You Won't Believe The Best Gaming Soundtrack Ever: Rolling Stone's Top 25 Revealed

Zinger Key Points
  • Music in video games has evolved from iconic chiptunes to immersive licensed soundtracks that enhance gameplay.
  • Rolling Stone ranks the 25 best licensed gaming soundtracks ever.
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Music has always been a crucial part of video games, enhancing immersion and adding depth to virtual worlds.

Think about it: from the catchy Super Mario Bros. theme to the unforgettable Tetris melody, some video game tunes are as iconic as the games themselves.

See Also: Gamers Ditch Strategy: ‘Too Worn Out By Social Media To Think Deeply,’ Study Shows

Over the years, game music has evolved to include full orchestral scores and cinematic compositions. But there’s another powerful type of video game music that's been making waves since the ’90s: the licensed soundtrack.

The idea of using popular songs in video games took off in 1982 with Journey’s chiptune version of "Don't Stop Believin'" for the Atari 2600 game.

By the early ’90s, with home consoles like Sega Sammy Holdings Inc‘s SGAMY CD and Sony Group Corp.‘s SONY PlayStation, games began incorporating high-quality audio tracks.

Titles like “Twisted Metal: Black” (2001) with The Rolling Stones’ "Paint It Black," and “Red Dead Redemption 2” featuring D'Angelo's "Unshaken," exemplify how licensed music can elevate a game’s impact.

Curious about which games nailed it with their soundtracks? Rolling Stone recently ranked the 25 best licensed gaming soundtracks of all time. Let's dive in and see if your favorites made the list.

Rolling Stone's Top 25 Licensed Gaming Soundtracks:

25. Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Song to stream: "Cherry Bomb," Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

24. Crazy Taxi (1999)

  • Platforms: Arcade, Dreamcast
  • Song to stream: "All I Want," The Offspring

23. Bioshock Infinite (2013)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, OS X
  • Song to stream: "Fortunate Son," by Jessy Carolina (covering Creedence Clearwater Revival)

22. Forza Horizon 5 (2021)

  • Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows
  • Song to stream: "Heat Waves (Shakur Ahmad Remix)," Glass Animals, Shakur Ahmad

21. Midnight Club: Los Angeles (2008)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Song to stream: "Kicking and Screaming," The Presets

20. Watch Dogs 2 (2016)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
  • Song to stream: "Blockbuster Night Part 1," Run the Jewels

19. The Last of Us Part II (2020)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4
  • Song to stream: "Take On Me," Ashley Johnson (Covering a-ha)

18. Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (1990)

  • Platforms: Arcade, Sega Genesis, Master System
  • Song to stream: "Smooth Criminal" (Sega Genesis version; Michael Jackson)

17. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows
  • Song to stream: "Gloria," Laura Branigan

16. Fallout: New Vegas (2010)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
  • Song to stream: "Johnny Guitar," Peggy Lee

15. Def Jam Vendetta (2003)

  • Platforms: GameCube, PlayStation 2
  • Song to stream: "Party Up," DMX

14. SSX on Tour (2005)

  • Platforms: GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable
  • Song to stream: "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House," LCD Soundsystem

13. Saints Row 2 (2008)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
  • Song to stream: "Street Justice," MSTRKRFT

12. Rock n' Roll Racing (1993)

  • Platforms: Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis
  • Song to stream: "Paranoid" (Instrumental, originally by Black Sabbath)

11. Need for Speed Unbound (2022)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Windows
  • Song to stream: "Shittin Me," A$AP Rocky

10. Burnout 3: Takedown (2004)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox
  • Song to stream: "My Favorite Accident," Motion City Soundtrack

9. Gran Turismo 2 (1999)

  • Platforms: PlayStation
  • Song to stream: "Now Is the Time (Millenium Mix)," The Crystal Method

8. Brütal Legend (2009)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Song to stream: "Goliaths Disarm Their Davids," In Flames

7. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Song to stream: "A.D.H.D," Kendrick Lamar

6. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (2021)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Windows
  • Song to stream: "The Final Countdown," EUROPE

5. Hotline Miami (2012)

  • Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
  • Song to stream: "Vengeance (The Return of the Night Driving Avenger)," Perturbator

4. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, Windows
  • Song to stream: "B.Y.S.," Gang Starr

3. Life Is Strange (2015)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows
  • Song to stream: "Mt. Washington," Local Natives

2. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (1999)

  • Platforms: PlayStation
  • Song to stream: "Superman," Goldfinger

1. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)

  • Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, Windows
  • Song to stream: "Working for the Weekend," Loverboy

Read Next: GTA 5 Surpasses 200 Million Copies Sold: Only Two Games Have Outsold It

Photo: Shutterstock.

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