Posted in Music Reviews, Starbomb

Starbomb – Player Select – Review

unnamed

24-minute Game Grumps episode set to music. Your reaction to that statement is an exact gauge of how much you’ll enjoy this album. I think it’s really good. The end.

Actually you know what, no. I have some things to say about this criminally underrated slice of musical cake here that I haven’t seen anyone else discuss. It’s so easy to dismiss projects by people best known as YouTubers as “Haha, internet famous people think they can make music and write books and stuff. How cute.” That’s true of Player Select to some degree, but far less than I’ve seen any discussion give it credit for.

So let’s start with throwing my biases out in the open: I love Game Grumps as much as one can love Game Grumps without actually following their content. I unsubscribed from them a while ago because their output is far too rapid for my YouTube schedule, and as such I’ve seen maybe a little over 350 of their over 3,000 video output. But make no mistake: I. LOVE. GAME GRUMPS. I love Jon and Arin, Arin and Danny, Danny and Ross, Ross and Barry, Barry and Suzy, and whatever other combinations they may have. I love Arin’s cutthroat snark, Jon’s stoner hamminess, and Danny’s whimsical raunchiness. I love Jon’s breakdown in You Don’t Know Jack, Arin’s escapades with the D Club in Ninjabread Man, and Danny’s stories about his Jewish heritage anytime. They are by far my favorite content creators in the Let’s Play genre, and I can watch any of their videos for pure comfort and a warm environment. The juxtaposition of incredibly random crude humor and earnest discussion about game design and life events is something I haven’t found so perfectly executed anywhere else.

So yeah, there was pretty much no way I wasn’t going to like an album by Arin and Danny, so you should take my opinion with as many salt grains as you can spare. But I also genuinely believe that this album has enough merit to be enjoyed independently of Game Grumps or Ninja Sex Party (who I haven’t actually ever listened too, I should change that). I think the main reason why I like Player Select so much is that the parody is so entertainingly conceived. I never listened to the first Starbomb album, but the selections I heard from it are much closer to what you would expect from a description like “Let’s Players make songs about video games”, EG they’re normal depictions of a game with sex and scatological jokes thrown in. You might still get a cheap laugh out of it (I’m immature enough to), but it doesn’t tap much into the real potential of video games and other geek properties as compelling comedy material. Player Select, on the other hand, features, among other gags:

-Luigi being the only character in Smash Bros to realize how horrific the situation actually is (SPOILERS: He succumbs to the bloodlust eventually)

-The Transformers not being able to hide as vehicles anymore, since they’re so famous everyone recognizes them

-Glass Joe attempting to beat Mr, Sandman through the power of believing in himself

-What a terrifying place in life the Pac Man ghosts have

-The fact that there are no cool gods left to kill in God of War

-The universal appeal of Minecraft versus the limited appeal of explicit lyrics

-Solid Snake explaining the plot of Metal Gear Solid to a host who usually works with the plots of arcade characters

Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but I find all these really clever and fun, as well as showing a solid understanding of the games themselves. This isn’t just using geeky subject matter to attract geeks, it’s truly BY geeks FOR geeks.

That’s the humor in broad terms. In specific terms…yeah, it still basically comes down to how amusing you find the idea of Nintendo characters dropping F-bombs at the most awkward moments, or rapid-fire wordplay like absurd new names for Pokemon, Fatalities, or Greek Gods. Thankfully, my standards are low enough to find both of those things hilarious, and they’re just a taster plater of the many zany jokes on this album, which average out at pretty dang funny overall.

The music takes an obvious backseat to the humor, but it works well enough. The beats are driving, goofy, playful, and heavily chiptune flavored. Not exactly original, but always fun and nice on the ears (I especially like the stage musical-style “Inky’s Ballad”). The choruses themselves are extremely well written, bouncy, and intensely melodic. I’ve given the album three listens now and I can already hum you every single chorus.

The most important part of the music on this album, for me anyway, is the vocals. Danny is already a professional singer with a good range and a naturally happy, giddy, infectious tone. He sings most of the choruses, and they absolutely soar when he’s in high gear. Arin takes care of most of the rapping, and though he’s not as striking a presence as Danny (and noticeably amateur by comparison), his flow is versatile and his tone really odd and offbeat, making for some hilarious delivery. Guest appearances by Markiplier (on “Smash!”) and Notch (on “Minecraft Is For Everyone”) are highlights of their tracks.

Highlights…wait, I haven’t even talked about highlights yet! Well, on such a short album, pretty much every song is a highlight. Every song has at least one hook that really grabbed my brain, one line that really killed my gut, and one piece of production that tickled my ears. Nevertheless, I’d like to single out the opener and the closer. “Smash!” has a nonstop energy and ear-candy chorus that make me eager to listen to the entire album. “The Simple Plot of Metal Gear Solid” is carried by hilarious performances from the Grumps and a wonderfully catchy, jazzy beat.

Alright, so here’s the catch: Player Select is pretty slight. Not counting the intro, outro, and two sketches, there’s a little over 22 minutes of actual music. The production is a lot of fun but not particularly interesting (have you noticed this review is a lot less sonically descriptive then my usual fare?), the satire is clever but not genius, and the jokes are really funny but could have come from any average episode of Game Grumps as opposed to one of the really brilliant ones. The songs are hilarious, the intro and outro are chuckle-worthy, but the sketches are just kind of embarrassing. I can’t rate an album like this super-high, no matter how enjoyable it may be. But that’s the key word for Player Select: ENJOYABLE. It’s pure junk food, but that doesn’t make it taste any less good. Essential for Game Grumps fans, but perfectly recommendable to anyone who likes video games and doesn’t mind the prospect of a Pollyanna Minecrafter teaching a creeper not to swear.

Music: 3/5

Identity/Themes: 4/5

Lyricism: 4/5

Vocals: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Resonance: 5/5

EXPERIENCE: A typical pop station in an alternate universe where geeks are, and have always been, the establishment.

8/10. Best Song: Either Smash! or The Simple Plot of Metal Gear Solid.

Advertisements