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Is Rockstar trying to educate us about music?

October 3, 2013

While the reviews for GTA V have been almost universal in their praise despite some moral differences. Not one review will say anything negative about the music available as you ride around Los Santos. There is a good reason for this, It’s fantastic. All of the GTA games have kept people amused as they drive around for hours on end with music as diverse at Reggae and Hard Core to Country and Pop. I’ve been fan of using other people’s poetry to convey emotion ever since I first watched Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. There are obviously dozens of films, TV Shows and video games that create their own score to great effect and this may be the more impressive option as you have to create something from scratch to add emphasis to your product.
However there have been few better moments in cinema than the scene in which Mr Yellow stalks the police officer while Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with you” plays in the background. Reservoir Dogs like all of Quentin Tarantino’s films uses licensed music perfectly by portraying the tone of a film or scene while helping the viewer instantly connect with a situation they would never find themselves in. Feeling familiar, even comfortable within a scene in which a man has his ear cut off can make the audiences emotions run over and stay with them for years.
Grand Theft Auto creates those situations in spades as you run from the police listening to Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”, completing a mission only to hear Stevie Nicks “Edge of seventeen” or heading towards making a big decision in game and “The seeker” by the Who stops you from leaving your car until it’s done.
It gives you goosebumps as you’re playing and it’s those feelings that make you come back to a game when the story and challenges are complete. While playing GTA V for the first time I found myself wanting to just go for a drive while listening to the radio. I found myself a fast car, got onto the motorway/freeway and just kept on driving. The visuals will never look as impressive as on that first drive as the sun set and rose again revealing the varied countryside and mountain ranges. Then “Only girl (In the world)” by Rihanna came on the radio followed by “Baker Street” by Gerry Raferty and “Party all the time” by Eddie Murphy and it changes from being fun to an actual experience. I would gain nothing in game for driving around for an hour but I came away feeling happier and calmer than before.
One of the trends I’ve noticed in GTA IV and V is Rockstar’s tendency to choose original versions of popular songs for their radio stations. Whether this is done on purpose or not I have no idea but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone at Rockstar wants us to hear where our music originates.
So far I’ve heard

“Stratus” by Billy Cobham. The bass, guitar and drum were sampled in Massive Attacks “Safe from harm
Stevie Nick’s “Edge of seventeen” lends the guitar riff to Destiny’s Child’s Bootylicious
“Ready or not Here I come” by the Delfonics inspired The Fugees “Ready or Not”

There are many, many more and I may just be making connections where there are none. I hope I’m right though as I think that we can all learn more about the people that inspired the music we enjoy.
Video games can be the perfect way to discover more music due to the interactivity. Guitar Hero opened me up to dozens of songs and bands when their yearly releases dropped. It’s only when you pretend to play along to crazy guitar solos on fake plastic guitars and fail that you appreciate how much talent is contained within those four minutes or so. If a drive around a digital world in a fake car can cause the type of emotions you get in the real world then Rockstar must be doing something right.

So what songs have you discovered in GTA V so far. Are there any other connections you can see in the music used. Let me know below.

XBL, PSN and Twitter @Urbundave.


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