Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V likes to do things big. How big? Well, I could tell you that the game’s playable map is twice the size of real world Manhattan. Or maybe mention that the game became the world’s most successful entertainment release by achieving more than $1 billion in sales within three days of its release. But I’d especially like to point to the sheer size of the soundtrack, because yes, it’s also pretty huge.
The game features 15 radio stations, with 240 licensed songs, celebrity DJs, and new material from artists like Tyler the Creator, A$AP Rocky, and Neon Indian – just to name a few.
For added realism, the stations feature professional DJ’s with realistic sounding conversation between songs, and multiple commercial breaks satirizing everything from plastic surgery to corporate corruption.
Each of these radio stations caters to a specific musical genre which means that there is endless variety available for the player. Players simply don’t have to worry about being limited to a particular genre, and are instead able to listen to reggae, classic rock, indie rock, 80s funk, and old school hip-hop just some of the many choices GTA V has to offer. Don’t like rap music? You can drive around the city blasting Queen and Elton John just as easily as you can listen to Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar (although something about “Radio Gaga” and car chases just don’t mix).
All this is partly thanks to GTA V’s music director Ivan Pablovich, who recognized the need for musical variety in a game that is supposed to create an open world full of seemingly endless possibilities and customization.
By allowing players to not only personalize their cars and clothes, but the musical lens through which they experience the game, GTA V allows for the kind of depth fans of the series have been looking for. In fact, I have actually discovered new artists and songs that I really enjoy, something I wasn’t expecting from a video game.
There were times while playing that I spent just driving around the fictional city of Los Santos (think real world Los Angeles), taking in the atmosphere and just enjoying some of the beats and lyrics the game dishes out.
But what if you aren’t a gamer? Or maybe you just aren’t a fan of the GTA series, why would all this matter to you? Well the game’s soundtrack not only makes for a killer in-game experience, it also doubles as a truly fantastic mixtape.
My only complaint is that despite featuring Kenny Loggins as the DJ for the classic rock radio station, “Danger Zone” is nowhere to be found. It is something probably only Archer fans and I will find disappointing, but I guess in a soundtrack this good, there’s room for at least a few mistakes.
Ultimately, if you’re the kind of person who likes musical variety, particularly across multiple genres, checking out the GTA V soundtrack is definitely worth a listen, even if the game is not something you are interested in.