I remember this old commercial about the U.S. Army (or one of the armed services…but I think it was the Army). It had this “band” in it that was being “interviewed” and they were really talking up what they had. I can’t remember too many details but two things do stick out in my mind. First, the music was awful. It was about the worst “death march metal” (if that’s a genre, you get the idea though) you could imagine and was basically composed of the main singer monotoning over a rather unimaginative set of bad power chords. The second thing that stood out was the following line by the would-be main singer (keep in mind, this was a commercial intended to poke fun at this “band”): “Our music is like steroids to the brain.”
Simple, straightforward, no extra emotion. Just cold, hard facts regarding the steroid-like effect this awesome music has upon the brain. Steroids, huh? I remember feeling more of a numbing effect rather than a “boost” of anything. Well, to each his own I suppose.
So what’s the point? The point is that there is a genre of music I feel definitely is like steroids to the brain: 8-bit! Be it from an old C64 game (which, regretfully, I did not own as a child…only a TRaSh-80…with 128k of RAM mind you!), NES or SNES titles of the past, or some of the most creative demo-scene stuff ever, it’s all good to me. One particularly good stream I like is kohina.net. It’s not been updated in years but it works here at, er, work (heh, no pun intended) and on those days I just can’t find inspiration (like today), I plug in my ear buds, crank up the volume, and start feeling that surge of energy…in my brain! Oh yeah, there’s definitely a steroid quality to this music.
Those who didn’t grow up jamming out to those funky 8-bit tunes on a game console probably don’t understand it. They don’t see how on earth you could listen to this music…let alone dance, or worse, cry. Yes, I’ll admit, a stirring rendition of one of the many 8-bit ballads that accompanied the most emotional moments in video game history can nearly invoke such a response. After all, what hard core gamer hasn’t felt a little emotion every now and then? You mean you played simply to gain a level, an extra life, to beat the next boss? Well, I for one was after the story just as much (and sometimes even more) than the game play itself. That’s what usually interested me in a particular game more than awesome graphics or a particular genre. Give me a good story and I’m usually happy.
But for those who did grow up jamming out (or crying) to such tunes, I’m sure we can all appreciate the effect that a good 8-bit tune has. Be it a power ballad, a disco dance, a synth metal rock, or any other countless sub-genre of 8-bit they’re all good. Some favorites? Well there are so many…where should I start? Ah, I have an idea, let me get a shot of steroids to the brain. Yes, that’s better. There go those screeching sounds of good 8-bit. Wait, what was I trying to do? Nothing I suppose…must give in…to the power…..
Long live 8-bit!