I figure it's time to talk about music, specifically as it pertains to flight simulator videos. Every now and then I take a long wander through the new FSX arrivals at youtube and I am consistently stunned by the utterly terrible and cliche choices in music in them. So few people ever give any thought to this and it bugs the shit out of me.
So let me give you a quick rundown of the best and worst musical choices one can make when composing a flight simulator video.
The top 5 WORST tracks to choose:
1. Anything from 'Top Gun'. Never EVER EVER EVER use "Danger Zone" or anything else from that musical abomination of a film. Kenny Loggins was NEVER cool... EVER. Same goes for anything from 'Iron Eagle', for the reasons stated above. And yes, that includes Queen's only good song ever, "One Vision", ironically used in the Viper simulator scene. ;)
2. "Learning to Fly" by Pink Floyd. Just... don't... do... it. Thank you.
3. Hip Hop. It is an extremely rare video that can pull off anything flight related with a rap/hip hop soundtrack. Not a diss on hip hop, I quite like a lot of it, it's just that rap culture and aviation go together like strawberries and lard. The only video I've ever seen that actually managed this was Scott221's "Lose Yourself in Lock On". Absolutely brilliant. Check it out on youtube.
4. Country 'music'. I shouldn't need to explain why. It isn't music. It's an insult.
5. "You're the Conversation" by Chris Corner and Sue Denim. This is an absolutely fabulous track and I love it to death. It is also entirely OFF LIMITS. It was written for and accompanied the greatest single aviation moment ever filmed in history, the Alphajet Alps flight in 'Chevaliers du Ciel'. It is sacred. It should never be used by anyone for any flight sim film. Nothing can match the original scene it was used for and to imitate that would do nothing but cheapen that incredible moment of aviation art.
Top 5 GOOD music choices:
1. Pretty much anything electronic, specifically house and trance. Aviation is high tech at its best and I feel it deserves a high tech soundtrack. Exceptions to this are anything by Morel. If you don't know who that is then count yourself lucky.
2. Anything the editors of 'Top Gear' use for their shows. These guys are the absolute masters of matching music to visuals. I take great inspiration from their work.
3. Anything with passion. If a song sounds like it was a labour of love to create it's probably going to work well.
4. Anything you haven't heard before. I'm serious. The more mainstream a track is the more likely I am to mute it or kill the video entirely. If you haven't heard it before then it's likely few others have either and it will give your video a fresh feel.
5. When in doubt, go instrumental. Unless you have a story you're trying to tell through images and music then lyrics will just mess with peoples' heads and divide their attention. If you want to show off the visuals then don't confuse people by making them think in language at the same time.
For reference, here's that perfect aviation moment I was talking about.