David Bowie

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!

Top 10 Rock Stars You Forgot Were in Horror Movies

It’s Halloween! Time to overdose on candy and watch horror movies. Rock stars even get in the fun and sometimes make…interesting appearances in horror movies. Sometimes it’s not that bad, but most of the time it’s clear they should stick to music. To get you in the mood for things that go bump in the night, here are ten rock stars you forgot in horror movies. They’re ranked from best performances to worst.

10. Tom Waits in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Somehow Tom Waits playing the role of the insane Renfield in Dracula is oddly appropriate. Watching scenes of him eating flies and gravelly cackling about his vampiric master is hypnotizing and frightening. He perfectly shows how far gone Renfield is at this point in the film. What is probably the creepiest thing is how he still seems charming even though he’s spiraling into madness and is out for blood. With his demeanor and trademark gravelly voice, seems like Waits should be in more sophisticated horror movies.

9. Chester Bennington in Saw 3D

Unless you’re an avid fan of the Saw franchise, you might’ve missed Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington in the seventh installment of the series. In the film, he plays a Neo-Nazi named Evan who has to gruesomely tear himself from a car seat in order to save his friends. As you expect, things don’t end very well for the gang. Bennington puts his hard rock chops to work by screaming for his life. The scene is hard to watch and turns your stomach. Bennington landed the role by happenstance. Producer Mark Burg lived next to one of the Linkin Park bandmembers and heard Bennington was a huge fan. It’s an odd cameo, but at least he was decent at it.

8. David Bowie and Peter Murphy in The Hunger

If there’s anyone who could play a suave, sexy vampire, it’s David Bowie. The rocker landed the starring role in this 1983 “erotic thriller” about a love triangle between a doctor and a vampire couple. It’s not a horror movie per se, but rather a slick looking film with supernatural elements. Though the movie received mixed reviews, Bowie is as cool and stylish as ever. It may not be an awarding winning performance, but it’s better than most on this list. Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy also makes a brief appearance during the film’s credits singing the Goth anthem “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

7. Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat

Two legendary rockers pop up in this forgotten 80s horror movie. In this film, Eddie is devastated over the loss of his favorite rocker Sammi Curr. He gets more than he asks when Curr starts haunting him. Simmons plays Nuke, Eddie’s friend who’s a DJ at the local radio station. The performance is forgettable and easy to miss as Simmons if you aren’t paying attention, or if you aren’t a KISS fan. But Ozzy’s turn as an evangelist talking about the evils of heavy metal must be scene. Dressed in a suit and with his hair slicked back, Osbourne warns kids about the evil of heavy metal with a straight face. Seeing as Ozzy’s music was touted as being Satanic and responsible for deaths in the 80s, it’s hilarious to hear him talk about the evilness of rock music.

6. Sting in The Bride

Did you know there was a remake/re-imagining of The Bride of Frankenstein? Yeah, it’s a terrible idea. To make things even more confusing, the film starred Sting as Baron Charles Frankenstein. The movie follows the same basic plot of the original: Frankenstein makes a mate for his infamous monster and everything goes to shit. Set in a lush Victorian setting, the film is visually pleasing, but that seems to be the most interesting about it. The movie was critically panned, as expected. Gene Siskel even called it a Monstorous Failure. But that didn’t stop Sting from starring in more movies, like Plenty and Dune. Guess the guy can’t take a hint.

5. Dee Snider in Strangeland

When Snider isn’t fronting Twisted Sister he’s apparently writing horror films. He wrote and starred in 1998’s Strangeland, which focuses on a small town being terrified by a tattooed and pierced baddie Captain Howdy. Howdy uses internet chat rooms to stalk and torture his victims. This is a movie that can only be made in the 90s when everyone was young and naive about the internet. The trailer looks cheesy as hell, but Snider at least seems decent. Still, the movie got negative reviews upon release. Guess people liked the movie the first time they saw it as Hellraiser.

4. Marilyn Manson in Rise: Blood Hunter

Marilyn Manson is no stranger to acting. He’s made appearances in films The Heart is Deceitful Above all Things and Party Monster. But in 2007 he made a low key appearance in sub par horror film Rise: Blood Hunter starring Lucy Liu. Judging from the three-minute clip, the movie is pretty lame. Manson is monotone and boring as the everyday bartender who helps Eve (Liu) to find someone. There’s nothing notable about his acting. The most interesting thing about the clip is Manson sans makeup, which is not as shocking as it used to be. There’s probably a reason you’ve never heard of this film. Maybe we need to keep it that way.

3. Jon Bon Jovi in Vampires: Los Muertos

Jon Bon Jovi has some weird obsession with being a cowboy. It started with “Dead or Alive” and lead to several roles in Western films. So when John Carpenter penned a script a horror Western, Jovi took the call to star as Derek Bliss, vampire hunter. This is actually a sequel to Carpenter’s 1998 film Vampires, which was pretty successful. This one, however, is a straight to video sequel. There’s really nothing else to say after that. You don’t need to see the entire movie to know it’s bad. Just watch the trailer and see how stiff and lifeless Jovi is in the starring role. Even the scene when he kind of turns into a vampire is dull. Maybe the rocker should stick with radio friendly hits that you love, yet hate at the same time.

2. Alice Cooper in Monster Dog

When browsing through Netflix one night, I came across this odd movie. A horror flick starring the equally frightening Alice Cooper? What could go wrong? Apparently, a lot. The movie is slow, dull, and just awful. Not even funny awful. Just bad. Cooper’s performance is unremarkable and the plot of wild dogs attacking random citizens sounds cool but is hardly terrifying. Even the scene where Cooper turns into a werewolf, which you have to sit through the entire movie for, is boring. To make things worse, the movie is dubbed in English and none of the English actors voiced their own lines. So throughout the entire viewing, you wonder if something’s off or if you’re just going crazy.

1.Roger Daltrey in Vampirella

In this terrible adaption of the long-running Vampirella comic series, The Who frontman Roger Daltrey stars in this direct to video film. That should say it all right there. Daltrey stars as Vlad/Jamie Blood, who is Vampirella’s enemy and a rock star on weekends. And yes, that does mean there is a musical scene in the film. Seeing an aging Daltrey straining and trying to be enticing with a rat’s tail on the side of his head is cringe worthy. He doesn’t sound bad performing, but when it comes to enticing vampires, Daltrey isn’t the first guy you think of. Judging from the trailer, it’s one of those movies you watch with friends to laugh at how awful it is. What was Daltrey thinking?

Honorable mention:

Sonny Bono in Troll

I didn’t include this one because Sonny Bono isn’t a rock star. But seeing him transform into some weird plant/pod monster was too good to not talk about. Bono gets trick by a troll in the titular movie Troll, yes the precursor to the hilariously awful Troll 2. If you can manage to sit throughout the entire thing, you’ll even catch a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Happy Halloween!

Playlist: Rock Duets

Sometimes a duet is the best thing in the world. Other times, it’s a disaster. But it always leaves memorable stories. There’s something about two huge musicians getting together to create music that’s thrilling and exciting. Pop music is full of countless duets, but they don’t seem as popular for rock music. They certainly exist; they’re just not as abundant as they are in pop music. So let’s look at some of the most notable and popular duets in rock music. For the purpose of this playlist, a duet is a song where both artists have an equal amount of time on the track.

“Close My Eyes Forever” – Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne

This is probably the most famous rock duet. The song, which apparently came about as an accident according to Sharon Osbourne, was the third single for Lita Ford’s self-titled debut album. With sappy lyrics and a blazing guitar solo, it’s no different from the many power ballads of the era. Ozzy’s haunting vocals do add an eerie touch to the song, but it’s still pretty cheesy. Though I love Osbourne, I never liked this song. It’s too slow for my tastes and is just corny. Then again, I’d be hard press to find one power ballad from the 80s I actually like. Still, this single stands out as one of the most notable duets in rock music.

“Love Interruption” – Jack White and Ruby Amanfu

The music world went a little nuts when Jack White announced a solo album only a year after the White Stripes ended. The debut single “Love Interruption” wasn’t what people expected. There were no roaring riffs and White screaming over screeching guitars. Instead, the song is mellow, subdued, and a bit cynical. Though White could’ve easily carried the song himself, the addition of Amanfu’s smoky vocals adds an understated sensuality to the song. Something about her voice adds a raspy, soulful nature that would’ve been missing otherwise. I actually think it’s one of the strongest tracks from Blunderbuss and serves as a reminder love isn’t always pretty.

“Dancing in the Street” – Mick Jagger and David Bowie

Two of music’s iconic artists, what could go wrong? To be fair, the cover itself isn’t that bad. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it’s fun at least. Yet, the music video will go down in infamy. It’s unbelievably bad. Jagger exaggerates everything from his facial expressions to his seizure inducing dance moves. Bowie remains cool though it looked like he left the house in some wild pajamas. And don’t forget the scene where Jagger chugs down a soda while Bowie sings. It’s probably one of the worst videos of the 80s. Hell, even Family Guy said it was the gayest music video in history. Thinking about it, there are moments where the two singers get a little too close for comfort.

“State of Shock” – Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger shows up again for a better collaboration with Michael Jackson. Recorded for The Jackson’s album Victory, the song is a raucous and kind of spastic team up with the rocker. The song was originally meant to be a duet with Freddie Mercury for the Thriller album, but scheduling conflicts kept the two from working together. Jagger was called instead and it ended up being his biggest hit away from The Rolling Stones. It’s one of those unexpected hits from Jackson’s catalog, but it’s one of the finest examples of pop and rock colliding. Later on, Jackson said he Jagger sang off key, while Jagger called Jackson “lightweight.” Anyone else think the Freddie Mercury version would’ve been epic?

“Good Times” – INXS and Jimmy Barnes

When two talented vocalists come together, they often try to outshine each other. That’s not the case here. For their contribution to The Lost Boys soundtrack, INXS teamed up with singer/songwriter Jimmy Barnes on this cover of The Easybeats song. Michael Hutchences’ smoldering vocals pair exceptionally well with Barnes’ bluesy, rock-tinged voice. They actually work together to give listeners a thrilling experience. The two sharing vocal duties along with the high energy music supporting them, it’s everything you want a good rock rolling song to be. It has a similar good time vibe as Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Listening to Barnes’ vocals, you have to admit it’s reminiscent of rockers, like Robert Plant.

“Hunger Strike” – Temple of the Dog

Temple of the Dog started as a way for Chris Cornell and members of Pearl Jam to deal with the death of Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood. Their debut album did exceptionally well with this song being their biggest hit single. The track features Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder on vocal duties. When two of grunge’s most notable and talented vocalists get together for a song, you know it’s going to be good. And that’s exactly what you get with this powerful, emotionally driven tune. Both artists get time to share their unique vocal styles, Vedder being gruff and raspy and Cornell’s higher range. It results in a song that’s beautiful and haunting.

“Stand by Your Man” – Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy Kilmister

Ever wonder what it would sound like if two punks ripped apart the Tammy Wynette classic “Stand By your Man?” That’s what Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy Kilmister for a single in 1982. The song is almost unrecognizable with gritty, blazing guitars making a ruckus while the two scream out the lyrics over the noise. Oddly enough, it works. It’s one of those weird covers you would never expect two rock legends to even consider. They breathe new sinister life into the country classic that makes you want to head bang. O. Williams and Kilmister teamed up again for “Jailbait,” which appeared on the Plasmatics album Kommander of Kaos. Listening to these two, it’s clear they were truly one of a kind.

“I Ain’t No Nice Guy” – Motorhead and Ozzy Osbourne

When two of hard rock’s most iconic and legendary figures team up, you expect something epic beyond belief. That’s not the result of this duet featuring Lemmy Kilmister and the Prince of Darkness. Rather than getting together for a kickass track that would melt your face off, the two sing a ballad instead. It’s a slow, somber song made for radio airplay. It actually became a huge hit for Motorhead’s tenth album March or Die. It’s a decent song and features a slow burning solo from guitar hero Slash, but it won’t hit that sweet spot for most metalheads. It’s just so unexpected for the rockers. What’s even more surprising is seeing Ozzy with a five o’clock shadow in the video. Yikes.

“A Tout Le Monde” – Megadeth and Christina Scabbia

This song originally appeared on Megadeth’s sixth album Youthanasia and quickly became a staple for the band. At the time of its release, it garnered controversy for its music video. MTV banned it claiming it promoted suicide, which Dave Mustaine was quick to dismiss. The band re-recorded the song in 2007 for the album United Abominations with Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. Aside from some slight alterations, like a faster pace, there;s not much difference aside from Scabbia singing an entire verse showing off her vocal chops. The song keeps its sentimentality intact along with its hard hitting sound and slightly aggressive mood. Many may prefer the original, but this re-recording is a great blend of old school and new school.

“Walk This Way” – Run DMC and Aerosmith

These days the world of rock and rap often combine for both awesome and questionable results. But back in the 80s, the two were seen as exclusive genres that should never cross paths. Run DMC and Aerosmith broke that barrier with this duet. When it was released in 1986 it blew everyone’s collective minds. Not only did Run DMC cover this classic rock track, they even got Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to join them. The song is still amazing to this day and remains one of the best mash-ups ever. It, of course, would go on to inspire other rock/rap collabs, such as Jay-z and Linkin Park (remember when that was a thing?)

“The One You Love to Hate” – Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson

Two heavy metal giants, both who are considered the best vocalists in the genre, team up for this roaring track. Recorded for Halford’s debut album Ressurection, the song features Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson on vocals. You’d expect to be beyond amazing and the most bad ass thing you’ve ever heard. In reality, it’s okay. It feels more like a Dickinson track since his voice overpowers everything and Halford is stuck on back up duty. It’s a pretty standard metal song with soaring vocals, blazing guitars and a lot of aggression. It’s not bad; just not very remarkable.

“Don’t Fear the Reaper” – HIM and Sanna-June Hyde

On HIM’s debut album, the band provided a haunting rendition of the Blue Oyster Cult classic. This version brings out all the darkness and grim view that’s implied in the lyrics. And frontman Ville Valo’s baritone vocals provide are a perfect match. Adding some brightness to the track is Finnish actor Sanna-June Hyde. She provided guest vocals for this track and “For You” early in her career. She’s not necessarily the best singer but her voice surprisingly well with Valo’s. There’s also something eerie about their voices. Still one of the best covers of this song.

“Under Pressure” – Queen and David Bowie

The thought of Queen and David Bowie doing a song together sounds like a dream. This amazing collaboration resulted in one of the best songs of the 80s. It’s an undeniable classic; pairing Bowie’s mellow vocals with Freddie Mercury’s dramatic bravado leads to a beautiful sonic experience. And try not to get chills during the bridge when Mercury pleads “Why can’t we give love/give love/give love?” The song became a huge hit for both artists and remains their most notable. Of course, the riff would be stolen by Vanilla Ice in the 90s, who claimed it wasn’t the same song.

Which is your favorite rock duet? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: The Future’s So Bright…

It’s 2015 and according to Back the the Future 2, it means we’re in the future! Okay, so maybe we don’t have self fitting jackets and self-tying shoes (yet), but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Since 2015 is supposed to be the year when the Cubs win the world series and when food hydrators are readily available, lets take a look at some songs that celebrate and fear, what lies ahead.

“1999” – Prince

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Let’s start things off with the definitive New Year’s song by Prince. Despite being an upbeat and fun party jam, the song is actually about an apocalyptic future that could end at any minute. Written at the height of the Regan administration when the U. S. stockpiled nuclear weapons, the song encourages future citizens to party the night away because come the year 2000 we won’t be here. It’s really easy to miss this bleak message what with the catchy chorus and the fact most people listen to it when they’re stone drunk.

“Futurism” – Muse

Muse are no strangers to writing about dystopian worlds, but they do it best on this Origin of Symmetry b-side. With violent guitars, throbbing bass, and pounding drums Matt Bellamy wails and screams about being “grounded” and “boxed in” as a commentary on an isolating society. Though Bellamy has the sweetest vocals, he knows how to paint a terrifying future. Recently, the band released footage from their 2013 tour of them playing the song live as a present to Musers.

“The Final Countdown” – Europe

The verdict is still out on whether this is really about the future, but it’s too good to leave off. No matter how much you hate the song or think hair metal sucks, you can’t help but get pumped and shout out the chorus whenever this plays. Everyone knows this, which is why it’s used for so many sporting events. Some think the song is about the Space Challenger explosion, while others are convinced it’s about escaping the earth. Whatever it’s about, it’s one of those guilty pleasure songs you hate to love.

“The Future Soon” – Jonathan Coulton

This classic from the nerdy singer/songwriter is about an awkward guy who can’t wait for the future where his strange quirks can get “engineered away” and he can finally meet (or build) the woman of his dreams. Just like most of Coulton’s songs, it’s quirky with a hint of sci-fi. Though it has really upbeat music, the type that makes you feel good when hearing it, it’s a pretty sad story that ends with a robot attack. A future that sounds both intriguing, yet scary.

“The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” – Timbuk3

With a fear of change and the unknown, it’s no surprise to learn most songs about the future have a grim outlook. It’s no different for this ’80s one hit wonder.  Even though it talks about getting good grades, getting a job, and all the makings for a promising future, the song is actually about a bright future being caused by a nuclear holocaust. Of course this went over everyone’s head and it was used many times as a graduation song. Strange indeed.

“Love in the Year 3000” – B-52’s

The eclectic band decides to focus on what love will be like in the future and it’s somewhat disturbing. With an uptempo dance beat and Fred Schinder’s distinct monotone voice, the lyrics talk about love robots, doing it in zero gravity, and “tentative tentacles.” It’s unsettling to think that would be desirable in the year 3000.  Maybe Japan knows more about the future than we think.

“Future World” – Helloween

Not all songs about the future deal with a broken society as Helloween shows. This song looks at finding your own future world full of peace, love, and understanding. It’s a surprisingly upbeat song about what lays ahead of us, especially for a band with “Hell” in their name.

“In the Future” – Sparks

This odd duo has one of the most upbeat and dancable songs about the future so far. With a rushing rhythm, twirling keys, and falsetto vocals that almost sound ridiculous, this track can’t wait for a future that’s full of fun, fun, fun and where you can apparently walk on air. The mood and vibe of the song is reminiscent of all the cliches of the futuristic world: hover cars, rockets boots, and anything else from The Jetsons. As singer Russell Mael puts it in the last verse “convenience and pleasure, blended together.” We’ll keep that in mind as we patiently wait for our hover boards.

“Imagine” – A Perfect Circle

This is more of an anti-war song than it is about the future, but I decided to include here because it does look forward to a world where there isn’t any war, hunger, religion, or fighting. Originally written by John Lennon, the message of this track is peace and global harmony , something we should work on for the future society.  Though Lennon’s version is timeless, I’ve always preferred A Perfect Circle‘s cover, which adds a hint of gloom and darkness to the otherwise hopeful track.

“Down in the Park” – Gary Numan

Gary Numan is considered a pioneer in electronic music and plenty of his songs could’ve been on this playlist, but this one paints such a bleak future world it’s hard to ignore. The song tells the story of a park where Machman, androids with human skin, meet to rape and kill humans for their entertainment. As if that wasn’t disturbing enough, Numan’s robotic voice and nonchalant manner when singing “You can watch the humans
Trying to run/Oh, look, there’s a rape machine/I’d go outside if it looks the other way/You wouldn’t believe/The things they do” makes this a future you want to avoid at all costs.

 “Big Brother” – David Bowie

Inspired by George Orwell’s 1984, this track reflects on the ending of the novel where protagonist Winston Smith is fully brainwashed and now loves Big Brother. Even though at the end Bowie sings “We want you, Big Brother” it comes off as unsettling that you know something isn’t right. The song was actually written for a never-produced musical based on the Orwell novel. Seeing as how everything is being turned into a musical now it might happen soon.

1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) – Eurythmics

This is cheating a little bit, but with the entire album based on Orwell’s novel it’s hard to pick just one song. It’s actually the soundtrack for the movie that came out in, what a surprise, 1984. Though most of the album is instrumental, key tracks like “Sexcrime” and “I Did Just the Same” have lyrics that refer to specific passages in the book. An interesting fact about the music is director Michael Radford didn’t like the band and had already commissioned an orchestra to do the musical score. As a result there are two versions of the film: one featuring the Eurythmics’ soundtrack and the director’s cut with the orchestral score.

I know there are plenty of songs I missed, but you can help me out. What are some of your favorite songs about the future? Let me know in the comments.

Mini Music Movie Review: Velvet Goldmine (1998)

VelvetGoldminePoster

This late ’90s film looks at the rock glam era and tells the story of fictional rock star Brian Slade. It shows his evolution from a mod rocker to a glam rock superstar who let fame get to his head. One thing that becomes clear fairly quick is the main character is loosely based off of David Bowie and some other glam stars of the era. Fun fact: Bowie himself hated the script and didn’t want any of his songs used. While the film doesn’t follow one particular rock star from the era, it at least gives viewers an idea about the scene and the music of the time.

The plot of the film is like a two hour episode of Behind the Music. We see his musical beginnings, his rise to fame, his downfall, and his life of obscurity. This doesn’t mean the film isn’t interesting; the flamboyant costumes and cast keeps you engaged. As you would expect there are quite a number of performances in the film. Some there of them are interesting, like “Baby’s on Fire,” but it grows tiring after a while. As we follow Brian’s journey to fame, we also experience his sexual awakening, which means lots of random sex scenes. We also get to see the reactions from his friends and family when they discover his bisexuality. It’s an interesting part of the story that leads to some scandalous moments.

While the movie is good, it’s pretty easy to get confused. So much happens between Brian’s career and his relationships it can be hard to keep up. There are also so many characters it’s sometimes difficult to figure out who they are. The one thing I remember having trouble with the most was figuring out who Brian was sleeping with and who he considered to be in a relationship with. It’s one of those movies where you feel like you have to watch at least two times before you really understand what’s going on.

If you’re a fan of glam rock, then you’ll love the music in the film. The soundtrack features a lot of songs from the era, but most of them are covered by other artists like Placebo, Thom Yorke, and even Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who stars in the movie. All the artists do a respectable job of covering classics like “20th Century Boy,” “Diamond Meadows,” “Hot One,” and “Satellite of Love.” One of my favorites is “Baby’s on Fire.” I was actually surprised at how good Rhys sounded while singing. It can’t compete with the original, but he still does a great job.

As mentioned earlier, the movie does a pretty good job of recreating the glam era, but sometimes the excessive plot makes it easy to get lost. This is one of those weird films where you actually like it, but find it’s not that memorable. There are a few key scenes that stand out, but otherwise the film is a blur, which is how I feel about The Doors movie. If you’re a music buff or a Bowie fan, I recommend you check it out. It’s not the best music movie out there, but it’s a decent one that’s at least entertaining.