Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tommy DeCarlo Owns the World (part two)

I totally forgot to mention yesterday that the USA Today article about Tommy DeCarlo included this excerpt:
Finding a new band member online "could happen more and more, because you no longer have to be anywhere specific to audition," says Howard Kramer, curatorial director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "Journey just found their new lead singer (Arnel Pineda) in a Filipino cover band that put their stuff on YouTube."

That last sentence made me burst out laughing.

So Arnel Pineda has a ton of YouTube videos with his former band "The Zoo." And the guy not only does an amazing impersonation of Steve Perry, but he does a great Don Henley, too. Have a listen:
Don't Stop Believing
Hotel California

Oh, and here's one more of Pineda performing with Journey, and the guy is freaking fantastic--he does a better Steve Perry than Steve Perry:
Journey with Pineda.

Nate Carpenter sent me an e-mail this morning, and he asked the logical question about all of this:
Are these bands becoming brands rather than a collection of named people? Given the 'culture of imitation' that has emerged first through karaoke and now in Guitar Hero/Rock Band games (and who knows what's next), are the people in the bands becoming replaceable elements? I mean, in a world this big, there's always going to be someone who can sing like so-and-so or play guitar like so-and-so.

For many bands, I think the answer to that question is "absolutely yes." Pineda is Journey's FIFTH lead singer, I believe, and many bands have had literally dozens of members over the years. I think you could make the argument that being a brand is almost a normal phase of a successful band's career after their distinctive creative output is over.

I can't think of a single band with members in their fifties who are still making anything unique. The Rolling Stones still make albums, but they've basically become their own cover band.

Individual artists fare better--I think Neil Young and Bob Dylan are still making excellent, creative albums. Yes, I know that Neil Young is with Crazy Horse, but from everything I've read, they have zero input into the creative process.

If you're thinking that games are like that, too, you're right. That's why I thought Guitar Hero was in serious trouble when the developers changed from Harmonix to Neversoft--it was like John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney leaving the Beatles, but letting Ringo Starr keep the band name.

With gaming, it's even more difficult not to become a brand, because so many more people work on a game, and the turnover is so high inside most studios. Plus, so few people are really aware of who makes the game. How many people could tell you that Tiburon has developed/ruined Madden for so many years? Very few, I bet.

Here's a wildly off-topic note about Madden. I saw on Pasta Padre yesterday that Gamestop has a weekly feature called "Madden Monday." Here's an excerpt from this week's story:
However, sometimes innovations in gameplay easily lend themselves to NFL authenticity. One of these Madden NFL 09 innovations is the ability to return missed field goals.

That's classic. Madden has been coming out for over TWENTY YEARS and they still can't even accurately reflect the rules of the NFL. Now "conforming to the rules of the sport you're simulating" has become "innovation."

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

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