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Lyricless music is everywhere, and it’s good every time

Art by Brett Corpuz

I can assure you there are much better options than “bringing a bucket and a mop” in that one song. Granted, anything is better than that one song that shall not be named.

But this option is probably the best of the best: It’s a “genre” that provides something for everyone at any time, given how broad it is. It’s got something for when you are on that long car ride, something for when you need help falling asleep, and something for when you just want to relax. And if you’re like me, it’s got something for when you are procrastinating on a homework assignment sometime around midnight. Specifically an article you “forgot” about and desperately need to have finished by tomorrow.

Any time you need background music to your life, this music genre has something to offer. This is the world of lyricless, or instrumental, music.

As expected, lyricless music features songs without lyrics, just the instrumental. Therefore, you are left with the melodies that make a song iconic, without having to deal with the words being stuck in your head for who-knows-how-long. Take the Badgers’ song for example: Without lyrics, it has the same vibe, it’s just more tolerable.

One setting with great instrumental music examples is in video games. Other than the characters or visuals, a game’s soundtrack is one factor that makes some games stand out. Back in ye olde times, most video game music used chiptune, a robotic sound much associated with 8-bit style games. Chiptune is what made the unforgettable Route 1 Theme, the Super Mario Bros. Theme, or Tetris’s A Theme. Right as you read those names, I’m sure those tunes started playing in your head.

Of course, times have changed to where we have full orchestras playing as we try our 257th attempt at a boss fight. Video game music is no longer just background music. It is lines of thought-out notes that pull the player into the world, leading them to immerse themselves in the environment. Hollow Knight and Celeste are two great examples of this. The soundtracks for both games are as wonderful as they are rage-inducing.

Spoilers ahead, but in Hollow Knight, each boss battle and new area have music that couldn’t fit them any better. You can hear the heroicness with the Dung Defender’s tune, the royalty in the Queen’s Garden, the raindrop-like piano in the City of Tears, and even the thrill and rush with the Sisters of Battle.

And with Celeste, the whole game teaches the player how to get over obstacles both physically (with platforming) and figuratively (with story arcs that are developed through having to talk with a living embodiment of “part of yourself”). What better music to compliment a game about overcoming and persevering than some relaxing 8-bit style music to quell your anger throughout the journey?

I could go on and on about these two games alone, but sadly I must move on.

Art by Brett Corpuz

Of course, there are other video game songs that modern media has popularized, such as the Wii Shop Channel and Megalovania. These songs were popularized mainly for jokes, but even they have some sort of appeal to them. Wii Shop Channel is simple and catchy, while Megalovania is catchy in a completely different way.

What I’m trying to say is that most video game songs serve their purpose well, whether that purpose was for the memes or good world-building. So yes, Stal is good unironically.

Speaking of modern media, there has been a form of lyricless music that has started to blow up within this past decade. This is the lo-fi hip-hop genre. In short, lo-fi hip-hop is chill hip-hop beats with intentional small sound imperfections, such as radio static or record scratches. Thanks to all the talented music artists out there, there are lo-fi beats based on anything – from cartoons to video games to probably even Shrek! (I said that as a joke, but further research proves it does, in fact, exist.) And each beat, despite how random it can be, still delivers that relaxing vibe one grows to expect from a normal lo-fi hip-hop beat.

If you don’t know what your taste is, try the lo-fi radio YouTube livestream. Represented by either a studying girl or a raccoon, they stream a variety of beats 24/7. This way, you can see what type of lo-fi you’re into or just get those relaxing tunes any time you choose to procrastinate. The stream went on for more than 10,000 hours starting in 2017 before YouTube accidentally suspended the channel, causing them to restart the stream. The stream is back up and running with just as many viewers, showing the popularity of the genre.

Now, in terms of specific artists, I don’t have much to say about that. I think that all instrumental artists are great at what they do. However, I do have one recommendation, and that is Louie Zong on Youtube. He’s an artist and musician who mainly makes EPs, or mini-albums. I love how each one has its own tone and even emotion. He has a bunch of other songs and videos you could check out. More importantly, I encourage you to explore the entirety of this world I have brought to you today. Hopefully, you may even discover a new taste in music.

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