So a co-worker of mine told me about the cheer song for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games. To spare your ears and eyes to witness how god-awful it is, just imagine a low-tier Cantonese pop star repeating a “probably written down on toilet paper” chorus line while doing a Down’s Syndrome version of Dan’s Haoh Gadoken continuously.
This got me thinking; are videogame music tunes with vocals this badly done? Thankfully no. Sure, we have some stinkers here and there (cough*SOTN’sIAmTheWind*cough), but the industry have their moments where they combine the absurd and infectiously catchy.
Below are five examples of such audio anomalies. You can thank/hate me after having these tunes engraved into the deepest parts of your brain as you try in vain to forget them:
A Pirate I Was Meant To Be â€“ Curse of Monkey Island (PC)
Itâ€™s bad enough that Guybrush Threepwood had to go through hell and back just to recruit three pirates for his cause in Curse of Monkey Island, but he has to put up with said pirates and their sudden burst into song. Their catchy, accordion-laden song featuring vocals by the guy who played Scrooge McDuck in Duck Tales. Players who came across this scene purposely click on every available response to hear how they tie into the song, to the point where Guybrush inadvertedly encourages them. Brilliant stuff.
Main Theme â€“ Buck Bumble (N64, PS1)
Truth be told, I only played a fraction of this average arcade-style shooter. Itâ€™s only saving grace is a catchy song sung by some Rastafarian. Pretty soon, youâ€™ll be muttering â€œright about now itâ€™s time to rock with the biggity buck bumbleâ€ for no apparent reason. And also bump to the bump to the bump to the bass, bump to the bump to the Bumbleâ€¦oh god.
Still Alive – Portal (PC, Xbox 360)
I’d probably be lynched by the gaming mob if I didn’t include this ditty sung (with an awesome text background to boot) by the most passive-aggressive of all killing machines. Though it requires a bit of context from the game, it has acoustics and it’s written by one Jonathan Coulton who is perhaps one of the better songwriters and singers in this current generation of music-makers.
Dreams Dreams â€“ NiGHTS into Dreams (Sega Saturn)
Sega is notorious for churning out very saccharine and debatably awful songs; just listen to Sonic Adventures 2 and Sonic Râ€™s OST for further proof. Still, a rare gem of a song that combines cheese and catchiness surface, and that goddamn theme in NiGHTS happens to be it. It oozes of sappiness and happy thoughts, but damn if the first few lyrics and rhythm of the song performed as a duet didnâ€™t hook you into its snares.
Thereâ€™s A Zombie On Your Lawn â€“ Plants vs. Zombies (PC)
The award for most recent catchiest vocal song goes to this number sung by Plants vs. Zombies music composer Laura Shigihara. With lyrics that explain the gameâ€™s modus operandi and the ill effects of brains consumption, youâ€™ll laugh and hum the tune as soon as it reaches the inner workings of your eardrums. Bonus Trivia: she was offered a J-pop star contract at one point in her life before she was dead set on the videogame business.
Moon Level Theme (with lyrics) â€“ Duck Tales (NES)
Fact: the Moon Level theme in Duck Tales signifies a golden age of NES soundchip music. Another fact: adding nonsensical lyrics and chorus clapping to the Moon Level theme will not only add a bigger layer of infectious catchiness to it (”Crazy duck in space” anyone?), but also make you an internet star. Too bad it actually wasn’t in the game, otherwise it’ll be a shoe-in for the top spot.