Nine Songs We Want as The Beatles: Rock Band DLC (and Four We Don't)
Every so often you'll see some site pop up with a "Most Wanted" list of tracks it'd like to see playable in Rock Band. These lists are always fun, and a great way to get a discussion going, but they always had one major problem as far as I was concerned -- an overabundance of choice. When you're choosing from a pool of "every rock and pop song ever written," whittling it down to just a few choices is practically meaningless. There are literally thousands of songs that would be great in Rock Band, and picking out 10 or so based on your personal tastes is no tough feat.
It's different with The Beatles: Rock Band, though. Since the Fab Four only released 185 songs* in its short career, the potential space for downloadable songs is pretty limited. Take away the 45 songs included on the game disc and 31 more from "Abbey Road," "Rubber Soul" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" that have already been promised as downloads, and that leaves only a little more than 100 remaining Beatles songs as potential future downloads.
With such a small remaining set list, MTV Games could easily code every single one for the game, letting players purchase and play through the complete Beatles catalog. If it falls short of that ideal, though, which songs make the cut is going to be a matter of some debate. Here are our humble suggestions for nine songs that we really, really want to see as Beatles: Rock Band downloads, and four that we could easily do without. Your mileage may vary, of course, so be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.
* Give or take, depending on what you count as a "song."
Nine Songs We Want to See as DLC
1. "Revolution 1" -- The White Album
Sure, the high-octane, high-impact version of "Revolution" already appears on the Beatles: Rock Band game disc. But the slower, mellower version that appears on "The White Album" deserves its own place in the game among the lurid Dreamscapes of the Abbey Road recording sessions. The reduced pace lets the song's disparate parts flow together, and might be a bit more accessible for the hordes of new gamers Harmonix and MTV are trying to attract with The Beatles: Rock Band.
[Editor's note: The original version of this story failed to differentiate between the single version of the song, which is in the game, and the "White Album" version, which is not. We regret the error.]
2. "Glass Onion" -- The White Album
The Beatles: Rock Band is being sold as not just a Rock Band expansion pack, but also as a tour through the history and music of a seminal musical act. If that's the case, wouldn't a song that includes references to other Beatles hits -- including "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Lady Madonna," "The Fool on the Hill" and "I Am the Walrus" -- seem like a no-brainer for inclusion? Besides the historical import, the song's simple guitar and drum beats back a haunting vocal melody, building into a satisfying primal scream of rage during the bridge that's liable to get any party fired up.
3. "Ballad of John and Yoko" -- single
Again, a game that claims to be about showcasing the history of the Beatles really should include the songs where the Beatles themselves referenced their place in history. Chronicling the period of intense press scrutiny following John Lennon's marriage to Yoko Ono, "Ballad" immediately hooks the listener with catchy descending guitar riffs atop a driving drumbeat that pushes the procession forward. Lennon and McCartney's harmonies make this one a great showcase for the singers, too. Perhaps the inclusion of "Christ!" as a mild curse was too much for the risk-averse publishers? Or perhaps the song was too personal for Yoko to agree to its inclusion? In any case, we look forward to being able to download it in the future.
4. "She Said She Said" -- Revolver
From those first eight lonely guitar notes, this song never lets up over two minutes and thirty-seven seconds of pure pop perfection. The vocal harmonies let three singers come together into one heavenly voice, aided by a call-and-response guitar part that counterpoints the singing beautifully. It's all tied together by some heavy drums that are a bit more complex and satisfying than the standard Beatles beat-keeping. By the time the song finally breaks down into a wonderful fading disorder in the final seconds, you feel like you've put everything you have into the music. A perfect Rock Band track.
5. "Why Don't We Do It In the Road" -- The White Album
Most Beatles fans pass this one over as just a silly interlude between weightier, more important songs on "The White Album." And they're right. But if you can look past the ridiculous concept and repetitive lyrics, you'll find a song with some interesting drum variations and one of the Beatles' most difficult vocal ranges. That vocal part is made much tougher, of course, by the urge to double over with laughter while singing the title over and over. The only real problem from a Rock Band perspective is that the game doesn't have a piano controller for the backing melody -- but the "Beatles Anthology" version provides a great basis for a conversion to a guitar part. In conclusion: If your party doesn't pick up after pulling up this song, you need to find some less-mature friends.
6. "Help!" -- Help!
Another absolutely iconic Beatles song, "Help!" was the title for not just the song but also an album and a movie, a feat that apparently was not enough to get it included in the game. Nor was the fact that it's one of the most enduring of the early Beatles songs, with a nonstop drumbeat that backs a driving bass, some nice power chords and great call-and-response three-part harmonies that most any American should know by heart at this point.
7. "All My Loving" -- With The Beatles
I'll be honest -- a lot of the early Beatles songs are a bit indistinguishable to me. They either fall into comfortable, overly familiar blues-style riffs or a repetitive rockabilly style that quickly wears out its welcome. That said, "All My Loving" stands out among the crowd with its exquisite harmonies (complete with gentle "Ooooooo"s in the background), and a persistent guitar part that leads to a nice solo breakdown during the bridge. Yes, the drum part is repetitive enough to put people to sleep, but that's pretty common with the Beatles catalog.
8. "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" -- The White Album
I'll be the first to admit that I have a large soft spot for "The White Album," especially the album's sillier songs, such as this one. And yes, the repetitive lyrics and ceaselessly clanging cymbals are likely to piss off singers and drummers at the same time. But I challenge anyone to listen to this song's fearlessly belted title refrain, followed by that careful 14-note response from the guitars, and not get a ridiculous grin across their face. And then there's the joyous breakdown into freeform jam-band chaos in the last 30 seconds that makes the past two minutes of repetition totally worth it. An easy recommendation.
9. "Here, There and Everywhere" -- Revolver
I know the game is called "Rock Band," but not every song has to, y'know, "rock." This gentle track from "Revolver" is a little low on the energy meter, granted, and the drummer may actually fall asleep simply hitting one note every two beats. But it's hard to care when the guitars and vocal harmonies come together into such a hauntingly beautiful, touching whole. Think of it as a way to bring the energy down a bit after playing a song like "Helter Skelter."
Up Next: Four Songs We Can Live Without Playing...
Four Songs We DON'T Particularly Want to See as DLC
1. "Revolution 9" -- The White Album
The Beatles at their most experimental, it's hard to even call this one a song. "Random mix of sounds" might be a more appropriate description. Part of me is morbidly curious about how the Rock Band developers would map this cacophony to the game's guitars, drums and microphone controllers, none of which seems particularly suited for the title. A much larger part of me, however, hopes that I never have to suffer through actually trying to play along with this aural mess.
2. "You Know My Name" -- single
Do you enjoy repeating a single line of lyrics over and over while making funny voices? Do you enjoy using Rock Band's guitar controller to simulate a piano part toward which it's ill-suited? Do you enjoy making mumbling and retching sounds for a full minute at the end of a song? If so, then this track is for you! If not, you might still enjoy the surprisingly decent drum part, but even that's not enough to save this one.
3. "Julia" -- The White Album
If any Beatles song can end a party faster, I have yet to hear it. For one, the drummer had better be ready for a break, because there's absolutely no percussion part in the entire song. For another, the bass player will probably want to slit his wrists after repeating the same two notes for roughly two and a half minutes. Finally, the dirge-like, monotone vocal part features repetitive, whiny lyrics that are some of the weakest in the entire Beatles catalog. This is a great song to pull up if you want everyone to just leave so you can go to sleep. Otherwise, feel free to skip it!
4. "Dig It" -- Let It Be
A disorganized jam session masquerading as a real song, this synthesizer-heavy track smacks of too much effort by a Beatles group that was quickly falling apart. What starts promisingly enough with a strong, steady drumbeat quickly breaks down into an incoherent, atonal, repetitive cacophony of noise and random lyrics that seems practically impossible to follow along with in a Rock Band setting. The version on the "Let It Be" album is a mercifully short lead-in to the title track, but other versions of the song go on for eight or nine minutes, wearing out their welcome more quickly than an insistent Phish fan with a rare, two-hour bootleg recording of "Split Open and Melt."