Why don't Guitar Hero Live songs include curse words?

Are we not in an age where we can respect language in music? Why can't Guitar Hero Live include the explicit versions of songs?

Disclaimer: I hope this doesn't come as a shock but to get the point across, there will be some strong language used in this article. If you're 10 or under, religious, or just plain ignorant of the world we live in, you've been warned.

Music is a form of expression. When we, as humans, express something, we feel strongly about it. When we feel strongly about something, we sometimes tend to use strong language. 

Emotion = Language

We are at a point in history where we are past "tainting young ears" with strong language. At least 90% of people on Earth curse. It's just something that happens. Parents yell and argue, movies swear, games swear, music - god forbid - uses vile language and they play it on the radio - which everyone listens to. Get over it. 

Sure, in the 60s people freaked out if music used swear words. They also freaked out when Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, took his shirt off during a performance. Since, we've seen the development of Rap and Metal genres as well as a live television Miley Cyrus "lap dance." 

The world has evolved. We're trained to handle outlandish behavior and lyrics from a young age. In fact, I have a feeling that if you asked a young person in your life what curse words they knew, you'd learn a lot of new ones.

Now let's talk about Guitar Hero Live, the music game that released in 2015, effectively rebooting the Guitar Hero franchise with an all-new never-before-seen game mode: GHTV or Guitar Hero TV.

What is GHTV?

In the GHTV game mode players strum along to live music videos online against others in real time. Activision servers are constantly pumping out a never ending setlist on two different channels allowing players to choose genres. Essentially, GHTV is playing Guitar Hero TO your favorite music videos. Awesome, right?! I thought so.. until I played a few of my favorite songs (in the Metal category of course) and became instantly frustrated. 

Every. Single. Curse. Word. Is. Removed.

No, I'm not kidding. In a world where everybody swears and the radio, which is responsible for playing music to the masses, plays songs WITH swearing in them, Guitar Hero Live refuses to include curse words. 

For a few examples let's look at some music videos...

Subject one: We Are The In Crowd's "The Best Thing (That Never Happened)"

At 1:22 the lyrics of this tune are thus: "You'll crack just like the rest when I break your fucking jaw." The entire portion of when-to-jaw is completely erased in game, making it impossible to discern where the tune is going. Even a split second of missing music can cause the best Guitar Hero player to make a mistake, and they don't just cut the lyrics, they cut ALL the music. Can we seriously not say "fuck" in a Teen rated game? (Note: we'll be getting into ESRB ratings later in this article.)

Subject two: Five Finger Death Punch's "Jekyll and Hyde"


This one seems hilarious to me, for multiple reasons. Firstly, if Activision is so scared of vile language in their game, why would they allow a song of this intensity into it? The song is about being pissed off all the time and the video features the band freaking out and smashing random items of furniture. Not to mention the recurring line, "There's just so much goddamn weight on my shoulders, all I'm try'n'a do is live my motherfucking life."

Of course, the game silences "motherfucking life" every single time it shows up, but here's the hilarious part: in the second verse, "damn" from "goddamn" is removed. In the intro, the entire word "goddamn" is used! Well? Is it "offensive" or is it not? 

(On a side note, something worth paying attention to in the original video is the painting above the lead singer Ivan Moody's head. Titian's Venus of Urbino painting is featured with black bars covering the young woman's nipples. Today's society is seriously messed up if we can't show a piece of classic art without making it "family friendly.")


"It's all because of the ESRB!" Some of you may have been screaming this at your computer/phone screen since the beginning of this article.

For those of you that are unaware, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a member of the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) responsible for selecting the age group each game should be available for. For further reading, go ahead and click on this link to see what I think about them:

The ESRB has rated Guitar Hero Live "T for Teen." The rating system that the ESRB utilizes includes "content descriptors" - basically, the reason why the game is rated that way. The singular content descriptor on Guitar Hero is "Lyrics."

Here's what's great about that: Guitar Hero Live is rated for people aged 13+ and literally warns users of possibly offensive lyrics, yet all of the songs have offensive lyrics removed. What's hilarious is that I've seen games rated "E for Everyone" with the content descriptor "Mild Lyrics."

Essentially, everything rating wise is pointing out that "there will be bad language in this game," but there isn't. 


So, after all is said and done, "Why don't Guitar Hero Live songs include curse words?" Well, you've got me there! I have no freakin' clue.

The ESRB rating tells buyers that there will be some dirty words in the songs they'll be playing, the game is marketed for teens and adults rather than kids as previous Guitar Hero titles have been, and the main feature of the whole thing is the live stream of music videos that have swearing in the originals. Why lyrics have been removed really beats me. 

Personally, I believe harsh lyrics are a form of expression and should not be edited to make the game "safe for children." Furthermore, children hear cursing all the time and, as I previously mentioned, probably know more curse words than you or I. It's time for the world to put on it's big boy pants and stop being so damn protective of kids. It won't crack a child's brain to hear a bad word every now and again.

That being said, this rant is over. Peace out, bitches! 

Published Jan. 18th 2016
View Comments
  • topher339
    The way I see it, it's the same as with movies. You will only hear "fuck" once in a PG13 film. However, in an R rated film it can be said as much as wanted. The Teen and Mature ratings work in a similar manner.

    It was decided that a line must be drawn. That's where the line lies. It is what it is. It is annoying that chunks of music get cut out. It just doesn't feel right. Having played electric guitar for six years it just feels wrong.

    I suppose what they could do is give you the option like in Gears of War. Even then it would probably be rated Mature.

    If it truly bothers you so, don't worry too much. The way things tend to change, I imagine it's only a matter of a few years until the cussing is included.
  • BlackTideTV
    Thanks for the input! I think the best course of action would be for the ESRB to work out some kind of deal with Activision and FreeStyle Games so that Guitar Hero accounts could be linked to the game's rating.

    If you have an account verified with an age of 17+ the game will include cursing, whereas accounts too young, or people not signed in get the PG version of the game.

    It's a long shot, but it provides a new way around "if it had an option to allow swearing it would need to be rated M".
  • topher339
    Makes sense to me. Unfortunately, unless there's a large push for it, it's not likely to happen any time soon.
  • Alex Chin
    I can't stand it when song lyrics are altered or left out. It doesn't feel the same. Nevertheless I think playing it safe was a good move on their part.
  • BlackTideTV
    I agree. It just isn't the same song without all the lyrics. It was a safe move but the entertainment industry isn't about being safe!
  • Mackenzie Lambert_5420
    Editing out explicit lyrics has been a part of music games since the first Guitar Hero. Music rhythm has presented itself as a family-friendly genre. It is the choice of the developer.
  • BlackTideTV
    You are correct. Ever since the first Guitar Hero they've done it, but I think the issue is at its greatest now. Guitar Hero Live features actual music videos. In the original music videos the lyrics remain.

    Technically, from a legal standpoint, they're altering copyrighted content. But without getting into all of that mumbo-jumbo...

    The least the company could do is include an OPTION to make the game "mature".
  • Mackenzie Lambert_5420
    That would be great to have the option to make the game mature. Yet, that would require the content to be considered "M." The "M" rating has a stigma to it that might hinder sales. When people think "M" rating, they think GTA or Kane and Lynch.

    I'd like to see the sales breakdown of who buys music rhythm games. If mostly households with families buy it, then going through the trouble of incorporating mature content may not be worth it to the developer and publisher.

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