Why This Year’s ‘Madden’ Soundtrack Is A ‘Beacon For Pop Culture’

Video games have changed a lot over the years. No longer are we subjected to the 8-bit music, the side scrolling, the wonky gameplay and the glitches that oh so wonderfully informed us over the years. But there’s still a special place in our hearts for the bridge between the retro games and the now, where games are cinematic achievements as much as they are “let’s blow some stuff up and drive on the sidewalk” adventures.

A big part of that bridge were the sports games on Playstation 1 and 2 (as well as the original XBox and the early inclinations of the 360). Those games were our first taste of what power really could be in games, and we wanted more of it. At the forefront of that, especially on the sports side, was EA Sports with Madden. Players looked like themselves, they did things football players actually did, and you could pretty much control every aspect of a franchise if you wanted to.

And then there were the soundtracks, which we’ve covered before. And the game went to great lengths to give us a good mix of all sorts of stuff — some hits, some duds, but all selected with FOOTBALL in mind in some respects.

For the past few years, the game went away from that and focused more on how the stadium sounded. There was that year when they basically gave us a Jock Jams style soundtrack with songs you’d actually hear in the venues, and in general music took a backseat to gameplay. This makes sense, considering people are either playing someone else online, listening to their own music (it’s not like we don’t have enough available ways to stream music in the first place), or having the sound on their second screen.

That changed this year.

The game is going back to the full-on soundtrack format, curating a bunch of tracks from a bunch of genres, including songs from The Weeknd, Big Data, Yelawolf, Joywave, twenty one pilots, and more. There’s a bunch of stuff you won’t immediately know on there, but that was always the case. You’ll hear the songs enough to know them all even if you aren’t paying close attention.

Here is the full track list for the Madden NFL 16 soundtrack:

Track – Artist
Travelin’ Man – A Thousand Horses
Get Some Freedom (feat. Dragonette) – Big Data
Holding All the Roses – Blackberry Smoke
Rubber Band Stacks – Brooke Candy
Automatic – Don Broco
Something To Believe In (feat. Nas & Aloe Blacc) – Fashawn
I Used To Be (feat. Redman and Method Man) – GOH vs. Sugarstarr
Through The Roof (feat. Young Tapz) – Hermitude
Collide – James Bay
House Of Moody – Jimi Charles Moody
Come and Get It – John Newman
Destruction – Joywave
Ghetto Boy – King Los
Sirens – Lee Brice
Ain’t Too Cool – LunchMoney Lewis
Make You Mine – Modestep & Teddy Killerz
Intro – NF
Odyssey – No Wyld
Ban All The Music – Nothing But Thieves
Wolves – Rag ‘n’ Bone Man
Better Days – Robert DeLong
Higher (feat. Labrinth) – Sigma
I’m Rockin’ – The Cadillac Three
Can’t Feel my Face – The Weeknd
Heavydirtysoul – twenty one pilots
Flash – Viv And The Revival
Superpower – X Ambassadors
Animation (feat. Diamond Eyes) – Xilent
Fiddle Me This – Yelawolf
Knock Me Down – Youngblood Hawke

Why the decision to steer toward a strong emphasis on music again? Community members had been telling EA Sports how much they missed a licensed soundtrack, and the game developers realized how closely tied music is to football. It only takes one Sunday of hearing the same songs in the same commercial breaks to realize there’s a bond there – whether we’re willing participants or not.

“We want the music to contribute to Madden as a beacon for pop culture,” EA Sports development director Ben Ramsour told Uproxx Sports, “and for the sounds of our game to become the sounds of the sport. We’re looking for that next great stadium anthem, and the songs that, after they break big, you can look back and say you heard it first in Madden.”

“When we created the track list,” Ramsour continued, “we pulled together members of our development team who love a wide variety of musical genres and just started listening to songs. We’ve got a room with a great sound system so we’d gather around, crank it up and see what we liked. A lot of the songs came from our worldwide music group in L.A., who track down emerging artists and tracks for us to consider. Ultimately, we’re looking for songs that are cool, that make us feel something and that are a fit for Madden. If a track meets all those criteria it stands a good chance of making it into the game.”

Ramsour said there were plenty of bands that caught wind of the soundtrack being a point of emphasis this year and were “knocking on their door” to be on the list. One artist in this year’s group, Lee Brice, is such a big Madden fan, he’s mentioned his dream of actually being in the game.

If those tracks aren’t quite enough, or if you get sick of them quickly, Madden has a solution that’ll satiate the streaming crowd. EA has, which will have songs from a bunch of the other soundtracks and new tracks on Mondays, as well as the full soundtrack to this year’s game.

So fire up Franz Ferdinand, make sure to Party Hard and get Back In The Mud. The Madden soundtrack is back. At least I’ll have something to listen to when the Browns go 5-11 again.