Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

How Video Games Make You Smarter (Music-wise)

March 1, 2005

How Video Games Make You Smarter (Music-wise)

So I’m almost always six months behind the trends or six months ahead of the trends. This month I’m talking about the fact that I’m six months (or more) behind. I’ve been playing SSX 3 on the PS2 lately (no, that’s NOT the reason this edition is late) and I’ve been really wowed by the soundtrack.

Yeah, there’s the obligatory rap stuff on there, but there’s also some really good indie rock, like Placebo, Ima Robot, and The Caesars. That last band is the one I’m most impressed with- their contribution to the soundtrack is the infectious anthem “Jerk it Out” (it’s also been featured on an Ipod commercial as of late- but this is about a different growing trend). The track makes me sing, makes me want to dance, and basically has me jammin’ all the way to finish line (in 5th or 6th…just cause I play the game doesn’t mean I’m good). I went and looked up their album online, which I can do because I have this awesome streaming service named Rhapsody ( where I can listen to pretty much anything in the world for free, as long as I’m content to stream it. I sit at my computer enough to make it worth it.

Anyway, I looked it up online, and their album <u>39 Minutes of Bliss (In an Otherwise Meaningless World)</u> is a really good album- I’m considering buying it. I also looked up some more songs by Ima Robot, since “A is for Action” intrigues me to no end (their vocalist is awesome), and it’s the same story. Good album that I might buy. I haven’t done it for Placebo yet, but I plan on doing so.

Now this column isn’t trying to glorify SSX 3 alone (although I’m doing a good job so far of doing that). This is to say that all video game makers should spend this much time putting together their soundtracks. Three of the bands that I hadn’t heard on this soundtrack were bands that I really enjoy, but would have never found otherwise. If all video game makers were so good to their soundtracks, then this could be a genuinely great way to market music. It easily surpasses the music video as an effective means to advertise (but that’s a different column).

Will we see the perky dance/rock of I Hate Kate ( in a bouncy adventure game? Will the dark indie rock of Ammi grace a down-and-gritty first-person shooter game? Will RPGs be transformed by the panoramic ambience of Ugly Colors, Shots Before Sunset, and/or Industries of the Blind? Time will only tell- but I think so. I hope so. It would make video games way cooler than they already are- and it would sponsor good musical tastes among the general, video-gaming public. Indie-rock to the general public- now there’s something we can all look forward to.

-Stephen Carradini

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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