One of the fun things about the “Fallout” video game series, which are set in a future dystopia following a nuclear holocaust, is the sound design. In the latest game, “Fallout: New Vegas,” as in the previous one, there’s a deejay reporting news from the post-apocalyptic frontier and spinning records from long ago.
“Fallout: New Vegas” was released Oct. 19, 2010, for Xbox 360, PC and PS3, and I’ve had the opportunity to hear the soundtrack a few hundred times already, since my 17-year-old son is an avid player.
In the previous game, “Fallout 3,” the soundtrack was old jazz and rhythm and blues; in the “New Vegas” incarnation, the selections veer between slick Rat Pack favorites and vintage western songs like “Big Iron.” This reflects both the Vegas ethos and the Wild West mentality of the Mojave wasteland lying all around Vegas, one of the few places to survive the nuclear holocaust in the year 2077.
I’ve loved the soundtracks to both games even though I don’t personally play them. My son and I often discuss the songs, and it’s actually given him an appreciation for music from earlier eras.
Another interesting fact about the New Vegas radio station is the deejay, who calls himself “Mr. New Vegas.” The part is voiced by Wayne Newton, the singer who has, in fact, been known for decades as “Mr. Las Vegas.”
Here’s a look at some of the music from “Fallout: New Vegas.” I’m only mentioning what I think are the highlights; for a complete playlist with lyrics, see http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Fallout:_New_Vegas_songs.
“Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” sung by Dean Martin (1960). This song was featured in the original “Ocean’s Eleven” film that featured Rat Packers Martin, Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop. The epitome of a classic Vegas song, and a classic Deano number. I have come to appreciate Martin’s ultra-smooth vocals over time, and it doesn’t get much better than this one.
“Big Iron,” sung by Marty Robbins (1959). When I was a kid, I loved Marty Robbins’ songs – each a Western mini-melodrama. He also sang the never-to-be-forgotten “El Paso,” which used to make me cry. “Big Iron” tells the story of a battle between a gunfighter and a lawman that has a twist at the end.
“Blue Moon,” sung by Frank Sinatra (1961). Of course, Sinatra is the soundtrack of Vegas, and has been for a long time. It’s great to hear him put his stamp on this old standard.
“(I Got Spurs That) Jingle, Jangle, Jingle,” sung by Kay Kyser. The old cowboy tune has been performed many times over the years, and this is kind of a light and almost jazzy treatment of it. Kyser was a swing era bandleader who was popular during the 1930s and ’40s.
“Johnny Guitar,” sung by Peggy Lee (1954). From the title, you’d think it was some rock’n’roll number, but it’s kind of a slow weepy tune that she wrote for the Western movie of the same name. I like her other song on the soundtrack a lot better, “Why Don’t You Do Right,” (1943), her first big hit.
“Something’s Gotta Give,” sung by Bing Crosby (1947). Another super-suave offering with the Bingster putting the moves on the object of his desire. Crosby, a well-known singer and movie star, was the first recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and had an amazing 38 No. 1 songs during his career.