Bully Doesn’t Sound Like Your Typical Rockstar Game

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Bully Doesn’t Sound Like Your Typical Rockstar Game
Image: Rockstar Games / Kotaku

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-arse sounds they make. Today I’m here to educate you all about the wonderful music in Bully.

Rockstar video games tend to have soundtracks filled with licensed music, like Max Payne 3, Grand Theft Auto V, or the Midnight Club series. But as we saw with Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare (previously on Morning Music) and Manhunt (also previously!), Rockstar has some fantastic non-licensed soundtracks in its catalogue. One of the best, maybe the best, in fact, belongs to Bully (YouTube / longplay / VGMdb), which came out way back in 2006. Its soundtrack stands out compared to other Rockstar games, with its mix of playful drums, guitars, xylophones, and basslines.

Bully’s soundtrack is a bit of a mess to figure out. There are a few different versions floating around the internet, plus the changes made to various re-releases and ports. But while specific songs and tracks might vary, each version sports a wide variety and high-quality set of songs. Some tracks, like the iconic “Main Theme,” lean heavily toward whimsical and fun:

Other tracks, like “Help Gary,” have a more mysterious, funky feel. Given all the variety, Bully’s soundtrack is never boring, and if you ask 20 people to name their favourite song, you’ll probably get 20 different answers. Personally, it’s hard to nail down my favourite track, but if I had to pick I’d say it’s probably “Welcome To Bullworth.”

The Bully soundtrack was composed by Shawn Lee, who doesn’t normally work with video games. Before Bully, the only game he’d composed music for was The Getaway. While it might seem odd to hire someone who hasn’t done a lot of game soundtrack work, it paid off with Bully. What Lee created was unlike any game soundtrack I had heard before and, really, unlike any I’ve encountered since.

Bully 2 is a game that many folks, myself included, want Rockstar to make. For me, it’s not just because I want another open-world game featuring teens running amuck and getting up to no good. I also want to hear what a follow-up to Bully’s original soundtrack in 2020 would sound like. If Shawn Lee were to return that would be great. But maybe a wholly different vibe and a new composer would be better, especially if we assume Bully 2 will be set in a new school with different characters. Whatever happens in the future, I’ll just be waiting here, listening to songs like “Beach Rumble.” I’m a patient man, and I got plenty of good tunes and games to keep me busy until Bully 2 releases sometime in the next 20 years.

That’s it for today’s Morning Music! Class dismissed. Go out and have some fun, but don’t forget your homework assignment: Leave a comment below telling us your favourite track from Bully or how much you want/don’t want a new Bully game. Or anything else you want to share with the rest of the class. See you tomorrow!

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