Of all the instruments that grace music, the bass guitar may be the one that gets the least love. Such impropriety extends to its role in rhythm games as well. But occasionally, you get those few songs where the bass gets to act as the centerpiece, and at least one of them made sure to milk the opportunity for all it was worth.

Rock Band
Muse
“Hysteria”

Little me was aware of the “Knights of Cydonia” and “Starlight” and “Time Is Running Out” from Muse’s repertoire, but outside of such individual cuts, I neither knew nor cared much about the band as a whole. However, as befits its role as one of the great agents of expanding musical tastes, getting introduced to a song via Rock Band did lots to make me want to dig deeper.

The reasons why are plentiful. First, and most fundamental, “Hysteria” astronomically throws down like nobody’s business, and is among the best use of Muse’s bombastic rock-operatic melodrama. A relentless disco stomp threatens to leave holes and dents in everything it touches. The guitar rips through too many licks to have time for such trivialities as power chords. Matthew Bellamy’s wails and falsettos through everything like it’s the last moment in his lifetime he’s ever going to sing. It’s a maximally pummeling experience that leaves the purest bliss in its wake.

The other reasons are more intrinsically linked to Rock Band and the people that I played it with. Back in college life, one of my gang of friends’ frequent pastimes was setting the game up for full-band play. It wasn’t often that “Hysteria” came up in our setlists; however, one of our friends had a stunning and massively entertaining vocal rendition of the song under her sleeve. Part of my fondness for the track is inseparably linked to that.

The other most significant reason circles back to that beginning talk on bass guitar. I didn’t even mention it at first, but the rapid-fire and insistent bassline is bad-ass, anchoring and setting up the rocket launch propulsion of the rest of the song, and continuing to set the pace once everything kicks into high gear. It’s also one of the most challenging, but also fun and rewarding, bass charts—one of the few where it’s more difficult than the guitars—in all of Rock Band.

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The trick to schooling “Hysteria” on bass is being able to keep up a long stream of hammer-ons and pull-offs, those little notes that you can play by tapping and releasing the fret buttons without needing to strum the guitar. The moment it all clicked with me where keeping up with the endless wave of notes by using those techniques was concerned, the bass chart for this song became one of my favorite experiences from rhythm games as a whole.

RedStripe Loved Trax—originally from days of Tumblr past—is a series about the music Justin adores, with special emphasis on songs from (or introduced by) video games and anime.