• Music to game to...

    13. Jun. 2010, 21:59

    Isn't it amazing how far in game music has come over the years? Back in the early days (well, not too early) of the ZX Spectrum and C64 we were impressed at the bleeping renditions of tunes in games such as Jet Set Willy, and the Monty Mole series (most of which were composed by Rob Hubbard ).

    Now, we have orchestral scores to channel the emotions of battle, well considered soundtracks to capture the essence of the game world, or just a selection of rock/indie/rap track to skate, drive, or punch the living crap out of things to.

    Even with award winning soundtracks, it still, inevitably, gets tired. Thus the search for the perfect soundtrack to game to comes in.

    Obviously there is some logic to crafting the ideal gaming tracklist. After all, you don't go playing Sepultura tracks when adventuring in The Shire, and it is safe to say that Cliff Richard singing Wired For Sound is not an idea choice to shoot terrorists to. However, the right playlist can really add to the enjoyment, and set the frame of mind to attain a perfect game.

    Mods in some games, such as WoW, may enable you to play music inside the game, and offer controls to skip through. One elaborate mod, which is unfortunately dying through lack of support, was 'Soundtrack' mod, which allowed you to import tracks and then assign them to play on certain events. Nothing beats having the theme to Mortal Kombat spark up when you start a boss battle....especially if you finish it with a fanfare from one of the Final Fantasy games.

    Driving games generally seem to be perfectly suited to some cool guitar riffs, and hard rock/metal madness. Throw some Iron Maiden in with some Queens of the Stone Age, and maybe mix in a little rap of the Busta Rhymes or Beastie Boys variety, for that ideal cruising playlist.

    Fancy shooting things in hi-tech space battles? Well, it has to be something pulsing like Chemical Brothers or Prodigy.

    So, whatever the game, whatever the genre, consider your music choice well when settling down to play. After all, if you listen to Slayer whilst playing Tetris, you may find that you end up breaking the controller in frustration.
  • Soundtracks

    18. Mai. 2009, 19:13

    I'm sat here listening to the Watchmen soundtrack, and thinking to myself how much a perfectly tailored soundtrack can really make a film stand out, and lend so much to the scenes. Now this applies to orchestral Original Soundtracks (scores composed solely for the film), and in films such as Star Wars you cannot imagine one without the other. However, what I am mainly referring to here is the use of popular (or even obscure) releases in a motion picture.

    On Watchmen in-particular we had the beautiful use of The Beginning is the End is the Beginning used to great effect in the trailer. A second trailer utilised Take a Bow but to a lesser effect - it will always be Pumpkins' one which sticks with me. Then the genius use of Unforgettable for the rather brutal assault on The Comedian which opens the film was a great idea. As for The Times They Are a-Changin' and All Along the Watchtower, well what can be said except for that they were perfect choices!

    Over the past couple of decades this fad for linking tracks with elements of a film has become something of an art form. Yes, before the 90s we had song tie-ins to films (usually playing over the end credits) with 80s trash like Neverending Story, but I suppose the praise for the fad of looking for old tunes to use must go to Quentin Tarantino, who used this tactic in Reservoir Dogs.

    Be honest, who can listen to Stuck in the Middle With You nowadays without imagining someone slicing the ear off a torture victim? Or how about Never Can Tell without seeing Travolta twisting with Uma? Yup, Tarantino kicked off a fad, which saw films such as Trainspotting iconically use Lust For Life amongst others great tunes to help tell the exploits of a certain likeable druggie. Would this and many films like it still be as good were it not for the tunes? Hard to say really - they would still be great films, but the perfect meld of music and vision is so fine that you can't imagine the scenes with other tunes.

    And now, as Ride of the Valkyries has started up I find myself torn in two. Part of me imagines gunships raking fire into a Viet-Cong village, and a mad Colonel talking about Charlie not surfing. At the same time another side of my mind sees an almost naked giant blue man doing pretty much the same with another group of VCs.

    On that image, I leave you to ponder your own favourite melds of pop music and film. Feel free to post them as responses, and share your joys....
  • A lot of love for Ants....

    6. Jan. 2009, 2:51

    Well, tonight I have been listening to my old Adam & The Ants albums (okay, my mp3 collection of my old albums) and I have to say that they are still as amazing as they were when I first heard them. The result is a fair few hearts getting tagged onto tracks this evening!

    I was all of about 8 or 9 when I was introduced to the work of Stuart Goddard and his band of merry men (Marco, Merrick, Terry Lee and Kevin Mooney - soon replaced by Garry Tibbs), and it was all down to the iconic imagery the band presented capturing my imagination. Adam Ant (Goddards stage name) was in his 'Highwayman' phase, and the video for Antmusic was (for the time) a treat to catch a glimpse of on TV. There was something alluring about the whole image of the dandy highwayman than made me want to be a part of this musical movement - for indeed it is tricky to catalogue Antmusic as anything but that, it being a strange post-punk/early new romanticism/nomadic sounding/tribal affray of music. No doubt Ant's romany heritage had something to do with the look and sound he would go on to create.

    Anyway, I digress, that is stuff for a wiki article, but doesn't say anything about my love for the music. Well, thanks to having a big sister with a great taste in music (it was she who got me into good stuff like Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd, etc), I got access to the LP of Kings Of The Wild Frontier and was blown away by it. It was probably the first album that I would listen to over and over again, and study the details of the sleeve notes and lyrics sheets as though preparing for an exam on it. I wanted to be Adam Ant (and thanks to having sisters wanting to practice make-up on I occasionally found myself daubed with eyeliner, eye shadow, beautyspots, and a long white stripe over the nose).

    I stopped listening to Ant-music around my mid to late teens, and it was in my final year at university when I spied a CD of Kings of the Wild Frontier on a shelf in HMV. A shiver ran down my spine, and trepidation at buying it - would it still be as good as I remembered, or was it foolish childhood imagination? Well, I took the gamble and picked it up for £14.99 (no discounted sale item here - this was a real purchase). I got back to my rented room, popped it in, and must have listened to it 4 or 5 times that night! It really was as good as I recalled.

    Suffice to say the next day saw me pop out to pick up the remaining copy of Dirk Wears White Sox, and Prince Charming, and I have never looked back, going on to pick up all the Adam Ant solo projects and finding what I had missed out on. Now, on a regular basis, I listen to my old friend Adam Ant and just cannot help but tap along to the tracks, and dream of once more dressing as a dandy highwayman. So why not throw your safety overboard and join our insect nation?

    2009 looks like it may be a good year for the memories as Goddard has returned to the studio with plans for some new material.
  • Movies, and how they affect your enjoyment of music...

    4. Jan. 2009, 12:49

    We all know the situations, when a great piece of music comes on and as you listen to it you suddenly find yourself morphing into a character from a film. Maybe it is the sound of Iggy Pop telling us he has a 'Lust for Life' getting you in the urge to sprint through the streets. Maybe it is the Propellerheads' "Spybreak" making you feel like wearing a black leather trenchcoat and shooting the crap out of a lobby full of security guards. Whatever the music, it is when they are used in such iconic scenes that it forever becomes linked with that moment on film, and you can never really listen to the track in the same way again.

    Why I am mentioning this is all down to hearing Moonlight Sonata playing at work the other day and, after intially feeling relaxed at such a tranquil track playing whilst cashing up, I suddenly had the urge to tie up someone on a bed and crack his ankles with a sledgehammer (for those who don't know the reference, then go watch Misery). Many classical tracks have become forever etched into our conciousnesses as "That tune from that film!" Ride of the Valkyries (Apocalypse Now - helicopters attack), The Marriage of Figaro (Sean Connery bleeding to death in Untouchables), Blue Danube Waltz (2001 - docking spaceship), or perhaps when Ravel's Balero plays you have visions of Bo Derek scantily clad running across a beach (10, starring Dudley Moore). In a way it is a good thing as when a piece of music gels so perfectly with a piece of film then it makes the moment on film so much better. But, as mentioned, the negative is that no matter what that piece of music meant to you before you will never be able to listen to it the same from then on.

    It doesn't end at movies, though. Even the videos of the songs can make you feel and act rather strange at time. Who hasn't listened to Bitter Sweet Symphony whilst walking down the road and almost been punched for staring at people and walking into them? Oh...just me then? Fair enough :)
  • Christmas music.....

    11. Dez. 2008, 15:52

    ....I hate it! Whenever Maria Carey pops up on TV in that "Oh so twee" home video-style all i want for christmas crap I feel my inner-rage building to immense proportions. I don't know what exactly it is about that video that gets me so riled - perhaps sugary-coated Carey's frolicking in the snow with that "Oh so smashable with a hammer" smile on her face, or the fucking sleigh-ride with a fat man in a santa suit - whatever it is, it seems that video epitomises everything that is wrong with Christmas and music.

    It seems that when the Festive Season pops around, a lot of artists realise that the general public fall under some spell whereby they will buy any old shit so long as has a bit of glitter and snow on the cover, and when it comes to music all you need do is add a frickin sleigh-bell, or wear a shit green and red sweater in the video, and you are sorted. I mean, look, even these twats did it (trying to claim they were not bothered about the whole number one spot until they didn't get it and then threw crying fits like the girls they are)...

    Yup, The Darkness - but that is a rant for another day....back to Christmas.

    Now, whever I accidentally lose the Christmas Cd at work I get some muppets calling me a Scrooge, or some other season-hating expression. Don't get me wrong, I do like Christmas - I get presents! I love seeing my kids eyes light up as they open their toys (from us, not this frickin' fat bastard in a red suit - I don't dig on the whole Satan Claws (sic), and nor do we do this whole religion thing). Nah, Christmas is a time for family, and a day off work which I get paid for...what's not to like.

    But the music! Why is it that people suddenly develop crap taste in music over Christmas and then make excuses that "It is seasonal!" Would you listen to similar themed shite if it was released, say at Easter, or mid-summer? Remember Mr Blobby? That wasn't necessarily seasonal, yet you twats bought it and made it number one (well, maybe not you directly, but the British public in general). If that came out in June, would you have still bought it? My guess is a big fat, "Nooooooo!"

    So why at Christmas?

    I am seeing it with Singstar too. People crying out for some 'festive tracks' to sing along to, but then requesting a way to remove them after December so you don't have to sing them at any other time. Well, tough shit! If you are happy to sing them now, then you deserve to fuck up any future games by being forced to singalong in the middle of summer for all I care! You obviously know the music is shit, so why do you want to download them to sing them in the first place? (Again, not you directly - but the public you!)

    Christmas number ones are a mixed bag of shite too, but occasionally some gems shine through. For every Shakin' Stevens saying "Merry Christmas Everyone", and Cliff Richard saying some other prayer like the pretentious, bible bashing, greatest hit releasing fuckwit he is, there is also a Pet Shop Boys crooning that we were "Always on my mind", or Pink Floyd letting us know we are just "Another Brick In The Wall".

    Well, no doubt this year will be yet another X-Fucktor winner (or is that whiner), which is a shame as the refreshing alternatives each year are, indeed, refreshing. Only a few years back we had the genius of Mad World hit the top spot - although after it was played 40,000 each week it got a bit tired (shame as it was a very poignant use of the track in Donnie Darko).

    Thank goodness that I don't really keep track of charts these days :)
  • Don't blame me...blame the British public!

    11. Dez. 2008, 8:57

    As I make the slow progress of syncing all my music collection to LastFm, I feel I must make something clear...

    I do not regularly listen to Bille or Julio Iglesias, they are part of my number ones collection and I only have them (amongst others mentioned in the last posting, and more that I dare not speak the name of) for completions sake.

    Yes, as mentioned previously I have all the number ones from the early 50s until around March this year (sort of lost the passion for it all with the toss at the top spot in the charts this year - but will get back to it again soon and get up to date). It is fair to say the music buying public have a very diverse taste!

    I plan to begin collecting the Number One Albums of all time next (and checking the list, I'm not doing too bad already). Some have called me obsessed with music, others just plain bonkers, but everyone has to have a hobby, and for those that don't I have enough hobbies to balance out the average.

    Well, have to go, Smokey Robinson is telling me he don't care about anything else but Being With You
  • So, finally, an update

    10. Dez. 2008, 12:26

    Finally - after having this account for quite a while now I've finally decided to sync it with my music collection. Now, whenever I listen to one of my plethora of singles and albums on my PC, it will thus be added to my profile here by the magic pixies of t'internet. Over time you will come to see the range of musical taste I have, and perhaps understand how there is really not that much that I don't listen to.

    I'm currently filtering through my number-one UK singles collection, which is quite a wide and varied taste - in fact, as I type this bleeding Conway Twitty is telling me "It's Only Make Believe".... well, it's better than Mr Blobby!

    One thing that listening through the number ones makes you realise is how absolutely shite the charts are these days! There are not many number one tracks from the 50s, 60s and 70s that I don't rate (aside from Grandad by Clive Dunn), but as the 80s crawled in some of the turgid dross began to filter out from time to time (especially around Christmas), and ner forget that it was the 80s that saw the great track 'Vienna' by Ultravox held off the top spot by Joe Dolce's 'Shaddap Ya Face' It seems that after the drug fuelled excesses of the previous decades, and the anarcy revolution, what the 80s were left with was a bunch of brain-frazzled disenfranchised artists (although, the greats of the 80s were pure Gold).

    Then came the 90s, where a track was lucky if it held the top spot for two weeks, and the singles chart became a bit of a joke of engineered bands and boy/girl groups. As for this decade....well, any era that spawns Crazy Frog has to go down as a terrible time for the charts.

    At least the album charts show a bit more taste through the decades.