For another year my top music post is housed over on Original Sound Version where I managed to write nearly 90 game music posts in 2016 (!). It’d be really great if you’d check out the full post with some very special honorable mentions but since you’re already here I’ll give you the highlights.
Game Soundtrack of the Year: Starbound by Curtis Schweitzer
There’s a tiny caveat with Starbound. Although the game was released in 2016 I’ve been sitting on this massive soundtrack collection since the backer rewards went out… three years ago. I can only give you my solemn Boy Scout promise that I really didn’t start listening (or playing) until the months leading up to the 1.0 release.
Like my pick for Metal Gear Solid V last year, Starbound has a soundtrack I still haven’t tired of even after hearing it on loop for dozens of hours. My wife and I clocked over 90 hours in the game, the majority of it spent farming on our starter world all set to the same few songs. Some of the 60+ tracks are faster or more dramatic but it’s the long, expansive symphonies that stretch for 8, 13, even 20+ minutes that continue to stir me. It’s shocking how much emotion this music whips up in me for a game that looks so simple.
Runner Up: The Flame in the Flood by: Chuck Ragan
Similarly stirring is Chuck Ragan’s original soundtrack to The Flame in the Flood. It’s short but so, so sweet and somber. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the torment of the roguelike gameplay that it accompanies. It’s also a rarity to hear acoustic folk music, heavy with lyrics, on a game’s soundtrack, even if some of these songs aren’t directly in the game. VGMO has a fantastic review of the album and you can listen for free on Chuck Ragan’s YouTube channel.
Arrangement Album of the Year: VGM NXC 001 by: Party Members
How did this April Fool’s joke that spiraled into an actual release become my favorite arranged album of the year? It’s choppy and frantic in all the right EDM/dub/trap ways that speak to me on top of featuring familiar video game themes. It’s the one remix album I’ve come back to the most and the one I desperately wish was longer. You can call me the April fool but I still call this one my favorite!
Runner Up: Fire Pro M: Volume One by: Sonny Bone (and the FP Community)
I’ve only observed a little bit of the Fire Pro wrestling series from afar so when I saw this community remix album pop up on Bandcamp I tentatively clicked to check it out. I did grow up watching the WWF so the samples from early promos and Beyond the Mat were welcome additions to the variety of remixes from the Fire Pro series. It’s another brash, slightly jarring EDM album that really stuck with me through the year.
Along the same lines as my YouTube Stats post, here’s some data mining insights from Last.fm for 2016. It isn’t entirely accurate as I did some listening on Spotify, Youtube and other apps that I don’t scrobble from but I can’t argue with these figures. I “scrobbled” (meaning I listened to) over 5,182 songs with an average of 21 songs a day. Be it familiar favorites to accompany my daily drudgery or research for a review on OSV, that breaks down to 961 albums from 1,046 artists.
Last.fm gets even more in-depth, pointing out that I listened to music the most from 7:00am to 8:00am on Wednesdays. I apparently had a hot streak going from June 12th through June 30th, listening for 19 days in a row. It was one of the most heads-down periods at work where I frequently turned to Disasterpeace’s Famaze OST and Mindwipe Goes Sonic from Mindwipe for solace while checking out GaMetal V from the self-titled remixer. Appropriately enough, my top tags were Video game music, Soundtrack, Electronic, Japanese and Chiptune. Yup, that’s me.
I thought it’d be fun to dig a little deeper and see what the first and last video game related songs I listened to in 2016 were and I was surprised to find they were from the same artist, Shiryu. The first was his remix of Turrican on January 8th and the last on December 30th was from his most recent album, Deckard, B26354. He was one of my top twenty most listened to artists of the year but I didn’t expect it would line up quite so perfectly.