Trailers, screenshots, and now box art. Grand Theft Auto V is close, and so are the new batch of radio stations. The series is constantly praised for its diverse selection of tunes, which captures the popular music of the time. Every station has a nostalgia factor almost as strong as the games themselves, as the tunes conjure up images of cruising around Vice City or racing in downtown Los Santos. So while we wait for GTA V, we’re counting down the top five radio stations from the GTA series.
5Double Clef FM – GTA III
There was something strangely suitable about Double Clef FM. While you massacred pedestrians with your recently acquired Mafia Sentinel, the lilting tones of La Donna E Mobile wafted in and out of your stereo, calming the atmosphere inside the vehicle. The music was intoxicating, but the clever juxtaposition of soothing and horrific sounds added a dementedly sinister note to your violent rampages. No one associates the opera loving upper-class with homicidal acts, and classical music isn’t unanimous with violence. Pairing the two is so dark and deranged that doing so made you feel like a maniac. Double Clef FM put a menacing smile on players, and let them unleash their inner lunatic.
4Radio X – GTA: San Andreas
Apathy, indifference, whatever. Despite the deluge of gangster rap and urban beats, grunge and alternative rock had raced to the top of the charts in the early 90s, while some hold over 80s metal acts stood their ground, keeping the raw edge of rock rolling into the new decade. Bouncing between metal and grunge, Radio X captured the lethargy of American youth who only wanted to complain about the system that strove to derail them into a life of social servitude. And it does it with a rocking soundtrack.
While the music was great, the jabs at corporate attempts to cash in on Gen-X are what made it memorable. Sage, the stations host, perfectly personified the misguided youth, dropping pearls of wisdom between tracks. She favoured anti-social behaviour, lived for anti-authoritarianism, and did it all between advertisements for cars, clothing and consumer goods. Sage represented everything that big business used to appeal to Gen-X, and she did it with some amazing songs.
3WKTT We Know The Truth – GTA IV
Take one giant middle finger, make it into a radio station, and direct it at western society. The result is WKTT, a hilarious and kind of depressing satirical swipe at popular culture. Depressing, because although the programs are over the top, they’re grounded in a reality that’s less than a stone’s throw away. The plastic-fantastic paparazzi on Fizz tear the celebrity worshipping culture to shreds, Judge Grady perverts American justice on Just or Unjust, and Richard Bastion saves America from itself with The Richard Bastion show. Grady is loud, offensive and blatantly sexist, everything that the entertainment industry supposedly needs to spice up a courtroom drama.
Every piece of dialogue in these shows is hilarious, but neither quite compare to the unsubstantiated, neo-conservative rants of Richard Bastion, the self proclaimed saviour of America. As he spouts jingoistic, racist and anti-liberal (American liberal) hate speeches across the airwaves, there’s a nagging sense that maybe he’s not so fictional after all. He satirises the attitudes of close-minded, ultra-conservative individuals, and their desire to be the loudest person in the room, reminding us that anyone who holds these views is a living joke. Bastion and his listeners are fuelled by their own egotism, and want nothing more than to sit in a room and listen to their own opinions on repeat, making them hilarious, but tragic figures. Conservative public vindication at its finest.
2Flash FM – GTA: Vice City
Vice City’s soundtrack represents the finest collection of songs ever to grace a Grand Theft Auto game, with each station more perfect than the last. Why? Because they represent the period, and none more so than Flash FM. As well as showcasing some of the best popular tracks of the decade, each complements the characters and environment to create the distinctly 80s feel that Vice City is renowned for.
Whether you’re cruising into the sunset pumping Brian Adams, or trying to make a get away to the harmonious chords of Hall and Oats, these songs made you think of sun-worshipping, leisure suits and synthesisers. You didn’t have to be born in the 80s, you didn’t have to know about 80s music, hell, you didn’t even have to really like 80s music. But once you started cranking Video Killed the Radio Star, everything in Vice City just seemed right. Basically, it was just so 80s.
1V-Rock – GTA: Vice City
V-Rock took as much of the best of 80s rock and metal as it could and crammed it into a glorious hour of aggressive shredding, powerful drumming, and epic singing. While the other stations rely on humour or nostalgia factors, V-Rock can survive solely on its songs, all of which still stand strong today. V-Rock struck the balance between thrash, classic metal and the then current wave of hair and glam, dishing out hit after hit of pure metal mayhem. It was the radio station that kept you in your car just so you could hear the closing solo of I Wanna Rock. It was the radio station that metal heads wanted in real life, but we couldn’t get it. So we turned to V-Rock.
To be a metal head in the 80s meant to be a rebellious bastard. From the outside, fans of the music were to be feared as angry, aggressive antisocial people (except for the glam rockers who spent most of their time doing coke and having sex). In reality, most of these ‘rebels’ had boring day jobs and wore name tags to work. Nevertheless, if you liked metal, you were apparently hardcore, a position that V-Rock blasted into the face of its listeners with a 12-gauge shotgun. Some of the best ads in any GTA come from V-Rock, ie “Lock up your daughters. Shoot your sons… DAD! [bang] Because Love Fist is coming to town.” And then, there was Lazlow. Early Lazlow put himself on a pedestal above the bands, the fans and even the radio, acting like a broadcasting prodigy who had come to change the face of the airwaves. Despite all his talk, he’s just another pathetic figure, who lacks any form of self-awareness.
V-Rock was definitive slice of the 80s, filled with tunes that are as popular today as they were back then. It was a land where debauchery was cool, drug and alcohol excess were the norm, and men insisted on looking like women in spandex. To get there, all you had to do was steal an Angel, grab a shotgun and crank up Raining Blood.
Emotion 98.3, VCPR, MSX FM, Chatterbox FM, K-DST, Radio Los Santos, K-Rose, Electro-Choc, JNR 108.5, The Journey, Liberty Rock Radio 97.8.
Surely you have a favourite radio station from the GTA series, comment below and let us know!