Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Different Way to Listen

I play a lot of Guitar Hero. I also secretly aspire to play a lot of Rock Band, but we haven't shelled out the money for it.

I am always interested in how new media changes people, and this is no exception. I listen to music a little differently. Now, when I hear a song I immediately think, "Would this be a good Guitar Hero/Rock Band song or not?" Some songs, like Alone Again Or, are really good but not something I would want to either karaoke or try to emulate on a plastic guitar.

Listen for yourself:

While other songs I normally would think were just ok, like When You Were Young by the Killers, totally rock my world because, dude, I can sort of play that.

No longer do I listen for the subtlety of a string section or the sweet lilt of masterful keyboard work. No, I just listen for guitar, drums, vocals, and sometimes bass lines.

And I've started making lists.

I do not know if Guitar Hero or Rock Band people troll blogs looking for suggestions - I imagine them too cool to do that sort of thing - but I've decided to provide a few suggestions for them.

1. Major Tom by I Hate Kate - I know this is a cover, but this reinterpretation just seems ready-made for plastic guitar wonders.

2. Palmcorder Yajna by the Mountain Goats - I love this song. In fact, I love this whole album. Most of the songs on the album are a little slower, but not this one. For a song about weakness, resentment, and loathing, it has a pretty upbeat catchy rhythm to it.

3. Walkabout by the Sugarcubes - Part of the fun of performing this song is havine the singer realize what the lyrics are exactly. It is not like you can really understand it when Bjork wails "Delicious boy /animal eyes /beautiful buttocks / haunting movements / but the thing that makes me love you is the unforgettable smell of your skin"

4. Billy Radcliffe by Frank Black and the Catholics - It always baffles me as to what is popular and what is not. This album, Pistolero, should have been a top ten something something. And now, I can't even find an mp3 clip of it on Amazon.

5. Coconut by Fred Schneider - As soon as the party starts to slow down, pop this song in and suddenly everyone will be happy and lively again.

6. Time to Pretend by MGMT - One thing about Guitar Hero is that they don't really mind mapping the guitar parts to the keyboard parts of the song. This is the one I think would be the most fun for the drummer (even though it is pretty obvious it is not real drums but rather drum loops).

7. A Small Victory by Faith No More - I know Faith No More have "We Care A Lot" on Rock Band, but this is a far superior song.

8. Whatsername by Green Day - All I need is about $25,000 and I can make a killer KILLER music video for this song. Since I don't think that will happen soon, let me play it on my Playstation.

9. Blister in the Sun by the Violent Femmes - Why this isn't on Rock Band already is beyond me. It just seems ready-made for the four person breakdown of the instruments.

10. No Depression / Grindstone by Uncle Tupelo - I'm trying to only have one song per band or per album, but this is one where I can't make a decision.

11. Velvety Instrumental Version by the Pixies - My favorite songs on the Guitar Hero games are the instrumentals - Cliffs of Dover in Guitar Hero III and Jessica in Guitar Hero II. The Pixies did a lot of instrumentals, and this one is one of the best.

12. Dead Sound by the Ravonettes - This was the first song when I heard it, I went, "That could totally be a Rock Band song."

13. Ana Ng by They Might Be Giants - Here's a dark secret - I hated TMBG's first album. Really hated it. But this song was so good that I instantly loved not only the band, but retroactively liked the first album.

14. She Divines Water by Camper van Beethoven - This one is a little bit of a stretch because not only does it prominently feature the violin instead of the guitar, it culminates in an incoherent noisefest that would be hard to imitate on the little plastic instruments. From the album Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart.

15. Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs - There needs to be more soul in all of these guitar/rock games.

16. Skinless Boneless by Big Lazy - I love Big Lazy and think all of their songs should be available in every medium possible.

17. Low by Cracker - To make up for my Camper van Beethoven entry, here is a more traditional song from David Lowry's other band.

18. Mr. Blue Sky by ELO - This is a good one for the fun rhythms. I'm not sure how the vocals would pan out, but it would be fun to try singing it.

19. Dancing in the Streets by Martha and the Vandellas - If they came out with Guitar Hero: Motown, or Rock Band: Motown complete with a plastic horns section, I would buy that in a heartbeat.

20. (Nothing But) Flowers by Talking Heads - My favorite Talking Heads song would bring some great Latin beats to the game.

21. The Hardest Button to Button by The White Stripes - Seriously, I do not understand why the Rock Band and Guitar Hero people don't just drive a truckful of money to Jack White's house and dump it on his lawn. The White Stripes were made for games like Guitar Hero. From the album Elephant.

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