Torched song: The hyperreal and the music of L.A. Noire | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 8, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 1751-4193
  • E-ISSN: 1751-4207



Film noir is a genre that is essentially conflicted: not only does it have both love and death at its essence, but it is also a story about impending failure enveloped in style, beauty and smoke. This contradictory core is also reflected in a number of ways in the paradoxes of one of the most prominent noir games of recent years, the appropriately titled L.A. Noire (Team Bondi and Rockstar Games, 2011): the seemingly open world contradicts the linear narrative and, while the gameworld is firmly rooted in a meticulously researched historical past, it is also heavily stylized and grounded in a cinematic legacy. This is also reflected in the music of the game: along with the original soundtrack composed by Andrew and Simon Hale (with additional songs written by The Real Tuesday Weld), borrowed music helps place the game both in a particular place and time and in a particular genre. In this article, I explore the multiple functions that music plays in L.A. Noire, acting as temporal signifier but also reflecting the themes and tropes of film noir. Finally, I argue that Baudrillard’s concept of the hyperreal can be used to better understand how appropriated music in video games relates to music history.


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