#songoftheday: Tyrone Wells – Use Somebody (Kings of Leon Cover)

A really well done acoustic cover never fails to increase my admiration for a song that I already enjoyed.   The stripped back nature gives you that luxury of admiring the little things, and lets all the emotion behind the song shine through that much brighter.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Soundtrack

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I’m a big fan of programs like iTunes Genius. They take the music that you’re currently listening to, and give you song recommendations based on other people with similar taste in music. In high school, the soundtracks to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games were like my own version of iTunes Genius. The big difference being, all song suggestions were based on the assumption that I really liked skate punk.

With the rampant music downloading at the time, I wasn’t listening to too many albums. Internet connection speeds were catching up with my ambitions of checking out all the songs that I’d heard of, but there was a new obstacle approaching fast. I was running out of new music to check out. The pop stations generally repeated the same songs on a daily basis, and even the local rock station tended to stick to the same playlist. Hearing Metallica’s cover of “Turn the Page” for the 50th time wasn’t exactly inspiring, so I was on the lookout for a new source. Enter, the Tony Hawk series.

I’d picked up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for the Nintendo 64 in the fall of 2000, and instantly fell in love with the music. Looking back, it was probably the worst possible way to be introduced to these songs. N64 games were pretty infamous for their limited storage capacity. This wasn’t a huge deal for games like Zelda, or Mario where the music was mostly chiptunes, but things got a bit dicey when pre-recorded music tracks entered the scene. In the transition from CD (Playstation) to cartridge (N64), the Tony Hawk soundtrack got pretty mangled. The sound quality took a dive, songs were heavily edited for time/language, and a good chunk of the tracks didn’t even make the cut. All that said, I still spent hours in front of the TV with the same minute and a half of “Superman” by Goldfinger on repeat.

I’ve heard it said that the true test of a song’s quality, is if it still holds up when performed by a single singer with a guitar. I’d say that if you hear a song filtered through the Nintendo 64, and still enjoy it, that song’s probably a masterpiece.

Each successive¬†year brought a new Tony Hawk game, and along with it, a new song list that seemed custom made for me. Thanks to the annual boost in song-count, and genre diversity, I’d found my go-to source for new tunes in high school.

Eventually Activision (the publisher of Tony Hawk), would run the series into the ground, but those first 4 games were magic. If there’s any doubt, just take a look at this track list:

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
1. The Dead Kennedys – Police Truck
2. The Ernies – Here and Now
3. Even Rude – Vilified
4. Goldfinger – Superman
5. Primus – Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
6. Speedealer – Screamer/Nothing to Me
7. Suicidal Tendencies – Cyco Vision
8. The Suicide Machines – New Girl
9. Unsane – Committed
10. The Vandals – Euro-Barge

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
1. Rage Against the Machine – Guerilla Radio
2. Bad Religion – You
3. Anthrax feat. Chuck D. of Public Enemy – Bring the Noise
4. Powerman 5000 – When Worlds Collide
5. Naughty by Nature – Pin the Tail on the Donkey
6. Papa Roach – Blood Brothers
7. The High and Mighty feat. Mos Def & Mad Skillz – B-Boy Document 99
8. Consumed – Heavy Metal Winner
9. Dub Pistols – Cyclone
10. Swingin’ Utters – Five Lessons Learned
11. Styles of Beyond – Subculture
12. Millencolin – No Cigar
13. Black Planet feat. Alley Life – Out With the Old
14. Lagwagon – May 16
15. Fu Manchu – Evil Eye

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
1. AFI – The Boy Who Destroyed the World
2. Adolescents – Amoeba
3. Alien Ant Farm – Wish
4. Bodyjar – Not the Same
5. CKY – 96 Quite Bitter Beings
6. Del the Funky Homosapien – If You Must
7. Guttermouth – I’m Destroying the World
8. House of Pain – I’m a Swing It
9. KRS-One – Hush
10. Mad Capsule Markets – Pulse
11. Motorhead – Ace of Spades
12. The Nextmen – Amongst the Madness
13. Ozomatli – Cut Chemist Suite
14. The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Fight Like a Brave
16. Redman – Let’s Get Dirty
17. The Reverend Horton Heat – I Can’t Surf
18. Rollins Band – What’s the Matter Man
19. Xzibit – Paparazzi
20. Zebrahead – Check

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
1. AC/DC – TNT
2. Aesop Rock – Labor
3. Agent Orange – Bloodstains (Darkness Version)
4. Avail – Simple Song
5. The Bouncing Souls – Manthem
6. City Stars – Bad Dreams
7. The Cult – Bad Fun
8. De La Soul – Oodles of O’s
9. Delinquent Habits – House of the Rising Drum
10. The Distillers – Seneca Falls
11. Eyedea & Abilities – Big Shots
12. The Faction – Skate and Destroy
13. Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies
14. Gang Star – Mass Appeal
15. Goldfinger – Spokesman
16. Haiku D’Etat – Non Compos Mentis
17. Hot Water Music – Freightliner
18. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
19. JFA – Beach Blanket Bongout
20. Less Than Jake – All My Best Friends are Metalheads
21. Lootpack – Whenimondamic
22. Lunchbox Avenue – Everything and Anything
23. Public Enemy – By The Time I Get to Arizona
24. Muskabeatz – Bodyrock (feat. Biz Markie)
25. Muskabeatz – I’m A Star (feat. Grandmaster Melle Mel)
26. Muskabeatz – Versus of Doom (feat. Jeru the Damaja)
27. N.W.A. – Express Yourself
28. Nebula – Giant
29. The Offspring – Blackball
30. P.O.D. – Boom
31. Rocket from the Crypt – Savoir Faire
32. Run-DMC – My Adidas
33. Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK
34. System of a Down – Shimmy
35. Toy Dolls – Dig That Groove Baby
36. U.S. Bombs – Yer Country
37. Zeke – Death Alley

#songoftheday: Gorillaz feat. De La Soul – Feel Good Inc.

As far as side projects go, this is the one that’s always impressed me the most.

The lead singer/songwriter from Blur doesn’t just start up some new band on the side. No, he goes ahead with the creator of Tank Girl, and manufactures this cartoon band, that still manages to come across as more genuine than most of the “real” acts out there.