Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Here are five great, geeky songs to add to your running playlist


Fun fact about your pal here at Kawaiian Punch - I've recently taken up running.  

Not running from the truth, the law, or even from love - mind you - just running for the sake of allowing myself to eat (and drink!) more without having to worry about the caloric consequences.

But as it turns out - running's also pretty damn fun.  

Anyway, I've noticed that most runners and workout facilities have fairly predictable (read: boringly mainstream) taste in music. And while that's fine for some people,  I've never once shut down a club - so songs dedicated to that rather specific pass-time don't really resonate with me. 

Instead, I want my running music to reflect who and what I am as a person. It should be as geeky as possible, and it should absolutely involve the words "Final" and "Fantasy" together at some point - preferably in that sequential order.

If you've ever found yourself in a similar situation of workout music discontent, then I've got you covered today with a selection of five songs vetted from my own personal playlist - all of which are 100% KP guaranteed to put you in a running mood while maintaining your unassailable geek cred.

Now without further ado, let's start with some chiptune...

I Quit - Chipocrite 
(bandcamp, free)

Outside of a good pair of shoes and a masochistic desire to push one's body to its breaking point, few things are as essential to modern-day runners as a song packed chock full of electronic 32nd notes. Chipocrite's "I Quit" is pretty much the perkiest, bubbliest, chip song you'll ever hear, and the amount of diversity he's able to coax out of his Game Boy's stock sound chip is pretty damned impressive.

As an added bonus, sliding this one into an average running playlist will help your long runs feel at least 22% more 8-bit.

Tokyo Teddy Bear - Neru f. Kagamine Rin
(Amazon$0.89)

More than half of my running playlist is devoted to upbeat Vocaloid, so picking just one song to represent the whole genre was pretty hard. Or, at least it would've been if it wasn't for this cacophonous, 204 BPM wonder. I'm not usually a fan of Kagamine Rin's vocals, but once they're mixed in with the loose, twangy bassline and unabashedly cheesy electric organ of "Tokyo Teddy Bear", it's impossible not to rock out to this one.

You might find yourself belting out "I DON'T KNOW!" along with the chorus, and that's actually ok. Most race day runners will likely view this as a sign that you've completely lost your shit and give you more breathing room as a result. Everybody wins in this situation... especially you!

His Name Is? - Revo
(khinsider, free)

Video game music on a running playlist? Absolutely.

Even if you're not a fan of gaming as a hobby (shame on you!), there's a fantastic, cinematic quality to the best game soundtracks and Revo's incredible score for Bravely Default Flying Fairy is no exception.

Fast and relentless from start to finish, "His Name is?" will kick your ear's ass with its soaring violin melody and driving guitar work. You may want to put this toward the end of your playlist, however, as the breakdown at ~2:20 makes it kinda hard to maintain a moderate running pace.

Rainbow Road to the Moon - Battlecake
(Amazon, $1)

Speaking of driving guitar work, indie geek band Battlecake delivers some of the absolute best of it with its amazing interpretation of Mario Kart's most iconic theme.

Rainbow Road's the closest thing that Mario Kart's ever had to a boss fight stage, and its accompanying musical theme has always delivered fantastic audio to go along with the surreal visual experience of careening a go kart through the vast, technicolored emptiness of space. Battlecake's version may sound a bit too Top Gun-y here and there, but it's an easy song to set your tempo to all the same.

Robot Party - Supercommuter
(bandcamp, $1)

Just like Chipocrite's awesome chiptune work, "Robot Party" is a geeky, retro-inspired nerdcore anthem that belongs on any runner's playlist. I've got a bunch of Mega Ran / Random on my playlist as well, but there's just something about the thumping bass and silly kill all humans message of "Robot Party" that helps it stand out.

Also, I'm pretty sure some famous runner said it's easier to run if you imagine that you're being chased by an army of murderous robots.  I'm pretty sure it was that guy from Rudy or maybe Prefontaine.

Yeah, it was probably Prefontaine.

Liberi Fatali - Nobuo Uematsu
(iTunes $0.69)

A bonus sixth song!

...and another video game theme to boot. This one's not nearly as energetic as "His Name is?" is, but if it was good enough for Olympic synchronized swimmers Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova to use it as the music in their bronze-winning 2004 performance, it's certainly good enough for your running playlist.

What "Liberi Fatali" might lack in guitar work and bass drops it makes up for in sheer epic grandeur and a chorus of ominous, singing in Latin. The crescendo at ~1:40 builds up to one of the greatest climaxes Nobuo Uematsu's ever written, so quite dithering and download this one already.