Dave Plante is a Harmonix veteran, having worked on quality assurance for many of the games in the Rock Band franchise. He's worked on thousands of songs in the series, and with 95 percent of the existing DLC content expected to make it to the just-revealed Rock Band 4, I asked Plante where one should begin.
These aren't songs that will be on the Rock Band 4 disc, this is a list of some of the best, and most enjoyable, DLC available for the game. When you pick up the game this year and get overwhelmed by the selection of tracks, this curated mix tape of some of the best songs will get you started.
What are the must-have songs for Rock Band?
James Gang - "Funk #49"
Dave Plante: "This song in particular has a really fun, really long drum solo that’s super varied. I think it’s probably the best drum solo we’ve ever had in the game. A lot of drum solos tend to keep the beat and then do a little fill thing here and there, but this drum solo almost has its own melody to it, which makes it really cool and lot of fun to play."
Jimi Hendrix - "Purple Haze"
Dave Plante: "The thing I like about ‘Purple Haze’ is that it has a few guitar solos. They’re not just super thrashy, Expert-level solos, but fun and really melodic. And it’s just fun to beatmatch along with a guitar god like Jim Hendrix.
"It’s tough to choose one Hendrix track, but I wanted to call one out, because only a few have appeared on disc. "Fire" was in LEGO Rock Band and "Crosstown Traffic" was in Rock Band 3. But we’ve actually released, I don’t know, three-and-a-half albums worth of great Hendrix songs on the Music Store.
"I also want to add that the drummer, Mitch Mitchell, is a total monster; he’s got crazy jazz chops."
Stevie Wonder - "Sir Duke"
Dave Plante: "This is a track from Songs in the Key of Life, which is one of the best albums ever, and ‘Sir Duke’ is just awesome. Funk and soul stuff tends to have interesting bass parts, but I think that’s especially the case with the Stevie tracks we’ve released for Rock Band.
"The bass in ‘Sir Duke’ is just really dance-y, kind of all over the place, and that memorable, repeated melody that everyone plays in unison, is just a ton of fun with a group."
Queen - "Don't Stop Me Now"
Dave Plante: "This was a tough pick. When you think about great rock singers, Freddie Murcury is on the top of most people’s lists, certainly mine. But picking one Queen song was a challenge. I have this vivid memory of the time when we were working on ‘Don’t Stop Me Now,’ and Google had released this ‘Google Doodle’ to celebrate Mercury’s 65th birthday. It was just this really cool pixelated thing that visualized the lyrics to the song.
"It’s just such an interesting, wild and out there song. It has all of these cool pacing things going on, an awesome guitar solo, and Queen vocal harmonies are just insane. As a vocalist, this is one of those songs that’s really hard, but if you can pull it off, it’s really satisfying."
Tenacious D - "Tribute"
Dave Plante: "This is a guilty pleasure for a lot of people. I leaned on a lot of the audio QA folks who worked with me over years to help pull this list together, and everybody has a really varied list of songs. But every single person had this song on their list.
"It just speaks to the lore of rock n’ roll. You have [Dave] Grohl on drums, these great guitar parts, and funny vocals. It’s just a ton of fun."
That's just the beginning
These lists are always subjective, but Plante's picks make a great mix tape that really show off the range of content in Rock Band, but more importantly they're all really fun to play. If you haven't read our feature on Rock Band 4, this is a great excuse to do so; now go put a band together!