Lists

Playlist: Play It Again

Ever wonder why some artists feel the need to re-record their big hits? Sometimes it’s to record with a new lineup, other times it’s for legal reasons. But more often than not it feels like a cheap cash cow and is almost always a bad idea. While some bands have gotten away with re-recordings that aren’t terrible, they never live up to the original. Let’s take a listen to some of the best and worst re-recorded hit songs.

“Boys Don’t Cry” – The Cure

The Cure have a lot of notable songs in their lengthy catalog, but this is their most iconic. Taken from their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, the song received moderate praise upon original release. Over time, the single garnered more praise and acclaim quickly becoming a Cure staple. When Robert Smith revisited the band’s singles for their 1986 compilation cassette, Staring at the Beach, Smith and co-headed back into the studio to re-record the classic. Known as “New Voice New Mix” the new version sounds very similar to the original. The biggest difference is Smith’s mature and more playful vocal take. Though it doesn’t sound bad, it still doesn’t match the charm of the original. It seems the band knows this as the new version was only used for the companion video. Otherwise, it has not been officially released on subsequent Cure collections.

“Shout at the Devil” – Motley Crue

Normally, there is no reason why a band should re-record their songs, especially when they’re considered classics. Usually, it ends up a disaster. Sadly, this is the outcome of Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil 97.” The original is a staple of heavy metal and helped launched their career. It remains one of their best songs. In 1997, the band reunited with Vince Neil, who left 1992 and released their seventh album, Generation Swine. To celebrate Neil’s return the band decided to re-record the song. And it’s…weird. While the vocals are largely unchanged, the music sounds nothing like the original. It’s hard to even pick out the tracks’ notable riff. Is this supposed to be a heavy metal version? It’s like they wanted to prove how bad and edgy they were and this is the result. Best avoid this version at all costs.

“Ace of Spades” – Motorhead

If there’s one song that represents being a badass, heavy metal, and the awesomeness of Mr. Lemmy Kilmister, it’s “Ace of Spades.” It’s not only the band’s most well-known song, it’s often listed as one of the best songs ever. And with good reason. Everything about it from the iconic riff to Lemmy’s gruff vocals makes it kick ass. The song is pretty much perfect, so why mess with it? When Rockband wanted to use the song for their game, the band re-recorded it and branded it “Ace of Spades 08.” There’s nothing bad about it; it sounds pretty close to the original. But it’s just not the same. Hearing it you know something’s off and it’s a little disappointing. At least Motorhead didn’t try to rebrand the song, unlike the Crue boys.

“Every Day is Halloween” – Ministry

Ministry’s early work is spotty at best. Before they found their abrasive, brutal industrial sound they sounded more like a faceless new wave band. It wasn’t until this song that they began finding their sound. Though the band would have bigger hits later on, this song still played an important role for both the group and fans. It’s still considered a favorite in their catalog. But perhaps Al Jourgensen thought it wasn’t heavy enough. He “fixed” this by re-recording the song in 2010. This version sounds more in tune with later Ministry, but it also sounds like a mediocre cover. The grinding guitars, fast tempo, and new vocals suck out everything that made the original great. This just sounds like another boring metal song trying too hard to be edgy.

“Melt With You” – Modern English

Though Modern English found more success in the UK they’ll forever be known as the one-hit wonders who gave us this 80s classic in the States. Constant airplay on MTV and playing over the end credits of Valley Girl helped it become a hit. It eventually reached number 7 on Billboard’s Top Tracks chart. The band re-recorded the track for their 1990 album, Pillow Lips. While you can hear some slight vocal variations, the changes are minimal. The same can’t be said for the 2010 version of the song. Recorded for the I Melt With You soundtrack, this version is harrowing. It takes all the bouncy, fun nature out of the song. Instead, it sounds stark, dark, and haunting. The 1983 version is still superior, but there’s something oddly beautiful about the 2010 rendition.

“Missing You” – John Waite

John Waite has a notable career as the singer for Bad English and The Babys, but he’s best remembered for this 80s ballad. It’s a typical sappy song about getting over someone, but not really getting over them. It proved to be a major hit and topped the charts in several countries. He’s gone on to release other successful singles, but none as big as this. In 2007, he re-recorded the track with Allison Krauss for her album A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s not terrible. It’s okay at best. Krauss doesn’t sound horrible singing and Waite sounds pretty much the same. It’s a very vanilla rendition of the song that makes you wonder why it had to happen in the first place.

“In This Paradise”- London After Midnight

This track from LAM’s debut album, Selected Scenes from the End of the World, has a Gothic, mysterious nature with the tolling bells and Sean Brennan’s vampiric vibe. There’s a dark romanticism to it that’s alluring, yet mysterious. But the album received a limited release and as a result was reissued several times in the States and Europe. For the 2003 re-release, Brennan re-recorded various songs from the album, including this track. The most notable change is the better sound quality. It no longer sounds like the track is muffled. Brennan also tightens up his vocals and the instrumentation, though the dancing guitar riff found in the original is missing here. It’s actually a decent update but is still missing the tantalizing vibe of the original.

“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” – Wang Chung

This Wang Chung hit is one of those mindless pop songs from the 80s. You know it’s bad, but like it because it has a catchy, memorable hook. Whether or not you actually like it, you’ll be singing along with it. Besides, the song has a positive message: have fun tonight. Who can’t get behind that? At least listening to it is better than watching the nauseating video. The 2010 re-recorded version doesn’t change much, but there’s something missing. It doesn’t sound as upbeat and energetic as the original. It sounds like a Wang Chung cover band is performing instead. And they try to spice up the song with soulful backup singers, but it falls flat. The whole thing sounds deflated. So if you have to listen to the song, stick with the original. Just don’t ask what “everybody wang chung tonight” means. The band doesn’t know either.

“I Remember You Two” – Skid Row

Skid Row’s third single is a cut and dry power ballad. It has sappy lyrics, soothing acoustic guitars, and the “edgy” hard guitars meant to show you it’s not a cheesy love song even though it is. The band re-recorded the song in 2003 with new lead singer Johnny Solinger as “I Remember You Two.” Re-recording hit songs with a new singer is never a good idea. No matter how decent the singer is, it will never live up to the original. Sadly, this isn’t the only problem this version has. Rather than sticking with the power ballad formula, the band “update” it to be heavier giving a lame “punk rock” sound. This along with the over the top vocals make it sound like your dad’s cover band instead of Skid Row. This is why re-recording songs is almost always a bad idea.

“I Was Made for Lovin’ You” – KISS

Sometimes when a band changes its lineup, they feel it’s time to recapture the magic of classic hits with their “amazing” new members. Skid Row already showed us why this is a bad idea, yet bands keep doing it. Look to KISS’ Kiss Klassics, an entire album of re-recorded hits featuring their 2008 lineup of Paul Stanely, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer. All of their biggest hits are re-recorded with less enthusiasm and energy as before. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” shows you just how bad the album is. Not only does the whole thing sound unenthusiastic and boring, Stanely clearly can’t hit those high notes during the bridge. That wouldn’t be a problem if his attempt actually sounded good; it just sounds sad.

“Your Sweet 666” – HIM

Originally found on their debut album, this track was later re-recorded for their breakout LP, Razorblade Romance. Unlike many of the tracks here, the two versions are obviously different from one another. The original sounded like it came from the depths of Hell with Ville Valo’s deep vocals and the hard, distorted guitars. The later version is lighter in tone featuring more keys and fewer guitars in the mix overall. Rather than sounding heavy, this one has more of a traditional rock tone with a bit of glam mixed in. Though some fans prefer the new version, the first packs a heavier punch. With its Gothic nature, dark tones, and haunting vibe, the original stands out with its dramatic, Hellish vibe fitting in with HIM’s long-running themes of love and death. The latter version sounds like another typical rock song and isn’t as exciting as the original.

“I’m Your Man” – Wham!

Wham’s 1985 single proved to be another hit for the duo and one of their last before their split in 1986. Just like their other singles, this one is upbeat and fun, making you want to dance as soon as you hear the bouncy beat. It also has a killer hook of “baby/I’m your man” that you can’t help but sing out. It’s one of those typical fun 80s songs that puts you in a good mood. When it was time for a Wham! greatest hits album in 1996, George Michael decided to update the hit with an R&B spin. And it’s…something. The sound is completely different with elements of funk, rap, and R&B. Hearing hype men shout “who da man” at the beginning leaves you scratching your head. The whole thing sounds like a cover from the Backstreet Boys. Rather than breathing new life into the song, it’s a sad attempt at trying to be relevant.

“Paradise City” – Slash

This is another sad attempt of trying to update a classic. With Slash and Axl Rose not on speaking terms, Slash decided to release his debut solo album in 2010. The previous year, he released the single “Sahara,” which featured this GNR classic as the b-side. You can’t fault Slash for wanting to reinvent one of the band’s biggest hits – he’s part of the reason the why the song is so popular. But you would think he’d enlist a viable rock singer for vocals. Instead, he recruits Fergie and Cypress Hill. Why? is the only thing you’ll ask yourself when hearing this terrible rendition. This is one case where rap and rock don’t get along. And when was the last time Cypress Hill were relevant? Fergie’s screeching in the background just makes matters worse. It’s not worth sitting through this crap to hear Slash’s killer licks. Just stick with the original.

Which re-recorded hits did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Remembering Prince

April 21, 2016, the world lost one of music’s iconic and talented musicians, Prince. He was truly a legend who left a huge impression on music with his style, songs, and vision. He was a versatile artist who constantly pushed boundaries and challenged perceived notions of music. Since he was bigger than life, even though he only stood 5’3, you don’t picture him working with a lot of other artists or even performing covers. His music is so good, why should he play other people’s songs? But, surprisingly, Prince extended himself to various musicians and created memorable, yet underrated duets. At the same time, he also put his funky, sexy spin on songs you’d never guess he’d play. So let’s remember the late Prince by looking back at some of his most notable duets and covers.

“Love Song” – Madonna + Prince

When listening to Madonna’s landmark album Like a Prayer it’s easy to gloss over this smoldering track. The sexy ballad features the two music icons being seductive with one another. It’s a smooth, sexy track meant to put you in the loving mood. So how did the two end up working together? “We were friends and talked about working together, so I went to Minneapolis to write some stuff with him, but the only thing I really dug was ‘Love Song’ […]” With its funky groove and steamy lyrics, it’s more of a Prince song. It sounds like something that belongs on one of his albums and doesn’t mesh well with the pure pop of the rest of the album. You would think a song featuring two of the biggest acts of the 80s would get more attention. But the track couldn’t really compete with massive singles “Like a Prayer” and “Dear Jessie.”

“Creep” – Radiohead

You don’t expect someone like Prince to do too many covers, especially considering how many hits he has in his catalog. But during his headlining set at 2008 Coachella, he pulled out a number of them. He played The Beatles’ “Come Together,” Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice,” The B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” But the most talked about moment was his blazing cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Though the elements of the original are there, he turns the track into something completely his own. When he pulls out the extended solos and falsetto vocals, it doesn’t even sound like the same song. It’s amazing to listen to especially since he never played any of the band’s songs before. But of course, Prince wasn’t happy when footage of the cover went live online. He ordered the video to be taken down, which Radiohead reverted since it’s their own song.

“Waiting Room” – No Doubt + Prince

This is another unexpected Prince collaboration. Found on No Doubt’s Rock Steady, it’s got a bit of groove, it’s kind of soulful with a dash of synth and pop. Thanks to Prince’s work on the track, it sounds nothing like the band’s previous or later material. Apparently, Prince agreed to work on the track as a favor to the band since Gwen Stefani appeared on his track “So Far, So Pleased.” They sent him the track and he completely rewrote it. His influence can be heard all over the song. If it wasn’t for Stefani’s lead vocals, you would swear it’s a Prince song. It’s one of the weirder, yet satisfying options from No Doubt’s 2001 album.

“Best of You” – Foo Fighters

Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl Half-Time performance was the first time I realized just how versatile and insanely talented he was. We know how hard Prince rock’s his own material, but not too many other songs. That changed when he busted out renditions of “Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watch Tower,” and Foo Fighter‘s “Best of You.” You wouldn’t expect to hear falsetto shrills in a Foo Fighters song, but Prince truly made that track along with the others he featured all his own. He infused them with his attitude, flair, and a healthy dose of soul like no one else ever could. Though some people didn’t think he was worthy of handling the show, his performance is still hailed as one of the best in Superbowl history. Watching it now, it still gives you chills, especially when he busts out “Purple Rain” during an epic downpour.

“A Love Bizzare” – Shelia E + Prince

Prince was so unique and had a style unlike any other that his essence pours out of every song he writes. This duet with his protégé Shelia E, features the Purple One on background vocals and on bass. But even though Shelia E is the focus of the song, it’s undeniably a Prince song. With its upbeat funky groove, irresistible hook, and sultry lyrics it could’ve come from any of his albums. Though his contribution is kind of downplayed on the studio version, the live version has his flamboyance all over it. Like so many of his tracks, this one is fun, energetic, and sexy. Then again, what Prince song isn’t sexy?

“Every Day is a Winding Road” Sheryl Crow + Prince

Any artist collaborating with Prince should know once he makes an appearance, he steals the show. That’s what happened during this live collaboration with Sheryl Crow. The two performed a hard-edge version of her hit “Every Day is a Winding Road.” Prince does backup vocals and shreds away on his iconic guitar. Shortly after this performance, Prince recorded his own version of the track for this 1999 album Rav Un2 The Joy Fantastic. If you’re lucky enough to find this version, you’ll find a completely different song. It’s funky, slinky, and downright sexy, which you don’t expect from a Crow song. It’s soulful and makes you want to dance. The cover is so good, Crow should hand it over to Prince to be rightfully his. On the same album, the two collaborate on the track “Baby Knows,” which has this cool rock, funk swing to it. If you want to hear it, you better pick up the record; they’re impossible to find online.

“Why Should I Love You?” – Kate Bush + Prince

Kate Bush is an iconic figure in alt rock. Her music is often dreamy, otherworldly, and elegant. So it’s a bit unexpected to learn she worked with Prince. The song, which appeared on her comeback album The Red Shoes, starts out with an air of whimsy and airy and quickly turns into a Prince jam. Seems to be the usual pattern with Prince collaborations. Apparently, Bush sent him the track back in 1991 so he could add background vocals. He not only added vocals but a lot of instrumentation. Since it sounded so different, Bush wasn’t sure what to do with it. They worked on it for two years trying to make it fit Bush’s sound. Clearly, it didn’t work.

“A Case of You” – Joni Mitchell

Prince is known for his sexy, funky style, but on this Joni Mitchell, we get to hear a different side. While it still has an air of sensuality, the track is absolutely gorgeous. It’s an intimate moment with Prince and a piano that’s unforgettable. Hearing his soaring falsetto vocals and the classy tinkling piano keys leave you in awe. We all know Prince was such an amazing guitar player, it’s often easy to forget what a versatile musician he was. This cover shows the beauty and elegance he could add to songs, whether they were his or not. This version is a stark difference from Mitchell’s original folk stylings.

“Love is a Losing Game” – Amy Winehouse + Prince

This haunting and somber track from Amy Winehouse’s final album Back to Black, received the Prince treatment several times live. Footage of this is difficult to find, but luckily, the two eventually teamed up for a powerful rendition of the song. Winehouse joined Prince onstage in 2007 during his final show at London’s O2 Arena. He leaves her to take care of the vocals while he tears it up on guitar. In case you forgot what a badass he is on guitar, you’re quickly reminded on this track. It’s an unforgettable collaboration, though you can’t help but feel a little sad since both musicians passed on unexpectedly.

“Honky Tonk Woman” – Rolling Stones

Prince started performing this song live in 1993, but his version was never officially released. Previously, it could only be found on the Japanese version of The Undertaker. The cover received a wider release when Warner Bros. shared rehearsal footage of Prince performing the track shortly after his death. He turns the song into a scorching number with meaty guitars and a bad ass solo. If you needed more proof of what a genius Prince was at playing guitar, just watch this video where he shreds away with an “I make this look good” look on his face.

“Give Em What they Love” – Janelle Monae + Prince

Prince doesn’t easily hand out compliments and didn’t hide it when he didn’t like someone. But he did admire Janelle Monae, who looked up to him. Luckily, the two worked together for this track from Monae’s second album, The Electric Lady. Not only does Prince play guitar, he also provides co-lead vocals on the track. The song is already is already hot with Monae’s passionate vocals and seductive demeanor. But having Prince sing his signature falsetto makes the track even sexier. Plus, it’s funny to hear Prince utter the term “chicken head.” It’s funky, has a healthy dose of attitude, and makes you feel sexy as hell.

“One of Us” – Joan Osbourne

Prince covered Osbourne’s sole hit for his 1996 album, Emancipation and played it live in concert. With this track, he takes you to church. His soulful delivery, cries for the crowd to join him, and his passionate singing makes it feel like you’re in the middle of a sermon. You want to close your eyes, sway your arm in the air, and shout “preach!” as he’s singing. While there’s nothing wrong with the original, Prince’s version is superior especially with the fiery guitar solo that gives it an extra edge. He even uses the track to take a dig at his former label, Warner Bros. by changing the line “Just a slob like one of us” to “Just a slave like one of us.” This shows if Prince had a problem with you, he’d let you know it in the sassiest way.

“Shhh” – Tevin Campbell

There’s no question about it; Prince was a sexy mother. Just about everything he did dripped with sex. He does the impossible on this Tevin Campbell cover; inject a song that’s about getting in on and make it 100 times dirtier. No, he doesn’t change any lyrics or anything like that. It’s all in his over the top delivery. Hearing his falsetto cries of pleasure you’d swear he was having sex while recording the song. If that wasn’t enough to get you hot and bothered, the blazing guitar solo will do the trick. He takes a typical 90s slow jam and turns it into a sex romp. Only Prince could somehow make a sexy song even sexier.

“Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells 

If you thought Joan Jett made this song rock, you haven’t heard Prince’s version. For the most part, it’s a straightforward cover with Prince being playfully coy during the breakdown of “I think I love you” and blowing kisses into the mic. It’s not until the solo where he makes this song sizzle. In case you needed a reminder what an awesome guitar player he was, Prince make sure you remember with this performance. He makes the guitar burn and blaze like he’s Jimi Hendrix. It leaves you stunned the way he makes the guitar whine, scream, and trill. The cover appeared on his album LOtUSFLOW3R, but it’s his performance of the track on Ellen that gets a nod here.

Which ones of these Prince covers/duets is your favorite? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

 

Playlist: Worst Grammy Performances

Let’s face it, the Grammys aren’t as good as they used to be. Ratings show this and people all across the internet proclaim it. Though the ceremony may not be what it used to be, it’s still responsible for some of music’s biggest and weirdest moments. Performances from Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Adele, Celine Dion, and Shania Twain are considered the best in Grammy history. But the Grammys don’t always get it right. Sometimes they have some real stinkers. With the Grammys a month away, let’s take a break from remembering the awesome performances and look at some of the worst Grammy performances instead.

“Pants on the Ground” – General Larry Platt (2010)

Remember in 2010 when one man stumbled on the American Idol stage and sang “Pants on the Ground?” It was funny for about a week. But E! and the Grammys thought the odd song was so funny, they invited General Larry Platt to perform on the red carpet. And it’s…something. I don’t know what’s worse seeing General Platt struggling to come up with more lyrics on the spot or the random Rock Band drumset in the background. Watching him hop on one foot while holding a handful of belts, you realize this is the end of the weird phenomenon. Even the people on the red carpet look confused, not knowing what to make of the performance. It’s like watching someone make “Chocolate Rain” jokes in 2017. Hopefully, he didn’t spend all his earnings on more belts.

“Same Love”  – Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, and Madonna (2014)

The Grammys are constantly struggling to stay relevant. They’re still getting off on the unexpected collaborations idea, which leads to great and questionable performances. In 2014, they decided to invite Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to perform “Same Love,” which has a well meaning message of tolerance. But instead of just letting Roger Klotz rap, they decided to wed 33 couples live on stage with Queen Latifah leading the service. There are so many questions with the biggest one being why? When did Queen Latifah get ordained to wed people? Why is Madonna lazily singing “Open Your Heart?” Why the fuck did 33 people just get married at the Grammys? The spectacle is strange, bizarre, and seems more like a ploy for high ratings rather than taking a stand. But I guess the Grammys got what they wanted; it’s something you won’t ever forget.

“Synthesizer Showdown” – Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Howard Jones, and Thomas Dolby (1985)

Back in the 80s, music made entirely with synthesizers was a wild crazy trend. Since it was new at the time the 1985 Grammys dedicated a performance to it. But rather than invite one of the many pioneers of synth music to perform, they threw a bunch of them together for a massive, puzzling performance. Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder perform bits and pieces of songs you recognize while the rest of it is hard to make it. It starts okay at first with groovy synth beats with an odd robotic voice asking everyone to introduce themselves. But when the track transitions to the upbeat, pop-infused “Go Home” things fall apart. Everything starts to clash and sound sour and Dolby awkwardly moves on stage wondering if he’s even plugged in. He then starts playing the part of wacky conductor as the group finishes, oddly, with “America the Beautiful.” The entire thing is so cringy to sit through. It’s great that the Grammys wanted to recognize synth musicians at a time when no else wanted to, but making them all play together was clearly a bad idea.

“Girl You Know It’s True” – Milli Vanilli (1990)

Milli Vanilli is one of those groups you can’t believe is real. They look like some bad creation from a comedy show. And, yes, they won a Grammy showing that the award show hasn’t known what good music for over 20 years. Though this isn’t the duo’s infamous performance when they were outed for lip synching, this one is pretty terrible. The two do nothing but hop around stage and shuffle their feet in what’s supposed to be dance moves. And if you watch carefully, it’s clear they’re not actually singing. Plus, the song is fucking terrible. As everyone knows, shortly after their questionable Grammy win, they had to give it back when the world found out they were lying. What’s funny about this incident is everyone thinks they got in trouble for lip synching, which is an accepted practice today. But what really got them in hot water was the fact it wasn’t their voices at all. The two could barely speak English, so the record company enlisted Charles Shaw to handle vocals. The duo never recovered from the incident and in 1998 Rob Pilatus died of an accidental drug overdose. A pretty sad end to a pretty terrible band.

“Numb, Encore, & Yesterday” – Jay -Z, Linkin Park, and Paul McCartney (2006)

When Linkin Park and Jay-Z reminded the world that rock and rap mashup to create some pretty kick ass music, everyone flipped. Their collaborative effort, Collision Course, has sold 2 million copies to date. So of course, the Grammys wanted to show them some love. What’s sad about this performance is it’s actually pretty good. Jay-Z and Linkin Park surprisingly sound great together and their performance is strong. It’s when they decide to include the Beatles when things go wrong. Chester Bennington starts singing “Yesterday” and prompts Paul McCartney to step out and join him. And man, does it fucking suck. The two are completely off key and end up clashing notes. It’s almost enough to make your ears bleed. Jay-Z even seems to take a jab at the collab ending the performance by saying “Doesn’t it sound like beautiful music?” No, no it doesn’t.

“Across The Universe” – Slash, Bono, Billie Joe Armstrong, Norah Jones, Brian Wilson, Tim McGraw, Alicia Keys, and Steven Tyler (2005)

Allstar collaborations seem to only work on a massive scale. Look at “We Are the World” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for successful examples. But it rarely works when it’s ten different artists from various genres for a sloppy tribute. Look at this 2005 performance for reference. As a tribute to John Lennon, a bunch of A-list musicians get together and perform “Across the Universe.” And it’s hard to tolerate. Individually they sound pretty good, when they’re not flubbing the lyrics. But once they start “harmonizing” together, it all goes to shit. Everyone starts singing in different keys while obviously looking at a teleprompter for reference. While Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, and Steven Tyler are off in their own world, Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones look downright uncomfortable. They probably knew what a shit show this would be.

“Forget You” – Cee-Lo and Gwenyth Paltrow (2011)

Remember in 2011 when America’s most hated actor Gwyneth Paltrow tried to be a singer for a bit? Everyone realized how horrible it was, except for the Grammys. As if Cee Lo performing the smash hit “Forget You” in a peacock outfit surrounded by muppets wasn’t weird enough, he invites Paltrow on stage. Not only does she have zero singing talent, she awkwardly delivers out of place lines like “I’m tired of yo ass.” It’s hard to sit through the entire thing without cringing. It turned into one of the most talked about moments just because of how awful it was. The Grammys may be all about unimaginable collaborations, but this is one they should’ve passed on.

“The Exorcism of Roman” – Nicki Minaj (2012)

Nicki Minaj has a reputation for being a bit strange, but no one could predict what she would do at the 2012 Grammys. Debuting the new song “Roman Holiday” Minaj went full on exorcist for the performance. It starts with her growling at a priest and ends with her levitating in the air. In between is a bizarre short film where Minaj skitters up the wall in attempts to be scary. Instead, she looks like a raving maniac on stage. Sure, this may have been the point, but rather than being fun, campy, and theatrical the performance comes off as awkward and bad, like a painful b-horror movie. And since it featured religious themes, you know it pissed off the Catholic church. Even the producer of the Grammys hated the performance. Maybe if Minaj didn’t take the performance so seriously it could’ve worked. Otherwise, it’s painful to watch.

“Whaddup” – LL Cool J, Chuck D, Travis Barker, and Tom Morello (2013)

Hey, why don’t we get LL Cool J to perform at the Grammys? If this was the 80s or 90s then it wouldn’t sound so bad. But having LL Cool J rap on the 2013 ceremony isn’t desirable in the least. They even paired him with Chuck D, Travis Barker, and Tom Morlleo and the performance still sucked. The rapper struts across the stage, trying to own the place when clearly, the rap world has moved on without him. They even slapped on a lazy tribute to late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, which was just as lame as the rest of the performance. Cool J is a lame host, why did they think he’d bring an A-game performance?

“Hey Ya” – Outkast (2004)

Remember when “Hey Ya” was so popular even Andrew 3000 got sick of it? So of course the Grammys wanted 3000 to perform the track during the 2004 ceremony. The performance would’ve been another ordinary moments in Grammy history if it wasn’t for one thing: the fucking costumes. For some reason Andre 3000 saw no issue with dressing himself and everyone on stage in stereotypical Native American gear. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they turn the “hey ya” hook into a pseudo Native American chant while the dancers creep out of the smoke filled hut. Everything about this performance is cringy. You just shake your head throughout the entire thing. Rightly so, 3000 didn’t get away with getup forcing CBS to apologize. Somehow this still  hasn’t  taught  celebrities  that  this   isn’t  a  good  idea.

Lemmy Tribute – Hollywood Vampires (2016)

A supergroup featuring Duff Mckagan, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry sounds rad as all hell. Having Johnny Depp in the band? Eh, that could be cool. So how did they manage to deliver one of the dullest Grammy performances? They took the stage last year and it was one of the low points of the ceremony. Playing “As Bad As I Am” and “Ace of Spades” in tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, they didn’t sound all that bad. But watching them shamble across the stage and hearing Cooper growl the lyrics with little enthusiasm, it seemed like they didn’t want to be there. It’s actually kind of sad to watch. They look like a bunch of old guys trying desperately to hang on to their youth. And what the hell is up with Depp’s mumbling spoken word part? It left plenty of people confused, including Bruno Mars in the crowd, who didn’t seem to understand what was going on. It was a stinker of a television debut and reminds us why supergroups are rarely a good idea.

David Bowie Tribute – Lady Gaga (2016)

Never has a tribute performance drawn as much ire as Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Many felt the performance was underwhelming or just downright cheesy. Gaga, dressed as what’s supposed to be Bowie but looks more like ginger Elvis, performs a medley of the late singer’s hits. While things start out okay, it eventually turns into a terrible impression of Bowie. She hops around stage trying to sound like him in the most awkward way possible. It’s still baffling why Gaga was chosen to provide the tribute. Bowie has tons of peers that would’ve been more than happy to come together with a tribute. Instead, Lady Gaga carries the torch. It doesn’t make any sense. The performance was so bad even Bowie’s son and former drummer hated it. Let’s hope they do something more tasteful for the Prince tribute.

Which Grammy performances do you think are the worst? Let me know which ones I missed in the comments!

Playlist: Best Songs from Christmas Specials

There are so many things to love about the holidays from sipping hot cocoa to seeing the pretty Christmas lights, but one of the best things are the TV specials. Whether they’re cheesy, heartbreaking, touching, or funny, holiday specials have a special place in our hearts. For many, it’s part of their holiday tradition. Along with these specials comes great, memorable music. Sometimes the music in these holiday classics is better than the stuff playing in the malls. So if you’re looking for some Christmas music to put you in the holiday spirit or just need a nostalgia boost, check out these memorable songs from Christmas specials. And while songs like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Frosty the Snowman” are featured in holiday classics, they were written before the TV specials and won’t be featured here. But make sure to check them out because it’s not Christmas without those songs!

“Hardrock, Coco, and Joe”

Unless you live in Chicago you probably aren’t familiar with this Christmas short. Made in the 1950s, Hardrock, Coco, and Joe is a stop-motion short based on the song of the same name written by Stuart Hamblen. The song talks about three of Santa’s elves, who help out the big man deliver toys. The song is pretty repetitive and the animation is crude; the elves end up looking terrifying instead of cute. But ever since I first saw this cartoon six years ago, it always pops into my head this time of year. What sticks out the most? The oddly infectious hook of “I’m Hardrock, I’m Coco, I’m Jooooooe.” Joe’s part gets me every time.

“The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” from A Chipmunk Christmas

The Chipmunks are one of the most baffling products of the 50s. It’s bad enough that they already sounded awful but then came multiple albums because nothing is better than listening to a bunch of squeakers shrill in your ear. But it wouldn’t be Christmas if this song wasn’t played at least once. Though I’ve always hated the song, in recent years it’s grown on me. It’s still annoying as hell and warrants only one listen. But, it’s fun and pretty goofy. And who doesn’t love singing “I just want a hula hoop?” Does this mean you should listen to the Chipmunk’s Christmas album? No. No, it does not.

“Christmas Time is Here” from Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown is still one of the best holiday specials and it boasts one of the most beloved soundtracks. All of the songs are great, from the upbeat and jaunty “Linus and Lucy” to the jazzy instrumental rendition of “O Christmas Tree.” But the one song that’s perfect for ushering in the season is “Christmas Time is Here.” Something about the soft piano and hushed children’s choir makes it a relaxing holiday classic. Imagine a gentle snowfall outside or the fire crackling while listening to it. It’s practically perfect. It’s also innocent and kind, which is the nature the holiday brings.

“You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Most holiday songs are upbeat, jolly tunes about finding the joy and love during the season. That’s not the case with this classic from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Sung by the unforgettable Thurl Ravenscroft, the song insults the Grinch and talks about how unpleasant he is. He’s compared to a cactus, has termites in his smile, and he’s so bad a seasick crocodile is better company. But the highlight of the song is when Ravenscroft sticks it to the green grump by describing him as “stink, stank, stunk!” The biting lyrics and the cool baritone of Ravenscroft make this a timeless Christmas tune that makes you smile even if it is about a grouch.

“Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo”from “Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo”

South Park gave us one of the best and most disgusting Christmas characters in TV Land: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. Introduced in South Park’s very first Christmas special, Mr. Hankey’s high-pitched voice, and Disney-like demeanor makes him kind of cute, but he’s also poo, which is something the song doesn’t let you forget. The tune is upbeat and happy, like any other holiday song, but it spends the entire time talking about poop and it’s different forms: watery, chunky, and how it hangs off of your ass sometimes. It’s simultaneously funny and cringy, which is what we expect from Matt and Trey at this point.

“Can’t Wait til Christmas” from A Garfield Christmas

This Garfield holiday tune may not be well remembered, but it’s charming and funny. What I like so much about this song, aside from the catchy beat, is how it presents different views on Christmas. Jon sings about having a great time putting up the tree, the lights, and waiting for Santa. Garfield sees none of these activities as pleasant and refers to them as chores and electrical contracting. He then refers to losing sleep waiting for Christmas to arrive as filling kids with insomnia and anxiety. It’s short, but cute and will remind you of that one person you know who just doesn’t like Christmas.

“Snow Miser/Heat Miser Song” from The Year Without A Santa Claus

There are plenty of songs in the popular Renkin and Bass Christmas specials, but they’re usually cheesy or the holiday classics we already love. But these two tunes from The Year Without a Santa Claus add a little pep and sass to the holiday season. With a jazzy vibe and playful trumpet, the Snow and Heat Miser both get their chance to talk about their favorite weather conditions. The Snow Miser’s version is a bit more upbeat and jaunty, while Heat Miser’s is more slow and lumbering. Both stand out from the usual Christmas song fare, making them some of the tunes from these cheesy, but beloved specials.

“Ho Ho Dance” from Rocko’s Modern Christmas

Nicktoons had some of the greatest, and in Doug’s case saddest, Christmas specials. The Rocko’s Modern Life special stands out for being charming, funny, and a little sad, but one of the best things about it is the music. It mixes traditional instrumental holiday tunes with a rock flair to make them really stand out, but my favorite has always been the “Ho Ho Dance.” It’s nothing but “ho ho ho/ho ho ho ho ho ho” being repeated over a 90s club beat. It’s a fun, short tune sure to get you dancing when it comes on. Why don’t more Christmas songs make you feel like starting a party?

“Boogie Woogie Christmas” from Arthur’s Perfect Christmas

There aren’t enough holiday songs that make you want to rock out and dance. Arthur’s Perfect Christmas fixes this with the simple and satisfying “Boogie Woogie Christmas.” In a similar vain to “Rock n Roll Christmas,” the song is upbeat and fun with the infectious hook of “have a boogie woogie Christmas and rocking and reeling new year!” It’s kind of generic, but if you watched this special as a kid, it makes you want to dance and sing as soon as you hear it. Also, it’s the least sappy song in the entire special. And that “Tina the Talking Tabby” jingle isn’t bad either; just don’t tell Arthur I said that.

“Christmas Rules” from “A Christmas Carol”

Though some may disagree, The Looney Tunes Show was the best update to these classic characters. Other attempts were horrible, but this show kept the toons’ personalities and stuck them in a modern setting, which made for some amusing situations. During the episode “A Christmas Carol” all the Merrie Melodie characters burst out in song and exclaim what makes Christmas awesome. For some, it’s presents, for others, it’s stuffing their faces. Each iconic character gets their own part with Daffy Duck mentioning glitter bombs, the red hairy monster talking about school closings, and Elmer Fudd drowning his sorrows in candy canes. Okay, so that part is more sad than funny, but the rest of the song is upbeat and jolly, sure to put you in a good mood.

“Welcome Christmas” from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

There’s already a song from The Grinch on the list, but this one was too good to leave off. The Whos down in Whoville kept the spirit and joy of Christmas alive with the uplifting, cheery tune. Though you can’t understand what they’re saying, hearing their joyful singing and the bright music makes you smile. Even the Grinch smiled when he heard this song. It’s a festive, happy way to ring in the holiday season and marks a highlight in one of the all-time best Christmas specials ever. Let’s try to forget the movie, though…maybe that one wasn’t so great.

Bonus:

“Pokemon Christmas Bash” 

This one isn’t from a holiday special, but it was too good to not talk about. Prior to working on this list, I had no idea there was a Pokemon Christmas song. And yes, all of them are as cheesy as you think. But this holiday tune is so corny, it’s kind of good. Based off the “Who’s that Pokemon?” game, the song features Ash, Misty, Brock, and Team Rocket spitting rhymes about what they want for Christmas. Yes, they are actually rapping! And Brock’s is the creepiest since he wants to find Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny under his tree. There’s even remixes of Squirtle and Pikachu’s cries. It’s one of those things you need to hear to believe. It’s definitely something we probably thought was cool as kids and is a weird, cheesy, novelty now. Still lots of fun, though.

Which one of these is your favorite? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Dig Those Crazy Toons

Sometimes the best songs come from cartoons. And I’m not talking about theme songs. I mean songs sung by the characters in the show. Sometimes they’re so catchy and memorable, you find yourself singing them randomly. They’re so fun, upbeat, hilarious, and always put a smile on your face. After the election, it seems we all need a bit of a smile, so strap yourself in and get ready to sing-along. Here are some of the best original cartoon songs.

“Toon Out, Toon In” – Tiny Toon Adventures

Back in the 90s, rap was so popular it made its way into everything. There was even a rapping Barbie. Usually, this is cause for hilarious disaster, but this rap song from Tiny Toon Adventures is surprisingly good. Sung by Vanilla Lice (get it?) the song introduces the main characters of the series to phat, but generic, rap beats. The best part is the ear worm hook of “Toon out, toon in, toon about, toons are in.” Plucky Duck, Elmyra, and Go-Go even drop their own rap verses. Years later, it’s still a ridiculously fun, catchy song about our favorite toon cast. Too bad Vanilla Lice wouldn’t make another appearance on the show.

“Happy Happy, Joy Joy” – Ren & Stimpy

If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you drove your parents nuts singing this mindless song. After deciding Ren isn’t happy enough, Stimpy invents a Happy Helmet and plays this song, much to Ren’s dismay. It’s one of those songs you love, but secretly find annoying. It’s repetitive and after the 20 seconds, it gets kind of old. But the real gem of the track is the random ramblings of Stinky Wizzleteats that make you wonder why kids were listening to this. Some remarkable lines include “little critters of nature, they don’t know they’re ugly,” “I’ll teach your grandmother to suck eggs,” and my favorite “I told you I’d shoot, but you didn’t believe me/why didn’t you believe me?!” When you think about, that whole episode is disturbing.

“Library Card” – Arthur

“Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival” is the best episode of the Arthur series. All of the segments are great, with another strong contender being the vintage inspired “Homework,” but this is the song everyone remembers. Somehow Arthur and his friends made the library seem like the coolest place to be. They list the different activities, various authors, and of course, free books at your disposal. You only need to hear the hook once for it get to lodge into your head forever. Suddenly, you’ll be singing it at random intervals and if you’re around the right people, someone else will jump in. Another highlight is Ms. Turner mentioning how great the dewy decimal system is, prompting DW to ask several “Who is Dewey?” No joke, whenever this episode comes on, I stop what I’m doing to watch and sing along.

“Beaver Fever” – The Angry Beavers

The best episode of The Angry Beavers gave us one of the most undeniably catchy Nickelodeon songs. Daggit and Norbit turn into music superstars with this disco influenced hit. Everything about it is silly as the two brothers talk about chopping down wood, but damn if it isn’t catchy. The funky groove is hard to resist, the hook makes you want to sing, and it’s hard to feel bad when you hear it. 18 years later and I can still sing every part of this song. Barry’s”Oh Baby” song is also fun, but nothing beats “Beaver Fever,” which I’m sure the writers are still chuckling about.

“Banging on a Trash Can” – Doug

Doug gave us a lot of great songs thanks to Doug Funny’s favorite band, The Beets, but we’ll get to them later. When Doug started a garage band he gave birth to the greatest Nicktoons song: “Banging on a Trashcan.” Only over a minute long, the song is insanely catchy and memorable. Doug somehow comes up with the genius hook of “calling me, calling me, calling/One little voice is calling me.” Though Bebe tries to ruin the song with her “Think big” segments it somehow makes the song better. It’s like rock and pop coming together to make what has got to be the best Nicktoons song ever.  This song is so good, 90s kids are still singing it years later. And can we talk about the video? It’s pretty much an homage to Michael Jackson with a Madonna mention. Too bad Doug’s band didn’t even last one gig.

“Macadamia Nut” – Animaniacs

Though “Yakko’s World” is another great gem from the show and probably the best way to teach geography, this has always been my favorite Animaniacs song. This was a time when you couldn’t get away from “The Macarena.” First, it was a cute novelty song, then it became a nightmare. People thought it was a good idea to pull out at every party. The Warner Bros and Dot take the piss out of it by turning it into a song about how cute Dot is. It’s interjected with random groans, noises, and burps from the various characters. My favorite line has always been “Don’t touch me/Or I’ll have you arrested/Do you hear me?” For some reason, that line has always stuck with me, probably because it was out of place in a “kid’s” show.

“F.U.N.” – Spongebob Squarepants

During its 17 year run, Spongebob has spawned so many songs there are several soundtracks associated with the show. Though “Sweet Victory” is a fan favorite and one of my favorites is “Sweater Song,” “F.U.N.” is one of the most catchy songs from the series. Spongebob teaches Plankton about fun in the only way he knows – singing. As Spongebob sings about frolicking through the flowers, playing the ukulele, cherry picking, it’s hard not to smile at how cheerful he sounds. Everything about the song is upbeat and puts you in a good mood, which we seriously need right now. Though Spongebob is annoying and can get really creepy, he at least knows to keep smiling.

“Spring Cleaning” – Rocko’s Modern Life

If done poorly, the musical episode can be the worst 20 minutes of your life, but if done right it ends up being one of the best moments of the series. Rocko’s Modern Life’s “Zanzibar” is the latter. The entire episode is focused on cleaning up your house and the Earth complete with insanely catchy songs. Never has separating plastic from paper sounded like so much fun. The “Recycle Song” is great with its spelling section that seems hard to get right the first few times you sing it, but “Spring Cleaning” is the highlight. Done in true musical style, the citizens of O-Town get together to sing about the “sick disgusting job” that’s got to done, except Rocko; he missed rehearsals. Thanks to the show, whenever you’re cleaning in spring, this song pops in your head.

“USA! USA!” – Regular Show

There’s so much music in Regular Show they can make several albums full of it. Not only do you have songs like “Party Time,” Aw Snap!,” and “Summertime Lovin’,” but you also have all the random raps Mordecai and Rigby come up with in practically every episode. Though my current favorite is “Clock Song” the “USA! USA!” rap is just plain awesome. Similar to “Yakko’s World” the duo raps about the different countries in the world and what makes them great. Hint: most of them are the beaches. With the music and the duo’s flow, it has the vibe of an old school rap song, think Fresh Prince. It’s fun, upbeat, and sick as hell. What’s up with cartoons making geography so damn catchy?

“Rugrats Rap” – Rugrats

Who knew a rap song about a 90s cartoon could be so damn good? Featuring Chris Kelly from Kriss Kross (RIP), the song is all about the babies and the trouble they get into. It’s surprising just how awesome the song is with the lyrical flow, cool beats, and catchy hook. It’s a 90s rap song all the way, but it’s put a big smile on your face, especially if you remember hearing this as a kid. Rugrats had other songs like “Rugrats Rock” and “Cynthia Dance Work Out,” but neither are as memorable as this song. Plus, it’s better than just about all the songs on the Rugrats Movie Soundtrack. Mic. Dropped.

“Killer Tofu” – Doug/The Beets

Any Nicktoons fan will tell you The Beets are one of the best animated bands of all time. All of their songs are oddly catchy and still have you singing them today: “I Need Mo’ Allowance,” “Where’s My Socks,” and “Shout Your Lungs Out” can hold their own against classic rock songs. But the one song that will always be their best is “Killer Tofu,” which is probably the only rock song that promotes going vegetarian. Listen to the entire track and you’ll see it fucking rocks. Awesome hook, ripping guitars, and blazing solos. How is this song still so good 20 years later? The song is so popular rap group OverDoz even named one of their songs after it as a shout out to Doug. It makes you wish The Beets actually put out an album. Luckily, you can find all their songs on Youtube and relive the good times.

“We Put the Spring in Springfield” – The Simpsons

There are several memorable songs from the long-running Simpsons series. It seems like every other episode a character breaks out in song. Notable numbers include “See My Vest,” “Monorail Song,” and “Lisa, It’s Your Birthday” to name a few. But my favorite has always been this song from the episode “Bart After Dark.” Homer convinces the citizens of Springfield to not tear down the burlesque house by breaking into song. The ladies then proceed to sing about how they keep the excitement going in town. Not only is it catchy, but there are classic jokes like Mayor Quimby’s wife being a previous employee, Revard Lovejoy’s father being a customer, and the bullies’ solo about just learning about the place. It’s a classic song, one that actually won an Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics in 1997. If you’re feigning for more Simpsons music, there are various albums filled with songs from the series.

“Kyle’s Mom” – South Park

Though this classic South Park song got an extended version in the movie, it first graced Cartman’s lips in the episode “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.” Kyle’s mom is outraged that her son is forced to take part in a Christian play and therefore no one can sing classic Christmas carols. Cartman comes up with a new song on the spot about what a major bitch Kyle’s mom is. Set to upbeat, jaunty polka music, the song is hilarious and catchy. You’ll be singing and clapping along with the rest of the classmates, while Kyle stares in horror. Never has calling someone a major bitch been so much fun, at least in a cartoon. But the best past is when Mr. Hankey is so outraged at the song he throws himself at Cartman. Whether it’s a cartoon or not, the thought of getting shit thrown at your face is terrifying.

Which cartoon song is your favorite? There are lots more out there, so let me know which ones I missed in the comments.