Is there anything more distinctly indicative of late-2000s culture than living room setlists? Transcending the confines of genre, the Rock Band series allowed us to connect with our favorite songs in the most intimate way possible—by performing them.
Barring the pre-generated sets within the games, individual user experiences varied tremendously with music preferences and skill. Regardless of where you stood, though, there were a handful of songs throughout the series that should have always made the cut.
Here are 10 Rock Band tracks that took your living room sets to the next level.
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Blue Öyster Cult (Rock Band)
Rock Band‘s inclusion of the Blue Öyster Cult classic “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” was well-planned. The 1976 hit experienced a serious resurgence in popularity in the 2000s with Saturday Night Live‘s “More Cowbell” skit. No doubt, there was no position more vied for than the drums on this particular track. But even if you lost out to a friend, the song offered a range of styles and tempos that were a blast to perform on any instrument.
“When You Were Young” – The Killers (Rock Band)
We’ve all wished that we were a part of the Killers‘ lineup. From Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. to Dave Keuning and Mark Stoermer, there’s just no shortage of talent oozing from the group. Fortunately, Rock Band granted us the opportunity to step in with “When You Were Young.” The gritty alternative anthem wasn’t too demanding but still added a distinct sentimental flair to our setlists.
“Say It Ain’t So” – Weezer (Rock Band)
If we’re being honest, we would have been happy to infuse our setlists with any of Weezer‘s songs. That said, “Say It Ain’t So” was a particularly perfect addition. The moderately paced, relatively simplistic track was a nice break from some of the more demanding ones in the Rock Band catalog. But that didn’t mean sacrificing moments of visceral power. Well over a decade later, we’re still riding the high of those choruses.
“Bad Reputation” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Rock Band 2)
We’ll admit, we were primed to perform “Bad Reputation” ever since Shrek hit theaters in May 2001. And the opportunity to take on the role of Joan Jett & The Blackhearts was well worth the wait. High energy, anthemic and edgy as hell, this track really put the rock ‘n’ roll in Rock Band 2. No one has ever been a cooler version of themselves than during that three-minute display of raw punk power.
“One Step Closer” – Linkin Park (Rock Band 2)
There were few bands more significant in the 2000s alternative scene than Linkin Park. So when the opportunity came to fill their shoes for a few minutes, we couldn’t have been more thrilled. “One Step Closer” really gave us an opportunity to show off our Rock Band skills, employing complex guitar riffs, punchy drums and a variety of different vocal styles. No matter which instrument you were on, you were going to work up a sweat.
“Give It All” – Rise Against (Rock Band 2)
If you ever made it out of this track without destroying your throat by trying to sound like Tim McIlrath, we commend you. Laryngitis aside, “Give It All” was the perfect setlist addition for anyone trying to unleash some pent-up aggression. Thrashy and ever-demanding of focus, playing through this song was as challenging as it was a total blast… We’d just like to issue an apology to any and all parents who had to overhear their kids’ attempts to nail this Rise Against track.
“Just Like Heaven” – The Cure (Rock Band 3)
Between the lively tempo and captivating melody, the Cure‘s “Just Like Heaven” was a serious vibe. There was no taking yourself too seriously when trying your hand at this one. You just flowed and had the time of your life without the concern of being hit by challenging sonic complexities down the line. It was a much-appreciated breeze amid Rock Band 3‘s catalog of ballads and bangers.
“Misery Business” – Paramore (Rock Band 3)
Is there any song more emblematic of alternative angst than Paramore‘s “Misery Business“? It seemed only reasonable to put the edgy display on every setlist we possibly could. While attempting to channel Hayley Williams on vocals was anxiety-inducing at best, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show off our totally pop-punk energy.
“Hail To The King” – Avenged Sevenfold (Rock Band 4)
If you weren’t already slaying on guitar by the time Rock Band 4 came out, then Avenged Sevenfold‘s “Hail To The King” probably poses some traumatic memories. Otherwise, though, you likely remember it as an opportunity to showcase your accrued talents for five minutes straight. Intricate and powerful, it was sure to get your heart racing as soon as the title popped up on the screen.
“Spiders” – System Of A Down (Rock Band 4)
There are few bands that boast as much sonic complexity as System Of A Down. Thankfully, Rock Band 4 allowed us to pretend that we had even a fraction of their talent. Bouncing between different tempos, “Spiders” was a particularly fun track that let us incorporate some metal into our setlist without totally exhausting ourselves in the process.
What were some of your favorite Rock Band staples? Let us know in the comments below!