Music Makes ‘Mafia III’ Come Alive


Mafia III is the third in a line of games attempting to tweak the popular Grand Theft Auto formula. Playing closer to the roots of the Mafia’s golden era, Mafia III attempts to branch out into the 1960s. As a result, the Mafia III soundtrack reflects these changes. Skewing towards the late 1960s, gamers will hear new sounds that take us out of Coppola style mafia antics and firmly in the Scorsese world. But, all of that has a distinctly southern feel inspired by the New Orleans-like in-game city of New Bordeaux.

Gary U.S. Bonds New Orleans album cover

The licensed music on the Mafia III soundtrack helps to influence the gamer’s experience. From the early release trailers, we get a sense that Mafia III is about organized crime in collapse. Furthermore, the classic gangsters are dying and giving way to what will become modern crime. Newer faces are emerging and they bring different cultural tastes. While Mafia II had you outrunning gangsters to Big Bands and early Pop, Mafia III is going to be nastier. The swirl of Vietnam and a sense of malaise will dot the air, as you press through an ever expanding criminal underworld.

Before we get to the full Mafia III soundtrack track list below, let’s look at some early gems and break down why they matter in Mafia III.

Track: The Animals – “House of the Rising Sun”

Why It’s Important: In a word: mood. The Italian mafia controls Lincoln Clay‘s home and he wants it back. While his friends die in Vietnam and at home, it’s too much. Will Lincoln be able to break out of the quagmire? Listen to Eric Burdon and feel the pain of knowing that a trap awaits at home, but man after man is doomed to walk into it.

Track: Bobby Fuller Four – “I Fought the Law”

Why It’s Important: While it’s a classic track now, but this was the definition of bad boy in the early 1960s. The charming chip sounds of the refrain works to disarm viewers, as they begin the game. However, the final hook of the song repeated something to be considered. Lincoln Clay might be a soldier, but at home he has to fight racism and the mafia. He fights the Law, but can he win?

Track: Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Fortunate Son”

Why It’s Important: Lincoln Clay is just coming back from Vietnam. While the Southern Union brothers press hard with the Italian mob, Clay wonders just what he fought to save. After a near-fatal shooting and the loss of his friends, Clay realizes that he’s not privileged and it’s time to fight to survive.

Track: Gary U.S. Bonds – “New Orleans”

Why It’s Important: Even more mood music for the New Orleans style setting. While most will remember the track from a key sequence in Blues Brothers 2000, it’s actually a quite radio friendly standard from decades back. Gary U.S. Bonds scored the biggest hit with his cover, but just why does it connect with Mafia III? Well, for all the crime, there’s a fun element to playing around in New Bordeaux. This track captures that Southern Delta swing.

Track: Martha and the Vandellas – “Nowhere to Run”

Why It’s Important: Did you ever see Bringing Out The Dead? Well, we need music that gives this sense of rapidly encroaching dread. For such a girl power band, Martha Reeves could hit the harmony of fear and urgency. This song hits you over the head with its need to get going and go somewhere fast. Honestly, there’s got to be a chase sequence or something hinging on this song. The opportunity for killer media and gameplay sync is too much to pass up.

Mafia III soundtrack cover

Finally, if that wasn’t enough, you get to shoot people while listening to The Box Tops. As an older music fan, my hope is that younger listeners take to Spotify and Pandora to learn more about these artists. Very rarely outside of Rockstar Games do we get such loving care paid to a video game soundtrack. This is world building and it matters.

The Full Mafia III Soundtrack Track List Follows:

? And The Mysterians: “Ninety-Six Tears”

The Animals: “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”

Aretha Franklin: “Chain of Fools,” “Respect”

Barry Maguire: “Eve of Destruction”

Beach Boys: “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Heroes and Villains,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”

Beethoven Ben: “Dance of the Hours”

Big Brother & The Holding Company: “Piece of My Heart”

Blue Cheer: “Good Times Are So Hard To Find”

Bobby Fuller Four: “I Fought the Law”

Box Tops: “The Letter”

Canned Heat: “On The Road Again”

Chambers Brothers: “I Can’t Turn You Loose”

Clarence Carter: “Slip Away”

Clifton Chenier: “Ay-Tete-Fee”

Count Five: “Psychotic Reaction”

Cream: “White Room”

Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Proud Mary,” “Fortunate Son,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Born on the Bayou”

Del Shannon: “Runaway,” “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun)”

Delta Rae: “Bottom of the River”

Dewey Edwards: “I Let A Good Thing Go By”

Diana Ross & The Supremes: “Love Child”

Dusty Springfield: “Son of a Preacher Man”

Eddie Floyd: “Knock on Wood”

Elvis: “A Little Less Conversation”

Etta James: “Don’t Go To Strangers”

Still Going…

Four Tops: “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”

Freddie Cannon: “Palisades Park”

Iron Butterfly: “In A Gadda Da Vida”

James Brown: “I Got You (I Feel Good)”

Jefferson Airplane: “Somebody to Love,” “White Rabbit”

John Lee Hooker: “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”

Johnny Cash: “Folsom Prison Blues (Live),” “Ring of Fire”

Jr. Walker and the All Stars: “Shotgun”

L.C. Cooke: “Take Me For What I Am”

Lightnin’ Hopkins: “Black Ghost Blues,” “Sinner’s Prayer,” “The Howling Wolf”

Lightnin’ Slim: “G.I. Blues”

Little Richard: “Long Tall Sally”

Lonnie Youngblood: “Go Go Shoes”

Martha and the Vandellas: “Nowhere to Run”

Marvin Gaye: “You”

Mercy Dee Walton: “Five Card Hand”

Misfits: “You Belong To Me”

Mourning Ritual (ft. Peter Dreimanis): “Bad Moon Rising”

Otis Redding: “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay,” “Hard To Handle”

Otis Redding & Carla Thomas: “Tramp”

Otis Spann: “Must Have Been The Devil”

Patsy Cline: “Crazy”

Paul Revere and the Raiders: “Kicks”

Roger Miller: “King of the Road”

Roosevelt Sykes: “Hey Big Momma”

Almost There…

Roy Orbison: “Running Scared”

Rufus Thomas: “Walking The Dog”

Sam and Dave: “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” “Soul Man”

Sam Cooke: “Chain Gang,” “Wonderful World,” “Bring It On Home To Me,” “Another Saturday Night,” “I’m Gonna Forget About You”

Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs: “Li’l Red Riding Hood”

Sonny Rhodes: “You Better Stop”

Status Quo: “Pictures Of Matchstick Men”

Steppenwolf: “Desperation,” “Born To Be Wild”

Supremes: You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Temptations: “I Wish It Would Rain”

The Animals: “House of the Rising Sun”

The Avengers: “Paint It Black”

The Band: “The Weight”

The Chambers Brothers: “Time Has Come Today”

The Dramatics: “Get Up and Get Down”

The Duprees: “You Belong To Me”

The Fun Sons: “Hang Ten”

The Miracles: “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me”

The Rolling Stones: “Mother’s Little Helper,” “Paint It Black,” “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Street Fighting Man,”

The Searchers: “Take Me For What I’m Worth,” “Needles & Pins”

The Shadows of Knight: “I Got My Mojo Working”

The Supremes: “Baby Love”

The Tams: “What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am)”

The Temptations: “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”

The Troggs: “Wild Thing”

Three Dog Night: “One”

Vanilla Fudge: “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”

And Done!

Mafia III is available Oct. 7 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.