I have a dream…………cast!

Actually, I have a hunch. I suspect that most people listen to music more for the image it is associated with than anything else. Case in point: Poison, Velvet Revolver and Joe Satriani have a bigger fanbase than the Sonic Adventure soundtrack. The soundtrack is far superior in songwriting, performance and general soul-fiber. Those other musicians are washed up and provide little beyond a cash crop to their record labels (although I do enjoy “Rock of Love” in a sick sort of way). The comparison is that the music on the Sonic Adventure soundtrack is the substantial equivalent of the image that those afforementioned bands put forth and fail to live up to artistically.

As you may remember, Sonic Adventure was one of the Dreamcast’s launch titles. It did not do too well, as some of the gameplay was a little buggy and the game did not have the “enjoyment factor” of previous Sonic the Hedgehog® games, and certainly not the legendary Super Mario 64® for Nintendo 64. But what caught my attention at the time, was that everyone was telling me how the music in Sonic Adventure was all hair-metal. Since people tend to describe things lazily (I don’t do this, fortunately for you), I was not convinced and so had to discover this Sonic Adventure hair metal for myself. If anything it sounded like a hybrid of metal power-pop, really tasteful shred/80s melodic fusion guitar playing and some dancey club/house electronica. Pleased was I, for Jun Senoue and the rest of the Sega Sound Team had outdone themselves yet again.

Sonic has some Peggy Hill feetA cetacean tries to kill for sport

While two thirds of the songs are super catchy melodic affairs, there are many variants and impressive new takes on the musical universe of the Sonic franchise. “Blue Star” is an awesome big band jazz number (live instrumentation?) that totally resets the previous high standard of explosive jazz interpretations the casino levels always reserved in Sonic games. It’s like Sonic went all Lupin the Third on us! But it’s immediately followed up by “Dilapidated Way,” a more somber affair that has some beautiful whammy bar bends in the background, lending a west-coast, “surf” or old-west sound to it. It sounds almost like it could’ve stepped out of a Las Vegas organized crime drama or ‘The Big Lebowski’ or something. A humorous, dark contemplative sound.

Some songs, like the main theme “Open Your Heart” or some of the early beach levels, sound like they could be off of a new Marty Friedman or Racer X album. That’s wild and I love it. Imagine non-grimey sounding ballsy power-pop/glam! Damn, this stuff reminds me how awesome some of the old movie soundtracks were. Remember those succulent keyboard patches used on the soundtrack to the classic ’80s John Woo film, ‘The Killer’? Or how about the theme song to the original cartoon Transformers movie? How about anything scored by Mark Knoppfler? People love to spout about how Japanese music is always behind the ball stylistically, that they pick up on what is cool and marketable years later. But I would wager they just have a more substantial idea of what imagery sells and how to emulate it almost more effectively than the original object they’re copying. This kind of ballsy, epic rock music is a perfect example. Japan’s not behind the ball, rather they just really know how to tastefully implement retro culture. If this had come out now, I bet the game would’ve done better just on the soundtrack alone. Unfortunately, it seems the soundtrack was actually ignored and not taken particularly seriously due to when it came out. Back when technically proficient pop music was frowned upon by American consumers… Even if technical guitar is only popular now as a gimmick…

To summarize the Sonic Adventure soundtrack: If you gauged the compositional quality of music by monetary value and not by mere artistic opinions, this would be worth more than the lousiest Harold Potter adventure. And that’s a lot of moolah, because the Harold Potter tales make more money the lousier they get.

Sonic Team – Open Your Heart (Main Theme) – Sonic Adventure
Sonic Team – Azure Coast – Sonic Adventure
Sonic Team – At Dawn… – Sonic Adventure
Sonic Team – Blue Star – Sonic Adventure
Sonic Team – Dilapidated Way – Sonic Adventure
Sonic Team – Windy and Ripply – Sonic Adventure

I liked the Dreamcast and was sad to see it go. It’s kinda weird that it didn’t succeed, considering Playstation 2 and Xbox didn’t have any real “killer apps” for their respective systems, except for Gran Tourismo 3 and Halo (maybe Grand Theft Auto 3?). Strange that between a library of quintessential games like Sonic, Shenmue, Virtua Tennis (I’m serious, my friend’s dad bought it just for that game alone!) and featuring great new ideas with Ikaruga and Bust-A-Move, the Dreamcast still couldn’t pay the bills. Hell, I still play Street Fighter 3 with my peeps!

I’ve heard something about Sega selling new Dreamcasts by mail-order to Japanese customers and people still make new Dreamcast games independently or something. That’s pretty cool and I’m glad there are still Sega loyalists, but I can’t help but think it’s weird that both Saturn and the Dreamcast eventually died out, considering the Playstation 2 and Xbox culture were so much more shallow in their aspirations and yet succeeded on such a wide spectrum. I suppose Xbox wasn’t even really making money, but just bullying the competition.

What is interesting to me about the dilapidation of Sega’s place in the console race is that, in the console race– and just like in everything else in life– there is only survival. There is no victory or time to lay back and celebrate. There is really only survival. Companies just try to survive one product’s generation until they can get out their next product. Hmm, sounds kinda like human families, doesn’t it?

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on August 7, 2007.

5 Responses to “I have a dream…………cast!”

  1. -I suspect that most people listen to music more for the image it is associated with than anything else.-

    Guitar Hero, anyone? The ads alone sell the IDEA of playing guitar well. If people practiced actual guitar instead of playing Guitar Hero, they could be great in a matter of a month or so! Than they wouldn’t need a PS2 to WOW people.

  2. Yeah, that’s usually my take. I’d rather practice more guitar than watch guitar hero.

    A perfect case in point: Dragonforce on Guitar Hero 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vERUUgsTcks

    I feel like learning the actual song would be easier.

  3. […] On top of all this, the music here provides a preview of what direction the composition in the series was headed for with the later Dreamcast titles. The epic, endearing power-pop metal of Sonic Adventure has its roots here, but Sonic CD has more relaxed vibes for its main themes, using keyboard patches that reflect the time period. While the Sonic Adventure soundtrack was something of a retro-throwback to the best the ’80s guitar-rock genres had to offer, Sonic CD came out in the the early ’90s, when pop music was leading into a different kind of studio production and placed less emphasis on promoting hair-metal. So it’s rather interesting to me to compare the two soundtracks and see which one is favorable. They’re both very strong works, though I think Sonic Adventure has one of the better modern (CD-based audio quality) video game soundtracks to dat… […]

  4. […] I’ve written about Sonic the Hedgehog. I also wrote posts about Sonic CD (Sega/Mega CD) and Sonic Adventure […]

  5. i absolutely enjoy sonic tracks on any of his game cause his games suck in playability but make up in music with crush 40 and the guy in satsr.

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