme from the Transformers films.

Even so, despite vastly improving his theme for the game, I still maintain that the Jablonsky theme of Gears 3 is inferior to Riepl’s original.

I acknowledge that Jablonsky’s compositions are quite good overall, and that I very likely could just be being a sourpuss about all this; but in my opinion they should have never changed composers.

Filed under: Games, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Worst Music Video I’ve Ever Seen

Music videos are a strange form of media.

Despite being essentially an expensive promotional tool for a band or song, music videos often have a reputation for being some of the most visually creative and bombastic examples of short films.

I used to joke that whenever you see a visually over-the-top film come out I.E. The Cell, The City of Lost Children, or The Crow; in most cases it’s been directed by someone with a background in music videos.

Either that or the French… Lord knows the French love fucking peoples brains with pretty pictures.

... Or really, really, REALLY, fucked up pictures.

Anyway, as any young medium tends to do, music videos didn’t start out as flashy or outrageous as they are today.

The earliest music videos the pre-MTV era were shot in largely static fashion, with very little in the way of props or creative imagery.

In most cases, it was enough to simply film the band playing, (only applicable if they played their own instruments.  Sorry Monkees.) and then maybe have a dancer or 2 prance around and mug for the camera.

The evolution of the medium of course came with advances in technology, increased budgets, and the burgeoning popularity of MTV, though as you’re about to find, not all video producers would take advantage of said advancements.

Which brings me to subject of “the worst music video I’ve ever seen.”

I spent some time (Read: 5 minutes) poking around on the Google looking for the worst music videos I could find, and surprisingly; I didn’t find a single mention of the one video I always felt was my personal worst.

Mostly I just found “bad” shit like this, a Finnish disco-esque tune called “I Want To Love You Tender”:

Truth be told, I fail to see how this is all that shitty.

Yeah, the dancers are more than a little out of sync, and yeah, the spaceship set has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the song; but in all honesty, I don’t see anything about this video that makes it extraordinarily bad.

Hell, maybe it’s just because I’m a disco kind of guy, (not gay) but I actually kind of like the tune of the song, crappy phonetic English included.

Besides, I ask you, how could a movie that features disco He-Man be the worst of all time!?

Anyway, the worst video I ever saw was aired on late-night MTV in the early 90’s, and I remember laughing at it with my friends all the time.

It was stupid to the point of being ridiculous, and to this day I don’t know how a production company actually arrived at the decision to shoot it, let alone have it be aired on national television.

Seriously man, I could have shot a better video than this drunk, and I’m allergic to alcohol.

And by “allergic,” I don’t mean itchy rash allergic.

I mean wrath of God, opening of The Ark of the Covenant allergic:

Pictured: The Azn Badger + A Beer.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the worst music video that I personally have ever seen, “The Plant Man”:

The song was regularly featured on the music video interludes on Beavis & Butthead, though oddly enough the 2 characters had little to say about the actual video.

My best guess is, the thing was so crappy that Mike Judge decided it would be best not to harp on it any further and just let it’s innate crappiness do the talking for him.

Looking at the singer, (Gary Young) and listening to the lyrics of the song, I can’t help but suspect that the guy was probably a street performer some producer brought into the studio on a whim ala Trading Places.

The man clearly has very little talent, and he certainly has no charisma, but oh well, I guess he was good enough for my friends and I to laugh at when we were in grade school.

Anyway, hopefully you all enjoyed this little stroll down memory lane.

I wanna’ say I did, but to be perfectly honest, this brought back some shitty memories… of shitty music videos.

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Captain America Score Sounds Pretty Good So Far

I’m a lover of movie scores.

Something about the way movie soundtracks are arranged just makes the music stand out to me as something special.

I’ve always liked the “big” sound of an orchestra, but the one reason I rarely listen to classical music; is because I have trouble drawing emotion from it.

Movie soundtracks are typically composed with the intent of harmonizing with the visuals they accompany, and in many cases; one simply would not be the same without the other.

While I can’t see myself ever watching Star Wars without Johnny Williams backing it up, I’ve always found that I can enjoy Star Wars music without the films.

I’ve always made it a point to pay attention to the music in films, and doing so has resulted in me seeking out a vast library of movie soundtracks.

Seeing as this is me we’re talking about, it should come as no surprise that the vast majority of these soundtracks are dumb action movies, kung fu movies, and/or old cartoons.

Oh yeah, and lots and lots of Godzilla and Ultraman soundtracks:

Pictured: One of my prized possessions. Yes, I am a dork.

Nerd-gasm aside, while it’s hardly the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard, I feel I need to point out that, from the 14 minute sample I’ve heard of it; Captain America The First Avenger sounds pretty damn good so far.

Composed by industry legend Alan Silvestri, the Captain America soundtrack makes great use of his signature sound, both old and new.

On the “old” front, Captain America has some marches and cadences that borrow somewhat from Silvestri’s work on Predator, while the “new” aspect of the music, primarily the more uppity synthesized segments; draws comparisons to the composer’s work on Van Helsing.

Yes, I am aware Van Helsing was an epicly shitty movie; however few can deny the soundtrack had it’s moments.

The movie, sadly; did not.

It DID however have vampire bimbos. Lots and lots of vampire bimbos...

Boasting a bombastic, and appropriately militaristic feel; the soundtrack sports Silvestri’s trademark heavy brass, but also makes subtle use of synthesizers; such that end result feels very much like a period piece, but with the energy of a modern summer blockbuster.

The 14 minute sample I was fortunate to get a chance to listen to contained several arrangements of a few different cues, one that I feel comfortable assuming was one of the central themes of the film; and one that had to have been an action cue.

The “theme” feels like a throwback to WWII themes of the past I.E. Patton and The Great Escape.

Curiously enough, parts of it feel kind of like The A-Team theme, (minus the BADASS electric guitar solo) which Alan Silvestri recently remixed for the feature film adaptation:

Really now, did I seriously need an excuse to embed that clip?

Didn’t think so.

Anyway, truth be told the “theme” feels kind of weak when compared to the greats of the past, however it’s far stronger than Patrick Doyle’s work on Thor, which in my eyes was one of the summer’s biggest missed opportunities for producing a great action movie soundtrack.

That’s not to say the Captain America “theme” is all that great, it’s not; it’s merely good.

I think it’s biggest weakness is that it comes across as somewhat generic, largely because it’s “militaristic feel” overshadows the fact that it’s supposed to be the theme music for an individual.

When I listen to the “theme,” I get images of Americana and WWII stuff, but sadly I don’t get any pictures of Cap’ wearing his goofy blue costume.

Not that I have any idea of how one would compose music to convey such imagery in the first place.

Maybe this:

Wow, that brought back some memories… Mostly bad.

Moving on, the action cue from the sample was actually quite good.

Energetic and colorful, the action cue feels like a mix between Silvestri’s great work on Beowulf, (minus the overbearing choir) and his equally great work on The Mummy Returns; however composed at a much faster clip.

Truth be told, the cadence of the music leads me to believe part of it was arranged with the train sequence from the trailer in mind; however I could be, and likely am wrong on that.

In any case, I like what I’ve heard thus far, and truly hope the movie ends up yielding a similar reaction from me when I finally get to see it next month.

Post a comment if you’d like a download link to the Captain America sample soundtrack!

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #1


A funny thing happened when I was putting together this list of my Top 10 Videogame Songs.

I changed my mind.

You see, I made the banner for this list around the time I came up with the idea for it, long before I even assembled it’s contents.

I selected the opera sequence from Final Fantasy VI for the background of the banner because I knew the song contained in that sequence was going to have a place on the list.

I had no idea what that place was going to be, just that it was going to be in there somewhere.

Color me surprised when that place just happened to be the #1 spot.

I mean, I figured the opera scene would be in my Top 5, or even the Top 3; but truth be told I honestly didn’t know it was going to be #1 until, well, yesterday.

On that note, I apologize for the banner image, as I know it likely ruined some of the surprise by consisting of an image from the #1 game on the list.

It’s not all my fault though, as a few days after I started posting on this topic, I found I kept rearranging the Top 10 as I was went along.

One thing lead to another, and by yesterday, I found I couldn’t without good reason, make this list without putting the opera scene in the top slot.

With that, I give you the #1 of our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs:

#1. Final Fantasy VI – Aria de Mezzo Carrattere

Before you ask, no; I didn’t pick this one because it has a fancy Italian name.

I’m not a Square/JRPG whore either, so don’t try to call me on that bullshit.

The last Final Fantasy game I played, was VIII, way back in 1999.

Before that though, Final Fantasy VI was, and likely always will be; my favorite in the series.

Hell, if it weren’t for Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI would probably be my favorite console RPG of all time.

Pictured: One of many moments that make Chrono Trigger the SHIT.

Something about the characters, the design aesthetic, and unusual severity of the storyline in VI; just made it special to me.

My love for the game aside, “Aria de Mezzo Carratrere” is a brilliant song, and a gorgeous example of a story-within-a-story.

While the Super NES’ technical limitations made the lyrics of the opera laughably incomprehensible akin to the voice of the teacher from the old Peanuts cartoons, the first time I heard it in-game, it was hard not to be touched.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

Simply put, console games didn’t do what the opera scene did at that point in time.

In spite of the technical limitations inherent to the 16-bit era, one could very clearly see and feel the story and emotions that the creators of the game were trying to get across.

It’s like watching a Godzilla movie.

Everybody knows it’s just a guy in a rubber suit, but if you use your imagination, and play along, the artistry and craftsmanship of the miniatures and crappy effects add up to something far grander.

Pictured: ART.

Despite how far games have come, watching little 26 pixel tall sprites bounce around and pantomime their drama for us is something that, when done well; will always “do it” for me.

Anyway, for better or for worse, the opera from Final Fantasy VI is the best of my Top 10 Videogame Songs.

The strength of the lyrics and music, combined with it’s stunning contribution to the fantastic game it played a part in, not only secured it’s place on this list, but managed to (eventually) win me over and propel it all the way to the top spot.

Hopefully you all had fun reading this list.

I certainly had fun writing it, though I only hope that my pick for the #1 spot wasn’t as controversial/surprising to the rest of you as it was for me!

THANKS FOR READING!!!

Filed under: Games, Movies, Tokusatsu, Top 10 Videogame Songs, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #2


Yesterday we took a good long look at one of the most sophisticated and beautiful songs in videogame history.

While one would expect that we would continue with this trend as we ascend the the prestigious Top 3 of the Top 10 Videogame Songs, I’m sorry to say that’s not the case.

Perhaps more now than ever, I feel I need to reiterate that:

This is my list, and you will respect EVERY DAMN THING I HAVE TO SAY.

*Ahem!* On that note, I’d like to introduce you to #2 on our list from the Playstation classic, Soul Edge/Blade:

#2. Soul Edge – The Edge of Soul

I realize now, more than ever; that I’m very much a product of my time.

The 90’s was the decade of the fighting game, and as such; games of that genre play host to some of my most beloved gaming memories.

Like many young boys of the day, I hopped on the Street Fighter 2 bus and rode that thing all the way to around 2005… when my fighting game reflexes mysteriously went down the crapper.

That’s a story for another day though.

Soul Blade was Namco’s sister series to their wildly popular and innovative 3D fighting series, Tekken.

Tekken = JAPAN.

Featuring some of the most impressive graphics and animations of day, as well as an in-depth “quest” mode for the home version, Soul Blade was a wildly addictive fighting game that was easy to pick up, but difficult to master.

In short, Soul Blade was kind of a big deal back in the day.

In an era when everyone wanted to play fighting games, but often lacked the technical competence to be competitive with their friends; Soul Blade was basically the go-to weekend rental of it’s time.

... A time that appears to have abruptly come to an end as of 5 minutes ago.

Soul Blade is one of maybe 2 games on this list I never owned, but in all seriousness; I probably put more hours into than most games I’ve owned.

From the gameplay, to the design, to the breathtaking soundtrack; Soul Blade was a top tier PS1 game, such that I honestly find myself tempted to pick it up again from time to time.

Which brings me to why “The Edge of Soul” ranks so high on my list.

I know it’s really fuckin’ stupid, but the opening cinematic of Soul Blade was, to the 10 year old me; one of the most mind-blowing and graphically spectacular sequences, ever.

Take a look for yourself:

FMV was still relatively new to me in 1997, (I had a shitty computer) but even so, the opening of Soul Blade was leaps and bounds beyond anything I’d seen in a game up to that point, possessing a degree of polish that even the FMV heavy Final Fantasy VII couldn’t begin to rival.

Everything element of the opening of Soul Blade, from the music cues, to the thoughtful selection of relevant clips that do much to flesh out the principle cast of the game; is top notch, such that I wouldn’t think it too far-fetched to name it as one of the best openings in gaming history.

Despite the inherent corniness of the song, “The Edge of Soul” had a fair amount to do with making both the opening of Soul Blade, and the game itself; as incredible and memorable as it was.

The lyrics and vocals are admittedly kind of weak, certainly nowhere near the grandeur of yesterday’s “The Best Is Yet To Come,” however the quality of the sampling and instrumentation of the music, combined with the pulse-pounding nature of the song; make for a terrific, if not consumately 90’s “pump up” song.

“The Best Is Yet To Come” may ooze substance and sophistication, and is indeed beautiful; but the simple fact of the matter is that it’s not a song I would ever really listen to outside of it’s usage in Metal Gear Solid.

“The Edge of Soul” is an undeniably fun song that I’ve kept in my library nearly as long as “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru,” and as such, I think I’d be lying to myself if I claimed “The Best Is Yet To Come” meant more to me.

Sorry kids, style beats substance this time.

Let this be an isolated incident…

Check back tomorrow as we crown our #1 on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs!

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #3


Well folks, we’ve finally reached the Top 3 of our Top 10 Videogame Songs, and appropriately enough; today marks the first occasion of a “serious” song adorning our list.

That’s not to say trashy Jpop isn’t without it’s value, it’s just not quite as substantive as some of the stuff that’s to come.

Pretty much every song on the list so far have been included in their respective games for the purpose of being “fun” or “colorful.”

Today though shit’s about to get REAL as we delve into the musical world of Metal Gear Solid:

#3. Metal Gear Solid – The Best Is Yet To Come

Assuming you skipped the lengthy (and mostly extraneous) briefing sequence at the beginning of the game, one’s first few musical minutes with Metal Gear Solid were bound to be some of the most memorable in gaming history.

I don’t know about you, but from the moment “The Best Is Yet To Come” first starts playing during the opening infiltration sequence of the game, I could tell Metal Gear Solid was going to be something truly special.

At that point in my life, you could probably count on 2 hands the number of games I had played that had any sort of digitized voice or CD quality audio, so needless to say; I was caught entirely off guard by Metal Gear’s use of a hauntingly beautiful traditional Irish song at that time.

To put things in perspective, I still had this in the back of my mind around the time I first played Metal Gear Solid:

Okay fine, that was actually kind of awesome, but you know what I mean…

Sung by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh, (good luck pronouncing that…) “The Best Is Yet To Come” stands out in my mind as one of the most memorable and thematic songs in gaming, if not the most beautiful.

Truth be told, it’s folksy nature prevents me from listening to it as often as some of the other songs on this list, but few can deny that it’s first minute, the one used repeatedly in the game to drive home the drama at key points; is utterly unforgettable.

In that sense, “The Best Is Yet To Come” won it’s high placement on this list largely due to it’s inestimable contribution to the gameplay experience of Metal Gear Solid.

Many of the songs on this list are opening and ending themes, songs that are awarded to the player for booting up or finishing the game.

“The Best Is Yet To Come” is very different from these songs in that it serves as the overarching theme song for the ENTIRETY of Metal Gear Solid, making it a key element in the overall experience.

Hell, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t genuinely touched by it’s inclusion in the Shadow Moses segment of Metal Gear Solid 4, as “The Best Is Yet To Come’s” presence in that game really served to bring the themes of the series full circle.

Anyway, enough gushing, that was song #3.

Check back tomorrow for something even better!

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #4


Wow, hard to believe we’ve actually gone 3 days on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs without mention of a Mega Man song.

That being said, today we reach #4 on our list, which takes us to that most awesome of Mega Man spin-offs, the Mega Man X series:

#4. Mega Man X4 – Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru

Mega Man X4 was the first of the series to debut on the (at the time) next generation console, Sony’s Playstation.

While Mega Man X3 pushed the Super NES to it’s limits by throwing in a host of features, both notable and forgettable; X4 was a far more straightforward production, albeit one with sensational animation and sound.

Yes, that is in fact a giant walrus robot with fists as big as a Ski-doo.

While my initial reaction to X4 was actually kind of lukewarm when it first came out, it’s since grown on me and easily ranks as one of my top 3 in the series.

I suppose that’s not quite as big a deal as it sounds, given that the first 4 games out of a total of 8 are just about the only ones worth playing.

Seriously man, if ever there was a game series that lost it’s way in it’s second half, Mega Man X would have to be it.

Define "Lame": An onion robot with wind powers.

Mega Man rant aside, the song of the day, namely “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru” AKA “Unbeatable Love I Surely Have,” is one that I was sadly never fortunate to have experienced in-game.

Only featured in the Japanese version of the game, my initial exposure to “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru” came via the, then brand spankin’ new client download service, Morpheus.

I was in middle school, with access to a 56k modem, so you better believe I spent hours downloading Mega Man midi files and mp3s that I would later struggle to find programs to play them with.

In searching for “Rock Man” in Morpheus, I ran across a file with a series of squares for a name, which I would later find out was “Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru.”

Given that it’s ranked #4 on this list, I’d say it goes without saying that I really like this song.

It’s been in my music library since 1997, and to date I haven’t gotten tired of it.

Sung by Yukie Nakama, the song has a rare combination of Jpop-y “uppity-ness” and sincerity that make it noteworthy in an typically soulless genre of music.

The instrumentation in particular is quite inspired, as some of the synthesized guitar work is exceptionally potent, lending a lot to the strength of Nakama’s beautiful vocals.

As great as the song is, it’s interesting to note that, after having finally heard it used in Mega Man X4, I honestly don’t think it fits all that well.

Take a look:

Great song, poor usage.

Anyway, that was #4, check back tomorrow as we crack the Top 3 of the Top 10 Videogame Songs!

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #5


Remember how I said I’ve only owned 2 rhythm games in my life?

The host of the #8 song on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs, Bust A Groove; was 1 of them, but today we’ll be taking a look at the other.

Said game is another PS1 classic, the infectious and hilarious musical rhythm game, Parappa The Rapper:

#5. Parappa The Rapper – All Masters Rap


Parappa The Rapper was one of those games that came out in the States at just about the perfect time.

Interest in Japanese culture (read: anime) among young *cough!* WHITE *cough!* people was rapidly increasing, enough to the point in which a ridiculously stupid and consumately Japanese videogame like Parappa would seem awesome to the average American kid as opposed to, well, ridiculously stupid.

You see!? THIS is why they're WINNING!

Culture trends and history lessons aside, Parappa The Rapper was a delightful niche game for the PS1 that, while disappointingly sort and lacking in content; was an incredibly sweet experience while it lasted.

Making use of a unique, “flat” graphical style; Parappa hit U.S. shores with a surprisingly decent amount of fanfare, mostly as a result of glowing pre-release reviews of the Japanese version, which interestingly enough; was also voiced and sung in English.

Consequently, it was the overwhelming good press for Parappa that ultimately led to me asking for it as a Christmas gift.

As mentioned previously, Parappa was a painfully short game, but even so, the colorfulness of it’s characters and the catchy nature of it’s songs made it a worthy addition to my PS1 collection.

It’s actually quite remarkable to think that even though it’s been over 10 years since I last played it, my friends and I can still remember the lyrics to most of the Parappa songs.

And remember, this is coming from someone who still has trouble remembering the lyrics to shit like “Highway to the Danger Zone.”

Top Gun: Kind of a Big Deal.

While it’s not quite the the most memorable song from Parappa, “All Masters Rap” will always remain stuck in my mind purely as a result of the context it is sung in.

In case you couldn’t tell from the video above, “All Masters Rap” is essentially a mass rap battle to decide who earns the right to drop a deuce in the last remaining toilet stall.

It’s an unbelievably clever and hilarious predicament that is made all the more surreal by the utterly priceless expressions of agony that are plastered across the various character’s faces.

Despite all the praise I’ve been heaping on “All Masters Rap,” it’s hard to deny that “Chop Chop Master Onion’s Rap” is probably just a tad bit more memorable to most:

I mean it’s the first song in the game and has lyrics of Barney-level sophistication, so obviously it’s going to be one of the more memorable parts of the game.

“Chop Chop Master Onion’s Rap” might be the most memorable track in the game, but even so; I think “All Masters Rap” is still the best song in Parappa The Rapper.

Anyway, this was the 5th entry on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs, check back tomorrow for #4!

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