Growing up, I hated the question “What kind of music do you listen to?”
A perfectly innocent question, right? But I felt embarrassed about my musical preferences. When asked, I would say that my parents mostly listened to classical music or oldies in the car. Mozart and Motown, Arias and Aretha, Symphonies and the Supremes.
I was embarrassed because my interests were pretty nerdy: I listened to a lot of video game music. As someone who grew up playing video games, the music struck an emotional chord with me. This was before Youtube, so I would go to vgmusic.com and listen to MIDIs of video game tunes.
The only concert I went to in high school was a performance of music from the Final Fantasy video game series (by Squaresoft, now Square Enix) by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The crowd was mostly college-aged (my brother Dale and I were the youngest people there). There was one guy who came dressed as a black mage, with the blue robe, pointy hat, and staff. During the intermission, I overheard someone say “When Aerith’s theme started playing, I got teary-eyed.” I, too, got teary-eyed.
I’ve since expanded my musical tastes. I have albums by the Korean pop/electronica/jazz group Clazziquai Project (클래지 (Clazzi)｜클래지콰이 (Clazziquai Project)), the alternative country singer-songwriter Neko Case, and my hometown heroes, Korean-American pop folk troubadors Run River North. That said, the song on my phone that I’ve been playing the most recently is “Bless the Lord”, off the album “Laudate Omnes Gentes” from the Taizé religious community in France (I listen to it during my times of spiritual meditation).
I’m still a bit shy when I talk about video game music, and probably wouldn’t bring it up in an interview or at a networking event. But I still listen to it a lot. I’ve lately been enjoying Insaneintherainmusic‘s excellent album of jazz renditions of music from Undertale, “Live at Grillby’s.” When I’m working, I tune into Rainwave. Right now, it’s playing “Noble Creature of Snow” by ansgaros from the “Mega Man X: Maverick Rising” arrangement album from OverClocked ReMix. Up for vote next are “Bean Ball” by Kazuo Sawa from Super Dodge Ball, “Sequence” by Chris Chudley from Geometry Wars 2, and “Top-Flight Mechanics” by Yuzo Koshiro (yes!) from Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3.
Looks like “Bean Ball” won. Nothing like a 1989 NES chiptune song built like a classic rock tune.