Deconstructing Hits: Which EA Sports 10 Title Has the Best Soundtrack?
If the Simpsons episode "Marge Be Not Proud" has taught us anything—and I don't think it has, because Bart Simpson gets caught shoplifting merchandise at the Try-N-Save, and I still can't pronounce "Xoxchitla"—it's that having music that connects an individual to the gaming experience is imperative.
Just ask Bart's little wiener friend Milhouse Van Houten (pictured, in all his glory).
Upon playing "Bonestorm" for the first time in the aforementioned episode, Milhouse remarks how great the game already is, despite the fact that he'd only entered his name.
But what was it that gave young "Thrillho" his initial surge of exhilaration?
Why, nothing but the adrenaline-drenched, fist-pumping rock bridge of the game's main menu theme, of course.
Though one can never truly rely on EA Sports to provide a soundtrack that will engulf the average gamer into the virtual playing field the way that "Bonestorm" can, it's still nevertheless fun to muse over where they continuously go wrong in their misguided jukeboxery.
As Bleacher Report's newly self-proclaimed music snob, allow me to break down (old-school, of course) which soundtracks of the three main sports titles set for release this year suck, and which ones blow.
(All pictures used are intellectual property of the respective artists. So, basically, EA Sports and Matt Groening. Not me.)
FULL SOUNDTRACK LISTING: 2Pac (Can't C Me), Airbourne (Heads Are Gonna Roll), Alice In Chains (Them Bones), B.o.B (Created A Monster), Bang Camaro (Revolution), Beastie Boys (Sabotage), Black Sabbath (Paranoid), Cypress Hill (Get ‘Em Up), Helmet (Unsung), Iron Maiden (Aces High), Judas Priest (Painkiller), Kid Rock (I Am The Bullgod), Killswitch Engage (Reckoning), Korn (Blind), Mastodon (Divinations), Nas feat. Puff Daddy (Hate Me Now), Nirvana (Breed), Pantera (Walk), Public Enemy (Shut Em Down), Rage Against The Machine (Guerrilla Radio), Set Your Goals (Gaia Bleeds) (Make Way for Man), Slipknot (Duality), System Of A Down (Sugar), The Vanity Plan (Before I Die), Young Dre The Truth (Cheah Beah)
AT FIRST GLANCE: Now, I've never been great when it comes to deductive reasoning—however, if I had to venture a guess, this soundtrack appears to be the byproduct of one of EA Sports' summer interns carelessly leaving his iPod lying around while still playing in shuffle mode.
This slapdash slurry of mostly early-2000s rap-metal, hip-hop from no particular era, and a dash of metal-metal resembles a playlist that you might find on the laptop of a first-year university student who actually partakes in decent music—one who isn't into indie rock or, conversely, hardcore Drum and Bass.
WHAT'S HOT: Thug poet Tupac Shakur's appearance in the Madden series is a pleasant surprise. What is even more surprising, however, is that EA opted to go with one of his publicly lesser-recognized songs. Instead of going with "California Love" (as I'm sure most would've expected), they chose a track featuring funk legend George Clinton that stands up well on its own.
With that in mind, however, I have two concerns regarding this song choice.
For starters, I'm pretty sure this will end up sounding more like an instrumental track with the large volume of expletives that will have to be censored from the original version.
Secondly, I just hope that Madden fans unfamiliar with the hip-hop genre don't get the wrong idea that Tupac is just stealing John Cena's bit.
The Madden soundtrack, however, does contain a number of old favourites, including the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," and Rage Against the Machine's "Guerrilla Radio," which should make for some good listening.
WHAT'S NOT: While the soundtrack is, for the most part, tolerable, there are still a number of sore spots in this year's lineup.
Now, I'm going to come off as a bit of a hypocrite for saying this because back in Grade Seven—a time when my musical tastes weren't fully developed—I purchased Kid Rock's album "Devil Without a Cause," solely because "Bawitdaba" was on it. "I Am The Bullgod" was, likewise, one of the tracks from said album, and I can safely say that it won't be one of the tracks on Madden 10 anymore once I put the mute button to it.
(Seriously, "Bawitdaba" was a pretty enjoyable back in the day. Don't be hatin'.)
Also, I don't know much about Young Dre The Truth, so I'm basing my opinion of his song entirely off of my initial perception of his name and song title. If my hypothesis is correct, "Cheah Beah" is likely a garbled disarray of indiscernible English mistakenly passing itself off as a hype song.
And the name, Young Dre The Truth? Seriously, hip-hop artists of the 21st century, can't we just have names anymore that don't screw with the rules of proper diction?
This guy belongs in the same category as Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, for example. That's not a name, young man—it's a mothereffing verb. That's something you do. You are Soulja Boy and, apparently, you tell 'em.
But for crying out loud, don't turn the whole sequence into your rap moniker! You don't see me listing myself on B/R as "Nick Frost Writing Articles," do you?
Same goes for Young Dre The Truth. Are you "Young Dre" or are you "The Truth"? And if you're both, can't you be "Young Dre (a.k.a. The Truth)"? Or, "The Truth [COMMA] Young Dre"? What is this, amateur hour?!
OVERALL RATING: 8 / 10
HOW MANY SONGS WILL I END UP NOT MUTING?: 15 / 25
NBA Live 10
FULL SOUNDTRACK LISTING: 88 Keys feat. Colin Munroe (Wake Up Call), Afrika Bambaataa feat. Why G, Mickey Factz &The Fort Knox Five (Zulu! [We Don't Stop Yawl]), B.o.B. (Champion), Beastie Boys (Pop Your Balloon), David Banner & GQ (S.P.I.T.), De La Soul (La La La), Dead Prez (Still Bigga Than), Embassy Music Board (Overtime), Grand Puba (Get It), Laza (Crank It Up), Matt & Kim feat. De La Soul (Daylight [Troublemaker Remix]), Matt & Kim (Daylight), Mick Boogie feat. Kidz In The Hall, Donnis & Daytona (Class Of Our Own), Mickey Factz & B.o.B. (Mind Got Blown), Mos Def feat. Talib Kweli (History), Murs feat. Kurupt & Jay Rock (We Ballin'), Pete Rock (When I Need It), Reflection Eternal (Get Lite), Rye Rye feat. Busy Signal (Get Like This), Snoop Dogg (Lodi Dodi [LIVE 10]), Wale feat. Jazmine Sullivan (World Tour), Wyclef Jean feat. Haitian Fresh (Ballin'), Xzibit feat. BJ The Chicago Kid & Poo Bear (Fanatic), Young Dre The Truth & 2Pac feat. BJ The Chicago Kid (All Eyez On Me [The Truth]), Zion I (Go Hard)
AT FIRST GLANCE: The NBA Live soundtracks are never usually anything to get excited about.
Every year, people can anticipate the typical fare of urban music out the wazoo, with few standout tracks to make the process of trying to make trades in season mode seem more exciting.
However, there are a few names on this year's list that have piqued my interest, and are certainly keeping me on my toes more so than in game's past.
WHAT'S HOT: With a strictly hip-hop soundtrack, it's necessary to have a balance between the more materialistic, poor flowing "gangsta rappers" and the supremely talented "hip-hop artists."
This year's lineup of the latter features some stellar names, including Afrika Bambaataa, Beastie Boys (also featured in Madden 10), De La Soul, Mos Def, Pete Rock, Talib Kweli, and Reflection Eternal (so, Talib Kweli again).
One thing that will build up the anticipation level a bit (and, remember, this is assuming that you get as worked up over video game soundtracks as I do) is the fact that several tracks are previously unreleased.
In my effort to uncover the Beastie Boys' "Pop Your Balloon," for example, my attempts were futile—however, if it's anything like other songs released by the Brooklyn-based hip-hip trio, it's bound to be a good one.
WHAT'S NOT: With a strictly hip-hop soundtrack, it's necessary (and inevitable, unfortunately) to balance out the supremely talented "hip-hop artists" with the more materialistic, poor flowing "gangsta rappers".
EA Sports has chosen to do this in a number of different ways this time around.
While Tupac Shakur does make an appearance in the game's soundtrack, unlike Madden, fans will have to endure a bastardized version of the late rapper as he teams up—involuntarily, mind you—with the incomprehensible (in more ways than one) Young Dre The Truth.
Everyone's favourite Snoop D-O-double-gizzle has recorded an exclusive track for NBA Live 10 entitled "Lodi Dodi." If it's anything like the songs he's been putting out over the past decade, it's probably going to live up to the first three letters of the song's title and be a complete "load."
Lastly, dawg, EA Sports heard you like Xzibit, so they put Xzibit in your game, so you can game while you game. Your game has officially been pimped.
OVERALL RATING: 6 / 10
HOW MANY SONGS WILL I END UP NOT MUTING? 10 / 25
FULL SOUNDTRACK LISTING: Alexisonfire (Young Cardinals), Cancer Bats (Deathsmarch), CKY (Hellions On Parade), Disco Ensemble (Golden Years), Drangonforce (Heroes Of Our Time), Eagles Of Death Metal (Anything 'Cept The Truth), Earl Greyhound (Oye Vaya), Green Day (Know Your Enemy), Megadeth (Peace Sells), Metalkpretty (Wake Up! Wake Up!), Ministry & Co-Conspirators (Keys To The City [Chicago Blackhawks Theme Song]), MxPx (Kids In America), Nickelback (Burn It To The Ground), Papa Roach (Into The Light), Priestess (Raccoon Eyes), Rancid (The Bravest Kids), Scorpions (Rock You Like A Hurricane), Thousand Foot Krutch (Fire It Up)
AT FIRST GLANCE: Oh, EA Sports. Why must you assume that all fans of your perennial hockey title are simpletons?
Part of me believes that this list of so-called songs isn't even worth the five minutes that it'll take me to review.
But then I remember that I get to trash Nickelback. Let's get started, shall we?
WHAT'S HOT: A paltry two songs on NHL 10's soundtrack are worth listening to, which means that an alternate outlet for jazzing up your in-game browsing may be required. Perhaps, investing in a stereo or personal music player would be better suited for an occasion like this.
Eagles of Death Metal entry "Anything 'Cept the Truth" is just about the only good, non-kitschy tune on the list, but it's not even one of the Palm Desert, California band's better songs. "Cherry Cola," "Solid Gold," or "Whorehoppin'" are all better options in this instance.
That being said, the only other song remotely tolerable in this year's maelstrom of crappy music is Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane".
Because it's a song that's actually played in sporting venues, and can legitimately claim to be a "pump-up song." But unless you want to get the words "Here I am! Rock you like a hurricane!" stuck in your head for an entire calendar year, keep your iPod handy.
WHAT'S NOT: Just when I thought an NHL game soundtrack couldn't sink any lower, they just had to go and prove me wrong.
It's times like this that I miss the simplicity of hearing short little ditties like "The Mexican Hat Dance," a 16-bit version of 2 Unlimited's "Ready for This," or my personal favourite, "Brass Bonanza".
For starters, the inclusion of a Nickelback song (any of them, there really are only two distinct Nickelback songs to choose from) automatically plummets this year's lineup right down to the bottom of the smoldering soundtrack heap.
I could go on for ages about how terrible they truly are, and how I'm ashamed to say that they're Albertans, but I'll save both of us the trouble.
Also striking a chord of mediocrity this year is Green Day, with the worst lead-off single they've ever released, "Know Your Enemy". All this song does is re-affirm how good the band used to be before they got all preachy and judgmental, and how tiresome the whole anti-establishment façade has become.
We get it, Green Day! You're nobly standing up for workers of the world! You hate war! The world isn't green enough! Some pencils don't have erasers! My coffee is too hot!
Beyond that, the typical faux-metal filler just re-affirms about 13 times over how poor this list is.
OVERALL RATING: 0 / 10
HOW MANY SONGS WILL I END UP NOT MUTING?: 2 / 18 (Start warming up those iPods, folks.)
And The Winner Is...
Madden 10, I guess. But, rest assured, it's mainly because they had the highest batting average of the three major titles.
But I'll tell you who definitely isn't a winner in this situation: you, the gamer and fan of music.
Sure, having menu music from well-established artists doesn't seem like that big of a deal on the surface—after all, it's not like the music is constantly playing while your three-dimensional warriors are out there on their respective virtual playgrounds.
On the other hand, though, you've shelled out damn good money for these games and you want the company making them to get as many details correct as possible.
And, let's face it, running a separate music source is a pain in the ass. You have to pause the game and restart a playlist if it runs out. Plus, there's the whole wasting-energy-by-running-two-sets-of-items-at-once business to worry about (Green Day disapproves, by the way).
For now, we'll thank our lucky stars that there are alternate methods of settling our respective musical fixes, and hope—for the umpteenth year in a row—that EA Sports gets it right next year.
In conclusion, as the official (pending) music snob of Bleacher Report, I deem most of this music unlistenable, and as the old adage goes, "everyone is entitled to my opinion."
Nick Frost Writes Articles, signing off.