Gaming, Video Games

“Take Back The Night” Video Showcase and “In Real Life” Album Review

http://youtu.be/Kwwl9jiJ1A4

First things first, did you watch that video? If not, go watch it. If you did watch it, wasn’t it awesome? If you’re a story-driven person like me, then go back and watch “Fallen Kingdom” on YouTube, as this is the direct sequel to that video. I don’t know about you, but I’m just in love with this song and video. I’m a sucker for an upbeat techno/dance rhythm and encouraging lyrics. The message of the song and video is to take control and fight back. In my life, I feel like that’s a call to make every day count; don’t just take back the night, but to take back my life! I’m not going to get all pep-talkish on you, but I just think that we’ve all got to make the best of what we have and take control of it.

I love the way that the lyrics of the song can be taken two different ways. For a person who plays Minecraft, it’s obviously about fighting off the mobs in the darkness of night, but for others who don’t play Minecraft, it shares a message of hope and encouragement to fight back against difficulties in life. It’s great to see that the gaming community can find a way to show a positive message to the world; we aren’t all killers and lunatics as the media would like to make others think. Yes, this video was a little violent, but it was mostly in a non-gory way. The point of the video was not to exemplify the violence, but rather it showed the greater meaning of what was gained and lost in the lifetime of the king and his son.

It fills me with happiness to see that gamers can rise above petty name-calling in online matches to show the art form that is gaming. We’re better than that, and videos like this can show that games are indeed art. Games are a form of expression and emotion. This video was very much emotion driven; the boy was so filled with grief and sadness that vengeance was the only way he could properly honor his Sensei. I love to see the better side of gaming and gamers.

Alright; enough of that. It’s time for part 2: the “In Real Life” album review. If you didn’t catch it in the video, the “Take Back The Night” singer was a man who goes by the moniker of tryhardninja. Over the years, he has done parodies of popular songs and has made them video game related. Examples include “Tonight, Tonight” by Hot Chelle Rae becoming a song about MW3, “DJ’s Got Us Falling In Love Again” by Usher becomes a song about blowing up creepers, and “Marry You” by Bruno Mars becomes a song about ditching Black Ops in favor of MW3 at release. Two weeks ago, tryhardninja released his debut album, and it too is video game related. This time, however, the songs are all originals; none are parodies (that I know of).

In Real Life
(Courtesy of http://www.amazon.com/In-Real-Life/dp/B00EPSGWAU)

“In Real Life” is an album about Minecraft, Call of Duty, Mario Kart, and gaming in general. It’s an album filled with diverse sounds and genres, and he manages to sing about gaming without being awfully cliche. Oftentimes, I found myself thinking about how clever a comparison or verse was, and other times, I was chuckling at the fact that he could write catchy songs about video games. Without further ado, here is my track-by-track review of “In Real Life.”

Track 1: “In Real Life”

The title track is a pop song that starts the album out on a good foot. Tryhardninja does a great job of lyrically expressing just how awesome it would be if life was more like video games. It got me thinking how sweet it would be if I had a jetpack from Halo, or if I could just leap off a mountain and not get hurt, simply because I could respawn. The catchy pop/techno beat goes perfectly with this upbeat song. As far as the music goes, it might be the most generic song on the album, but the lyrics make up for the lack in instrumental creativity. 7/10

Track 2: “Take Back The Night”

Well, I’ve already discussed my feelings on this song. It starts slow, and sort of reminds me of “Without You” by David Guetta. Similarly, they both pick up and lay down a more upbeat tone. By itself, the song isn’t as amazing as when it’s paired with the video. The video really compliments the song and captures the essence of it to a “T.” Therefore, the song itself gets a 6/10.

Track 3: “That Girl Is Crafty”

This is a quite interesting track. It takes the generic story of a being in love with a girl and enjoying time spent with her, and infuses it with loads of Minecaft references. It’s sappy, it’s lovey, and most of all, it’s Minecraft. This song basically details what young love would be like in the world of Minecraft; dates would consist of building structures together, and crafting a home to lovingly share. Yep; that’s Minecraft. As much as I want to hate it for being so sappy and slightly cheesy, I can’t help but love it nonetheless. Maybe it’s because I’d rather do something like this than what the world says is an acceptable way to take a girl on a date. Either way, I’m giving this one 8/10 for ingenuity.

Track 4: “Creepin Ain’t Easy”

This one tells the story of a creeper bent on blowing up your house and ruining your day, but in an upbeat rock song. Something tells me that creepers would be metalheads in the real world, so I suppose that this explosive track accurately describes a creeper. Honestly, this song sounds like it should be on the radio. It’s got a great chorus and the whole song would be an epic one to shred on Guitar Hero. 9/10

Track 5: “Get Off My Block”

In a nutshell, this song is the Minecraft way of a tough gangster telling somebody else that “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” I’m not a musical expert, so I can’t really describe the sound of the track; all I can say is it’s a rap song coming from a dominant person; he’s much tougher than you are, and the lyrics and sound of the song express his hostility. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it features Captainsparklez rapping for about a 35-second verse. I can’t say I ever expected Jordan to be rapping, but I just heard it for myself. He’s not half-bad. This one gets a 7/10.

Track 6: “Straight To The Top”

The instrumental behind this song also sounds like it could belong to an Usher radio hit. It’s definitely got a pop/techno vibe to it. The lyrics don’t really stand out to me, but they tell the story of a player building up to the top; he’s on his way to the top, block by block. I can’t give this one any more than a “meh,” just because it’s not a standout track; it’s the lowest point on the album, but by no means is it a bad song. It simply gets a 5/10 because of it’s comparison to the other tracks here.

Track 7: “A Whole World Made For Me”

This one has a laid back, chill, Jason Mraz feel to it. It’s an acoustic song about the entire, sprawling, infinite world of Minecraft is made just for him. Just like in “The Lion King,” everything the light touches belongs to him, to sort of make a comparison here. It’s got a feel-good vibe, and it just makes you want to smile and be carefree. 9/10

Track 8: “Not Just A Collection Of Letters”

On this track, tryhardninja teams up with his friend Brysi to rap about how important a Gamertag is. For a good player, it’s their identity; people come to know them by this title, so it’s not just a collection of letters. The point is, as he gets better at a Call of Duty, more people will come to know that Gamertag. It’s not as rough as “Get Off My Block” in sound. It gets a 6/10 because it’s not a total stand-out to me.

Track 9: “Mario Kart Metal”

This is exactly what it sounds like; a metal song about Mario Kart. It describes the tough competition of driving against all the other racers. This song definitely captures the high-speed, chaotic action of a Mario Kart match, and the lyrics cram plenty of Mario Kart themes into it. I can reminisce about plenty of Mario Kart tracks as tryhardninja leads me through this journey of a song; I applaud you for this one. It definitely makes Mario Kart seems like a much more serious, intense game than Nintendo created it to be!  8/10

Track 10: “Calling All Ghosts”

For this track, tryhardninja teams up with Miracle of Sound to bring us a song about the brotherhood of a good team as they stand together to fight a difficult foe. This one, too is a rock song, and although it’s by no means my favorite on the album, it’s still a solid track. The lyrics are a bit more generic than some of the other songs, but I still give it a 7/10.

Track 11: “C.O.D. Freestyle”

Just like Mario Kart Metal, this track title is self explanatory. It’s a rap freestyle about Call of Duty; not much else to explain. This one features 3 other rappers aside from tryhardninja. It feels like it carries on a bit too long, however, and for that I give it a 6/10.

Track 12: “Take Back The Night (Radio Edit)”

This version of “Take Back The Night” cuts 15 seconds off the intro and gets rid of an instrumental bridge partway through the song. I think that instrumental portion is part of why I am not the fan of the original version without the video. The instrumental creates a lull in the song; in the video, this space is taken up by the death of his Sensei, which is a very powerful point in the video. Without it, the song suffers. For that reason, the radio edit is better; it eliminates the lull. 7/10

Track 13: “I Came To Dig (Remastered)”

On Amazon.com, this track is labeled as “Gangsta/Hip-Hop.” I find it ironic that it’s in the top ten of this subcategory along with Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and others. In any case, this one also features CaptainSparklez and is a tad bit similar to “Get Off My Block.” I like the track, but I don’t love it. It also will receive a 7/10.

Summary:

In the end, the average of all the scores comes out to a little bit over 7/10 for the album. However, all the songs come together to have a positive effect on each other. Each song is so different from the ones before and after it. This amount of diversity might be disconcerting, but it really works on this album because it reflects the diversity and intensity of each situation outlined. Whether it’s the personality of a creeper being captured, or the care-free crafting in a peaceful day of Minecrafting, the essence of each topic is captured perfectly by each song. Because all of these elements and songs come together so beautifully, I give the album as a whole an 8/10. This is one of my favorite albums because it provides a way to make gaming music mainstream without using cheesy parodies.

For those who embrace gaming and/or a variety of musical genres, “In Real Life” is definitely worth a listen. You might find that you fall in love with it as much as I have. It’s a guilty pleasure, but I think this album is a solid expression of gaming.

What do you think? Have you watched the “Take Back The Night” video or have you heard the album? Did you like it? Sound off below!

Please leave a like, or better yet, follow my blog if you’ve enjoyed! I appreciate every follow very much. Would you even consider sharing my blog on your own, or sharing it on Facebook or Twitter? I sound desperate, but how else will people see it?

My last plug of the day: hit the “Links” tab for gaming channels from my friends Nathan and John.

Congratulations on making it through this 2000+ word article; you should be proud.

Finally, I’m Done

Matt Shiflet

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