With a cackle and a crash, Rovio Mobile's Angry Birds stormed casual gamers' hearts like a lean-to made of glass, boulders and logs. Rovio, a tiny computer game company in Espoo, Finland, debuted Angry Birds, a mobile phone game, in December 2009.
Since then the Birds have become the number #1 paid phone app in over sixty countries, the subject of satire in Israel, amusement for airport-bound celebrities (including the Roots's ?love, who crowed recently on Twitter about beating all the AB Halloween levels), and even a shoutout from Conan O'Brien on a December 2010 episode of his show.
[jump] Like many pop culture phenomena, it's a simple but addictive concept: You swipe your finger across your phone screen and a bird sitting on a virtual slingshot flies into a skeletal structure filled with boobytraps and jeering green, egg-thieving pigs. Depending on a bird's shape and color, it can split into three, blow itself up like a bomb, or drop an egg-shaped charge onto a porker's head.
The sound effects are as much fun as the game. The birds make a keening war cry as they barrel into glass, stone and wood, while the pigs snort and chuckle derisively. When the birds take the day, they cackle in a raucous, infectious chorus. But most memorable is the rollicking theme music by sound designer Ari Pulkkinen, which pairs Raymond Scott with a touch of Eastern European modal spice.
Of course, when you're dealing with a genuine grassroots phenomenon coming in the YouTube era, you're going to get fan-made appreciations in song and art. While the musical tributes are fewer than the artistic ones, they're high quality and as fun to listen to as the original theme.
Here's five of my favorites.
Angry Birds theme by Genevieve Trio
Urbino, Italy's Genevieve Trio start off with a dolorous trduge on the accordion before the saxophone player jumps in and the piece rushes off on a herky-jerky run. By the end of the tune, you want to mop your own brow and hers. - just like after a classic tarantella.
Angry Birds theme from a child prodigy
Robwarriors62 notes in the caption for his YouTube solo piano rendition, "learned by 11-year-old ears." But the lad is not picking out the notes with two fingers: This is a masterful, fully arranged version of the theme -coming soon to a tutorial video near you.
Angry Birds for strings
Why they hide their heads, I don't know. Their arrangement for string quartet sounds like Bernanrd Herrman scoring the howdown scene from the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Which means it's pretty great.
Angry Birds vs. Queen
You know you've made it when you get a mashup and with Queen, no less. YouTube cross-media platform mashup artist Noy Alooshe speeds up Freddy just a hair and put him atop bouncing bird beats. Hilarious and danceable.
Angry Birds with extra sound effects
This hews closely to the original tune, but the birds practicing their scales at the beginning and the cadence of piggy grunts punctuating the arrangement really captures the game's silly spirit.
GOLDEN EGG (Bonus)
Sure, you can get three stars on a bazillion levels to get the Angry Birds bonus level Golden Egg #12 and hear the birds take on the theme themselves. Or you can just watch this clip.