Monday, July 22, 2013

A Handful of Songs I'm Kind of Embarrassed to Love Right Now

Five or six years ago, it was kind of the "in" thing to be into a song from a video game. In this case, it was the truly brilliant "Still Alive" from Portal, written by Jonathan Coulton. It was the right mix of nerdy and fun, you didn't necessarily need to know the game to enjoy it (although that didn't hurt), and while it didn't really cross over into mainstream success, it was near-impossible not to be current with video games and not know the song.

I bring this up only to highlight a few songs that have caught my ear as of late that I'm not exactly proud of loving, but don't fall into the realm of guilty pleasure, either. I hope you like them, and I won't judge you if you promise not to judge me, either.

I actually found the album from Mark Crozer and the Rels at some point last year, and this song, "Broken Out of Love," jumped out at me as something pretty special. It's got a good southern rock feel to it, the chorus is catchy as all get out, and the bridge portion in particular is near-perfect.

Why am I somewhat ashamed by this song right now? It turns out it's been the entrance theme for now-WWE wrestler Bray Wyatt for almost a year now. Whoever found this song and decided it would be a good match for the Wyatt character deserves a sizable bonus check, because the song matches perfectly with his cultlike southern theme. The WWE has signed Crozer to their label and repackaged "Broken Out of Love" as "Live in Fear" for their own purposes. I'm of two minds of it - as a wrestling fan, I'm glad to see an independent artist get discovered no matter what, but as someone in the real world, listening to wrestling themes in your spare time doesn't earn you many cool points.

I spent much of the last week playing the game Bastion, and while there is a lot that's unique about the game on its own (from the overall setting to the constant narrator), the music in the game really stood out for me in a way that video game music typically does not. The soundtrack itself complements the game very well, adding perfectly to the mood and tone of the game, and the pseudo-folk/electronic instrumentation meets up with the fantasy/not-quite-steampunk-but-definitely-influenced-by-steampunk setting of the game.

The end theme, "Setting Sail, Coming Home," is a juxtaposition of two themes in the game combined together. Taken alone, the two themes are stark and beautiful, but when they're combined with the expanded instrumentation, it becomes something more special. I found myself singing along to "Mother I'm Home" while I was playing, and when I found the entirety of the Bastion soundtrack (written by Darren Korb) on Spotify, well...

I think 8-bit remixes of songs can be fun, but, as a whole, I don't really enjoy bitcore music. The nostalgia of old video games doesn't really translate over to wanting to hear glitchy stuff on a regular basis. Sure, I might have had the opening song for Mega Man 2 as my ringtone for a while, but that's an exception, not a rule.

Another exception to the rule is Anamanaguchi, who (if you know them at all) are responsible for the theme song to the Nerdist Podcast. That song is addictive enough on its own, but what you don't get from the theme is that they don't just go with bitcore for the sake of trying to emulate your old Nintendo, but rather use those limitations for a more interesting sound. I don't always want to listen to it, but I certainly can't with a lot of people around.

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