The lights are on
Since the dawn of the CD-based video game, creators have treated us to some unforgettable, studio-quality songs, ditties that appear during our playing experience that are rewards unto themselves. Sadly, we’ve also seen our fair share of clunkers, songs that fall so flat we would feel a pang of shame if a family member or significant other were to walk in the room. This list is dedicated to the goofiest, unintentionally hilarious lyrics in games, so brace your ears for everything from horrendously reimagined RPG anthems to main menu music from hell.
Disclaimer: At this point, songs like the notoriously embarrassing DK Rap and the mediocre “I Am The Wind” of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are so well-represented on these kinds of lists, we think it’s time we retire them into the video game song facepalm hall of fame. Fret not, though, because we’ve gathered tracks — some fairly new, some of which may have gone unnoticed — for your listening displeasure. Also, you won’t see songs like the infamous “Cole Train Rap” of Gears of War because double dipping on our list of worst and weirdest gaming music would be too easy. We decided to challenge/punish ourselves and go the extra mile just for you, dear reader. Enjoy!
Buck Bumble — “Main Menu Theme”
Admittedly, this one is actually pretty catchy, if only because the lyrics are largely gibberish. We’re told it’s time to rock, we get that much. But then the words quickly devolve into repetition, followed by nonsensical lines like “Itty Bitty Bup” drilled into our ears. If it’s any consolation, this song might actually be more fun than the game itself.
Bump to the boom
to the boom
to the bass
bump to the Buck Bumble!
If you need a palate cleanser after listening to that, here’s another late ‘90s jam with even worse computer animation.
Final Fantasy X — “Otherworld (Jecht Battle)”
Nobuo Uematsu, the composer for nearly every Final Fantasy game, is responsible for just about every series track you know and love. There’s the playful “Chocobo Theme”, the chilling “One-Winged Angel”, and epics like “Dancing Mad”. Final Fantasy X brought us many more memorable Uematsu classics, including the battle theme, the Seymour Omnis battle, and “To Zanarkand”. Then, amidst these inventive, sweeping and melancholy tunes, the game caps off with a battle against Jecht set to … this.
This track isn’t exactly a shining example of metal in games, especially considering how jarring it is in comparison to the rest of the soundtrack. Halfway through, the lead singer even adopts an Axl Rose Guns N’ Roses’ “Civil War”-like bridge. The delivery is so deadpanned, and, if that wasn’t enough, it’s followed by a lazy “Fight!” chant, scratching at your earholes over and over.
Go, into the sand, and the dust, and the sky
Go now, there's no better plan than to do or to die
Free me, pray to the faith, in the face of the light
Feed me, fill me with sin, and get ready to fight
You know you will...
You know, you know, you know, you know, that you will...
Perhaps the lyrics match thematically with the angst Tidus feels toward his father, but, really, who cares about Tidus anyway?
Street Fighter IV — “Indestructible”
Super Street Fighter IV improved upon its predecessor in every way: Adding new characters, balancing the roster, and removing this song from the experience. It loops in perpetuity in the menu, reinforcing the singer’s resolve. “Nothing can break my spirit” the lyrics read. I know one thing that can break mine: these ridiculous lyrics.
I can feel it coming over me
I feel it all around me
I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life
It’s my destiny
There’s a fire deep inside of me
it’s waiting to come out now
no matter what, no matter how,
I know I’ll make it through somehow
I chose the first verse because, when that first line leaves the singer’s lips, you know you’re in for it. You then begin pressing the start button frantically, thinking to yourself “OH GOD HURRY UP MAKE IT STOP.”
Outrun 2 — “Life Was A Bore”
Thankfully, we’re beginning to get into the “so bad it’s good territory” with this gem. Sure, if jazz isn’t your thing, that’s understandable, but this song just hits so many of those guilty pleasure notes. The singer sounds as if she’s improvising every word for nearly six minutes (if the approximate rhyme between “car” and “insecure” doesn’t make you roll your eyes, nothing will). The drum breakdown, the inflection in her voice, the faux-sexy Carlos Santana/Rob Thomas “Smooth” vibe from the brief guitar solo — everything sounds so earnest, only revealing just how zany the whole affair really is. And, if you can hang in for that long, the midi trumpets toward the end seal the deal.
My days were changing
Excitements I didn’t expect
I never knew riding with you
could bring so much wonder
Everything a surprise
Your beautiful machine
never slows, never stops
I can now say I’ve heard someone use the plural of “excitement.”
Blue Dragon — “Eternity”
I’ve never played Blue Dragon, but, after hearing this, I don’t know if I want to.
This song’s brilliance lies in how the vocalist tries to wail progressively harder with each chorus. It almost sounds as if Judas Priest’s Rob Halford wanted to write a song just for a JRPG, but instead of singing about boozing all night and breaking the law, he wrote lyrics about JRPG tropes like finding courage in his heart and saving the world.
Well, it turns out that the vocalist on this track is Ian Gillan of Deep Purple fame. Yes, the same guy to whom you shredded "Highway Star" back in Rock Band's heyday is now singing, over 40 years after "Smoke On The Water", for a video game soundtrack.
This is the beginning
Too late it's all been started
Under the sky above
Move on now it’s started
Fear what you'll learn to love
Capcom vs. SNK 2 — “London Stage”
We have another Capcom fighting game song on the list! In the same vein as Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s “I Wanna Take You For A Ride” this jam has one line (OK, there's a slight variant thrown in there, we'll give it that much), and it’s still enough to drive you mad.
This is the true love we’re makin’
This is the true love for you and me
Then again, everything about Capcom vs. SNK 2 is wacky — the special meters are called “grooves” Morrigan’s sprite is straight-up transplanted from Marvel Vs Capcom, sticking out from the rest of the cast like a sore thumb — that maybe a song about true love makin’ in a game about beating each other up is strangely appropriate.
Devil May Cry 3 — “Devils Never Cry”
If Capcom vs. SNK 2 was all about the true love we’re makin’, this song is its antithesis. This epic traverses genres and covers every trite, predictable rhyme a game about slaying demons can muster. There are so many verses, we couldn’t pick just one to examine.
Stepping forth a cure for soul's demise
Reap the tears of the victims’ cries
Yearning more to hear the suffer (of a)
Of a demon as I put it under …
But wait, it gets better:
My chosen torture makes me stronger
In a life that craves the hunger
A Freedom and a quest for life
Until the end the judgment night
How does one crave a hunger? Isn’t hunger itself a craving? This sounds like a fan fiction song I would’ve written about playing the first game for the first time in the 6th grade.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare –– “Deep and Hard”
Detractors hold Call of Duty responsible for stagnation in game development since Modern Warfare’s 2007 release, blaming it for many of the ills of the industry — recycled, annualized game experiences, killing as the main hook, excessive machismo and explosions, etc. While you can make a case against the series playing toward juvenile tastes, this ending credits song doesn’t have a leg to stand on given its title alone, “Deep and Hard.”
Some say this belong in a movie
But this the third installment
Infinity Ward s---
Don't soil your drawers
Cause it's deep and it's hard, b----
Final Fantasy XIII-2 — “Crazy Chocobo”
Do you recall how we wrote earlier about our fondness for the chocobo theme? How listening to that playful tune makes us want to frolic in the fields with this majestic, adorable creature?
Look at how cute this giant chicken is! Such mirth!
So why, Square? Why did you turn this jovial bird theme into a speed metal rendition with lyrics foolish enough to make your fans weep?
So cute yet fierce, is he from hell?
I cannot tell, yet I don't even want to know
Please, my heart can’t take much more:
You're loco If you think you're gonna hide this Chocobo
Everybody's gonna wanna ride your Chocobo
It's Choco-loco style in a Choco-Rodeo
Gonna ride him straight through hell in this Chocobo Rodeo
Why, God? Why?
Dead Island — “Who Do You Voodoo?”
I’m just going to let this one speak for itself.
Stable full o' corpse b-----s
I'm a pimp of the dead
Come f--k with a zombie
I'll put a stake in your head
At least player character Sam B’s lyrics address the fact that Dead Island is a game about zombies. The chorus, on the other hand …
Sam B got the thing that go bump in the night
Who do you voodoo, b---h?
Hide your kids, grab your wife, better get out o' sight
Who do you voodoo, b---h? Let's go!
Ah, good old phallic imagery. You always find a way, it seems.
Trials Evolution — “Intro”
Plenty of sports games license tracks from popular music for their menus, but what happens when a game attempts its own take on a rap soundtrack?
Trust Trust Trust
Trust Me on this
The moment you’ve been waiting for
Kiss Kiss Kiss … of death!
He’s just … saying words …
I’m ready to go
Time to let the muh muh muh muh
Wait, is nitro a verb?
Trials Fusion — “Main Theme”
It’s almost as if RedLynx thought, “Hmm, people really didn’t seem to like the rap tracks in Trials Evolution, so how about we try for a post-Meteora Linkin Park sound instead? Yeah, that’ll be great!”
Welcome to the future
Man, machine – the fusion
Lightyears ahead of evolution
Slay your darkest fears
down the narrow tracks you steer
I can confirm this is not great.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 — “Knocc Em Down”
Who knew Snoop Dogg was such a big fan of Tekken? Well, at least we know that from his own original song about it appearing in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. You wouldn’t know what he was rapping about from a random sampling of lyrics from “Knocc Em Down,” though.
We gotta have hands in this fight and turn em in
Put it on quick, pressed start to go!
Get punched in a lip
When I keep playing then a loser get tipped
Set him on his pocket
See I ain’t here to quit
Who wanna go?
I want to go. Home, that is. Get me out of here.
Persona 3 — “Iwatodai Dormitory”
Don’t get me wrong – many of us in the office sing Persona’s praises until the cows come home. But these lyrics border on "Baby Got Back" levels of ludicrous. So mindless, but so good.
Fueling the fire with a burning desire
Yeah, get up off of that thing
Dance and shake,
Yo let's swing
Come on, girl
Let me rock your world
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) — “His World”
It was hard to narrow it down to just one Sonic song, but, trust us, there are many more worthy of mention for this list. Our list of the worst and weirdest gaming music even had a page dedicated solely to Sonic tunes, that’s how many are out there.
After falling out of gaming’s good graces with many of his 3D entries, Sonic has clawed at cultural relevancy in any way he can. In 2006, emo bands like Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance and Panic! At The Disco ruled the day, so I suppose Sega thought adopting this vibe could imbue its mascot with a second wind of coolness. The strings, the melodramatic rap verses, and the generic chord progression tie a ribbon on lyrics like these.
Runnin' it back again, well what'dja expect?
Comin' at ya with ten out of ten, got a real rough neck
Spikes up his memories, straps on his shoes
'Cause he's the best there ever was, haven't you heard the news?
Intergalactic continental champ, running things
Hyperactive instrumental with pulling strings
See he's the one who'll understands when the tides will swing
So he's breaking down doors, never following
Bonus feel better song!
Blazblue: Calamity Trigger — “Omae no Tetsui ni Kugi wo Ute (Shishigami-Style Forbidden Technique: Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan theme)"
After gaining four seals in battle — one for Wind, Fire, Forest, and Mountain — Bang enters a hyper state, glowing radiantly as his own theme song begins to play, a chorus howling his name triumphantly. The lyrics are in Japanese, but the only important lyric you need to know is “Bang.”
Bang, Bang, Ba-Bang Ba-Bang!
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments so we can all have a good laugh.
Email the author Wayne Stainrook, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.