Every once in a while a form of media comes along that introduces a younger generation to older music that they might have never paid attention to otherwise.  Right now, whether you like it or not, that form of media is Glee.

If you don’t believe me, take this example.  When Girl Talk’s All Day came out last year, I explained to a friend that the man behind the album was a mashup artist.  Her response?  “Ohhh mash-ups?  Like from the show Glee?”

Even though the mashup genre as we know it today has been around for at least a decade and the now somewhat historic Grey Albumby Danger Mouse was released in 2004, some alleged music fans had no idea what a mashup was until the Glee characters decided to mix together music by popular artists such as Usher and Bon Jovi.  Sad?  Yes.  But at the same time, at least the music’s reaching a larger audience.

Now, the Glee albums have gone platinum in many countries, and they’ve introduced tons of older artists such as Madonna, Michael Jackson and Neil Diamond to younger generations.

Not long ago, just a year after Danger Mouse first released the Grey Album, Guitar Hero was that form of media that was introducing kids to their parents’ and older siblings’ rock ’n roll bands.

The original title included songs by The Ramones, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Megadeth, David Bowie and many more artists that kids might not have stumbled upon without the aid of that now iconic plastic guitar and a desire to beat their friends on Expert level.

As the game achieved popularity, Guitar Hero became ingrained in our culture.  Dedicated fans could often be caught thinking some combination of “red, blue, green, orange and yellow” when they heard a guitar-heavy song on the radio, playing along in their heads.  The game opened up the door for a variety of other music games, and, like Glee, introduced music to a younger generation.

I cringed the first time I played Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” and one of my friends recognized the song as “that song from Guitar Hero.”  I couldn’t fathom the idea that this guy had never heard this song, never really listened to Nirvana, and had no true understanding of Kurt Cobain’s impact on culture other than the vague information he’d heard in passing.

At the same time, however, I was glad.  Thankful that something as simple as a video game had introduced someone to music that he would have never taken the time to listen to otherwise.

A few days ago, the developers behind Guitar Hero announced that the series is over.  This wasn’t necessarily a huge surprise.  With numerous titles and spinoffs like DJ Hero and Guitar Hero: Van Halen, the series has just about worn out its welcome.

With the death of the game, however, we must look towards more options in order to keep younger generations informed about music that could otherwise fade away from mass public consciousness.

Is Glee the answer?  It’s criticized by most music fans for its Broadway-esque covers of radio-friendly hits, but at least it spends a fair amount of time paying homage to older popular music.

But for the guitar-heavy artists featured on Guitar Hero like Stevie Ray Vaughn, ZZ Top and Boston, we’re going to need a Guitar Hero-like savior to keep the kids interested in good music.

Will Hagle
Author, Earbits.com
Listen at www.earbits.com
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Twitter: @earbits

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