Drums/Pro Drums: Involves hitting the correct inputs. The normal mode has a bass pedal and 4 drums (one acts as snare, the other three divide tom and cymbal duties). The pro mode adds 3 cymbals, for 8 inputs total, but otherwise plays the same.
Vocals/Harmonies: Lines on the highway dictate the target pitch level for each syllable of each vocal part (using sloped lines for Melismatic Vocals). Players try to sing to the same note as the lines, but the octave doesn't matter (e.g. singing a C2 while the real singer is in C4 is acceptable).
"Legacy" Guitar/Bass: These guitars have a fret board with 5 (main) buttons and 1 strum bar. When a gem reaches to bottom of the highway, the player must hit the strum bar while holding the fret button(s) that correspond to the gem(s). Without the strum bar, pressing fret buttons by itself has no effect, making this quite different from drum gameplay.
"Legacy" Keys: Could be considered similar to Legacy Guitar with a touch of drums, in terms of gameplay. Here, there are 5 keys, and the correct key must simply be played when the gem representing that key reaches the bottom of the highway (with the strumming mechanic removed). Legacy G/B charts can be played on keys, but fast "strumming" becomes fast repeated note hitting. Conversely, Legacy K charts can be played on guitar and bass, but keyboard chords tend to be more difficult than guitar chords in a 5-button paradigm, especially when played on a guitar controller.
The Beatles (Though Harmonix wasn't willing to give any numbered order, they confirmed that The Beatles are #1, despite their store being separate.)
blink-182note Punk, 90's/00's/10's with 13 songs. First released on Jan. 15, 2008 with "All The Small Things." The song happens to be the series' best-selling single, barring the free songs.
Bostonnote Classic Rock, 70's with 7 songs. First released (as DLC) on Mar. 25, 2008 with a pack based around Boston, their only release to date.
Disturbednote Nu-Metal/Metal, 00's/10's with 12 songs. First released on June 3, 2008 with a pack based around Indestructible.
Foo Fightersnote Alternative, 90's/00's/10's with 30 songs. First released (as DLC) on Nov. 11, 2008 with The Colour and the Shape.
Metallicanote Metal, 80's with 3 songs!. First released on RB1 launch day, Nov. 20, 2007 with a small pack, their only release to date. Has also had all their on-disc songs ("Enter Sandman" and "Battery") removed from their respective export.
No Doubtnote Pop-Rock, 90's/00's with 23 songs. First released on Dec. 9, 2008 with The Singles 19922003, which was also the week in which the series celebrated reaching 500 available songs.
The Policenote Pop-Rock/Rock, 70's/80's with 11 songs. First released on RB1 launch day, Nov. 20, 2007 with a small pack and an on-disc appearance of "Next To You".
Red Hot Chili Peppersnote Alternative/Rock, 90's/00's/10's with 27 songs. First released (as DLC) on July 8, 2008 with two singles from Stadium Arcadium. Notably one of the few artists to have their songs removed from the RB2 export to RB3 ("Give It Away"), bringing them down from a potential 28. "Dani California" from RB1 had also received this treatment for a time.
The Whonote Classic Rock, 60's/70's/80's/00's/10's with 17 songs. First released (as DLC) on July 15, 2008 with a 12-pack, The Best of The Who (Rock Band Edition), which was the series' first Greatest Hits 12 pack.
Queen is a interesting case since Lego: Rock Band had two of their songs, the inseparable 'We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions", along with their appearance on Rock Band 3 with "Bohemian Rhapsody" and an additional showing in Rock Band Blitz with "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)".
The Foo Fighters made an additional fifth appearance in Rock Band Blitz with "These Days".
Additionally, Dave Grohl appears as a guest drummer for the Queens of the Stone Age in "Go With The Flow" (RB1) and "No One Knows" (RB3), takes drumming duties for Tenacious D in their song "Master Exploder" (RB2) and as a full member of Them Crooked Vultures ("Dead End Friends" on RB3) and Nirvana ("In Bloom" on RB1 and "Drain You" on RB2), giving him 11 appearances in the series' disc titles.
As seen above, only one of these bands has appeared on all four main, numbered titles: The Who, with "Won't Get Fooled Again" on 1, "Pinball Wizard" on 2, "I Can See for Miles" on 3, and "The Seeker" on 4.
Of every single Guitar Hero game that was released prior to Live (On Tour and DJ Hero games notwithstanding), Guitar Hero: Metallica is the only title to not have a single track represented in either Rock Band 3 or 4:
GH1: I Love Rock N Roll, I Wanna Be Sedated, Smoke on the Water and No One Knows (RB3)
II and Smash Hits: Free Bird and Beast and the Harlot (RB3)
80s: Radar Love and Caught in a Mosh (RB3), No One Like You (RB4)
3: Before I Forget (RB3), The Seeker (RB4)
Aerosmith: Toys in the Attic (RB4)
World Tour: Crazy Train, Hey Man Nice Shot and One-Armed Scissor (RB3), The One I Love (RB4)
5: In The Meantime and 20th Century Boy (RB3)
Band Hero: Whip It and In a Big Country (RB3)
Van Halen: Panama (RB4)
Warriors of Rock: Get Free, Lasso and Been Caught Stealing (RB3)
Harmonix and Rock Band are considered by many to be the smaller-but-classier competitor to the more financially successful Guitar Hero (which Harmonix established). One look at their credentials or interviews does indicate how dedicated they are to, and how well they know, music.
According to their PR, almost every person on the development staff is a musician in a band and Harmonix is their day job.
Well, given the large number of Harmonix bands in the games (Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, The Main Drag, Anarchy Club, Bang Camaro, That Handsome Devil, and Breaking Wheel to name a few), it's not hard to believe.
Dueling Games: with Guitar Hero. RB3's "realistic instruments" implementation is dueling with Power Gig: Rise of the SixString. And winning handily, thanks to how painfully mediocrePower Gig is. Ubisoft's Rocksmith, on the other hand, is a more than suitable competitor in the "playing with real guitars" department (especially considering that it works with any real guitar rather than only with models made for the game).
Fan Nickname: "Pop Band", whenever a DLC containing Top 40 pop songs is announced.
Rock Band 2 shipped with a special edition bundle with enhanced instrument controllers, including a guitar controller with much more quiet fret buttons and a camera and microphone to make calibration easier, and a drum kit with a sturdier kick pedal.
The Beatles: Rock Band had a special edition bundle with Beatle-themed instruments, including a guitar shaped like Paul McCartney's Höfner_500/1 bass, with instrument peripherals modelled after John Lennon's Rickenbacker 325 and George Harrison's Gretsch Duo Jet sold separately. The game is also sold as a Singstar bundle with two microphones (for the PS3 only), as well as a Value Bundle with original Rock Band controllers.
Green Day: Rock Band was released in the States as both a standard edition as well as a 'Plus' edition at $10 extra, which allows players to transfer all the songs in the game to other Rock Band titles for free, and comes with all previously released Green Day Downloadable Content.
Meaningful Release Date: The Beatles Rock Band was released on 09/09/09. Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine... This was also to coincide with the release of the Beatles remastered box set the same day.
"Alive" by Pearl Jam was featured on Rock band 2, "Alive" by The Temper Trap was featured in Rock Band VR (and later as DLC for Rock Band 4), and "Alive" by P.O.D. was released as DLC in 2010. A fourth "Alive" is also availablea live version of the Pearl Jam song released with the Ten Deluxe Album Bonus Pack.
There are five different songs named "Burn;" two (by Rob Zombie and Nine Inch Nails) available as standard DLC and three (Captor, Mike Orlando, Big Square) on RBN.
The first Rock Band game has "Can't Let Go" by Death of the Cool, and "Can't Let Go" by Lucinda Williams is part of the first Rock Band Country Track Pack as well as DLC.
"Closer" by Lacuna Coil was released as DLC in 2008 (and was also part of the Rock Band Metal Track Pack), "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails was released as Rock Band 3 DLC in 2012, and "Closer" by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey was released as Rock Band 4 DLC in 2016.
There are two songs called "Creep", one by Radiohead from the first Rock Band soundtrack, and the other by Stone Temple Pilots, which was released as DLC.
"Control" by Puddle of Mudd and "Control" by Mutemath are both available as DLC.
"Dreams" by Beck was released as DLC in 2015, and "Dreams" by The Cranberries was released as DLC in 2016. "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac was also released as DLC in 2011, but got taken down from the store in 2016.
"Down" by blink-182 and "Down" by 311 are both available as DLC.
Three songs called "Fire" exist in the game: two of which are by Jimi Hendrix (the Jimi Hendrix Experience version was part of Lego Rock Band, and a solo Jimi Hendrix live version was released as DLC in 2010) and "Fire" by the Ohio Players.
"Forever" by Papa Roach and "Forever" by In This Moment are both available as DLC.
"Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty is part of the Lego Rock Band soundtrack, and "Free Falling" by The Warning is part of the Rock Band 4 soundtrack.
"Gone" by Montgomery Gentry and "Gone" by Crooked X are both available as DLC, and the former is also part of Rock Band Country Track Pack.
"Happy?" by Mudvayne was released as DLC in 2012, and "Happy" by Pharrell Williams was released as part of the Rock Band Rivals pre-order tracks in 2016.
"In the End" by Green Day was included on the Green Day: Rock Band soundtrack and "In the End" by Linkin Park was released as DLC.
"It's My Life" by No Doubt and "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi were both released as DLC.
We also have two live renditions of songs named "Jailbreak"—denoted in-game as "Jailbreak (Live)"—by Thin Lizzy and AC/DC. Incidentally, there are no studio tracks of songs named "Jailbreak."
Also, there are three songs called "Monster": the one by Lady Gaga, one by Skillet, and one by the Welsh band The Automatic.
"Painkiller" by Judas Priest is part of the Rock Band 2 soundtrack, and "Pain Killer" by Ruby Rose Fox is a free song that comes bundled with the Rock Band Rivals expansion for Rock Band 4.
"Photograph" by Nickelback and "Photograph" by Def Leppard are both available as DLC. Coincidentally, both bands have been produced by Mutt Lange.
There are two songs called "Pressure" released as DLC, one by Paramore and one by Billy Joel.
Three songs called "Ride", one by Trace Adkins, one by The Vines and one by Twenty One Pilots, have been released on the Music Store. The former is also available as part of Rock Band Country Track Pack Vol. 2.
Both Johnny Cash's and Social Distortion's versions of "Ring of Fire" are available as DLC (the former being part of Rock Band Country Track Pack 2, as well)
"Sing" by My Chemical Romance was released as part of the Rock Band Blitz soundtrack. Over three years later, after Rock Band 4 got released, "Sing" by Ed Sheeran was released as DLC.
"So Far Away" by Avenged Sevenfold was released as part of the Rock Band Blitz soundtrack. Before this, a Staind song of the same name was released as DLC.
Three "Somebody to Love"s are available as DLC - one by Jefferson Airplane, and Queen's version is available as DLC twice, as it was re-released in 2010 as a "Rock Band 3 Version" with additional Rock Band 3 features.
Rock Band 2 never got released in Australia. RB1 only came out in Australia and New Zealand more than a year after its original release. And given that you need an original copy of RB2 to export the tracks from that game to RB3... Aussies can only access the nine bonus tracks from that game. Let's just say the importers are doing a roaring trade on that game with those down under. And that was the one game with studio AC/DC track... (There's still the AC/DC Live Track Pack though.)
Also applicable in that, as of mid-2016, if you have not previously exported RB1, RB2, or Lego Rock Band, you are unable to export them to RB3 or 4, as their licenses have expired. This leaves a whopping 173 songs that players just starting with 4 are completely locked out of. Thankfully, Harmonix have expressed interest in relicensing exports as DLC, and have started doing so with the rerelease of 2's "Chop Suey."
The Rock Band Network is another example. Not only was it not available in some countries (Including Australia) due to laws on unrated content on the stores, but in early 2018 it was removed entirely. Partly-Averted as some of the tunes are being released as DLC for RB4, meaning they are getting released in countries like Australia for the first time ever.
Pre-Order Bonus: Done occasionally, often in the form of preliminary access to downloadable content or special codes to unlock new in-game instruments. Thankfully, none of it stays exclusive to preorders (songs are eventually put in the RB Music Store, and instrument codes make their way onto Game FAQS or message boards quickly).
Promoted Fangirls: The Warning are a band that were founded after playing the original Rock Band. Their song "Free Falling" is part of the Rock Band 4 tracklist.
Axis: Bold as Love from the Jimi Hendrix Experience was released before Are You Experienced (which had some substitutions).
Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance, which was the first full album released on the Music Store, came out before British Steel (the latter was the 30th anniversary edition, with live versions of its tracks; however, their in-game year tag is still 1980, when the album was originally released).
So My Kids Can Watch: Lego Rock Band features a new "Super Easy" mode (combining No Fail with being able to hit pretty much anything to count as a success) and locks out songs from any previous version deemed potentially harmful to minors from being played. These both are for the youngest ones, so they can play without being exposed to songs like "Holiday In Cambodia" or "White Rabbit".
Getting Crap Past the Radar: That said, songs that are less blatant about their subject matter can still be played. Most of the ones that are more subtle about Intercourse with You get through, though several about violence also make the cut (if you're curious - cartoonish violence, a la "Skullcrusher Mountain" by Jonathan Coulton is acceptable; horror-tinged violence like his "Re: Your Brains" is not).
The filter seems to be a bit hit-and-miss, though - "Uncle John's Band" by The Grateful Dead was playable in LEGO Rock Band, lyrics with the word Goddamn in them and all.
Unexpected Character: Rock Band 4 features BABYMETAL of all bands as DLC. Granted, they said in a tweet several months prior to the offical announcement that they had gotten several requests for them, but no one thought they would take it seriously.
Rock Band: Japan got canned when Harmonix decided it would be too much trouble to create a Japan-only entry in the franchise. One reason was that Japanese gamers have smaller dwellings so they would have less space in their homes to store the bulky peripherals the game would require.
The Greatest Hits DLC for Billy Joel is a case of What could NOT have been - according to Joel himself, he only considered the idea after reading a review of an episode of The Office, where a joke about a Rockband game featuring his music was critiquednote it's more likely that the joke was about a game in the same vein as The Beatles: Rockband as opposed to just having his music in one of the games; even after being open to the idea, the main reason he eventually gave the thumbs up was because of the keyboard controller that 3 had. Had the joke been made when Rockband 2 was the most recent game in the series, or had Rockband 3 not had a keyboard controller, it's likely he wouldn't have given his approval.