Music Artists You Didn’t Know Featured On Video Game Soundtracks

Video games offer some of the most diverse and beautiful soundtracks in modern media. From the powerful choral vocals featured in Jeremy Soule’s score for The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, to the melancholic and hopeful acoustic guitars of Andrew Prahlow’s score for The Outer Wilds, the music created for video games further immerses gamers into the virtual worlds they love to explore.

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However, composers aren’t the only ones dipping their toes into the world of video game music. There are many prominent, mainstream music groups and artists who have contributed their musical prowess to video game soundtracks. These artists span across multiple genres, including rock, pop, and beyond.

10 Hoobastank – Halo 2

Master Chief in Halo 2

While it’s well-known that alternative rock bands Incubus and Breaking Benjamin featured on the Halo 2 soundtrack, it’s often forgotten that Hoobstank contributed to the soundtrack as well.

Hoobastank, most known for their rock hit The Reason, has a single on the Halo 2 soundtrack, called Connected. While the song features tight guitar riffs and some catchy melodies, it was overshadowed by other hits on Halo 2’s soundtrack, such as Breaking Benjamin’s “Blow Me Away,” which was certified platinum in 2021.

9 Brain Eno – Spore

Monster characters in Spore 2
Via origin.com

Brian Eno is a legendary figure in the music industry. Eno is a musician and producer whose production credits include Talking Heads, David Bowie, and Coldplay. Eno is known for his versatility in music production, so it was no surprise when it was announced that Eno would be creating music for Spore.

Spore was built on the idea of procedural generation. Every planet, every creature, and every single thing in Spore would be unique to each playthrough. As such, the music of Spore was composed to be procedurally generated as well, and players would never hear the same song twice. Within a week, Eno had a full CD of material prepared for the game.

8 Nine Inch Nails – Quake

Quake Guy shooting shotgun at a shambler with a friend

The original Quake’s soundtrack is often lauded as one of the best soundtracks in gaming history, so it comes as no surprise to find out that it was composed by the legendary rock group, Nine Inch Nails.

In an interview with Bethesda Softworks, Chris Vreena, who played drums in Nine Inch Nail during the Quake soundtrack’s creation, recalls meeting with developers from idSoftware in the 90s with frontman Trent Reznor. Reznor was a huge fan of idSoftware’s games and would talk about their games in interviews. As such, idSoftware approached the band about creating the soundtrack for Quake, and the rest is history.

7 Avenged Sevenfold – Call Of Duty: Black Ops Series

Black Ops

It’s hard to rank the Call of Duty games, but each game has always featured incredible music. Avenged Sevenfold, a legendary heavy metal band hailing from California, has been a part of every Call of Duty: Black Ops entry aside from Call of Duty: Cold War.

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In 2018, they released their Black Reign EP, featuring every song the band created for the Black Ops series. In 2019, the band’s lead singer, M. Shadows, was added as a playable character in the battle royale mode of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

6 The National – Portal 2

A ruined laboratory with an aperture robot hanging from ceiling

The National is known for their melancholic and somber indie hits and has achieved critical acclaim and received widespread recognition in the music industry since their formation in the early 2000s. The band has even collaborated with superstar Taylor Swift, having featured on Swift’s Evermore album that released in late 2020.

But, long before their collaboration with Swift, the band teamed up with Valve to create a song for one of the best video game sequels of all time — Portal 2. The single, called Exile Vilify, plays on a radio found in one of the game’s many Rat Man dens, areas in the game in which an unseen character named Douglas Rattman created art detailing his experiences in Aperture Laboratories’ test chambers.

5 Paul McCartney – Destiny

Destiny promo art

While this is certainly not new information to longtime Destiny fans, gamers in other corners of gaming culture might be surprised to learn that Paul McCartney collaborated with Marty O’ Donnell to create the score for Destiny’s soundtrack.

According to Polygon, O’ Donnell and McCartney met to discuss creating dynamic music for the original Destiny that would change depending on the player’s actions in the game. McCartney was enthralled by the concept and ended up contributing a great deal to Destiny’s original score. McCartney also created a single for the game called Hope For The Future, which released in late 2014.

4 My Chemical Romance – The Sims 3

The Sims In The Sims 2

My Chemical Romance is legendary in the pop punk scene, with powerful emo anthems like “Helena” and “The Black Parade” dominating pop punk playlists across streaming platforms. In 2010, the band released their fourth studio album, entitled Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, with the song Na Na Na being the top hit from the record.

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Later on, the song appeared in The Sims 3, but this time frontman Gerard Way sung the song in Simlish, the fictional language of the characters in The Sims series. The song’s instrumentation and melodies are exactly the same as the original, with the only difference being the change in lyrics. Even in Simlish, the song proves to be a hit, making it one of the best Simlish covers of all time.

3 CHVRCHES – Death Stranding

Sam holds BB as dark clouds loom over them

Scottish synthpop group CHVRCHES is known for their emotive lyrics and catchy melodies, complete with driving synths and a healthy dose of EDM influence. In 2019, the group released a song created for Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding. Simply titled, “Death Stranding,” the song featured on the game’s soundtrack alongside songs by other groups and artists such as Khalid and Bring Me The Horizon.

CHVRCHES members Iain Cook and Marty Doherty said in an interview with the BBC that they had been fans of Kojima’s Metal Gear series before the band even started, stating that Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is their favorite. It’s safe to say Kojima loved the song CVURCHES created for Death Stranding, as Cook told the BBC that it made Kojima cry.

2 Florence + The Machine – Final Fantasy 15

characters from final fantasy 15

London indie rock band Florence + The Machine is known for their energetic sound in hits such as “Dog Days Are Over” and “Shake It Out,” and in 2015, the group contributed their driving instrumentation and vocals to Final Fantasy 15’s soundtrack. Florence + The Machine produced three songs for the game, two originals called Too Much Is Never Enough and I Will Be, and a cover of Stand By Me by Ben E. King.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, lead singer Florence Welch said that they couldn’t imagine working on music for another game other than Final Fantasy. “It wouldn’t have made sense,” Welch told Rolling Stone. “In some ways, the landscape of Final Fantasy and my own internal landscape seemed to fit quite well. It’s mythical and beautiful and epic.”

1 John Mayer – Halo 2

Master Chief On The Halo 2 box art

When Halo 2: Anniversary launched as a part of The Master Chief Collection in 2014, the current Halo series developer, 343 Industries, released a documentary coinciding with the game’s launch, which chronicles the journey to recreate one the most beloved shooters of all time. In this documentary, Marty O’ Donnel, the original composer for the Halo series, revealed that John Mayer played on the Halo 2 soundtrack.

According to O’Donnel, Mayer was a huge fan of Halo and went outside his agent to meet with the Halo 2 development team so he could play guitar for the game. Mayer’s contribution to the score can be heard on the track, Epilogue, the last song on the game’s soundtrack.

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