10 Music Artists You Didn't Know Contributed to Video Game Soundtracks
Video games offer some of the most diverse and beautiful soundtracks in modern media. From the powerful choir vocals in Jeremy Soule's music for The E...
Video games offer some of the most diverse and beautiful soundtracks in modern media. From the powerful choir vocals in Jeremy Soule's music for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to the melancholic and hopeful acoustic guitars in Andrew Prahlow's music for The Outer Wilds, the music created for video games immerses players even deeper into the virtual worlds they love to explore.
However, it's not just composers who delve into the world of video game music. There are many renowned mainstream music groups and artists who have contributed their musical talents to video game soundtracks. These artists span across various genres, including rock, pop, and beyond.
10 Hoobastank – Halo 2
While it is widely known that the alternative rock bands Incubus and Breaking Benjamin were featured on the soundtrack of Halo 2, it is often forgotten that Hoobstank also contributed to the soundtrack.
Hoobastank, best known for their rock hit "The Reason," has a song called "Connected" on the soundtrack of Halo 2. Although the song features memorable guitar riffs and catchy melodies, it was overshadowed by other hits from the Halo 2 soundtrack, such as Breaking Benjamin's "Blow Me Away," which received platinum certification in 2021.
9 Brain Eno – Spore
Brian Eno is a legendary figure in the music industry. Eno is a musician and producer who has collaborated with the likes of Talking Heads, David Bowie, and Coldplay, among others. Known for his versatility in music production, it came as no surprise when it was announced that Eno would be creating music for Spore.
Spore was built upon the idea of procedural generation. Every planet, creature, and individual thing in Spore was intended to be unique for each playthrough. As a result, the music of Spore was also composed to be procedurally generated, ensuring that players would never hear the same song twice. Within a week, Eno had prepared a complete CD of material for the game.
8 Nine Inch Nails – Quake
The original soundtrack of Quake is often hailed as one of the best soundtracks in the history of video games. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that it was composed by the legendary rock group Nine Inch Nails.
In an interview with Bethesda Softworks, Chris Vreena, who played drums for Nine Inch Nails during the creation of the Quake soundtrack, recalls how he met with developers from id Software in the 90s. Trent Reznor, the frontman of Nine Inch Nails, was a big fan of id Software's games and often talked about them in interviews. As a result, id Software approached the band to create the soundtrack for Quake, and the rest is history.
7 Avenged Sevenfold – Call Of Duty: Black Ops Series
It is difficult to rate the Call of Duty games, but each game has always offered incredible music. Avenged Sevenfold, a legendary heavy metal band from California, was featured in every Call of Duty: Black Ops installment except Call of Duty: Cold War.
In 2018, they released their EP "Black Reign," which included every song the band had created for the Black Ops series. In 2019, the band's lead singer, M. Shadows, was added as a playable character in the Battle Royale mode of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
6 The National – Portal 2
The National is known for their melancholic and dark indie hits, and since their formation in the early 2000s, they have gained widespread acclaim and recognition from both critics and the music industry. The band has even collaborated with superstar Taylor Swift and was featured on Swift's album "Evermore," released at the end of 2020.
But long before collaborating with Swift, the band worked with Valve to create a song for one of the greatest video game sequels of all time - Portal 2. The single titled "Exile Vilify" plays on a radio found in one of the many hiding places of Rat Man within the game. In these areas of the game, an invisible character named Douglas Rattmann created artworks that depict his experiences in the test chambers of Aperture Laboratories.
5 Paul McCartney – Destiny
While this may not be new information for long-time Destiny fans, players from other areas of gaming culture might be surprised to learn that Paul McCartney collaborated with Marty O'Donnell to create the soundtrack for Destiny.
According to Polygon, O'Donnell and McCartney met to discuss creating dynamic music for the original Destiny game that would change based on the player's actions in the game. McCartney was excited about the concept and ultimately contributed significantly to the original score of Destiny. McCartney also created a single for the game called "Hope For The Future," which was released at the end of 2014.
4 My Chemical Romance – The Sims 3
My Chemical Romance is legendary in the pop-punk scene, dominating pop-punk playlists on streaming platforms with powerful emo anthems like "Helena" and "The Black Parade". In 2010, the band released their fourth studio album titled "Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys," with the song "Na Na Na" being the biggest hit from the album.
Later, the song appeared in The Sims 3, but this time frontman Gerard Way sang the song in Simlish, the fictional language of the characters in The Sims series. The instrumentation and melodies of the song remain the same as the original, with the only difference being the altered lyrics. Even in Simlish, the song proves to be a hit and stands as one of the greatest Simlish covers of all time.
3 CHVRCHES – Death Stranding
The Scottish synthpop group CHVRCHES is known for their heartfelt lyrics and catchy melodies, accompanied by driving synthesizers and a healthy dose of EDM influence. In 2019, the group released a song specifically created for Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding. Simply titled "Death Stranding," the song was featured on the game's soundtrack alongside songs by other groups and artists such as Khalid and Bring Me The Horizon.
CHVRCHES members Iain Cook and Martin Doherty explained in an interview with the BBC that they were already fans of Kojima's Metal Gear series before the band was even formed, with Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain being their favorite. It's safe to say that Kojima loved the song created by CHVRCHES for Death Stranding because Cook told the BBC that it made Kojima cry.
2 Florence + The Machine – Final Fantasy 15
The London-based indie rock band Florence + The Machine is known for their energetic sound in hits like "Dog Days Are Over" and "Shake It Out." In 2015, the group contributed their driving instrumentation and vocals to the soundtrack of Final Fantasy 15. Florence + The Machine produced three songs for the game, including two original songs titled "Too Much Is Never Enough" and "I Will Be," as well as a cover version of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me."
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the lead singer Florence Welch said that they couldn't imagine making music for any other game besides Final Fantasy. "It wouldn't have made sense," Welch told Rolling Stone. "In a way, the world of Final Fantasy and my own inner world fit together quite well. It's mythical, beautiful, and epic."
1 John Mayer – Halo 2
When Halo 2: Anniversary was released in 2014 as part of the Master Chief Collection, the current developer of the Halo series, 343 Industries, released a documentary that coincided with the game's launch, documenting the journey to restore one of the most popular shooters of all time. In this documentary, Marty O'Donnell, the original composer for the Halo series, revealed that John Mayer played on the soundtrack of Halo 2.
According to O'Donnell, Mayer was a big fan of Halo and independently reached out to the Halo 2 development team to play guitar for the game, bypassing his agent. Mayer's contribution to the film score can be heard on the track "Epilogue," the final song on the game's soundtrack.