Ultraq's Final MooCow

Bits and pieces by Emanuel Rabina

The honesty of Rock Band (or, how I learned I couldn't really sing)

I made it pretty obvious in a post this month that I got Rock Band 2 and was loving it. Several days on, I'm still loving it, although I have left it and the Xbox back at my family's place since I couldn't be bothered bringing all those fake plastic instruments back to my apartment.

Yes, I'm Xbox-less right now :( The removal of said gaming machine has given me a lot more time to work on PC-related stuff (ie: this blog and other ongoing website developments) and general responsibilities (eg: cleaning, cooking). Without the Xbox the TV is only used to watch broadcast television, so I went and hooked-up my PC to it so I could watch my videos and have music in the lounge again.

So yeah, I'm blogging from my lounge today, and will be for several days to come while I continue life Xbox-less. I'd take photos of the PC-next-to-the-TV setup, but I don't have a digital camera. Yes, you read that right: this tech-savvy IT guy DOES NOT HAVE A DIGITAL CAMERA (and I'll probably turn that into a blog post for another day in April).

Anyway, back to Rock Band 2

Going on a tangent
My mind wanders

So I was introduced to the world of fake plastic instruments through Guitar Hero 3. Being a (fake-)guitar-only game, it got me pretty good with the 5-button guitar side of things, and it also got me really excited about the evolution of the music & rhythym game genre when it turned into Rock Band (or Guitar Hero: World Tour if you wish to stick with the GH franchise). So when Rock Band came out, and my friends brought it around one night, I instantly loved it.

That night I stuck to the guitar part, but when I bought Rock Band 2 I resolved to try out the other parts: drumming and singing.

My family isn't the most musical kind out there but it's musical enough; my dad doesn't play any instruments, so any music genes must've come from my mother's side. She plays the classical guitar, my brother plays drums and some guitar, and I play piano and some guitar. We can all keep pitch, can keep in time, and sing to some degree.

Finally, all those years of singing in the shower and walking down the street as I hum the tune to what's blaring out of my MP3 player would come to fruition. RB2 would give me all the reason I needed to sing my lungs out. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened; I sung my lungs out (and my throat and voice too).

When I decided to tackle the singing component of RB2, I went straight to the Hard level (I can keep pitch right?) and picked a song that I enjoyed but didn't really realize was way out of my range until that very moment. The result: I was often flat or sharp, and ended-up shouting my way through choruses. At every step of the way, RB2 was there critiquing my progress after every major phrase with words like 'Good' or 'Awesome', except what mostly popped-up was 'Weak' along with a loss of my score multiplier and integrity of my throat.

Even after picking songs within my range, my throat and voice started crapping-out on me, and as I slipped below the 80% mark at the end-of-song score, even RB2 decided to stop heaping its hollow praises on me. I sucked, and RB2, myself, and my brother - who was unfortunate enough to be in the room - knew it.

So what now seeing that 1/4 of the Rock Band experience is locked-away from me? Well, I always have the fake plastic guitar to fall back on, and the drums are pretty fun (so at least I wasn't wrong about my ability to keep time). But it looks like 'learning to sing into a mic' is now on my to do list. That's right, the singing part has become my white whale and my sheer stubbornness - and the fact that I've spent hundreds of dollars on this game and I'll be damned if I'm not going to squeeze every last penny out of it, especially during the recession - is going to propel me forward.

Hopefully I'll have more luck than Captain Ahab, and won't destroy my voice in the process.