Got your headphones ready? If not then stop right now and go and get them, because this is a musical Top 5!
Sometimes when I hear a song, I find that it conjures memories or images that do not directly relate to the song itself. So for May’s Top 5, I’ve picked 5 songs that remind me of video games.
I will admit straight away that this is a self-indulgent list. It’s just me rambling about why these songs remind me of particular games. I’m aware that many of my readers won’t have shared these experiences, but I also think it is an interesting phenomenon.
Listening to a song and playing a video game might seem like completely unrelated tasks, but I don’t think our minds work like that. We don’t always file our experiences into separate boxes, but instead our enjoyment of one thing can directly influence and contribute to the way we feel about something else.
You will notice in this list that, somewhat unusually for me, I haven’t included any references to Final Fantasy. This isn’t some kind of strange oversight, but rather that I managed to think of so many songs that remind of Final Fantasy games that it would be better to give it it’s own Top 5 in the future.
Anyway, enough explanation! Let’s get into the list:
Angel Witch (by Angel Witch, 1980) – Bayonetta Series
This one doesn’t really need any explanation, so just give it a listen and decide for yourself. I know she is really half Witch/half Sage, not an Angel, but the Angels seem to like hanging out with her, so it works for me! For some reason I now picture Angel Witch’s lead singer as looking like Luka.
Ghost in the Rain (Beast in Black, 2017) – Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Songs can often come to remind you of particular times in your life, but with this song I will always be taken back to the world of Alrest.
The song is written from the perspective of “a Warrior on a journey home” searching for the “Ghost in the Rain” from the song’s title. I imagine the character Jin as this warrior and his Driver, Lora as the Ghost.
The song speaks of storms, never-ending stories and destiny, which fit nicely with the themes of the game as a whole. The frequent mentions of rain conjure a specific scene from the game where Jin is at his lowest ebb and is found trying to shelter from a rain storm. The song also speaks of an undefined ‘great mistake’, which fits well with Jin’s story, although I shall leave the details of his mistake for you to discover for yourself.
The warrior in the song asks if the ghost will “show me the way to you once more” and in the game Jin clearly wants to see Lora once more, although his reasons are slightly opaque. The game is littered with flashbacks, but there is one point where Jin imagines she is actually standing in front of him in the present day. He is almost willing her to appear, and so as the song says “You’re here again before my eyes, A ghost within a dream”. It’s emotional stuff.
New to Beast in Black? Maybe you like a bit of Euro power-metal with heart wrenching ballads thrown in? Go check out their tour dates and pick up a copy of their album! They are touring across Europe (and also Japan) in 2018.
Dead Skin Mask (By Slayer, 1990) – The Evil Within
*Caution – this is a pretty scary song, don’t listen if you are easily disturbed. Maybe also don’t play the game*
If I were to pick one line from Dead Skin Mask to really sum up why it reminds me of The Evil Within, then it is “In the depths of a mind insane, fantasy and reality are the same”. The majority of The Evil Within’s game-play doesn’t take place in reality, but instead in a world created by the insane mind of the main antagonist, Ruvik. The thing is, perhaps on it’s own that isn’t a very specific link, however, the thing that really connects the song with the game is that both seem to be trying to portray the feeling of insanity.
I don’t understand the lyrics to Dead Skin Mask. At all. At the end there is a screaming child demanding to be let out. It talks of dreams, it talks of the dead, it talks of people’s “hallowed screams”, but it doesn’t matter how many times I hear it, a real understanding of it eludes me. I think this is how it is supposed to be, and I think that the creators of The Evil Within are trying to do something similar. After finishing it, I couldn’t retrace the story in my mind. I had so many questions and no answers. What was real? What actually happened at the end? What happened to Ruvik and how did Sebastian end up there in the first place? This combination of confusion, terror and the lack of explanation give the listener and the player a flavour of what it is not to have a grasp on reality. This idea strikes me as difficult to portray, and both do so rather harrowingly.
Everyone likes Slayer already, but if you are not so familiar, do go and check them out on their FINAL WORLD TOUR!
levan Pollka (Hatsune Miku, 2007), Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
The first time I heard this song it had a very strange impact on me. It was around 07:30 on a weekday morning and I was listening to an anime themed radio station whilst having breakfast with my partner. It was all very civilized…until this came on the radio. We then sat listening to the song with our eyes spinning anime-style. It took over our brains and transported us to a different universe. Honestly, try listening to this and then tell me it isn’t stuck in your head for the rest of your life! I still haven’t worked out where or what that universe was, but it could well have been the bizarre Real Life X Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensai universe of Tokyo Mirage Session #FE!
I say this, because my all-time favourite utaloid person thing is Tiki from this game, who bears something of a resemblance to Hatsune Miku. Tiki is quite familiar in her other form (as a dragon), but not so many people are aware of her alter ego as a programmable J-pop star who is pretending to be a hologram but is actually a Mirage (No, I’m not explaining what that means.) She, like Hatsune Miku has songs programmed for her remotely by talented composers such as the particularly successful *ahem* Tiki=Waifu.
This is quite a different type of connection, as it is really just that the idea behind Tiki’s character was probably based on Hatsune Miku (or something similar), and therefore the song reminds me of Tiki every time!
If you haven’t already heard of Hatsune Miku then it’s maybe a bit too late to try and explain, but if you’re in Mexico or the USA she may be ‘appearing’ on a stage near you sometime in 2018…
Through the Fire and Flames (by Dragonforce, 2006) – Guitar Hero
I’ve written previously about my love of Guitar Hero, but this track sums it up well. Originally included as an unfailable bonus track at the end of Guitar Hero 3, I thought it was a bit of a joke because it is so ridiculously complicated. It was so hard, that I thought trying it without the protection of no-fail mode was a bit pointless. However, it was included in my favourite Guitar Hero game – Smash Hits, where it added multiplayer options, including singing. My partner is by all accounts a very good Guitar Hero player, but even he couldn’t complete it on expert by himself. However, add me on vocals (apologies to my neighbours) and Star Power happened – we finally managed to crack it!
However, I wasn’t going to include songs on this list just because they feature in a games’ soundtrack, so there is another reason to include it here. Dragonforce are themselves quite influenced by video game music – which leads me to believe that at least some of them may be gamers. The lyrics of this song read like they are about a game, and as someone who sees the ‘game-over’ screen a lot, I take great inspiration from the lyrics: “So far away, we wait for the day, for the lives all so wasted and gone. We feel the pain of a lifetime lost in a thousand days, through the fire and the flames we carry oooooooooooooonnnnn!!!” (emphasis added by author for effect).
Dragonforce really need to be seen to be believed, so why not go support them on their European Tour this year!
So what do you think of my choices? Do you have any songs that remind you of video games, or understand how we form these connections in our minds? If so, lets discuss below!
Thanks for reading,