No, Seriously: My Musical Taste Was Shaped By Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto changed my life. Not because the games got me robbing, stabbing, and running over prostitutes, but because, as a 20-year-old guy, it has directly shaped my musical taste.
The latest game in the series, Grand Theft Auto V, drops today and takes place in a fictionalized version of L.A. The music is predictably amazing, featuring curated music from Flying Lotus, Twin Shadow, Wavves and Soulwax, plus new, unreleased songs from those folks as well as A$AP Rocky, Tyler, The Creator and The Chain Gang of 1974. (The trailer's at the bottom of this post.) It's also a good chance to look back at the two incarnations that most shaped me, Vice City and San Andreas.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Setting: Fictionalized 1986 Miami.
Plot: The main character, Tommy Vercetti, was part of a drug deal gone bad and has to get back the money he lost.
Influential Music: Psychedelic Furs, Michael Jackson, Human League, Blondie, Tears for Fears
It goes without saying that I was waaaaay too young to be exposed to this game. (Nine, but who's counting?) But believe me, Mom and Dad, it's a good thing I was, because my music taste benefitted. At the time my ears were filled with the sounds of Blink 182, Linkin Park, Smashmouth, Britney Spears and the like. But a decade later I can trace a direct line from what I discovered from the game to the music I love today.
When I first tuned in to Vice City radio I heard "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, and it was off to the races from there. I was drawn to the new wave and synth-pop station station Wave 103, and I'd never heard anything like it. Driving down the palm-tree, neon-lit boulevards with "Sunglasses at Night" by Corey Hart playing was a great rush. I wanted more. This naturally led me on an insatiable quest to find all the best synth-pop and new wave I could.