You may – or may not – be familiar with cellist, composer and Classic Brit Awards nominee Tina Guo. Her stirring version of Skyrim’s Dragonborn theme (opens in new tab) has been viewed an incredible 5.3 million times on YouTube. She was the cello soloist on movies including Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man 2 and Sleepy Hollow; with composer and producer duties on Call of Duty: Ghosts. Oh, and she’s lending her electric cello skills to the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 soundtrack – more on that below.
Tina is perhaps most famous for her dramatic, cosplay-led, YouTube videos – we’re big fans of her enjoyably OTT Pokemon medley (opens in new tab) – and has worked with musicians including The Foo Fighters, The Smiths’ Jonny Marr and legendary movie composer Hans Zimmer. Basically, she has the kind of CV that makes you weep, and, to top it all, has recently been nominated for Female Artist of the Year at the Classic Brit Awards alongside Dame Vera Lynn, opera diva Renee Fleming and singer / actress Sheridan Smith.
Well, we say that, but Tina’s career has clearly been a pre-amble to this moment: choosing her 10 favorite video-game soundtracks for GamesRadar+. She may never say that with actual words, but we know it’s true. Without further pause to reflect on how we’ve dedicated our lives to collecting 51 Odin’s Ravens in God of War when we could have been touring the world as an internationally acclaimed cellist, here are Tina’s top 10 tracks.
10. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
“Epic, Huge, Giant Male Choir, War Anthem… what else can I say? :D”, says Tina. We’ll spare her blushes further and just post Tina’s *ever so slightly popular* version of the main theme from Bethesda’s RPG.
9. Silent Hill Downpour
“The soundtrack is incredibly moody and creepy, in a beautiful way. I love [composer] Dan Licht’s writing in Dexter, and this soundtrack definitely showcases his very original sound. The more melodic moments as much as the amazing sound effects and ambiance based tracks.”
8. Super Mario Bros
“A classic that brings me back to my gaming days with the little brother! The Ground Theme just makes me bounce side-to-side and all of the music is so feel-good and fun.”
7. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
“Another incredibly unique soundtrack by Austin [Wintory (opens in new tab)]! My friend Sandy Cameron recorded violin solos on this and I recorded on acoustic cello – and this was honestly the most difficult music I think that may have ever been written for a video game soundtrack in a more ‘traditional European art music aka classical style’.”
6. God of War (2018)
“Going back to my love for things Tribal (and aggressive, and massive, and masculine, and powerful!) I absolutely adore how Bear [McCreary]’s story behind “Memories of Mother” that was originally written for Kratos but repurposed to represent Atreus’ mother. My favorite though, is the main theme!”
“I’ve known Austin Wintory since college and this was the very first video game that I recorded on. I remember seeing the hand-written notes and recording them with Austin at his old studio in [The Jungle Book, Iron Man 2 and The Jungle Book composer] John Debney’s building across from WB. His incredibly unique style of writing and the many textures, tonalities, and dreamy soundscapes of this soundtrack was nothing like I’d heard before, and it was even more magical to hear the final mixes, after all the elements were recorded and mixed.”
4. Final Fantasy VII
“Ahhh! So magical and extreme in emotion and style. My favorite is Aerith’s Theme, such a beautiful melody that’s romantic and poignant, perfectly suited for such a pivotal event in the game.”
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (to be released Oct 12, 2018)
“I’m slightly cheating on this one since I just recorded some Electric Cello for my friend composer Jack Wall a couple weeks ago – the game won’t be released until October, but there’s some seriously heavy and badass writing in this! It’s industrial, grungy, tight, and so much heavy guitar-work.”
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
“Just hearing a few notes from anything in this soundtrack brings me back to memories of playing Super Nintendo with my little brother in his room, growing up! There’s so much amazing writing, and with the limitations of a fully synthesized soundtrack (no live instruments,) the notes and arrangements really speak for themselves. The Fairy Fountain Theme is my favorite if I had to choose!”
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
“I absolutely am obsessed with and adore anything tribal, and this soundtrack just does it for me! The traditional Polish folk instruments and singing are amazing – and I love that composer/music director Marcin Przybylowicz from Projekt Red brought in Percival to record their ancient ethnic instruments. I did a cover of this on my “GAME ON (opens in new tab)!” Album and Marcin was kind enough to send stems so that I could dissect exactly what was happening in the layers of the soundtrack. I did my best to re-enact my own “ethnic” version of this track on the Chinese Erhu, Finnish Jouhikko (bowed lyre), Electric and Acoustic Cellos, and I even “borrowed” some thin, long, decorative branches from one of Hans Zimmer’s studio bathrooms to record the snapping sounds as I wacked the bunches together. They were amazingly sturdy and only 1 branch broke just at the tip (sorry Hans!) I love the gorgeous lush darkness of the orchestration, vocals, ethnic instruments – the aggression, the passion, the primitive lust. Such an amazing blend of the old and new, I could listen to this soundtrack forever!”
The Classic BRIT Awards take place at the Royal Albert Hall on June 13th and airs on ITV on Sunday 17th June. For more information visit www.classicbrits.co.uk