Within the past few months we’ve seen a few titles, Pop Hits and 90's to name a few, released to the SingStar series on PS2. These recent releases see the series go to double figures and it shows no sign of slowing down with the latest addition of SingStar, Rock Ballads.

If you’ve been living under a rock somewhere and are not sure what SingStar is about, well, to put it simply, it's karaoke on PS2. Instead of living in fear of being embarrassed at a party, SingStar lets you belt out a few tunes in the comfort of your own home. Or if you love karaoke then you can sing to your heart's content whenever you want.

Having reviewed some of SingStar’s recent releases makes it a bit difficult to talk about SingStar Ballads. It's unlike your normal sequel where maybe a few features are added and the story line progresses: Rock Ballads adds nothing new beyond the music, but that’s not to say that it will crash and burn. The SingStar series has seen much success across many of its titles released. Its success has probably been due to the fact that not much skill really is required, with the added bonus of taking the karaoke out of the bar and putting it in front of friends and family without having to hire a room.

You don’t have to be a great singer, although it does help if you want to take it seriously - you just need to be willing to pick up the mic and belt out a few tunes at any embarrassing cost. You have over 30 tracks from which to choose which spans hits across the 1980s. However, of the thirty, only a few really have the karaoke feel - the Sugababes' is a prime example of a musical misfit. Their song is more suited to listening to rather than something that would set the grove a light. And it's not rock.

Karaoke, or more to the point SingStar, is best sung at an upbeat pace. Queen’s Show Must Go On is a great song: it's upbeat and definitely has portions within the song where you have the opportunity the let rip some of those vocals. There are a few others such as I'd Do Anything for Love which are pretty good as well, but most tend to be in the make-up-the-numbers category rather than progressing the aim of providing a decent tracklist.

As mentioned earlier, Sugababes fall into the former category, as does Anastasia[i] and, I guess, Poison, too. That's not say their songs are not great as they were hits of their time, but more that they don’t really fit well as karaoke songs. Tracks are great when they are free flowing and rely little on vocal talent, even though the idea is to score through hitting the notes as best you can.

This is probably the reason why SingStar has been so successful and continues to be for young and old. At first things start out pretty tame with everyone unsure of their own vocal talent, but then once one person builds up the courage the rest will follow. People start to forget the competition factor and look more at the enjoyment. Who cares that it can be pretty embarrassing, because everyone playing knows you and are more than happy to show their vocal flaws as well.

So does SingStar Rock Ballads bring the fun factor that has seen past titles succeed? Well, you’d have to say yes. It still brings the same solid concept for each release and a tracklist that caters for young and old. It’s a unique formula but something that obviously is still working. Rock on!


    * Air Supply - All Out of Love
    * Alannah Myles - Black Velvet
    * Anastasia - Left Outside Alone
    * Avril Lavigne - I'm With You
    * Boston - More Than A Feeling
    * Boy Meets Girl - Waiting For a Star to Fall
    * Cutting Crew - I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight
    * Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time
    * Duran Duran - Ordinary World
    * Europe - Carrie
    * Heart - Alone
    * Jon Secada - Just Another Day
    * Lone Star - Amazed
    * Marc Cohn - Walking In Memphi
    * Meatloaf - I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)
    * Mr Big - To Be With You
    * Mr Mister - Broken Wing
    * Mr Mister - Kyrie
    * Nikelback - How You Remind Me
    * Nilsson - Without You
    * Poison - Every Rose Has its Thorn
    * Queen - The Show Must Go On
    * Roxette - It Must Have Have Been Love
    * Roxette - Listen To Your Heart
    * Starship - Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now
    * Sugababes - Too Lost in You
    * The Calling - Wherever You Will Go
    * Tina Arena - Chain
    * Toto - Africa
    * T'Pau - China in Your Hand