I was doing some deep-sea diving in the Wii’s “Endless Ocean” this past weekend, exploring some ruins. And I heard “Amazing Grace,” as sung by New Zealand classical soprano Hayley Westerna.
Really? “Amazing Grace” in a video game? Check out Hayley’s website, scroll through the media player on the left and listen to the snippet they have of the song. It’s not what you normally hear in a video game, even a deep-sea diving video game.
The thing is, it works. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…. should have nothing to do with my efforts to snap photos of stingrays and swim through a diving flock of penguins. But it somehow comes together. It creates the proper gentle, relaxing mood. Good thing a great white shark didn’t show up.
Unusual song selection also worked in the Atari / Marc Ecko graffiti game “Getting Up.” That game played an old blues song — “I Smell A Rat” by Big Mama Thornton — during a boss battle. If memory serves, I was punching an evil factory boss, while Big Mama belted out the tune. It was different, and it was wonderfully angry and frantic in a way I’d never heard before. When I asked Ecko about it a couple of years ago, he said that it was his idea and that it had been a hard sell to his game’s creative team. (Listen to a sample of that song on this page.)
I’ve been sent reeling by speed metal in “Sonic” games and rap music in “Donkey Kong 64.” I was surprised by the closing song of “Portal,” of course. And there was that “Gears of War” commercial’s unusual choice of the mournful “Mad World.”
But I don’t feel like I’ve been shocked enough by the soundtrack selection in games. Do we need more church music? We need more surprise, at least. I hope to hear more.
(Recent thing I’ve also done: Cancelled My ‘World of Warcraft’ Account (And Had Fun Doing So)