Steam had a SEGA sale a couple weeks ago and I found myself hovering over Sonic Adventure 1 & 2 for under $10. Without much of a thought I sent those two digital copies over to my virtual cart, handed Steam the dough, and waited around a few minutes for my new old games to install. I’ve played the Sonic Adventure games pretty excessively in my childhood, unlocking the true Super Sonic endings in both games, raising Chao like they were my own offspring, and damn near speed-running Adventure 2 into the ground. Or well, at least, it felt like it.
You would think I bought these to play out of nostalgia, to reminisce on my Sonic-loving childhood. Well, I have a confession to make. I really bought these games so I could listen to their insanely cheesy pop-rock songs in their (somewhat) original form. That’s right, I absolutely love the Sonic songs everyone else loves to make fun of.
I can’t even blame nostalgia on this. Maybe if I only enjoyed songs like “Live and Learn” and “Escape from the City” then I could get a pass from all the cool kids but that’s not the case. Ever since Sonic Adventure released I’ve been regularly listening to the soundtracks at least once or twice a year. I’ve even bought tracks off of iTunes from Sonic Adventure, Sonic Colors, and Sonic Generations. And yes, yet again, they aren’t the stage songs, they are the lyrical ones. Is something wrong with me?
I sometimes have to ask myself just that because here’s the thing: I don’t understand all the hate for this music. I really don’t. And it’s not like I’m some weirdo who doesn’t listen to and appreciate “good” music. My eclectic tastes have had me falling in love with so many bands and artists ranging from The Beatles to Stevie Wonder, to A Tribe Called Quest to Foo Fighters. And while I’m absolutely not saying that the songs by Jun Senoue and Co. compare to the greats, they’re just plain fun to listen to.
Take “Escape from the City” for instance. The very first notes you hear come from an incredibly bouncy and entertaining bass line. Then the lyrics come in with a nice “Wooo! Aw Yeah!” like something out of the ’80s and by the time the song all comes together, I’m filled with joy. The lyrics? Yes, they are cheesy. Yes, they basically describe Sonic and his lifestyle. Again, I don’t see what’s so awful about that.
It’s like we as a people have a hard time getting behind positivity. It’s easier to put stuff down because it makes us feel powerful in our own chaotic, often uncontrollable lives. The most popular TV shows I can think of right now like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are literally about dealing with the absolute worst situations you can think of. I like those shows, but sometimes I feel disgusted with them. It’s okay to get behind something as cheesy and bright and dumb as Sonic the Hedgehog and its music. When I’m feeling down, listening to “It Doesn’t Matter” is actually uplifting to me.
I guess what it all comes down to is that I’m just as cheesy as these songs. Yet another confession! But seriously, I’ve always thought Sonic was actually a good character. Not necessarily the deepest or most enjoyable but between the games, cartoons, and comics he was able to develop a personality and a message. Mario wasn’t saying anything important. He just saved a princess, ate some shrooms, and stomped on turtles. Sonic has always had a positive attitude, believed in doing your own thing, and never giving up. For a kid like me, whose parents were divorced, moved around a lot, and always felt like a bit of an outsider, that message really spoke to me. Even today it still does. Live and learn and keep on running, kids.