Grand Theft Auto V, which launches today, is one of the most highly-anticipated video games of this year. With an open-ended storyline told through three player-controlled characters, GTA V expands on the series' cinematic gameplay. And as with anything cinematic, music is central to the feel, pace and rhythm of the GTA games. The soundtrack to GTA V is extensive: apart from an original score, GTA V features fifteen in-game radio stations, which draw from a pool of over 240 licensed songs.
GTA V's score amounts to about "20 movies worth of score," the developer Rockstar Game's soundtrack supervisor, Ivan Pavlovich, told the Rolling Stone. The score is not static, like a film score, but responds dynamically to whatever the player's character does. It was written by Edgar Froese (of Tangerine Dream), Woody Jackson (who contributed score to Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire) and the hip-hop producers Oh No and The Alchemist.
As for the radio stations, each one is curated by a different artist or group. Vinewood Boulevard Radio, a rock station, is curated by Stephen Pope and Nate Williams of Wavves. The hiphop producer DJ Pooh, who is also known for directing the films Friday and The Wash, is the host of the hip-hop station West Coast Classics. And the Parliament-Funkadelic bassist, Bootsy Collins, hosts an "Eighties boogie-funk station."
Among the songs on the GTA V radio stations' playlists, part of which leaked yesterday, there is a wide spread in genre and mood. In accordance with the game's West Coast setting, there are a lot of classic Californian rap songs, like Dr. Dre's "Still D.R.E." and "The Next Episode," Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Gin & Juice" (remember when Snoop Lion was Snoop Doggy Dogg?), and N.W.A's "Gangsta Gangsta." Newer West Coast rap made it too; Kendrick Lamar features on at least three songs.
But West Coast music is not all about hip-hop: there is a sizable amount of California punk in GTA V, including songs by Black Flag, The Germs, The Descendents, Circle Jerks, Youth Brigade, Suicidal Tendencies, The Weirdos, and the list goes on, and it looks good.
There are also some original tracks written for the game, the soundtrack supervisor Ivan Pavlovich has said: Steve Ellison, aka. Flying Lotus, and Tyler the Creator collaborated on one such song.
There seems to be something for all tastes in GTA V. The playlist that was leaked only included 86 tracks, so there will surely be more musical nuggets, suitable for virtual cruising, to discover. Happy gaming everyone.