Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was, for a generation of current 20-somethings, many people’s gateway to punk, rock and hip-hop. The acclaimed skate series – which began in 1999 and quickly blossomed into a best-seller for creators Neversoft – packed not only high-octane action, with players dared to rack up high scores via impossible flicks and tricks, but also seriously memorable soundtracks, each featuring a who’s-who of music world rebels. Here’s 10 of our favourite tracks from across its 16-year history so far…
10. Goldfinger – ‘Superman’ (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater)
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s a fruity, ska-flavoured thriller from Los Angeles’ Goldfinger, whose pacy guitars and lyrics about caped hero-level feats of dare-devilry and “feeling younger all the time” were a perfect match for the cartoony colours and arcade action of the first Tony Hawk’s game in 1999.
9. Refused – ‘New Noise’ (Tony Hawk’s Underground)
There’s nothing better than a really long guitar intro that morphs into an acid house beat, followed by a blood-curdling metal scream. This era-defining classic from the recently reunited Swedes thrashes around like there’s no tomorrow, begging for punk to move in an exciting new direction. How the anti-capitalists felt about scoring your character leaping over a helicopter in the by-this-point mega-bucks series’ new story mode, we don’t know, but it was a hairs-on-end song for a hairs-on-end moment, that’s for sure.
8. The Mad Capsule Markets – ‘Pulse’ (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3)
Loud, aggressive and with 808s in thrall to the dawn of rave, this in-your-face slab of electronic punk from Japanese experimentalists The Mad Capsule Markets really is as crazy as their name suggests and could easily have been a Prodigy B-side. Instead, it was a standout moment from the series’ bigger, better third game in 2001.
7. Rage Against The Machine – ‘Guerrilla Radio’ (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2)
Such was the perfection of listening to this 1999 album ‘The Battle of Los Angeles’ standout while hurtling around sun-kissed Playstation vistas on a skateboard, for those who grew up on Tony Hawk’s games, it’s almost weird listening to it without a controller in hand, complaining as you stack a near-brilliant combo.
6. Anthrax featuring Chuck D – ‘Bring The Noise’ (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2)
Chuck teamed up with thrashy legends Anthrax to bring Public Enemy’s noise in a whole new way on the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 soundtrack. A 300mph masterpiece of rap-rock rage.
5. CKY – ’96 Quite Bitter Beings’ (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3)
A song so intrinsically linked to 1990s skate culture, in part thanks to MTV show Jackass, it is strange to think it took till the third Tony Hawk’s for it to appear on the soundtrack. That riff isn’t one you’ll be shaking off in a hurry – infectious, heavy, furiously good.
4. House Of Pain – ‘I’m A Swing It’ (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3)
“Because I’m not Phil Collins/I’m more like Henry Rollins,” boasts Everlast in a tune so groovy it probably has its own mountain range. Surely there’s no better reason to delve into House Of Pain’s often underrated back catalogue – there’s more to them than ‘Jump Around’, as this bellowing monster of a track proved.
3. Sham 69 – ‘Borstal Breakout’ (Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland)
A snarling, oi-led battle cry, you can’t get more punk than Sham 69. Hit play and let havoc be wreaked on your board. American Wasteland wasn’t the greatest Tony Hawk’s game, arguably trying too hard with a strange free-to-roam sandbox design, but its soundtrack was jammed pack of huge tracks like this.
2. Bad Religion – ‘You’ (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2)
We’re worshiping at the altar of Bad Religion for this rapid-fire sugar rush of melodic punk. Amen.
1. Millencolin – ‘No Cigar’ (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2)
A bracing, half-pipe-ready tune from these Swedes whose drilling guitars and defiant lyrics (“I don’t care where I belong no more“) made it the ultimate Tony Hawk’s song – frantic-paced, rebellious and with a pop-punk stream in keeping with the culture of skating. If only all anti-smoking propaganda came in the form of chug-a-minute sing-alongs like this…