The World Military Industrial Complex Has Some Interesting Taste In Music

July 23, 2014 | Peter Yeh

Yearly global military spending has surpassed $1.75 trillion, with defense budgets eagerly bolstered by dick-waving patriotism. In this crowded market, how does a weapons dealer advertise its product to potential customers, Congressmen looking for kickbacks, generals who need iron Viagra, and El Presidente? A sleek promotional video presentation on YouTube should do it. This is where sound design is very important. It’s the difference between everyone snoozing at your Powerpoint, and men with deep pockets fist pumping for the newest killing machine. Here are a few.

From Russia, we have Concern Agat shilling for cruise missiles that hide inside a shipping container. It starts with light muzak to show off the “friendly nation,” transitioning to a nice techno beat. A scary metal intro comes for the evil aggressor nation. For the actual engagement, we have some EPIC SOUNDTRACK MUSIC, caught somewhere between Battlestar Galactica and Inception. This bombastic orchestral soundtrack actually goes well with the 3M-14 Klub’s 990lb warhead.

Israel brings us Rafael’s Tycoon upgrade package for the Spike fourth-generation guided antitank missile. They decided on a very generic, very corporate sounding electronic beat with some sad strings. I don’t feel as pumped or enthusiastic about battlefield management systems as I did about shipping container missiles.

American defense contractor Northrop Grumman is pushing its digital upgrade to the cockpits of the iconic UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. They went with metal, a good drum beat, and that fucking cowbell. The string touches in the middle are perfectly placed. I’m completely stoked to upgrade my helicopters. USA! USA! USA!

Also from the US, Boeing is selling its new version of the AH-64 helicopter gunship. It starts with something that sounds like strings being played backwards with a soft bass backing. It has glitchy, electronic distortion touches that remind me of the Battlefield 4 soundtrack. But despite the occasional guitar riff, they can’t escape the very airy, corporate feel.

From South Africa, Milkor is peddling its line of grenade launchers. They have an upbeat trip hop soundtrack that feels like it should be fronting some breakdancers, not 40mm high explosive grenades or tear gas canister launchers. I can sorta taste the 90s ecstasy already. This is my favorite for its sheer WTFness.

The German company Rheinmetall shows off its new line of heavily armored fighting vehicles. The intro feels like it should be a helicopter panning over some unspoiled jungle island paradise, or an epic untouched desert. If I was a treasure hunter looking for another historical artifact left over by some famous historical figure at the bottom of a lost pyramid, I’d definitely use this.

BAE Systems, a British Company, is promoting its ADAPTIV modular infrared camouflage system. They went with an electronic mix with some deep string instruments that transitions to a strong bass beat. It definitely feels like I’m in an early 2000s video game intro for something epic and martial. There are going to be quick cuts of people kicking each other, guns shooting, and a car chase turret level. As the crescendo comes, the video game’s logo emerges from an explosion.

From China, it’s a succinctly named WJQ-308 Multifunction Spade via the People’s Liberation Army Factory No. 6411. It’s a shovel. It slices. It dices. It digs. It cuts barbed wire. It helps you ascend walls. The music choice is eccentric. It’s definitely the orchestral arrangement a western cowboy movie would have back in the days when movie trailers could run to three minutes. I want to get my boots on, hop on a horse, and claim the Wild West, with this shovel.

Turkish defense contractor, FNSS Defense Systems is hocking their new range of armored fighting vehicles. It has a jaunty, light, trance beat that reminds me of a more chill Sandstorm, which goes well with all the sand featured in their videos. The acid house flourishes are a nice touch, giving it a more varied feel that carries it well through 8 minutes. I’m want to get into one of these APCs, do some sick desert donuts, and climb some huge dunes.