The realms of video games and music have collided in spectacular fashion over the years. Video games provide the perfect vehicle for artistic expression and collaborations between big name artists and game studios are proving to be immensely successful.
While pop music in video games is nothing new, there is still something so delightful when our favourite musicians create new tracks for our favourite games.
Below is a small selection of our favourite original songs by popular musicians for PC games.
Florence + The Machine – Too Much Is Never Enough – Final Fantasy XV (2016)
Florence Welch contributed three songs to the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack, but it’s Too Much is Never Enough that stands out as an all-encompassing emotional journey of its own. With an angelic voice and backed by a full orchestra, Welch provides a ballad that reflects the hardships and heartaches of the characters, leaving players fully immersed in the narrative. The song’s painful lyrics about strength and loss represent the burden that Noctis must carry on his shoulders. These lyrics paired with the powerful crescendo of the song’s melody perfectly encapsulate the bittersweet nature of Final Fantasy XV, a game about combating darkness with the power of light.
Dr Dre & Snoop Dog ft. Busta Rhymes, Anderson Paak – ETA – GTA Online: The Contract (2021)
When Grand Theft Auto V announced its expansion pack – GTA Online: The Contract – Dr Dre not only lined up to star as himself in the game, but also to produce six new original tracks. Collaborating with some of hip hop’s biggest names like Snoop Dog and Busta Ryhmes, and more recently RnB star Anderson Paak, we saw the creation of fan favourite track ETA. The hypnotic beat and sultry synths, paired with the cleverly compiled rap verses are the perfect accompaniment to cruise the streets of Los Santos.
Beck – Cities – Sound Shapes (2012)
Famous for his experimental sound that cannot be confined to one genre, Beck used his talent for layering untraditional sounds and lyrics under a lo-fi umbrella when contributing three tracks to the 2012 game Sound Shapes. A stand-out track, Cities, artistically incorporates the eclectic sounds from the song into the animations and movement of the game, where we see pulsating flames and spirals across the screen. The player is immersed in a sensory spectacle, where visuals and audio combine to create an engaging environment when faced with the challenge of beating the level.
David Bowie – multiple – Omikron: The Nomad Soul (1999)
Did you know that the late great David Bowie also dabbled in video game music? In 1999, Bowie composed the soundtrack for the game Omikron: The Nomad Soul released for Microsoft Windows in 1999 and Sega Dreamcast in 2000. This soundtrack would be the origins for Bowie’s 1999 album Hours. In this game, players explore a dark and futuristic open world, solve a mysterious serial killing case and unravel the origins of Omikron City. For the game, Bowie produced ten original songs and portrayed a character named Boz, the lead singer of an in-game band that plays concerts around Omikron City. Featuring an experimental Bowie, the tracks work to encompass a full spectrum of emotions ranging from the upbeat and atmospheric to the melancholic and introspective. The game mediates on themes of reincarnation and the soundtrack provides a fantastic experience in immersing players into the game’s unique story.
CHVRCHES – Death Stranding – Death Stranding (2019)
No strangers to contributing music for video games, Scottish synth pop trio CHVRCHES knocked it out of the park with the titular song for Hideo Kojima’s ambitious Death Stranding. A haunting synth pop epic that perfectly encapsulates the game’s themes of perseverance, hope in troubled times and magnitude of human compassion. Listeners will be swept up into a sea of pathos for the characters and the difficult journeys they embark on. CHVRCHES mentioned in a statement how excited and honoured they were to work with Kojima after being fans of his work for years.
“The concept of Death Stranding is so unique and really felt to us like it was challenging people to care about the world they create — in the game and otherwise. We wrote this song specifically for Death Stranding, thinking of the themes of the game and what it is trying to say to people.” Kojima had this to say about the song. “You can cry just by listening to this song. You’ll find out the true value of my strand with them in the game.”