Gaming’s most epic soundtracks handpicked by music industry experts
Music has the power to move us, add drama, tension, and aid in storytelling. When you think of your favourite video game, you often remember the soundtrack quite vividly. It has a huge role to play in the overall gaming experience.
To celebrate some of the best gaming soundtracks LBB hears from music supervisors Codie Childs and James Marshall from Playstation; audio director Justin Andree and A&R / community manager Tom Quillfeldt from Laced Audio; creative licensing managers Allen Mattox and Thomas Cottrell from BMG Production Music; and composer/producer Uele Lamore, recently signed by BMG Rights Management.
“I’m really fond of open world games and I’m a sucker for anything fantasy. Journey was so different from everything when it came out, in its style and story. I really thought I wasn’t going to like it, but in the end I was absolutely obsessed. In this game, where you are alone exploring immense spaces, the music kind of becomes your companion. I love the sounds and textures. It is all so calming but also mysterious. Just like the game.
There is this moment midway through the game where you are underneath some ruins. It is very dark and quiet, and the music is just so nice at this moment. I had to stop playing and have my character static just to enjoy the atmosphere of this place.”
“In DOOM, the player finds a tremendously powerful weapon, the BFG, which they have worked hard to obtain. It’s also a nostalgic weapon, having featured in older games. You’re set loose with the BFG to wreak carnage and the composer, Mick Gordon, created a phenomenally intense industrial metal track to punctuate this, and make players feel like the ultimate Doomslayer.”
“Soundtrack music elevates the emotion of the story, and also helps to encourage the player to push forward depending on the intensity of the track and the gameplay situation.”
Tom Quillfeldt, A&R / community manager, Laced Audio | Justin Andree, audio director, Laced Audio
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
“As a kid I put endless hours into this game, and I think the music has almost as much to do with it as the gameplay. I would even turn Tony Hawk on before I started my homework so that I could listen to the music while I finished. The music and the gameplay went hand in hand.
Now, whenever I hear Goldfinger’s “Superman” track, I instantly think of the game. Friday night after school, my friends in my room, singing the song as loud as we can while playing, my mother coming in and telling us to turn it down!”
Allen Mattox, creative licensing manager – Gaming & Esports, BMG Production Music US
“This game is such a time capsule for me. Music has always been a huge part of skate culture (anyone remember skate compilation videos??) so it made perfect sense for the games to tap into that. I spent a lot of hours playing it with my brother and friends, and it helped to ignite my early teen love of punk and rock music.”
Codie Childs, music supervisor, Playstation
Ghost In A Shell: Megatech Body 1997
“I love this because it’s a video game soundtrack using some of the best techno artists of the 90s, including some amazing tracks by Joey Beltram and Derrick May. Unfortunately, I never played the game - I only found this later in life digging records. But if my six year old self had played this, I’d like to think I would have lost my shit to it!”
Thomas Cottrell, creative licensing manager, BMG Production Music UK
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
“With its beautiful, pastoral score by Jessica Curry, this is a personal favourite. Perfectly befitting of the small English countryside town as it experiences a disturbing but gentle apocalypse. It’s unlike anything heard in games to that point and something I return to many times a year.”
James Marshall, music supervisor, Playstation
Red Dead Redemption II
“The score and original songs punctuate some very emotional moments in this game. Plus, how can you argue with features from artists like D’Angelo, Willie Nelson and Colin Stetson?”
Codie Childs, music supervisor, Playstation
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX
“Games like this introduced me to a lot of music. I can’t tell you how many times I’d put down the controller and pick up my guitar to try and learn the acoustic guitar riff on Sublime’s “What I Got”. Such a good song and game!”
Allen Mattox, creative licensing manager – gaming & esports, BMG Production Music US
“I love the warmly austere soundtrack to Shenmue, combining lush orchestral arrangements with sparse atmospheric tracks. They really anchor the game in 1980s Yokohama and provide an immediately recognisable sound to score the occasionally mundane adventures of protagonist Ryo Hazuki.
I believe that music in games is the most innovative and exciting industry of which to contribute. Last year alone had some instant classics so I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store!”