Why make fantasy warrior characters into rockstars? For the most rock and roll reason of all my friends: the almighty dollar. In 2020, the free to play game League of Legends made an estimated 1.75 billion dollars. The majority of that revenue comes from the dreaded micro-transaction, and a ton of those micro-transactions are selling skins. The unfortunately disgusting term “music skins” are in-game outfits and styles that players can deck out their champions with to represent their musical alter egos. The characters the music skins represent exist in a parallel universe to the one in which they endlessly kill each other in bloody battles on Runeterra Prime. Enough lore, the tunes burgeoning music label Riot Games Music puts out absolutely slap. It’s a weird blending of virtual reality and digital personalities becoming actual celebrities in our waking world. Despite the facts that you can’t touch them, you can’t get VIP passes to actually meet them, you can’t catch their sweat stained t-shirts when they throw them into the crowd, these bands do in fact, rock. The bands look so cool, so utterly rockstarish, that seeing the real world singers who voice them feels disappointing. Come backstage and meet the band.

K/DA

Riot Games

Your only cool cousin, her girlfriend, Barbie from the animated movie, a literal cat, purple hair Kim Kardashian.

K/DA is a gamer term used in multiplayer battles: kills, deaths, assists. And now it’s a gold record k-pop group comprised of leader and model (and fox girl!) Ahri, rapper Akali, diva vocalist Evelynn, and main dancer Kai’Sa, they are League of Legends most popular act. And increasingly, one of the world’s most popular acts as well. They’ve collaborated with Blackpink. An actual juggernaut in the real K-Pop scene. They’re voiced by (obviously) real life singers Miyeon, Soyeon (both from actual K-Pop group (G)Idle) as well as Jaira Burns, and Madison Beer. For the musicians behind the group, it would be possible to reach a Sia-like nirvana, where you can create and perform, without spending all your time in the public eye. Except these singers actually perform in concert, with replicas of their K/DA champions looming large behind them. 

Pentakill

 

Riot Games

Nothing's more evil than a bass player in a top hat.

Ride high on a stallion of electric power, bearing down on your enemies. The icy wind in your hair as you soar through battle like an eagle. That’s how you feel when you listen to Pentakill, a LoL group made up of champions who devs thought would fit into a heavy metal persona. The members all have their alternate universe lore as to how they came to be in a heavy metal band. Mordekaiser, a badass guy dedicated to bringing metal to the masses. Karthus, a Lich looking guy who got his start singing funeral dirges. Yorick, the monstrous bass player who looks like a member of the Gorillaz. Sona, a virtuoso with a passion for rock opera. Olaf, the berserker and drummer. And Kayle, a singer who is also a goddess of battle. Neat! The real-life musicians behind the hits Pentakill pumps out are varied, but include some pretty big names, like Tommy Lee!  

True Damage

 

Riot Games

She's definitely not meant to be throwing a gang symbol, her had just looks like that.

“Giants”, the group’s only song available on Spotify, sounds like someone loves Nicki and FKA Twigs. And that person was Akali, who (in the game’s lore) followed her passion and decided to make a side project slash super group dedicated to hip-hop. The name comes from an in-game mechanic; there are three types of damage, Physical, Magical, and you guessed it hip-hop True damage. The group was formed in 2019 to celebrate the World Championships and besides Akali, the group is composed of Ekko, Qiyana, Senna, and Yasuo. The real-world talent behind True Damage is truly impressive: Becky G, Duckwrth, Keke Palmer, Thutmose, and of course Soyeon. Their talents combined make this an actual, honest-to-god, good ass music act. 

Seraphine

 

Riot Games

Realistic body image shmealistic shomdy smimage. Young girls don't NEED internal organs.

A full Disney Princess. Her in game purpose is to inspire through music, to make people feel less alone. That’s a basic, primal desire which has driven musicians to sing out since the dawn of time. Plus she’s cute as a button. The success of prior LoL musical acts probably led directly to Seraphine’s creation; her in-game lore on Runeterra Prime describes her as a musician already. She’s the newest, freshest face in the music scene and one of the game’s more recent champion additions. Her music and persona are pure pop, which is a good thing. Her cover of the 2000’s hit “All the Things She Said” might be better than the original.

Like it or not (and if you don’t, just give it a try, the songs are damn catchy) this is the future.  Wholistic entertainment blurring the lines between reality and the digital world will become more and more prevalent. It also signals an upending of the music industry. Artists have an opportunity to side step the music industry in new ways. Millions of daily League players mean there’s a built in fanbase, or at least an easily targeted group to market to.

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