Song of the Day: Radioactive (by Imagine Dragons)


imagine-dragons-radioactive

Tonight’s episode of True Blood shares not just the title with Imagine Dragons’ popular track of the same name, but also used it to score their end credits for the season finale.

So, it’s no surprise that it’s the choice for the latest “Song of the Day”. This is not the first time the site has chosen something that uses this song. A recent “AMV of the Day” used this song to great effect. The video was “Radioakshun” and it matched the song’s lyrics which speaks of an apocalypse that has come and gone leaving a wasteland for people to sift through. This time around the song goes well with the time skip second-half of tonight’s True Blood season finale. No, there wasn’t an apocalypse that destroyed Bon Temps and killed everyone, but it showed that a sort of vampire apocalypse was on its way to Bon Temps and hints at what could be an epic seventh season for the show which started and ended a strong sixth season.

I’m going to take a flying leap and say that Imagine Dragons will be gaining quite a bit of new fans after tonight.

Radioactive

I’m waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I’m breathing in the chemicals
I’m breaking in, shaping up, checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my system blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flags, don my clothes
It’s a revolution, I suppose
We’ll paint it red to fit right in
Whoa
I’m breaking in, shaping up, checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my system blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive

All systems go, sun hasn’t died
Deep in my bones, straight from inside

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my system blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, whoa, I’m radioactive, radioactive

VGM Entry 13: Darius


VGM Entry 13: Darius
(Thanks to Tish at FFShrine for the banner)

Taito have kindly sent me a letter informing me of their intention to sue me for this post, and in particular for its visual and audio depictions of an out of print soundtrack for an out of print arcade machine, if I do not remove such content immediately. Taito being a subsidiary of Square Enix, I highly encourage you to boycott all Square Enix products in the future. Since their games are terrible these days anyway I am probably doing you a favor.

Unfortunately Hisayoshi Ogura is the one that suffers here, since Square Enix have simultaneously expressed no intention of legally distributing his work and barred all attempts by fans to share it.

It is very easy to get on a one-track mind and focus down home gaming in total disregard for the arcade. Arcade composers rarely had the lasting impact of Nintendo and computer game music, perhaps in part because arcade gaming as a business was pretty much dead by the end of the 80s. Where arcade music is still remembered today, it is usually in the form of NES and C64 port renditions. Yet in the mid-1980s, some producers still placed their finest resources into refining the arcade game first and foremost. Taito’s Zuntata sound team most significantly, and also Konami’s Kukeiha Club and Capcom’s Alph Lyla, were composing arcade music that far exceeded in sound quality anything ever heard on a home system. Taito did it best, and among their eccentric and innovative staff no one shines brighter than Hisayoshi Ogura. When Taito released its arcade shooter Darius in 1986, it achieved a level of sound quality that would not be surpassed until at least the late 1990s.

***Video removed due to Square Enix’s corporate bullying.***
Chaos and Boss 4

A collection of experimental oddities both catchy and disturbing, it could not have been better suited for the game it represents. Darius was experimental and innovative in many ways, featuring a triple-screen ultra-wide display and a non-linear level progression which would mix up the seven stages between (I believe) twenty-six possible maps, creating a slightly different experience on every play through. It even featured multiple endings–something you might not expect from a shooter game.

You probably wouldn’t expect to be fighting giant evil space fish, either. Darius receives pretty mixed reviews from a lot of shooter junkies these days, but if I was going to spend my quarters on anything in 1986 I know it’s the first game I’d have tried. It attempts to awe and bewilder, and it succeeds.

***Video removed due to Square Enix’s corporate bullying.***

You can really tell that Ogura designed his score to exploit every technological possibility available to him. The depth and fullness of the sound is overwhelming. It reminds me of the sort of audio experience I got from Square’s Einhänder–a game I bought specifically for the music. But Einhänder was released in 1997! Darius was 11 years old by then.

If it doesn’t sound that special to you, try plugging in headphones. Much like Kenneth W. Arnold’s Ultima soundtracks, my lousy laptop speakers can’t do it justice. I also recommend you try to get your hands on a copy of the soundtrack; Taito released a version as early as 1987, fully aware of its significance. I included a gameplay video of “Chaos” to showcase the music in action, but a playlist of the ost is also available. (Youtube link removed due to threats by Square Enix.) You can find full gameplay videos of each level with music on youtube thanks to *censored*.

***Video removed due to Square Enix’s corporate bullying.***

“The Sea” might be the most eclectic song in the mix. It’s certainly my favorite. You quickly discover that it does not intend to be a typical aquatic theme when the demented chime tones come into play. The next transition back to relative normalcy is quickly derailed by an erratic explosion of mechanized blast beats, and Hisayoshi Ogura wraps it all up in fittingly weird form with what feels like some sort of proto-dubstep.

Taito knew they were kings of the arcade. Their house band, Zuntata, even went so far as to perform some of the Darius soundtrack live.

***Video removed due to Square Enix’s corporate bullying.***
Chaos, performed live by Zuntata

A lot of game developers had “house bands” in the early days. This is part of why it is difficult to attribute authorship to a lot of game soundtracks of the era. Taking a closer look at these bands could prove pretty interesting–perhaps another task for another summer. Hisayoshi Ogura was not the first video game composer to perform his material live. I believe that credit goes to Koichi Sugiyama. But this concert, dated to 1990, has to be among the first.

Darius–a 1986 video game music masterpiece. Considering how easily it might have slipped by me unnoticed, I have to wonder how much more I am leaving behind.