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Sep 06

Life is a musical

Music is a big part of my life, believe it or not. It keeps me going when I work, and the right song will charge me with energy when I’m getting sleepy. Heck, I’ve even pieced together soundtracks for the books I’m working on.

Yet I cannot name a single modern vocalist that I enjoy.

Like most of my likes, my music tastes are very specific, especially where lyrics are concerned. Unless a song has lyrics written by the likes of Heywood Banks, Tom Lehrer, Allan Sherman, or Alfred Yankovic, chances are the song will make my brain ooze out my ears. Practically all pop music has lyrics that are absolute mindless fluff, and that drives me crazy as a writer. Lyrics should make sense and have stock when you stop and recite them without the music, and because a lot of people don’t seem to think like that, I find that a fair chunk of good music is ruined by its lyrics. I know that one Drowning Pool song about bodies hitting the floor looks neat in a fighting game combo video, but when you actually read the lyrics… it’s so repetitive that it might as well by a church hymn.  My brain, my poor brain… I like keeping all my IQ points…

Good lyrics should talk about something, maybe even tell a story. I’m pretty fond of story songs now that I think about it, like “The Rebel” by Allan Sherman and “Cold Missouri Waters” by James Keelaghan. After all, a song is pretty much just a poem with music… though since most people don’t actually know what a poem really is, maybe I shouldn’t get into that. (Hint: a poem is a piece of writing that uses concrete visuals to describe abstract ideas.)

As for music itself… orchestration pleases The Creature Keeper. Most of the music I listen to has no lyrics, so I go for the best music quality. That doesn’t mean that I seek out any particular genre, but it does mean that what I love the most is many instruments working in harmony.

I also tend to like music that does two things at once. For example, Spring Yard Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog sounds slow and easy, yet bouncy and energetic at once. (I wish I could provide an actual music link, but I understand that doing so can bring lawyers out to feed. It’s probably on Google or YouTube though.)

Then there’s the Trainer Battle theme from Pokemon Platinum, which sounds friendly yet competitive at once.

I’m disappointed at how many remixers don’t pick up on the importance of orchestration though. For example, Mega Man X: Armored Armadillo’s Lair is simply beautiful. Seriously, just listen to all those instruments and what they produce together.

Yet years later when it was remixed for the Maverick Hunter X album, all the excess was cut out. And by excess, I mean all the supporting instruments. It just sounds flat and BAD compared to the original, and it being in the techno/metal genre of music actually has nothing to do with it.

And now, here’s some of my favorite music. If you’ve heard any of these before, tell me what you think if you like.

Namco X Capcom: The Flutter vs. The Gesellschaft

Banjo-Kazooie: The Final Fight

Mega Man 8 (Saturn version): Tengu Man’s Lair

Cave Story: On To Grasstown

Kirby’s Air Ride: Green Greens Orchestra

Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Onett (NOT the Melee version. Brawl is better.)

BlazBlue: Blood Pain

Golden Sun: Guardian of the Stone Tablet

Psychonauts: Main Theme

Lemmings: Level 3 – Keep Your Hair On Mr. Lemming

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