Playlist: Latest and Favorites

There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and finding out your favorite band has released a new song. You never know what you’re getting: will it blow you away so hard you can’t imagine waiting another second for the new album? Or will it be so disappointing you vow to give up on them? Whatever the reaction, usually gets you in the mood for their older stuff and that’s what this playlist is about. The artists featured here have released new songs over the past 2 years. Their latest single will be paired with a personal favorite, so sit back and get excited about new music. Or just be satisfied with their older stuff, either way is fine.

Maroon 5

“This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Motherfucker”

Ever since Adam Levine’s ego grew bigger than his head, I haven’t been a fan of Maroon 5. Morbid curiosity keeps me checking out their new stuff, but it’s usually a disappointment. My feelings are the same with this song. It’s pretty obvious the band are trying to score the “song of the summer” title with this single. Levine goes completely falsetto while pop electro music swirls around him. It’s a pretty mediocre track and sounds similar to all of the songs on their last album. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that Levine shows his ass in the video or how obvious it is Maroon 5 are trying to be bad ass and score a hit song.

“This Love”

Remember when Adam Levine’s naked oily body wasn’t covered in tattoos? That was back in 2005 when the band’s mega-successful debut dropped. And this was one song you couldn’t get away from. It’s simple, catchy, and really dirty if you actually pay attention the lyrics. It’s not like Maroon 5 changed pop music forever with this song; it was just really well crafted like the rest of the album. Levine sounds like himself rather than a whiny, falsetto mess who’s always trying to be sexy and sensitive. Also, the band actually sounded like band instead of back up for the singer. Ah, simpler times.

Panic! At the Disco

“Hallelujah”

I stopped listening to Panic! when the rest of the world stopped caring about them. I wasn’t that impressed by their second album and haven’t paid attention to their new material since. And judging by this song, I made the right choice. I don’t even know where to begin. It has this weird gospel, soul vibe going on, which is completely different from what they previously did. There’s even a part with a gospel choir and hand claps. It’s totally unexpected. Because the chorus is so repetitive, it’s one of those songs that’ll get stuck in your head even if you don’t want it to. Otherwise, the song is just weird.

“But It’s Better if You Do”

P!ATD surfaced at a time when sounding like Fall Out Boy meant guaranteed success. They weren’t the greatest band, but what made them stand out was how fun their songs were (even if the titles were obscenely long). This track from their debut, which is now 10 years old, mixes upbeat pop-punk with vaudeville-esque music that was standard for their sound at the time. The entire thing is full of energy, it gets you moving as soon as the first jaunty piano note is played. It’s upbeat, memorable, and puts you in the mood for dancing whenever you hear it. Between musical changes and band departures, the band haven’t been the same since.

Slipknot

“Killpop”

Slipknot’s latest is considered the “poppiest” on .5: The Gray Chapter. With the soft, muted beginning and Corey Taylor’s mellow vocals, it does throw listeners for a loop the first time it’s heard. But it doesn’t take long for the track to go back to the aggressive nature the band is known for. The single mixes the band’s melodic side with their intensity, providing a best of both worlds. Everything keeps building up until the explosive ending where Taylor sounds violent and viscous. It also helps that the lyrics suggest something darker is going on: “We were meant to be together/Now die and fucking love me/We were meant to hurt each other
Now die and fucking love me.” It’s actually one of the stand out track from the LP.

“Left Behind”

This is Slipknot at their best. For their second album, Iowa, they turned everything up from how intense the music was to the darkness of the lyrics. The entire album is their most brutal and disturbing and this is one of the best tracks. That hypnotizing guitar riff looping around your head matched with Corey’s extreme vocals he’s become known for since, make for a song that’s intense as fuck.

Motley Crue

“All Bad Things”

The Crue have spent the past two years promoting their farewell tour by signing treaties, doing late night television, and doing endless press conferences. Between all that, they also released this new single and it’s not that bad. The band will never be as good as they were back in the 80s, but at least the track roars to life with a wicked riff that’s in your face and aggressive. It’s not their best, but it’s a fitting way for them to say goodbye since the chorus screams “All bad things must end/all bad thing must die.”  For a few brief seconds you even think you’re listening to classic Crue.

“Dr. Feelgood”

Motley Crue will be remembered for a lot of things, but this is the song they’ll always be associated with. This is when they were the indisputable bad boys of metal and you can hear it on this song. Everything sounds viscous and evil with Mick Mars’ blazing guitars and Tommy Lee behind the kit. No wonder parents thought they were Satanic. The single was recorded after the band got sober and it showed they didn’t need drugs to kick ass.

Incubus

“Absolution Calling”

Recently, Incubus released their new EP Trust Fall (Side A) with this track as its lead single. Unlike most of the material from their last LP, this one feels more like classic Incubus. It’s upbeat, energetic, and lots of fun. It mixes in their brand of alt rock with some wavering synth for a weird dance vibe. It’s actually a really good track and marks a great comeback for the band. This along with the other songs from their latest release get you excited for what they’ll do next.

“Stellar”

The second single from Make Yourself is one of my favorites. The song sounds dreamy with the watery opening riff and Brandon Boyd’s soft singing. This track also plays with the loud/quiet dynamic with soft verses and a loud chorus.  The whole thing is a bit sweet and sentimental. It’s actually kind of relaxing and puts you in a good mood. Though it wouldn’t be as successful as their next single, it’s still among one of their best songs.

Billy Idol

“Can’t Break Me Down”

Idol returned last year with his first new album in seven years along with a phenomenal new book. The album itself was decent enough and this track was among one of the best. This is most likely because it sounds so similar to his older material. But at least Idol still sounds great and there’s no mistaking it’s him when you hear it. The “bang-bang-bang” of the hook is a little cheesy, but it’s something you come around to the more you hear it. It’s still not as strong as his stuff from the 80s, but at least he can still make good music.

“Eyes Without a Face”

There’s no question that Billy Idol was on top of his game in the 80s. He had many hits during this time, but this one has to be his most haunting. He sounds eerie and sinister as he sings lines like “Say your prayers” and keeps mentioning eyes without a face, which is a reference to the French movie of the same name. The song also showed how Idol didn’t always have to be the punk rebel to win hearts over. He knew how to slow things down, yet still rock out. All it takes is a killer from long time collaborator Steve Stevens to make it kick ass.

Bullet For My Valentine

“No Way Out”

Fans complained Bullet’s last album wasn’t brutal enough and for this track the band gives the people what they want . As I previously pointed out in a review, the song isn’t the strongest from the band, but it’s a helluva lot better than Temper Temper and the rushed “Raising Hell.” The best is when the song comes alive during the start with the aggressive, noisy guitars and Matt Tuck screaming at the top of his lungs “No way out!” Though it didn’t blow my mind when I first heard, I’m liking it more and more as I hear it. Let’s hope the rest of the new album is even better.

“4 Words (To Choke Upon)”

That killer opening riff that sounds a tad bit like the Michael Myers theme and the roar of Matt singing “That’s right, one more time!” kicked off the band’s second single with a bang. This is the first track the band wrote after the break up of Jeff Killed John and is a response to those who doubted they were going to be successful, which is why the “look at me now” line makes so much sense. This is a classic Bullet track with everything  that makes the band kick ass: in your face intense music, blazing guitar solos, and harsh vocals mixed with the melodic. It’s no wonder I fell in love with the band as soon as I heard it.

Queens of the Stone Age

“Smooth Sailing”

Queens of the Stone Age came back from a six year absence with a number one album. While every track on the LP is killer, this single is definitely a highlight. The band sets aside hard rock for groovy riffs, a drunken shuffle, and killer riffs. It’s the most upbeat track on the record, giving you a break from all the dark, grim stuff happening otherwise. Once you hear the song you can’t help but start shaking your hips. It has that feel good, party vibe, which they tried to capture in the video. Homme lets loose with his sweet falsetto making the song that much better.

“Go With the Flow”

QOTSA have a ton of amazing singles, but the fast paced chugging riff and heavy hitting drums won me over. Homme sounds hypnotic as he sings “I can go with the flow/do you believe it in your head” while bursts of squealing guitar appear throughout the track. With such a memorable chorus, the song manages to be catchy making it one of their most accessible tracks. But it still kicks a lot of ass and shows how insanely talented the band is.

Muse

“Dead Inside”

Muse took the electronic/synth elements from their previous album and mashed it with their hard rock sound for this stellar track. Bellamy announces the song by singing “Dead inside!” while Dom Howard provides the heavy metallic drumbeat. From there, Bellamy goes on to sing about someone who’s lost hope and is left vulnerable for mind control. It sounds pretty dark, but Bellamy manages to make it sound sensual with his chilling falsetto vocals he peppers the track with. It’s a great return to the band’s much missed rock sound, but it also manages to sound different thanks to a blending of styles.

“Knights of Cydonia”

This is the song that shows why Muse are such a force. Insane and raw guitar riffs, out of this world vocals, and a call to arms. Since its release, this is the song the band have become known for and it’s a huge fan favorite. Again, it’s a great example of Bellamy’s high pitched vocal range, which he uses to full effect on this track. There’s also the epic bridge which screams “No one’s gonna take me alive,” that makes you ready to go into battle. When you hear people talking about how unbelievably talented and over the top the band are, this is what they’re talking about.

AFI

“A Deep Slow Panic”

It’s been thee years since AFI released their ninth album, yet this single came out last year. While it’s not one of the strongest songs from the LP, it’s still pretty solid. It seems to have more of the upbeat, lighter tone that was found on Crash Love instead of the intense, hardcore punk they’re loved for. Davey Havok sounds soft as he sings “I haven’t left here for days/My panic keeps me awake/As he unwinds/Inside” while Jade Puget’s bright riffs swirl around him. It’s one of those songs that grows on you the more you hear it.

“Leaving Song Pt. 2″

This track from their breakout LP Sing the Sorrow, doesn’t show the extreme punk sound the band had when they first started, but it’s clearly still present here. Everything that makes an AFI song is here: gang vocals, aggressive guitars, gothic elements, and dark lyrics. The song is intense and in your face, especially during the chorus where the music and the vocals are punched up. The best part is the end when Davey Havok lets out a blood curdling scream ending the song.

Marilyn Manson

“The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles”

Manson returned this year with his most critically acclaimed album of his later career. Ever since the mid 2000s, Manson’s been finding new ways to stay scary and shocking with lackluster results. Though 2012’s Born Villain was a strong effort, it’s this LP where the rocker finds a style that works for where he’s at in his life. This track shows the slow burning, blues tinged music Manson has a knack for making now. While it’s not the best song on the album, it’s still a damn good one.

“The Dope Show”

Manson’s 1998 LP is still considered his best. With a dash of David Bowie and a glam rock direction, Manson crafted what many would call his masterpiece and this song was at the forefront. Not only did it introduce fans to the band’s new sound, but it confused the hell out of the world when the rocker appeared with boobs. It remains one of the most shocking and talked about moments of the 90s. The song itself has this deep, sexy groove matched with a drunken shuffle that makes you feel good and woozy all at once. Years later, it remains one of his best songs.

Madonna

“Bitch, I’m Madonna”

Madonna knows she’s the baddest bitch and she brags about it in her latest single. Featuring Nicki Minaj, the track is an upbeat club banger mixing some electronic with a but of rump shaker music. While it does sounds like the Queen of Pop is trying a little too hard to keep up with the younger musicians, the let loose, party vibe of the track is too infectious to ignore. Soon enough you’ll find yourself claiming “Bitch, I’m Madonna” with the singer herself.

“Vogue”

This is classic Madonna all the way. This is when the singer was at the peak of her career, yet still before the baffling Sex book. Based on and dedicated to the underground voguing scene found in New York gay clubs, the song is about dancing and looking pretty while doing it. There’s even a short section dedicated to the glamorous stars of the classic Hollywood era, such as Bette Davis and Grace Kelly. With a hint of disco and a whole lot of attitude, it’s still a song Madonna fans cherish to this day.