HAPPY MADDEN RELEASE DAY EVERYONE. It’s a big event for the video game and sports industries alike, as well as for people who own $250 DeShaun Foster jerseys and aren’t above going to Walmart at midnight to pick up a copy (guilty). Our own Dan Seitz already wrote his defense of Madden NFL 25, but I want to take a look and listen to something that’s much tougher to defend: the first Madden EA Trax soundtrack. It came back in 2002, when Marshall Faulk graced the cover of Madden 2003, and I’m already sorry for all future Audiovent references.
For everyone who hasn’t Eternal Sunshine’d Audiovent, though, let’s go the tape.
“Party Hard” by Andrew W.K.
Excellent start. “Party Hard” sounds as wall-smashing today as it did then, and I still remember crushing my GameCube controller buttons that much harder when it came on. The only downside: “Party Hard” isn’t for sedentary activities, like playing video games; it’s for breaking whiskey bottles and CRUSHING beer cans and jumping off buildings and kicking mailboxes and throwing your TV out the window. Tough to play Madden without a TV. Play real football, you say? Never heard of it.
“The Energy” by Audiovent
Despite its title, “The Energy” is pretty passive. Audiovent was one of a billion early 2000s overly polished alt-rock bands that screamed in the chorus and yearned in the verses, with a singer that only knew one singing style: whine. They released one major label album in 2002, Dirty Sexy Knights in Paris, and broke up two years later.
And somewhere out there, Audiovent’s bassist appreciates the Google Alert.
“Body Crumbles” by Dry Cell
Let this soak in for a minute:
Dry Cell were such an afterthought on a bad movie soundtrack that they’re listed below Kidneythieves, who Wikipedia tells me “is currently working on their fourth studio album due for release in late 2013.” PREORDER. But back to Dry Cell: Jeff Gutt’s voice sounded like it was on the verge of snapping, especially at the part where he does his best worst Cobain impression around two minutes in. But back in 2010, the band wrote the following on their Facebook: “looking good guys!” so I guess it never did. That post has eight Likes.
“Walk Away” by Epidemic
Epidemic is so perfect. Not the clanging band itself — the most notable thing about them is that they’re not the other Epidemic — but that name. It’s so of its aggressively post-grunge time and perfectly in sync with a group who would describe themselves using the words “uncompromising commentary.” Epidemic, Contagious, Infectious, Widespread Disease, these are the names of bands with songs like “Generic the Norm.”
“The Anthem” by Good Charlotte
I want to hate, but I just can’t. At the time, Good Charlotte’s popularity was suffocating, though that had as much to do with me being jealous that the girls I wanted to date only had eyes for boys with spiked hair and sullen faces. I could only provide them with one of those, so screw you, Good Charlotte, I’m going to listen to Simple Plan instead. Now, however, I can appreciate something about Good Charlotte that I couldn’t then: they became mega-famous, despite having someone in the band named Benji. That’s unprecedented for a band. Also, although “The Anthem” is pop-punk sponsored by Red Bull and Hot Topic and record scratches, it’s still stupidly catchy, even if it wouldn’t appear on Green Day’s weakest album (which is NOT Warning, thank you very much).
“Suck It Up” by Hed Pe
My pick for the worst sentence in the English language: “Hed PE, also known as (hed) Planet Earth and stylized as (həd) p.e., is an American rapcore band from Huntington Beach, California.” Rap is great, punk is great, but rap/punk bands are almost always terrible, especially Hed Pe, who sound like a bunch of mentally damaged gorillas covering Korn. “Suck It Up” isn’t cohesive in the least; it’s three different songs, and five different genres, piled on top of one another. “Hey, is your copy of Madden skipping?” “Nope, that’s just what Hed PE sound like.”
“Everyday” by Bon Jovi
Haha, remember when Bon Jovi went industrial? Bounce, the followup album to the career-resurrecting Crush, was apparently heavily influenced by September 11th, while dull first single “Everyday” was written after a long night spent furiously reading fortune cookies. “I’m gonna touch the sky/And I spread these wings and fly/I ain’t here to play/I’m gonna live my life everyday.” Inspiring stuff on the soundtrack for a video game.
“Awnaw” by Nappy Roots ft. P.O.D.
My apologies. This isn’t “Awnaw.” It’s “Awnaw (Rock Remix ft. Marcos Curiel of P.O.D.).” Awyea? The original, the soundtrack to so many barbeques, was a minor hit for Nappy Roots in 2002, reaching #51 on the Billboard charts. It’s also far better and much less crowded than the Madden rock remix, which exists only because someone in 2001 decided that every rap group needed at least one P.O.D. collaboration. What a time to be alive it was.
“Get Over It” by OK Go
THAT CLAPPING. I haven’t listened to this song since I moved onto Madden 2004, but I still remember every. single. word. to “Get Over It,” a.k.a. the OK Go song before the one with the music video. Listening to “Get Over It” (from 2002’s OK Go) and “Here It Comes Again” (on 2005’s Oh No) back-to-back reveals how much better the band was three years later, and it’s not like they were anything special in the first place. Both songs are loudly and proudly power-pop, but like so many selections on the Madden soundtrack, “Get Over It” suffers from dated production, where there’s this weird tendency to fill every inch of the mix with shouted lyrics and grinding music. It’s going for a Weezer meets They Might Be Giants vibe, but those bands were smart enough to dial it down from time to time.
“Mr. Jinx” by Quarashi
“Quarashi was a rap metal group from Reykjavík, Iceland.” NOPE.
“Fine Again” by Seether
And at least, we come to Seether, everyone’s favorite South African alt-metal band. But seriously, “Fine Again,” which fits together like a heaving jigsaw puzzle, is about as good as alt-metal gets, which is the most backhanded of compliments. The song builds smartly to a moody, screaming chorus, which is extra impressive when you consider it was the band’s first single. Iat’s not that hasn’t been done a thousand times before and a million times since, but “Fine Again” is probably the second best song on Madden 2003.
Because hey, at least it wasn’t Stain.