Game That Tune

Saints Row: The Third

Larger Than Life

For its grand finale, Saints Row: The Third takes a musical cue from Footloose.

By Derrick Sanskrit • July 18, 2013

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).

“Where have all the good men gone, and where are all the gods?” These are the questions posed by Bonnie Tyler at the start of her dancehall magnum opus “Holding Out For A Hero.” As the climactic ballad from the 1984 film Footloose, the song underscored the David-and-Goliath battle of a young Kevin Bacon against a town of authority figures who, basically, outlawed happiness. It’s a tremendous pop song that has endured through the ages thanks to its theatricality and sense of free-wheeling rebellion. It also plays on loop through the final mission of Saints Row: The Third.

“Where’s the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds?” Tyler continues, practically describing the plot of the game—a street punk and their gangster friends overcoming obstacles that constantly escalate in ridiculousness from zombies to laser-blasting experimental jet planes. A chorus of angels cry for help over the mountain of furious ’80s drums. Horn blasts punctuate the intensity of the struggle, and a flurried keyboard arpeggio quickens the pulse. Everything about this song is big—nay, huge. The conflict is immense. She’s not just waiting for a hero, she needs one. Hearing this song loop as you make your final decision—to exact revenge on a rival crime boss or rescue your friend on the other end of town—serves as a welcome reminder that after all the crime and debauchery, you’re still somehow the good guy. What you are doing is not only right, it is righteous. You’ve got to be larger than life.

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27 Responses to “Larger Than Life”

  1. PugsMalone says:

    A lot of people don’t know that this is a rehash of Stark Raving Love, a song from Jim Steinman’s solo album Bad For Good.

  2. I’m kinda glad they went with the ‘Save Shaundi’ ending as the canonical ending of SR3.  That said, taking down the STAG carrier and declaring Steelport a sovereign state both felt great and perhaps make more sense if Saints Row 4 President is going to be so ‘political’?  In the silliest possible way, that is.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Spoilers, man!

      No, not really. I can’t imagine there are any REAL spoilers for this game. Which I just got into like last week thanks to Steam and I like it. I don’t love it, but it scratches the itch GTA4 hasn’t been handling.

    • 2StoryOuthouse says:

      I feel like they HAVE to go with that ending… once this song starts up, how could my sassy, obese, exhibitionist, heavily tattooed Latina not go save her friends? I’d feel like a real asshole if I ignored Bonnie Tyler’s plea to be a hero… much more than I ever felt calling in airstrikes on city corners.

      • Boonehams says:

        My introduction to this song was with the final scene of Short Circuit 2.  In the context of that movie, it’s used as the build up towards vengeance as Johnny 5 pursues the villain, Oscar, for betraying and nearly murdering him.
        Having seen the movie when I was very little, it must’ve left quite an impression on me because when “Holding Out For A Hero” started blaring in Saints Row 3 and I was given the choice of saving Shandi or destroying Killbane, I literally said out loud, “Oscar, you will not get away! I am really PISSED OFF!”R.I.P., Shandi, Viola and Burt Reynolds. Perhaps you all would’ve been saved if another song had come on.

        • djsubversive says:

          You can go back and play that mission again when you’re done. It’s the only non-DLC mission that lets you do that, so that you can see both endings.

        • Boonehams says:

          Yeah, I went back and redid the mission almost immediately after the credits rolled.  The ending where you pursue Killbane…. Man, that’s a bit of a downer, especially considering the light-heartedness of the rest of the game.

  3. neodocT says:

    It’s very early on, but that moment in SR3 where you descend on the penthouse and Kanye’s Power plays was the defining moment in that game for me, though Holding Out for a Hero is much more hilarious.

    And this probably isn’t the right place to post this, but Deadly Premonition is on Steam Greenlight right now, so everybody go and vote for that! I haven’t actually played it, but it seems pretty interesting. It’s certainly sounds like one of those flawed but fascinating games, and I’d definitely grab it if it got a PC release.

    • And how about when you and Pierce sing along to Sublime? Perhaps the best unexpected/wholly unnecessary/awesome touch in a game that’s full of them.

      • I was quite fond of, near the conclusion of the end credits, how they played all of the player vocal track recordings for this on top of each other. You basically had six voice actors (seven if you count Pierce) singing “What I Got,” noticing each one’s little ad-libs and shots of personality. Almost made me forget how much I am really incredibly sick of that song.

      • neodocT says:

        I don’t think that struck me quite as much because I’m mostly mercifully unfamiliar with Sublime, but I generally love the use of music in the game.

      •  You really should try SR2, there were a bunch of songs from the soundtrack of that game where The Boss would just start singing along.  I noticed it when the Achievement for that popped up and she (because of course The Boss is a female) started singing along to “Take On Me” badly.  It was great!

        • djsubversive says:

          The A-Ha singalong was great. And every voice had a second song that they would sing, too, but I forget what they all were.

          Also, yes, The Boss is female. Just like Shepard. I don’t know why people are confused about this. :)

  4. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    In kindergarten, my father would drop me off at a friend’s house in the morning for me to stay at until school opened, then I could walk the two blocks from there to school.

    One morning I fell asleep next to the stereo playing either Holding Out For A Hero or Total Eclipse Of The Heart, or maybe both back to back…and I had the first “adventure dream” I can remember, with me a knight trying to rescue a princess from a tower.

    At the climactic moment in the song, I grabbed a rope, swung through a stained glass window and saved her.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Thankfully you didn’t fall asleep watching the VIDEO for “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” That’s some David Lynchian nightmare fuel right there.

    • neodocT says:

      I am unapologetic in my love of Total Eclipse of the Heart. That song is amazing, and it is by far my favorite end-of-the-night-already-too-drunk-to-sing-but-maybe-one-more-song song when I go to karaokes. 


      • Girard says:

        The song is for me inorexably intertwined with well-meaning but over-earnest pantomime skits done at adolescent church retreats, which gives it added camp value, but makes it pretty much impossible to appreciate unironically in any fashion.

        • neodocT says:

          I get that. It’s absolutely a campy song, but so heartfelt that I can’t help but love it. Something about Bonnie Tyler’s raspy voice makes me feel she means it, man.

  5. Roswulf says:

     I wonder how dramatically the player base’s choice between saving the girl and taking out the bad guy is skewed by Holding Out for A Hero.

    I’d love to compare the decision stats between the standard soundtrack and a hypothetical version that pumps…I don’t know…Verdi’s Dies Irae for a comparably awesome/cheesy track nudging the player towards vengeance.

    • Boonehams says:

      My first introduction to this song was the final scene of Short Circuit 2.  In the context of that movie, it’s completely used as the build up for vengeance as Johnny 5 pursues the villain, Oscar, for betraying and nearly murdering him.

      Having seen the movie when I was very little, it must’ve left quite an impression on me because when “Holding Out For A Hero” started blaring in Saints Row 3 and I was given the choice of saving Shandi or destroying Killbane, I literally said out loud, “Oscar, you will not get away! I am really PISSED OFF!”

    • djsubversive says:

      Saving the girls (and Mayor Fuckin’ Reynolds) was the obvious choice. Eddie’s already been beaten and unmasked by then. There’s nowhere he can go that the Saints won’t be able to find him, not that it matters. Killbane is finished and the Syndicate is ruined.
      I like that they give you the option to replay that mission when you’re done, so you can get the other ending. I wish they had kept the mission-replay-news-board for the rest of the game, though.The only reason to do the QTE-laden Eddie fight is because it ends with The Boss declaring Steelport’s independence from the United States. Also, it looks like Volition is smashing the two endings together and making them both canon for Saints Row IV (still think “Saints Row Goes Fourth” would have been a great title). President of the United Saints AND Viola and Shaundi being not-dead.

  6. PaganPoet says:

    When I first heard this song in-game, I was confused. I didn’t remember being transported to the 80s room of Tracks (the biggest gay dance club here in Denver).

  7. Knarf Black says:

    The song also provides the basis for Sam Rockwell’s biggest laugh in the amiable but otherwise flat Summer movie: The Way, Way Back.

  8. CNightwing says:

    Shame they couldn’t give her as good as song in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

  9. Gougagna says:

    The real interaction with the music made the game for me.  In GTA’s radio world, there doesn’t feel like there is a connection between the characters and the stuff they are hearing.  Having the Boss and others sing along make just a little bit of a stronger connection with the world.  As goofy and preposterous as the SR world is, it’s just a bit more real to me because of it.