I am, like many others, a musical omnivore.
I like most kinds of music, if they follow two guidelines: if there are lyrics I want to be able to hear them, and if I can't the music shouldn't be chaotic and irregular (these being the two primary reasons I dislike the more "extreme" subgenres of metal). However, beyond that pretty much anything goes. But I hadn't really gotten into the "older" kinds of music until I played Fallout 3, apart from Elvis. But hey, everyone
listens to Elvis.
As you may have guessed by now, Fallout 3 got me into 50's music. I don't really know exactly how or when it happened, but after trudging through the Capital Wasteland for the umpteenth time, transforming Raiders into meat kibble with my minigun while listening to a vaguely racist song about Africa, I suddenly closed the game, looked up a few of the in-game songs on Youtube and just kept browsing. I was fascinated by this (to me) previously unknown genre of music, how many similarities I could recognise as having heard in more modern songs, and how the lyrics could be about anything
. Really, everything. These days I'm hard pressed to find a song not about love, money, death, angst or any combination of these, while back in the 50's someone could make a song about a 22-year-old man being pissed off at a bunch of people calling him "boy". For reference, the song is below.
If you don't recognise the song from Fallout 3, it's included in the mod "GNR - More Where That Came From" that extends the GNR song list immensely. You can get it here.
When that song came on for the first time, I'm pretty sure that I was cowering behind some rocks in the middle of nowhere, while several super mutants were shooting assault rifles at me and one in the back was providing support with a missile launcher. I was about to die, and then out of absolutely nowhere, that song comes on. It was so bizarre I laughed uncontrollably for half a minute, which obviously led to my death. When I thought about it afterwards, I realised that not only was it a bizarre soundtrack for such a situation, but it was strangely fitting. After all, the Fallout setting is plenty bizarre even without the whole "America stuck in 50's cultural values gets nuked to shit" thing. What better to accompany its various strange and often violent occurences than some happy, dance-inducing tunes from the 50's?
Of course, contrasting battle music is far from the only application music has in the Falloutverse. I use a similar radio mod in New Vegas, called the Secret Stash (available here
) that, among many others, adds the song "Cry Me A River" by Julie London:
Walking the Mojave, far away from civilisation, just surveying all the damage still done to the world outside of what's been restored by the remnants of humanity, sends a chill down my spine every time it happens. Aside from being a hauntingly beautiful song with a brilliant songstress, it also functions as a sort of a parable for the state of the world. It's like miss London is the voice of mother Earth herself, telling humanity to cry her a river - for all their troubles, what they've done to her is far worse.
There are a lot of other songs in both games, of course - both vanilla and modded. But as much as I'd like to, I can't go on reviewing every single one. Hopefully these two examples are enough to illustrate what I'd like to say: that the style of music in Fallout 3 and New Vegas serve both to enhance the silly and serious aspects equally well. I didn't mention the country music because while I think it's good and it suits New Vegas well, it evokes a wild west/cowboy theme, which is all well and good but isn't descriptive of the Fallout setting as a whole.
So if you own Fallout 3 or New Vegas, go in-game and tune in to your favorite radio, walk around a bit and just enjoy the scenery and the music. Think about how it fits together. At least if it's a serious song. If it's a happy, upbeat song, find something to shoot. read