Video Game Parody Song Battle: BioShock vs. Portal
This has been a very good year for the small, but awesome genre of video game parody songs, and today I thought we'd pit the best so far against each other to see which one is truly the better effort. They come from two series that I love completely equally, so there's no bias in that regards. Let's get to it.
In This Corner: UK musician and comedian Harry Callaghan had a massive YouTube hit with his meshing of the Nightmare Before Christmas' "This is Halloween" and the cast of Portal 2 called "This is Aperture." Recreating the voices of GLaDOS, Wheatley, the turrets, and Cave Johnson all himself with a whole lot of autotuning. The result is a catchy as hell digital romp through the Aperture testing facility that gained applause from the makers of Portal themselves. He's since gone on to follow it up with several other parodies.
And In This Corner: Callaghan's opponent is an American musician and comedian called Brentalfloss who's made his name adding lyrics to video game themes like Mega Man 3. Here he brings an amazing period-specific song that pays tribute to the undersea libertarian experiment that is the city of BioShock's Rapture. Though the game takes place in 1960, many of the inhabitants have been there since 1946, the same year that Bobby Darin released "Beyond the Sea," which "The BioShock Song" borrows heavily from. It hasn't taken off like "This is Aperture" has, but it's still not any failure in terms of hit count.
Which is the Better Song Musically?: Well, you're talking something based on Danny Elfman's best musical score against a tune that calls to mind one of the greatest stands of all time. Both songs accurately capture the musical mood of the games that they're showcasing. Though "The BioShock Song" has a more impressive orchestration, the minute detail that Callaghan put into recreating "This is Halloween" in the Portal style is slightly more impressive. Or maybe I'm just too turned on by beeps and boops. Point to Portal.
Which is the Funnier Song: Here's where Brentalfloss shines. His biting sarcastic delivery of the societal breakdown in the underwater city is spot-on, full of little touches that dedicated players will thoroughly guffaw over. It's punny, witty, and just all around a comedic song masterpiece. Comparatively, "This is Aperture" isn't actually very funny, which is a little weird when you consider how hilarious the games themselves are. Point BioShock.
Which is the Better Music Video: Except for some original cartoon animations Brentalfloss' effort is in the end just video game footage. Callaghan benefits from the assets that Valve makes available to fans to create something that honestly does feel like the touring production number that he borrows from. You indentify more with the characters since they're doing the singing while Brentalfloss is simply singing over the action. Point Portal.
Winner: It's hard to argue with 3 million hits. "This is Aperture" is the better tune, but "The BioShock Song" is a solid number 2 that was a worthy adversary.