Posts Tagged With: video

Epic Game Music (part 2)


The following is the second group of songs in a series of epic game music that pulls me out of melancholy and despair by launching me into triumphant hope and joy:

Super Smash Bros: Melee (Kirby) – Fountain of Dreams

Oneups (cover of Katamari Damacy) – Katamaritaino

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Epic Game Music (part 1)


FOREWORD:

I hated listening to the radio and had little interest in listening to music in general until I was twelve. It was the year Napster had made it big. Napster provided me an opportunity to listen to a song I liked without having to listen to or pay for eight songs I didn’t like. It also was an excellent resource for reliving some of the most joyous experiences of my life, which were for the better or worse, playing video games.

Video games gave me an alternative reality to inhabit every night as my parents and sister went through screaming fits. All the screaming I dealt with on a daily basis had turned me away from music and people and towards my imagination, things, and the more-than-human world. I was so present during games. There was no one else I owed recognition to, not even myself.  So I withdrew into the basement where I could become absorbed in a challenge of wit and skill and the elation of adventure accomplishment.

While many hardcore gamers are most impressed with a game’s graphics (like photorealism and gore) and storyline, I’ve tended to enjoy most unencumbered play control and music. Play control and music allows one to enter into the world of the game, no matter how simple the graphics and the story. Lose play control and atmospheric music and there is too much distance between gamer and game world, no matter how great the graphics and plot. Play a game of flash Tetris with and without listening to the Korobeiniki and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Even today, fifteen years after the birth of Napster, I am enamored by game music and their remixes. Outsiders judge game music as something unsuitable to listen to outside of gaming. It is stigmatized bu its role in what society deems as a lower art (or something that is no art at all). Even film and television music are not popularly listened to outside of their original context. The same could also be said about the classical music genre which is considered very “high art.” The general public, it seems, are not interested so much in complex and deeply emotional scores. They are attracted to rhythmic beats that put one in a mood to party through an adrenaline rush and those that produce a nameable affect such as sadness, anger, and passion (most emphatically about human relationships). These are the songs that reach top 40. They are instantly familiar and require little contemplation to understand in body and mind the truth of what is being said.

Most video game music, however, has not a single lyric, nor do they have a beat. Game music is usually melodic, short,  and repetitive (for the sake of looping while in levels). In that last ten or more years, video game music has become more orchestral, leaving behind short earlier pieces for more cinematic scores, sometimes played now by symphonies. Regardless of which generation of games a song comes from, it can always be remixed and covered, enhancing and adding to what existed originally. The following is the first group in a series of epic game music that pulls me out of melancholy and despair by launching me into triumphant hope.

ORIGINALS
Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Final Showdown with Bowser (0:50 – 1:18)
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Somebody that I Used to Know


Earlier this week I came across this music video of Gotye’s 2011 top single “Somebody that I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra).” I wasn’t too impressed with it at first, but as I listened to the lyrics again and focused on the performances of the two singers, I became captured by the song.

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end
Always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
You didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Just a year ago, these lyrics wouldn’t have meant all that much to me. I recall when I was dating the first person I’d fallen in love with, I suddenly began appreciating songs about relationships. Songs that once were dumb became profound. It isn’t until one has a certain experience, I’ve learned, that songs become more available to our tastes, and perhaps others become stale.

“You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness” and “But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over” ring with a certain truth after last Fall. This truth however isn’t something that can be understood outside of embodied experience. At least certain “truths” must be felt (or lived) to be understood. And it was this truth about truth that made it difficult for most of my friends to understand what I was going through.

I was offered cliche condolences such as “You’ll find some one better next time.” Were these any more healing than the shallow delusional reassurances one receives when a loved one dies like “I know she’s smiling at you in heaven now”? These responses abstract from one’s experience and make a false promise of a future in order to distract one from the reality of the present and one’s coping with the difficulty of that reality. They are performed to close off one’s thinking and feeling the present to relieve the emotional burden from both parties. Distracting one from reality does not lead to the personal, emotional, and spiritual growth that one will need in and outside of one’s next relationship. Healthier than drinking away one’s sorrow, yes, but not healthy overall.

The power of the lyric  “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know” is that it is dishonest. It too is an escape from reality, or at least a conscious attempt at it nuanced by such an attempt’s futility. If one repeats this lyric enough, perhaps one too can come to believe a false reality. It represents a defense mechanism against trauma. Rather than signifying the convalescence of a wound, it is as if a thick Ace bandage that does not heal wounds so much as makes the surface of the flesh callous, but thin enough that it may be painfully reopned.

I’m no fan of pop music as a genre. Often pop music is bare entertainment that creates rhythms that capture a wide audience. The near-universality of the appeal of pop music is what makes it so “popular.” A refined appreciation of technique and sophisticated song writing isn’t necessary. The cognitive level of appreciation that is necessary for appreciating “fine arts” isn’t necessary because the shared affect is enough to herd people into a pack. However, songs like “Somebody that I used to Know” is no less profound just because it doesn’t have superior performance and technique. It’s profound because it touches upon a near-universal experience of emotional trauma people experience in certain breakups. The lived knowledge of this truth is what creates the pack of pop culture. (Hence the Australian video’s 113 million hits in just six months)

– – – – – –

“But you didn’t have to cut me off / Make out like it never happened / And that we were nothing / And I don’t even need your love / But you treat me like a stranger / And that feels so rough”

I think this is where the song hits on a more interesting difficulty: the difficulty of self-annihilation, not simply the breakup. A lot of misunderstanding I experienced when sharing my story with friends was the tendency for them to focus on the heartbreak, as if the trauma was from losing the emotional possession of another person. Yes, that part was a difficult reality to face, but genuine love transcends heartbreak. If  one really loves another, they will accept their desires and aspirations (within a reasonable limit… however that might be defined…). However, when someone you genuinely love desires to “cut me off”  like “we were nothing” is crushingly difficult. This is the affect of the implosion of the security genuine love creates from acceptance of one’s vulnerability. Love is a bridge over nothing that secures two (or more) vulnerable beings. When one side removes their support, the otherside is left to carry all the weight, goes under from the burden, and is submerged into nothing. It’s this helplessness that is the trauma.

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i don’t know


i don’t know

I don’t know what a chicken thinks. I just don’t know.

I don’t know what goes through a her mind when the beak she used to eat with is clipped off, what she’s feeling when she sees her beak tumbling down into a pile of eighty-six more. I don’t know.

The only thing I think I know is that I will never understand all, let alone any, of it. 9 billion animals go through this every year and I can’t even grasp what it is like for a chicken as her beak is seared off . It seems like it would hurt, but I’m a human, not a chicken. Even so, I don’t know if that CAN’T hurt. And even if I did, so what? I can’t imagine how that chicken went through her whole day. I can’t imagine one day! Not even a typical one out of the 365 days a year when all she does is force herself to keep on going, to keep standing on an uneven surface in an extremely cramped cage? Hell, I can’t even imagine imagining what she must think and feel for three hundred of those twenty-four hour cycles, nor what hundreds of millions of chickens in this country are likewise experiencing in this country at the same time. I don’t know what ONE goddam chicken feels for ONE fucking instant of her entire fucking life when she receives something as simple as her fucking chicken feed.

I really can’t imagine. If you can, tell me. I’d really like to know, because I don’t even know where my meat comes from, let alone what animal I am eating. I don’t know what kind of conditions they were in, if the cow that I am eating now had a broken leg, suffered arthritis in her neck, was given steroids that could kill me, was strapped up to a milking machine for nine hours straight, or had her cut throat and accidentally went on living for several minutes while she swung upside down. I don’t know if the people there took good care of the animals, or bad care, or beat them with shovels, or used a red hot iron to brand them on their face, and then just laugh—-or worst yet, walk away without even a care, or even worse—-without a thought.
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