Dec 172010
Rock Band DLC

So this is Christmas, and what have we got? An interesting assortment of eight singles, making a nice break from the huge packs of the past couple months. These tracks are mostly non-English language, and consequently not readily known, at least by me.

Except the first one. I think I’ve heard that one before.

John & Yoko, The Plastic Ono Band – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Anaïs – “Peut-Être une Angine
BB Brunes – “Dis-Moi” +
BAP – “Verdamp Lang Her
Wir sind Helden – “Nur ein Wort
Linea 77 – “Fantasma
Litfiba – “Proibito
Caesars – “Jerk It Out” +

+ = pro-guitar/bass chart available

As mentioned, the one song everyone knows is “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band. If you’re saying you don’t know it, then click the link above and realize that yeah, you really do. Musically there’s not a whole hell of a lot going on here that’s not vocals, which totally steal the song (who’s not going to have fun belting out the chorus?), but the guitar player’s definitely got some fast strumming to keep them occupied. Also, great idea I saw on the forums: For those who are considering not picking this up because you don’t want a Christmas song popping up on random in July? Five-lighter it during the holidays and one-lighter it the rest of the year. Simple but brilliant. Also, I think it’s important to take this time to thank Harmonix from the deepest reaches of my heart for not releasing “Wonderful Christmas Time”. I like you a lot, Paul, I really do, but if I have to hear that song much more this year, people are going to pay dearly. Possibly you.

Okay! That out of the way, lets start listening to some songs! First up is Anaïs with “Peut-Être une Angine”. Ha, well, first of all let me say that the video genuinely amused me, and the singer definitely has a charm about her. The song itself was a bit to sugar pop for my tastes, at least on first listen, even with the prerequisite catchy hook (done in the universal language of “bah dah dah”). Not for me, but I definitely didn’t hate it – worth a listen, especially if a) you’re hankering for more female vocals in the game, and b) you know and like French.

On to BB Brunes with “Dis-Moi”. What struck me first and almost immediately – particularly in light of the first song this week – is how much the lead singer sounds like a French John Lennon. It’s a fairly simple song over all with nothing too complex going on. It’s a smooth song though, with something very 70s rock that I can’t quite put my finger on. Again not a bad song, though I think I’ll again be skipping it; with the huge volume of songs in the game at this point, once I’d logged scores I think I’d always rather play something else.

“Verdamp Lang Her” by BAP is next. Well I’m a minute in and all we’ve had thus far is one guy singing with some simple keys chords, so I hope this picks up soon. Ahh, there we go … That one easily caught me much, much more than the other two – perhaps not a surprise, as I seem to have a penchant for German rock. I think it started out really quite slow (a consequence of the language barrier?) but once it picked up it got pretty cool. Nothing seemed too inconsequential (like “Peut-Être une Angin”) or standard and repetitive (like “Dis-Moi”). What’s more, despite not actually knowing what he’s saying, I enjoyed the flow of the lyrics. I’m not sure I’d rush out on Tuesday to pick this up, but yeah, I could see this one being a Rainy Day.

Next is “Nur ein Wort” by Wir sind Helden. German again, this time with female vocals. This one’s very interesting, kinda German indie/pop, which I don’t know that I’ve ever listened to before (you know, outside of “99 Luftballons”). That was kinda cool though, very upbeat but without being too saccharine … again, possibly the language barrier. It had some interesting music breaks in there too, and the harmonies, particularly toward the end, sound really fun. Again, I think I would at least mark this one as a possibility when I’m in the mood for new songs to play. (Also looks like the YouTube vid cuts the song out at the end. Sorry about that.)

Linea 77 with “Fantasma”. Is this … is this like Spanish nu metal? Oh, wait, Wiki says they’re Italian not Spanish (god I am so bad at languages). Well, I give credit for not being quite as skullfucking-angry as most American nu metal, but half the fun of rap is the use and manipulation of language, which definitely loses something in the lack of translation. I did like the beat and the guitar riff was also pretty cool, but mostly it’s vocal noise to me. Much more musical vocal noise than many of its English-speaking counterparts, true, but not for me.

Next up is “Proibito” by Litfiba. Hahah, this video – it’s like if Starburns were fronting an Italian rock/new wave group. Man, I am really mixed on this one. The vocals were an immediate turn-off, I am just not enjoying how this guy is singing. But the music is actually pretty kick-ass all over. That guitar is smoking, the drums sound fun, and I’m pretty sure those were keys I was hearing and they sounded awesome. But then there’s those vocals … I don’t know. Very on the fence here.

Finally we have “Jerk It Out” by Caesars, which several people seemed to recognize and be excited about, but which I don’t know at all, at least yet, not by name. Let’s see if listening rings a bell. <five seconds later> Oh! Okay yeah, that song. Well, really when you get to it, this song is pretty much nothing that spectacular without the keys, which while an awesome riff to be sure, doesn’t sound like the most spectacular six notes to play over and over. I’m actually far less impressed by this one than any of the previous foreign language singles, and I have to wonder how much of the (albeit minimal but still palpable) buzz around this track was for the song’s merits, its familiarity, or simply that it was in English.

So an eclectic mix this week, but some possible gems in there. For me, the only definite is “War is Over”, but a couple of maybes with “Verdamp Lang Her” and “Nur ein Wort”, and a big questioning “ehh?” with “Proibito”. Given the absolutely stunning volume and awesomeness of the past two months of post-RB3 DLC, I’m absolutely fine with a light week … even more so when I can walk out of a group of songs and artists I don’t know with some potential future additions to my Rock Band library.

  • Stephanie Jane

    My favorite part of “Wonderful Christmas Time” is how Paul wrote it half-trying, likely drunk, after reading a Dr Seuss book for rhyme-scheme inspiration.