5. “Long Tall Sally” – Little Richard
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
It has become apparent to me that licensed music is put to fantastic use in satirical games. Take Farcry 3’s ridiculous DLC Blood Dragon, an over-the-top 80’s sci-fi inspired romp through the jungles of Farcry. After the retro style opening where you’re introduced to Rex “Power” Colt, the protagonist of this stand alone DLC. If the pseudo-VHS tape introduction wasn’t good enough to prepare you for the onslaught of torrential punning or silly violence, then surely wielding a helicopter gatling gun through a cyborg base set to Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” did the trick. The absurdity of the entire situation coupled with such an inappropriate song for that action sequence leaves it as a prime example of excellent use of licensed music.
4. “Into The Sun” – The Parlor Mob
MLB The Show 12
Sports games often have some of the best licensed music in the industry. With no real necessity for the music, these games can focus on finding incredible music to match the general audience procuring copies. Madden introduced me to some excellent bands that I still listen to today, but my favorite licensed song in any sports game to date comes in the form of The Parlor Mob’s “Into the Sun”. This grunge-rock song sounds like a tribute to the 70’s era of classic rock. Still, with the mediocrity of the remainder of songs on The Show 12, “Into the Sun” was an excellent addition. Additionally, The Parlor Mob was also featured in Sleeping Dogs.
3. “Deranged” – Coheed & Cambria
Batman: Arkham City
I love Coheed & Cambria. I love the Rocksteady franchise of Batman games. When the two came together for Batman: Arkham City, I knew it’d be great. Claudio Sanchez, front man of the prog rock band, is a huge fan of comics, having spawned a slew of his own around the story of Coheed and Cambria. It was only natural for him to jump on board in writing “Deranged” for Arkham City. In “Deranged”, Sanchez sings of the relationship between Batman and the Joker and how one cannot exist without the other. With the Joker succumbing to poison at the end of Arkham City, “Deranged” has an even greater impact on the gamer, especially when considering how empty Batman’s world will prove to be now that his arch-nemesis is gone.
2. “In Dreams” – Roy Orbison
Perhaps the single most impactful licensed song for my own personal reasons, I find Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” to be one of the greatest licensed songs of all time. Sure, most would agree that David Bowie’s “Space Odyssey” was even better – and that’s fair. For me, however, “In Dreams” fully encapsulates the idea of Alan Wake. Most of the licensed songs in Alan Wake were great and fit the narrative well, but “In Dreams” follows the introduction of the game, where Alan is introduced to the darkness and loses his wife – whom he can’t be sure was ever there to begin with. It’s the unraveling of a narrative that took hold of me for its entire ride and never let go; it’s a song that matches one of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of playing.