Blink-182 —“All the Small Things”
Some songs make it into Rock Band because they’re just too much fun to leave out. This ridiculously catchy song from the California pop-punk trio is a prime example: We dare you not to get into “na-na-na” ing along with that chorus, even if you’re supposed to be playing drums. When they put out this song in 1999, the group were knows as the fratboy jokers of the punk scene, and their reputation never changed much: After all, the album was called “Enema of the State” and it had that photo of the evil nurse on the cover.
But this song helped turn Blink-182 into a commercial property, spawning a hit video and making them headliners. Toward the end of their career they dropped the humor altogether and made a surprisingly ambitious final (for now) album. But it was drummer Travis Barker who scored big, not only marrying former Miss USA Shanna Moakler but having a brief, well-publicized affair with Paris Hilton. In response, geeky kids from coast to coast set out to become punk drummers.
Who says that originality counts for everything? Sweet’s followup to “Ballroom Blitz” sounded so much like Queen that a lot of people thought that’s who it was. The ultra-high vocals, wild tempo changes and massive production were all straight out of Queen’s bag of tricks at the time. But a great song will out, and “Action” (faithfully covered here) was a second US hit, one of the last of the glitter-rock era. Sweet wound up turning into a prog-rock band of all things, hitting once again with “Love is Like Oxygen” (whose long keyboard solo makes it ineligible for Rock Band). Trivia note: “Action” was lately covered in concert by another band on our playlist, the New Pornographers.
The Monkees—Last Train to Clarksville
What a concept: A rock band created specifically for a TV show. Happens all the time nowadays, but it was a whole new thing when the Monkees made their prime-time debut in September 1966 (Their first single, “Clarksville” hit the top ten a few weeks beforehand). Davy, Micky, Peter and Mike became teen idols as soon as the show hit the air; and it happened all over again when MTV re-ran the whole series in the 80’s. At first the Monkees hired some of the top studio guys to play on their records—the rhinestone cowboy, Glen Campbell played lead on the “Clarksville” single. But then the Monkees rebelled and became a real band, going on tour playing their own instruments; and went on to make the trippy cult movie “Head” (written by up-and-coming actor Jack Nicholson). What nobody realized at the time was that this was meant as an antiwar song: Songwriters Boyce and Hart later revealed that the singer was passing through Clarksville on his way to Vietnam; that’s why he didn’t know if he was ever coming home.
“I Want My, I Want My DLC!”
The songs in Rock Band are only the beginning. Each week we’ll be rolling out more downloadable songs, essential tracks (and sometimes whole albums) from every era of rock history. Check the Rock Band website to find out what’s new.
Tracks will usually sell for $1.99 each; with three-pack specials costing $5.49. (On the Xbox 360, that’s 160 Microsoft Points per track and 440 per three-pack). Occasional special or discounted tracks may cost a dollar more or less.
Downloadable content for the Xbox 360 is available through the XBOX LIVE marketplace. Downloads for the PLAYSTATION 3 version of Rock Band are available through the PLAYSTATION Network Store. In each case, the songs are downloaded onto your hard drive.
If you’re playing solo, you can start rocking right away. For head-to-head or multiplayer online, all players will need to download the song.