Christmas time is here, by golly! (Disapproval would be folly / Deck the halls with hunks of holly / etc etc.) This means that lists are starting to pop up everywhere. “Best games of 2008,” “Most ridiculous hairdo of 2008,” “Top STDs of 2008″ and so on. Cynical Stuff can’t be any worse, so here’s my own incredibly well-researched and non-biased list. I couldn’t find any suitable 2008 theme, though, so I went for:
Top 10 Songs Under One Minute
My criteria are as follows:
Only reasonably well-known songs.
No jingles or theme songs. This means that I had to remove the Dethklok theme from my list, unfortunately.
The length of the track as it appears in an album absolutely must be under 1:00. This excludes a lot of good material at e.g. 1:05 and 1:15, but c’est la vie.
No interviews/sketches/speeches/thematic intros.
Enough already; let’s get to it! Click the links for YouTube links to the different songs.
A capella songs count. And that’s a good thing – otherwise this funny and pleasant song wouldn’t have made the list. To tell the truth I had never bothered listening much to it before I compiled this list.
This is an extremely cute and catchy song by NOFX, the masters of short melodic punk songs. Sure, a lot of metal bands do the whole “growl growl grind grind” song-in-ten-seconds thing but that’s not a proper song in my view.
Good band! Good song! I’m not sure if it’s truly better than the NOFX songs but given the end-of-year theme in this post I couldn’t let it slip any lower.
There are other top 10 short songs lists around (such as this one featuring not a single song I’ve ever heard of) but I can guarantee that my list is the best! Or at least very good! Or pretty nice, at the very least! Or possibly decent. Maybe just a little bit crap. It might be rather horrible, come to think of it…
These last years I have been lamenting the fact that I’m getting too old for behaving like an uncouth youth. Slowly but inexorably I’ve cut down on my drinking, partying and general weird behaviour…but something inside me misses the good old days. I miss hitch-hiking to festivals to watch strange punk bands no one else cares about, meeting strange people and experiencing random everyday adventures. But lo and behold! Now it seems like I might get a chance to indulge myself in some good ol’ misbehaviour again: West Coast Riot is an upcoming festival in Gothenburg, and it features the best lineup I’ve seen so far in 2008!
Just look at the bands…
De lyckliga kompisarna
No Fun At All
And so on…
I am aware that you might be culturally handicapped and unaware of the greatness of the latter four Swedish bands, but I trust that everyone has heard of NOFX, Bad Religion and Flogging Molly at least. Those three are enough to make me feel hot and bothered; the rest is a great bonus.
Feel like tagging along? The problem right now is that it’s been half a decade since I last knew people I could convince to come with me on events like this. I don’t fancy the idea of being the old bastard in a crowd of pretentious little 16-year-old punks, but trust me: even if I have to go alone, I am definitely attending this festival!
A quick quick quick update in case you haven’t heard about Shredz64. It’s a Guitar Hero clone for…the Commodore 64!
I don’t know if I’m more impressed by the geekiness of the project, or by how the author decided to show off a sucky Zelda tune that tries to sound vaguely guitar-based. I mean, given the wonderful songs available for the C64, it’s pretty impressive how he picked a song that sounds…pretty meh.
It was weeks since I last wrote something – oh how time doth pass! But I have an excuse: I’ve been trying to drown myself in beer and loud music. Yes, once again I’ve attended Sweden Rock Festival and indulged in a week of hedonism. And I’ve also been ill after that, but I’ll just skip that little fact since it doesn’t sound as impressive; it doesn’t fit in with my imagined rock ‘n roll image.
The festival was quite pleasant although it lacked that certain…OOMPH; there weren’t many bands that I was dying to see. Aerosmith were surprisingly good, and it was great to see Blind Guardian. McQueen and Pretty Maids were pleasant surprises, as were REO Speedwagon and Axel Rudi Pell…but all in all most bands were “just” good. I’ll name a few more bands I saw; with some luck I just might make some of you jealous: Heaven & Hell, Scorpions, Meat Loaf, Quireboys, Motörhead, Dimmu Borgir, Udo, Tokyo Dragons, Quiet Riot, White Lion, Thin Lizzy, Falconer and many others.
But enough of that! Time to get to the real business… What do you do on a rock festival? Drink beer, yes. Listen to music, yes. Meet strange people, yes. But most importantly, you get people to pose with your Sword…of Doooooom! Let’s bring it on… First the naughtier pics:
Let’s move on to some other strange people…
Yes, that was Santa! I got Santa to pose for me! All clean-shaven at that, as well! Now, onto the rest of the sword pics:
“Why so small pictures,” I hear you cry. “You suck!” Well, yes, that I may do, but mostly it’s ’cause this blog’s theme doesn’t like large pictures and I wanted to be sure that the layout wouldn’t get screwed up. If you want to see the full pictures you’ll have to drop by for a visit, and we’ll watch all 350 pictures in high quality while we listen to some Dragonforce.
Finally, there’s one sword-posing pic that I haven’t shown yet. Yours truly, in all his Hawaii-like splendour:
I’m a geek. So far, nothing new. But I feel especially geeky when I sit at work listening to old game tunes. People drop in to my office and go “hey, isn’t that some racing game” now and then; that is, when I’m not listening to NOFX or Johnny Cash or the 1812 Overture. I brighten up like a Christmas tree every time someone recognizes an old game song, and happily inform them of the title. That’s about when they start to back away slowly again. Anyway, I’m sure that all of you are familiar with video game songs; but in case you’re not I decided to put together a strange little top ten list.
First of all, what are the criteria?
The song must have been made exclusively for the game. No covers, no movie songs, etc.
Remixes are fine, in the cases where I feel that the remix is an actual improvement.
I choose the songs that affect me somehow; I don’t care about musical quality, technical skill and such things.
Okay, let’s bring on the songs… I’ve made an attempt to embed a cool flash-based mp3 player. We’ll see if it works. Try pressing the play button again if the song doesn’t start - that seems to work for me. I hope that some of the songs will touch you like they’ve touched me.
Number 10: Final Fantasy IX – Loss of Me
This marvellous little piano piece is simplistic but extremely emotional. It’s one of the few things I really liked about FF IX; the rest of the game was a bland mix of meh and bleh and yay, but this song stuck out and metaphorically grabbed hold of my metaphorical heart the moment I heard it. The soft piano in the beginning is a great way to conjure a feeling of weakness and hurt.
It’s also not too hard to play on the piano – I managed to struggle my way through the first part after an hour’s training. (Yes, that long. I play the piano about as often as I say no to alcohol.)
Number 9: Mega Man II – Intro
I instinctively feel that this song should be placed higher, but it fits in pretty nicely at place nine. It’s short and sweet and to the point; it contains excellent energy; it really makes me want to get into the action. Despite all of this I must place the other songs higher, because I fear that it’s pure nostalgia that makes this song appealing. It lacks depth somehow.
Either way, it’s a classic and probably a song that would feature on many others’ top ten lists as well. But the next song might be a bit more obscure:
Number 8: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest – Last Castle
What the hell? FF MQ?! Am I insane? That’s a sucky game! Yes, it is – but this song rocks. There’s no other word for it: it just rocks in a way that few other FF songs do. They’re all beautifully composed, but this beast leaps up and grabs you by the throat with its opening riffs. “Look laddie, you’re at the last castle now. You’d better be prepared to kick som ass or go home crying to mama.”
And I can’t tell you how refreshing it was after eight hours or so of dull FF MQ, to finally get close to the end and be greeted by this song!
Number 7: Lotus II – Intro
Time for an Amiga game, and a great racing game to boot. This game looked great, felt great to play, had a good split-screen mode in which one could humiliate one’s friends, and had a kick-ass intro tune. Seriously, just listen to the first minute and tell me that you don’t dig the techno beat accompanied by the catchy melody.
In fact, this is the first song I’m going to play when I finally get my thumb out of the arse and get a driver’s license. It’s going to be so sweet, cruising down the street in a Mazda MX-5 listening to this song. Or possibly the next one…
Number 6: Out Run – Magical Sound Shower
Who doesn’t love the music to Out Run? This is a remix by Instant Remedy, though. I love the original song from ’86, and the new version from Out Run 2 isn’t bad either. However, this remix feels more appropriate for a racing game. I may be a punk rocker at heart, but a melody-driven techno tune with a good beat does get my blood pumping at times.
As you know, you got to select your background music in Out Run. I really don’t see how some people can prefer Splash Wave or …Something Something Breeze to this one. Some people just don’t have any taste.
Number 5: Wizardry – Title
I was never a big fan of Wizardry to be honest, so I don’t remember if this is from the first one or not. This song is actually something of an anomaly in this list: I don’t have a strong connection to the game at all – I simply love the song itself. I can’t even say why it appeals so much to me. It just does. Naa na naa naa na na na na naaa, na na naa na naa na…
Curiously enough, a few years ago I had just picked out this one on guitar when a friend asked me if I could help him write a mobile phone ring tone based on this melody. It seems more people than me get lured in by its intoxicating sound.
Number 4: Cannon Fodder – Intro
A classic from the good ol’ Amiga days! The game was terrific and this song was jaw-dropping. The music is great, the melody is catchy, the sarcasm is stinging – the song is excellent on so many levels. When I listen to it now I can hear the (relatively) bad quality, the slightly off-beat vocal sample joinings…but it doesn’t matter, ’cause the song carries itself well despite that.
I actually taped this song from my TV’s speakers so that I could have it on one of my oh-so-typical-for-the-time mix tapes. I wonder if the terrible sound quality made the low sample quality and the mixing sound a bit better.
Number 3: Turrican II – Level 1
When I do a search for songs from Turrican II I often see the title song remixed. Sorry lads, you’re barking up the wrong tree: the first level tune is the real shit. This is a remix by Pointless Trace, but I think it captures the original very well. Man, how many times did I not start Turrican II only to realize that I had spent a minute listening to the song instead of playing the first level.
Maybe it’s a good thing that I sucked at the game; this way I got to hear the level 1 tune many many times. I doubt I ever came farther than level 2 in the game, in fact. Games were real games back then. Games that didn’t fall over and submit that easily.
Number 2: Enlightenment – Druid II - Title
Speaking of games that won’t submit: this C64 one is a killer. First it begins with a pair of massive doors swinging shut, forming a sinister logo. Then the title screen is shown and this song begins to play. Slow, mysterious and menacing….
After pressing the fire button you’re thrust into a world of constant dread. There are undead everywhere, you must gather spells and defeat the evil demon lords, and it’s all bitching hard. I know that I suck at games, but this can’t have been a simple game for anyone. I think I just managed to kill one of the demon lords!
Many people have made remixes for this song, and I’ve listened through maybe half a dozen of them. Not a single one one-ups the original, though. This version combines sombre beauty with menacing undertones in a marvellous way; the high notes combined with the simple low bass makes it far superior to remixes where there’s simply too much going on. Sometimes less is quite definitely more than… Um. More.
Number 1: Secret of Monkey Island – Title
I know, I know. This is so boringly predictable. But I must give this song the first prize. First of all, the game is one of the best ever. Secondly, the musical quality is astounding with its caribbean steel drums and jazzy undertones and dream-like melodies. Thirdly, I feel that the first version has much better dynamics than – for example – the title to Curse of Monkey Island. It simply speaks to me in a more powerful way.
And no, I’m not insane. It doesn’t really speak to me. It just whispers suggestions for what I should do. “Make me number one in your list,” for example.
Of course there are countless other worthy songs that are omitted from this list: Bubble Bobble, Last Ninja, IK+, Bomb Jack, Wizard & Warriors, Pinball Fantasies, and many more. They’re all great in their own ways, but they mostly conjure nostalgia in me; they don’t really affect me as much as these do. That’s actually pretty amusing considering that there are basically no new games featured in my list: obviously I am letting nostalgia guide my decisions to some extent. But to my defense I must also claim that newer games may have technically superior music, but the melodies are almost non-existent. How am I supposed to remember the music from Titan Quest or Half-Life 2 for example?
One modern game has impressed me immensely with its music, though, and I’ve found myself humming many of its songs. Guess which one?