Ever since Grand Theft Auto III brought us the Scarface soundtrack and its sequel Vice City presented us with a magnificent selection of '80s cheese, licensed music has been of vital importance to the atmosphere of open-world action games.
The Saints Row series has been no exception to this rule, with a wide variety of contributing artists over the years. And Saints Row IV continues that proud tradition in a big way.
There are actually two main components to the soundtrack in Saints Row IV: there's a situational cinematic soundtrack by Malcolm Kirby Jr, and a licensed soundtrack from a variety of different artists. The former includes a combination of dynamic atmospheric, ambient tracks that respond to what you're doing in the open world at any one time and some more traditionally composed "event" pieces that accompany major battles. This original soundtrack means there's always something interesting going on in the background even if you have the in-game radio turned off.
The latter, meanwhile, sports a fine collection of music across a wide variety of genres. Like most other GTA-alikes, you can listen to one of several different virtual radio stations, with the licensed music interspersed with amusing banter from the shows' presenters -- some of whom are recurring characters from previous installments in the series. One notable difference is that you can keep the radio playing even when you're on foot -- a worthwhile change, given that once you gain access to some of the mobility-related superpowers, you'll probably be spending more time outside vehicles than inside. You can also set up your own custom "mix tape" including your favorite tracks.
There are seven in-game radio stations in total, each of which has a selection of 10-20 different tracks.
K12 97.6 focuses on electronic music such as dubstep, and includes tracks such as Eat My Apple by Alex Metric, Blow the Roof by Flux Pavilion and Slap Me by Kill Paris. The in-game Dubstep Gun weapon makes use of extracts from some of these songs as a surprisingly devastating offensive weapon. Wub wub wub.
The Mix 107.77 is a mix of '80s and '90s classics ranging from Stan Bush's The Touch to Lump by the Presidents of the United States of America, taking in Blur's Song 2 and Aerosmith's I Don't Want to Miss a Thing along the way. In keeping with Saints Row The Third's tradition of using the cheesiest possible licensed music rather than original soundtrack compositions during dramatic plot moments, this tends to be the channel from which such tracks are drawn from.
Klassic 102.4 features a combination of public domain classical music (ranging from Bach's Toccata and Fugue to Mars from Holst's The Planets Suite) and dramatic readings from literature. Longtime aficionados of the series may be able to guess some of the works you'll be hearing based on The Boss' canonical tastes in literature, but I won't spoil any here.
GENX 89 focuses on modern rock music, and takes in tracks such as Burn it Down by AWOLNATION, Howl by Beware of Darkness, Still Swingin by Papa Roach and Tightrope by Walk the Moon.
KRHYME 95.4, unsurprisingly, concentrates on hip-hop and rap. It includes tracks such as Gold by Macklemore, Go! by Killer Mike and Swimming Pools (Drank) by Kendrick Lamar.
FOUR20 103.6's focus is reggae and dub music, and includes a variety of different tracks such as You Never Get Away by Delroy Wilson, History of Jamaica by Early B, One Likkle Draw by Easy Star All-Stars and Fattie Boom Boom by Ranking Dread. The Australian censors probably don't like this one much.
Finally, Mad Decent 106.9 describes itself as "Rap Game Rave Killah," whatever that means, and includes tracks such as I.D.G.A.F.O.S. from Dillon Francis, Express Yourself by Diplo, Can't Ruin My Fun by Jahan Lennon and Rookie of the Year 2013 by Riff-Raff.
As longtime players of games like Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto will know, the music you choose to listen to while you're playing makes a big difference to the atmosphere of the game and how seriously you take it all. I defy anyone to not feel like a complete badass while kicking people in the balls to the unmistakable strains of The Touch.
If you're on Spotify and want to get in the mood for some open-world mayhem prior to the game's release, user "ProfPew" (actually Deep Silver's international community manager Maurice Tan) has conveniently set up a selection of playlists featuring all of the music in the game that is currently available on the music streaming service. You can enjoy it all via this link -- you'll need to sign in to your Spotify account to listen, though.