In 2005, Sony's PlayStation 2 revolutionized gaming with the release of the music game Guitar Hero, which came packaged with a guitar-shaped controller. The game became mega popular, and its tracklist contained mainstream rock hits anywhere from Black Sabbath and Deep Purple to Queens of the Stone Age and Sum-41. One of Guitar Hero's creators eventually moved on to create the game's equally-as-successful rival, Rock Band. Guitar Hero kept using mainstream songs, as did Rock Band, though in recent memory, the Rock Band franchise has featured downloadable Christian songs from artists like Switchfoot, Underoath, Family Force 5 and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. Both franchises are now available for Nintendo, XBox and PlayStation.
But there's also another competitor (for lack of a better term) that uses ONLY Christian songs. Digital Praise's version is not available on any game system, but rather, you can only play it by installing the software onto your computer. It's called Guitar Praise... yep, a Christian version of Guitar Hero, for those who want to play the game but don't listen to mainstream music. And now, a couple years later, EMI is releasing a compilation featuring eleven of the top songs from Guitar Praise. It's Guitar Praise Hits, Vol. 1.
There are two ways to look at this compilation. The first would be as a collection of some top Christian radio hits. After all, it does have some good tracks from David Crowder*Band, Thousand Foot Krutch, Spoken and even the classic "Jesus Freak" from dcTalk. However, it's not being marketed as such, which is good because it only has a few shining moments, not to mention the redundancy of the tracklist. Guitar Praise Hits IS being marketed as a soundtrack. And what's sad about this particular soundtrack is that it just won't entice people to play the game. If I listened to this soundtrack without any prior knowledge of it being a soundtrack, then I was told that these were the top songs from Guitar Praise, I would immediately dismiss the game. Playing a Guitar Hero-style game with Christian music is cool and all (as it seems that, despite the few instances with Rock Band, we may never get to play our favorite CCM rock songs anywhere else), but playing it to Chris Tomlin? Superchick? Newsboys? No disrespect to those artists, but their respective songs are poorly-chosen for a game like that, which subsequently makes them poorly-chosen for the game's soundtrack.
What makes Guitar Hero fun is not necessarily the iconic song selections like "Smoke on the Water" and "My Name Is Jonas," but it's the skill of the actual guitar playing that demands skill from the gamer. If Guitar Praise (or the newer game Jam Band) makes a sequel, maybe they could use "XOXOXO" by Secret & Whisper or "The Spy Hunter" by Project 86. Maybe something from House of Heroes or The Showdown. Some other Christian artists who have crafted songs that have good guitars. That would make for a soundtrack worth listening to, and a game worth playing. Again, if looked at as just a compilation of songs, Guitar Praise Hits, Vol. 1 would be an alright compilation, despite being mostly overly-recycled Christian radio hits, the highlights of which I could get on iTunes and still have the majority of a $15 iTunes card left. But as it's marketed (as a soundtrack), it's an eleven-song waste of money.- Review date: 5/27/10, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Star Song / Digital Praise
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