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ABC, AFI, 3DD...and Audioslave!

Hard rock, harder rock, punk rock and…Michael Jackson? What’s he doing here? The answer of course is that he’s still the King of Pop and he can go wherever he wants. Besides, we thought you might want to memorialize him Rock Band-style while you’re getting good and gritty with the rest of this week’s DLC singles. All four songs, by the way, made their Rock Band debut in Rock Band Unplugged, and as promised they’re now available in full-sized glory.

The town of Escatawpa, Mississippi - population 2000, last time anyone checked - got its claim to rock immortality when the Skynyrd and AC/DC-inspired 3 Doors Down busted out of there around Y2K. One of the best love songs ever to reference Superman, “Kryptonite” was written three years before the band’s breakthrough album; yet it was that disc’s breakthrough track and helped it sell six million copies. Asked about the song’s success, bassist Todd Harrell once explained that “it’s catchy as hell” - We wouldn’t argue with that one.

Beginning as a garage band (and a parents’-living-room band) in the San Francisco Bay Area, AFI (A Fire Inside) have connected with some of our favorite punk touchstones - they’ve done the Warped Tour and hung out with Green Day and Rancid - while carving a unique style over the past decade-and-a-half, loving goth along with punk. “Miss Murder” shows their ability to take a sad thought and make it better, or at least louder and catchier.

Also imported from Rock Band Unplugged is Audioslave’s “Gasoline,” a prime cut from the now-broken up supergroup of ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell with three-quarters of Rage Against the Machine. The group splintered in 2007 after three albums, at which time Cornell announced that the two factions weren’t getting along that well. Rage went on to reform, while Cornell cut a solo album that included, of all things, a Michael Jackson cover.

Which brings us to the mighty “ABC,” the second of four consecutive Number One singles that the Jackson 5 had at the start of their career. Their debut “I Want You Back” topped the charts in December 1969, making overnight stars out of the five brothers and a sensation out of 11-year-old frontman Michael. When the time came for a followup, the producers decided not to give them another grown-up lyric like “I Want You Back” - instead they figured that a lot of the Jacksons’ fans were still in grade school, so why not write something the kids could relate to? Motown president Berry Gordy wanted to change the chorus and call the song “1-2-3,” but the songwriters held out and it went out as originally written.