You probably have a ton of memories playing video games when you were younger. If you’re like me, you probably played a lot of Madden and NHL and miss the simple days when you would get home from school and play through franchise mode while eating snacks your mom made. It’s not surprising, then, that the soundtracks to those games are remembered more than anything, especially because 1) the music was awesome and 2) it’s easy to associate those songs with the game when you still listen to them on a weekly basis. Who doesn’t remember hearing Blink-182’s “Feeling This” while playing Madden NFL 2004 or Brand New’s “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” while playing NHL 2004? Ah, good times.
Sure, recent sports games have had solid soundtracks, but it’s easy to fall back on nostalgia and favor the older soundtracks more than the newer ones. When you look at the song choices in Madden 16, though, it’s disappointing to see a lack of rock encompassing the majority of it. If you look at NHL 15 or 16, you’ll be even more disappointed to only see orchestral music. Yeah, MLB: The Show still relies heavily on indie rock, but a lot of that is probably because the makers don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to get “Can’t Feel My Face” or any of its equivalents.
So, is this a sign of the times, or is it just a sign that people like me just can’t accept that they’re getting freaking old?
I would probably say the answer to that is a little bit of both. Let’s face it: punk rock isn’t popular anymore. In the mid-2000s, it was what all of the kids listened to, but the days of tuning in to Fuse to watch My Chemical Romance interviews are over — and have been for quite some time now. If you look at the so-called “cool kids music” now, it’s mostly a conglomerate of alternative, folk, hip-hop, and pop (hence, the reason why The Weeknd made it on the newest installment of Madden). Luckily, the inclusion of artists like Twenty | One | Pilots and NF makes up for the lack of rock in last year’s playlist. But my frustrations with it just go to show I’m old now, and (sigh) it means I have to make new memories instead of dwelling on the good ol’ days.
The lack of rock, punk, and metal in recent sports game soundtracks then makes sense. However, my continual listen to those genres shows that while I’m still a part of a huge gamer demographic, I just haven’t changed my musical taste to align with the times (which makes sense for me, just not for marketers). I still listen to heavy music, despite its lack of presence in mainstream America. There are dozens of us, too — just go to the YouTube page of any song known for its presence in an old sports video game and scroll through the comments. My fingers are crossed that punk will cross back into the mainstream soon and bring us back to the golden age of sports soundtracks. But currently, the only shame is that there are a ton of good bands who aren’t getting noticed through Madden and NHL — and, at a larger level, movie soundtracks, commercials, and ESPN segues. Marketing has progressed a lot in 10 years, and this is yet another way it’s changed.
While it makes sense to not include much rock music in sports soundtracks nowadays, it would be awesome to see some of the better indie labels and punk bands cash in on such an opportunity. As someone still lost in the previous decade who wishes the same kind of music was still included on Madden soundtracks, I had some fun with it. I analyzed soundtracks from previous games to compile a possible soundtrack for next year’s game that runs in the same vein.
Greatest hits from Madden soundtracks 2003-2010:
The modern-day equivalent of those Madden soundtracks:
I only limited this playlist to 10 songs, so what artists am I forgetting? Any you can picture fitting well in a Madden soundtrack? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!