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Civ IV's Baba Yetu Wins First Grammy For Video Game 88

quantumstream writes "Christopher Tin made video game history yesterday by winning a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for his song, Baba Yetu, featured prominently as the main theme song of Civilization IV. The composer, who wrote the song for his former Stanford University roommate Soren Johnson, has also seen the work featured at the largest choreographed water fountain in the world at the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai."
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Civ IV's Baba Yetu Wins First Grammy For Video Game

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  • Definitely deserved (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Monday February 14, 2011 @10:51AM (#35199100)

    Of all the video game music that could possibly qualify, this one is definitely deserving.

    It's just the Lord's Prayer in Swahili, but exceptionally well done.

    • I agree that it sounds pretty good,
      But all this just hammers home how much of a disappointment Civ5 is.
      • by anss123 ( 985305 )
        The YouTube video is a bit different than the OGG files that come with the game.

        It's "definitely deserving" in either form though.
      • Civ 5 is fun. The interface is good. The graphics are good. The music is good (maybe not Grammy-quality). The gameplay is interesting. The multiplayer is a disaster, but then there has never been good multi in Civ.

        I have noticed that I don't replay the game as much as I did previous Civs, but I assume that's because I have grown up, not because of the game. I can't find significant flaws in the game, although there were plenty in previous versions!

        I think it's my own maturity that's disappointing, not Civ V

        • by WuphonsReach ( 684551 ) on Monday February 14, 2011 @07:27PM (#35204562)
          Key issues:

          - The really bad happiness mechanic.
          - Having more of a luxury resource was pointless after the first one.
          - Easily exploited city-states. To the point where they imbalanced the game.
          - Poor game balance at release. Just absolutely horrid game balance.
          - Really *realy* poor AI at release.
          - 1 unit/tile stacking sounds neat, until you try and work with it in the ancient era.
          - Game board is way too small. If you're going to do 1/tile unit limits, then you need 4x to 6x more tiles for the same area. So if the hexes had been divided up into 6 smaller hexes, it might have actually been viable.
          - Mass simplification of so many attributes of the previous game.
          - There was way too much "throw the baby out with the bath water" to the design of Civ5. The young hot-shot developers were given too much free reign to put their "stamp" on the franchise, rather then keeping them in check and developing a better Civ4.

          I played about 40-60 hours worth in the first few weeks. Wanting to like it, trying hard to like it, but ultimately it was a severely flawed Civ release. I'm not surprised that it got really shitty reviews on Amazon (last check, almost 600 reviews and it barely averages a 2.3 out of 5.0). Hell, there are 593 reviews and 279 of them are 1-star reviews.

          They need to fire the lead designer who did Civ5 and look long and hard at what people liked about Civ4 and work that into the next revision of Civ5.
    • This was a triumph!!
    • by stjobe ( 78285 )

      As far as video game music goes, Age of Conan has a truly wonderful soundtrack.
      Here's just one (eerily beautiful) example: The Dreaming Anew - Memories of Cimmeria [].

    • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Monday February 14, 2011 @12:04PM (#35199868)
      My sister walked down the aisle to this music in December. Most people in the church didn't know it was from a computer game, the few I told were shocked. As a games programmer, I am proud that our artform is less of an artistic laughing stock today than it once was.
      • (In your signature, it says that "When argument against the man falls short, try arguing against the mother?" Is that right?)
    • Of all the video game music that could possibly qualify, this one is definitely deserving.

      That sounds quite condescending on game music. It was probably not your intention. In 1089 categories that the Grammy knows it's quite sad that there was only 1 entry from the Videogames industry.

    • I always enjoyed the Homeworld soundtrack. In fact they did too as it came as it's own regular CD in the box.
    • I have to agree, its the only time I've ever put a CD from a game in my car to listen to.

      Didn't actually know what it was though, it just sounded good and reminded me of some Deep Forest.

    • by Seumas ( 6865 )

      Yeah, except the game and sound track came out six years ago. Welcome to 2005, Grammys!

    • The lyrics are slightly more than just the the Lord's Prayer translated: it significantly repeats some sections and alters the overall order quite a bit. Someone at Civfantaics put up a transcription with an OK translation, Baba Yetu []
      A native speaker later put up a a much better translation. [] of some of the sections.

      That covers the song pretty well, so I won't re-tread that, but the the Swahili language Lord's Prayer I Googled didn't match up with the song, or the version in my bible, so here it is for anyon

  • Next year on the Grammy's award Star Trek Next Generation a grammy for this [].

  • I think we'll start to see video games regarded less as "kids' entertainment" and more for the artistic value and performances. I was actually surprised by the fact that Ed Harris and Gary Oldman had leading roles in COD: Black Ops, but not as surprised as my wife who loves to tell me what a big kid I really am. Not that I can really disagree but at least now I can argue that it's for the actual story and immersive effect the *real* actors add to the project.

    Now, how much longer before video games have thei

    • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

      ...but not as surprised as my wife who loves to tell me what a big kid I really am...

      The worst part is that when she does that, you can't just take your toys and go home.

    • by Seumas ( 6865 )

      I don't know about that. Most gamers may be around 34 years old, but most 34 year olds do not game. And the attitude about gaming being "for kids" isn't going to change any time soon, considering you are constantly hearing kids and teens on XBOX Live surprised when they're playing against guys that are in their late 20s or 30s or even 40s. Their attitude is very often "wait, why are you still playing games when you're 30?" as if it's equivalent to a 30 year old still playing with action figures or dolls.

      • Ehmm, these days almost everyone games. Just because they're not playing an FPS with a bunch of jackass 15 yr olds on Xbox live doesn't mean they're not gaming...

        Farmville is a game. Bejeweled is a game. World of Warcraft is literally overflowing with adults.

        • I agree with the WOW part. I know one actual child (my son) that plays WOW and the rest are adults. You can pretty much pick them out of a crowd, too.
  • The Grammy was actually won for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), but hey, when has accuracy in reporting been /.'s game?

  • who art in heaven hallowed by thy name... It really isn't a perfect translation but the song is basically "The lord's prayer" in Swahili.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Seumas ( 6865 )

      Yeah, but this is one of those cases where it's a beautiful song even despite it's despicable association by lyrics.

  • I always loved the music in Civ IV, especially this song, and Leonard Nimoy did a wonderful job on the quotations, here's a taste:

    The song is the "Our father" prayer in Swahili, if people didn't know.

  • by MoldySpore ( 1280634 ) on Monday February 14, 2011 @11:03AM (#35199214)
    Yea, as much as I liked Civ V, Civ IV definitely had more epic music and voice-overs. That intro music paired with narration and voice-over work by Leonard Nemoy makes Civ V's music and voice-overs seem lack-luster in comparison, and they are pretty good too! If they could combine the music and voice-over work from IV with the advancements in gameplay in V, you'd have an amazing Civ game.
    • by Inda ( 580031 )
      hmm. I've been playing the game without the music and the volume way down low so as not to annoy the other half.

      Have I missed something special?
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 14, 2011 @11:37AM (#35199498)

      So far we've had 5 games and all have been worth playing. None of them have been a "Oh my god, this is crap, why'd they release it?" sort of thing, but as you'd expect some are better than others. Those are the even numbered ones so far.

      Civ 1 was a good game, but a little simplistic and suffered from some bad design decisions, such as a civ being able to steal Automobile and instantly build tanks, regardless of other tech levels.

      Civ 2 was just an amazingly solid game. Detailed, yet pretty easy to play over all, no real design flaws, just a real top notch title, to the point is still one that people pine over (see things like Freeciv).

      Civ 3 was kinda meh. Not a bad game, but it seemed like a step back from Civ 2 in many ways. The graphics were better but the game play got way too much on the micromanagement, and the AIs didn't seem to be as good. All in all it was ok, but many people stuck with Civ 2.

      Civ 4 was just legendary. Best Civ ever. Beautiful graphics, solid game play, extremely flexible expansion system, etc, etc. Just a home run all around. Extremely popular, many expansions, many more mods, just Civ as it should be done.

      Civ 5 seems to again be a step back. Beautiful graphics and a solid engine behind everything, but a rather crappy AI and some questionable design decisions (like non-stacking units which lead to massive sprawl late game). Not a horrible game, but in more than a few ways one that doesn't measure up to Civ 4.

      That just seems to be the pattern. Hopefully this means that Civ 6 will once again be an amazing game.

      I should note that I don't hate Civ 5 (or Civ 3), just that I do feel it doesn't measure up to Civ 4. I also feel it was an overrated game. Most review sites gave it a 9-10 score. I think had it been from another studio, just a 4x game and not "Civ" it would have been 7-8 more realistically. Not poorly done, but some real room for improvement in a number of areas, particularly when evaluated against its predecessor.

      • And wouldn't you know it, I bought III & V.

        • You can get Civ IV Complete [] (Vanilla + 2 expansions & 1 mod) for $29.99 off of steam, and it's for both PC & Macintosh. If you're lucky, you might even catch it on sale. I picked it up for $9.99.
          • And it'll run on a 5 year old PC. Civ V, not so much.
            • That I noticed... I really had to lower the graphics for it to run smoothly on a 15" macbook pro.

              I was actually having more fun with Freeciv on the laptop and Civ Rev on the iPad.

      • To each his own. My rating is a bell curve with Civ 3 on top.

      • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
        "Civ 5 seems to again be a step back. Beautiful graphics and a solid engine behind everything, but a rather crappy AI and some questionable design decisions (like non-stacking units which lead to massive sprawl late game). Not a horrible game, but in more than a few ways one that doesn't measure up to Civ 4."

        After watching the debate in the online communities (mainly CivFanatics [], the general tenor of which is summed up in Sulla's article about the subject []) and playing almost 200 hours of the game myself,
      • I'd have to agree, Civ V is okay, but not nearly as good a game as Civ 4 was. While I'm okay with the non-stacking in Civ V, I do feel like it really cripples the AI as it's far less capable of handling the military strategy -- I've found myself able to easily handle opponents who are statistically much stronger than I am. This was true sometimes in Civ IV as well, but never quite to the same degree. I also strongly dislike the absence of tech trading. My favorite changes stem mainly from the naval chan

        • That's better than it used to be. I remember in Civ3 some dude with a spear destroyed my tank. I quit playing that day. I understand that all the units have % points assigned to determine the likeliness of a successful battle outcome, but not having a bronze-age spear thrower have an automatic 0% chance of success against units like a freaking *tank* was an asinine omission.

          • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

            It was worse in CIV 1.

            It was fairly likely even, like I would say 1 in 10 chance for a phalanx to take out a bomber.

          • Maybe it was a surprise attack while the tank crew was sleeping in their tents.
      • I've put a lot of time into Civ 1, 3, 4, and 5 (I am in a minority that wasn't a fan of 2). Civ 5 isn't perfect, but I don't think it's as bad (currently) as many people make it out to be. The AI had issues upon the initial release (which have improved with patches), but the AI in previous versions had many holes that created severe weaknesses also.

        I think that many weaknesses of the AI in some previous versions were hidden by the the AI's use of the SoD (Stack of Doom). You may find one-unit-per-tile to

        • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
          I'm mostly reiterating what was said in the article i linked in my earlier post in the thread, but there are two problems with the switch from the Stack of Doom system (SoD) to the one unit per tile system (1UPT), at least in regards to it being more tactical that way.

          First, to the extent that it is more tactical, is that really a good thing? Civilization has always been first and foremost a strategy game. Adding more tactical elements isn't a bad thing per se, but it is a problem when those tactical elem
  • Fountain Show (Score:5, Informative)

    by ahecht ( 567934 ) on Monday February 14, 2011 @11:08AM (#35199260) Homepage

    If you haven't seen the Dubai fountain show choreographed to Baba Yetu, you owe it to yourself to check out the amazing video on YouTube (uploaded by the composer): []

    • by MasJ ( 594702 )

      That's just awesome! I have seen the show a huge number of times but never with Baba Yetu as the accompanying track. I do remember that the Sharjah fountain at one point had Final Fantasy X's Suteki Da Ne as it's music. Wonder how the fountains here are so enchanted with video game music..

  • by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Monday February 14, 2011 @11:24AM (#35199374)

    Civilization with lyrics: []

  • well, that's gonna make the whole thing much more complex I think first this song..then what about all that amazing music videogames have? I can think of a bunch of songs that could very well qualify for an award. maybe it's something the tards at the grammy awards are gonna consider. I don't think there's anything out there that specifically awards video game music there? although I believe the guy who composed the music for ELDER SCROLLS OBLIVION did get some sort of award. and I think the
    • Honestly I thought some of the best music in videogames was in the original Homeworld. That is a game we need to see a sequel to sometime soon.
  • Damn it, thanks a lot - now the song's stuck in my head.

    I'm pretty sure I'd find it catchy even if I hadn't exposed myself to endless hours of it during CIV play over the years.

  • You can get the whole album from Tin's web site. I recommend it.

  • I think this is a fantastic move towards the progression of video games as artistic pieces. This piece was really well done and quite deserving IMHO. My favorite video game composers however would have to be Nobuo Uematsu (The Final Fantasy LEGEND) or Yasunori Mitsuda (Composer for Chrono Trigger.) Call me old-school, but that music is so incredibly simple yet stylish, that I rank them a cut above the rest. Another honorable mention, would be the composed works for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Just m
    • Mine is Yuzo Koshiro. Noable works = Streets of rage 2 and more recently wangan midnight maximum tune. Sad how these great musicians will probably never recieve the credit they deserve.
  • You can buy the track preformed from Video Games Live off iTunes. It's a great song.

  • All you have to do is write some world-music-ish crap with drums and African chanting and you get one. It's like they just can't control themselves.

    Not dissing the song, I love it, but somebody gotta call out their bullshit.

    • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
      You think the song is good, so clearly the problem is that it's got drums and chanting? I'm confused, do you think the Grammys should have a rule that only over-produced and auto-tuned pop/rock/hip-hop should win awards? It won the award for "Best instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists", which i agree is a rather nebulous category, but what song do you think should have won instead?
      • I was just poking fun at the whole Grammies and african-dudes-chanting cartel since Paul Simon introduced the fad.

        I love the song and I'm glad it got something.

  • I noticed in VGL, they used to have solo version with choir. I watched PBS' VGL, and they added another singer for a duet which I did not like. :(

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