One of my favourite things as of late when playing a game from Rockstar has been the original soundtrack that has accompanied each game as of Red Dead Redemption. As I mentioned when doing the Red Dead Redemption Diaries earlier this year, the soundtrack was one of my favourite bits from the game.
As well as the original score by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, there was the inclusion of specially made material featuring Jose Gonzalez’s Far Away on the trek to Mexico and Ashtar Command’s excellent Deadman’s Gun for its credits, to name a few.
Max Payne 3 kept this trend going by asking LA-based HEALTH to mostly compose on the soundtrack, with Tears being the leading track from it. But Grand Theft Auto V is the first title in the series to have any sort of an original soundtrack to it in the series’ fifteen year history. And it works really well.
The soundtrack – made by Woody Jackson, Tangerine Dream and Oh No – feels really suited towards the game’s story, putting together a mostly electric-based soundtrack based on each collaborator’s influences that dynamically play in missions throughout the game.
With that said, the soundtrack isn’t forced upon you. If you like, you can turn the soundtrack off by turning on the radio (you can turn back on the soundtrack if you wish by turning the radio off), this time featuring 15 stations, a lesser number in terms of stations by one against GTA IV but a greater number of songs over it with V’s 240 to IV’s 208.
Radio Los Santos, now providing the hottest songs of its time like it did with San Andreas nearly ten years ago, remains to do so, featuring some of the biggest in the rap industry: Kenrick Lamar, Jay Rock and so forth. Though if you’re fan of the rap oldies, West Coast Classics contains some of the, well, classics, from donkeys ago, featuring Dre and Snoop, 2Pac, N.W.A, Ice Cube and more.
For those rock-driven, Channel X – including the likes of Black Flag and The Descendents – and Vinewood Boulevard Radio, featuring Bass Drum of Death, will suit to you. In the case of the oldies, Los Santos Rock Radio will tend to you, featuring Queen, Julian Lennon, Stevie Nicks and Bob Segar (I’ve not heard Night Moves so much since rewatching The O.C. this past summer – not a bad thing for the record)
And there’s also the artist-helmed stations, one of which, FlyLo FM, features a good chunk of music, old and new, from electronic musician Flying Lotus: not at all a surprise given the name of the station (and the fact he’s hosting it too) as well as new music from Tyler The Creator and the inclusion of material from Outkast and Captain Murphy, the latter an alias for Flying Lotus when rapping. The other station of note here is SoulWax FM, the dance station, featuring various mixes from, well, SoulWax.
But since getting the game yesterday, the two stations I’ve kind of flipped between is Non-Stop Pop FM and Radio Mirror Park. Non-Stop Pop is for those who grew up on the pop of the 80s, 90s and Noughties (like me, at least in the early Noughties anyway) with a hint of today stuff thrown in, featuring the likes of Stardust’s Music Sounds Better with You (hnng), Hall & Oates, All Saints, Misteeq, Britney Spears and thensome.
Radio Mirror Park, however, looks set to be the station I’m mostly going to be tuned to in the same way I was with Radio Broker in GTA IV. RMP’s tracklist is pretty bloody good: Favored Nations, Battle Tapes, Miami Horror, DJ Mehdi and The Chain Gang of 1979 – who you’ll recognise from the official trailer with Sleepwalking – are some of the folk who’ve contributed fantastic tracks to the station.
I’ve not mentioned every station here (there’s still the talk stations, Worldwide FM that’s hosted by former Radio 1 host Giles Peterson, East Lost Santos FM and so on) but considering my love of music that is growing with each and passing day, I thought I’d give these initial impressions of what is one of the series’ main pillars.
For what it’s worth, Rockstar has knocked it out of the park once again with Grand Theft Auto V’s radio picks. And once again, Rockstar has knocked it out of the park with another fantastic original score so far.
Disclosure: This is based on a final Xbox 360 retail copy of Grand Theft Auto V, *NOT PROVIDED* by Rockstar Games (rather an early dispatched package from Amazon (there is a God) bought by myself). Grand Theft Auto V releases worldwide on Tuesday for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Tune in tomorrow for impressions of the final game and deeds on a special mammoth Cullen Plays LIVE stream on PlayStation 3.