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Chipping away at my sanity

July 14, 2009


Earlier today, someone forwarded me a video of a chiptune cover of Animal Collective’s “My Girls”. I guess their reasoning behind this was because they knew I liked Animal Collective, and my Super Nintendo. I’m not sure, though, why anyone would feel the need to combine the two. To me, chiptune covers of popular songs feel no different than back in the 80s and 90s when Weird Al thought it was funny to do polka covers of pop songs. More after the jump.

In case you’ve missed this burgeoning genre fad, chiptunes are songs created using 8-bit audio tech, similar to what was found in third and fourth generation video game consoles. These early synthesizers could only create simple melodies, perhaps the most famous of which is the introductory Super Mario theme. Nintendo composers, most notably this genius, have continued the simplistic, melody-driven style of composition even into today’s games, but they use today’s technology and synthesizers, for the most part. I guess for the same reason that Jack White still records on reel-t0-reel, some people today still like to make music on the simple synths of the 80s and early 90s. These are the chiptuners.

Bands like 8-Bit Weapon have been creating (or in a lot of instances, recreating) dance and pop music out of simple synths, but usually adding a few more tracks than a NES could have handled. In theory, the genre is a somewhat logical extension of the New Rave fad that swept this decade in its desire to modernize and contextualize 80s music and fashion in today’s culture, and while I can readily explain its existence, I can’t say that I don’t find it damn annoying. While I love the music that accompanied my earliest videogame memories, I’m not sure I like it pervading today’s culture. It just seems as forced as using Polaroids (well, while you could) and wearing Air Jordans. While all culture should have some degree of retrospection embedded in it (so we don’t repeat history’s mistakes, perhaps), it shouldn’t just be a rehashing of the past. Or perhaps I’ve just gotten crotchety and didn’t realize it until now.

dark side of the handheld console

dark side of the handheld console

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