At the Leipzig Games Convention Sony announced several updates to its venerable SingStar franchise, and whilst the inclusion of Barry Manilow is wince-inducing, the inclusion of several Queen tracks on their compilation issues, and the announcement of a dedicated Queen disc for SingStar can only be a good thing. Not because I particularly like SingStar - we had it on the PS2 and to be honest the novelty wore off pretty fast - somehow picking up the microphone and crooning on your own or in a duet just feels like you should be in a seedy bar, full of beer with your arm around your best mate, desperately hoping the next morning that nobody had a video recording mode on their mobile. In contrast, singing in Rock Band feels a lot less awkward, especially when you have 3 other people shredding / drumming away. Maybe it’s just me.
The reason it’s interesting even though I won’t be buying SingStar is that it means that those who control Queen’s music are loosening their grip a little, and letting master tracks into video games, which hasn’t happened so far - this in turn might mean we’ll see them in Rock Band eventually. Covers of Queen tracks have appeared in several games, such as “Don’t Stop Me Now” in Donkey Konga, “Killer Queen” in Guitar Hero, and “I Was Born To Love You” in Elite Beat Agents, but no master tracks have ever appeared before now, as far as I’m aware.
Here’s hoping anyway, Queen are one of the major classic British rock bands and I’d love to see them in Rock Band, to go with other British favourites such as The Who, David Bowie, The Police and Oasis (I also hope they stop ignoring Supergrass some day, because I’m dying to play Diamond Hoo Ha Man). That is, unless Activision decide to try to sign them to an exclusive deal like they’ve done with Aerosmith and Metallica, although I’d hope the Brits will have more integrity than that. Harmonix of course have stated their opposition to exclusive deals with bands, sticking to their line that music should be able to be enjoyed freely everywhere (this principle also underpinned their support for instrument compatibility, something grubby old Activision opposed for ages until the console manufacturers slapped them). Whether this laudable approach will come back to bite them later as Activision continues to pursue the “business first, music second” angle I don’t know, but they have my respect for it anyway.