Johnny Ketchum’s Favorite Music From the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Series

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater set the standard for skateboarding games in 1999. While it wasn’t the first skateboarding game, it was the one that after its release all other skateboarding games imitated. Take Rockstar’s Thrasher Skate and Destroy for instance, a good skateboarding game, but significantly harder to master.

While the THPS series has gone away in the past for years, with the exception of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD it has all but vanished. That game had also mentioned DLC to come, that has still not been released. How in the world do you remake THPS 1 & 2 and not include Chad Muska or Jamie Thomas!?


After THPS 4 I had pretty much all but been done with the series, but after a few years had given in to the Underground series. I liked aspects of it, but I realized all I wanted was another high score chasing, skate video rewarding, dumb game.

Hold on a second, what’s this? A new Tony Hawk Pro Skater has been announced, and it is titled THPS 5. This is exactly what we want, and  while I haven’t skateboarded in ten years I’m excited to see what they do with the series again. I’m also very excited to see what music the put in the new game! Well, sort of. THPSHD decided to add new music to the classic stages, along with some old classic songs. The new songs felt like music no person listens to.

The music made the games so, I wanted to make a list highlighting the songs I loved from the main 4 games. So this list is really in no particular order, it’s just an excuse for me to talk about music and memories of these games! Oh, I’ll also be making suggestions of songs and bands I like now that I believe closely resemble the songs style from these games! Enjoy!

Unsane – Commited
Holy crap, when this game first was released it kind of was my intro to music like this, and boy did I love it. Unsane, a band most probably would skip over really did introduce me to the hardcore punk aesthetic I’ve grown to love today. Maybe it’s the thrashing sound of the guitar, or the grizzly vocals being yelled out by Chris Spencer. Stuff like this will always win me over. While this is probably the only song I’ve ever really heard by Unsane, they still had a great influence over my music choices.
Johnny Ketchum Music Choice: METZ – Wet Blanket
This song is somewhat similar in the noise rock category, also it’s the easiest since it was also featured in GTA V.

The Vandals – Euro-Barge
Honestly, this song is on here because it’s one I remember so well from this game. I can’t really say I listen to much punk rock like it, but to be honest, I don’t know much punk rock like this nowadays. This was the scene of punk in the late ’80s and ’90s. Anytime this song came on in the game though I gotta say I really set out to shred hard bud.
Johnny Ketchum Music Choice: NOFX – We Threw Gasoline on the Fire and Now We Have Stumps for Arms and No Eyebrows
Honestly like I said above, this is probably the closest I got with Punk like The Vandals. I liked it in middle school, but then I just got into harder stuff. Punk-O-Rama I owe a lot to alongside THPS due to their very similar used tracks!

Dead Kennedys – Police Truck
Well, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen my Dead Kennedys F*** Nazi Punks t-shirt, and know that I love that Surf Rock sound. While Police Truck isn’t my favorite Dead Kennedys song, anytime you get to hear Jello Biafra is a good time.
Johnny Ketchum Music Choice: Guantanamo Baywatch – Sad Over You
Think of Guantanamo Baywatch as a band who has these songs that can be relatable to Dead Kennedys, but realistically is closer to something like Elvis Presley. You know, if he was grungy and instead of singing he growled.. Yeah.

Primus – Jerry Was A Racecar Driver
I have no words for Primus and this song. It’s classic, next to the next track I’d say it’s the most iconic from the first THPS. Then add in the fact that they recorded the original South Park theme and I was sold. Although, I do find it to be a bit weird that in the game they didn’t just cut that weird muffler noise opening. I definitely would have cut that.
Johnny Ketchum Music Choice: Uhh.. As I said, I really know nothing about Primus other than THPS and South Park, so I don’t know if I could make a relatable song suggestion. Well, maybe if you like Primus, you should check out:
Yip-Yip – High Heel to Mammal

Goldfinger – Superman

To be honest, let’s all be real here. This song is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. What more can I say? This song will live forever due to people my age growing up with this game and hearing this song often. Maybe you even skipped tracks just to hear this song! Either way, this song embodies this game fully.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: I’ve got nothing, but The Specials – Gangsters I don’t listen to ska, I’m sorry.

Let’s move on to THPS 2 now

Bad Religion – You
Just like The Vandals suggestion I had, NOFX, Bad Religion was on those Punk-o-Rama mixes I would purchase. In fact, this song was on Punk-o-Rama 3! Bad Religion was great when I was a kid, I really liked them. I’m not sure if it was the harmonizing vocals, the very punk rock guitar lines, or the fact that at my age then, it was exactly what I was looking for.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: Joyce Manor – In the Army Now
This song just sounds like a Bad Religion song. Joyce Manor is pretty good at that, they’re a bit reminiscent of the “3rd wave emo’ scene of music. Very pop punk band.

Lagwagon – May 16
Lagwagon is one of those pop punk bands that just scream “hey we’re from the early aught’s!” while being around through out all of the nineties. This song would get me pumped! Like, really really pumped. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized they weren’t a band I really enjoyed. Oh well, we’ll always have THPS 2 Lagwagon.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: Desaparecidos – City on the Hill
Desaparecidos aren’t quite the same, but it’s probably the closest thing to Lagwagon that I can think of. It also fits well in skateboarding, well, sort of.

Styles of Beyond – Subculture
In the first THPS I realized a real lack of rap music. While punk rock was essential to early skateboarding, so was hip hop. I mean, honestly if it wasn’t for skateboarding videos I would have probably never found out about any cool rap music. Styles of Beyond felt like that safe hip hop to go with, even though I would have taken the Thrasher Skate and Destroy example and used way more hip hop. Especially in this second game.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: For THPS 5 I would suggest having some Kendrick Lamar in the game. King Kunta would be a pretty fun song to skate to in my opinion.

Millencolin – No Cigar
F’ing Millencolin, to be honest I got into Millencolin because Punk-O-Rama. After that my love affair with Millencolin ended. I do see some correlations from them and stuff I listen to now in days, so I understand they’ve had some sort of inspiration to my musical taste, but I can’t really defend them as being a “good” band, they’re okay, but they’re great for skating to.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: Cloud Nothings – Now Here In Apparently Cloud Nothings has made the cut in THPS 5, but it’s a song I feel is a little less thrashy and not very fitting to skateboarding. I could be wrong, I mean, Hear and Nowhere Else was one of my favorite records from 2014, so any time Cloud Nothings gets love I can take it.

Okay, I think I’ve had enough of THPS 2‘s soundtrack, while there’s still some honorable mentions due to length I’m not going to include them at the moment and let’s just move on to THPS 3

Adolescents – Amoeba
Holy hell, Adolescents, you changed my life. You turned me from just a regular ass “punk” to a “skate punk” and I loved every moment of it. Bands like Adolescents and The Addicts really formed my taste in 2000, and I never looked back. I got deeper and deeper, until I hit what I really like in the punk genre. This to me is the definition of skate punk. It’s speedy, it’s a bit thrashy, hell it even fits in with the Iron Maiden skateboarders. It’s just the best thing when you are an actual adolescent.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: WAVVES – Post Acid  While WAVVES is a bit more poppy than Adolescents, I feel they fit in well within the skate punk genre. I spent many days just bumming around on my skateboard listening to King of the Beach. It’s a bit of a crime that they didn’t make the THPS 5 soundtrack.

AFI – The Boy Who Destroyed The World
Before AFI was a weird, uh, emo goth band? They were a pop punk band, with some pretty awesome hooks. I mean, they were a completely different band in almost every way. Just go listen to Answer That and Stay Fashionable and tell me I’m wrong. Between that and Sing the Sorrow they sound like two completely different bands besides Davey Havok’s voice being a bit whinier. Either way AFI was a go to when I was in middle school.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: The Misfits – Hybrid Moments
Ugh, remember when Tony Hawk American Wasteland came out and they had bands of the time cover old punk songs? Yeah, I believe it was My Chemical Romance who covered Astro Zombies and, man.. No one can sing The Misfits like Glenn Danzig, In fact, every band ever, never try to do it again please?

Alien Ant Farm – Wish
Hey all, remember Alien Ant Farm? They had more songs than Smooth Criminal! This was one of those songs. It’s fine, I’m not praising AAF because, well, I don’t care. I did like this song though for the game, it worked well, but they could do better.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: Rival Schools – Used for Glue
F’ing duh, of course I’d suggest Rival Schools, they’re one of my favorite bands ever and were getting no love during this time of AAF and your Papa Roaches. They had that emo aesthetic while also still appealing to my punk rock side. They probably properly turned me into an emo kid.

Okay, I think I’ve highlighted enough from THPS 3, let’s move on to THPS 4 and oh boy. this soundtrack is a mess. This game is when they allowed Chad Muska to have his music in the game, which is okay, but it added for a lot of nonsense in the soundtrack. They also didn’t know who they were trying to appeal to, was it the thrashers who loved AC/DC and Iron Maiden, or the Skate Punks with.. what the hell? Less Than Jake? Okay and what about the new onslaught of hip hop? This was nice but also, again just made for a messy soundtrack. Here’s a couple highlights from it and a couple suggestions and I’ll reveal the track listing for THPS 5, while also giving a last critique on that! If you’ve stuck around this long, thanks!

Agent Orange – Speed Kills (Darkness Version)
Holy hell, I loved Agent Orange so much as a #teen. Hell, I still love them, remember that scene in Freddy Got Fingered where they’re skating on the little half pipe and Agent Orange is playing while Tom Green is licking Harland Williams bone that has just popped out? No? Okay well, either way this is a perfect skate song.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: Femme Fatale – Into Dust
While Femme Fatale isn’t too much like Agent Orange, I feel if you like Agent Orange you’ll probably like Femme Fatale. Before Death From Above 1979 there was Femme Fatale, and they were the best. Their three albums still are in rotation in my music because it is amazing! Plus, it’s a pretty small catalog.

Aesop Rock – Labor
Wow okay, I love Aesop Rock, but this is a horrible song choice from him. He has many great songs that would fit for skateboarding, this is just not one of them. Either way, Aesop Rock is great and you should definitely get into him.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: Aesop Rock – Coffee
This song came out later, but it still is my choice, hell you can’t beat this song and it features The Mountain Goats John Darnielle. Plus the video is the best.

Eyedea and Abilities – Big Shot
Ugh, again it’s a good musician choice just not a good song choice.
Johnny Ketchum’s Music Choice: Eyedea and Abilities – One Twenty
This is a much better choice.

Gang Starr – Mass Appeal
Amazing choice, ten out of ten no qualms here. Hell, my only suggestion here is listen to more Gang Starr or Big L.

Well, besides Hot Water Music, NWA, and a couple other solid tracks I’d say this rounds out the 4 soundtracks and my suggestions for them. As promised here’s the soundtrack for Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 which will be released September 29 on PS4 and XBOX One.

  • Anti-Flag – “Stars and Stripes”
  • Atmosphere – “Southsiders”
  • Black Pistol Fire – “Hipster Shakes”
  • Bully  – “Milkman”
  • Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part of Me”
  • Cold Cave – “A Little Death to Laugh”
  • Connie Price and the Keystones – “International Hustler”
  • Crass Mammoth – “All 149”
  • Deaf Poets – “Degenerate Mind”
  • Death – “Keep On Knocking”
  • Death From Above 1979 – “Virgins”
  • Deer Mother – “When The Wolves Come Out”
  • Doomtree – “Mini Brute”
  • Fake P – “Rorschach”
  • Family Force 5 -“Raised By Wolves”
  • Four Year Strong -“Go Down In History”
  • Harlan – “Moment To Myself”
  • Hundred Visions – “Our Ritual”
  • Hungry Hands – “Highline”
  • Icon For Hire -“Cynics and Critics”
  • Killer Be Killed -“Wings of Feather and Wax”
  • New Politics -“Everywhere I Go”
  • Plague Vendor – “Black Sap Scriptures”
  • Ratatat -“Cream on Chrome”
  • RattBlack – “Skate Rock”
  • Royal Blood – “Little Monster”
  • State Champs – “Secrets”
  • Temples – “Shelter Song”
  • The Orwells – “Who Needs You”
  • The Schitzophonics  – “Rat Trap”
  • The Sheds – “Bad Things are Bad”
  • Yogi & Skrillex – “Burial”

If you’re like me, this soundtrack is a bit underwhelming. Oh well, the gameplay looks fun enough so let’s get back out there and skate!

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The Author

Johnny Ketchum

Johnny Ketchum

Writer and content creator from Denver Colorado, mostly knowledgable in the realm of retro video games he also creates music and music mixes.