Why are we writing about a video game? Because the Grand Theft Auto franchise is no mere video game – it’s a genuine pop-culture phenomenon, and, as anyone who keeps up with joypad-twiddling will tell you, music is becoming an ever-more integral part of gaming. The Rock Band/Guitar Hero franchise have flogged themselves to death, yet were undeniably a turning point for the industry. And Valve’s ‘Portal’ series has featured a couple of bespoke bona-fide pop classics (sung by an evil computer no less), not to mention a specially commissioned tune by The National.
But Grand Theft Auto … ah, Grand Theft Auto. The music that features in the game – blaring from a selection of in-car radio stations – adds to the experience on an almost indefinable level. Remember blowing up helicopters to the strains of Blondie’s ‘Atomic’ in Vice City? Cruising a motorbike through smouldering drug plantations while humming Loretta Lynn in San Andreas? Speeding away from a bank robbery to Alexander O’Neill’s ‘Criticize’ in GTA IV? Sure you do.
Well … now GTA V has been announced, and from the first trailer alone it seems that Rockstar Games have been compiling another awesome soundtrack: one that will reunite you with some old classics and also introduce you to a selection of tunes you may never have heard before. Here’s the trailer itself:
Like that music? That’s none other than The Small Faces, with Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake:
The question is – what other music can we expect to hear in the finished game? Rockstar always – to some extent – moulds the soundtrack to fit the character of the location. GTA V seems to have returned to San Andreas, a spoof OTT version of Hollywood. So what sort of musical backing would be particularly suitable?
They wouldn’t be obvious enough to include tunes like ‘Californication’, say, but we can surely expect to see typically West Coast rock acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers make an appearance. The Eagles, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, The Byrds and The Doors are all also particularly evocative of that sun-drenched state.
Let’s not forget the 80s glam metal boom, in which Sunset Strip found itself infested with the likes of RATT, Poison, Quiet Riot and Motley Crue. A kickback against this fuelled a new era of alt-rock, spawning the likes of Jane’s Addiction, Hole, Stone Temple Pilots and Tool. We’ve got California punk-rock embodied in the form of Black Flag, Bad Religion and the Minutemen. We’ve got the thrash metal heritage of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Exodus among others. All these genres should be primed to make an appearance.
Most importantly, perhaps, is the West Coast hip-hop scene, a sprawling mish-mash of influences and sounds which we’re not going to try to summarise in a couple of sentences. Needless to say, this was a huge element of previous game GTA: San Andreas. We can surely expect to see obvious inclusions like Cypress Hill, NWA and Snoop Dogg, as well as a roster of less mainstream prospects.
And if we’re talking California, we’ve got to put The Bangles in there. Because The Bangles are awesome, and you have official BAMM permission to punch anyone in the face who says otherwise.
This isn’t to say that all the music will be linked to the location: Rockstar are bound to draw on all sorts of genres and places to create a fantastic playlist that will accompany your driving/shooting sprees wonderfully.
What about you guys? What kind of music would you like to see in Grand Theft Auto V?