8-bit music, also known as Chiptune, is a made by using sound chips found within early gaming systems and microcomputers. Inside the eclectic and burgeoning community of musicians that formed around creating original works from this relatively ancient technology, there's a whole subcommunity within it that specifically makes 8-bit covers of pop songs. The results are beyond entertaining: some covers actually make a decent replication of the original song, others make fun interpretations that sound more like Zelda Super Nintendo soundtracks than covers of rock songs.
1. Daft Punk-"Get Lucky"
On Daft Punk's latest controversial album, Random Access Memories, the electronic duo threw out their old production method that utilized heavy sampling in order to create an organic live band experience. Fortunately for all of Daft Punk's earlier fans, this chiptune cover brings back the band's older, more robotic sounds. In an alternate reality where Daft Punk consulted a Game Boy color instead of Niles Rodgers, this might have been the successor to "Technologic."
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers-"Californication"
I never expected to bang my head along to an 8-bit song, but this cover of "Californication" knows how to bleep-bloop pretty hard. The bass parts even sound closely similar to Flea's dirty bass lines in the original, and the bridge has as much fire as the Californication album art.
3. Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody"
It would be difficult to replicate a song such as "Bohemian Rhapsody" that features layered operatic vocals along with numerous tempo and structure changes in real life, let alone in an 8-bit cover, so this interpretation of Freddie Mercury's theatrical rock song offers a more subdued approach. The tones are often light and twinkly, as opposed to Mercury's signature falsetto.
4. Eurythmics, "Sweet Dreams"
It appears that the closer a musical release gets to 1987, the more faithful these 8-bit covers sound to their original sources. Minus Annie Lennox's sinister vocals, this could pass as an instrumental track for the song.
5. Calvin Harris, "Summer"
Here's a more recently released song, and also one of this week's Tunes of the Day at Chromatik. "Summer" is a garish EDM tune that gives you no opportunity to breathe with its golden synths. This cover adds some squelch to the original's pristine, yet blaring production, sounding like something Passion Pit might make if they headlined EDC instead of Coachella.
6. Coldplay, "Paradise"
Like Queen, Coldplay often deploy rich theatrics in their songs that make it difficult to accurately replicate. Unlike the Queen 8-bit cover, however, this "Paradise" remake aims at creating luscious, epic synth tones. Of course, it's not match to the original, but the novelty isn't wasted.
7. Talking Heads, "This Must Be The Place"
These last two 8-bit covers get a bit artsier. Unlike some of the more ambitious covers on the list, this "Naive Melody" cover sounds straight out of an 80s arcade game about a scrappy crime-fighting anthropomorphic rat. The chiptune sounds give a bite to the relatively smooth and funky instrumentals of the original.
8. Miles Davis, "So What"
If you're a pop music aficionado, jazz music might not be your thing; however, this cover of Miles Davis' "So What" might be both the most entertaining and unique song on this list. In place of Miles' signature minimalist trumpet performing are squelching, glitchy computer bleeps far removed from the languid jazz lounges of the early 60s. This is abrasive and chaotic, but in a free-form manner that would make the more experimental side of Davis proud.
Enjoyed these covers? Record your own interpretations of songs like "Summer" and "Sweet Dreams" on Chromatik today.