By MAX GOLLIN
Ever owned a Gameboy? If so, unless your mom forced you to keep the volume off, you’ve probably heard chiptunes before. Also known as 8-bit music, chiptunes are songs made with the actual sound chips from old-school videogame consoles or computers. In fact, many modern 8-bit artists use real Gameboys or Nintendo consoles as part of their production equipment. 8-Bit music isn’t just a niche interest though. Chiptunes are having an increasingly large influence on popular culture — their retro-videogame style appears in shows like Adventure Time and even pop music like Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok.” Even if none of this sounds like your cup of tea, anyone with a taste for electronic music, retro sounds, or even rock will find something to love in the genre. Hit the jump for a nifty playlist of exemplary chiptunes and some of my recommendations.
This playlist gives just a small sample of the wide variety of chiptunes subgenres, and if you dig the various bleeps and bloops you hear, I recommend looking into some of the other fantastic musicians out there. There are chiptunes artists producing music including 8-bit dubstep, hardcore, dance, house, and bitpop. There are also an enormous number of 8-bit covers of nearly any song you can think of, like this amazing version of Pixies’ “Where is My Mind” or this cool take on Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia.” In the playlist, I’ve included rock chiptunes by Anamanaguchi and I Fight Dragons, techno by Henry Homesweet, electronica by Unicorn Kid, among others.
My absolute favorite chiptunes band has got to be Anamanaguchi. Their peppy, fun indie rock adaptation of the 8-bit genre is ridiculously catchy and I highly recommend checking them out. I’ve also included a number of infectious chiptunes masterpieces with more of a traditional videogame music or modern electronic style. One, “8-Bit Trip,” has an awesome Lego-themed music video on YouTube that you can check out here if you haven’t seen it already. The last, I Fight Dragons, is one of the few rock bands I’ve heard that combines vocals and traditional rock instrumentation with significant 8-bit electronic elements. Really though, all of the artists on this mix are great in their own right and deserve their own playlists. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this sample platter of the genre as much as I enjoyed preparing it.