Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater: A Soundtrack to Shredding
Music has always been a pivotal point in which an entire game can be surmised by an elegant orchestral piece or a heart pounding surge of instruments. Composers and musicians alike have handcrafted works of audio art that caress our ears and leave us in complete awe. Although some games forego the composition and elect a more methodical approach by creating playlists and OSTs that capture the tone of a game perfectly.
When it comes to gaming soundtracks Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater boasts the most revolutionary, and indeed the most inspirational soundtracks of any game made. The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise has not only perfectly captured what it felt like to be a skater in the early nineties, but brought an eclectic mix of genres to impressionable youths, myself included.
For me the announcement of a new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game means more than a nostalgia trip, it’s a chance to catch up on some true musical gems that I might have missed on my journey from iTunes to Spotify and the musical black hole you fall i to leaving your teenage years behind. Just now I am stuck in a musical void of Tony Hawk games past and whatever was hip when I picked up friend’s suggestions in high school. And yes that does mean some rather questionable choices. So in anticipation of all these new bands and their twangy guitars I have went through all my old playlists and picked out my personal highlights from the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series.
Superman – Goldfinger (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1, 1999)
There is something uplifting about Goldfinger’s biggest hit. Be it the rather optimistic nature of the music and lyrics or that we can all relate to feeling the same way. Superman was always a highlight of the series, so much so that it returned as one of the few cherry picked songs in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.
No Cigar – Millencollin (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, 2000)
Much like the harder goals in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, Millencollin dive in to what it means to fall just short and not make it. A pop punk medley for the ages resides within Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and still makes it to our list today.
Guerrilla Radio – Rage Against the Machine (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, 2000)
Everyone remembers the first type anarchic band they listened to. Part of the appeal was always the swearing at a young age. The brash language and heavier aspect of music struck a chord with me, so to speak, with Guerrilla Radio.
96 Quite Bitter Beings – CKY (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, 2001)
What else is there to say than CKY were vaguely affiliated with Jackass? For a young boy slowly learning more about music every day and idolising a bunch of literal jackasses who would do anything for their 15 minutes of fame.
Blitzkreig Bop – The Ramones (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, 2001)
The grass roots of punk, whether you are just getting in to punk or a hardened veteran, The Ramones are always a staple of the genre. The simple 3 chords of early punk march in a timely manner with the short and punctual levels of THPS 3.
All My Best Friends Are Metalheads – Less Than Jake (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, 2002)
Tony Hawk’s games have always dabbled in Ska, Punk’s upbeat cousin. All My Best Friends Are Metalheads always sticks with me as Less Than Jake continue to tour to this very date. Seeing LTJ live just brings back some awesome memories, even if THPS4 was an arguably weak entry.
Armageddon – Alkaline Trio (Tony Hawk’s Underground, 2003)
Tony Hawk’s broke away from the tired tropes of two minute rounds and set playlists when it graduated from restrictive levels to open world canvasses to shred your way through. Tony Hawk’s Underground broke the convention of one set playlist and allowed users to construct their own. Being firmly in the Punk camp Armageddon would be a staple to any playlist from that moment on, so much so that I recently bit through my tongue in a pit to this very song because I was so excited to hear it live again.
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash (Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, 2004)
After years of ingesting the heavier side of Tony Hawk’s games I decided to ease in to a slower and friendlier side of music. Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire was a comical addition to THUG2 but it was a fantastic one at that.
Warsaw – Joy Division (Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, 2004)
Warsaw marks the end of the last great set of Tony Hawk’s soundtracks, although the franchise would continue the soundtracks were never really the same.
Just as Tony Hawk’s became American Wasteland I stopped listening, the games had long since become a parody of themselves with more and more over the top and uninteresting soundtracks to boot. Have you seen the album artwork for Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland? It’s painfully ironic that a once great series has set to deface iconic artwork, much like it has defaced precious childhood memories with its diminished returns. And yes I am aware of the entries since then, THPS HD was great with loads of amazing tracks to boot. So now I patiently await Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and all the musical glory it brings with it. Even if the graphics look as dated and questionable as Tony Hawk’s taste in music.