First Ever Grammy Award for Video Game Score Goes to Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok Composer (PC Gamer)

The Grammy awards, considered among the most prestigious music awards in the world, have inaugurated a new category dedicated solely to games. The inaugural award in “Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media” was presented today, and went to Stephanie Economou, the composer behind the soundtrack for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok.

It was a fierce field, with Austin Wintory nominated for Aliens: Fireteam Elite, bear McCreary for Call of Duty: Vanguard, Richard Jacques for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and Christopher Tin for Old World. Of the candidates only Tin had previously won a Grammy—his history-making win(opens in new tab) for an arrangement of Baba Yetu, a piece he first composed for Civilization 4(opens in new tab). That was the first piece of music composed for a videogame to ever win at the awards show.

Economou, on the other hand, is somewhat of an underdog victory. Though she is an experienced composer and violinist, her scores for Assassin's Creed: Valhalla DLCs The Siege of Paris and Dawn of Ragnarok were her first outings in the world of videogame composition.

“I was thrilled to be able to do it, but truly I am — as the people in our videogame community would say – such a noob when it comes to videogame scoring,” said Economou in an interview with Billboard. “It’s tough to be nominated against these literal giants in videogame music, I’m so honored to be in their company, but also there’s a bit of like, do I belong here? And I think most artists sort of feel that to some extent, but I’m really honored and I’m really proud of the score.”

You can listen to the entirety of the Dawn of Ragnarok score on YouTube, where you can also find the Old World, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Aliens: Fireteam Elite soundtracks out there, in case you want to judge for yourself if the award was warranted.

The soundtrack for Dawn of Ragnarok is a fierce one, dominated by sounds more at home in neofolk or black metal music, and features vocals and songs by Einar Selvik, a drummer for the band Gorgoroth.

Full article available here.

Soundtrack available via Lakeshore Records here.

Oscars 2022: Best Original Score (IndieWire)

The race for Best Original Score is marked by experimentation and invention, highlighted by the innovative frontrunner “Dune,” “The Power of the Dog,” “Spencer,” “Cyrano,” “King Richard,” “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” “Nightmare Alley,” and “Candyman.” Plus, two animated musicals — both graced by the songwriting chops of the very hot Lin-Manuel Miranda — experiment with the cultural sounds of Colombia and Cuba: Disney’s magical “Encanto” (from Germaine Franco, the studio’s first woman composer to score an animated feature), and Sony/Netflix’s “Vivo” (scored by Alex Lacamoire).

Jonny Greenwood achieves his own masterful musical invention for Jane Campion’s psychological western, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix). Inspired by the repression and savagery of Montana rancher Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch), Greenwood twists orchestral instruments into unique sounds to convey his loneliness, isolation, and yearning set against the beautiful landscape and his prison-like ranch house. A cello becomes a banjo for a unique sophistication, an atonal piano evokes pain, and French horns and strings have an aching quality. Greenwood essentially turns his score into a nightmare. (Greenwood also contends for “Spencer,” Pablo Larraín’s fable about the painful Christmas holiday of ’91 for Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana. His score is about the colorful chaos of jazz set against the traditional orchestra that represents the Royal family. It starts with a baroque orchestra that mutates into free jazz by substituting instruments, one at a time, with the jazz performers.)….

In a season blessed by experimentation and invention, Hans Zimmer's "Dune" frontrunner goes up against Jonny Greenwood's "The Power of the Dog."

“King Richard”
“The Power of the Dog”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”

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Grammy Awards Taking Video Games Scores Seriously (Variety)

One of the biggest factors of any video game is its music, which, like film or TV composition, provides the engaging aspects of storytelling, but also supports the narrative, often in creative and daring spaces.

Adds Steve Schnur, worldwide executive and president of music for Electronic Arts: “The video game industry is now bigger than movies and music combined, its creative impact increasingly defining our global culture. Awarding a Grammy to a creative triumph in this medium would help ensure the Recording Academy’s credibility to next-gen entertainment. And if numerous Oscar, Emmy, BAFTA and Grammy-winning composers can embrace this visual medium with the same artistry and respect they’ve brought to film and television, then this is the year that the recording industry must do the same.”

Up for consideration are Hildur Guðnadóttir and Sam Slater for “Battlefield 2042.” Gudnadottir made Oscar history when she scooped up the Oscar for best original score. The win landed her in the history books for becoming the first female Oscar score winner in 23 years.

Last year, the video game industry was worth over $90 billion and players spent $4.5 billion on immersive gaming, making it one of the fastest-growing industries.

Read full Variety article here