When I was younger, I listened to a lot of video game music. For a period of time, that was the type of music I tended to listen to the most, in fact. As the years have gone by, it’s become a much more situational type of music for me, because I listen to music so much as a means of understanding my experiences and feelings and having something to relate to in that regard, and video game music doesn’t always offer that.
But there’s still something amazing about music from video games, to me, particularly with how a type of music that once was no more than catchy chiptunes has been able to evolve to include impressive scores and fully vocalized tracks. While you can find a song from a video game and enjoy it entirely out of context, the emotion, passion, and energy from the original experience within a game can bring the music to life, and suddenly that one piece of music can encompass so much more.
Of course, that’s sort of the point of music meant to accompany some form of media (including soundtracks to TV shows and movies, for example), but it seems to have the strongest effect within video games, for me, and it creates a really singular music-listening experience.
I feel the need to give this prelude to this particularly recommendation because “Still Alive,” the theme song of the 2008 release Mirror’s Edge, is a song that is fantastic in its own right, but has so much more life (pardon the pun) in context. The plucked strings, echoing piano, and haunting vocals of the song are emotional, but they also perfectly embody the colorful sheen that is the world of Mirror’s Edge.
The game’s world, while beautiful, is a dystopian wasteland under oppressive control, and beneath the vibrance is a great deal of suffering and oppression. The mournful tone of “Still Alive” perfectly captures this struggle to survive, and its title encompasses it as well. At one point in the game, a character reflects, “Survival is overrated…you need to live a little, too.” There are, of course, a plethora of ways to interpret this piece of music, but that quote is a fitting description of the feeling I get from the song. It’s about a search for a fire, an excitement, within this lifeless city, and being “still alive” as opposed to merely “alive” reflects a sort of going-through-the-motions existence.
I could be very inaccurate in my interpretation of the song, but I do think that, as the theme song of the game, it’s difficult to fully appreciate it without the context of the game, particularly in hearing it in its only placement within the game itself, as the camera pulls out of the final scene and the credits begin to roll.
Whether you agree with my view of the song, it’s a beautiful piece of music that really merits a listen. And if you haven’t played the game, the video below is a good source for listening to the theme song, as it includes gameplay footage and a peek into the world of the game; it makes the song much more powerful.