In September of 2011, we at Hardcore Gaming 101 ran a massive reader-voted poll to determine the best video game music of all time. The result was over 1000 excellent songs, but had one curious deficiency - roughly 90% of the entire list consisted of music composed for Japanese video games. This is not a result of Western music being inherently inferior, but rather, I think, that not enough of the readership (myself included) has really been exposed some of the better songs. So, my goal was to run another poll, this time focusing entirely on Western music, and put to rest the stereotype that all music that comes out of the United States and Europe are all wannabe Hollywood-style orchestral blockbusters.
The rules were similar to the last poll, although the number of votes was cut in half to 50 songs due to the smaller pool to choose from, and the point structure was reworked so "Top 5" choices were given two points instead of three. Using the same cutoff of three points, the result was slightly under 200 songs, which seemed a little bit paltry. It also seemed to be missing some of the more well known or well regraded Commodore or Amiga soundtracks, which I was trying to promote. In order to fill in the gaps a bit, I chose an additional 50 songs myself to round the whole list out to 250. It's hardly the most democratic method of doing things (though all songs did get some levels of votes) but makes for a slightly more comprehensive playlist. So think of the first 200 as the actual poll, and the remaining 50 as sort of an "editor's choice" bit. There's probably still quite a few gaps as far as establishing a canon of awesome Western composed music, but this site is all about education and exploring outside of our comfort zones a bit, so hopefully everyone will at least find some great new songs to stick on their playlist. If nothing else, hopefully it will help you become familiar with works from European legends like Chris Huelsbeck, Rub Hubbard, Ben Danglish, Jeroen Tel, Matt Gray, Matt Furniss, Tim & Geoff Follin and Stephane Picq, Sega mainstays like Spencer Nilsen, Howard Drossin and Richard Jacques, other talented American folks like Tommy Tallarico, Alexander Brandon and Frank Klepacki, and all the way up to recent musicsmiths like Jake Kaufman, Danny Baranowsky, Souleye (Magnus Pålsson), and Module (Jeremiah Ross).
Naturally, many of the songs from the top 1000 list made recurring appearances, including Baba Yetu from Civilization IV and the theme from Monty on the Run, although the Diablo town theme overtook Stickerbush Symphony from Donkey Kong Country 2 as the top role. Some other decent songs that previously inhabited the dregs of the list placed much higher, like New Junk City from Earthworm Jim and the theme from The Last Ninja. Many tracks from Chris Huelsbeck's legendary Turrican scores placed, although the single most voted on game is the 2010 indie title VVVVVV, with nearly the entire soundtrack placing somewhere on the list. This, combined with the popularity of Amanaguchi's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's score, shows a huge interest in retro-style music.
At any rate, please enjoy the music, and we hope you'll vote in our next poll!