Top 10 Songs That Should Be Featured in Guitar Hero II
went into Best Buy a little over a week ago to buy a Discman, and on the way there I saw that they had a copy of Guitar Hero set up at one of the TVs. I’d heard a lot about it, and wanted to play it for some time, but had never gotten around to trying it out. Needless to say, a week later, I was about $250 poorer, having no choice but to buy both the game and its accompanying system (my first since I got an N-64 for my Bar Mitzvah in 1999). What’s more, it might very well be the only game I ever purchase for the system and considering I’ve already almost exhausted the game’s possibilities, it might not have been the most economically wise purchase. Guitar Hero tends to cloud one’s judgment a little bit.
Actually, that last part isn’t totally true—I will definitely purchase at least one game besides Guitar Hero for my PS2, and that game, of course, is Guitar Hero II. My timing for discovery of this game (and yes, I’m aware how late in the game I am with this, but as someone who never advanced beyond Soul Calibur and Super Smash Bros. in his video game education, I feel somewhat excused) was apparently right on, since the sequel game is set for release on Nov. 7th, giving me just enough time to get totally sick of GHI before the rush of fresh air the new game will undoubtedly provide.
The new game is said to have all sorts of nifty new features, in addition to a new and expanded selection of songs, supposedly at least 55 in total, 28 of which are listed as “Confirmed” on the game’s Wikipedia page. To be honest, I’m a bit underwhelmed by the song selection thus far—sure, you’ve got some classic rock standards in “Crazy on You,” “Freebird” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” (the latter of which is an especially inspired choice), some great grunge choices in “Them Bones” and “Heart-Shaped Box,” and a couple other miscellaneous curiosities (“Miserlou”!!!”) But there are too many second-tier songs by artists like Rush, Megadeth, Aerosmith, Anthrax, The Pretenders and Motley Crue—songs which could be great for all I know, but don’t live up to the classic-after-classic-after-classic lineup of the original game.
However, there are still about 25 open slots left for potential a-list guitar anthems, and here is a list of the ten I most hope will be filling in those slots. I haven’t included any songs from artists who already have other confirmed songs in the game, nor by RATM or the Foo Fighters (who the Wiki page lists as rumored, but unconfirmed, for the excellent choices of “Killing in the Name Of” and “Monkey Wrench,” respectively), nor by U2 or Quiet Riot, who for some reason the Wiki page specifically lists as not being included in the game—too bad, since “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Metal Health” would’ve been excellent choices. Also, I’ve only included songs that could feasibly be included in the game—as much fun as “Nosferatu Man” and “Freak Scene” would be for the game, Slint and Dinosaur Jr. just wouldn’t gel with the Van Halen and KISS. Maybe for another article.
10. Blink-182 – “Dammit”
This would fall strictly in the game’s Opening Licks category, of course, and even on expert it wouldn’t be very hard. Still, as far as Opening Licks go, it’s pretty heard to beat this one, and if they can put The Ramones in the first game, it wouldn’t be so unreasonable for “Dammit” to be in the second.
Also Acceptable: SR-71 – “Right Now”
09. Kansas – “Carry On Wayward Son”
This’d be a Fret-Burner, most likely, or even a Face-Melter, given that the song has about eight different equally difficult-sounding riffs, and a couple of solos in there too. As far as classic rock guitar epics go, this is one of the most unforgettable, and kicking in that first chord after the ‘DON’T YOU CRY NO MORE!!” wail would be rapturous, to say the least.
08. Bush – “Everything Zen”
Bush actually might still be too lame to be considered for this game, but I’d hope they could make an exception for this song, which has one of the coolest intros in all of 90s rock, and a couple halfway-decent riffs in there too. They should require use of the whammy bar for that intro, though.
Also Acceptable: Toadies – “Possum Kingdom”
07. Def Leppard – “Photograph”
Hair Metal—or, I dunno, MAINSTREAM 80S METAL, since 95% of hair bands refuse to be classified as such—wasn’t nearly prominent enough of a force in the original game, taking the back seat to the actual credible metal of the time. Considering Guitar Hero as a game is pretty much all about the most populist effects of the guitar as a musical unifier, I find that to be a shame. Just about any Def Leppard song would work for this, though “Photograph” is still the most forceful and guitar-face-worthy hit in their catalogue.
Also Acceptable: Bon Jovi’s “Runaway” (which I assume must have a guitar part in there somewhere, though all I can remember is the synth hook)
06. Pink Floyd – “Money”
I did not include Led Zeppelin in this list, for two reasons—because I seem to remember reading somewhere that they weren’t licensing their songs for this, although now I can’t remember where, and because it’d be basically impossible to choose between “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “The Wanton Song,” “The Ocean,” “Black Dog,” “Achilles’ Last Stand,” “Travelling Riverside Blues” and any of a thousand other of their riff-heavy classics. Those other titans of 70s classic rock, however, I consider fair game. “Money” is far from The Floyd’s best song, but I’m pretty sure it would be the best for the game—the main riff seems tailor-made for Guitar Hero’s five-note range, and the song is short enough (by Pink Floyd standards, anyway) to only necessitate one or two Star Power cheats.
05. The Deftones – “My Own Summer (Shove It)”
One of the monster riffs of the last ten years or so, I would really be disappointed if this never showed up in the GH series. Wouldn’t be too tough, I don’t think—a Thrash and Burn, at most—but slamming on the strum bar with the faux-Chino Moreno screaming “SHOVE IT! SHOVE IT! SHOVE IT! SHOVE IT!” in the background is about as rock a feeling as you can get alone in your living room.
Also Acceptable: At the Drive-In – “One Armed Scissor”
04. Journey – “Don’t Stop Believin’”
Don’t think there are any guitars in the first half-minute or so of this one, but the wait is worth it for that amazing guitar introduction halfway through the first verse, not to mention all the soaring licks towards the end of the song. Plus, it’s fucking Journey—if you want to unite a bunch of high school – 20s aged males, is there any better conduit?
Also Acceptable: Foreigner – “Jukebox Hero”
03. Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”
One of the only unabashedly…well, progressive rock songs to make any sort of inroads in the US in the last ten years or so, you probably know all the dozen riffs and solos by heart already—why not try ‘em out on the big screen? And just to offset potential complaints that I’m violating my no-indie policy, “Paranoid Android” made the top half of a Guitar World list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos from about five years ago. Good enough for Guitar World, good enough for Guitar Hero.
Also Acceptable: “Just”
02. The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”
Putting the Ultimate Song, Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” on the first game was obviously brilliant, putting the song’s rightful successor on the game’s sequel seems only fair. Guitar Hero is all about triumphance (and yes, I know that’s not a real word, but it’s still the word I’m looking for here), and music doesn’t get any more triumphant than “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”. Game would get countless bonus points as well for including the video in the background—hopefully a feature that’ll be available by GH3 or 4.
01. Blue Oyster Cult – “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”
The use of BOC’s “Godzilla” as a Face-Melter in GH1 was an unexpected, interesting choice, but Guitar Hero is not a game for the interesting and unexpected, it is a game for the big and obvious, and when it comes to amazing guitar riffs, it doesn’t get much bigger or more obvious than “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. The song might be more remembered today for its exorbitant use of cowbell (which honestly, I never even noticed until way after the SNL sketch), but it’s the riff that makes this song such a continuous pop culture touchstone. And once the song gets to that bridge…my fingers get too excited contemplating the possibilities, so I’ll stop now.
Also Acceptable: “Burnin’ for You”
See also: Top Ten Songs Tragically Snubbed by Guitar Hero I