Synthwave On The Big Stage: Wolfenstein and the Power of the Genre
So I am someone who really loved video games, as a matter of fact, it was a video game that got me into the Synthwave scene as a whole (Hotline Miami, go figure). I've always been a fan of the more action oriented games, and especially First Person Shooters, as some of the first games I played were Quake and Doom, both by Id Software. One series, also produced by Id, that I really enjoy is Wolfenstein, and I have especially enjoyed the modern versions made by MachineGames, Old Blood, New Order, New Colossus, the whole gambit. So when news of a new game was announced at E3 2018 at the Bethesda Conference titled "Wolfenstein: Youngblood" I was ecstatic.
However, I didn't anticipate how excited I would be for the game as time passed.
March 27th, 2019. Carpenter Brut, an absolute heavyweight in the Synthwave scene, retweeted a tweet by Bethesda, where this video was attached.
On the outset, it just looks like a trailer for the game. Cool, maybe Brut is just excited. But, upon opening the video and watching it, a familiar tune is heard. The trailer uses "Turbo Killer", Brut's most popular track by a wide margin, as it's musical accompaniment.
Which is awesome! I always think it's cool when synth producers get their stuff in trailers for movies and games, like Magic Sword getting "In The Face Of Evil" in the trailer for Thor Ragnarok in 2017. But that and this were just trailers released on some indeterminate day on the internet, it's cool, but almost par for the course at this point, use some Synthwave music in a video meant to only be online, targeting the place where Synthwave fans are most prominent, the internet.
But that changed on June 9th, 2019.
At Bethesda's E3 conference in 2019 they showed another trailer for "Wolfenstein: Youngblood", this time using another Brut track, "347 Midnight Demons".
And this changed how I thought about the genre and its relevance for a second. Of course the cynical part of me just goes "Well they're just using Brut here because he's most likely cheaper to license than any other 80's pop/hair metal song they could have used, so that's why his music is being used, nothing more than that", and while that might be true, it doesn't change this one thing.
Bethesda thought that the song in this was good enough to use in their trailer on the biggest stage they have for the ENTIRE year.
They were confident enough in using a Synthwave track in this, where it would get the most exposure I think this track would ever get. It's not one of Brut's "greatest hits" (not saying it's bad, but saying that it's not one of his "Top 5 Most Streamed Tracks", it's a pretty sleeper hit.), so seeing it here is not expected, at least for me. If anything this says something more about Synthwave currently, how the genre is no longer just some "internet music", it's actually respected.
It's becoming a genre more in the public eye, more respected. The fact that Bethesda wanted to use a synth track instead of anything else speaks volumes that their PR and shareholders and "men in suits" would allow it to be used at all. A genre that was born of a movie about a guy who stunt drives cars and a video game made by 2 people in an apartment in Sweden is now on the biggest stage of an entire digital medium.
I might be overthinking this immensely, and I'm not saying that this specifically is the moment that the genre is treated as something more than just internet music, but what I am saying is that it's a big step.