Case in point: DragonForce.
I'd never heard of the band before, and I probably never would have except for an unusual set of circumstances having to do with the way the world works today. But I heard one of their songs recently, and now it's a typical case of new music exposure, where I have the track on endless repeat. I had never heard of the band before, and now I cannot stop listening to this song. It's "The Fire and the Flames," from their latest album, and it's a seven-minute power metal epic. The music video is abridged, so if you want to hear the entire bit of insanity, it'll load in the frame atop the main page at the band's official site, here.
Interestingly, the tune itself does not require speed metal; DragonForce writes fantasy-epic music, the kind of thing you'd find on Conan's iPod. Imagine The Eagles' "Hotel California" meets Garth Brooks's "The Thunder Rolls," with a bunch of extremely skilled musicians on the instruments -- and then turn the volume up to eleven and give them hefty doses of amphetamines, and you've got DragonForce's "The Fire and the Flames." When I listen to guitar solos, I keep imagining violins instead, so now I really want to hear a balls-out alt-country version of "The Fire and the Flames" with a female vocalist. So, um, maybe the Dixie Chicks or KT Tunstall or somebody could get on that.
So, where did I hear it? Guitar Hero. No, I don't own the game. But "The Fire and the Flames" is one of the songs in Guitar Hero III. More than that: it is the *hardest* song in the game to beat. So, naturally, people have begun posting online videos of themselves attempting or succeeding at this feat. Here's one guy who did it. The sound quality isn't great on the videos, obviously -- they're recording on a video camera from a TV, and it's overwhelmed by the sound of button-pushing -- but I heard a snatch of lyrics and tune that sounded pretty neat, so I figured I'd check it out on a quality recording. And now I'm hooked. And I'm betting I'm not alone -- remember, I don't even *own* the game.
The times we live in, huh? Can't get radio airplay? Get on Guitar Hero. DragonForce is touring in Europe now; when they come back to the States, they're going to find themselves with a lot more mainstream popularity than when they left, due to their presence in a videogame and people using the Internet to share their gaming experience. I don't know quite what this says about our culture in these times, but if you'd predicted it even as little as ten years ago, you could have written and sold it as a science fiction story. Because it is.
This isn't the future anybody expected. But I gotta say, I like living in it.