I'm constantly thankful for the existence of Sonic Adventure 2.
It's not that SEGA's sophomore Sonic Dreamcast outing has aged particularly well, or even that it was that good to start with. Dodgy controls and a fiddly camera hold Sonic Adventure 2 back from being a truly essential outing for the Blue Blur. Regardless, I will always love it, and I will always be happy to play it over and over again. Why? Because, dear reader, the game's soundtrack absolutely f*cking slaps. Also the Chao Garden feature was sick I guess, but mostly the soundtrack thing.
Look, I know in my heart that Sonic Adventure 2's music - which manages to mash together pop punk, ska, metal, hip hop, and plenty of bodacious riffs - is probably actually a bit crap. I know that in the same way I know that blink-182 aren't actually very good when you think about it for more than a few seconds. But that never stopped me from getting a blink tattoo, and it'll certainly never stop me from vibing to the Sonic Adventure 2 soundtrack on Spotify whenever I need a quick hit of adrenaline (which is all the time because I'm 27 and trapped in a crumbling society that's slowly eating itself alive).
The idea behind the music in Sonic Adventure 2 is that SEGA really wanted the tunes to stand out. It wanted to produce a collection of songs that didn't fade into the background, but leap out of our TVs and demand our attention. I think it's probably fair to say that composer Jun Senoue and the SEGA Sound Team succeeded in this, with the help of a team of talented artists and vocalists. The band Crush 40 were of course among the most prominent performers on the soundtrack, and would go on to perform the main themes for a number of 3D Sonic games, including Heroes and Shadow The Hedgehog.
There's an energy to songs like 'City Escape' and 'Live & Learn' that makes me wanna go fast, dammit. Maybe it's because I've come to associate them with our favourite speedy blue hedgehog, or maybe they just remind me of hearing them for the first time as a nine-year-old kid who could run more than 100 metres without needing to lie down and pray for death. Either way, the sheer energy of these pieces would often help propel me through otherwise dull levels. It takes something special for a composition to bury the glaring flaws in a video game through force of will, but the SEGA Sound Team managed it.
You certainly can't fault the soundtrack's ambitions, or its capacity to genuinely surprise, either. Hell, mixed in with all the chugging guitars and pounding drums, the SEGA Sound Team turns around and hits us with a straight up motherflippin' RAP in 'A Ghost's Pumpkin Soup' during the Pumpkin Hill level. Why is there? I don't know. Does it belong in the game? Depends on who you ask. But I'm glad that someone at SEGA decided it would be a good idea to put it in there, because Sonic Adventure 2 wouldn't be quite the same without it.
I appreciate there are plenty of older Sonic fans out there who see Sonic Adventure 2's soundtrack as synonymous with the rise of the character's divisive overhauled design and personality (RIP chubby Sonic), but I like cheesy Bart Simpson Sonic, and I love his jams. I won't be ashamed anymore.
I know the songs on Sonic Adventure 2 aren't cool - they're not even particularly clever - but there's an energy and an earnestness baked into the game's music that's hard not to become enthralled by as a little kid discovering Sonic for the very first time. Also, if I've yet to denounce my love of mid 00's emo as "just a phase", you can bet your Pink Floyd B-sides that my unironic passion for the Sonic Adventure 2 soundtrack isn't going anywhere either.
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