11 film and TV composers you didn't know composed significant video game music
Games often rely on Hollywood actors to enhance the storytelling and portrayal of characters. However, music and sound also play an equally crucial ro...
Games often rely on Hollywood actors to enhance the storytelling and portrayal of characters. However, music and sound also play an equally crucial role in creating a captivating atmosphere. As a result, some studios opt for the talents of renowned composers from the film and television industry to achieve the highest quality musical accompaniment for the gaming experience, even when dealing with a seemingly basic subject matter.
At times, the composer's style aligns perfectly with their repertoire of film music, while at other times, something new and original emerges, something that one would eagerly listen to throughout the entire album. And these are a few of the Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar-nominated songwriters who lend their expertise to scoring games.
11 Michael Giacchino
Michael Giacchino is the composer behind "The Incredibles," "The Batman," "Rogue One," the Spider-Man films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and J.J. Abrams' projects such as "Lost," "Alias," and the Star Trek films. However, before becoming an integral part of blockbuster films and animations, he embarked on his career as a composer for video game developers like Dreamworks Interactive and Pandemic Studios.
His compositions can be heard in the early installments of the groundbreaking FPS war series "Medal of Honor" and "Call of Duty," as well as in other games such as "Gargoyles" for the Sega Genesis and adaptations like "Small Soldiers" and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park." And if you've played "Black," another FPS classic, Giacchino co-composed the game's theme.
10 Bear McCreary
Perhaps you're familiar with the name Bear McCreary due to his musical involvement in the God of War series, particularly as he portrays the dwarf character named Raeb in Ragnarok and plays the hurdy-gurdy. However, he is also the composer behind Forspoken, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Dark Void, and the opening scene of Gotham Knights.
In the television world, Bear McCreary is a formidable composer who has crafted iconic themes and scores for series such as The Walking Dead, Outlander, Battlestar Galactica, Foundation, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and LOTR: The Rings of Power, to name just a few. He has also worked on numerous science fiction and horror films, including The Last Voyage of the Demeter, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and films by Christopher Landon such as Freaky and Happy Death Day.
9 Harry Gregson-Williams
In the film industry, Harry Gregson-Williams collaborates with the brothers Ridley Scott and Tony Scott on their films such as The Last Duel, House of Gucci, Kingdom of Heaven, The Martian, Man on Fire, and Deja Vu. In the realm of gaming, he has worked with Hideo Kojima and co-composer Norihiko Hibino on the Metal Gear Solid series, starting from Sons of Liberty up to Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes.
And Metal Gear is not the only major shooter franchise for which Gregson-Williams has garnered recognition, as he also composed for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in 2014. Although his music generally aligns with the action-thriller genre in games and films, one can also find his works in the Shrek films, the Chronicles of Narnia, Spy Kids, and animated Sinbad films.
8 Danny Elfman
The brilliant composer and lyricist of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," creator of Michael Keaton's Batman theme, and the "Simpsons" theme, who contributed to translating Tim Burton's vision into sound in films and series such as "Beetlejuice," "The Corpse Bride," "Dark Shadows," and Netflix's "Wednesday," also worked on the theme for Fable.
Although Russell Shaw is the acclaimed composer of the entire Fable series, Danny Elfman assisted in shaping the sound of the main theme for the first two installments of the series. The instruments and rhythms in this Fable piece bear a striking resemblance to Elfman's other musical works.
7 Steve Jablonsky
For the second and third installments of the Gears of War series, as well as the spin-off game Judgment, Steve Jablonsky was enlisted. If you've watched films by directors like Peter Berg or Michael Bay, there's a good chance that Jablonsky has helmed the soundtrack. This includes the Transformers films, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, The Island, Deepwater Horizon, Lone Survivor, Spenser Confidential, and the 2012 film Battleship.
And while gripping action may be his strength, it is not the only area in which Jablonsky creates music. He also developed music for the iconic life simulation game The Sims 3 and the platform game Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.
6 John Ottman
John Ottman is not only the composer of the Marvel films X-2, Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse, Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer, and the ABC series The Gifted, but he is also the Oscar-winning film editor for Bohemian Rhapsody. While he entered the film industry with The Usual Suspects in 1995, he also composed for the psychological thriller video game I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream.
This game is based on the eponymous short story by author Harlan Ellison, which depicts a dystopian AI supercomputer world that delves into the horror genre, and it is a genre that Ottman would later gain a lot of experience with in films. He is the composer of Orphan, Halloween H2O, House of Wax, and Lake Placid.
5 Angelo Badalamenti
If you're familiar with the surreal works of David Lynch, such as Blue Velvet, the TV series Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, and Wild at Heart, then the late Angelo Badalamenti scored them all with his unique sound (and even made some cameo appearances here and there). In 2005, he took some time away from films to work with David Cage and Quantic Dream on Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy.
Fahrenheit marked a successful beginning for Quantic Dream's distinctive interactive, narrative-driven games, and its disturbing elements perfectly align with the oppressive mood and atmosphere that Badalamenti's music captures in cinema. Similar to Twin Peaks, the plot of Fahrenheit revolves around investigators examining a potential murder suspect who may be possessed.
4 Ramin Djawadi
Fans of Game of Thrones, Westworld, The Strain, and Prime Video's Jack Ryan will instantly recognize the music of Ramin Djawadi. You're probably already humming the Game of Thrones theme as you read this. However, what you may not know is that Ramin is also very active in the world of video game music.
His early composer credits for video games include the 2010 reboot of Medal of Honor, its sequel Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and the racing game Shift 2: Unleashed. Additionally, he took over as the composer in the Gears of War series for its fourth and fifth installments, following in Jablonsky's footsteps, and brought his talent to Amazon Games' MMO New World and Square Enix's The DioField Chronicle.
3 Trent Reznor
The Oscar-winning duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails often collaborate with director David Fincher in Hollywood, composing film scores for movies such as The Social Network, Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Killer in 2023. Bones and All, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem, and Pixar's Soul are some of their other film collaborations.
But in video games, Trent Reznor performs as a solo artist and has credits for Quake and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. While Mick Gordon's music complements the newer Doom and Wolfenstein games, the sound aesthetics of Nine Inch Nails also lend a brilliant quality to the gameplay of id Software's original first-person shooter, Quake. With Black Ops 2, Reznor created one of the most memorable main themes in a COD game, a powerful track that can be heard in the main menu and several missions.
2 Hildur Guðnadóttir
Battlefield 2042 may not have been the best game in the series due to the absence of a campaign and other issues, but the same cannot be said about the soundtrack. The film score was created by Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir and her husband and collaborator Sam Slater, who previously worked together on their contributions to HBO's miniseries Chernobyl and the haunting soundtrack of Joker, which earned her an Emmy and an Oscar.
Among other films Hildur has worked on are Women Talking, Tár, A Haunting in Venice, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, and Journey's End. A shooter game like Battlefield is a very different project for Guðnadóttir, but the soundtrack is seamlessly crafted with harsh and chaotic sounds that capture the chaos of the action-packed multiplayer battles.
1 Hans Zimmer And Lorne Balfe
Hans Zimmer is one of the most legendary composers working in Hollywood. He has contributed to projects such as Denis Villeneuve's Dune, Top Gun: Maverick, Pirates of the Caribbean, Gladiator, and nearly all of Christopher Nolan's films, to name just a few. Lorne Balfe, supported by Zimmer, also has an impressive career that includes projects like Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Dead Reckoning Part One, Gran Turismo, The Wheel of Time, Dopesick, and D&D: Honor Among Thieves.
Together, they have collaborated on soundtracks for games such as Beyond: Two Souls, Crysis 2, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 from 2009. Individually, Balfe has composed music for Assassin's Creed titles like AC 3, Revelations, Identity, as well as other games like Honor of Kings, FIFA 19, and various Skylanders installments.