Way back when I first started at Twinfinite, I wrote an article talking about how Half-Life 2 plays really nicely alongside Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails. Because Bioshock: Infinite is right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to imagine an accompanying soundtrack to perfectly compliment the twists and turns of the first game. Bioshock is one of the most celebrated titles of the last ten years. It boasts one of the format’s most stunning game worlds and is remembered for a plot twist that actually causes you to stop playing and just. take. it. in.
There’s already a ton of licensed music in Bioshock; songs from the early to mid-twentieth century, used to evoke the time period. I’ll be the first to admit that it does a great job of that, but I rejected those songs; instead, I chose something different. I chose the Baz Luhrmann approach.
I chose….Bioshock – The Musical.
2112 Overture – Rush
Rush’s fourth album is the one that is pretty much the litmus test of whether or not you’re going to like Canada’s finest power trio. The title track clocks in at over twenty minutes and is, like Bioshock, influenced by the work of Ayn Rand. It covers an entire story of a man who discovers music in a world where it is outlawed, and dreams of a time and place where he is free to share it. Even though this story takes place in the future and Bioshock is in the past, there are some definite parallels between the protagonist of 2112 and Andrew Ryan; each wants to explore a forbidden technology but is prevented by his respective mainstream society.
I stand atop a spiral stair
An oracle confronts me there
He leads me on light years away
Through astral nights, galactic days
I see the works of gifted hands
That grace this strange and wondrous land
I see the hand of man arise
With hungry mind and open eyes
This song provides somewhat of an overview of not only Ryan’s character arc, but also that of the game’s protagonist, and even Rapture itself; an audacious project brought down by its own unchecked hubris.
Yes, we know it’s nothing new
It’s just a waste of time
We have no need for ancient ways
The world is doing fine
I can’t believe you’re saying
These things just can’t be true
Our world could use this beauty
Just think what we might do
Don’t annoy us further
We have our work to do
Just think about the average
What use have they for you?
Another toy will help destroy
The elder race of man
Forget about your silly whim
It doesn’t fit the plan
Octopus’s Garden – The Beatles
Okay, I realize that on the surface, a song like this has no place in a game as creepy as Bioshock. I’m including it for two reasons however: First; lyrically it would be the perfect theme for the relationship between Big Daddies and Little Sisters. Second; if you don’t think it’s creepy, listen to the Rockabye Baby lullaby version of this song. It’s a scientifically-proven fact that any children’s song slowed down is at least 50% creepier. This song’s accompaniment to the recurring appearance of these characters complements the push/pull between genuine sweetness and the creeping sadness of innocence (yours and theirs) lost.
We would be warm below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves
Resting our head on the sea bed
In an octopus’ garden near a cave
We would sing and dance around
Because we know we can’t be found
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade
We would shout and swim about
The coral that lies beneath the waves
(Lies beneath the ocean waves)
Oh what joy for every girl and boy
Knowing they’re happy and they’re safe
(Happy and they’re safe)
Mysterons – Portishead
This song…hell, this whole album could be the soundtrack playing in the minds of Rapture’s splicers. These characters are people who have abandoned their previous lives and embraced a vision of the future that it turns out comes with a significant cost. Mysterons has a haunting cadence that is equal parts beautiful, heartbreaking, and menacing. It hints at a lingering regret felt by these poor souls at the choices they’ve made, but never lets you forget about how dangerous they really are.
Inside you’re pretending
Crimes have been swept aside
Somewhere where they can forget
Divine upper reaches
Still holding on
This ocean will not be grasped
All for nothing
Did you really want
Refuse to surrender
Strung out until ripped apart
Who dares, dares to condemn
All for nothing
Did you really want
Come Undone – Duran Duran
This is the song for … THAT moment. With its underwater sound, as well as its references to a tattoo, deja vu, radio tunes, and magic ‘feeding off of fingers’, it almost feels tailor-made (+1 if you get the pun there) for Bioshock. I’ve always loved this song, but placing it alongside this game just takes it to a new level of awesome.
Mine, immaculate dream made breath and skin
I’ve been waiting for you
Signed, with a home tattoo,
Happy birthday to you was created for you
Can’t ever keep from falling apart
At the seams
Cannot believe you’re taking my heart
Oh, it’ll take a little time,
Might take a little crime
To come undone now
Words, playing deja vu
Like a radio tune I swear I’ve heard before
Chill, is it something real
Or the magic I’m feeding off your fingers
Long Snake Moan – PJ Harvey
If you’ve never listened to PJ Harvey, you really need to do yourself a favor and get on that. She is one of the most consistently amazing artists of the past 20 years, and she rocks harder just about anyone else, ever. This song, from To Bring You My Love, fits nicely in with boss fights and larger battle set-pieces. The Lazarus nod feels like a cool nod to Rapture’s vita chambers, and of course the references to being underwater lend themselves well to the oppressive world of the game. This song is ferocious; perfect for a tough fight against a ton of splicers, a Big Daddy, or the man behind it all…
Dunk you Under
Deep salt Water
In my Dreaming
You’ll be Drowning
Raise me Up lord
Call me Lazarus
Hey Lord Help me
Make me Marvel
You wanna hear my long snake … moan!
You oughta see me crawl my… roar
If you’re interested in hearing these songs, I’ve created a playlist of them on Rdio (we don’t have Spotify in Canada — sorry), which you can find here:
Give these songs a listen if you’re doing a playthrough of Bioshock in anticipation of Infinite‘s imminent release on March 26th. Hope you like it!
Are there any other songs you think would fit aurally and/or lyrically with the world of Rapture? Leave a comment and let us know.