It’s that time of year where you engorge yourself on candy while being scared silly. That’s right, it’s Halloween! Parties will start this weekend and that means you need a killer playlist. That’s why I’m here to help. It turns out lots of artists love to talk about Halloween. They either make songs directly about the holiday itself or they embody the spirit of it. Either way they’re perfect for getting you in the spooky mood. While there are lots of songs out there that talk about things that go bump in the night, here are some of the best and most essential for your Halloween playlist.

This is Halloween – Marilyn Manson

When The Nightmare Before Christmas was re-released, many artists were called in to cover the movie’s superb soundtrack. While some of the picks were questionable, they got it right when it came to Marilyn Manson covering the film’s iconic song. Manson already has the reputation of being a creepy guy, so it makes sense he would have something to do with the project. For his version, Manson keeps some of the whimsy of the original with some harsh guitars added in for an edge. Manson sounds creepy and haunting as he sings “I am the one hiding under your bed/teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red.” What’s even better is he uses different voices for each part from unnerving falsetto to an eerie low register. It’s an essential song for the season and it’s even better with the Mason touch.

Spookshow Baby – Rob Zombie

Honestly, all of Rob Zombie’s albums would be appropriate for this list, but this is one of his best for Halloween. The music starts out with Middle Eastern inspired guitars before launching into the heavy hitting sound Zombie has become known for. He sounds like he’s growling as he talks about the Devilman, voodoo spells, and psycho activity all happening in the light of the dead moon. The way he sounds threatening as he shouts “She’s a killer!/She’s a thriller!/Spookshow baby!” makes you feel he’s around the corner ready to strike. It’s a great song that captures the chilling and uneasy spirit of Halloween.

Lullaby – The Cure

Don’t expect to find any comfort in this song, especially if you hate spiders. If there’s anything worse than coming across a spider it’s getting eaten by one, which is what Robert Smith describes in this eerie song. Here, he talks about a creature who goes by the name “Spider Man,” no relation to the comic book hero, who creeps into your room and devours you. Though the single is 25 years old, it’s still effective with the creeping piano riff that sounds like a spider stalking across the floor and Smith singing just a hair above a whisper. It’s a Cure classic that still freaks out fans today along with the chilling video.

Thriller – Michael Jackson

When the King of Pop sat down to write this song, he didn’t know he was going to create the perfect track for Halloween. Zombies, night creatures, demons, Vincent Price’s menacing laugh. What else could you ask for in a song named “Thriller?” Michael Jackson wasn’t the scariest guy around, but he sure knew how to make everyone shudder when it came to this classic track. He talks about the things that go bump in the night while an infectious rhythm snakes around encouraging everyone to pull off their best scary bear. Of course, you can’t talk about this song with mentioning the epic video, which is a mini-horror movie in itself. Jackson goes from werewolf to zombie to dancing superstar in a matter of minutes. Thanks to the Rick Baker special effects, the short film still gives you chills today.

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

Whether you’ve seen this movie fifty times or zero, you can’t deny how catchy this song is. Yes, it’s pretty cheesy. Yes, it wound up being Paker’s only hit. But admit it, you love yelling out “Who ya gonna call?/ Ghostbusters!” whenever the song comes on. The best part is when Parker gets cocky and reassures the listener that he “ain’t afraid of no ghost.” The high pitched squealing riff puts the icing on top of this spooktacular cake. (I’m sorry. I won’t say that again). This is the type of song that could only come out of the ’80s with it’s big synth style and novelty that has yet to wear off. My question is whose going to cover the song for the new movie?

Halloween – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Siouxsie Sioux sounds like a howling ghost on this song dedicated to the creepy holiday. As you dive into the lyrics you find out it’s not all treats and sweets with lyrics like “A sweet reminder in the ice-blue nursery/Of a childish murder of hidden luster and she cries.” Even though the chorus consists of the word “Halloween” being repeated over and over, the track takes a dark turn. It’s actually about the loss of innocence, which gives it a bleak outlook. Still, the stark music and shrieking guitars matches the dark, chilly nights of knocking on strangers’ doors and asking for candy. Isn’t this what our parents warned us about when we were little?

(Every Day is) Halloween – Ministry

This early Ministry track doesn’t have much to do with Halloween, but it’s so aptly named it feels wrong not to have it on this list. It actually talks about people who dress differently, usually punk or goth, the weird stares they get, and the comment that they look like they’re ready for Halloween. The overall message is we’re all the same; why should I be treated any differently because our fashion sense are not the same? It’s a message that can still be applied to today’s society. Still, it’s one of the band’s most notable songs mainly for the catchy music and the irresistible hook of “mmbop-bop-bop.” It’s one of those things you can’t help singing out loud. And really, would it be so bad if every day was Halloween? Think of all the candy!

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

Often credited as the first goth rock record to be released, this 1979 track talks about the death of actor Bela Lugosi, who was known for his portrayal in the 1931 film adaptation of Dracula. The track is down right haunting with its dark references to bleeding victims and brides mourning the death of their vampire leader. Not to mention Peter Murphy’s eerie voice resonates throughout the entire song making your skin crawl. The music is also perfectly creepy with an ominous bass line, stark riffs that grow louder and more violent as the song goes on, and the steady ticking of the drums that sound like an old rusty clock. Just listening to it you can picture an abandoned cemetery where bats gather on the trees and the owl’s hoot echos in the night sky. With the different musical changes and vocal embellishments, you won’t mind that it’s over nine minutes long. It’s an essential track for alternative and goth rock and the one Bauhaus has gone down in music history for.

I Walked With a Zombie – Wednesday 13

Wednesday 13 is b-horror movies personified. He takes his love of horror films and channels it into his music, similar to Rob Zombie. All his songs have references to the supernatural and scary movies. His entire catalog would be appropriate for Halloween, but this is one his most popular songs. It’s pretty clear from the title what this horror-punk track is about meaning it’s perfect for all the zombie fanatics out there. Inspired by the film of the same name, the music comes rushing at you and is made for moshing. The way 13 sings “I walked with a zombie/zombie/zombie” is pretty damn catchy. Just imagine a whole group of zombie’s slam dancing to this song.  It’s fun, a bit silly, and perfect for Halloween.

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

This song is the epitome of hellfire and damnation. As soon as you hear the tolling church bells and the violent rainstorm at the beginning you know things aren’t going to end well. Everything about the song is haunting from Iommi’s trembling riff, to the lyrics that talk about “the figure in black” with burning eyes, to Ozzy’s anguished cried of “Oh no/no/please god help me.” It’s the perfect fit for any eerie night or haunted house. To make things even more chilling, the track is based on an actual experience that Geezer Butler told Ozzy. Apparently, Butler painted his apartment black, hung up crucifixes, and pictures of Satan on the walls. He the read a book on witchcraft and went to bed. When he woke up he saw a big black figure standing by his bed and the book was gone. The lesson here: don’t mess with Satan or his books on witchcraft.

Pet Sematary – The Ramones

Recorded for the Stephen King movie of the same name, this Ramone’s song talks about the cursed titular cemetery that brings back your loved ones, but not the way you remembered them. The band are at least smart about it as they sing “I don’t want to be buried/in a pet sematary/I don’t want to live my life again.” The rest of the song does a great job painting the picture of the creepy graveyard with the cold wind blowing and wolves howling at the moon. What’s great is the music still has their brand of punk rock and as with most of their songs, it’s catchy. You’ll find yourself singing it before it ends. It may not be the creepiest song on the list, but it does capture the Halloween mood well. Plus, it’s the Ramones. What’s not to like about this song?

Dead in Hollywood – Murderdolls

This band comprised of the aforementioned Wednesday 13 and Slipknot’s Joey Jordison talks about the iconic movie monsters on this track. 13 takes his love of all things horror even further on this song as he pays tribute to horror movie villains. He makes sure to name check Frankenstein, Norman Bates, Leatherface, and even famed director Ed Wood while shouting “Cause all my heroes are dead in Hollywood!” Just like 13’s solo material, the Murderdolls also have a number of songs that could be fit for Halloween, such as “B-Movie Scream Queen” and my personal favorite “She Was a Teenage Zombie.” Sadly, the band won’t be making horror filled music anymore since they disbanded in 2011.

Halloween – AFI (Misfits Cover)

Though this spooky song was originally done by the Misfits, I’ve always preferred AFI‘s rendition. Bringing up gruesome images of “Burning bodies hanging from poles,” dead cats, candy apples, and razor blades, the song talks about a violent and destructive Halloween. With gang vocals shouting “Halloweeeen” over and over again paired with Davey Havok’s distinct vocal style makes you want to raise your fist in the air and form a bad ass circle pit. Though the band stays true to the original, the biggest change comes at the end, which adds one minute of eerie scratches and squeals, perfect for a dark Halloween night.

I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Many artists have covered this song from Marilyn Manson to Nina Simone, but only Screamin’ Jay Hawkins makes it so damn unnerving. With his sinister growls and howls, he commands “I put a spell on you/because you’re mine,” sounding like a real life Oogie Boogie. To add to the creepy factor he peppers the track with his haunting and mischievous laugh, ready to pounce on you at any moment. The song ends with his anguished yelps and hollers as he declares one final time “Oh, you’re mine!” He sounds like a mad man and if you’ve ever seen him perform you’re fully convinced he’s crazy. While Bette Midler and the Hocus Pocus crew did a respectable job with the tune, the original is by far the best.

Mr. Crowley – Ozzy Osbourne

Arguably one of Ozzy’s best songs, this one has a thick Gothic atmosphere that’s essential for Halloween. This is mostly due to the opening that was made for a dark and stormy night. And since it’s based on English occultist Aleister Crowley, there’s bound the be spookiness. Ozzy sounds haunting and in awe as he sings “Mr. Crowley/did you talk to the dead?” and Rhandy Rhoads shows off his skill in the electrifying and trilling guitar solo that finishes off the song. It reinforces the creepy lore surrounding Crowley, yet makes you want to read some of his work.  It’s a classic track that shows why Ozzy is still the Prince of Darkness.

 He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask) – Alice Cooper

A Halloween playlist wouldn’t be complete without Mr. Cooper. This may not be his best song, but the tie in with Friday the 13th was too good to resist. Here, Cooper paints several cliche horror movie scenarios, like a couple swimming in the lake or the couple in the park at night, and talks about how Jason is out to get them. The coolest thing about this song, aside from the single artwork, is how it uses Jason’s iconic “ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma” as part of the musical rhythm. Otherwise, the single is full of 80’s cheese with heavy synthesizer, but it makes it oddly charming.
What are your favorite Halloween related songs? Let me know in the comments and have a Happy Halloween!

Rob_Zombie_Educated_HorsesRelease Year: 2006

Rating: 7/10

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know I hate this album. I’ve given it several tries and I can never get into it. So what made me actually sit down to review it? Since it’s Halloween, it’s natural to want to hear some Rob Zombie and I already covered his most popular albums. After hearing this one from top to bottom, my opinion really hasn’t changed. It’s not as bad as I once thought, but it’s nowhere near his earlier and best material.

Things actually start out on the right foot with the brief instrumental “Sawdust in Blood.” As soon as it starts pounding drums that sound like gun shots hit you in the face. It keeps thumping and banging until the soft, somber piano comes in. It’s an interesting contrast to the fierce, heavy music that greeted listeners when the track started. All of this makes it sound like a perfect fit for a gloomy horror movie, like The Conjuring. Next comes the best song on the LP “American Witch.” This is the track longtime fans will appreciate. Gritty, heavy guitars comes chugging at you, thanks to John 5’s stellar work and since it’s about the Salem witch trials, it has that classic Zombie horror feeling. It’s supernatural with a hint of psychedelic he would go on to explore in his later material. Unfortunately, this is the closet Zombie comes to his established sound.

You begin to notice a change of pace on “Foxy, Foxy.” By no means is it a bad track, but it’s not your classic Rob Zombie song. It has a good groove to it, is really catchy, and has a party vibe that makes it his most accessible single to date. Even his vocals are a little softer; his distinct gruffness is missing. There’s no denying it’s fun to sing “Foxy foxy/what’s it gonna be” with him, but it’s something older fans may not be happy with. From here on things get a little slippery. “17 Year Locust” only stands out for it’s psychedelic, Middle Eastern inspired opening due to the use of the sitar. The rest of the music moves along at a lethargic pace that gets dull after a while. Things also get repetitive with the simple chorus of “17 year locust/if not now when.” It’s not a terrible track, but far from his best.

If there’s one song that catches you off guard it’s “The Scorpion Sleeps.” Even though the lyrics do make references to supernatural and side show images, like “jungle women with wings,” the music is not fitting in the slightest. It’s very upbeat, with a swinging rhythm and a clapping beat. It’s the most unfitting Rob Zombie song ever. What’s even worse is it’s not that interesting, though I did think it was weird the riff sounded similar to Marilyn Manson’s “Disposable Teens.” Tracks like this make the album Zombie’s most experimental, which wouldn’t be a problem if the songs weren’t so dull and didn’t sound alike after a while.

It was around this time Rob Zombie started directing movies and his declining musical output starts here. Ever since his first movie, it seems like he’s trying to balance both forms and isn’t doing a great job with either. This is painfully clear on tracks “Death of It All” and “Devil’s Rejects,” which sound very similar to each other. Both songs are decent enough with some spooky elements, but they get boring after about a minute. The main issue is these songs along with others like “Ride” and “The Lords of Salem” are really slow. Most of them sound like they’re dragging everything out, which wouldn’t be so bad if there was more to break them up. There’s a lack of energetic and intense tracks like “Let it All Bleed Out” here and if there were more of them, the album might not be so bad.

Overall, the album gets 7/10. As I mentioned before, I gave this album several times thinking maybe I was being too harsh on it. After listening to it again, it’s clear I will never like this release. To be fair it’s not terrible, but with similar sounding songs, many of which lack Zombie’s usual energy and intensity, it makes for a so-so record. There are a handful of excellent tracks that are worth your time, but they’re not enough to save the album. Zombie would try to improve his music with further releases and while it’s better, it’s still not hitting the mark he once hit.

There have been plenty of examples that show why musicians and acting don’t mix: Crossroads, From Justin to Kelly, Cool as Ice, along with too many others to name. Some artists give it one go and move on, while others just don’t know when to quit (looking at you, Madonna). For the most part, these films are pretty well known and have been ridiculed since their release. But then there are those movies musicians wish you would forget and man, are there a lot of them. Here are 13 awful, ridiculous, and just plain bad movies artists wish you would forget.

13. Population 436

Co-Starring Fred Durst

Just when you thought this guy couldn’t get any sadder, turns out it’s worse that you thought. In this straight to DVD horror movie, he plays a small town deputy who helps census buerau reporter Steve Kady get to town. Kady’s there to survey the residents on the dwindling population. (Sounds legit). When he finally gets to the last family, he learns they have “fever” and “spooky” things ensue. I couldn’t find any clips online aside from the trailer, so I can’t comment on Durst’s acting ability, but considering the type of movie this is it can’t be that promising. What I do know is it doesn’t make him anymore likeable.

12. Straight to Hell

Starring Joe Strummer

The break up of the Clash must’ve been hard on Joe Strummer who agreed to star in this awful parody of Westerns. After watching 10 minutes of it online, I still have no idea what’s going on. The film is about a gang who is stranded in the desert after they almost get busted for a bank robbery. It’s actually an adaptation (if you want to call it that) of Giuilo Questi’s Django, Kill! The movie actually features lots of punk musicians including members of Circle Jerks, The Pogues, and Amazulu. Courtney Love is also in the film as a whiny pregnant woman who complains about everything. So, she pretty much plays herself. Strummer plays one of three hitmen and seems to do an okay job, when you can understand what he’s saying. Compared to other people on the list, he does a respectable job. The film has since gone on to receive cult status and is still an incredible mess.

11. Catacombs (2007)

Starring Pink

That’s right. Pop music’s favorite rebel starred in this dud from 2007. Similar to As a Above So Below, the movie revolves around Paris’ famous catacombs, which apparently harbors a killer raised by a Satanic cult in this film. After that the plot unravels a bit. There’s something about a sister, a rave, a prank, and an actual murderer, and maybe a case of stolen identity, but I’m just going off the plot synopsis. There aren’t many clips on Youtube, but in the one I did find Pink manages to sound whiny and bratty, unlike her badass self. She must’ve been skeptical about the film as she used her real name instead of her stage one. Again, never knew about this one until I started research and for good reason too.

10. Hard to Hold (1984)

Starring Rick Springfield

It should be no surprised to find Rick Springfield in a movie. Afterall, he was on General Hospital for a few years before focusing music full time. What’s funny about this film is the role of James Roberts is not that much of a stretch for Springfield. Roberts is a pop idol who is used to getting any woman he wants, but finds himself tongue tied when meeting Diana Lawson in a car accident. Who in the world is in a car accident and thinks it’s the perfect time to try to hook up? Apparently, Rick Springfield. It’s one of those “we’re from two different worlds, how can we be together?” movies. In other words, it’s like every other rom-com from the ’80s. Even though Springfield wasn’t terrible, the movie didn’t do well, which is probably why it’s been hidden from the public eye for a long time.

9. Monster Dog (1984)

Starring Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper is actually in a surprising amount of movies, but none of them are as bad as this one. I never even knew about it until I stumbled upon it via Netflix. In this horror film Cooper plays rock star (surprise) Vince Raven, who gets attacked by a bloody guy who says everyone will die except for Vince. Throughout the film we learn about his family’s lycanthropy curse. Spoiler alert: Vince is actually the monster dog and tries to kill everyone. Since horror and Cooper go so well together you would think the movie would be somewhat entertaining. The entire thing is bland and it’s clear Cooper is barely even trying to act. And as with most ’80s horror films, there is nothing scary about it. What’s even worse is since it’s a Spanish film, Cooper didn’t even dub his own lines for the English version. Throughout you’ll notice something is off about the mouth movements and it takes you out of the entire thing. Just stick with his cameo in Wayne’s World.

8. Strangeland (1998)

Starring Dee Snider

Apparently, all the old metal stars of the ’80s decided to make horror movies in the late ’90s. Since this was released around the time of the internet’s infancy, this movie preys on people’s fears that chat rooms harbor murderous weirdos. Enter Dee Snider. He plays the murderous weirdo whose really into pain and mutilating people. He’s supposed to look creepy with lots of piercings everywhere, but honestly he looked scarier in his Twisted Sister make up. Somehow Robert Englund of Freddy Kruger fame was roped into this project, but then again he doesn’t seem too picky about his film roles. Going by the trailer it’s probably a mediocre horror film, but probably something Snider wishes you’d forget about.

7. In the Mix (2005)

Starring Usher

Usher already got a taste of acting in The Faculty, which showed fans why he sound stick with singing. Apparently, not everyone got the message. In this 2005 film, Usher takes the lead role of a popular, groupie mobbed DJ who takes on the job as a popular, ladies man bodyguard for the mob. Eventually, he falls in love with the mob boss’ daughter, which is what always happens in these situations. From the trailer alone, it seems like the point of the film is to prove how much of a smooth, ladies man Usher is. Just about all the scenes involving women flirting with him, patting his butt, or feeding him fruit. There are a few “action” scenes, if you consider him running and jump major action, but of course Usher can’t be involved with any project if dancing isn’t involved (arguably it’s what he does best). Is it any surprise the film flopped and has a score of 2.4 out 10 on IMDb’s Bottom 100? Unfortunately, it’s not enough to keep the singer out of movies.

6. Love and a Bullet (2002)

Starring Treach

The former Naughty by Nature member starred in this major flop where he plays a hitman. It’s the classic trope of I’m bad, but now I wanna be good type of thing. The acting is so bad you can’t even describe it in words. Treach sounds like he’s struggling to remember his next line and the ones he manages to get are delivered flat. He sounds downright bored throughout the whole thing. It’s clear he should’ve taken on a solo rap career after his Naughty by Nature days. What makes this movie even more of a tragedy is it only grossed $18,926 and was released in only 14 theaters. When comparing these numbers, the other movies on the list did phenomenally better.

5. On the Line (2001)

Starring Lance Bass and Joey Fatone

Lance was very ambitious during his Nsync days. Not only did he try to fly to the moon and start his own record label, he tried his hand at acting. Spoiler: he’s not that great. This movie follows Lance as he searches for a girl he met on the L train in Chicago. It’s not a terrible movie; it’s kind of cute and has its funny moments. But the silly concept, cliched characters, sub par acting, and dry dialogue make it less than reputable. Also, watching the movie now knowing Lance is gay is kind of awkward. He can’t even fake chemistry with his intended girlfriend well though that could be due to his lame acting. Sorry, Lance. Joey, on the other hand, wasn’t that bad.

4. Longshot (2001)

Featuring Nsync, O-Town, LFO, Take 5, Britney Spears

Unless you were a fan of bubblegum pop, you’ve probably never heard of this movie. Since I did love Nsync and O-town at the time I wanted to see the film. Luckily, I never did. It has to be the most asinine excuse for a film ever. There’s supposed to be the typical guy in high school can’t get the girl, so he figures out ways to impress her type of plot, but really it’s all about the boy bands. There isn’t one second where you don’t see a boy band or hear one of their songs, but did you expect anything else from a film by Lou Pearlman? It’s a shameless vehicle to promote his “hot” bands at the time (before he stole all their money). He even recruited O-town to promote the film in the damn movie. It is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen. None of the pop stars can act and the film is full of goofy dialogue and shoddy production. To make things even worse both Kenny Rogers and Jermaine Jackson have cameo appearances. At least it wasn’t released in theaters.

3. Bad Timing (1980)

Starring Art Garfunkel

Bad Timing is a British psychological thriller that uncovers the sadistic, romantic relationship between a woman and her psychiatrist. The film caused a stir when it was released with the film’s distributor Rank Organisation calling it “a sick film made by sick people for sick people.” Sounds pretty intense, which makes it even weirder that Art Garfunkel plays the titular role of the psychiatrist. Sick, thriller, and British are the last things you would ever associate with the folk singer. The movie itself is pretty weird. Since it’s non-linear and is mostly told through a series of flashbacks, it comes off as an arthouse film with various closeups of paintings, Garfunkel scratching his head, and even him dancing in the nude, something no one has ever asked to see. If that wasn’t bad enough the singer tries to be cynical and sadistic, but looks too timid to pull it off. It’s hard to imagine him being threatening while maintaining his bozo hair cut. Not to mention every line he says sounds like he’s reciting it off of a cue card. Apparently someone thought Garfunkel was good; the film won Toronto’s People Choice Award in 1980.

2. A Letter from Death Row (1998)

Starring Bret Michaels

The ’90s weren’t a good time for Poison. With grunge music on the rise, hair metal was pretty much dead, which left former rockstars with a lot of free time. That would be the only plausible explanation for why this movie exists. This thriller is supposed to take the viewer into the mind of convicted killer Michael Raine and his experience on death row. But to add a twist, the viewer is never sure if Raine is innocent or not or even if he is telling his own story. The entire movie is available on Youtube, but watching the two minute trailer should be enough to see how awful it is. It looks like the entire thing was shot on a $200 budget, which is probably all the money the rocker had at the time, and filled with theater school rejects. The trailer even has the nerve to boast a “special appearance” from Charlie Sheen, like that’s supposed to entice people to see it.

1. KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)

Starring KISS

We all know that KISS isn’t ashamed to put their name on any and all merchandise from coffins to comics, but this movie is so bad they don’t even want to release it. This made for tv movie finds KISS not just a crazy rock n roll band, but a crazy rock n roll band that has superpowers. For some absurd reason, an evil inventor wants to destroy a California amusement park. Enter KISS to save the day with their powers of flying, firebreathing, telepathy, and shooting lasers from their eyes. During their quest to save the park, they fight robot monkeys, samurai, and even Frankenstein. But the inventor is a clever one! He makes KISS clones to perform a show and unleash his evil plans of destruction upon the world. In other words, no one knows what the fuck is happening in this movie. What makes it even worse is all of Ace Frehley’s lines are dubbed because he didn’t show up for looping; it’s painfully obvious. The movie finally saw a 2008 DVD release, but the movie was heavily edited with almost all of Frehley’s lines cut out. Still, it’s a must to see to understand just how bad it is.

Did I miss any awful musician movies? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Justin_Timberlake_-_FutureSex_LoveSoundsRelease Year: 2006

Rating: 7/10

Justin was already a star during his Nsync days, but ever since he started his solo career he’s become larger than life. His solo debut was great and his releases last year were satisfying. The same can’t be said for his second LP. While there are some awesome tracks here to get you dancing, many of them are uninspired, dull, and too damn long (an issue Timberlake still hasn’t fixed). The record is all over the place and can never seem to find it’s footing, which makes for a disappointing album.

If you couldn’t tell from the title, the theme of this album is sex. He already covered the topic on his previous effort, but here he goes even further. Though he tries to be sensual on “Futuresex/Lovesound” he ends up sounding like a creepo when he sings “daddy’s on a mission to please.” He keeps trying to be sexy by repeating the song title in a robotic voice; it’s clearly not working. On “Sexy Ladies” he brags about how many women he has going crazy for him. This topic gets a little boring after a while, especially since Timberlake approaches it in a cliché manner, but the track where he pulls it off the best is “Sexy Back.” The bass heavy music and the weird distorted vocals make the song infectious. It also doesn’t hurt that singing “I’m bringing sexy back” is really fun to say. It’s a stand out single because it sounded like nothing else he had done at the time.

My Love” is another strong track from the album. The music continues with the heavy bass and throws in a synth/electronic based riff that sticks in your head. Here, Justin tries out his falsetto and it’s okay. I’ve definitely heard better, but I’ve also heard worse. While the song has a great hook and is pretty good overall things get iffy when T.I. comes in. His rap is so unnecessary and to make it worse it’s pretty boring. The song would’ve been just fine without it. “Lovestoned” is a great dance track with its disco flavor and funk driven rhythm to get you moving. It’s a really fun, upbeat track, but after the four minute mark you want it to end. It goes on for a total of seven minutes for no good reason. This same problem is found on his later efforts. When will Justin learn making songs longer than they need to be don’t make them better.

“What Goes Around” has never been my favorite Timberlake song. The Middle Eastern inspired riff is interesting and the low key music is enjoyable, but it just doesn’t pop like some of his other songs. The end of a bad relationship vibe of the track makes you think of “Cry Me a River,” though it’s not as effective. The pleasant “Summer Love” sounds like an old hip-hop song filled with lots of synth that catches your attention. The song is vibrant, upbeat, and really catchy. It makes you feel good like a Justin Timberlake song should. The thing that ruins it is yet another prelude attached at the end. This happens several times throughout the album making the original track longer. These preludes are supposed to introduced the next song, but they are boring and pointless.

The one song that is just flat out bad is “Chop Me Up.” Since it features really heavy beats and Three 6 Mafia, it ends up sounding like one of their rap songs. Justin even attempts to rap and sounds like a poor man’s T.I. During the chorus, there are moments when a distorted voice sings part of it and it makes you think of a bad voice over. The whole thing comes off phony and really disrupts the flow of the album. It’s all r&b and pop dance songs until you get to this. It just doesn’t fit in. “Losing my Way” sticks out for the wrong reasons. On a record mainly about sex and love Justin decides to talk about a man who has lost everything because of his addiction to crack. While it means well it doesn’t fit at all. Plus, a choir comes on at the end and adds a whole layer of cheesiness to it. Sorry Justin, I’m not buying it.

Even though it has some great songs, the album gets 7/10. The record is all over the place. Sometimes it stays on the r&b and pop vibe, while other times it strays into different genres Justin has no business being in. This is also where the singer got the idea that ten minutes songs are okay. So many of the tracks have a five minute prelude attached at the end and it’s baffling to understand what they’re supposed to add to the album. When the songs aren’t dull and repetitive, they end up being so cheesy your eyes will pop out of your head from rolling them too much. It’s a shame because there are some great, fun tracks here, but the rest of it doesn’t hold up. At least Justin did better for his third release.

cassettes

Ever since the introduction of vinyl, audiophiles have been arguing about which format is the best for music. Was it the crispness of records or the ease of CDs? No matter what side you’re on everyone knew the answer was not cassettes. They never had the best audio quality and were inconvenient compared to the other music formats. It was no surprised when they were quietly phased out in the early 2000s. But in a shocking turn of events, they are trying to come back. Why?

When Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones released Foreverly, I was shocked to learn there was a cassette edition. I thought it was supposed to be a one-time, interesting release for collectors. Then Demolicious got its own cassette, which puzzled me even more. Soon, artists left and right starting releasing their new or exclusive material on tapes: Skrillex, Fred Durst, and Protest the Hero to name a few. For any collector, these are cool items to have, but it’s still baffling. Cassettes never seemed like the popular option when it came to buying music. If anything it was just the cheaper one or your only choice if you had a Walkman. They may have been portable, but they sure weren’t convenient.

When you think about it, cassettes are pretty annoying. Unlike CDs, you couldn’t easily skip songs. Instead you had to fast forward and hope you didn’t stop in the middle of the one you wanted to hear. Also, they had the highest risk of getting ruined: they can easily get stepped on or the spool of tape can get tangled in the player. Personally, I like to own tapes; it’s the collector in me. But whenever I wanted to listen to an album I always went for the CD. Aside from hipsters, I didn’t think anyone cared for tapes anymore, yet more artists are starting to release new material on this format.

It’s even gotten to the point where Cassette Store Day made a comeback. Inspired by the much beloved Record Store Day, several UK record labels created the day to celebrate the diminishing format. It was first introduced in 2013, but since sales were anything but impressive, it was unsure whether the event would continue into the next year. Surprisingly, Cassette Store Day made a return this year with notable artists Julian Casablancas and Karen O providing exclusive releases. While it’s a cute idea, I doubt you’ll see hundreds of people lined up in front of shops to get their hands on exclusive tapes.

It’s a weird new trend in music that doesn’t add much to the listening experience. If anything it just seems like a way to get more money out of people. There are some fans who want to own everything a favorite band of theirs has released, so of course they are willing to spend 10 bucks on a cassette they don’t need. If this is the case it doesn’t seem like a trend that will last long. Sure, a few people will buy into it, but they’ll soon get tired of it and remember why cassettes were kind of shitty to begin with. It would make more sense if there were new cassette players or something like that, but most don’t even own a stereo system anymore.

Other than that, I don’t understand why they’re trying to make a comeback. Maybe it’s a way to play on nostalgia. Or record companies are so desperate for sells they see them as novelty items. Whatever the reason it’s still pretty strange. Even as an avid music lover and cassette collector, I find it bizarre. I can understand the avid love behind vinyl or why some people still turn to CDs. But cumbersome cassettes? It’s kind of hard to believe. Does that mean new concert films will be released on VHS? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.