Dissecting The New Grand Theft Auto 5 Character Trailers

The Soundtrack

Grand Theft Auto games have generally included incredible soundtracks. Packed with encyclopedic knowledge and always exhaustively researched, the series has frequently revived intrest in forgotten genres (like New Jack Swing) and has drawn attention to the sources for dozens of famous samples (check how Holy Thursday by David Axelrod was used in GTA IV), and it’s done so by meticulously avoiding the obvious and well-known, even from extremely famous artists. Even knowing that, it’s kind of shocking just how good the soundtrack for GTA V is looking, especially in contrast to its rather dour predecessor.

Previous trailers gave us Stevie Wonder and The Small Faces, but today’s new ads take things further, not only showing off usual impressive variety, but the great care in tailoring the music to fit all three characters.

Queen – Radio Ga Ga

Written by drummer Roger Taylor for the band’s 1984 album The Works, the song exemplifies the band’s successful embrace of synth pop for that album, proving once and for all that Queen could do just about anything perfectly. Radio Ga Ga refers to the way television replaced radio as an all-purpose entertainment medium during the 40s, and how at the time Queen wrote the song, television was in the process of replacing radio as a source for music as well. (Leading to radio becoming increasingly narrow minded in terms of what kind of music you’d actually be able to hear; the original title for the track was ‘Radio Ca Ca’.)

No doubt the era of MP3s and streaming, smartphones and social media and the way all of the above have in many ways overtaken television influenced the selection. But as Michael’s theme, the track underscores the fact that Michael is a middle aged gangster whose salad days probably happened back when Freddie Mercury was still alive. (Mercury died of complications from AIDS in 1991, which remains an almost unspeakable tragedy more than 20 years later.) Middle age anthem or not, the track is undeniably one of Queen’s best songs. Unless you’re a dick.

Jay Rock feat. Kendrick Lamar – Hood Gone Love It

The first single from Jay Rock’s 2011 debut “Follow Me Home”, Hood Gone Love is a giant middle finger to rap haters who miss the point (which is that they aren’t doing it for you, so stfu). As Franklin’s theme music, it does double duty as a reference to the tension between staying true to your roots and getting the hell out of a bad situation without dying in the process. Clearly, for Franklin is isn’t enough for the hood to love it, a fact putting him at odds with his friends who think he’s selling out.

Hood Gone Love It is also notable for a guest appearance from a then-completely unknown Kendrick Lamar. If that’s not enough to make it your new old favorite song, nothing is.

Waylon Jennings – Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way

It’s hard to believe, in the era of Carrie Underwood and dreck like “Accidental Racist”, but country music didn’t always suck. But even during Country’s golden age (arguably the early 50s through the late 70s), the Nashville-based music industry did everything it could to shackle the genre’s artists with silly image makeovers and constant attempts to make them all sound the same. Artists like Waylon jennings bitterly resented the Nashville establishment and via the Bakersfield sound of the early 60s established what is, essentially, Country Music Punk Rock. They took every possible opportunity to dis the hell out of it, with 1975′s Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way being one of the best examples.

This track riddles the Countrypolitan scene with bullets, calling out the way the Nashville sound had frozen Country music in time, the ridiculousness of rhinestones and extravagant displays of wealth, and the way Nashville had posed itself as the inheritor of Hank Williams Sr.’s legacy despite having rejected every single one of the artists influenced by him. Yeah, Nashville eventually won – see Underwood, Carrie for proof – but you have to respect people willing to fight a losing battle.

Which brings us to Trevor who, unlike his former partner Michael, never settled down and never dropped out of the game. Trevor is fundamentally incompatible with the way the world appears to work in GTA V: he’s dirt poor, he’s almost animal in his lack of social grace, he’s a terrifying monster and he’s probably going to end up dead. But at least he didn’t sell out. Point: hi-fives to Rockstar for perfectly picking his theme music.

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8 Comments on Dissecting The New Grand Theft Auto 5 Character Trailers

Michael

On April 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

The GTA series has never evolved as a game. Its the same copy and paste as other AAA titles like halo, Assassins creed, Call of duty, God of War, Gears of War etc. Whats there to be excited about?

I’m more interested in Saints Row 4 and that game evolves with every new installment. I mean you can customize you own character for crying out loud. Just look at the GTA roster its just the same old crap and just to add a little fire they have 3 guys and no women characters. The music doesn’t mean crap if the game is not fun and quite frankly I can add my own soundtrack.

I’m really tired of these watered down games and dumb people that buy them.

R-man

On April 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

So, according to Michael, pretty much the majority of gamers, including me, are dumb.
These games are amazing, fun, and in my opinion, don’t need to COMPLETELY change everything about them in order to continue to be fun. GTA at it’s base is a certain kind of sandbox game. And they’re successful as hell for good reason… They’re not gonna turn around and make a Dark Souls-esque game now… just for the sake of being different and pleasing the “Oh so much more intelligent” people who think that the only good game is one that has never been done before.. They make what they want to make, and that’s normally what their fans want as well. Most fans of this series look forward to what they decide to make next. Each game may be similar to the others that came previously in their basic form… but they’re not all the same… They’re not “copy and paste”. And one thing I can say I absolutely love and respect about Rockstar is that they don’t have a set time frame for their GTA games to come out. They let the teams work on it to make the best possible GTA game they can make for the fans. Unlike EA… Or even Activision with CoD. GTA in my mind has always been one of those higher quality series. Saints Row can be it’s own game, but quite honestly, I don’t really care for them too much anymore. I enjoyed the first 2, the third was funny, but to me, SR will always kinda be the little brother to GTA.

Michael

On April 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Interesting and Yes.

Everyone who buys the games I listed are dumb as well as the people who make them. The main problem is that nobody wants to try anything new and challenging and they just want to keep playing the same dumb games over and over.

How do you feel if you eat pizza everyday and never bother to try anything new?
Not me I have to try new games even though I know they might suck. Thats what makes me a gamer unlike everyone else. In January I purchased Ni No kuni which I believe deserves Game of the year. February was Dead Space 3 which was far better than the second game. MArch was the disappointing God of War Ascension which I didnt want to play and regret it, but I wrote my take on this game in this site. Lastly Dragons Dogma Dark Arisen which I’m enjoying more than I did Skyrim.

But as for GTA I’m done with it since San Andreas and will never play another one because I don’t want to support a game that does not evolve. The only game Rockstar made that will always be awesome is Red Dead Redemption because they took the sandbox of there GTA series and created something new with it that we didnt see in gaming and it was a huge success.

Swcloud99

On April 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Micheal, you’re missing the point. the GTA games are social commentary. Their messages evolve and each games talk about the times they are in. They use familiar elements in what are often interesting ways.
You criticise GTA for a lack of innovation when the simple fact a AAA game tries to do something has subtle has a satire and is so well written it actually succeeds is revolutionary in the gaming landscape.
You seem to confuse taste (has in yours) with actual worth. In that way, I agree, you are a gamer (has in a very typical, hypocritical, stereotypical one).
You shouldn’t be so proud of that.

Robert

On April 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm

@Michael
That’s all your opinion.. And if that’s how you feel, you can watch the rest of us playing GTA V. You know why some games don’t change their formulas to much? Because when something isn’t broken, why fix it?

TheDog

On May 1, 2013 at 12:39 am

@Robert and that is your opinion. gta4 was so broken I couldn’t bear to finish it. It deviated from the GTA SA formula something awful, and it showed. I’ve read more bad things about 4 than any other GTA game made. It sucked hard, and if 5 is more like 4 than SA, I won’t touch it.

R-man

On May 1, 2013 at 8:19 am

See? And even GTA IV shows that they were trying to try something different and the mood of the game showed it… And people didn’t like it. So it looks like they’re trying to go a bit more old school with 5… Although, they’re trying it in a different way by making three different characters in one game and making each a different type of GTA character to balance out what the game is like. Michael seems more like the dramatic GTA 4 character, Trevor is the old school crazy GTA character, and Franklin is the SA type character (at least as far as I see thus far). So, they’ll be trying to cater to the different types of GTA fans. I see it as genius. I love the GTA games, but I love new games as well. It just depends. I play whatever video game looks like fun to me, which is exactly what a gamer does. I don’t know when the definition of gamer changed to “someone who only plays brand new, obscure games”.

Actually, Watch Dogs looks like a great game, and it’s something different… I’m pumped for it.

And @Swcloud99 I like your comment. You put words down that I wish I could’ve thought of. haha

TheDog

On May 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

Actually “Remembers Me” looks interesting as well, but yeah, I am definitely looking forward to “Watchdogs”.
Also cant wait for the new “Thief”. Now that one really has my attention.