One Direction’s ‘This Is What You Should Be Playing’

It’s no secret that the world of music has been hugely impacted by the pandemic – and that many of the industry’s biggest stars have received a major blow to their income. One of the latest casualties of the outbreak is One Direction.

The boy band had always been successful. Their 2015 album Thank You was the fastest-selling album of all time, with only the Beatles’ 1 – Love album selling more copies. The band were even dubbed the Beatles of our time after they racked up more than 400 million global views on YouTube alone between them.

But the COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. Concerts and public gatherings were banned across the globe, and record labels cancelled the careers of musicians who couldn’t perform. In the space of just a few months, One Direction saw revenues plunge by 97%. They had to cancel the majority of their tour after the first episode of Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. And it’s unlikely they’ll ever be able to recover financially from this.

This isn’t the first time a major artist’s career has been stifled by the pandemic. Back in September 2019, U2 became the biggest band in the world after the Dublin foursome were named Billboard’s Artist of the Year for 2019. However, the coronavirus spread quickly around the world, and concerts weren’t restarted until the summer of 2021. Meanwhile, many of U2’s biggest fan’s have deemed the band’s 2019 album, Songs of Experience, to be their best work ever. It’s the story of an album that never got to see the light of day due to lockdowns and travel restrictions.

The music industry could certainly do with a bit of a bounce back following this traumatic time. As it happens, some of the world’s biggest and most popular artists have found their way to video games. If you’d told us back in March that our favourite band would end up in video games, we wouldn’t have believed you.

As it turns out, a number of gaming franchises have been inspired by the likes of U2 and One Direction. Here are just five of the most exciting connections between music and video games.

Rockstar’s Influential New Orleans Sound

We wouldn’t be entirely surprised if you knew what city inspired the video game series Rockstar. After all, the city’s musical heritage is something else – especially when you consider the influence of famed French Quarter band Dr. Feel Good. The Grammy-winning band are responsible for some of the greatest songs in the city’s history, including such classics as ‘Laissez Aller’, ‘Tip Of My Tongue’ and ‘Who Do You Think You Are’.

To bring us all closer to the theme of this article, it’s time for us to introduce you to Mr. Mardi Gras. Though he goes by one name, he is an ambassador of sorts for the city of New Orleans and its distinctive Mardi Gras festival. In the video game, Rockstar have paid homage to the city’s greatest export with the character of Mardi Gras. From his extravagant masks to his quirky humour, everything about the game’s lead character is inspired by the famous Carnival King.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Gaming Nostalgia

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since we’ve had the pleasure of listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Though they released their last album back in 2011, the band kept busy throughout the 2000s with frequent festival appearances and a series of successful reissues. In recent years, their songs have become popular on TikTok, with the ‘Serious’ rapper demonstrating how much he loves the band with a series of embarrassing dance challenges.

The resemblance between Chili Pepper Francis and the game’s protagonist, Nathan Explosion, is uncanny. From the band’s trademark facial hair to the outfit and the accent, everything about the character is designed to appeal to fans of the band. Even the name ‘Nathan Explosion’ is a play on ‘Sonic Boom’, the band’s 1991 song that introduced us to the wonderful world of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Kanye West’s ‘Ghost Town’

It’s not just about the 80s any more. Thanks to the likes of Kanye West, ‘80s culture’ has made its way into the mainstream. The rapper and fashion designer took the world by storm in 2019 with his love letter to Brooklyn, New York, aptly titled ‘Ghost Town’. The album, which is dedicated to the city’s unique spirit and the joy of simply being oneself, features some of West’s most iconic fashion outfits and caped parties.

Ghost Town is one of the most acclaimed hip-hop albums of the decade, with many critics crediting it with reinventing the genre. Though it was inspired by New York in general, the album particularly references the 1980s and the fashion style that originated there.

Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’

The last thing anyone wants during the pandemic is another article about music. However, since we were talking about video games, we had to mention Radiohead as well. The British rock band are responsible for some of the greatest albums ever, with ‘OK Computer’ being considered by many to be their magnum opus. The album is filled with cryptic references to computers and modern technology, which was presumably why the band chose the name ‘OK Computer’.

Though the album was released all the way back in 1997, many of its references have become quite relevant in this day and age. For example, the album’s titular track was initially called ‘Halcyon’, and the band even released an album in 2018 named ‘Ulysses’, after the book the song is based on. The album art even references the William Blake poem ‘The Ancient of Days’ – a reference that doesn’t go unmissed by fans of Radiohead and Blake alike.

Tool’s ‘Lateralus’

Speaking of Blake, you may have noticed that a lot of the artists on this list have connections to the English poet. This is no coincidence. Besides being the founder of the band Rage Against the Machine, guitarist Tom Morello has cited William Blake as one of his main influences. That’s not all he’s done though, as ‘Lateralus’, the band’s sixth studio album,is dedicated to Blake’s work. The band have used their own inimitable blend of blues, jazz and funk to reimagine the works of the poetic mastermind.

“Lateralus’” is Latin for “sideways” or “from a different angle” – very appropriate for a band that incorporates the perspective of an entire album into a song’s title.

Final Fantasy’s ‘Dragon Quest’

There’s a common theme running through all of these videos – the influence of ‘80s culture. But it’s much more than that. The Final Fantasy franchise began way back in 1981, and has been consistently popular ever since. While most of the game’s installments have followed the traditional fantasy formula, the spin-off games are where it’s at in terms of innovation. It was in the 1980s that the “world map” and the “overworld” became prevalent in video games. These are elements that can be found in the latest entry in the franchise, ‘Dragon Quest XI’.

The game takes place in a “hybrid” world that fuses high-tech elements with ancient Chinese mythology. Though it’s considered to be the culmination of 14 years of research, ‘Dragon Quest XI’ is still relatively unknown in the West due to its exclusive release in Japan. This is a major step down from the franchise’s previous installment, ‘Final Fantasy XV’, which was released in 2006 and sold around 15 million copies – making it one of the best-selling games of all time. Let’s hope that more people discover the wonders of ‘Dragon Quest’ in the coming months.