In addition to a few contagious rock songs, this RBN Highlights article features some of the most unusual tracks ever to come through the Rock Band Network.
Stagehands - "Now or Never"
I do love a good rock opera, and this is exactly the kind of thing I'd like to see more of in Rock Band. The track starts off slow and simple but progresses through a lot of mood swings which keep things nice and interesting, ending in a truly epic climax that leaves you breathless. All of the instrumental charts are solid and fun to play but it's the vocals, specifically the harmonies, that make this track special with each different harmony part representing different vocalists and different characters in the story. Here's hoping that Rock Band 4 will have 6-part harmonies, or more! - Oscarvarium, RBN Community
Stagehands describes their music as "Broadway rock". It's a good description - like their previous appearance on RBN ("Welcome to Our Town"), "Now or Never" is a refugee from a musical that doesn't exist. Unlike "Welcome to Our Town", "Now or Never" features harmonies - and if there was ever a band that deserved harmonies, this is it. The song will give your vocalist (vocalists, ideally) a great workout, and the catchy sound and interesting progressions will keep the rest of the band hooked until the final measures. - HMXLachesis, RBN Associate Producer
Robin Skouteris - "American Hero vs. Done"
The first mashup to ever hit RBN. (Megamix and mashup are totally different things, so this counts.) Robin Skouteris has created an excellent blending of two completely different songs in two completely different styles. No one would have ever expected a Ron Wasserman and a Giraffes song to blend so beautifully together, nor to even ever be blended together in the first place, but it happened and it’s awesome. Added bonus to getting the track is the new features; the song has full Pro Drums, and Done’s vocals during the solo has some additional harmony lines. Get it, and get its component songs if you haven’t already. - Arcanon, RBN Community
Much like the first RBN Megamix (we swear another will happen someday), this song has permanently ruined its source tracks. I can barely remember "Done" without the "American Hero" riffs, and the "American Hero" chorus keeps getting interrupted by Giraffes vocals. But rather than a simple mashing together, Robin does a solid job layering the two tracks into each other, creating new breakdowns and jams in the process. If you like either "American Hero" or "Done", you'll like this, but if you never gave the originals a try it's still a fun and unique experience. - FairwoodStudios, RBN Community
Heywood Banks - "Toast (Live)"
I was really fortunate to have such strong musical influences in my family while I was growing up. My parents, aunts, uncles and cousins all lent me records or made me mix tapes of everything from early alternative / college rock, to hip hop, to folk. But none of it was really my music, just music that had been passed down to me. "Toast" is the first song that I can recall "discovering" on my own, in the early hours before school, listening to morning radio while sitting in my dad’s truck in the driveway. It’s a silly song (spoilers: it’s about toast), but it hooked me right off the bat and it really felt like I had found something. All these years later it still holds up. Those shrieks! The French! It may be a simple song, but the best ones always are. Strongly recommended for anyone that likes fun! - HMXHenry, Community Manager
Yes, there are only two instruments in this song, but the vocals are definitely worth the price of admission. Some fast talking, a little bit of French, and... "YEAH TOAST!" It definitely makes for a fun song to surprise your friends with and will make you truly laugh along with the built-in laugh track. - OzoneEntertainment, RBN Community
Those of you who've seen the Team Fortress 2 video with this song or listen to The Bob & Tom Show will recognize this song. Armed with nothing more than a toaster and wit, Heywood Banks has created a silly song about... well, toast. Yeah, toast. It totally works too. This song is perfect for parties; despite only having two instruments ("toaster" drums and vocals), the sheer hilarity of the vocalist yelling "YEAH TOAST" will be sure to light up a few faces at your next Rock Band party. Heck, if you want the audience to be part of the action, put up a mic in the center of the room; the harmonies are made of pure laughter, literally, making it a unique experience. - Arcanon, RBN Community
As a fan of The Bob & Tom Show for many years now, I've long loved screaming "YEAH TOAST" and babbling broken French at the radio on the mornings when Heywood Banks shows up as a guest. Now, thanks to the wonder of Rock Band, I can earn points for doing just that, or for jamming along on the drums, or even for laughing along on harmonies. If that's not worth a dollar, I don't know what is. - Xenigma, RBN Community
Halfbrick Studios - "Pirats 'Til We Die"
"Pirats 'Til We Die" comes from the soundtrack for Halfbrick's Xbox Live Arcade game Raskulls, but you don't need to try the game to enjoy the music. The song couples tight challenges on guitar and drums with lyrics like "Doors will never hold us back, we'll blow 'em off their hinges / We ain't afraid of anything, not spiders, heights, or ninjas". (Disclaimer: I played this song with my usual bassist, and he is unreasonably prejudiced in favor of pirate songs. Your enjoyment level may vary if you do not like pirates. It will definitely vary if you do not like fun.) - HMXLachesis, RBN Associate Producer
Before Nine - "I"
I'm addicted to melodic rock, so this song easily caught my attention. If you're not in the Gulf Coast region, you may not have heard of Before Nine yet, but they're gaining momentum rapidly in Florida and they've been number 1 on the ReverbNation Alternative Charts. The harmonies are expressive and memorable, and the drum part is the kind of challenge that's fun as well as tricky. The progressions won't surprise you on bass, but they move around enough that you'll stay engaged instead of getting bored. - HMXLachesis, RBN Associated Producer
Free Spirit - "Heroes Don't Cry"
Finnish rockers Free Spirit just brought three more songs to the Rock Band Network. They're all imbued with a sense of epic fantasy in the lyrics, and they sound like '80s rock radio, full of delicious guitar hooks and unabashed glory. "Heroes Don't Cry" is my favorite of the three. It's not a difficult track, but it possesses a powerful, majestic feeling in every instrument. Playing this song makes me want to curl up with my copy of A Game of Thrones and a mug of hot chocolate (though only after I get my score at the end!) - HMXLachesis, RBN Associate Producer
Askari Nari - "Reviving a Dead Language"
Compared to the previous two tracks, this song falls somewhere in the middle for difficulty. Guitar is mostly made of fun little chugging riffs, bass is interesting and never too static, drums are pretty unique, and the keys will challenge you, especially at the end when it breaks into a carnival-style solo. Aside from one section of the song that reminded me of the intro verses of "Cluster #2", the entire song is unlike anything you’ve heard before, and definitely a blast to play on all instruments. - Arcanon, RBN Community
Psyguy - "Wha-Chow Theme (Feat. ShadyVox)"
I have to say, for a theme song to a podcast and talk-show(or so I can assume from the lyrics) that I've never listened to, this song is quite catchy and upbeat. Really short and sweet, but don't think that you won't be challenged by the constant drum beats and guitar solos. If you've seen said show, the track is probably even more awesome to you than it is to me, and I think it's pretty awesome. Remember, maturity: you won't find it here. - TriumphantBass, RBN Community
SNMT - "PON DE FIOR"
Instead of a standard recommendation, we have chosen to reprint a brief exchange between machetemonkey, HMXLachesis, and FairwoodStudios.
"...What the [expletive deleted]? <33333333 ...What the [expletive deleted]?" - machetemonkey, RBN Community
"That might be a review, but I don't think I can consider it a *recommendation*." - HMXLachesis, RBN Associate Producer
"It is a complete, 100% recommendation. Put that in a footnote or something. I've been waiting for this track ever since [ChartToppers] first put up a preview and Fairwood has to be seething because he always wants to be the one with the weirdest tracks in the RBN. ...Oh fine, you want more? Some parts happen to be enjoyable to play, even if you have no idea what the [expletive deleted] you're playing. There, happy?" - machetemonkey, RBN Community
"Allow me to translate. There is nothing to this song that can considered friendly. There is nothing to this song that can be considered logical. There's barely anything that can be considered music. For the vast majority of you that's enough reason to forget about this track, but for those who enjoy auditory challenges you'll also find plenty of gameplay ones as well. Keys get to be blaring fast, guitar and bass are erratic, and drums challenge your rolling speeds. It's a shock to the system just to experience, but sometimes that's exactly what you want. Or you can always buy it for someone and pretend the download was corrupted." - FairwoodStudios, RBN Community