Five Awesome Video Game Music Cover Bands

Like many people with an artistic temperament who are not artists (Mad Men season finale callback!), I have a day job. Like many day jobs, it involves me sitting at a computer for the majority of the time. And like many people who sit around typing all day, I’ve carefully cultivated a Pandora radio station that keeps me going. Somewhere between thumbing-up and thumbing-down tracks, and telling it I liked The Black Keys, Imogen Heap, and Apocalyptica, Pandora decided I’d probably be into hearing music from video game soundtracks—especially covers of music from video game soundtracks. You win, Pandora. This round.

I recently poked around the Unreality archives for Zelda stuff, and ran across this post from Paul. While The Ocarina of Rhyme samples Zelda tracks as opposed to covering them outright, revisiting it made me think of the video game cover bands that had been sneaking into my Pandora station. I’ve seen a lot of posts around town (town = the internet) about VG music covers that are all about individuals doing cool stuff like singing in 8 part harmony with themselves, playing the theremin, beatboxing, and the like. I haven’t seen too many that are entirely focused on bands or projects that are devoted to covering game music, however. If you have, feel free to eviscerate me and post the links to the articles in the comments. I’d like to read them. In the meantime, here’s my humble contribution to spreading these musicians’ awesomeness across the land, starting with the project that inspired the post:

Team Teamwork Presents: The Ocarina of Rhyme

Believe it or don’t, but Team Teamwork is only one man. Far from being a jack of all trades but master of none, he’s made a name for himself mashing up video game music with other various and sundry musical genres. He’s a veritable font of party-ready game music, and you can find all of his latest and greatest (as well as early) projects here.

The Zelda franchise has been one of my favorites since I was a wee lass. Can’t get enough. Both my DS and my 3DS are the limited edition Zelda versions. I’ve seriously considered getting a triforce tattoo, but I can’t justify getting it anywhere other than the top of my hand, and that’s a little too tattooey for my daily life. Why do I love Zelda so much? Some chalk it up to the fact that I’m a girl, but I say it’s my love of well-crafted storytelling. Storytelling which includes transcendent music that transports me directly into the world of the game.

httpv://youtu.be/RQ6VStjxhBs

I remember the first time I heard the Gerudo Valley theme. Simultaneously exciting and exotic, it perfectly described the place where all the badass women with swords hung out. I also loved it when one of the gossip stones said, “they say that Gerudos sometimes come to Hyrule Castle Town to look for boyfriends.” Sisters are doin’ it for themselves. Also, could the gossip stones be more aptly named? I’m pretty sure my grandma was a gossip stone.

 The Advantage

The Advantage first started rocking in Sacramento, California back in 1998, and as far as I can tell, are not still actively performing. Which is a tragedy for us all. Please remove your caps. But their music shall never die! Also, if they are still performing, feel free to eviscerate me and post links to their show dates in the comments. I’d like to attend them.

httpv://youtu.be/IVfdujq16jA

The first time I played Castlevania I was sure I could die from happiness right then and there. With every crack of my whip, I rained down righteous justice on every kind of monster imaginable. And then I took down Dracula AND destroyed his castle. And when that castle crumbled to the ground, I bet I just walked away. The more I ignored it, the cooler I looked.

The Black Mages

Pictured L to R: Got the Memo, Got the Memo, Got the Memo, Got the Memo, Got the Memo, Didn’t Get the Memo

The Black Mages were founded in 2002 by three Square Enix composers:  Kenichiro Fukui, Nobuo Uematsu and Tsuyoshi Sekito. They later added Keiji Kawamori, Michio Okamiya and Arata Hanyuda. They’ve since disbanded, but three members still play rock arrangements of Nobuo Uematsu’s work as part of the Earthbound Papas.

httpv://youtu.be/0G1pTgyO-O8

You are probably aware that Nobuo Uematsu is one of the most well-respected composers in the video game industry, so it’s no surprise that he and his colleagues’ extra-curricular endeavor is extremely well-produced. It’s pretty metal actually, and I dig that they don’t shy away from synthesizers. Though with Nobuo, that’s probably not an option. If you know of some instances where he wasn’t rocking it out on a keyboard, feel free to eviscerate me and leave links to videos in the comments. I’d like to see them.

The NESkimos

The NESkimos hail from St. Augustine, Florida, and started putting their hardcore rock spin on VG music in 2002. 2002 was clearly a big year for the founding of video game cover bands.

httpv://youtu.be/YPlUjVDKMJo

I like the NESkimos especially because they’re not afraid to explore the songs musically instead of just performing a straight cover. They haven’t been active since 2008, except OH WAIT they’re going to be playing Ancient City Con and Nerdapalooza this summer. If this is not true feel free to eviscerate me in the comments, but you have to be a member of the band. I’d like to meet you. Get ready for the awesome, Unreal Floridians.

 Minibosses

The Minibosses are alive and well, as people and as a band, and you can keep up to date with their current performance schedule here. They formed in Massachusetts in 1999, but have since relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. They definitely aren’t adverse to traveling, though. Their next two gigs will be in Philly and Seattle. The Philly gig is this Saturday, as a matter of fact, in case one of you East Coasters would like to treat your significant other to some cultural awareness via a fine evening of music and mirth.

httpv://youtu.be/CGdXvK3CY_M

That’s right, I’m bringing it all back around with Zelda. If you think there’s too much Zelda in this post feel free to eviscerate me in the comments, but know I will no longer consider you a faceless internet friend. I’d like to keep things positive in my life. I’m not ashamed to admit that listening to this makes me start to tear up. Suddenly I’m six years old, tethered to my TV via the short cable of my NES controller. 4 buttons and a d-pad, that’s all we needed back then! I’m including the start and select buttons in the equation. Obviously.

Have I left any out? Eviscerate at will.


22 Comments

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