In the long-running game series that has gone on for nearly thirty years, Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL Football has commonly removed game features — those that were successful and those that panned — within a year or two of them first coming out — everything from the “Extra Point” halftime show in Madden NFL 10 to the infamous Madden NFL 06 Vision Cone has been scrapped at some point for something new that will follow the same cycle.
Thankfully, after a three-year hiatus that saw the company instead use an orchestral score for menu music, EA brought back “EA Trax” for 2015’s Madden NFL 16 with a soundtrack that featured The Weeknd, Lee Brice, and some other acts. Though the soundtrack was unimpressive and lacked many songs that felt like football, many fans of the series were just glad to see actual music being back in a game that has had legendary soundtracks.
Wednesday afternoon, EA Sports announced that not only would EA Trax officially be returning in 2016, but that the soundtrack would be available on Spotify.
Is it too late to go back to the orchestral score?
Of course, it’s a bit too early to hate on a soundtrack when we have yet to hear all the songs and see how they match up with football, but it just seems like EA dropped the ball on this one and seemed to pick the wrong songs with the right artists. Flo Rida’s “Who’s With Me” is a great song, but “Our House” has more of that football feel to it because, when you welcome a rival team to town, you want to remind them that this is your house.
On paper, this is a much better soundtrack than last year’s version, but we are a far ways away from the “glory days” of EA Trax. In a time where so many sports arenas are blasting Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Boy” or anything from Fetty Wap’s catalog, EA is presenting a football soundtrack with Cale Dodds’ “Acting Our Age.” By no means is this a bad song, but when you imagine a linebacker destroying a running back and probably not caring if he ends his opponent’s career so long as he can knock the ball loose, does a calm-sounding song like that really come to mind?
When you’re making a soundtrack, you want the music to be played to fit what’s going on and what type of product you’re making — and this doesn’t just go for video games. Take a movie like The Empire Strikes Back, for example — in the scenes where Darth Vader is talking strategy with his troops, you don’t hear this light-hearted jazz playing, you hear a military-sounding march that eventually becomes dark and ominous when he begins his talk with the Emperor. Would the scene have had the same lasting impact if, when Vader hesitates to respond after the monster-looking man in a hood tells him that “the rebel who destroyed the Death Star is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker,” the cantina music from A New Hope was playing?
In the same way you wouldn’t start off a comedy movie with a brutal decapitation, you’re not likely to see a NBA 2K17 have a soundtrack full of country music. More often than not, the music that fits football is either rock and roll, metal, or hip hop with some elements of country fitting into the argument as well.
Granted, with the exception of a couple games (notably Madden NFL 10 and 12), most EA Trax do feature a mix of music from big names and up-and-coming artists which is what we see in this year’s outing, but the songs in the soundtrack are meant to fit the game and the atmosphere that the sport provides. Maybe that feeling will change after the game’s been out for a few days, but general reception to the soundtrack seems to be pretty negative — and if you’re EA Sports, that may convince you to get rid of “EA Trax” entirely.
Or, they could just allow custom soundtracks like fans have been asking for.
EA Sports’ Madden NFL ’17 will release to stores August 23, 2016, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
[Image via EA Sports]