Normal people in the early 2000’s most likely heard Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life”, one of the most well-known rock songs of the period, from radio or its music video. But that’s just normal people. You know how I first heard it?
No, I am not shitting you: my first exposure to Evanescence came from a combo video for Rival Schools.
At that point in my life, I was about 12 to 13 years old,and I did not follow the usual means of music discovery. No radio with the sole exception of the area’s soft rock station (thanks, Mom), no music videos whatsoever. If it didn’t come from the rotation of CDs that Dad and Mum would play in their car, chances are I didn’t know it. So I heard plenty of ABBA and Prince and Public Enemy, some Tenacious D, a few Fat of the Land-era Prodigy tracks, oddities like that Scatman John song and “Planet Rock” and “Tubthumping”…but virtually nothing outside that bubble.
Being musically out of the loop didn’t really bother me, though. Young teenaged me wasn’t that much of a music fan in the first place anyway! Especially compared to my love for video games.
At this period of my life, my biggest obsession was fighting games, and I picked a damn good time (around 2003) to get obsessed. I’d play the shit out of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Capcom vs. SNK 2—never competitively, just either in training or arcade modes—but what entranced me the most were combo videos.
Each of those absurd combos was gleeful to witness. I dare say, they might be among the most purely childish pleasures imaginable. Seeing an uninterrupted string of attacks rack up a hit counter ever upwards while a health bar melts down to nothing? Looking all sorts of flashy and sounding so intense while doing so?? Being an impressive display of technical skills on top of all ofthat?!
Plenty of combo videos weren’t just game footage, however. They were the MLG montages of that era, in a sense: edited compilations of combos, with the majority of them set to music. Some of it was even bangin’! In this pre-YouTube era, combo videos became my introduction to lots of music genres and artists.
“Sandstorm”? I first heard it from this gamecombos.com Garou: Mark of the Wolves combo video.
gamecombos.com (domain currently for sale from GoDaddy!) showed up fairly frequently for music introduction, in fact. Their first C-Groove combo showcase for Capcom vs. SNK 2 was soundtracked by the instrumental for Black Rob’s “I Dare You”. Pretty badass, and one of the first tastes of hip hop that I found entirely on my own.
They did the same thing with their A-Groove showcase, which used Pharaohe Monch’s “Simon Says”. Godzilla horns and all. God-DAMN.
Then, on their second C-Groove showcase, they switch things up! Instead of a hip hop instrumental, it’s a moody electronic song: “The Box” by Orbital. These people know some pretty cool songs!
OK, that’splenty of CvS2 at a single time. How about the kind of soundtracks that something like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 could inspire? Maybe a balls-crazy combo video that inadvertently introduced me to a genre that I much later learned was called symphonic metal.
Yeah, “Steelgods of the Last Apocalpyse” by Rhapsody. Good times!
I can even point to the precise moment, cheesy as it sounds, where I finally started exploring music seriously as my passion. It was this Capcom vs. SNK 2 video right here, at 14 years old.
With snippets of “Carte Blanche” from Veracocha and a remix of “The Tube” from DJ Tiësto, this video introduced me to trance music, and was the first time I thought “I NEED TO HEAR MORE TRACKS LIKE THIS.” Heavy interest in one genre snowballed to heavy interest in more genres—many many more genres—overtime, until eventually I became a well-rounded music lover.
And it was built off the back of a teenage obsession with combovideos. Weird as it may sound, thank you, fighting game community. You helped develop a fundamental part of my being.
To punctuate things properly, here’s one last video. Though it isn’t not a combo video per se, it was nonetheless related to my interests back then: an AMV for the Street Fighter Alpha anime. Set to…what else?
“In the End”, of course!