You pretty guys and gals know about the things I love: pretending I’m a troll in a fictional world, pretending I’m a vampire in another fictional world and pretending I’m good at martial arts in the real world. What you might not know is that I also love music. Not making it, mind you, since I’m as rhythmic as a stiff corpse. Listening it, however, is one of the things I enjoy every day. When I’m on my bike on my way to work, my earbuds fill my mind with sounds. When I’m busy writing for this blog, music creates an inspiring backdrop. Also, I think there’s a song for every major event in my life. Needless to say, 2013 has brought me a truckload of new songs, and since Listmas has begun in my time zone, let me present you my five favorite songs of 2013 in no particular order.
Warning: this week’s Geek Jitsu will be filled with what I consider tasteful music. Though I do listen some of the music the general public deems “good”, my workout playlist contains a few songs that you might find painful to hear. If folk rock and / or punk rock cause physical pain to you, you should steer clear of this list.
Alright, you still here? Well, then we have no time to lose! Every great workout needs great songs. I know that can get that extra dose of adrenaline and general feeling of “RAWR!!!” from the right tracks. In the last years, I have gathered a few tracks in a workout playlist, and today, I want to share my three favourite ones with you
Avicii – Levels
Alright, let’s start with the odd one out of this trio. The kind of music made by Avicii is, generally, not my cup of tea. Electronic music just doesn’t cut it for me. However, “Levels” is a different story. I really love the upbeat tempo, the choice of “instruments” and composition of the track. Also, the calm part in the middle adds to the song, especially because it builds its tempo back up right after it. A perfect track for a steady pace while you’re out running!
Eluveitie – Helvetios
Yes, this is more my typical music! Eluveitie is a fantastic band, and the track “Helvetios” just makes my heart race. Listen to that refrain: don’t you want to scream along to that while finishing that set of push-ups or running ever faster? This music turns you into an ancient warrior, ready to fight anything in his path to glory. While some of the instruments might sound weird, they add to the motivating and medieval atmosphere created by these badasses from Switzerland. Helvetios!
Rise Against – Satellite
I’ve been a fan of Rise Against since my late high school years. Their tough, rebellious character is convincing, and their music is simply…raw. “Satellite” shows this so well, with lyrics that tell you why you keep going without ever stopping. Lines like “you can’t fill your cup until you empty all it has” are simply inspiring, and they keep me going whenever I think I can’t move another inch. Have this bad guy pump through your headphones while working out, and you will surely fly like a satellite over all your challenges!
That’s what’s playing when I break a sweat, but what about you? What gets you into beast mode, ready to go again? Feel free to share, I could use some new tunes!
You know what really bothers me? Every time a new game hits the shelves, everyone talks about its awesome gameplay or awesome-o-saurus graphics, but I rarely hear people give their praise about the music of a game. Sure, there are some aficionados who mention it, but in general, music seems to be a second-class criterion when it comes to judging games. I want to set this wrong right, so today, I’ll give you my three favourite game soundtracks. Hook up your headphones and set your volume to eargasm, we’re gonna bring music to those ears!
Number 3: Mass Effect 2
As I have told you in previous posts, the Mass Effect trilogy is one of my all-time favourite gaming epics. It made me bond with several characters (shout-out to my homeboy Garrus), and had me actual care for the fate of the galaxy. One of the reasons for that was the sometimes bombastic, sometimes enchanting soundtrack. Out of the three games, the one soundtrack that really hit me in the feels was that of Mass Effect 2. With tracks like “The Normandy Reborn” and “End Run”, it still gives me the urge to step aboard that damn cool ship, listen to Joker’s puns and shoot up some Reapers.
On a sidenote, one track that makes me think of ME2 but that isn’t on the soundtrack, is the track used in this badass trailer of the game. It’s one of Two Steps From Hell’s masterpieces, which should also have more than the million fans they already have!
Number 2: Dragon Age: Origins
Yeah, sue me for giving the second spot to another BioWare title, but it’s not my fault their sound department makes epic music. Dragon Age: Origins is one ride of a fantasy RPG, and if you haven’t played it yet, you should be castigated for your sins and then play it. Before you do so, however, hear me out why the music of the game is so delightful.
When making epic music for an epic game, the mistake many composers make is to have it sound just too epic. I know, that sounds weird, but it’s hard to explain. It’s like the music loses its supportive, carrying function, drowning out the actual scene it is meant to make perfect on an acoustic level. Luckily, Inon Zur is one heroic composer, and the pieces he wrote for DA:O are marvelous. If you want to hear the (in my opinion) best ones, check out “Dragon Age: Origins” and “The Deep Roads”.
Number 1: Final Fantasy VII
Oh geesh, bring on the goosebumps! It’s hard for me to give my feelings for this game and its divine music a suitable written form, but I will try anyway. Gosh, just thinking of this soundtrack gets me all hyped.
Next to making some of the greatest RPG’s that have ever been inserted into consoles, Square-Enix is also known for hiring the best composers and musicians alive. Their in-house musical genius is Nobuo Uematsu, who has been responsible for most of the music you hear in the Final Fantasy series. The peak of his talent shows in the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VII, a game that has left his mark on the genre and is still called one of the greatest games ever made. If you ask me, that is an understatement.
Next to being one of the greatest digital adventures I have ever experienced, FFVII is also a musical highlight. When the movie sequel Advent Children was released, a great part of the soundtrack was remade and reborn in an even greater way. While watching the movie and fanboying all over the place, my ears were almost unable to really comprehend the greatness of the music I was hearing. The new versions of masterpieces like “One-Winged Angel” and “Aerith’ Theme” made my skin shudder in delight, and my heart pound faster as I was re-united with the heroes from a game that had touched me so deeply.
Really, if you want to hear the perfect example of music not just supporting, but uplifting a game, play FFVII and listen carefully. Be careful though, you might be humming the “Victory Fanfare” after every success for the rest of your life if you’re like me.
So that’s my top three of epic gaming soundtracks. If you think I missed any great musical piece, or if you would like to share your opinion, hit me up in the comments. While you’re doing that, I have to clean the tears from my cheeks after being reminded of Aerith’ death…