What do a former member of Paul McCartney’s Wings, a seasoned bassist for everyone from Stevie Wonder to Bruce Springsteen, and the guy who co-wrote Toto’s ‘Africa’ have in common?
Well if the impressive credentials and working history of a new musical collective are anything to go by, they’re all avid, button-mashing videogamers.
A small army of 16 musicians have been enlisted for the cause of celebrating great videogame music, recording and performing a series of iconic themes from a range of popular franchises, as Critical Hit.
The group is the brainchild of Award-winning musician Jason Hayes, who’s managed to overlap his twin passions for gaming and music as one of the lead composers for Blizzard Entertainment, the developers behind immensely popular titles like World Of Warcraft, StarCraft, and DOTA 2, as Kotaku Australia reports.
Hayes’ own music has been performed by symphonic orchestras and ensembles around the world, but perhaps feeling like he was missing out on the action, the Californian musician decided to form his own musical supergroup to perform some of his – and gamers’ – most beloved and recognisable music.
“Playing in bands was a big part of my life before I became a full-time composer,” Jason Hayes remarks on Critical Hit’s official website. “It’s awesome to be able to return to live performance, while exploring my favorite videogame themes with such amazing and accomplished musician friends. The best part is connecting with people who are as passionate about videogame music as I am.”
The group’s debut album, released on 31st October, includes big band arrangements of everything from the Russian folk-inspired theme to Tetris and the uber-hummable music of Super Mario World and Pokémon (it’s super effective!), through to the grandiose compositions from blockbuster titles like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, and Call Of Duty.
One of Hayes’ own compositions also gets a work-out, the World Of Warcraft composition ‘Legends of Azeroth’, and a piece of music that will be familiar to millions of smartphone users, the title ditty to Angry Birds, as heard below.
Jason Hayes, along with co-founder Michael Gluck – General Manager of videogame market research firm VGMarket – has pulled together an impressive team of prolific artists that reads a bit like the roster of an all-star Street Fighter game. But rather than pit this diverse list of players of different nationalities, musical backgrounds, and styles, Critical Hit pulls them together.
Leading the roster is pianist David Frank Paich, best known as the pianist for 80s rockers Toto, who has helped pen some of their biggest hits, including ‘Africa’, ‘Hold The Line’, and ‘Rosanna’. There’s also Laurence Juber, one of the guitarists in McCartney’s Wings, Carlitos del Puerto, who’s played and performed with an arm’s length of music icons, such as Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, and as mentioned, The Boss.
The full Critical Hit roster also contains a one-time violinist to the Foo Fighters, a Swiss piano prodigy, and a young violin-playing YouTube sensation (and no, it’s not Lindsey Stirling).
Then there’s drummer Doug Belote, who’s lent his stick work to Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson and John (Hall &) Oates, Shakira’s go-to winds soloist Pedro Eustache, and Joel Taylor, a sought-after percussionist whose played with Josh Groban and Michael Bublé as well as laid down over 100 tracks for the popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band games.
The super-sized ensemble are making their live debut at BlizzCon, the annual convention for Blizzard Entertainment, on 9th November at the Anaheim Convention Center in Los Angeles.
For more info, musicians details, and to hear samples of the forthcoming debut album, head to http://criticalhitband.com/