Editorial: Guitar Hero 5 v. The Beatles Rock Band

With the recent release of Guitar Hero 5, there is a bit of controversy over the inclusion of both Johnny Cash and Kurt Cobain as playable characters.  The fact that the player can use either of these characters for whatever instruments they want has made some fans of the two a bit disgusted.  Representatives of Cobain’s estate have even come out demanding a patch to GH5 making it so he can only be played when either singing or playing guitar.  However, there has been no discussion over The Beatles: Rock Band, which also includes two deceased members.  Why is this?

Kitten loves Cobain
Kitten loves Cobain

The only real argument I have heard is the fact that GH5 just threw in Cash and Cobain almost as an afterthought, almost like Activision is saying, “Hey, buy Guitar Hero 5!  Oh, by the way: Kurt Cobain and Johnny Cash are in it!”  Whereas Beatles is a celebration of the band’s music, it being so influential to current culture that Harmonix wanted to make something creative based off it.  Another argument I have encountered brings up the point, “why should we care?”  So what if the game allows you to play drums as Johnny Cash or bass as Kurt Cobain?  The ability to do so should be a treat for fans of either musician.

Both arguments have their good and bad points, so it is a bit hard to decide which to subscribe to.  So, my questions to you, dear readers, is: what do you think?  Should Activision patch GH5 so Cobain can only be played if the player is either singing or playing lead guitar?  Does the inclusion of Cash and Cobain even warrant an argument like this?  Does the argument apply to Beatles as well, considering two of the band members are dead?  Do you even care?  I would love to hear the opinion of both fans and non-fans of all musicians involved.


  1. I definitely subscribe to the “why should we care” philosophy. I mean I’ve never really been a big follower of any of the musicians involved, but for me personally, assuming they’ve got the correct legal paperwork to put the musicians in the game, let them go ahead. If you don’t like them, you’ve always got the option of playing as somebody else, or only playing on the “correct” instruments or whatever.

  2. Yeah, I think people should get over it.
    I love The Beatles and hate Blink 182, but if John Lennon sang Blink in a music game, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass.

  3. I’m hoping Guitar Hero 6 will feature a Courtney Love mode where all singing is replaced by slurring and cackleing!

    @Bup- That wasn’t really the arguement going around (though it is close). There was this meme going around of Cobain singing a Blink 182 song, Nirvana fans were not best pleased about this. Either way I don’t much care.

  4. I don’t remember where I read it, but I read something about people getting miffed that Johnny Cash was playing drums.

  5. Oh yeah will some people probably did, but the big stink was kicked up in relation to Kurt.

  6. Yeah, I think the objection is that Cobain’s image can be used to sing songs other than Nirvana songs.

  7. @Lusipurr – I completely agree. Like I said before, I could see Matthew Good (one of my favourite artists) sing Nickelback (a disgrace to music and Canada and human beings) and not give two shits. It’s just the reason Nirvana and “Mrs. Cobain” are giving.

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