Thursday, June 23, 2011

Songs to Grow On: Nautilus

I don't know why I haven't posted more songs from Final Fantasy in this blog yet. It seems like the obvious choice when speaking of video game music. But I digress. This song from Final Fantasy XIII is played in Nautilus, an entertainment city for the residents of the game's world. As fantastic and sweeping as much of the song is, it still has a few sweeter, sadder moments, implying that not everything is as bright and innocuous as it seems. This song, written by the amazing Masashi Hamauzu, has really touched me recently, so I thought I would share it with you as well.

"Nautilus" - Final Fantasy XIII

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Composer Spotlight: Yasunori Mitsuda

Yasunori Mitsuda was probably the first video game composer I became interested in (after Nobuo Uematsu), and he is most likely the reason I've become so interested in game composers at all. When I was in high school and was working at an independent bookstore, my boss's brother lent me the Yasunori Mitsuda tribute album, "Time and Space," along with a copy of Chrono Trigger (which, up to that point, I had not played). Hearing not only Chrono Trigger's original, infectious music, but also the brilliant orchestrations of that music on the tribute album, I knew that I had to learn more about the man behind this score. Mitsuda's been through quite a bit to deliver on these albums that we know and love today, and he certainly deserves these accolades.

Mitsuda, as he appears on his album "Colours of Light"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Songs to Grow On: Koholint Ballad of Life (Overworld Theme)

This summer, I'm going to do things that are productive. I'm going to better myself. I'm going to not waste the time that I have. One of my loftier goals is to arrange enough music to be able to start a video game music a cappella choir when I return in the fall. Of course, that'll be difficult, but I really hope I'm up for the challenge (and, well, although Northwestern already has an abundance of a cappella groups, none of them have this same schtick). I want to do more obscure songs, but it is familiar tunes that really draw a crowd. This song takes a bit from both columns and is one of my favorite renditions of the Legend of Zelda theme; as such, it will be one of the first songs I will try to arrange for this new choir. Presented below are the original Gameboy version and the Super Smash Bros. Brawl version of the Overworld theme in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, originally composed by Minako Hamano.

"Koholint Ballad of Life" - The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

"Overworld/Tal Tal Heights Mix" - Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Songs to Grow On: War

This weekend, I'm performing in an anniversary show for my high school's theatre program. The program has been around for 45 years now, and hundreds of people who had participated in our high school's theatre come back to our hometown to perform in this fantastic musical revue. In honor of this musical theatre setting in which I've been placed, I thought I would share one of the more theatrical songs in video games. Although I've not played the Sam and Max series (with music composed by Jared Emerson-Johnson), I'm acquainted with their fantastic and (mostly) witty sense of humor. This is performed after Max (the crazed-looking bunny) becomes president due to... extenuating circumstances. It's fun to note that this song seems to parody itself by copying the same initial lyrical structure of the Edwin Starr song of the same name and saying the exact opposite (that war is good for you and for me, and not good for absolutely nothing). The campy style and over-the-top performance of this song covers up the tragedies of war for its practical and glorious applications; given that the entire series is dripping with sarcastic humor, this song does an excellent job of exposing a truth by stating its opposite.

"War" - Sam & Max Save the World

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bridging the Gap: When Video Game Music and Popular Music Collide

Sometimes it's hard to explain what appeal video game music has. Part of it is its versatility: video game music can come from any genre, and it often creates its own genre to enhance the experience. In this way, it emulates popular music and its continuous evolution. Sometimes, though, both of them overlap; composers for video games use pieces of popular music to add a deeper significance to the moment, or songs originally composed for video games become so popular that they permeate our culture.