Music to My Ears: TURN THE BEAT BACK

You may have noticed from how many posts I’ve had on the site about video game music, but it’s kinda my jam. There’s nothing quite like having the perfect soundtrack to go with a given moment or stage in a game. Still, one of my favorite byproducts of that is when you can use those connections in cool ways — and one of the best is reveal trailers.

Picture the scene: there’s a black screen, with maybe a logo splashed across. You cut to some scene where the person is silhouetted or otherwise difficult to see — maybe their face is obscured or they’re hidden in shadow and you can only see a minuscule piece of their clothing. Before you can piece together what’s going on, a familiar background piece of music hits just as that character becomes clear, and you realize exactly what’s going on.

As an example, take this video from Super Street Fighter IV when several returning and new fighters were announced. This is actually one of my favorite video game trailers ever simply because it introduces those characters in a cool way. SFIV’s paintbrush aesthetic made it so that just displaying different pieces of character art with their theme in the background seemed like the most interesting thing in the world. Hell, the trailer really just has that splash art, a theme, and then a handful of signature moves and an Ultra Combo, but it works.

So even though Juri’s theme is probably my favorite in the bunch (T. Hawk is a close second for nostalgia’s sake), there’s one key moment in there: right before Cody is introduced. There’s something about the delivery in that “TURN THE BEAT BACK” that gets me every time. And I wasn’t alone — a whole bunch of people loved it, to the point where it was used in Cody’s theme in this game, then in Street Fighter V when he was revealed as a season three DLC character. Hell, even Cody’s buddy Mike Haggar picked it up as part of his theme in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Little pieces that link together different versions of similar themes are one of my favorite things about video game music. Sometimes it’s neat when you get what is essentially a cover of an original song; other times it’s awesome when you get just a snippet of an old melody in a new song, like what Zelda has done with a lot of its themes over the years. Either way, connecting the past to the future is my joint. TURN THE BEAT BACK

Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games on a recurring basis, which is basically whenever Chris gets around to writing it. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.

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