Recently I praised Activision and Neversoft for their eclectic range of songs in Guitar Hero 5, but today I come to bury them. Because this shit just isn’t acceptable.
It might be hard to believe, but I do try to avoid preciousness or excess fragility when dealing with pop culture ephemera, and not get my knickers in a twist about, say, JJ Abrams coming along and making Spock and Uhura a couple (I thought it was quite sweet, actually), but with music, it’s different. Music is more personal, and the connection to certain creators is more direct. When Kurt died, it fucking hurt. Hurt me, hurt my friends. I still remember the night his death was announced like it was yesterday. Years earlier my mother had been reduced to tears over the deaths of Elvis and John Lennon, and I hadn’t understood why she would do that. When Cobain died, I got it. This Rolling Stone article — or should I say retyped press release — claims that this only came about once Courtney Love (that brave defender of Cobain’s legacy) signed off on it, along with Primary Wave Publishing and Dave Grohl, but it’s unclear whether they’re talking about the music or the image.
The licensing deal had been in the works for years, but Activision’s Vice President of Music Affairs Tim Riley is still pinching himself. ” ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is a song that we’ve had at the top of our wish list ever since I came to Guitar Hero,” he tells Rolling Stone from his office in Santa Monica. “So it’s been a while.” Indeed, securing the proper approvals was no small feat. Not only did Cobain’s widow Courtney Love have to sign off on behalf of the estate, so did former drummer Dave Grohl and Primary Wave Publishing, which administers the Nirvana catalog. “There’s a lot of moving parts to something like this,” Riley explains. “But it was about timing, not an issue of resistance. We almost did it for World Tour, but we couldn’t get it together. Then after three years of working with the different parties, it was like the perfect storm.” Naturally, Love did have some concerns. Namely, Cobain’s physique, Riley reveals. “Courtney supplied us with photos and videos and knew exactly what she wanted Kurt to look like,” he says. “She picked the wardrobe and hair style, which turned out to be the ‘Teen Spirit’ look, then we went back and forth over changes — some subtle, some not so subtle.” In column B? Love’s reference to the Greek God Adonis, whose youthful good looks made the male deity an object of desire. “She certainly had a physical image in mind,” says Riley. “She wanted him to have that sort of athletic definition but not overly so.” And while Love has long had a reputation for being difficult, Riley’s experience was anything but. “She was actually great to work with,” he says. “She got back with comments pretty quickly.”
I’ll bet she got back to them quickly. Milos Forman hasn’t been rushing to cast her in another movie, I’ll wager. Would Grohl have any say in image control rights? He can’t have thought this was a good idea, surely. And what about Krist Novoselic? I’m unclear about how the Nirvana estate has been handled, but doesn’t he have a say? Whatever. I’m pissed, and I’m not the only one. I’m coming in late to the game complaining about this, but it needed to be said, my recent excitement about the game was done before I realised this had happened. Shades of Caruso does not endorse this bullshit.
It does endorse this, though.