Hey everyone! Tillie from Are You There, Tony Hawk? here.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game franchise was instrumental in preserving Hawk’s legacy. In the game, players take the form of Tony Hawk and lead him to success by performing skate tricks and completing tasks. Gameplay isn’t what makes these games iconic, though. Instead, the soundtracks of iconic punk and ska music are what make the games stand out.
Today, I want to count down my top five picks from the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack.
5 | “COMMITTED” – UNSANE
This song, the penultimate on the soundtrack, has a classic hard punk noise. It starts strong with loud drums and guitars that don’t let up for the entire almost-three-minute run. The drowned out vocals paired with the blaring guitar definitely creates a stressful, enraged noise.
It’s easy to imagine skateboarding IRL to this angry ambience, but it’s not as fun or lighthearted as most of the songs on this soundtrack. Within the context of Tony Hawk’s video game, it might not have been the best choice, but it is definitely a great example of hard punk.
4 | “VILIFIED” – EVEN RUDE
The shining star of this song is the bass line. Offset by lively, bleeding guitar and fairly simple drum patterns, the bass line comes through under every other noise in this loud song. The vocals remind me a bit of Nickelback’s exaggerated guttural noises, but it mostly works in this song.
In the context of the game, this is a perfectly fun and moderately intense song to establish the atmosphere.
3 | “JERRY WAS A RACE CAR DRIVER” – PRIMUS
This song is the first on our list with clear and definite ska influences. The upbeat, warped guitar creates a new tone for the soundtrack. Vocally, however, is where this song shines for me. The high-pitched, rushed voice fits the storytelling lyrics, achieving a balance between punk noise and narrative writing.
The guitar instrumentals can get repetitive and grating on the listener’s ears. However, Primus’s song definitely fits right into the skating game.
2 | “SUPERMAN” – GOLDFINGER
“Superman” had a head start in the making of this list as the quintessential third-wave ska song. The horns, happy guitar, and simple drums perfectly encapsulate the ska punk genre. Even if it can be overplayed, there’s no doubt that it’s a solid song with interesting instrumentals. The vocals can feel a bit flat at moments, but that’s an acceptable feature in ska.
The cliche lyrics are the downfall of the song for me. Especially in punk music, interesting, opinionated lyrics are key. The song became an unofficial soundtrack for the Pro Skater franchise after the release of this game, no doubt because of its lively tone and agreeable message.
1 | “POLICE TRUCK” – DEAD KENNEDYS
This song is the top pick for me largely because of its classic punk feel. A classic punk band (Dead Kennedys) singing about a classic punk topic (police brutality) is a perfect addition to a skate game soundtrack. The lyrics, written from the point of view of the police, are a mix of critical and silly. My favorite part of the song is the influence of surf rock in the instrumentals, which adds an interesting dimension to a very clearly punk song.
The vocals are rhythmic and fitting, but they always remind me of Jarvis Cocker’s “Do The Hippogriff” from the fourth Harry Potter movie. That is mostly on me, and I love “Do The Hippogriff” anyway so I’m glad, honestly.
Thanks for reading! You can tune into my show Sundays at 8PM CST on khdx.fm!
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