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Quick Hits: Guitar Hero Rockin' Out To Golden Oldies


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Has your child heard of Aerosmith? Probably. It's less likely, however, that they know any Aerosmith song that hasn't appeared on 1) the Super Bowl or 2) Armageddon (a cinematic milestone starring Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler and the alarmingly bug-eyed Steve Buscemi).

Of course, there's no reason they should know them: Radio stations have dumped highbrow classics like "Dude Looks Like a Lady" in favor of newer tracks with equally evocative titles: "I Kissed a Girl," for example, or "Sexy Can I." Today's youth have therefore been woefully underexposed to some of their noblest musical lineage.

Until now.

Interactive music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band are allowing kids to rock out (albeit via PlayStation, Xbox or Wii) to the soundtrack of their parents' regrettable college hookups.

Standard versions of the games offer an eclectic assortment of hits past and present. But installments like the just-released Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and the upcoming Rock Band: The Who give players the opportunity to needlessly limit themselves to the work of a single artist.

And they give the music industry a chance to tap into -- and profit from -- an audience usually interested only in the current Top 40. Though there's no word on how much the game publishers are paying the bands, Guitar Hero's sales totaled over $1 billion in its first 26 months. Nielsen SoundScan data for a dozen of the game's songs showed that 11 out of 12 dramatically increased digital sales in 2007.

Only Danzig's "Mother" decreased, from 28,000 to 16,000 - perhaps game players made the mistake of actually listening to the lyrics, which include the heartwarming lines: "If you wanna find hell with me/ I can show you what it's like."

Thanks, but no thanks.

Just like hearing "Respect" and "Shout" at a string of Bar Mitzvahs is no guarantee they'll end up on your iPod playlist, it isn't clear whether gamers are going to listen to classic rock when it isn't a part of the game.
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