Friday, March 09, 2007


Song: Girlfriend
Artist: Matthew Sweet
Album: Girlfriend

A couple weekends ago I was introduced to a new obsession… I got to play a video game called “Guitar Hero.” Forgive me if I sound like I’ve been living under a rock for a couple years but I had never heard of this game nor that fact that anything like it existed. (I also haven’t played a video game since college when “Myst” took over my life for a solid weekend.) The game involves playing an almost life-sized plastic guitar that you “play” along with a song you select. The notes are played by hitting up to five color coded buttons where you would play strings and “strumming” at the right point while the song plays. It is unbelievably difficult to get a hang of at first (unless you play the actual guitar) but once you get it… it becomes wildly addictive.

I was able to get it down by practicing with one song, over and over until I got it. To my delight, amid tracks by Motley Crue, Van Halen, and Heart was one of my favorite songs, “Girlfriend” by Matthew Sweet. Once I did get it I can’t tell you how freakin’ awesome it felt to be wailing away on this silly plastic guitar during the solos. The point of the game is just that… to make the player feel as much like a rock star as they can in the comfort of their living room. And it works! You have a crowd cheering you on (if your doing well,) and the feeling of actually hitting those notes, or pulling the wammy bar at the right moment is pure unadulterated dork-out excitement. And once you get a taste, it’s hard to stop.

Because of this, I pulled out my copy of Matthew Sweet’s third LD, also entitled “Girlfriend.” I got it back in high school and it was one of the more influential records of my life. Some consider it a power-pop masterpiece, and I suppose it wasn’t until Guitar Hero did I realize how much it really rocked. There is little pretension in Matthew’s music so it comes across as unassuming, but when I was able to rip through the guitar solo in “Girlfriend” on Guitar Hero I realized the true power of his work. Dig!

1991’s “Girlfriend” put Matthew Sweet on the map, and he enjoyed a nice alt-rock presence over three pretty great albums including 93’s “Altered Beast,” and 95’s “100% Fun.” He took a misstep with the poorly done and poorly received “Blue Sky on Mars” from 1997. It isn’t without its gems but it really felt like a leftovers album from “100% Fun.” He returned to form in 1999 with “In Reverse” in which he employed Phil Specter’s “Wall of Sound” technique. It is not up with his best work, but a good album none-the-less. He hasn’t since reached the type of cultural significance he enjoyed in the early 90’s, and I lost touch… and haven’t gotten his last two albums.

Though I must say, putting “Girlfriend” in again brought me back and made me remember just how GOOD the guy was as a songwriter and guitar player. That album is required listening to any pop fan. It’s that good.

This week I got to play the game once more at a bar that was having a special game night. Unfortunately, “Girlfriend” had not been unlocked from that version of the game (as you do better, new songs become available and get “unlocked,”) so I was forced to play the likes of Danzig’s “Mother” and “You Really Got Me” (unfortunately the Van Halen version, not the far superior Kinks.) I did a VERY messy version of “Message in a Bottle” as I thought I could actually graduate from the “easy” setting to “medium” which involves adding one more key to use. It was a bloody mess, a massacre, and this humble budding fake rock God was put in his place. But we’ll see about the next time I play… and the next chance I get to shred on “Girlfriend.”

Rock on.

Here is some happy dork rocking Girlfriend:

Actually a quick YouTube search shows it's sort of an internet obsession:

And here is a grea Anime-inspired video from "Ive Been Waiting," another great song on Girlfriend:


Heff said...

Yay. Guitar Hero is the grinchiest!!!

Anonymous said...

ah haaaa.

Top Guitar Hero link is me playing!