It’s finally time! Graydon’s annual music of E3 post! You know it, you love it, I sometimes feel extremely stressed out by it, but hey, it’s finally done! This year, I had to wait a little longer because they spread all the showcases out so far. But for all intents and purposes, the Summer Games Fest/E3 2021 is pretty much over now. I think there’s another Xbox indie showcase in the way, and of course there will be more State of Play’s, but this list is the definitive collection of my favorite gaming tunes of 2021. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you find some new music to listen to!
“Follow/Unfollow” by We Are OFK – Story Reveal Trailer
As always, this list is in no particular order. That’s a good thing, because judging by this pick alone, I might be a little biased. “Follow/Unfollow” is a song I’ve loved for quite some time now. Last year, OFK debuted as a virtual band with an upcoming video game, and they performed this very song on The Game Awards. Not many people seemed to care, but I was instantly intrigued. A new band like the Gorillaz with a techno sound and a narrative-heavy adventure game to accompany all of it? Where do I sign up? OFK delivers a beautiful song about one’s wary love, and I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of electronic dance music. I can’t wait to hear more from them!
“Music Has Tied Us” by Mirazh – Atomic Heart Official Gameplay Trailer
I think it’s fair to say this trailer really stole the show at the Xbox conference. Atomic Heart has been an oddity left on the back burner for some time now. Thankfully, its release is almost here. But in the meantime, we’ve been graced with this insane trailer that looks like it came from the mind of a drunken Russian Hideo Kojima. The song that accompanies the twisted action onscreen perfectly encapsulates the feeling of frantic weirdness, with words in a language most of us watching couldn’t comprehend, and a techno tempo that kept our toes tapping, no matter what our heritage may be. Atomic Heart is shaping up to be one of the more unique games on the horizon, and I can’t wait to play it.
“Carry You Home” by Rupert Pope & Giles Palmer
– Life is Strange Remastered Collection Official Trailer
It’s no secret I love me some Life is Strange. Furthermore, if you’ve been watching my play through of Life is Strange 2 on our YouTube channel, you’ll know that I love me some Life is Strange music, as well. There’s something about these games that bring out a love of folksy romanticism and existential ambiance. Life is Strange is a series about growing up and becoming your own person, so the music that accompanies it must take inspiration from a feeling of youthfulness and life on the open road. “Carry You Home” portrays this beautifully throughout the trailer for Life is Strange’s remaster. It’s as powerful as it is emotional, and I can definitely picture Chloe and Max’s journey in my mind as a listen and reflect.
“Gimme Money” by Rockapella – The Big Con Music Video Trailer
If you’re a 90’s kid, this song’s for you. In fact, this entire game was made with 90’s kids in mind! The Big Con is a game inspired by the retro style of old, with psychedelic colors filling in a comic book art style in an isometric world of eccentric characters. It’s looking like a hell of a time, and the trailers for the game have carried their fair share of nostalgia vibes. With this latest trailer, fan-favorite a capella group Rockapella – of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego fame – supplied their dulcet harmonies to explain The Big Con’s story. I’ve never seen a “music video” that doubles as a story trailer, but there’s a first time for everything, I guess!
“You Can Get It (ft. K.Flay)” by Arkells
– Forza Horizon 5 Official Announce Trailer
Forza Horizon 5 blew me away for a slew of reasons. Most notably, this game looks like a photograph come to life, nay, an entire documentary about Mexico come to life! The game is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever laid eyes on. So as the visuals had my eyes glued to the screen, I was just as shocked to hear a voice that sounded extremely similar to Fitz and the Tantrums, one of my favorite bands. Surprisingly, it wasn’t them at all, but a band called Arkells singing a song that quickly found its way into my rotation. It’s just one of those songs you wanna crank up and drive to, so I’d say it fits in Forza Horizon 5 perfectly.
“Breath and Bone” by Ryan Ike – Wizard with a Gun Official Reveal Trailer
I’m kind of a sucker for westerns these days. Red Dead Redemption 2 lit a fire within me that yearns for more cowboy escapism. Wizard with a Gun offers that kind of experience alongside a hearty helping of magic! So what more could you ask for? Well, how about a song behind its reveal trailer that perfectly sets the tone of such an adventure? “Breath and Bone” took the action onscreen and shaped it into a darker visual, thanks to the old western-esque bass line and gritty vocals. It’s a darn good song
“Best Friends” by Grandson – Back 4 Blood Official Release Date Trailer
When looking over this list of songs I’d chosen, I initially had this trailer and the Redfall reveal trailer written down. Now, looking back on it, I can’t even figure out what song I enjoyed from the Redfall trailer. That wasn’t so much the music as it was the beautiful and humorous action of its gameplay. Back before I’d noticed this, however, I chose to talk about Back 4 Blood over Redfall because, while it may not bring much new to the table, its creators deserve some credit for being pioneers of the genre themselves. Back 4 Blood’s core gameplay already has me excited, and this song about “getting high with your best friends” really sums up the teamwork aspect of said gameplay. This game going to be terrific!
“Majesty (ft. Wasiu) by Apashe – Lost Ark Official Gameplay Trailer
This was the first song of Summer Games Fest 2K21 that felt noteworthy to me. Lost Ark didn’t quite take me by surprise, but the bombastic nature of this trap song sure did! When putting together this list as a whole, I almost left it out, actually. At first, I felt the list was too long. Then, when I made it bigger, I was going to leave this as a runner-up. But the more I listened to “Majesty,” the more it grew on me, leaving me stunned by every verse. It’s such a legitimate solid poem from beginning to end, pieced together with these insane musical hooks that bring the bass louder than I’ve ever experienced. This song is thrilling from start to finish, and I love the journey it takes you on.
“Right Now” by The Siege – Splitgate Official Console Release Date Trailer
This song is just fun! Not every song on these lists has to knock my socks off, or deliver some powerful message. Sometimes, a song can just get me dancing, or the game can be so fun-looking that the song left an impact on me. “Right Now” did both of those things, with a catchy, upbeat tune accompanying Splitgate gameplay. If you haven’t heard (or seen) our coverage of Splitgate yet, well you’ve been really missing out! Beloved by a handful of our team members here at VGU, Splitgate combines Halo and Portal to create a frantic multiplayer shooter with modern flair. It’s a joy to play, and this song made it a joy to watch! Thankfully I can go play it for free anywhere right now! No pun intended!
“Get Down” by Captain Qubz – Future of Play Hype Reel
I love me a good montage. Almost every year I’ve been doing this, one of the songs is from a game montage shown at E3. While this entry typically comes from ID@Xbox and their awesome compilations of indies, this year I heard a song from the Future of Play showcase that stuck with me. Accompanying the hype reel near the end of this short digital direct, “Get Down” kicks off fast and hard, growing in strength as the montage rolls on. It maintains a playful vibe while also throwing some drum beats at you that are as unexpected as they are welcome. It’s just a great song to go running – or save the world – to. I definitely wanted to share this one with y’all, it’s a lot of fun.
“Glider (Live)” by Japanese Breakfast – Sable (Summer Game Fest)
Sable is a beautiful game for so many reasons. Its hand-drawn art style looks like a picture book come to life. The animations of every character and vehicle move so fluidly across the vast sands like it were an anime or something. But behind all of that action, Sable has a gorgeous soundtrack to back it up, and nowhere was this more apparent than on the Summer Game Fest stage, where Japanese Breakfast performed “Glider.” What began as something I initially skipped – because I didn’t care to watch a little girl shouting into a microphone – over time became a performance I’ve come to respect and genuinely enjoy. Japanese Breakfast’s unique voice adds to the production that is Sable and this song really blends with the work as a whole. The main reason it’s a runner-up is because the song was revealed a while ago. But this performance almost landed it a spot on the list proper.
“Take Me Back” – Replaced Official Reveal Trailer
This song is hard to talk about, as it doesn’t have a lot of structure to go on, currently. Backing the reveal trailer for Replaced, this song doesn’t even have credits in the form of an artist. The best you can find is a title from a YouTube video where the song clip repeats itself like 4 times, including the trailer’s in-game sound effects. But what cannot be denied is this game’s awesome sound, combining a shady cyberpunk vibe with a haunting rock score. I remember seeing this trailer for the first time and just thinking how unique it looks, sounds, and feels. This song brings that emotion to the forefront, supplying the trailer with the oomph it needed to really stand out from the crowd. I will be eagerly awaiting Replaced, as well as an official release of this tune.
“Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler
– Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Reveal Trailer
One of the most overused songs in gaming, “Holding Out for a Hero” has become synonymous with either scoring game trailers, or scoring some of the best moments in video games. Need I remind you of Saints Row: The Third’s final scene, complete with a car chase set to the famous Footloose hit? Bonnie Tyler is a national treasure, and it’s no wonder why this song gets used so often: it’s a banger! Even its use in Shrek 2 was welcome, and it was a cover! You simply cannot mess up this song, nor its usage, and Square Enix’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy game took advantage of this fact. I was extremely happy to hear that Peter Quill’s next Awesome Mix will include Tyler’s smash hit, and I cannot wait to blast some aliens apart while it blares in the background.
“Do It Again” by Steely Dan – Contraband Official Announce Trailer
You may have noticed that the last three runners-up seem out of place. Well, that’s why they’re runners-up! I like to do this list every year because it sheds some light on smaller songs that may not get a lot of recognition. But the runners-up tend to include some more mainstream stuff that we all know and love, whether that’s Bonnie Tyler or Steely Dan. Obviously, I can’t say “Do It Again” is a real video gamey song, and who knows if it’ll even make an appearance in Contraband. Hell, nobody even really knows what Contraband is, except it’s an upcoming game for Xbox made by the creators of Just Cause. It’ll probably have lots of vehicles and explosions, and going by the title it’ll have a lot of illegal substances. But going by this music choice, I’m sure it’ll also be full of some awesome oldies, and I’m totally down for that.
Pirates of the Caribbean Music by Hans Zimmer
– Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life Official Reveal Trailer
Don’t try to ask me what song this is, because it’s too Hans Zimmery to even attempt that answer. If you’re a Pirates of the Caribbean fan like I am, you’re used to songs like this, with big violins and horns to fill your soul with dreams of the high seas! While I don’t particularly like Zimmer as a person, I’d be lying if I said his scores weren’t iconic and powerful. Most notable are his songs for the Pirates film franchise, and I was absolutely shocked to hear them backing a Sea of Thieves trailer! I never got into Sea of Thieves, but it’s about time we climb aboard, now that Jack Sparrow has joined the crew. This new expansion brings tons of fan-favorite characters and an original storyline, and all that beautiful music we know and love. It was a pleasant surprise to hear during this Summer Games Fest.
So there you have it! Another Summer of Gaming in the books! Thank you so very much for watching, reading, listening, and in general just paying attention to the content we create. We really appreciate it. I hope you took something from yet another “E3 music” post, and I’m sure I’ll be back again in 2022 to drop some fresh new beats for your hungry ears. See ya!