So a lot's happened since I last released a wishlist. Between putting Guitar Hero on ice and the recent announcement of Ubisoft's Rocksmith, the music game industry has been shaken pretty hard. (I'm waiting on more detail about Rocksmith to come out before I comment on it, but short story is, I'm optimistic.) However, most relevantly for my wishlist posts, RB3 was released.
When I started on this wishlist, it was intended for something to put on-disc, which meant a balance of mainstream artists and songs both well-known and slightly more obscure that could cater to all instrument players and vocalists. (Since then, two of the songs were confirmed as on-disc, with two more having been released as DLC. Four for 56... I could do better than that.) This list...isn't all that different, in that way. In choosing songs this time around, though, I further narrowed down the criteria, to groups that haven't been on the RB platform before, nor been on my list previously. It's getting a lot more difficult now, but I think I've managed a list that the few of you who read this will enjoy.
57. "A Song About California" by Hey Ocean! (It's Easier to Be Somebody Else, 2008) "Write a song about California, he said," croons lead female singer Ashleigh Ball alongside a simple, cheery bassline. This simple command is repeated, and promptly ignored. The moment she declares, "but I think I'll write a song about him instead," the drums and guitar kick in, and the song proper begins. The song is rife with backing vocals and horns, which we've seen now are charted to keyboard. Gameplay-wise, this song goes to the rhythm section. The drums are varied and heavily syncopated, making for a fun if not incredibly difficult track. Meanwhile, doesn't that bassline make you want to jump around?
"The Beatboxer Who Broke My Heart" would be interesting, just to see how the beatboxing gets handled.
58. "My Interpretation" by Mika (Life in Cartoon Motion, 2007) I figure Mika's a like-him-or-hate-him kind of guy. If you like him, this would make a fantastic tri-pack with "Grace Kelly" and "Love Today." Even if you don't, this song has a wonderful jangly guitar that's not "Kung Fu Fighting"-quick, a simple-but-elegant bassline (and equally simple/elegant backing choir), and THOSE KEYS. Not just that piano loop, but the organ. Either one is fantastic key fodder.
59. "The Ghost Inside" by Broken Bells (Broken Bells, 2010) One of the more chilled songs on this list (particularly since I swapped Wallflowers songs), the real reason I put this one up is because I think everyone should listen to it at least once. It's very simple and straightforward, but still sounds ethereally fantastic. It definitely isn't everyone's cup of tea, particularly seeing as it's not a very complex song, either, but the harmonies and piano/keysynth make this song worthy for RB3.
60. "Left Behind" by CSS (Donkey, 2008) I wanted to put CSS on my other lists, too, but was sidetracked by all the other songs and bands I hadn't gotten to. Plus, Xzyliac already made a fantastic suggestion with "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above," and I didn't think I could better that. However, I want a hypothetical three-pack comprised of this, "LMLLDFA," and "Let's Reggae All Night," which was my original intended candidate for this list.
"Left Behind" is one of my favorite CSS songs, for its fantastic use of the wall of sound--the way the guitar line carries you away after the chorus just gets me every time. Playing it on a plastic guitar will be awesome. Playing it on bass will be awesome. Playing it on keys will be awesome. Playing it on bass will be awesome. Singing it will be awesome. Playing it will be awesome.
The only thing I ask is that whoever ends up charting this--as CSS is SubPop and they're contracted to bring out singles by a bunch of artists is that they mix the guitar stems so that the player gets to try a little bit of everything. There's a lot there that can be played, and all of it is fantastic.
61. "The Difference" by The Wallflowers (Bringing Down the Horse, 1996) Last-minute switcharound; "One Headlight" is fantastic for the crooners, and maybe if they decide to release a "cheer up, '90's emo kid!"-themed DLC pack, they could throw that in with "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe and maybe "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve and holy crap there's my high school years right there.
Back on point, both "One Headlight" and "The Difference" have fantastic organ parts and harmonic vocals, but the former is maybe a little too much of a downer for Rock Band. Plus, "The Difference" has much more energetic guitar and drum lines. I'd also accept a tri-pack with these two songs and "Three Marlenas," or alternately, a cover of "Heroes" that doesn't suck as much as the original Bowie cover (because it is Bowie, I am obliged to say that the Wallflowers version is significantly inferior to the original, but we ARE dealing with a cover as opposition).
62. "Ready to Go" by Republica (Republica, 1996) Moving from "bright and cheery" to "hard driven," "Ready to Go" is probably one of the better one-hit wonder songs of the 90's, with a pulsating energy underneath that makes it seem like it'd be a fantastic if easy (on G/B) song to play, unless that IS a guitar solo I hear at the very end. While the 2010 re-record also has a meatier key part to accompany it and thus would be acceptable, the original version is still the preferred one (the new vocals are...squeakier).
63. "It's Your Thing" by the Isley Brothers (It's Our Thing, 1969) Really, I'm assuming licensing, maybe technical, difficulties are the only thing (or things) standing in the way between us and this song on Rock Band, because seriously, they couldn't have NOT entertained this song as an idea. The question is: do you chart the keys to the piano, or to the horns?
64. "The Way" by Fastball (All the Pain Money Can Buy, 1998) Popular in its time, still a catchy song, could be popular amongst the 30+ demographic, covers all the bases in terms of instruments (straightforward piano chords, harmonies, crunchy guitar with two solos, the rhythm section). Not much more to say than that.
65. "Marquee Moon" by Television (Marquee Moon, 1977) Someone on the RB forums once asked what television was best for Rock Band, and one of the responses was "Marquee Moon." I don't know whether they were referring to the album on a whole or the title track--a ten-minute epic with fantastic, winding guitar solos, a noodling bassline, and widely-varying drums--but after listening to the entire album, I think the title track would be fantastic to play in-game. Unless I were singing, I suppose, in which case I could make a sandwich or something during the solo. Then the people I was playing with would be huge douches and play this alongside Working Man, GGHT, and probably Bodhisattva, and I'd be all "screw this" and storm off Noel Gallagher style.
66. "I Wanna Be Your Limousine" by Black Kids (Partie Traumatic, 2008) Dance Rock is one of my favored genres, and Black Kids gets it right. This song is chock full of spunk and catchy hooks built on crazy awesome harmonies. Two of their singles, "Hurricane Jane" and "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You" are also good candidates, but I don't believe they'd work as well. I mean, come on--this song has harmonized Wizard of Oz chanting! Can you get more awesome than that?
67. "Love Letter to Japan" by The Bird and the Bee (Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future, 2009) Pretty, pretty, pretty. Just listen to the track, and take stock: pretty harmonies, pretty keys, pretty guitar and bass lines, and drums. (Not everything has to be pretty for a song to be pretty.) It's one of those songs that catches easily in your head, and can keep you in a happy dance-y place for some time. No?
68. "The Next Attraction" by The Potentials (A Whole New Brand of Hero, 2007) These guys attracted some attention on the RB forums when they filmed their music video on Rock Band instruments in a reasonably authentically RB-like manner (the drummer even factors in disco flip!), and the world looked on in horror as they trashed the then-rare controllers into little pieces before continuing on actual instruments (at least, I did; instruments in Europe were crazy expensive). This pop-rock single has a fantastically catchy hook, a guitar solo, and a background synth. I've actually wanted this song in Rock Band since I first saw the video, instrument-trashing notwithstanding.
69. "We Share Our Mother's Health" by The Knife (Silent Shout, 2006) Because I'm now talking about DLC/RBN 2.0 releases and not Rock Band disc proper, I get to include stranger songs. This song is creepy in all the right ways, with haunting-but-engrossing hooks, a simple keys/bass hook, the computerized drum section, and off-kilter harmonies and counterpoints that add to the atmosphere. A fair warning: if you think the song is creepy, the music video is way creepier.
70. "Dita Dimoné" by Pop Levi (Never Never Love, 2008) This song has a fantastically cool feel to it that I can't get enough of. It's the bass/synth line that speaks to me here, although the crier-style harmonies are also a large draw. The drums also change up a fair amount if you listen, and brief as it is, the ending is the kind of thing the rhythm section wants/needs. A tri-pack with "Wannamama" (my original choice, since I discovered this artist through the song being used on an episode of "Chuck") and "Mai's Space" would be fantastic.
71. "Young Blood" by The Naked and Famous (Passive Me, Aggressive You, 2011) Speaking of "Chuck," I haven't been able to get this song out of my head since the mid-season finale closed on it. Artful use of a fantastic song, and check out the synth line and the disco-beat drums.
Apparently the album dropped internationally this past week. Think I'm gonna check it out.
72. "Devil Town" by Tony Lucca (Friday Night Lights Original Soundtrack, 2007) One of the longest shots I can possibly think of, being a cover of a cover (it's a cleaner-sounding cover of the Bright Eyes arrangement of the song, as the original Daniel Johnston version was strictly vocals...well, a vocal) licensed specifically for a television show that never found an audience but whose critical acclaim is--you know what, just watch FNL already, will you? It's five seasons, three of which are thirteen episodes, and all of it watch-worthy, even its aggravatingly soap-opera-like second season, and you won't regret it.
Anyway, that this version of "Devil Town" was written specifically for the town of Dillon, Texas (or its fictional counterpart, anyway) is evident, starting out clean and simple and building, building, building to a fantastically understated climax of a simple guitar solo. It's not the most complex track by any means, but it is a beautiful one, and I don't doubt it would be a joy to play in Rock Band. Unfortunately, it being a cover means no RBN, and being a television show licensee means increased difficulty in licensing (one would assume, anyway), and being a licensee from a television show that never gained significant popularity means it's got an ice cream scoop's chance in hell. But a guy can dream.
About LoopyChew One of us since 3:31 AM on 06.15.2010
I'm just this guy, you know? A thirty-something and probably the quintessential Sino-American geekster, with the only significant difference being I live nine hours ahead of Los Angeles.
My preferred game genres are music/rhythm games and the occasional FPS/action RPG (Bethsoft RPGs, Mass Effect, etc.). Rock Band 3 and variants of Rock Band probably inhabit 90+% of my gaming time, with the rest mostly devoted to things like the latest Bethsoft release or whatever game du jour happens to be out there. Before Rock Band, there was Guitar Hero and DDR. Less so nowadays, although I'm still happy to play HVAM on singles expert since apparently I don't quite have the muster for HVAM doubles anymore.
I currently don't buy Activision games because I don't like the publisher, even if I like the games or developers. I actually enjoyed what I've played of Guitar Hero 5 and DJ Hero, but I'm adamant about not purchasing their games. Possibly used. Maybe next time I'm in the States, I'll go to a GameStop or something, I dunno.