Gran Turismo 4, The Music From And Inspired By
|Published by||Universal Music|
|Release type||Game Soundtrack - Official Release|
|Format||1 CD - 14 Tracks|
|Release date||March 28, 2005|
The Music From and Inspired by Gran Turismo 4 features music from popular artists such as will.i.am, Snow Patrol, and The Hives in an ode to the popular racing game. Alongside this album, Gran Turismo 4 has also received three other album releases — an original music release, a selection of classically arranged tracks, and a selection of in-game trance/electro pieces by various techno artists. Much like Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2, the choice of music from popular artists in Gran Turismo 4 is mostly related to driving — you just need to listen to the lyrics! Anyway, let's up the gears, get on with the review, and see which tracks deserve that coveted chequered flag.
The Music From and Inspired by Gran Turismo 4 features music from all over the world, and in that sense, is one of the most globalised albums in the series. Upon a couple of listens, it becomes increasingly apparent that it explores up to four mainstream music genres: hip-hop, rock, electronica, and soul. You could argue that this was unplanned, but personally I feel this is an attempt to grab the attention of Gran Turismo gamers from different continents, and also appeal to more potential game players. In this sense, it is an intelligent compilation of themes in terms of background... though this does not necessarily speak for their musicality! In regard to the extremely broad genre which I often label as 'electronica', for instance, we are given "Oh Yeah" by Swiss band Yello. This song plays when license tasks are failed by the player, and is basically a comical track made from manipulation of vocals and synth sounds. Although it has featured in up to 13 films and countless television shows, "Oh Yeah" is hardly the best representation of the genre, and serves more as a joke theme, but I guess anything to keep the Swiss happy (let's just be thankful that gothic and death metals bands Messiah and The Raven weren't chosen instead!).
Hip-hop music receives less of a disgracing exhibition though, with a few good tracks from will.i.am and The Roots. Normally, I am not a fan of mainstream hip-hop, but will.i.am's "Drop on You" and "It Don't Mean Nothing" are surprisingly catchy and bearable. "Drop on You" features a nice piano backdrop, steady drum beat, a catchy development, and actually begins to change my opinion of the genre which I've always approached cautiously. Philly hip-hop band, The Roots also feature on the album with "I Don't Care," a surprisingly enjoyable, jazzy and eclectic hip-hop track which holds a good beat (even the lyrics state that "it's the percussion that keeps s**t kinetic"). In regard to the inclusion of The Roots alongside will.i.am, it becomes apparent that hip-hop music is more than the negative imagery we hear in the press, especially if we look away from the mainstream side of things. I can understand that the producers of Gran Turismo 4 wouldn't have wanted excessive cussing and swearing in the game, which is probably why these tracks were included as a representation of hip-hop, but it certainly works out for both sides (i.e. the producers, and us, the gamers). Maybe next time they'll treat us to some underground hip-hop.
Soul music also gets some appreciation on this album, with tracks from the late James Brown and The Commodores. The only problem you may have with them is that they are remixes, and hence soul music isn't portrayed in its truest form. Nonetheless, two benefits do come from this: first of all, the tracks are now more modern and accessible; second, both remixes are pretty likeable! In terms of accessibility, I mean that the tracks appeal more to modern youth; although the tracks have the initial soul foundations there, they have been transformed in such a way that they aren't perceived as older tracks anymore. "Machine Gun (Gran Turismo 4 Pop Rox Remix)" from The Commodores is a track which you can drive around to with ease and no worries. It has a groovy bass guitar accompaniment, choral melody, and overall upbeat nature which is only matched by James Brown's "(Call Me) Super Bad Parts 1, 2 & 3 (Gran Turismo 4 Pop Rox Remix)." It's about time that James Brown's feverish dancing and The Commodores sale of over 75 million albums were recognised in game music.
The rest of the soundtrack is mostly rock music from different parts of the world. English psychosis rock band, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster feature on the album with "Psychosis Safari," a basic track with a fairly decent melody, but with a weak riff. Compatriots Snow Patrol also adds to Britain's alternative rock contributions with "Wow," a strong melodic track with nice vocals. The best tracks lie overseas from the U.K. though, with tracks from Australian band Spiderbait and Swedish band The Hives adding more striking tracks to the album. Each of these two bands have their own ways of creating a strong theme; "Uptight" by The Hives is an aggressive, full frontal track with harsh vocals and a forced melody; "Live in a Box" by Spiderbait is a happy-go-lucky track with a welcoming accompaniment, memorably melody, and fun development. On a side note, Spiderbait had already proven popular in the game scene, with their cover of Ram Jam's "Black Betty," which features in the 2004 video game Need for Speed Underground 2. Mostly, it's clear that the rock contributions to this album are fairly strong, and do (unexpectedly) work alongside the hip-hop, soul, and electronica contributions which are present on the album too. It's great to see so much variety with successful implementation.
I feel a little crazy for giving a compilation of popular music from a game such a high score, but I'm truly impressed by the variety and quality of styles which this album yields. This is the first Gran Turismo album to feature so much variety; it's not every day that you will see will.i.am or The Roots on the same official album as The Cardigans or The Hives. Accidental or not, this album is a great mix and is accessible to any Gran Turismo fan and racing gamer. It's almost guaranteed that you will enjoy at least one track on this album; maybe it'll be in a genre that you didn't even know you liked.
Drop On You - Will. I. Am
It Don't Mean Nothing - Will. I. Am
Wow - Snow Patrol
Don't Think The Way They Do - Span
Psychosis Safari - The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
Call Me Super Bad - James Brown (gran turismo 4 pop rox remix)
I Don't Care - The Roots
Live In A Box - Spiderbait
B Is For Brutus - The Hives
Oh Yeah - Yello
Machine Gun - The Commodores (gran turismo 4 pop remix)
Hell Above The Water - Curve
Uptight - The Hives
My Favorite Game - The Cardigans