Because I’m going to be on the road and at an event tomorrow when this post is most likely being read, it’s early, because I want to keep my Blaugust momentum, such as it is (I did just have two record view days back-to-back!).
Getting to know you is a tricky topic to tackle because it can be hard for a new writer to know their authorial voice well enough to write something that strikes a good balance. For me, I feel pretty comfortable with my authorial voice, but I also get very personal in times about my writing – and I think that’s a strength, but it can also be hard to read.
So surely a less contentious topic would be music tastes, right? Something I enjoy from Bhagpuss a lot is when he shares what he’s been listening to, or weaves music in to his blog posts. I tend to not do that, but I think that’s what would make such a post interesting for me – because I don’t share my musical tastes much with anyone, it may actually be one of the more guarded aspects of my personality and media consumption!
So let’s start with genre conventions I like and then share a good list of songs – I’m thinking maybe around 20!
My Preferred Genres
I grew up in the 2000s era of buttrock and hybrid rap/rock. As a wrestling fan, Limp Bizkit was frequently in the rotation, and I was a Linkin Park fan from the outset – getting to finally see them live at Blizzcon 2015 before Chester took his life is something I’m quite glad I got to do. As a surburban white teenager, I had parents incensed over Eminem (and a cousin that burned me his second album on CD), and I listened to a lot of rap, like Kanye West’s first album, Ludakris’ Chicken and Waffles, and I had a Ja Rule CD too (the one with Jennifer Lopez as a feature).
But as a wrestling fan, my most listened albums were…wrestling music, hilariously enough. I still have my original copies of WWF The Music volumes 3 through 5, Themeaddict (volume 6), WWE The Music Volume 8, and the crossover special cover albums (the rap album Aggression, the rock album Forceable Entry, and the hybrid genre album Wreckless Intent, which is…a streak of unfavorable album names!).
But I was also a weirdo fantasy and RPG kid, and so I listened to a lot of orchestral music, like the album Forbidden Forest by The Taliesin Orchestra and my radio dial (remember radio?) was set to a local smooth jazz station from the ages of 17-20. When MP3s and internet piracy became a thing, I downloaded a lot of Final Fantasy songs to add to my collection. When my socioeconomic standing grew, I bought a lot of collector’s edition games with soundtrack CDs to keep around and ripped many of them into a collection I still have, 10-odd PCs later and two PCs with no optical drives as a part of that progression!
As an adult, my listening tastes have changed but also stayed the same. I was an early EDM kid with Daft Punk and early Gramatik albums. Learn 2 Raid got me into Pretty Lights, who I’ve seen play twice live (is is surprising that I’ve gone to EDM shows live?). In the last few years, my most listened genres have been vaporwave and future funk. Vaporwave I really unironically love because the thematic idea of a song that sounds like your memories of childhood decaying or peeling away artifice is actually something that really hits deep for me, and not just because my house now has a good selection of edibles. Future funk I love because despite it all, I love a danceable beat and fun tune. Future funk often samples from Japanese City Pop, which is a genre I’ve listened to more recently, like CINDY’s 私達を信じていて. Oh, sorry, Watshitachi o Shinjite Ite. (okay, I copy/pasted it from YouTube, I can only read the hiragana in it!). Lastly, I am also a lo-fi hip-hope beats to study/relax to guy!
I still listen to a fair amount of the music that I did when I was younger, alongside the new genre additions, although I won’t claim that I’ve listened to much modern rock, butt-rock or otherwise. I have kept up with newer genre additions to wrestling music, though (I don’t think that counts) and game music (well, duh).
And now, after the preamble, here’s a few songs I’ve enjoyed, past and present. (no particular order or ranking intended)
WWE – Baron Corbin’s Theme “I Bring The Darkness” (and bonus Sad Corbin remix)
I like the lyrical themes in wrestling more, especially when they feel particularly well crafted, and this song is the last one that legendary WWE composer Jim Johnson made before being pushed out of the company. Baron Corbin’s current character, as of this writing, is a sad dejected man who is broke, wearing the same shirt between shows with a mustard stain, having his music cut off after 3 seconds because it costs too much, etc – it’s really funny and well-done (rare for WWE!) but the full remix of the song is actually kind of good, in a weird way!
Empire of the Sun – Walking On A Dream
I found this one at a weird time in my life, and it was just fun and light to listen to driving around the city at 3 AM (that was a hobby of mine a few years back!).
Thundercat – Dragonball Durag
This song just reminds me of my friend Jake and the video for it is hilarious. Thundercat has some really good stuff with strong music videos, but I just love this song and laughing at it.
Space Dandy Ending Credits Theme – X Jigen e Youkoso
Space Dandy is a great, short run anime from 2014 that was quirky, funny, oddly heartfelt, and just really a great watch. The opening song absolutely slaps, but what I love about the ending is the quirky tone and the fact that it remixes very well into a bedroom anthem. Don’t believe me? Just listen:
Did I just tell on myself? I suppose. Oh well.
Willow Smith – Wait A Minute (slowed + reverb)
The normal version of this song is pretty good too, but as a once-teen that enjoyed chopped and screwed rap albums, slowed songs are a jam for me and I think this version of the song is more enjoyable for it. (also, I owned Big Willie Style from her father as a kid, so oof.)
Death’s Dynamic Shroud – Loving is Easy
Before getting to normal vaporwave, this is a song I genuinely vibe with. It’s bizarre and a little unsettling (I drove late one night with it on, and…yeah, never again) but I like that a song can do that to you.
Beerlover – Oh, You
I love this one because it’s a great future bunk beat and rhythm and the opening is funny and gets me every time!
Big E’s Entrance Theme – Feel The Power featuring Wale and DJ Money
Another wrestling one, but I like Wale’s music generally and Big E is a national treasure, a sentiment for which I will accept no challenges.
City Girl (In General, All of Their Stuff)
City Girl is probably the one lofi chill artist I could name off the top of my head, and with good reason – all their albums are fantastic. For full album, I’ll present Siren of the Formless as my fave:
For my most-listened single, it’s probably Endless and Artificial off Chroma Velocity. It’s the opening track, so I’ve just included the full album here too.
50 Cent – Many Men (Lofi remix)
Okay, this might be embarrassing, but I owned both 50 Cent’s debut and the first G Unit CD, and I almost, unironically, bought a G-Unit spinner necklace (bootleg, obviously). Many Men is a song I really liked the beat on, and this lofi mix of it is something I enjoy a lot because it seems like it shouldn’t work (and it kind of does, I think?).
Moe Shop – Notice (featuring TORIENA)
Japanese EDM, oh boy. This song is just a fun headbopper and also, fun trivia, the first song I bought from the artist in FLAC when I got my DAC/amp stack for my PC.
Bad Bunny – Booker T
Does this count as a wrestling song? I think after Wrestlemania this year, it does. I don’t understand it, but damn it’s catchy and easy to nod along to, and the music video with Booker T (the wrestler) standing in the middle and lip syncing a high-pitched sound of surprise just kind of cracks me up, without counting the puppet break in the middle.
Incendiary – Front Toward Enemy
Incendiary did a wrestling theme I really liked (Aleister Black’s WWE theme) which introduced me to them, and while Zeitgeist was my favorite of theirs for a while, Front Toward Enemy is probably in that role now. Just for fun, here’s both.
Roman Reigns – Head of the Table
One last wrestling song, but I’ve been listening to this as background noise a lot lately. The mix of the hip-hop beat, the epic instrumentals and chorus, and the twangy bits that sound like mafia music add a lot of character to this (which, as a wrestling theme, is a good thing to do, I suppose!), and you actually get to hear most of it on TV these days, because Roman Reigns’ heel turn is him relishing in being a selfish prick, including basking in the crowd and walking very slowly!
Linkin Park – Wretches and Kings
I love Linkin Park and it still sucks that mental health issues ended up undoing Chester Bennington like they did. I have A Thousand Suns in my car’s CD changer and this is probably one of my favorite songs from it (there’s an excellent interlude that uses an MLK Jr. sample, of all things, which I probably like more) but this song is pretty good listening for me!
Saint Pepsi – Private Caller
This song is a pretty fun groove, and has that weird quality that I love in Vaporwave of feeling evocative of the 80s and 90s but dissonant, and it’s genuinely good in its own right (to me, at least).
Bonus – some game music
3 game songs I really love – first up from Final Fantasy XIV is Neath Dark Waters, the Amaurot use of the Tempest leitmotif. The ticking clock, the gentle but charged piano, and the calm rhythm all capture me and it was a song I used to log in and just sit in the Tempest to hear. I am so so glad that the leitmotif is returning in Endwalker for the Mare Lamentorum zone.
From WoW, I mean, it is so hard to go with anything that isn’t the absolute, A-plus most banging song in World of Warcraft, by which of course I mean the Grizzly Hills music. It’s a cliche, but cliches end up that way for a reason!
I tried not to take another FFXIV song, but considering I walked out to this one at my wedding last year, it feels kind of like it should be on the list.
Wrestling and vaporwave/future-funk? It’s more likely than you think!
Purowave is an excellent creator making future-funk and vaporwave mixes with wrestling music videos, focused on Japanese wrestling (hence the “puro” in the name). My favorite work of theirs is a Hana Kimura tribute. Hana was on the Japanese reality show Terrace House, in addition to being tagged as the future Ace of Stardom, the pre-eminent Joshi (women’s wrestling) promotion in Japan. She took her own life early last year due to social media criticism over an incident on the show (a roommate in the house washed her special outfit for Stardom’s first ever Tokyo Dome dark match on the card at Wrestle Kingdom in 2020, ruining it, and she understandably freaked out). Her mom is also still a wrestler, and they had some fun mother/daughter matches as well as a young Hana being put into mismatches like taking on Minoru Suzuki, who affectionately is called “murder grandpa” by some US fans. Hana also toured the US briefly with Ring of Honor including a match at their Madison Square Garden supercard in 2019. The song is catchy and if you wait until the end there’s some fun Hana clips added.
And now that I’m far over my own self-imposed limit (and about two hours into what I expected I could do in like 50 minutes!), I suppose that’s a pretty good window!