Jun 102011
Rock Band DLC

Some fun, fun DLC this week, running the gamut from 80s pop to to 00s metal. Guess which I’m more excited about.

– A-Ha – “Take On Me+
– Avenged Sevenfold – “Unholy Confessions+
– Avenged Sevenfold – “Welcome to the Family
– Chumbawamba – “Tubthumping
– Live – “I Alone+
– Live – “Lightning Crashes

+ = pro-guitar/bass chart available

It almost seems ludicrous to give up any opinion other than “buy it” on A-Ha‘s 80s staple “Take On Me”. Seriously, who doesn’t know this song? Who isn’t going to buy it? For all the bitching people can do about getting fluffy pop songs in the game, this fluffy pop song mascot of a fluffy pop song decade will be huge, and I would lay good money that at least 80% of the people bitching about Gaga in Rock Band will be buying this song. As to the song itself, let’s go ahead and pretend you don’t already know the song. Keyboardists, this is without a doubt the song for you this week (and I say that knowing only one other song this week) – you’ve got one of the most catchy and memorable riffs all to yourself, and a hell of a lot of fun breaks. Drums won’t be even a tiny bit complicated, but they’re constant and should be a ton of fun and perfect for singing some backups. Bass and guitar, you won’t be challenged this week; of the two, bass is the standout, though I have to wonder what I’m missing with guitar since it’s got a pro chart. But none of that matters. You’re buying the song anyway.

Next some Avenged Sevenfold. “Unholy Confessions” is first, and while I don’t mind some songs by the group, this one isn’t doing much for me at all. I think it’s a bit too much angry screaming and not enough melody. I enjoy it much more when they bring in the harmonies, but not enough to override the parts that offend my ears. The riff is okay but nothing particularly outstanding (the fact that it has a pro chart tells me that fans of the group would probably vehemently disagree). Drums of course will be a crazy challenge, but not of the sort that would be fun to the more casual drummer. Total skip for me.

I enjoyed “Welcome to the Family” much more, but pretty much the entire thing is harmonies and is much more melodic. The guitar was probably less interesting being mostly speed note repetitions throughout the verses, but it does have a blistering little solo there. Meanwhile drums are less challenging but not even close to as interesting. Overall, while I actually preferred the song, for everything but vocals it’s the inferior Avenged Sevenfold song for the game.

Next is my other happy choice for the week, “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. Don’t know it, you say? Yeah you do. “I get knocked down, but I get up again”? That one. I know it tends to land on “Most Annoying Song” lists, but honestly, this is a perfect song for Rock Band parties. I defy any group – particularly one where alcohol is involved – to not sing along with this. Which is its strength. On any individual instrument (save possibly drums), in and of itself, this is going to be boring as hell. But when you get the chance to play it on guitar, in a big group, all shouting the chant? A whole different thing altogether. If you play the game mostly alone I probably wouldn’t recommend picking this up, but if you ever play with friends it’s a must.

Live is up next, who I’ve never heard of. Up until I started listening to “I Alone” anyway, which is part of the mashed potato pie that is early to mid 90s alternative in my mind – all those songs sounded the same when I was growing up and this musical style came in. It’s a pretty decent song, though it’s tough for me to say if I’m enjoying it on its own merits or just for the nostalgia pangs as I hear it for the first time in 20 something years. I do think it’s a very good intermediary group for this week, offering something more substantial than A-Ha and Chumbawampa, but not as intense or potentially not-fun to play as A7X. There’s a lot here for every non-keys instrument and while there’s nothing exceptionally different or stand-outish about the song it’s solid, offering good gameplay across the board.

Let’s see if “Lightning Crashes” will also ring a distant bell when I hear it; the title is certainly tickling something back there. And yes, yes it does. Oof, this thing got hella radio play back in the day and I hated it. Let’s see if time and distance has lessened that any. Well I don’t hate it any more, but I also don’t like it much. I don’t think that’s a fair reflection on the song however, I think this is all memory talking – music can be powerful that way. Mostly this is going to be a song for vocalists and guitarists as the first three and a half minutes are pretty much exclusive to those instruments. The song has a very (veeeerrrry) slow build, bringing everybody in somewhat bombastically in the last minute or so. Consequently I can’t see this being one that, say, a bassist is going to make his or her first choice. Much beyond that, it’s hard for me to fairly recommend. I suggest giving it a listen, particularly if you grew up or around the 90s as you may recognize this even if you don’t know it by name.

I stand by what I said above, I think that “Take On Me” is the song to get this week. Everybody knows it, everybody likes it (for one reason or another), it’s five-person-band compatible, and should be an absolute blast. Not to be overlooked for Rock Band parties is “Tubthumping”, which again should just be amazing for groups, even if the instrumentation is light. For a solid non-keys band play though, “I Alone” is my suggestion. But if you’re not interested in anything that won’t try its damnedest to make you break your little plastic instruments, “Unholy Confessions” it is.

But really. “Take On Me.”

  • Questionmark36

    What a week. You’re right that a-ha and chumbaetcetera are the standouts, but I think you’re giving short shrift to Live. That bombastic vocals build up will be a lot of fun, and frankly we have a relative dearth of that sort of mid 90s alternative music, at least from my greedy perspective.

    • Jet Wolf

      I completely agree with you that I’m likely not being fair to the song, and said as much up there. It unfortunately suffers from being a product of the time. Growing up when post-grunge alternative came in, it was literally all there was, and I developed a deep dislike for it as a genre. I’ve been able to somewhat overcome that, to go back and try to appreciate it on its own merits, but clearly I can’t do that with all songs.

      By all means though, talk it up! If you get it, I hope you come back and say how much fun it is to play.