As announced yesterday, Activision is pulling the plug on their Guitar Hero franchise, signaling the end of the iconic plastic-guitar video-game series, which began in 2005 and has since offered six main games and countless expansions. To celebrate this weird, wonderful be-your-own-rock-star universe, here are the 10 songs we loved playing the most.
10. Freezepop, “Get Ready 2 Rokk” (Guitar Hero)
No list like this would be complete without the goofballs in Freezepop. This remains one of the harder songs in the series on which to score 100 percent.
9. My Chemical Romance, “Dead!” (Guitar Hero 2)
Say what you will about MCR, but this is a hell of a track — featuring a fun little solo and a generally varied experience throughout, it shines as one of the best songs on the best game in the series.
8. The Strokes, “Reptilia” (Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock)
And not just because they released a new song yesterday — a finger workout to say the least, this became a head-to-head fan favorite.
7. The Stone Roses, “Love Spreads” (Guitar Hero World Tour)
Anyone who’s heard this song has probably busted out the air guitar for that wicked intro. It’s just a beautiful mess of guitar licks, making it one of the few tracks on Guitar Hero World Tour that didn’t disappoint.
6. An Endless Sporadic, “Impulse” (Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock)
The best bonus track in the series’ history, “Impulse” really came out of nowhere to be an incredibly fun song. Diverse and with a lot of fret movement, this song offered something for everyone, even if no one actually knew who An Endless Sporadic were.
5. Rush, “The Spirit of Radio” [Live] (Guitar Hero 5)
One of the most famous intros in the history of rock, “The Spirit of Radio” beats out other great Rush offerings throughout the series (such as the excellent instrumental “YYZ”) due to its staying power. This is the only song from Guitar Hero 5 to make the list, unfortunately, as the series was well in decline by then.
4. Metallica, “One” (Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock)
Holy christ, those solos. Before Metallica sold out or whatever, they put out the best metal song ever to grace a music-rhythm game. Darkness may imprison James Hetfield, but it was the guitar work on this track that plunged everyone else into their own personal hell.
3. Heart, “Crazy on You” (Guitar Hero 2)
The chicks in Heart can really play the acoustic guitar, damn. The intro that failed many a player gives way to a fun song that was even more if someone was singing along (the cover version in the game is pretty awful). Bonus points for being infinitely more fun than its more famous cousin, “Barracuda,” which made Guitar Hero III.
2. Allman Brothers Band, “Jessica” (Guitar Hero 2)
A beautiful song featuring lots of frantic fretboard activity? Sign me up. Dueling guitars playing some good ol’ fashioned country-rock made for a damn fine playing experience, even if you never make it to the Beacon.
1. Eric Johnson, “Cliffs of Dover” (Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock)
This is it. The best song ever in the history of music games. “Cliffs of Dover” has it all: a ridiculously challenging introduction, quick hammer-ons throughout, and, best of all, a good-time feel throughout. Eric Johnson might have been a random choice, but Guitar Hero thrived on doing what no one expected the series to do.
So with all these great playable songs, why is the series kaput? Activision would have you believe that the games were too expensive to make, but I think a higher power is punishing them for allowing Made in Mexico to make it into a game.