Last year, Harmonix released three Christmas tracks for Rock Band download. While the tracks themselves (Barenaked Ladies� �Hanukkah Blessings�, The Pretenders� version of �Blue Christmas�, and Billy Squire�s �Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You�) were not necessarily the classics I would have wanted, it did introduce an intriguing idea: seasonal track packs.
Now, while I eventually plan to tackle Christmas, for the moment I�d like to look at some music for a holiday that�s a lot closer: Halloween.
Believe it or not, I�ve been working on this blog idea for a while � long before Guitar Hero announced
that they were doing basically exactly what I had in mind. While their choices (GWAR�s �Gor-Gor�, �Beautiful People� by Marilyn Manson, and The Misfits� �Astro Zombies�) are actually pretty good, I think Harmonix could do even better. �Ghoul�s Night Out�, Goldfinger
The pop-punkers covered The Misfits� �Ghoul�s Night Out� for the �Violent World� tribute album and produced a track that�s much more suited to Rock Band than the original. Like most of the Misfits� earlier recordings, in their cut the sound quality isn�t very good and the performances are a little sloppy. The Goldfinger track kicks off with a hard, crisp drum beat that jumps into their fast-driving, bouncy version. It�s even got a fun moment where the instruments cut out and everybody gets to jump in and shout �Ghouls, ghouls, ghoul�s night out!� It�s perfect Halloween party fodder � upbeat but with a creepy subject matter. �Pet Sematary�, The Ramones
Steven King, a big Ramones fan, approached the band about contributing a title track for the film based on his novel; the result is one of the Ramones� most melodic singles. �Pet Semetary� has everything you need for a great Rock Band track: a driving guitar riff, relentless drums, and droning, memorable vocals. The Groovin� Ghoulies� cover would be a good alternative � it�s slightly faster and has a more prominent solo. �Halloween�, Dream Syndicate
The first of four (!) tracks on this list titled simply �Halloween�, Dream Syndicate�s mellow, otherworldly sound hides a deceptively tricky, technical guitar solo that lasts more than two minutes. Solid drums and bass back up the catchy lyrics, which on closer inspection appear to be about a stalker closing in on his prey with nefarious intent. �Paint It Black�, Gob
(Try to ignore the fact that they look like goofy frat house rejects.)
Little-known punk outfit Gob did this cover for 1999�s Stir of Echoes soundtrack, and it�s got a crisp, varied guitar line and fast drums with a great military-snare break. The vocals are pretty good, though they don�t live up to Mick Jagger�s performance. Of course, the Rolling Stones� original is even greater, but I think this version is more Halloweeny. Could just be me. Either one would be awesome. �Halloween�, AFI
Yup, another Misfits cover. Once again, the Misfits wrote a great Halloween song, only to have somebody else record a superior (for purposes of Rock Band, anyway) version. AFI�s cover is tighter, faster, and more intricate than the original, and the sing-along finale will have everyone in the room screaming �Hallowee~ee~ee~een�. Of course it goes without saying that they�d have to edit out the two minutes of discordant piano at the end. �Dead Man�s Party�, Oingo Boingo
Before Danny Elfman was the king of creepy/catchy movie soundtracks, he (and his band Oingo Boingo) was king of creepy/catchy new wave rock. This one�s been a Halloween party classic since the 80s, and it�s easy enough to sing along to, even for inebriated partiers. The song�s got a great deep bass line, which plays off the little riffs the guitarist drops after every sung line. This one�s pop appeal guarantees it to energize any Rock Band session. �Halloween�, Dead Kennedys
A fast, thrashy track from the punk pioneers. As with DK�s other Rock Band tracks, the song requires a lot of energy no matter which part you�re tackling. Sure, the lyrics are more about mocking uptight American culture than Halloween itself, but it ends with the phrase �Why don�t you take your social regulations, shove �em up your ass�, so it�s okay in my book. �Die, Monster, Die�, The Misfits
(The only video I could find has multiple songs in a row � �Die Monster Die� runs from 5:26 until the end)
Finally, a track from the horror-punk legends themselves. Sure, it�s the band�s latter-day incarnation, but that chunky guitar riff would just be too much fun to play in Rock Band.
Stick somebody on vocals who�s drunk enough to croon like an undead �50s idol and you�re good to go. �Superbeast�, Rob Zombie
(No, I have no idea why the song is playing over an ATV jumping a ravine. Just go with it.)
There�s always been a criminal lack of Rob Zombie in Rock Band, and Halloween�s the perfect time to remedy that. Back when Mr. Zombie wore creepy makeup onstage, most of his lyrics were inspired by classic horror movies � you could grab any random track off his �Hellbilly Deluxe� album and it�d be perfect Halloween music. But �Superbeast� is my pick: every instrument�s got fun stuff to do, and the singer�s got to switch back and forth between violent growling and throat-shredding screams. �Halloween�, Siouxie Sioux and the Banshees
video on YouTube that had the original studio version in it is this one, which is the last 10 minutes of the movie �Monster House� � the song plays over the credits. Song starts at about 6:23, tons of �Monster House� spoilers before that.)
My personal favorite from this list. Siouxsie and the Banshees helped define the punk and goth scenes in the late 70s and early 80s; �Halloween� comes from their 1981 album �Juju�. I don�t know where to start on this one � it�s got a stabbing guitar part that plays up and down the neck, fast pounding drums, and of course Siouxsie�s haunting vocals. It�s my favorite Halloween song ever, and every time I hear it I curse the fact that I don�t have a plastic guitar in my hands.
So the ball�s in your court now, Harmonix. Don�t let Activision steal the holiday-specific track pack crown. Put some of these songs in Rock Band, so that I can make my Halloween party that much more rockin�.
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