Video games affect us all in different ways. Some get a competitive thrill as they demolish all who stand in their way, others explore and immerse themselves in strange and wonderful worlds, and, thankfully for us, some decide to write songs about their experiences. From rock to chiptunes, from metal to orchestral, from kick-ass to every damn bit as kick-ass, here are the top 10 musicians inspired by video games.
10. Lindsey Stirling
When I think of video game inspired music, I think of Lindsey Stirling. Her violin talent is as powerful as it is beautiful. From Halo to The Legend of Zelda, she’s covered a wide range of video game music with a multitude of different artists. Stirling doesn’t just stop at video games though; she writes her own whimsical melodies. She’s definitely made a name for herself outside of the gaming community, too. You can find her original music and covers on Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, and maybe even your local venue.
Anamanaguchi is all about that 8-bit. Their fun, “dancey” tunes are reminiscent of early blips and blops of NES music. While they don’t directly reference video games, they use video game hardware, mostly the NES and Gameboy, to make their dynamic dance tunes. Their songs bring you back to the early days of gaming, where video game death meant starting at the beginning of the whole damn level and not at your last obsessively-saved checkpoint. Next time you host a party, don’t forget to have the DJ throw on some Anamanaguchi for some off-console DDR.
8. I Fight Dragons
I Fight Dragons isn’t as inspired by specific video games as most of the artists on this list. Rather, they deal in chiptunes, the bits and bytes of sound made by old video game consoles, and rock and roll. The former isn’t just an accompaniment to the latter either: the chiptunes are melded into IFD’s natural Green-Day-Meets-All-Time-Low sound and becomes its own unique style. Their songs vary from slow, measured melodies to high-paced, head-banging tunes to even a rock opera. IFD’s songs tend to center around life and human nature in some form or another, simultaneously singing its praises and delivering biting commentary on its pitfalls. Their work has been featured in TV shows like The Hills and The Goldbergs, as well as on Nintendo Video and even our own site’s official podcast. I Fight Dragons manages to take the old and combine it seamlessly with the new, and that’s perhaps the biggest thing they take from the video games that inspired them.
7. Daniel Tidwell
Metal is probably the last genre you think of when you play video games, well, unless you count Brütal Legend. But, Daniel Tidwell and his electric guitar bring heavy video game riffs and lightning quick melodies. Of course, Tidwell takes on songs from Skyrim, DooM, and Silent Hill, but he also puts a metallic twist on games like Zelda, Portal, and Pokémon. It seems more common to cover these types of songs in electronic or classical genres, but metal brings a new kind of beauty to the songs. If you’re faced with an impossible boss, put on some of Tidwell’s covers and channel your inner badass.
Though being perhaps one of the more unorthodox entries in this list, anyone who listens to the music of Famikoto will be immediately enamored. Their name combines the Japanese games system Famicom, and the Koto, which is just one of many Japanese instruments the band uses to recreate music from Nintendo games. Not only is there a sense of authenticity to the music, but it’s absolutely beautiful and surprisingly intimate for how large and unwieldy some of the instruments actually look. Songs such as “To Zanarkand” are as graceful as one might expect, but even tunes like the Super Mario Bros theme are made to be sweeping and rapturous (not that the original isn’t, of course!)