There are video game soundtracks – the background/theme music that is prevalent in most games – and then there are video game companion soundtracks. I don’t know that such albums exist in multitude, but they could be considered the equivalent of “inspired by” soundtracks, i.e. compilations of music related to but not used in a particular game, TV show, or movie. I have a little bit of game music on my iPod – it’s not something that I dabble in much – and I have exactly one video game companion soundtrack that literally yells at me each time it cycles round: Mortal Kombat: The Album.
So what is Mortal Kombat: The Album? It was unleashed 20 years ago (yikes!) upon a world that was all about Ace of Base, who had zero to do with this record (thankfully). The Immortals, members of which are better associated with the wonderfully maniacal Lords of Acid, spearheaded the side project. And as I already mentioned, it’s a soundtrack of sorts, but it’s not music that played in the actual game. It contains that infamous theme song with which MK has become associated, with the trademark MORTAL KOMBAT! howl and all.
I picked up the album years ago and it’s a staple pick-me-up on down days, silly though it may be. The music…well…what would you call it? Poppy techno is a decent start. But it’s more like…and don’t take this the wrong way…like the kind of music that envisions less rave and more big pants, body suits, and and innuendo. And probably…no, most definitely, face paint. However horrible that seems, the image of well-toned and choreographed dancers is an image I can’t get out of my head whenever I listen to 90s techno lite. The music isn’t outwardly campy, but it kind of is, in a good way. I mean, c’mon…you listen to the music and tell me you don’t just want to throw on some spandex karate gear (huh?) and go to town? Oh what…? Like you wanna go out and kick some ass now? Sure. Sure you do.
Anywaaaay, personal and questionable imagery aside, Mortal Kombat: The Album is a fun and upbeat tribute to a classic fighting game that became a powerhouse of a franchise. If you’re pressed for time to kick up your heels, here are my three favorite songs from the album (with the bonus video above, because you can’t accept this album into your life if you don’t accept the theme song.)
Liu Kang (Born in China)
I can’t really put it words, but bells at the beginning of a song are an immediate hook for me. Like, they just make me want to listen further, even if the rest of the song is terrible. In any event, delicate bells signal start of Shaolin monk Liu Kang’s theme, and the song sprouts a number of tendrils that branch out into different breaks that propel the song forward and keep it interesting. Maybe I like the song because I was always pretty good with Liu Kang, or maybe I like the way it vacillates between loud and quite moments. Or maybe it’s the bells. Probably that.
Goro (The Outworld Prince)
Though Goro was not a playable character in the original Mortal Kombat (and he didn’t appear again until several games in), he was nonetheless important to the game’s universe as one of Shang Tsung’s allies. Unlike the brighter tone of most of the other songs on the album, Goro’s theme is particularly dark and a little grimy. It’s not terribly complex, which makes it an easy listen. It picks up on Goro’s supernatural nature and almost sounds a little inhuman, which makes sense as Goro isn’t human…or at least not all human.
Sonya (Go Go Go)
To know me is to know that I enjoy a good “girl power” song every now and again. Now, I don’t know that this song is exactly good, but you know how they say sometimes two wrongs make a right? Neither the vocals nor the music of Sonya Blade’s theme are particularly inspired, but put the two together and the result is not terrible. Of all the songs on the album, this one is by far the campiest, and maybe that why it make me smile so.