TF2 has one of the oldest and proudest fan communities in gaming history. Part of it stems from the radical new approach Valve took when designing the playable classes; never before had a shooter made every class into a fully three-dimensional character with personalities, backstories, and Pixar-level visual design. The brilliant writing and voice acting was the cherry on top that propelled our nine favorite mercenaries into top-ten lists throughout the internet upon release. Valve was richly rewarded with a thriving community of artists, animators, and other creatives who showed their love for the TF2 characters through peripheral content that had less and less to do with the actual gameplay than anyone could expect.
I was first exposed to the TF2 community from the catchy remixes that YouTube was filled with back in the day. The “silly remix” era was in full swing, with countless musicians syncing every possible sentence or pop culture reference with a techno song to make jingles that just would not leave your head. My first (and forever my most favorite) is the last one on this list. But that shouldn’t denigrate the other fantastic songs from the GMod Generation, like:
The “GentleMentleMen” song should honestly be considered a song in its own right. The original may be the most remixed TF2 fansong out there, with dozens of different dialogues from TF2 (and other media) superimposed over the beat to make new songs. NightMen is my personal favorite, mostly because it takes the song in a number of different directions and adds several great transitions that give the song better pacing than the usual fare.
2. Soldier Vs. Masked Spy
For the exact opposite of “songs that go in many different directions”, this composer simply copy-pasted the same 26-second chunk over and over until he hi the 6-minute mark. This used to kinda bug me back in the day, but I can’t deny that its an extremely catchy, if repetitive, beat. Also what it lacks in musical versatility it more than makes up for with one of the most entertaining music videos on any remix out there. I don’t even want to know how long that guy spent editing any given second of this video.
3. [Soccer] Chocobo Pyro
If the last one overstays its welcome, this one’s not nearly long enough. Chocobo Pyro is one of the earlier songs by wazgul, who’ll be appearing frequently on this list, and you can see several of his signature elements growing form. His use of in-game hitmarkers and notification sounds for beats blurs the line between the instruments and the game (and this was before the “smoke weed everyday” meme killed hitmarker sounds for musicians everywhere), and he relied mostly on in-game dialogue instead of the “Meet the Team” videos like everyone else. The Pyro in particular I consider an under-used character in TF2 remixes. Sure, he doesn’t actually talk, but that opens so many doors for making him say anything you like. Case in point:
4. Mmph the Way You Mmph
It’s the musical duo nobody expected or wanted! Pyro and Scout take turns sharing the mic for a …romantic?… power ballad about the many ways Scouts thinks he’s better than everyone else. The song ends the only way it could; with Pyro giving Scout the “window pain” just like in the original Eminem song! Speaking of unique sources for song lyrics:
5. Faster Better Stronger Gaben
The TF2 Commentary Nodes weren’t immune to the remix fever! This is actually the second of two songs musician ‘Scien Tist’ made out of Gabe Newell’s introductory speech from the developer commentary mode, the other being To Stop a Gaben. Frankly, I’m amazed how much he improved in a mere three months, or perhaps Daft Punk just gave him better source material to work with.
6. Engineer’s United States of Nope
Believe it or not, this is my second favorite TF2 remix. It almost shouldn’t count since 65% of the song is the original singer (and most of the remaining is just the word ‘nope’) but I just love the various voicelines the musician chose for Engineer’s teammates getting rejected asking him for various things. (I’ll never know how Demoman’s “Just bought two tickets to the gunshow” voiceline didn’t reach the same memetic heights as other famous TF2 lines).
7. Demo Party
Honestly, Demoman is almost as underused as Pyro in the remix culture. This is one of the few ones I remember back in the day that starred everyone’s favorite black Scottish cyclops, at least in a solo. He’s usually paired with Soldier as a deuteragonist in the background of other mercenaries’ songs. Or, in rare cases, their own:
I’m a huge fan of the vocals in this one. Most of the lyrics honestly sound pretty smooth despite being cobbled together from dozens of randoms voicelines, and I love how the song raises in intensity before hitting the final crescendo. This song actually received a sequel from a different musician, who carried the spy over from his brief end cameo into his own musical battle against Sniper.
9. Star Song | sniper_stomper
Not content to simply remix the in-universe personalities of Team Fortress, the big-name fans from the community were equally fair game to have their on-screen antics immortalized in bardic tradition. STAR_ (aka Niichts, aka ster) was one of the biggest YouTubers of the TF2 community, and Sniper_Stomper is one of his most famous videos (my friend and I still regularly quote almost a dozen different lines from it in unrelated circumstances). Nowadays he streams Overwatch and I still find him a great entertainer, but he’ll always be the face of TF2 for me.
10. Erectin’ Gear
When it comes to sheer production value, this is probably the most impressive song on this list. It doesn’t even sound like a remix, I bet you could convince someone not in the know that Engineer sang this intentionally if you played it for them blind. I first heard this on pl_swiftwater when a micspamming Engineer singlehandedly locked down the mineshaft chokepoint with this playing in the background the entire round. (When on offense, he switched to Adele’s Skyfall and carried us to victory on Offense too. He was quite a guy.)
11. Erectin’ a River
For some reason, Engineer gets all the best songs. “Erectin’ a River” is, as previously mentioned, my personal favorite remix and probably one of the most famous thanks to being used in the hilarious Erectin’ a Boom weapon in Garry’s Mod. It’s catchy as all hell and the comment section for the original song (Riverside by Sidney Sampson) is filled with people referencing the TF2 version. I used it as the end-credits song for the very first video on the SPUF of Legend and it used to be my ringtone in undergrad. “Erectin’ a River”, and every other song on this list, will always fill a special place in my heart.
There are so many zillions of TF2 remixes I’m positive I missed plenty of good ones. If you know of any classics I missed, don’t hesitate to let me know! And most importantly, when you find your own personal favorite, you know what format to save it in…