The Grammy awards, considered among the most prestigious music awards in the world, have inaugurated a new category dedicated solely to games. The inaugural award in “Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media” was presented today, and went to Stephanie Economou, the composer behind the soundtrack for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok.
It was a fierce field, with Austin Wintory nominated for Aliens: Fireteam Elite, bear McCreary for Call of Duty: Vanguard, Richard Jacques for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and Christopher Tin for Old World. Of the candidates only Tin had previously won a Grammy—his history-making win for an arrangement of Baba Yetu, a piece he first composed for Civilization 4. That was the first piece of music composed for a videogame to ever win at the awards show.
Economou, on the other hand, is somewhat of an underdog victory. Though she is an experienced composer and violinist, her scores for Assassin’s creed: Valhalla DLCs The Siege of Paris and Dawn of Ragnarok were her first outings in the world of videogame composition.
“I was thrilled to be able to do it, but truly I am—as the people in our videogame community would say, such a noob when it comes to videogame scoring,” said Economou in an interview with billboard. “It’s tough to be nominated against these literal giants in videogame music, I’m so honored to be in their company, but also there’s a bit of like, do I belong here? And I think most artists sort of feel that to some extent, but I’m really honored and I’m really proud of the score.”
You can listen to the entirety of the Dawn of Ragnarok score on YouTube, where you can also find the Old World, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Aliens: Fireteam Elite soundtracks out there, in case you want to judge for yourself if the award was warranted.
Economou’s Twitter bio is particularly funny in this moment, to be honest. It currently reads “Non-award-winning composer.” I guess she’ll have to update it.
The soundtrack for Dawn of Ragnarok is a fierce one, dominated by sounds more at home in neofolk or black metal music, and features vocals and songs by Einar Selvik, a drummer for the band Gorgoroth.
You can read more about the award and its nominees on the official website for the 2023 Grammy Awards.