In the age of "Guitar Hero" and MTV's "Rock Band," game maker Electronic Arts says the "Madden" soundtrack is still a leading force for the future of video game music.
"Respectfully to 'Guitar Hero' and 'Rock Band' — which we have a hand in here at EA — those games are about the rediscovery of artists, which is fantastic, but 'Madden' is about discovering something that is going to change your life six months from now," Steve Schnur, head music executive at EA, told MTV News in an interview Tuesday (July 8).
The annual "Madden" soundtrack and its ability to break songs and artists is a well-documented phenomenon. "Madden" sells millions each year, exposing players to a raft of new music. To reinforce his point about "Madden" this year, Schnur demonstrated that 14 of the 26 songs announced for this year's 20th-anniversary edition of the football series, "Madden NFL 09," are either exclusive songs or sneak peeks of songs that won't be on their artists' albums for months. "Madden" is clearly still a powerful force for bringing new music to a a big audience.
First listens in the new game include tracks from Franz Ferdinand, Gym Class Heroes and the All-American Rejects. Already-released songs featured on the soundtrack are coming from the likes of Busta Rhymes, Tyga and Disturbed.
Schnur said this year's soundtrack represents the blurring of rock and rap. The other key element of this soundtrack, despite its forward-looking track list, is paying homage to older "Madden" games. EA went out of its way to include efforts from "Madden" vets Franz Ferdinand, the All-American Rejects and Good Charlotte, the latter of which, Schnur said, were "the first band, seven years ago, to give credit to 'Madden' for having an effect on their lives — musically speaking. I'm not going to take credit for their girlfriends."
Despite the 20th-anniversary celebration, the new soundtrack won't include music from the very first "Madden," because the digital bleeps and bloops sound too much like "Good Humor truck music" to Schnur to include in a soundscape that he feels should push forward every year.
Instead, the goal for this soundtrack is nothing less than to "predict the future," in Schnur's words. He said he watches message boards, blogs and sales lists every year to see if the songs he and his team picked for "Madden" become hits. If they do, he's encouraged. Knowing his picks can't please everyone, he said, "If we can give you two or three or four songs that please you, hopefully we've done our job."
To help celebrate the soundtrack and promote "Madden NFL 09," artists from the soundtrack will be featured nightly on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" for a week in August. On August 11, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, will be turned into a public "Maddenpalooza," featuring game stations and band performances. And anyone who pre-orders the game at Target will receive an iTunes card that lets them download 10 of the new game's songs for free.
EA wouldn't address any chances of linking "Madden" to any other music-heavy games. Instead, Schnur is putting a wrap on his soundtrack work for 2008's games for now. He's picked songs for 40 games this year and is heading for vacation. Afterward, he'll start on the soundtracks for 2009's EA games, another blockbuster edition of "Madden" certainly chief among them.
"Madden NFL 09" ships August 12 for all major home and handheld game consoles.
Track list for the "Madden NFL 09" soundtrack, according to EA (* denotes that a song is debuting in "Madden" before it's released on an album; ** denotes that a song was recorded exclusively for "Madden"):
» Airbourne - "Stand Up for Rock 'n' Roll"
» The All-American Rejects - "The Real World"
» Busta Rhymes (featuring Linkin Park) - "We Made It"
» Disturbed - "Inside the Fire"
» The Fashion - "Like Knives" *
» Franz Ferdinand - "Lucid Dreams" *
» From First to Last - "Worlds Away"
» Gym Class Heroes - "I'm Home" *
» Hollywood Undead - "Undead" *
» In Flames - "The Mirror's Truth"
» InnerPartySystem - "Don't Stop" *
» Izza Kizza - "Millionaire" *
» K'naan - "ABC's" *
» Kardinal Offishall (featuring Lindo P) - "Burnt" *
» Kidz in the Hall - "Blackout"
» Kovas - "Wax On, Wax Off" *
» Mindless Self Indulgence - "Never Wanted to Dance"
» The Offspring - "Hammerhead"
» Rev Theory - "Hey Yeah"
» Senses Fail - "Wolves at the Door" *
» Shinedown - "Devour"
» Trivium - "Into the Mouth of Hell We March"
» Tyga - "Diamond Life"
» Underoath - "Desperate Times, Desperate Measures" *
» Wale (featuring Southeast Slim) - "Breakdown" *
» Young Dre the Truth (featuring Good Charlotte) - "Workin' " **
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