Stubbs the Zombie’s Bizarro Throwback Soundtrack Perfectly Mixes Old And New

Image: Wideload Games / Kotaku

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s new, daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today we’re checking out the odd and catchy soundtrack to Stubbs the Zombie In Rebel Without A Pulse. You know… StZIRWAP! Rolls off the tongue.

Stubbs the Zombie (longplay) came out in 2005 and was developed by Wideload Games, a studio created by Bungie co-founder Alex Seropian. It was the studio’s first game and let players be the zombie, complete with the ability to infect others and turn them into zombies. Also, undead flatulence. The game is set during the late ‘50s in an odd futuristic city of tomorrow. In keeping with the theme of mixing the past with the future, Stubbs the Zombie’s soundtrack (VGMdb) consisted of 13 classic songs... covered by modern bands. It’s an oddball idea but it works, and might be the best thing about the game.

Have a listen:

Wideload Games / StubbsTheZombieStuff (YouTube)

I’m a sucker for classic rock and pop songs from the ‘40s,‘50s, and ‘60s. I listen to the Fallout 3 and New Vegas soundtracks far too often. I also dig weird music. So the Stubbs the Zombie soundtrack is perfect for me, and I love to share it with others. I mean, sure, you’ve probably heard Frank Sinatra’s famous “Strangers in the Night,” but you probably haven’t heard the Cake version of the same song. Well, let’s fix that.

Wideload Games / StubbsTheZombieStuff (YouTube)

What’s great about most of the covers on this soundtrack is that they are still clearly songs created by their respective band or artist. Nobody listening to Cake’s cover of “Strangers in the Night” is going to confuse it for the original or not instantly recognize it as a Cake song. (It’s the horn.) Listening to the songs I get the feeling that these bands had a lot of fun twisting these classics into indie rock jams. Did any of them really care about the video game Stubbs the Zombie? I doubt it. But they got paid to cover a classic song and goof around and you can feel and hear that in the music.

I also love how radically updated some of the songs are, like “My Boyfriend’s Back” which is covered by The Raveonettes. The original is a cheery, poppy little tune. It’s exactly the kind of music that you refer to as a tune. However, in the hands of Danish indie rock duo The Raveonettes, the song becomes a crunchy synth-filled rock song that will probably get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Sorry. (Not really sorry.)

Wideload Games / StubbsTheZombieStuff (YouTube)

While I enjoy almost every song on this wild soundtrack, I do have to single out Oranger’s cover of “Mr. Sandman” as my favorite. If you, like me, love the spooky season of late September into Halloween, I recommend adding this cover to your Halloween playlist. You could probably add most of this soundtrack to your playlist, but this particular cover of “Mr. Sandman” is perfectly creepy and dirty. It starts like the original and slowly evolves over the course of the song into something harder and very different.

Wideload Games / StubbsTheZombieStuff (YouTube)

Sadly, we never got the planned Stubbs the Zombie sequel. But with PS2/Xbox/GameCube era of gaming becoming more and more popular these days, perhaps a remake is in the cards? And if that’s the case, that might be a great excuse to get some more bands together to add weird new covers to this cult-classic soundtrack.

That’s it for today’s Morning Music! This is my first stab at Morning Music and I hope to keep my choices a bit strange or unexpected. And please feel free to discuss Stubbs the Zombie or literally anything else in the comments below. Or suggest some music you want covered in future Morning Music posts! Anyway, see you tomorrow!

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.


Faux Bravo

I never played Stubbs, which is weird because I was fully onboard with zombie mania back then. I mean, I kind of still am. And I don’t listen regularly, but I do like ‘50s and ‘60s rock, so this soundtrack looks pretty great. Though it doesn’t have any artists I’m particularly interested in.

I was briefly really into Burn, Zombie, Burn, and I was super excited that it had a Social Distortion-esque soundtrack.

I have plans this evening, which means I have about five solid hours to play video games this afternoon. So I’ll probably putter around on the internet and waste time watching Youtube or some other nonsense. I dunno why it’s so hard to just pick and start playing something.