For the second week in a row we have a non-typical date for the new Rock Band DLC. Last week it was server migration. This week, it’s to coincide with Lady Gaga’s new album. Which, as you might expect, means we’re getting Gaga, and we’re getting it on Monday.
+ = pro-guitar/bass upgrade available
Also there will be two legacy pro-upgrades:
+ Alice in Chains – “Rooster”
+ The White Stripes – “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”
Opening the week we have “Born This Way”, the lead single off Lady Gaga‘s new album. I heard Weird Al’s version first (“Perform This Way”) and I’d be lying if I said that isn’t what I’m likely to be singing in my head the first dozen or so times. Until Lady Gaga’s mutant power to slowly worm her way into your ear and into your brain kicks in and her version will literally be all I hear for weeks on end. You know it’ll happen too. So sad. But! To the song.
…which hasn’t even started yet in this video and my brain has been blow clear across the room. It opens with a unicorn and only gets better. I’m a minute-thirty in and the music hasn’t even started yet, good god. Okay, I cannot possibly watch this video and listen to the song for Rock Band at the same time, toggling over. Let’s face it, it’s a pop song and it’s hooky as shit, and more of you are going to buy this than will ever admit to it. The shining stars are vocals of course (and Gaga should be an insane amount of fun with harmonies), and keys, with drums drawing up second; they won’t be tough, but they’ll be fun. Keys will probably make your fingers fall off, so enjoy that. Guitar and bass, I don’t think there’s much here for you, but if you played the first Gaga pack, that probably isn’t a surprise. And if you didn’t pick up the first Gaga pack, I can’t see this one attracting you. Inevitable comparisons to “Express Yourself” aside, this is a pop song anthem and should be a huge hit for Rock Band and at any party.
“LoveGame” goes back to The Fame, and of the three is by far my least favourite. Tough to not lament getting this instead of “Telephone”, but there we are. It’s not as immediately catchy as most of Gaga’s songs, but should still deliver on vocals/harmonies and keys. The other instruments though, not so much. I really can’t imagine anyone going out of their way to grab this one over the other, superior choices this week.
Rounding out the Gaga trilogy is “Paparazzi”, which has a much less intense sound than the previous two, making it a good stylistic choice for the pack. Vocals are the star again naturally, but I find the instruments fairly well balanced otherwise. It almost seems ludicrous to be saying “guitarists should grab this one” about any of the songs in this pack (especially when you have Foreigner as your non-Gaga options), but if you’re determined to get one and guitar is your only instrument, well, here it is. But honestly, nobody who doesn’t either sing or play keys is going to have a hell of a lot of interest here. And those who sing and/or play keys, you already know you’re buying the pack, embrace it now.
Also this week are two classics from Foreigner. “Hot Blooded” leads the charge, and it’s a solid choice. Killer riff, catchy melody, fun party lyrics, and it’s even got synth for that full band experience. I’m also really looking forward to the pro chart on this one.
Joining in is “Urgent”, which is considerably less catchy than “Hot Blooded”, but way more synth-prominent. (And hey, that’s Thomas Dolby!) Keys players should definitely check it out, but for everyone else, I don’t think the song has much to offer.
Gaga is divisive. People either love her music or hate it (or say they hate it while secretly loving it, which I think is by far the greater number of Rock Band players). How you feel about her work is going to dictate how much you’ll enjoy this week. Myself, I’m pretty disappointed in “LoveGame”, but “Born This Way” and “Paparazzi” are great additions to the RB library. Vocalists and keyboardists, you’ll definitely want to give these two your attention this week. Meanwhile, Foreigner is a bone that got tossed to the haters, but of the two “Hot Blooded” is the only real choice. It’s superior to “Urgent” in every way except keys, and if keys is your interest you’re going to look to Gaga first anyway. Still, a top tier choice for any guitarist.