While I’m fairly certain that this wasn’t the impetus, today’s my birthday and it’s like Harmonix gift wrapped the single this week just for me. The Weezer pack’s okay too I guess, but man, Janis Joplin? Oh yes please and thank you.
+ = pro-guitar/bass chart available
I love “Me and Bobby McGee”. LOVE. I think it may have been my first taste of Janis Joplin, with her scratchy soulful bluesy voice in this wistful yet celebratory ballad. The song starts slowly, just Janis and an acoustic, but other instruments soon join in. It’s easy to miss them as you’re so focused on Janis’s vocals, but they’ll soon get their moment. The guitar and the organ flare now and again to snatch little snippets and accentuate the story, but when Janis is on she steals the show. There’s no vocalist in the game who won’t want this song. It all builds to the last minute and a half where the whole thing erupts into a rocking jam, sort of reminiscent of a New Orleans jazz funeral. All the instruments shine here, but the piano and organ go totally off the hook. Then Janis comes back to in to tie the whole thing up at the end. It’s a near flawless song and this game was tailor made for it.
The first song in the Weezer pack is “Hash Pipe”, a dirty grungy song that calls back to the group’s garage band sound. The guitar is the driving force but it’s got a couple other hooks too, including River Cuomo’s falsetto and the simple but eminently sing-alongable “whoa-oo-ohh” backup vocals. There aren’t a whole lot of layers to the song but it’s straightforwardness is welcome.
Quite a contrast is “Island in the Sun”, a song I really couldn’t stand when it first came out. Lots of airplay later and I admit it grew on me. What I think I like best about it is the tone of the song. Weezer does a great job making the song light and drifting, the sort of thing you could imagine playing on the beach, strumming a ukelele while the surf laps your feet. Harmonies are strongest with this song out of all others this week, and will work well with the dreamy little head bop you’re helpless to resist doing while the song is playing. Nobody will ever call this a challenge, but it has its place as a breather between songs.
“Perfect Situation” isn’t a song I recognize by title, even though it appears to have gotten a lot of airplay. I listen and nope, still don’t recognize it. As with so many Weezer songs however, it’s catchy. It’s actually a little more complex than the other two in the pack as well, and the tone of the song balances somewhere between “Hash Pipe” and “Island” as well. It’s a good inclusion to balance it out – even though I personally am still waiting for “In the Garage”. (Okay, I just want a reason to sing “Kitty Pryde” and “Nightcrawler”.)
The Weezer pack has a decent selection of songs that should hit a broad spectrum of tastes. For the pure guitar then I suppose I’d have to go with “Hash Pipe”, though honestly of the three I think that “Island in the Sun” would be more fun to play. It’s also going to take the vote for harmonies, though the other two also have fun backup parts.
Really though, if you only have one song to pick this week then it’s not even a contest. “Me and Bobby McGee” is the choice. Every single instrument has a ton to do, and for complexity I wager it’ll kick the butt of any individual Weezer song this week. It’s incredibly difficult to filter out Janis to get a bead on any part that isn’t her, but whenever I’m able to zero in on an instrument, what it’s doing is amazing. It’s absolutely no question that this is the song of the week. Buy it.