This past Monday, I got hipped to this video by FreddieGredde, YouTube tribute-artist extraordinaire. I've seen a lot of videos that I kind of describe as "Guy With Instruments Playing Video Game Music" (GWIPVGM) videos — they can be great, or they can be dull. They can be as charming as Pomplamoose, or as annoying as… well, as annoying as Pomplamoose, actually.
FreddeGredde is actually Fredrik Larsson, a young musician from Gävle, Sweden. (For some reason, I am physically incapable of spelling his stage name correctly, like I have a mental block. He has been Freddie Greddie, FreddieGredde, and several other variations. I swear I have it right now.)
Larsson is… a very, very talented guy. Lots of "GWIPVGM" videos feature people who are decent enough, or actually good enough that you think, "Wow, that guy is actually good!"
You say this in the tone of voice reserved for expressing surprise at something.
And then you realise that FreddeGredde's videos are on a whole other level than that — they're produced and perfected within an inch of their lives, and but not with post-production work or anything like that… Larsson is simply a very, very good musician. He doesn't half-ass any aspect of performance — his guitar playing, piano playing, bass playing and vocals are all immaculate. (Though man, why you gotta play that bass with a pick?)
I get the sense that Larsson is something of a perfect YouTube tribute artist — he has an incredible level of chops and a deep knowledge of the kind of music that people want to listen to, and he delivers on a level that I've never actually seen from what I guess we're calling a "YouTube Musician" before.
Listening to Larsson's solo album left me wanting more from it. His music is shining, immaculate, clean and pure — pitch-perfect vocals over lovely guitars. It's certainly nice, but it lacks a pizzaz that his tribute videos have in spades. Despite the fact that he has a tune with a riff in 13/8 time (which is called, in the time-honored tradition of naming songs in odd meters after their meter, "Thirteen Eight"), his album didn't really grab me.
But man, anyone with this level of talent is surely (or at least hopefully!) going to produce some amazing original material at some point. Hell, he's already one of the best YouTube tribute musicians I've ever heard.
Let's take a tour of his greatest hits.
"The Video Game Rock Medley"
Here for posterity, I'm sharing this video again. And even if you have watched it already, you should watch it again. Because it rules. It's become mostly about Louis Abramson's kickass drumming for me. On every single tune.
This video is, to be perfectly honest, almost too perfect — the performances are so polished and flawless that it almost detracts. (Notice I said almost. This is bananas.)
What makes this video so great is the fantastic video editing, which pushes it a notch above FreddeGredde's past videos. And now, since apparently I'm going to be That Commenter, I'll say that I wish we'd gotten Final Fantasy VII's boss music in there. Oh, well.
Also, as someone who has never played Super Mario RPG, wow. That game had fantastic music. And then straight into Cave Story! Also: the transition out of the Monkey Island theme.
God, this is good.
"Video Game Songs With Lyrics"
This medley isn't just a combination of video game songs, it's also a collection of hilarious video game lyrics, all written by various people over the years and re-performed by Larsson on the guitar. So when you hear him dropping the N-word, just know: It's okay! Some other guy said it first and it was a meme and everything.
(Though you know… given this super duper problematic thing that like, just happened in Sweden, maybe Swedes should take it easy on anything relating to black people for a little while.)
"Wind Waker Unplugged"
An oldie but a goodie, this one takes the basic concept from FreddieGredde's most recent video and makes it acoustic. (This one came first, of course.) The result is maximum charm, minimum guitar distortion. And as with all of his stuff, it keeps on growing and growing, and just when you think it can't get better, it does.
And now, some non-video game videos.
"The TV Theme Meddley"
Another classic one, great stuff. Naruto is a highlight here. Ha!
"The Cartoon Medley"
This one is basically everything you want when you hear the words "The Cartoon Medley."
This is one of the FreddeGredde videos I'd seen before the video game stuff. Fantastic, and a real vocal showcase. Not many people can sing Freddie Mercury, ya know? And yet here he is, doing just that. The accordion is really this one's magic moment, though it's all really quite charming. As a side note: How great is this song? How amazing was Queen? Jeez. There should be a Queen video game.
Well, what a fine note to go out on.
Rock on, Fredrik Larsson. Rock on, FreddeGredde. Please don't ever stop making these videos.