Guitar Hero: The Future Of Music?

090320_01

Metallica playing Stubb's BBQ at SXSW

Today, the big video game Guitar Hero: Metallica comes out at a store near you.  The game has a playlist of about 49 songs – 28 of them from heavy metal gods Metallica and the rest from artists like Queen, Bob Seger, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Motorhead, and System of a Down. 

The game is expected to sell in the millions – something that new albums don’t do any more.  Even Metallica’s own Death Magnetic, while considered a big hit, has sold just a little more than 1.3 million worldwide since its release last fall.  Back in the day, Michael Jackson used to sell that many in a week.

Old-timers like me should welcome the existence of something like Guitar Hero.  It’s one way to get guitar-hero-metallica-20090223014657981the music out: at Austin’s SXSW music festival/conference last week, Metallica lead singer James Hetfield admitted that drummer Lars Ulrich’s son told him that he likes Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” best on the game.  “And he discovered it on Guitar Hero!” Hetfield said.  A few years ago my son asked about “Anarchy In The U.K.” by the Sex Pistols, which the band remade in 2007 for a Guitar Hero game.  Would these kids have discovered the music  by listening to the radio?  Certainly not.  Could they have stumbled upon them on their own?  Probably not.

While the game is certainly a way for kids to get into new music, some people may argue it’s not real life.  To really be a musician, you have toghaustinlaminate-vertical3 practice (a real instrument), pay your dues.  OK – but it’s like anything else, there’s a point in everyone’s life where you grow up and put down the toys and go outdoors to face life.  As Hetfield said in Austin: “Get off the couch!”  If Guitar Hero puts more real guitars in kids’ hands, and as a result puts more live music in the world, I’m all for it.

Side note: Next weekend Metallica is going to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  As I mentioned above, the hard rockers played a “surprise” free show at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin last weekend during SXSW and it was a hoot.  Big names like Metallica, Kanye West and others really isn’t what SXSW is all about – it’s about unsigned and under-the-radar acts getting their music out to larger audiences – but headliners don’t hurt.  The conference seems to be evolving into a free-for-all music festival and if it does, that would be great.  Because most of it is free – no $250 tickets for standing a mile away in a field (Bonnaroo) or even $75 a day for sweating your ass off and hearing music from a mile away (Austin City Limits festival).  We stood about that far away from Metallica – and the sound was perfect.  SXSW is turning into a true “people’s festival,” and I wonder when the bottom-line guys are going to figure out how to put a price tag on it.

MP3: “Creeping Death” by Metallica (live at Stubb’s BBQ)

Metallica official website (with links to Guitar Hero game)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: