There’s something comforting about the electronic bleeps and bloops of video game music. Maybe it’s the nostalgia for the games of yesteryear or a reminder of the halcyon days of our youth, but songs like the Super Mario Bros. theme or the Pac-Man theme are as deeply ingrained into the wrinkles of our brain as top 40 hits. Yet moreso than film scores or television themes or even chart-topping pop songs, video game music has had a profound and lasting impact on popular music whether we realize it or not. As a generation grew up playing video games, those sounds became part of the cultural lexicon for an entire class of producers, musicians, and DJs, influencing and affecting the ways in which they made music. And that musical diaspora from the shores and circuit boards of Japan is precisely what’s being explored in Diggin’ in the Carts, a new documentary series from Red Bull Music Academy.
The first episode examines the legacy of composers like Hitoshi Sakamoto, Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka, Junko Ozawa, and how a new genre of music spread across the world, subtly influencing everything from hip hop to grime to dubstep with its infectious melodies. Kode 9, Ladyhawke, Anamanaguchi (of Nerdist Podcast theme song fame), Flying Lotus, Havoc and other contemporary electronic musicians appear too to talk about how these composers affected their own work. Plus they even shout out one of the coolest f–king bars I’ve ever been to, Rub-a-Dub, a tiny reggae bar in Kyoto. For fans of chiptune, video games, and just plain dope electronic music, this is fifteen minutes that you most definitely won’t want to miss.
New episodes drop every Thursday between now and October 9.
What’s your favorite piece of video game music? Let us know in the comments below or tell me on Twitter.