You know how I keep talking on the ol’ GameCola Podcast about how I plan to start writing my own column here on the ‘Cola? Welp, here it is! This is “Things Zach Rich Demands to See Before He Dies in 2020,” wherein I discuss what I demand to see before my unlikely death in 2020 at the hands of the MOOOOOOOOOON PEOPLE.
This month, we direct our angry, shaking fists in the direction of Harmonix, and the Rock Band franchise. Now, I’m no newcomer to the series—hell, I own 325 of the songs available for the series. All you have to do is swipe someone’s credit card number, and bam. Free Microsoft Points for life. And by someone, I mean Zac Efron. It’s really easy to memorize, too. 1111-2222-3333-1332. There, now you can go on a shopping spree, too.
In March, we saw the release of one of the greatest albums of the 90s, Pearl Jam’s Ten, in all its glory, except that Harmonix made “Master/Slave” an instrumental track. All I want to do is talk about how Dirty Frank was a bad mother SHUT YOUR MOUTH. Then last month, we saw the release of an album I can safely say nobody really cared about: GnR’s Chinese Democracy. I don’t mind old Guns N’ Roses, but did Harmonix really have to go with the horrible sounds of their new album? I’m all for new sounds and all, but that’s only when what I’m listening to is actually music.
Anyway, I can’t help but notice that some of the absolute best rock albums are missing from this service. This, of course, will not do. Someone on the Harmonix staff needs to wake up, smell the daisies he just stamped all over with his muddy boots, and get busy, because there are:
Ten Albums I Demand to See in the Rock Band Series Before My Death in 2020
Here are the rules: The album must not already be confirmed for release on Rock Band (though, who’d really want Chinese Democracy, anyway?), there can be no songs from the album currently on Rock Band, and I can only choose one album per band.
Album: Ten Thousand Fists
Released: September 20, 2005
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “Ten Thousand Fists,” “Just Stop,” “I’m Alive,” “Sons of Plunder”
Number of Fists in the Air: > or = 10,000
Disturbed was the first metal band I lent my ear to, way back in the early 00s, as soon as I realized that there was more to music than Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. While The Sickness had a few strong licks, and Believe was certainly a strong album, The Thousand Fists is one of the best metal albums released this decade, in my opinion. This is a strong album for all four instruments, especially vocals. Tracks like “Stricken,” “Sons of Plunder,” and “Guarded” throw fast and heavy guitar riffs at your nimble little fingers, while “Pain Redefined” and “Decadence” deliver the drummer a happy offering. “Overburdened” is a beautiful (if you can call Disturbed beautiful, ever) ballad about the lack of vacancy at the Hell Hotel, and there’s even something for Genesis fans: Disturbed’s cover of “Land of Confusion.”
Artist: Alter Bridge
Released: October 9, 2007
Label: Universal Republic
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “Coming Home,” “Come to Life,” “One By One,” “White Knuckles”
Number of Times I’ve Had to Tell People That This is NOT Creed: 325
When the members of Creed were reforming with a new singer, Miles Kennedy, the obvious thought was “Oh, well. Creed’s not really gone, are they?” It’s safe to say that this band is, indeed, not Creed with a new singer, but an entirely different beast. Their first album, One Day Remains, was clear evidence of this, but Blackbird made it a scientific FACT. This album would be a huge challenge for vocalists, especially those who hate taking songs down an octave. Crazy guitar solos pop at you left and right, with the exception of the title track, as well as the final track, “Wayward One.” Meaningful lyrics and solid musicianship make this album a must-release on Rock Band.
Album: Sixteen Stone
Released: December 5, 1994
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “Everything Zen,” “Machinehead,” “Little Things,” “Glyserine”
One Stone is Also: 14 Pounds. Those silly English.
This Bush album is criticized for sounding too similar to Soundguarden or Nirvana, but goddamn. If your best-selling album is the one that everyone says is bad, then you must be doing a good job as a musician. Bush’s original offering showcases everything that made the grunge movement great: grouchy vocals, catchy tunes, fun guitar solos, and weird songs that only last a minute that you’ll never understand, even after 15 years of listening to them. This is a fun album that could easily find a home on a player’s RB setlist.
Album: Yourself or Someone Like You
Artist: Matchbox Twenty
Released: October 1, 1996
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “Real World,” “3 AM,” “Push”
I Told Michael Gray I Wanted to Push Him Around: And I did, and I did.
Who cares if the band name sounds like something a fourth grader came up with?! Yourself or Someone Like You is a classic album of the 90s, and I’ll be damned if I never get to see that album in RB before 2020. Another fun set on vocals, somber guitar patterns, and easy drumming are key on this album. If you’re calling me biased toward vocals, maybe you didn’t hear the part where I’m a MUSICAL THEATER MAJOR.
Plus, that guy on the album cover? Paul Franzen, circa 1995!
Album: In Absentia
Artist: Porcupine Tree
Released: September 24, 2002
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “Blackest Eyes,” “Sound of Musik,” “The Creator Has a Mastertape”
Best Thing to Come Out of England: This Band. Fuck The Beatles.
A little European flair for the Rock Band store is never a bad thing, ever. And with a band like Porcupine Tree, it was truly hard to choose just one album to put on this list. This band is all over the place with its sound, and all of its styles can be summed up in one song, easily. “Blackest Eyes” is a piece of art, and it should be a mandatory download for everyone as soon as it comes out. It’s that song alone that made this album my pick on this list, though “Deadwing” was a close second. (“The Start of Something Beautiful” is on my RB3 wishlist, after all.)
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Released: June 8, 1999
Label: Warner Bros.
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “Around The World,” “Californication,” “Otherside”
Places to Live In California: People live in California?
Yeah, yeah. You say Rock Band already has a Chili Peppers album. But compare the sounds of this with Blood Sugar Sex Magic. Could you honestly say you’d know it’s by the same band if you didn’t know it already was? RHCP is one of those bands that have been able to redefine their sound every time they get a new album on the shelves, and Californication is the epitome of that trend. Crazy drums, sweet guitar, and the crooning of Anthony Kiedis would make this one a must-buy as soon as it’s released.
Album: Appeal to Reason
Artist: Rise Against
Released: October 4, 2008
Label: DGC, Interscope
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “The Strength to Go On,” “Kotov Syndrome,” “Hairline Fracture,” “Whereabouts Unknown”
Question: What the hell is Kotov Syndrome?
Damn you, Guitar Hero! How dare you snatch up downloadable Rise Against before Rock Band gets to it! Rise Against’s fifth album— remember, Siren Song of the Counter Culture was not their first album, just their first album to be released on a label that actually promoted them—was one of the best punk albums to come out last year. Its songs all feature a significant sound that would serve as a challenge on all fronts. Knowing Rise Against’s track record of getting their music into videogames (several appearances in the Burnout and Tony Hawk series, in addition to RB and GH), they’re just bound to get more songs into Rock Band soon.
Artist: Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony
Released: November 23, 1999
Label: Elektra, Vertigo
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “Fuel,” “One,” “Battery,” “Enter Sandman”
Obviously Needs: A violin controller.
Oh, don’t sit there and tell me this wouldn’t be amazing. This modern mastery of metal and orchestral music would be a hot seller in Rock Band. Who wouldn’t want to pretend they’re rockstars, sharing a stage with one of the best orchestra groups in the country, churning out the best metal music from the past three decades with the sounds of beautiful, beautiful strings backing them up the whole way through? It’d be a must-buy for anyone with good taste in music, even if you aren’t much of a Metallica fan.
Album: The Lost Christmas Eve
Artist: The Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Released: October 12, 2004
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “Wizards in Winter,” “Christmas Nights in Blue,” “What is Christmas?,” “What Child is This?”
What is Christmas?: It’s kind of a disease.
Playing off what I just said, orchestras are awesome. Orchestras that do Christmas music are awesome. Orchestras that do rock variations of Christmas music are obnoxiously-large-and-in-your-face font AWESOME.
Such is the case of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, taking a joyful, wonderful trek through the beauty of the Christmas season, and putting a kickass guitar solo in the middle of it. Granted, this album would make for a few situations where certain instruments would have little-to-no playtime, and drumming wouldn’t be challenging at all, but it’s that wonderful Rule of Awesome that would make the TSO’s third Christmas album a solid addition to the RB library that should have been added last year. Damn Barenaked Ladies and their crappy Hanukkah song.
Oh, and TSO? Release Night Castle already!
Album: Running With Scissors
Artist: “Weird Al” Yankovic
Released: June 29, 1999
You Better at Least Get These Tracks: “The Saga Begins,” “Germs,” “Your Horoscope for Today,” “Albuquerque”
What do You Mean It’s Not a Rock Album?: There’s a song about the lead singer of Pearl Jam!
All right, work with me on this one. You want to torture the vocalist? Make him sing “Albuquerque.” Although this would be an amazing set for vocalists to plow through, the others would enjoy “Germs” (a style parody of Nine Inch Nails), “Your Horoscope for Today” (a parody of third-wave ska bands, like Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish), and “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi” (a redo of a song already featured on the RB2 disc, The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly [For a White Guy]”). If you’re looking for an album that would distract your rock skills with laughter, then this would be the album for you.
Now, by this point, I’m sure you’re sitting around complaining “But Zaaaaaaach, all of these albums seem to favor vocalists!” or “Zaaaaaaaaach, the oldest album on here is from 1994, when music stopped being good!” or “Zaaaaaaaach, I can’t feel your mad smooth face through this computer monitor!” Please remember, this is not only my list of albums I will go gaga over once they’re released—they’re also albums that will come out by 2020. I’m going to die, after all; that means everyone has to respect me and my wishes to an irrational degree. Otherwise, I think the sky turns orange or something. Which I think means there’s a nuclear holocaust the very next day.
Do you want to cause a nuclear holocaust, Harmonix? No? Then make this happen before the MOOOOOOOOOOOON PEOPLE come to claim my life 11 years from now!