Video games and pop music are two unlikely things that somehow go great together if they’re done properly. Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Rock Band… Then there’s the weird video game homages in music, like Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication.” Which was more of a crazy animation experiment by some college kid than an actual video game homage, but it was cool all the same.

Complete with appropriate graphics at the time! Still looks better than an Xbox!

Around 2004, some guys must have saw that Californication video while on a 2AM drinking binge and thought that these ideas should be combined into a TV show. The result is one of the most bizarre combinations of music and video games that I’ve seen since some anime character appeared in some Japanese creepy idol-managing simulator: MTV2’s Video Mods.

One of the lesser-known shows of MTV2’s library, which consisted mostly of Beavis & Butt-head reruns and that one show that Seanbaby worked on (oh, and music videos), Video Mods was a strange concept: Some dudes would make a music video of a popular song and put it in relation to some recent video game. It sounds weird on paper, so the best way to explain it would be to show one of these “video mods”:

Who knew this was his day job when not converting to the dark side?

You’re not going insane. That is Anakin Skywalker of Star Wars fame, lip-synching to the dulcet tones of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out,” while footage of that godawful Star Wars Episode III video game plays sporadically over really bad CG footage. Go ahead and laugh, I’ll still be here. Now that you’ve probably have laughed yourself to death at how stupid this is, let’s continue.

This is MTV2 Video Mods in a nutshell. It’s a music video show, but with dumb video game tie-ins that don’t really fit. It sounds like an incredible idea that will revolutionize music and video games forever. Sorry, but this is absolutely awful. It’s awful because the songs barely have any relation to the games being featured and looked like they were done by college freshman as resume fodder. Bad lip-syncing, bad animation that makes poser animations look like Disney’s Toy Story, all mixed in with occasional game footage to make these seemingly unrelated things tie together haphazardly.

If you thought the Anakin Skywalker and Franz Ferdinand combination made no sense, here’s a sampling of some of the other fine efforts these guys did over the course of a year and a half:

– Darth Maul singing Foo Fighters’ “DOA” to footage of Star Wars Battlefront II.
– Random characters singing Queens of the Stone Age’s “Little Sister” outside the cafe of Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit for those non-Americans out there).
– Fairies used for NVIDIA tech demos showing their teenage angst by flying around empty rooms singing Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life.”
– Two random Sims from The Sims 2 and Urbz: Sims in the City, some character from SSX 3, and a random mech from Tribes: Vengeance replacing the Black Eyed Peas, mimicking the music video to “Let’s Get It Started.”
– A scene-for-scene recreation of Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” in The Sims 2.
– And the most dumbest video mod out of all of them: The Beastie Boys rapping “Oh Word?” on a basketball court as a vague tie-in to NBA Street V3. This is one that needs to be seen to be believed, seriously:

Granted, not all of the videos featured were bad CG recreations of Bloodrayne singing an Evanescence song. Some of the mods were actually submitted by gamers during the early machinima boom, one example was G-Man from Half-Life 2 lip-synching to Breaking Benjamin’s “So Cold,” which was pretty cool at the time. But the rest of them are so hilariously awful.

Video games have yet to really be “accepted” by the mainstream audience as something that isn’t for pasty white nerds. While we’re slowly getting there, we’re still a bit far away from it, if Spike TV’s Video Game Awards are any indication. If this was MTV’s way of trying to make video games mainstream, then they failed miserably. Imagine if this show existed today, I could totally imagine Captain Price from Call of Duty singing Nickelback’s “Burn it to the Ground” or something equally dumb that has nothing to do with the game. Even though 7 years have passed since this show was on the air, no matter what song you use or what game you feature, it still is a terrible idea all-around. Anime music videos have more dignity than this show ever did.

Despite my hatred of this, I implore you to check out some of the videos that have popped up on YouTube. You really need to see them just to understand what I’m talking about. I’m not exaggerating, this show really was that bad. To those who liked these videos, I am terribly sorry, but you have poor taste. I also feel sorry for anyone who actually worked on this. I hope you washed your hands of this and never speak of it to your colleagues.

I’ll leave you with one more classic: Characters from that really mediocre PSP game Death Jr. singing “I’m Not Okay (I Promise).”

I’m Not Okay indeed.

(UPDATE 2/9/2012: Found the Beastie Boys MTV2 Video Mod thanks to a quick Google Search. Edited the entry accordingly.)
(UPDATE 8/28/2013: Reuploaded the Beastie Boys MTV2 Video Mod onto YouTube.)