Being a great song doesn’t automatically make it a great Rock Band song. To be a great song for the game, it has to be fun to play for everyone in the band. For example, I love “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, but that’s song is mostly a repetitive drone of notes for the guitar and bass players, while rapping isn’t nearly as fulfilling as singing in the Rock Band engine. The soundtrack for Beatles: Rock Band is comprised of some of the greatest songs of all-time, but most of that stuff is easy to the point of being almost boring to play. Conversely, songs that really push the limits of each player may not be inherently great songs that you’d want to listen to.
Inspired by the upcoming release of Rock Band 4, I decided to create a list of songs that are some of my favourites to play. This list is highly subjective, as it’s based on my personal preferences and the difficulty I play on (for reference, I play everything on expert). Narrowing it down to 5 was really difficult, so I’m sure I left out a few gems. However, it also makes for a great conversation starter, as I’m sure that you’re favourite songs to play and your rationale behind that choice will differ. Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my 10 favourite songs to play in Rock Band!
“Flathead” by the Fratellis
Prior to their inclusion as DLC, I’d never heard of this song or the band. I bought their three pack off the strength of how fun their songs sounded in previews. To say that this one delivered would be an understatement. The rolling drum notes keeps things interesting for the player in the back. The bassist will have a good time working through the notes that scale up and down the fretboard. Most of the guitar parts are chords, though there are a number of interesting chord progressions to give the track some complexity. What puts this song over the top is its infectious chorus. Even without a mic plugged in, my brother and I always sing the “ba da bap ba da da da da…” loudly, because why wouldn’t you?
“Toxicity” by System of a Down
System of a Down is best known for their more face-melting efforts like “Chop Suey” and “BYOB”. That’s a great song in its own right, but I always put “Toxicity” ahead of it if I’m going to play one of their songs on Rock Band. This is a bit slower, which makes it a bit easier to play, while still having complex parts for all of the instrument players. Meanwhile, the vocalist has their work cut out for them with the unique rock opera stylings of Serj Tankian. For being an all-around great song to play on all instruments, and a kick ass song in general, “Toxicity” is a must have on any playlist.
“Hammerhead” by The Offspring
Best known for their work in the 90s, The Offspring made a bit of a resurgence in the late 2000s with “Hammerhead”. It’s not necessarily my favourite song in their catalogue, but it sure is a blast to play in the game. The guitar is consistently fun with the chord progressions. Bass player gets a breakdown towards the end of the song. It has a great hook for the singer to wail. Best of all is the drum chart, which is absolutely nuts and almost too hard for my brother and I to play. When we do make it through though, the feeling of accomplishment is certainly awesome.
“Working Man” by Rush
I’m not much of a fan of their music, but I think they make awesome music for video games like this. Every note chart in this song is hot fire flames. The song already starts out pretty challenging, then it kicks into high gear with four minutes of just madness on every instrument. The singer takes an extended break in the middle, but they’ll probably be too busy rocking his face off. That, or taking a bathroom break. At least singing the Geddy Lee verses poses an interesting challenge? Nonetheless, this song lets everyone show off their skills in one of the more challenging songs in the game.
“Hysteria” by Muse
This one in particular will really put your bassist to the test, as its scaling bass chart mercilessly forces you to oscillate your fingers up and down the fretboard. This one also features a great vocal melody, which my brother and I always sing along to, even if the microphone isn’t plugged in. Also have to give the guitar solo a special shout, as I somehow managed to play it on expert with the guitar behind my head.
I always have a blast playing this song, so it almost always makes any playlist I play. If you don’t have this one, definitely give it a shot!