Welcome back! It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since our last look at the music of E3, but alas, E3 2018 was last week, and with it came some excellent tunes. As usual, this list is in no particular order, and every song came from a trailer or montage clip featured in one of the many press conferences. I hope you find some awesome new songs, just as I did. Let’s get to it!
“ALL I NEED” by SUR – EA Montage
Electronic Arts had the first press conference of E3 2018, and this song immediately grabbed my interest. The song kicked off the show alongside a montage of all of EA’s games we already knew about, and then returned at the end of the show with a compilation of every new game. This song even made less thrilling games like FIFA and Madden look fun. I think it’s that piano riff at the beginning; gets your head bobbing. I certainly wasn’t expecting a badass song like this right out the gate, but I’m glad we got it. As usual, I couldn’t find a video of the montage on its own, so linked above is the entire press conference, but you’ll hear that song right as it starts. EA may be a lackluster company to a lot of people, but they know how to pick their music.
“Uprising” by Muse – Anthem Official Cinematic Trailer
One of the most satisfying songs to hear this E3 was “Uprising” by English rock band Muse. Though this song was originally released in 2009, the drum-heavy remix that played behind Anthem‘s cinematic trailer was a nice change of pace. I fell in love with this song back when it was everywhere on the radio, and now it has certainly helped me fall in love with Anthem. This being EA’s next big AAA and BioWare’s return after Mass Effect: Andromeda, it seemed fitting to have a popular, booming anthem (pun intended) set the tone. Here’s hoping the game will deliver that same energy when it’s released on February 22, 2019.
“Don’t Think Twice” by Hikaru Utada – Kingdom Hearts III Trailer(s)
Before I go off on a tangent about Kingdom Hearts III, I must admit something. “Don’t Think Twice” is not a spectacular song. Honestly, it sounds like most music you would find in a Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy game; it’s typical JRPG fare. But it made this list because of my near-unhealthy obsession with the upcoming Kingdom Hearts installment. I have never been the biggest fan of this franchise, having only played a couple of the handheld titles. However, after this E3, I’m in it for the long haul. Frozen, Tangled, Big Hero 6, Monsters Inc., Wreck-It Ralph, Ratatouille, freaking Pirates of the Caribbean! The Disney love is overflowing in Kingdom Hearts III and it was undoubtedly my most anticipated game of E3 2018. So good job, Hikaru Utada. You picked the right game to sing for, and you made the list.
“Running All Night” by Zayde Wolf – ID@Xbox Montage
Every year, ID@Xbox throws an awesome indie game montage into the Microsoft press conference. Xbox’s own indie branch has given us some amazing games over the years, and these trailers are always set to a kickass beat. This year, it was “Running All Night” by Zayde Wolf, and rest assured, the “kickass” trend continued. This song has everything: fast-paced drums, clapping, voice modifiers, harmonic vocalizations, and just a fun overall rhythm. It’s damn catchy, and it perfectly set the tone to show off the incredible indies coming down the pipeline.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course Trailer
When I attended PAX East 2018 earlier this year, I sat in on a panel about music in video games. Among the speakers was a man named Kristofer Maddigan, a percussionist and composer of the 2017 game Cuphead. I hadn’t played Cuphead at the time, so I merely listened in on his story with relative disinterest. Fast forward to today, and having now played Cuphead, I wish I had shaken his hand and thanked him for letting his brilliance roam free in the world of video games. Maddigan told the audience that he had never played 1930’s jazz before, and the thought of scoring Cuphead, when asked by the developers, made him nervous beyond belief. Luckily, he researched and played his little heart out, and delivered one of the most entertaining musical scores I have ever heard in a video game. To make matters even better, Cuphead DLC was announced at E3 2018, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what wonders Kris Maddigan has in store this time around. It sounds like it’ll be more of the same jazzy fare we saw in the base game, but I had to put The Delicious Last Course on this list to raise awareness for Cuphead‘s brilliance. I’m glad to see it getting some more content as time goes on.
“Ready to Die” by Andrew W.K. – Rage 2 Performance
Come on, we have to talk about this performance. Remember when Mick Gordon came out at The Game Awards 2016 and burned the house down with his sick Doom licks? Hell, do you remember the day after this year’s Bethesda conference when Grant Kirkhope scored a trailer for Mario + Rabbids in real time? Well, this performance by Andrew W.K. was neither of those things. It was arguably worse than the aforementioned performances, and without a doubt much more cringey, but you have to admit, that song was catchy. Also, Andrew W.K.’s signature head-banging swagger brought the silly-yet-serious tone of Rage 2 to life in a horribly entertaining way. It grabbed my interest; I’ll give it that. Also, listen to that damn piano riff. It just brings me so much joy.
“You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead Or Alive – Prey: Mooncrash Launch Trailer
In what is probably the most entertaining use of a song I have ever seen in a trailer, Dead Or Alive’s inclusion in this Prey DLC gameplay caught me completely off guard. The premise of Mooncrash is having to repeat the same level over and over again, attempting alternate routes each time resulting in different outcomes. Much like the song describes, Mooncrash may cause your head to spin “right round round round”, having to continuously start over and over again. The use of the song was genius, and let’s be frank, if you’re not a fan of this jumpin’ 80’s classic, you don’t have a fun bone in your body. I was practically dancing in my chair, and I knew right then this song had to be on the list.
“Warrior” by SATE – Trials Rising Announcement Trailer
I don’t think many were expecting a new Trials to be revealed at this year’s Ubisoft conference. The last Trials game, Trials of the Blood Dragon, was kind of a different direction for the series, and it didn’t get a whole lot of attention. But with Fusion being free with PlayStation Plus last month, it sort of made sense to see a new Trials break through the crowd — literally . . . on a tiny motorbike. Enter Trials Rising, taking the franchise back to its roots, alongside a trailer that could only be described as “badas.” “Warrior” by SATE is a frantic rock song that instantly reminded me of old punk jams from game soundtracks like SSX and Skate (RIP). It certainly got me revved up to dive back into Trials. If that wasn’t enough, they also showed off a ragdoll montage set to Strauss’s “The Blue Danube,” which is a close runner-up.
“Fire” by Barns Courtney – The Crew 2 Official Trailer
Last year that I praised The Crew 2‘s cinematic trailer for including “Yellow Flicker Beat” by Lorde. It was awesome to see one of my favorite artists represented in a game trailer. This year, though, The Crew 2 returned with its final trailer before its launch on June 29, and this time around the theme song was much more energetic. “Fire” by Barns Courtney was the perfect tune to accompany a showcase of the large variety of vehicles in this sequel. From boats to planes to dirt bikes, every mode of transportation was put on display, in engine, and it was beautiful. The song just has this upbeat indie feel to it that makes you wanna go for a drive down a dusty road, or soar through the skies above the vast city landscape. I’m personally super excited for The Crew 2, as I was a huge fan of the original, and this song definitely got me in the mood for more cross-country driving.
“Asylums for the Feeling feat. Leila Adu” by Silent Poets – Death Stranding Gameplay Trailer
This song had to make the list. I mean, they put the name of the song in the trailer! Death Stranding has been on every gamer’s mind since it was announced back in 2016. The Hideo Kojima/Guillermo Del Toro/Norman Reedus / Mads Mikkelsen collaboration project has been shrouded in secrecy for years, until E3 2018 finally gave us gameplay. Real, bona fide gameplay in stunning 4K resolution. It was beautiful, of course, and with this haunting tune behind it, the entire trailer was just one big art piece. It truly left me speechless, as I’ve never seen anything like this game before. Kojima has some craziness up his sleeve, as always, and if more music like this is to be expected, then we’re all in for a trippy ride.
Well that’s another E3 in the books! I hope you’ve enjoyed our musical trip down memory lane, and hopefully you’ve found some cool tunes to add to the soundtrack of your life. What was your favorite thing about E3 2018? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to stick around for news, reviews, and impressions of these games and more in the year to come. See you for E3 2019!