Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).
Pop music, nine times out of 10, is about love—whether it’s the pursuit of somebody to love, an exploration of love’s nuances, or post-breakup revenge fantasies, love is what the people want, and it sells. As one of the biggest pop producers in Japan, Tsunku knows this all too well. While a number of the tunes he’s composed for Nintendo’s Rhythm Heaven series have been little more than catchy beats that accompany simple machines, animals, and sports, each of the three Heaven games has a number of songs that focus on that poppiest of emotions. None are as direct—or infectiously hip-shaking—as “Love Laboratory.”
As the first game in the series to be localized outside of Japan, a number of the songs with vocals had to be translated and re-recorded. Tsunku avoided that hassle here by keeping the vocals to simple whistles and hums. What ensues is a sweet jam of New Jack Swing-era R&B that would sit comfortably alongside Boyz II Men and Bell Biv DeVoe. The steady snare is grounding and familiar, while the bass synth has just enough funk to grab the listener’s interest. The swells, strings, and generic ’90s hip-hop sound effects keep the whole number at that perfect sense of timeless romance. The four-part harmonies are exciting but stay soft to maintain a sense of friendliness and—most importantly—intimacy, as the lead crooner reaches out to make a personal connection. It’s all about creating a warm, comfortable environment where we can lower our defenses and embrace love. We pick up on the patterns and we move in tandem with the song, simultaneously reactive and proactive. That’s chemistry.