I prefer games that don’t require much auditory attention so that I can listen to music while I play. Fall Guys is perfect for this since I can grind out match after match and not really miss out on anything. And while I generally prefer softer fare like The Mountain Goats or Phoebe Bridgers, I’ve found that the chaotic Death Grips are a perfect fit for this bean-based battle royale.
Listen to one Death Grips song and it shouldn’t be hard to understand why the group immediately became my go-to Fall Guys music. Every track is an auditory assault, with pounding beats and pulses of electronic static hurtling toward its inevitable conclusion. It’s like being caught in whitewater rapids that have somehow become sentient, determined to slam you against every rock. Something just feels right about watching several waddling beans crash through a fake door and fight against the tide of their fellow competitors as “The Fever (Aye Aye)” blasts from my television.
Death Grips is an experimental hip-hop trio based out of Sacramento, California. They initially gained online popularity in the early 2010s with the release of their first mixtape Exmilitary, and have since put out just under a dozen albums, most recently 2018’s Year of the Snitch. Where Fall Guys is silly and cute, Death Grips is almost the exact opposite thanks to frontman MC Ride’s menacing vocals, former Hella drummer Zach Hill’s brutal percussion, and engineer Andy Morin’s trippy production.
With talk—both ironic and serious—that Fall Guys is also an indictment of the human condition, I can’t help but find correlations between the way players conduct themselves during its mini-games and Death Grips’ lyrics, which often deal with violent themes of nihilism and misanthropy. I dare you to tell me MC Ride didn’t receive a vision of Fall Guys when he wrote “Flat line of chalk drawn ‘round the clock / too many marks dropped to count the stiffs” for 2012’s The Money Store. The paranoid atmosphere of “I’ve Seen Footage” is practically the theme song for those frustrating tail-grabbing games. I’m only half joking.
My favorite part of mixing video games and alternate music is finding the unique and random ways in which they often complement each other. During one run of Risk of Rain 2, for instance, David Bowie’s “Starman” linked up with a boss battle for a neat moment of cohesion. The boygenius track “Ketchum, ID” provided the perfect backdrop for long-distance Death Stranding deliveries. Mitski’s desperate vocals on “A Pearl” paired well with the constant search for sure footing that makes up the moment-to-moment gameplay of Downwell. I honestly feel like I play my best Fall Guys while listening to Death Grips.
I understand Death Grips might not be for everyone, and not even in a hipster “you just don’t understand it” kind of way. Their music is intense, so much so that I have to take a break every once in a while just to come up for air. But if you have a chance, queue up a couple Death Grips tracks next time you compete for a Fall Guys crown. You might just experience some of the same underlying beauty that I’ve come to enjoy during my sessions and, maybe, end up doing a little better thanks to having their chaotic energy at your side.