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DJ: Happy National Video Games Day 2017! On today’s episode of Feel Me Flow, we are all about the arcade! We were inspired to post about video games after a conversation with Lauryn at poplurker.com and thought it would be a wonderful way to celebrate National Video Games Day!
The penny arcade first originated in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the arrival of video games in the late 1970s that the arcade exploded in popularity. We’re going to feature songs about video games, songs featured in video games, songs by artists named after video games, some video game theme songs, and even a set dedicated to the arcade original staple; the pinball machine.
We start things off with Copenhagen rockabilly act Wild Wax Combo and their tribute to one of the first arcade video games to hit the market; “Space Invaders”. Drop your coins in and try to beat our high score!
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DJ: Arcade Fire has gone nuclear with the release of their fifth album Everything Now. The band evolved from indie rock to dance pop over the course of their career, bringing new indie elements to the pop music scene. From their first LP, we heard “Rebellion (Lies)”.
Before them, we heard pop-punkers The Ataris doing “San Dimas High School Football Rules”. They took the song title from a line in the 1989 movie Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure; where a fumbling jock giving a bumbling speech about “computers” just shouts the line in order to get an applause. Typical fumbling jocks, amirite?
Pennsylvania punks Common Enemy had “Pac-Man Fever” before that.
Bad Religion sang us a song about another early arcade game with “Frogger”.
Coming up in the next set, a war-propaganda tune used in the Bioshock series, followed by some punk rock and an 8-bit remix. From 1942, here’s Kay Kyser & His Orchestra doing one of many renditions of “Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition”.
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DJ: Paza Rahm remixed Beck’s “E-Pro” and for the 7″ release of the single and Beck’s Hell Yes (Gameboy Variations) EP. The remix came during a time in the late Oughts when the chiptune sound was just gaining popularity and becoming more of a known genre.
Prior to Beck, we had Vampire Weekend doing “Cousins” from their sophomore release; Contra. Contra (the video game) was famous for utilizing the Konami code, or Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A. People often add Select and Start to the end of the code when referencing it, but in Contra all that did was select Two Player Mode and Start the game.
Green Day played “Burnout” before the Konami code canon. Burnout was a popular racing game featuring high-speed action and Michael Bay-esque crashes. The series also featured big soundtrack hits when EA purchased them for the 3rd installment in the series.
Hüsker Dü played us the lead track off of their magnum opus, 1984’s Zen Arcade.
Coming up in our next set, we have Sugar Ray with a track from Road Rash 64/3D, the original motorcycle high-speed racer with a rock and roll soundtrack.
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DJ: Back in the early 80s when video games were just starting to thrive, people were worried about getting trapped in the computer dimension. Looking at movies like Tron and Weird Science, you can tell there was an obvious fear of the unknown with how far computers would take us. That fear is vocalized in the little-known hit from Fingers, “Video Games”. The band released one 8 song LP and faded into obscurity.
Kimya Dawson folked up some Atari references with a track from her 2013 album Knock-Knock Who?.
Before her, we played FMF staples The Sonics with “Have Love Will Travel”. Have you ever delved into the Sonic The Hedgehog games? A high-speed left-to-right platformer where your main goal is to collect rings. Yes, please!
Kreeps played us another track from the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare Soundtrack. That game was another smash hit; Grand Theft Auto in the Wild West!
Next up is a track from another time-vacuum of a video game series, Tony Hawk. Goldfinger’s best-known hit, “Superman”, from their 1998 album Hang-Ups livens up our 4th set. Also, look for our Set 4 Score featuring a Lana Del Rey cover by BNLX.
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DJ: We played a Neon Indian track during our Summer Solstice, and it was nowhere near as dancy as this 2011 cut, “Arcade Blues”. They’ve evolved…
Before that dance cut was another groovy funk track, George Clinton’s “Computer Games” from the 1982 debut solo album of the same name. Clinton’s music with Parliament and Funkadelic has been heavily, heavily sampled throughout the hip-hop genre over the years. Computer Games would be no exception, yielding tracks like “Atomic Dog” and “Loopzilla” the latter of which would be featured in the aforementioned Grand Theft Auto series.
Our Set 4 Score this week goes to Minneapolis indie rockers BNLX. The band has released numerous EPs over the years and almost all of them featured a cover song or two. Covers range from Ice Cube to Prince, to Lana Del Ray and more. From their 2014 EP #7, we took a cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games”
Murphy’s Law gave us a punk protest song about sitting on our asses all day at home. I’d say it can apply to video games as well. It’s amazing how far video games have come not just in terms of graphics but also the amount of time it consumes in peoples’ lives! As the World Of Warcraft loading screen says, “enjoy everything in moderation”.
Our next set features the precursor to arcade video games; pinball. Instead of graphics, let’s let gravity takeover and run the show. Simple as that. Here’s The White Stripes with a tale about smashing a bowling ball through a pinball machine…
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DJ: Pinball can be quite the addicting game; it’s a constant battle of successes and failures. Every time you let that ball pass your bumpers, frustration sets in! Brian Protheroe wrapped up our pinball set with his 1974 single, “Pinball”.
The Who gave us the bio of the most famous pinball player we all know; Tommy.
We had The Blood Brothers of Seattle play us quite the post-hardcore epic with a track from their critically acclaimed 2003 album Burn, Piano Island, Burn. If you’re looking for something wildly different than your typical listening venture, jump into that rabbit hole of an album.
Garage rock stalwarts Oblivians chimed in with “Pinball King” from their 2013 comeback LP Desperation.
Our final set is a mixed bag of joysticks and other technological hardware. We start off with a track from Kathleen Hannah and The Julie Ruin but will jump right into hip-hop, funk, techno-funk, and finish off our show with a ballad from The Antlers. Here’s The Julie Ruin with the title track from their 2016 album Hit Reset.
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DJ: The Antlers wound us down after a hardcore 2-hour gaming session.
That Ronnie Jones song, though. Ronnie Jones’ “Video Games” would escalate us to the pinnacle.
Before Ronnie’s funky tech beats, we heard a collaboration between smooth 70s singer Bobby Caldwell and producer Jack Splash known as Cool Uncle. The collaboration came after a chance Facebook message and turned out to be just what the funk doctor ordered. The LP features appearances by Cee Lo Green and Mayer Hawthorne, the latter of whom was featured on the track “Game Over”.
Hip-hop collective Doomtree hit us up with “Punch-Out” from their No Kings album. BANGARANG! Although Dessa Darling (real name Margaret Wander) has been enjoying a solo venture recently with her fourth album Chime, she still holds her roots in the Doomtree Collective. I mean, it only makes sense that the CEO of Doomtree would get the first shot at megastardom, although personally, I think Stef (P.O.S) deserves to be recognized amongst the greats as well. Hell, the whole group is amazing!
Alright everyone, its time for me to beat my brother’s best time on Trials. Join us next time on Feel Me Flow!