This year marks the return of the rhythm action game, with both Rock Band and Guitar Hero making comebacks. One of the great things about the old games was discovering new music, reacquainting yourself with old classics and learning new parts of songs that you thought you knew inside and out. What follows are some of my suggestions for songs that could be included in these new games.
These are songs that are at least 25 years old. A couple of them are by bands who have already been included in games (but not these tracks) and some are ones that I would like to see, and I dare say Harmonix and Neversoft are trying to get.
Led Zeppelin – Rock and Roll: Both Harmonix and Neversoft have spoken of their desire to include Led Zeppelin in their games. Some say that the issue is the band giving access to the original masters (this is required to separate the parts for the game), while others say that Jimmy Page doesn’t approve of the games. Whatever the stumbling block, they would be quite the addition (and coup) to whoever could get them. This track is a real barnstormer of a song, which while not as popular as some of their classics, would fit really well in a rhythm action game.
The Rolling Stones – Jumpin’ Jack Flash: The Rolling Stones have appeared in several of the Guitar Hero games, but this song has never been included. The variety in the various guitar parts would allow for some fun gameplay and test players’ abilities.
Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb: Another band that I’m sure the developers have tried to woo, Pink Floyd have not appeared in any of the previous games. This song is a true guitar classic and has one of the greatest guitar solos ever written. So many people have played air guitar along to this song; being able to play a plastic guitar along to it would be even better.
Dire Straits – Money For Nothing: This is yet another band who haven’t been included in any game yet, and another air guitar classic. I reckon that on a top difficulty setting the main riff could be a real finger twister, purely down to the complexity of the part, because it’s not overly fast.
Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City: While Guns N’ Roses have been in previous games this song never has, despite probably being their second most famous track. This again has real variety in its guitar parts, and the solo in the outro will challenge even the most skilled players.
Something new: These are songs that have all been released in the last 3 years. Some are very well known. Some are a little more obscure.
Royal Blood – Figure It Out: Royal Blood is the newest band on this list, but also one of the most exciting. Royal Blood’s combination of hard rock and blues has seen them soar to success. Despite being a two-piece band (bass and guitar), you could always just double the bass part on guitar to be able to play as a full band. This is the sort of music that would thrive in a rhythm action game. Hopefully it would also raise interest in the band. In my opinion, they certainly deserve inclusion.
Protest The Hero – Clarity: More of a typical rhythm action game choice, Protest The Hero’s style of progressive metal would certainly challenge even the most accomplished players. Both rhythmically complicated and full of lightning fast flurries; this could be a real peripheral breaker, but catchy enough that you’ll keep coming back for more.
Dead Sara – Weatherman: This song wasn’t originally going to be on this list. I mentioned to one of the other writers on this site that I was going to do this article and he spoke about 3 bands that he loved and wished would be included in Rock Band (his favourite of the games). I thought I would check them out as I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting music, and came across this. With a killer hook and gutsy vocals, this would be such a great addition to either of the games musical libraries.
Florence + The Machine – What Kind Of Man: The lead single of the Indie singer/songwriter’s latest album; this song would be a good fit for early on in either game. While not complicated, it has a really prominent guitar hook that would work really well with these type of games. The build-up at the end of the song also lends itself to the kind of big finish that Rock Band loves.
George Ezra – Budapest: One of the most successful songs of last year, this chilled track would be a cool addition. A simple song to play, it would be a good beginner track but catchy enough to keep you coming back.
Something Borrowed: These are all cover versions of songs. A couple are familiar covers. Others are either done by well-known bands or are well known songs.
The White Stripes – Jolene: Another two-piece band, but this cover is so good that I had to include it. Like most of my choices this has great variety in the guitar parts. The picked parts of the verse brilliantly morph into the aggressive chorus section. This would be so much fun to play.
Marilyn Manson – Sweet Dreams: I’m really not a fan of Marilyn Manson, but I do like his take on this Eurythmics classic. Sleazy sounding guitars replace the synthesizers, and the mood builds up to each chorus. While not a particularly taxing guitar part it does, once again, offer variety throughout the song.
Radiohead – Nobody Does It Better: Best known as the theme song for the James Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. Radiohead’s take on this Carly Simon hit, adds distorted guitars and the band’s off-kilter style. Perhaps it’s because I love this version so much, but I would love playing along to this in the game.
You Me At Six – Poker Face: This pop-punk rendition of the Lady Gaga hit, which has already been included in Rock Band, replaces keyboards for guitars. Possibly one of the tracks that would be destined for early on in the game, as it wouldn’t be overly difficult; it would be another track that encourages friends and family to join in.
A Perfect Circle – Imagine: This is quite possibly my favourite cover song ever. It changes so much of the original song’s feel, but is still clearly the same track. Maynard James Kennan’s dark brooding vocals really give a haunting vibe. While this would be tricky to pull off in either of the games, poetic license with the track such as putting the piano part in the guitar track would render it possible.
Something blue(s): These are all blues songs that would be great additions to either game. Some suggestions would educate players in musical history, while others are just fun to play and listen to.
BB King – Everyday I Have The Blues: Though not the tribute most fans of the late blues king would expect, including one of his tracks would be fitting. If the developers could find a live version of this that they could use, it would be great. The guitar additions to the live version are always welcomed and this is a real blues classic.
Gov’t Mule – Rocking Horse: I’d never heard of Gov’t Mule until I studied music at college, where one of my tutors was crazy about them. Admittedly this is more blues-rock than just straight blues, but this won’t be the only one like that in this list. If I didn’t include one of their tracks my tutor might never speak to me again. It does help that it is a great track and has some superb guitar work.
John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom: Another blues legend; this master of the Delta blues is also no longer with us. This is probably his most popular track and will be recognisable to loads of people through its use in various adverts and other places. Another track with great variation throughout the song, this would be fun to play.
Seasick Steve – Cut My Wings: Despite sounding like it could have been recorded decades ago, this is from 2006. Seasick Steve brought the music back to just one man playing guitar, singing and tapping his foot. This would make it difficult for team play, but this is modern blues at its best.
Joe Bonamassa – Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter: The newest track in this section of the list, and another that is actually blues-rock. Joe Bonamassa is a prolific singer-songwriter who clearly loves the blues. This track taken from his 2009 album ‘The Ballad Of John Henry’ is a real foot tapper and has some complicated guitar licks that would fit the harder levels of a game.
Well, that’s my list for now. Give me a couple of weeks and it would probably change again. Do you agree with my choices? Think you can suggest some better options? Please feel free to share your picks in the comments below.