Every successful rock band reaches this moment in their career; do we record with an orchestra? Rock ‘n’ roll is built on excess, and nothing screams “make it bigger” than hiring a string section to add some drama to the usual chug-a-lug sounds. KISS did it, Aerosmith did it, and now wolf-headed outfit MAN WITH A MISSION get in on it with “My Hero.”
They go all out for it in the video for their “first full orchestra recording.” Half of the clip plays around with the title, featuring a superhero tackling low-level crime (say, smoking in a non-smoking zone). The other half finds the band, donning their fuzzy headpieces, seemingly making the song, highlighted by one of the wolf-looking members conducting an orchestra. Which is a heck of a visual! Except it turns out really tough to screengrab. Anyway, this all builds up to the two worlds crossing over, and the band and the cape-wearing protagonist of the clip stand in front of flames. Rock ‘n’ roll.
Musically, “My Hero” sounds about what you would expect from a rock song boosted up by a string section. The swooping sounds of an orchestra don’t run throughout the track, but rather let MAN WITH A MISSION’s usual mix of hard-rock guitar stylings and turntable touches dominate the verses, before zooming in come the chorus to give the song a vague cinematic feel.
For the most part it feels like a novelty, the orchestra not really channing the group’s sound but rather feeling like a cosmetic upgrade. Which, oftentimes, is the problem with all of these collaborations - cover “Rock ‘N’ Roll All Night” in all the symphony sounds you want, it’s still “Rock ‘N’ Roll All Night.”
Yet “My Hero” features two referential, jarring moments that actually make the number more compelling than most. First, an early stretch of the song recalls Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” or, more accurately, Jimmy Page and Puff Daddy’s 1998 rework “Come With Me.” Intentional or not, it’s a weird little moment of callbacks. The other is at the bridge, when they quote “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Sure, why not!
If you know how MAN WITH A MISSION up themselves after this one, let us know.
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