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Rank the Videos: Madonna 1996 – 2002

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Following one of her most controversial periods, which saw the release of the Sex coffee table book and Erotica, Madonna toned things down considerably in light of the backlash. This continued in the mid-90s in an effort to convince director Alan Parker to cast her in the starring role of Evita. After she landed the role along with a Golden Globe for her performance, she reinvented herself once again embracing her spiritual side. This led to one of her most unique and successful eras. Let’s take a look back at some of her most ambitious and dull videos of the era.

“Frozen” (1998)

Around this time Madonna became interested in spiritualism and mysticism, which she used as a basis for this video. Sporting a gorgeous Gothic look, the singer is in the desert, gracefully moving her hands covered in mehndi, as she tries to reach her cold lover. Directed by Chris Cunningham, the clip features some great, eerie visuals, like Madonna falling and shattering into a flock of birds, splitting herself into three, and transforming into a dog. The whole thing is hypnotizing especially with the intricate movements of her hands and arms. It’s a departure from everything she’d done before and it gained the adoration of critics and fans alike. The imagery is visually stunning and so haunting it both fascinated and creeped me out the first time I saw it. Still a stellar video 21 years later.

“What It Feels Like For a Girl” (2001)

Directed by her then-husband Guy Ritchie, Madonna recreates Grand Theft Auto in real life. The action-packed video is nothing but the singer raising hell and wreaking havoc wherever she goes. It starts with her hotwiring a car and stealing an old woman from a nursing home. From there she drives recklessly, uses a stun gun to mug someone at an ATM, fucks with the cops by spraying water pistols at them, and ruins a street hockey game by driving into it. She then steals another car, runs over the owner, and goes out in a blaze of glory by crashing into a pole. The video caused a lot of controversy due to its violent nature. Many thought it was excessive and glorified violence. Some also called it shocking and disturbing. Madonna fought back saying it’s acting out a fantasy. Even though she’s acting badly and committing all sorts of crimes, it’s still a thrilling video that stands out for its cinematic quality.

“Nothing Really Matters” (1999)

Inspired by the 1997 novel Memoirs of a Geisha, this video features a lot of weird, surreal imagery. Wearing a red Kimono designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Madonna twists and dances in a jerky manner as she sings the song which was inspired by her daughter. Apparently, she did her own choreography and it shows – it’s kind of awkward. But things get weird when Madonna and the other dancers twitch and shudder holding bags of water, which is supposed to represent materialism. The way some of the dancers begin floating, scream, and rolling their eyes in the back of their head is freaky. It’s one of those videos that tries way too hard to have deep symbolism. The whole thing is confusing, but I still enjoy it for its creepy imagery.

“Don’t Tell Me” (2000)

Only Madonna can make country Western attire look so cool. Madonna appears to be walking through a Western setting, but the camera pans back to show her walking on a conveyor belt in front of a green screen. Madonna and her dancers do a bit of line dancing but give it a modern update with lots of gyrating hips. There’s also a lot of sand they keep throwing around, which they probably weren’t happy about later. The clip ends with a shot of a cowboy riding a Skewbald horse who gets tossed off and gets up again. It’s not a flashy video, but the cool choreography and Madonna’s S&M take on cowboy attire make give it a stylish flair. It’s a cool looking video that launched people all over to buy cowboy hats and tighter fitting flannel shirts. Hell, even I had one. It seems Bret Michaels didn’t get the memos that the hat trend is over.

“Beautiful Stranger” (1999)

Typically, I think videos for songs featured in movies are boring. It’s usually nothing but a bland performance clip mixed with footage from the film. Luckily, “Beautiful Stranger” goes beyond that. Instead of shoving movie clips in your face, it creates a fun, silly scenario in the Austin Powers universe. Here, Madonna plays a “master of disguise” who is responsible for seducing and taking out spies. In steps Austin Powers who is sure he can handle the situation. Of course, he falls for Madonna’s whims and fantasizes the two of them being naughty in his car. With a flirtatious Madonna and a hilarious Michael Meyers, the video is sexy and funny proving that there was a time when Austin Powers wasn’t stale and clichéd.

“Drowned World/Substitute for Love” (1998)

We all know how vicious and disgusting the paparazzi can be thanks to shows like TMZ, but since that wasn’t around in the late 90s, Madonna shows us how awful they can be. The singer is followed by the pap and rabid fans as she leaves her home and arrives at a theater. Just when she thinks she can find some solace, someone snaps her picture. Things get worse when she arrives at a party. The faces of those around her begin to distort and wrap causing her to run away only to be met with more resistance. She finally reaches home where her daughter is waiting for her comforting embrace. Madonna gives the camera one last hard look and sings “This is my religion” while holding her daughter. Though you wouldn’t think it, the video got some flak for the scenes where she’s running from the pap on bikes, which many compared to Princess Diana’s death the year before. It was later revealed the video had nothing to do with her death. Despite this, it’s still one of her underrated videos that shows us the downsides of being a celebrity.

“Die Another Day” (2002)

With every new Bond film comes a new theme song and Madonna got that honor in 2002. While the song is subpar, the video is thrilling. It opens with her being tortured, beaten up, and nearly executed by a group of villains. The rest of the video is a grueling battle with herself. The best part comes when the two Madonna’s duke it out in a room filled with references to the other Bond films: a mannequin painted gold, the bond cat, and a replica of a bond babe. There’s even a guy sporting the same grill as Jaws. It remains the second most expensive video ever made with Michael Jackson holding on to the top spot. While I don’t think it’s her best of the era, it’s still exciting and has some fun easter eggs for James Bond fans.

“Ray of Light” (1998)

“Ray of Light” marked another huge moment for the Queen of Reinvention. The video is primarily made of footage of the singer gyrating on screen and people going about their daily lives in a blur of motion. It ends with her dancing away the night in a club looking liberated and loving life. The clip stands out for its use of time-lapse technology, which gives it a dizzying feeling. It may not be her best video, but it’s one of her most creative and it didn’t go unrecognized. That year it took home five VMAs including Video of the Year.

“The Power of Good-Bye” (1998)

Directed by Matthew Rolston, this gorgeously shot video shows Madonna in the midst of an emotional breakup. Aside from footage of her singing, we see her and her lover, played by Croatian actor Goran Visnjic playing a game of chess. She destroys the chess board and ultimately leaves despite his attempts to make her stay. The final scene shows her sitting on the beach. Though it’s not one of her stronger videos, it looks beautiful and has a dramatic story. Still, I had to laugh at the cheesy smoldering looks to the camera and the cliched symbolism. It feels too phony at times, but it’s not bad.

“Music” (2000)

I was never a fan of this video. Everything about the video is gaudy from Madonna’s look to Ali G’s lame attempt at comedy. Madonna and friends hang out in the back of a limo, driven by a virtually unknown Ali G, as they party and visit strip clubs. In the middle of the action, a cartoon segment appears where she turns into a superhero and begins fighting bad guys. Everything about this video feels sleazy from the cheesy outfits to Madonna’s greasy look. It’s supposed to show off her rebellious, devil may care, but everything is so unappealing instead. The most interesting thing about the video is how the singer was pregnant with her second child.

“Another Suitcase in Another Hall” (1996)

This is the performance footage taken from Evita and it features Madonna with a dark hairdo getting kicked out of her home and drowning her sorrows in a bar figuring out her next move. She also has a mini duet with Antonio Banderas, who plays the bartender. Later on, it seems like she does to find a job only to be rejected. She leaves, holding her head high, and tries to find another home. Out of all the videos released for the movie, this is the least mind-numbing. It has an interesting plot, but is still pretty dull, unless you like the movie.

“Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” (1996)

Madonna originally recorded this song for her 1984 album Like a Virgin. Since it’s one of her favorite ballads, she later remixed and re-recorded the song for her Something to Remember compilation. Madonna sings the song in an elegant empty room. As the camera slowly zooms in on her, her performance gets more emotional as she twists and turns. It’s gorgeously shot, and Madonna looks beautiful, but it’s so bland. I can appreciate how it looks, but it’s not very entertaining.

“You Must Love Me” (1996)

If you thought most of Madonna’s videos from the mid-90s were very simple, tame, and dull, they’re nothing compared to the ones made to promote Evita. To win the role of Eva Peron, Madonna reinvented herself in a more modest, elegant image. Continuing to push this image, Madonna sings passionately next to a piano with clips from the movie are mixed in. It’s another beautiful looking video, but unless you enjoyed the film, it’s quite boring. It’s a typical music video made to promote a movie. There’s nothing exciting about this clip.

“Don’t Cry For Me” (1996)

Here’s yet another video from Evita. Madonna sings as Eva Peron from a hotel window to the people of Argentina waiting for her below. While her vocal performance is impressive, the video is not unless you’re a fan of the musical, which I’m not. I was never interested in this film and I find all the videos made to promote it tediously boring. Not to mention, I don’t care for Madonna’s acting though critics were even impressed with her Evita performance. Unfortunately, her successful acting streak wouldn’t last long as her next starring role proved.

“American Pie” (2000)

This boring is as dull and vapid as Madonna’s cover. It’s mostly her singing and dancing in front of an American flag while wearing a tiara. The rest of the video features a diverse group of people in front of the flag including farmers, kids, firefighters, bodybuilders, and gay couples. The most entertaining bit is when an old woman in a leotard begins wrestling with another woman. Otherwise, the video is just boring. It’s well-meaning with its message of we’re all Americans, but it’s cliché and dull. Not to mention the cover itself is bland. It’s almost as bad as Sherly Crow’s cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” There’s another version of the video that features different cuts and a lesbian kiss. This is yet another video made to promote a film, The Next Best Thing starring Madonna and Rupert Everett, who is also in the video.

There are more Madonna videos to look at, so stay tuned for the next part of Rank the Videos: Madonna. And make sure to check out part one and two if you missed them. Let me know which one of these are your favorite or least favorite in the comments.

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Rank the Videos – Madonna: 1990 – 1996

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Back in 2015, I revisited all of Madonna’s videos to celebrate seeing her in concert for the first time. Unfortunately, time slipped away from me and I didn’t get a chance to finish ranking her videos. Okay, so maybe I just forgot. Either way, it’s time to pick up where we left off. The 90s were a challenging time for Madonna. It’s the period that saw her push the boundaries of sex, which caused a huge backlash. As a result, the era features some of her most controversial and some of her most tame videos. So let’s take a look back at Madonna’s most risque period and rank these clips from best to worst.

“Vogue” (1990)

Madonna has had a number of memorable videos during her career, but this is the definitive one. This beautifully shot back and white clip is dedicated both to old Hollywood and the underground voguing scene. Madonna looks glamorous as she lists the biggest actors of yesteryear, like Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, and Fred Astaire. Meanwhile, backup dancers pull do their best voguing while looking dapper in fresh suits. The entire video does a great job of recreating the look and vibe of 1930s Hollywood. And it’s timeless. It’s always been one of my favorites just for how gorgeous she looks. This has got to be one of her greatest videos both for its look and just because the song is so damn good.

“Justify My Love” (1990)

When this premiered, Madonna was no stranger to controversy as she previously stirred up trouble with “Like a Prayer,” but this video pushed boundaries to a whole different level. This was also the start of her oversexualized, Sex era. It’s all about exploring, being free, and enjoying your sexuality even if goes against the norm. Images of BDSM, orgies, male on male, girl on girl, doms and divas run abound as Madonna seduces and gyrates against her leather clad lover. Featuring many androgynous and ambiguous people, the video was ahead of its time showing everything isn’t as black and white as society wants to believe. The clip ends with an energized Madonna leaving the hotel room laughing and fulfilled. MTV swiftly banned the video, which prompted the singer to release it as a VHS single. It has since gone down in history as one of the most scandalous and steamy videos. But little did the world know that Madonna wasn’t finished exploring her sexual realms.

“Take a Bow” (1994)

This beautifully shot video sees Madonna yearning for her lover, real-life bullfighter Emilio Munoz. The entire video is a parallel between Madonna and Munoz’s abusive affair and his bullfight. We see both of them getting ready, making a grand entrance, and the bloodshed both from the bull and Madonna herself.  Other shots include Madonna in sexy underwear while she gets a little too friendly with her television, which is broadcasting Munoz’s image. Because of the vintage style and the way it was shot, it’s one of her most memorable videos.

“Human Nature” (1995)

Madonna took quite a beating for her over-sexualized image. This video and song was her response to her critics who thought she went too far. The singer gives her haters a big fuck you while she struts around in a catsuit. The video is filled with bondage and S&M images, such as the singer tied to a chair, her wearing what looks like a gimp mask, and her brandishing a whip, which she then uses playfully on a dog. All of this is supposed to represent breaking out of restraints and not having any shame. This has always been one of my favorites because of how fierce she is. She’s a complete badass who’s tired of trying to please her harshest critics. This is the strong, badass diva I originally fell in love with. Her tame videos showed she knew how to be modest and vulnerable, but here she took back her dominating image, which is when she’s at her best.

“Bedtime Story” (1995)

This is Madonna’s weirdest video. It’s even a bit disturbing. It’s filled with many bizarre images that probably have some symbolic meaning, like Madonna giving birth to a flock of doves or the creepy-ass scene where her lips replace her eyes. All these scenarios are supposed to represent various surreal dreams which borrow elements from new age, Sufi, and Egyptian cultures. I always thought the video was unnerving, but it also intrigues me because it’s so different. Many of Madonna’s videos are simple and play up her sexuality, but this one is full of freaky visuals to shock viewers and get them thinking. Even if you don’t get all the imagery, you’ll get hypnotized by the trippy video. Also, is it any surprise that this was directed by Mark Romanek, the director of “Closer?”

“Secret” (1994)

Shot in black and white, this video features Madonna singing in a club, while shots of people in Harlem are mixed in. Throughout are images of drag queens, transvestites, prostitutes and pimps, rebirth, and damnation. Madonna returns to her penchant for playing with religious imagery in a scene where what looks like holy water is dripped onto her forehead. The video ends with her going to her lover’s house where he’s playing with his son, the supposed secret. It’s simple, yet effective. It’s another beautifully shot video with Madonna remaining sexy yet classy. It does a great job spotlighting Harlem and various people who often feel marginalized.

“You’ll See” (1995)

Not only is this an underrated ballad, the video is pretty cool. Serving as a follow up to “Take a Bow,” Madonna and Emilio Munoz reprise their roles as lovers, but this time things are different. Rather than Madonna chasing after him, it’s Munoz that chases Madonna all across the world. In the end, she frees herself from him. There are some gorgeous shots of Madonna singing about being able to make it by herself after all. Another version of the video was shot for the Spanish version of the song “Veras,” which was released only in Latin America. This version features the same scenes from the original interspersed with scenes of Madonna singing in Spanish.

“Deeper and Deeper” (1992)

This 70s inspired video pays tribute to both Andy Warhol and Italian director Luchino Visconti. Madonna’s character is inspired by model and Warhol protégé Edie Sedgwick. Most of the video takes place in a club where Madonna walks around with balloons mixed with shots of her hanging out with her girlfriends, watching a male stripper, and looking pretty bored. But there’s also a weird subplot where Madonna gets entranced and tries to escape a diabolical man. It’s a decent video with several references to the 1970s and Warhol, including a scene where the girls eat bananas, a possible reference to Warhol’s album cover for the Velvet Underground. You may not get all the references and symbolism at first, but at least it’s a fun video.

“I Want You” (1995)

Madonna plays the rejected, vulnerable lover in this clip. Wandering around her apartment in a nightgown, she sits by the phone waiting for someone to call. She goes from anxious worry to fury as she plots the best way to win back her lover. She spends most of the video lying in bed distressed, waiting for the phone to ring. Finally, the phone rings, but as she goes to pick it up, she has a moment of clarity and hangs up. It’s not an exciting video, but it fits the style of the ballad. It also encourages a woman’s strength and independence. It may have been torture, but in the end, she figured she shouldn’t chase after someone who doesn’t want her.

“Erotica” (1992)

People who thought Madonna went too far with “Justify My Love” clearly weren’t ready for “Erotica.” The video is an onslaught of footage from her Sex photo shoot mixed with the singer miming the track while dressed as a dominatrix. Madonna tries to shock us with images of nudity, S&M, and bondage, but at this point, the media grew tired of her antics. A Madonna backlash began both from critics and fans who felt she went too far. Ultimately, you can view the video as one long advertisement for her baffling Sex book, which featured the singer in various comprising positions. Despite her efforts, the video isn’t as enticing or sexy as her previous ones. It’s just uncomfortable and awkward to watch. She’s trying too hard to be shocking. No surprise that MTV banned this video after airing it only three times after hours.

“Bad Girl” (1993)

This is a classic live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse tale. Madonna plays a woman who lives a life of drinking, smoking, and promiscuous sex. As she walks down this dangerous road her guardian angel, played by Christopher Walken, watches over her. But no matter how hard he tries, he can’t save her. She ends up dying at the hands of a lover. The video tries to have this dark tone with the lesson of being careful what you do, but it’s hard to take seriously. The message is heavy-handed. And I can’t get over the scene of Walken dancing – it ruins the tone of the video. At least the video tries to do something different and stands out from her usual clips. But compared to the classics, it’s pretty forgettable.

“Fever” (1993)

With the Powerpoint graphics, various costumes, and lots of dancing this video seems like it was made solely for nightclubs. It’s four minutes of Madonna in different costumes, including a Balinese Idol, and body paint, intense close ups, and lots of gyrating hips. But the actual star of the video is the gold painted muscle man. His overly chiseled body and his aggressive dancing is almost disturbing. On top of that, some of the visuals are so blinding and annoying they’ll give you a headache. After the first minute, I was bored with the video. It seems like something you would put on during a party just to get people on the dance floor.

“This Used to be My Playground” (1992)

Prior to this, Madonna released one of her most controversial videos to date. So how does she follow it up? With a tame, somewhat dull performance video. Most of it is footage of her singing in different photographs while someone flips the photo album pages. This is mixed with footage of the film A League of Their Own, which Madonna was in. It’s not a terrible video but watching someone turn pages for four minutes isn’t very exciting. Rumor has it that the singer stole the idea from Boy George, who used the concept for his 1987 single “To Be Reborn.” At least the movie scenes don’t make up the entire music video. Considering the backlash that followed Sex, it’s understandable why she’d want to tone things down. But I feel this is when Madonna is at her dullest. It’s nice to see a different side to her, but it leads to some forgettable videos.

“Rain” (1993)

This is one of those highly stylized “futuristic” videos that became popular in the 90s. With odd furniture pieces all painted chrome, this is a video within a video as we see Madonna filming the clip for the song mixed with footage of her writing and practicing her moves. The singer looks almost unrecognizable in a cropped black wig, which may be an homage to Liza Minelli. What is interesting about the video is it was filmed entirely in black and white then hand painted with blue tones. Seems like a lot of work for a mediocre clip, but somehow it won two Moonmen at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards.

“I’ll Remember” (1994)

This is another “behind the scenes” video where Madonna records the song in some weird studio while clips from the movie With Honors plays behind her. Meanwhile, she’s directed by producers lurking in the shadows. Eventually, it’s revealed that one of these hidden people is actually Madonna in androgynous gear. Since it was made after her backlash, it’s another tame, boring video. Almost nothing happens. She’s back in the black wig, singing, and holding her headphones, which all musicians seem to do in the studio. A forgettable video for a forgettable movie.

Madonna’s videos don’t end here. Make sure to come back for the fourth part in the Madonna Rank the Videos series. And let me know which one of these videos is your favorite in the comments!

10 Bizarre Musical Projects You Didn’t Know About

Sometimes when you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, you want to try something different. Our favorite artists and bands go through the same things. You often hear about artists wanting to break free from their established sound and do something new and out of the box. Sometimes it can produce successful projects that show another side of an artist you thought you knew. And other times it’s a spectacular failure. So let’s look at ten weird musical projects you may not have known about. Not all of them are failures, but they’ll make you see these artists in a different light.

10. Damon Albarn Writes an Opera

Considering how many projects Damon Albarn has created, him writing an opera doesn’t sound that shocking. In 2011, he teamed up with theatre director Rufus Norris for the production Dr Dee: An English Opera. The opera is based on the life of John Dee, who was a medical and scientific advisor to Elizabeth I. Originally, the production was meant to be a collaboration between Albarn, Jamie Hewlett, and graphic novelist Alan Moore. It played at the Palace Theatre in Manchester in July 2011 and was received relatively well. The soundtrack to the opera was later released in 2012 and honestly, it doesn’t sound too different from his other material. While the release features traditional operatic tracks, other songs sound like they’re from his solo album. They’re spacey, kind of weird, yet beautiful. Maybe he’ll work on a Gorillaz opera next. Actually, that would be pretty awesome.

9. Beastie Boys Go Country

Unlike the other entries on this list, this album was made completely in jest. In 1999, the Beastie Boys recorded a full country album dubbed Mike D’s Greatest Country Hits. They never intended it for a wide release. Rather it was a weird gift for their family and friends. In the liner notes to The Sounds of Science, Adam Yauch explained the origin of the album as Mike D losing his memory due to being hit in the head and believing he was a country singer. “The psychologists told us that if we didn’t play along with Mike’s fantasy, he could be in grave danger. Finally, he came back to his senses. This song (“Railroad Blues”) is one of the many that we made during that tragic period of time.” It has a classic good ‘ol country vibe ala Conway Twitty, heavy twangs and all. Even though the songs are clearly jokes (“Sloppy Drunk”, “Don’t Let the Air Out My Tire”) a lot of country songs are strange, so in a way, they fit right in. You can listen to the entire LP on Youtube. And whatever happened to Country Mike? According to Mike D, he’s homeless.

8. Aretha Franklin Gets Disco Fever

Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul who can do no wrong…expect she did by going Disco with La Diva. In the 70s many artists went disco for a spell from Paul McCartney to KISS. So it’s not exactly weird for Franklin to jump on the bandwagon. But since it was around the time Disco died out, it wasn’t her finest output and ended being a commercial flop. Selling under 75,000 units, it’s still her lowest selling album in her entire Atlantic Records career. Yet, the album isn’t terrible. It’s filled with sappy and generic disco songs prevalent during the era. It seems this record was released at the wrong time. Perhaps if it came out during disco’s peak it would’ve been better received. But seeing as disco was dying out, the album seems like a sad attempt to cash in on a dying trend.

7. Serj Tankian Gets Jazzy with Jazz Is Christ

 

Whenever you think of Serj Tankian the first thing that comes to mind is the heavy, intense music of System of a Down. And while he’s experimented a bit with his solo releases, jazz is the last thing you’d expect to hear from him. But that’s exactly where he went. In 2013 he released the album Jazz-iZ Christ with a group of the same name. Featuring pianist Tigran Hamasyan, flautist Valeri Tolstov, and trumpet player Tom Duprey, the largely instrumental album finds the rocker mixing jazz with elements of rock, electronic, and world music. It’s definitely a weird experience, but it doesn’t sound that bad. It does have the mellow flow of Jazz, but thanks to the blend of other genres it keeps you on your toes. It was a pretty successful release and shows the wide range Tankian has as a musician. Though I’m sure people would prefer a new SOAD record at this point.

6. Garth Brooks Confuses the World with Chris Gaines

Garth Brooks is one of country’s biggest superstars, if not the biggest. Even if you don’t like country music chances are you know one of his songs. He had a slew of hits and multi-platinum albums during his peak in the 90s. But not everything he touched went gold – remember Chris Gaines? Back in 1999, Brooks introduced this “edgy” alter ego to the world and released his only album The Life of Chris Gaines. Featuring Brooks doing his best Savage Garden impression, the album spawned one hit “Lost In You.” As you can guess, the project was a flop yet it wasn’t terrible. It was just weird. Not only did the album receive mixed reviews, fans were confused as hell. Was it a joke? Was it really Garth Brooks? Has he gone crazy? They even made a Behind the Music episode for the persona. Just listen to Brooks explain Gaines’ origins and try not to be confused. Turns out, Brooks planned the persona for a movie he was meant to star in called The Lamb. It didn’t happen. After the fiasco he back to country music. He’s good at it, so he should stick with it.

5. Paul Banks Release a Weird, Hip Hop Infused Mixtape

Paul Banks is better known as the monotone, Ian Curtis-eqsue frontman for Interpol. Banks has picked up various side projects, including a solo career, but his strangest is the 2013 mixtape Everybody On My Dick Like They Supposed to Be. There’s so much weirdness packed into this release you’re not sure where to start. Banks handles production and the actual music, which sounds generic and low quality. As for vocals, rappers like Mike G, Talib Kweli, and High Prizm handle the actual rapping – a smart move on Banks’ part. Though, admittedly, having Banks rap on these tracks may have made the mixtape worthwhile. The release was meant to be a pre-release bonus for his second solo album Banks, but it was released a year later. It seems like Banks is genuinely interested in rap as he teamed up with RZA for the project Banks & Steelz, which surprisingly, was received pretty well.

4. Snoop Dogg Becomes Snoop Lion

People weren’t sure what to make of Snoop Dogg’s reincarnation in 2013. After a documentary dubbed Reincarnated, Snoop introduced his new persona Snoop Lion along with his new Rastafarian lifestyle. The album Reincarnated came out the same year and features Snoop doing his best Reggae impression while singing about smoking weed. Well, at least some things never change. To be fair, Snoop Lion isn’t terrible, but it’s still not great. The album was met with mixed reviews, yet oddly enough was nominated for a Grammy for Best Reggae Album. What a slap in the face for actual reggae artists. Seeing as Snoop released his latest album, Neva Left, under Snoop Dogg, it’s safe to say things are back to normal.

3. Tommy Lee Attempts Nu-Metal

Since hair metal died out in the 90s with the onslaught of grunge, Motley Crue wasn’t at their peak during the era. After some less than stellar albums, drummer Tommy Lee left the band in 1999 and formed Methods of Mayhem his attempt at a rap/rock band. The band released their self-titled album, which went gold and actually received decent reviews. Lead single “Get Naked” received moderate airplay on MTV, which is hard to believe since it’s terrible. Lee shouldn’t be allowed to rap because it’s a mess. And the band as a whole is just generic “hardcore” music and lame lyrics trying to cash in on the “nu-metal” trend at the time. Now, people realize just how bad the band was. Everyone except Tommy Lee. In 2009, he reformed the band with a new lineup and released the album A Public Disservice Announcement. Luckily, he doesn’t rap as much and sticks with something that’s supposed to be singing.

2. Pat Boone Goes Metal…Kind Of

Pat Boone makes the kind of music that gets finger snapping and toes tapping….if you’re over 65. Back in the day, Boone was a Renaissance man appearing in movies, TV shows, being a spokesman, a motivational speaker, and a singer. His music is safe and non-threatening, but in 1997 Boone made the bold decision to go metal in the lamest way possible. In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy features the singer covering metal hits like “You Got Another Thing Coming” and “Crazy Train” in a jazz/big band style, which makes the album even weirder. The covers aren’t necessarily terrible, just confusing as all hell. He sounds like a grandfather when singing “Enter Sandman” and “Holy Diver.” It’s like he wanted to make non-threatening metal for people who don’t actually like metal. If that wasn’t bad enough, the album art shows the then 63-year old wearing a vest and chain. Instead of looking metal he looks like a real-life version of that Ken doll that definitely wasn’t gay.

1. Dee Dee Ramone Reinvents himself as Dee Dee King

Dee Dee Ramone will always be remembered for The Ramones, one of the most influential punk rock bands. But his stint as a rapper will forever haunt him. It sounds like a bad joke but the punk rocker took up rapping in 1989. What started as showing up to Ramones rehearsals in hip-hop gear turned into a weird side project. Under the name Dee Dee King, he released the LP Standing in the Spotlight. It’s almost too painful to listen to. Songs like “Funky Man” and “German Kid” sound like your dad rapping because it’s “hip” and “cool” with the kids. The songs are laughably bad talking about how he’s half German or singing about how the Mash Potato will make your “body move.” He even proclaims he’s a master at hip-hop. At the time Dee Dee said he felt a connection with the underdog spirit of the genre. Later, an older, wiser Dee Dee realized it probably wasn’t the best career move. After the album flopped he went back to the Ramones and all was right with the world.

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

Playlist: Throwback Macy’s Day Parade Performances

It may be hard to remember with commercials constantly shoving Christmas in your face, but Thanksgiving is coming up. That means good food, football, and spending time with people you don’t care about for most of the year. It also means the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While it’s not one of my favorite holiday traditions, me and my family do watch it every year at least to check out the cool floats. But along with balloons and too much broadway there are “performances.” And man, are some of them awkward. So before you gorge yourself on turkey and dressing, let’s take a look at some throwback performances from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Rick Astley (2008)

You know the moment when a meme dies? Like when your parents start saying “Damn Daniel!” or Toyota plays John Cena’s music in their latest commercial. It’s not funny; it’s just sad whenever anyone uses it. The Macy’s 2008 Thanksgiving Parade is when Rickrolling died. Organizers of the parade decided to rickroll everyone watching by having Rick Astley come out and “sing” “Never Gonna Give You Up” with the dead-eyed cast of Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends surrounding him. There’s nothing wrong with the performance, but it hits a low when Cheese yells “I like Rickrolling!” Like when your parents start liking the same things as you, Rickrolling was officially uncool. But the meme never died if you ask current advertisers.

Backstreet Boys (1997)

The Backstreet Boys mime their hit “As Long as You Love Me” during the 1997 edition of the parade. It’s pretty straightforward, but the thing you notice is how the three most popular members are front and center. So where are Kevin and Howie? Way in the back separated from the other guys. They don’t even get much camera time. There’s only one shot of them before it’s back to Nick, Brian, and AJ. Though the former BSB fangirl in me did beam how adorable Nick (aka the best member) looks in his winter coat.

Nsync (1998)

I’m pretty sure I watched this performance when it first aired back in 1998. There’s nothing notable about it. The boys lipsynch perfectly fine. Though JC is clearly the star. It doesn’t matter that he’s not actually singing, he’s still doing all the head nods and moving clearly enjoying the spotlight. Justin does some weird wiggle behind JC, Lance is off to the side smiling and politely wiggling and Chris and Joey are just kind of standing there. It’s not amazing, but it’s a fun throwback if you’re a former Nsync fangirl. On another note, am I the only one who thinks the announcer saying “the females love them” is creepy?

KISS (2014)

Something about KISS at the Macy’s parade is kind of weird. Coming from a band who has licensed their name on everything from caskets to board games, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Still, it catches you off guard. The bright colorful balloons don’t gel with KISS’ style. But it is funny to see Finn and Jake floating behind Paul Stanley as he tries his hardest to look like a badass. It doesn’t help that they don’t look excited to be there and don’t do a very good job at lipsynching. It’s kind of painful to watch. Also, with a band like KISS couldn’t they give them a better float? They just got a weird plexiglass stage.

Kanye West (2010)

Having Kanye West perform at the parade seems like an odd choice. You don’t think a controversial rapper like West would be asked to appear at a family-friendly event. The network even censored “hell” from his song. It’s just weird to see him there; you’d think he’d believe he was too good to show up. Though his performance was fine, other videos show he was not a favorite at the parade. One clip shows West being booed from the crowd. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t been back since.

98 Degrees (1998)

Watching this performance makes me question how we fangirls ever thought stuff like this was okay. Seeing Nick Lachey continually pout and lick his lips to the camera is cringy. But back in the day, it would make fangirls swoon. Everything about it now is cheesy: the matching outfits, the khakis, the stupid coats, and hairstyle hardened by too much gel. Why did we ever find this attractive?

O-Town (2001)

O-Town never really had the chance to be the next boy band to take the world by storm. But I was a loyal fan, which is why it’s strange that I don’t remember this performance. The band at least acts like they care and actually move around while “singing.” If there’s anything weird about this it’s the song. “We Fit Together” has not so subtle lyrics like “I wanna go all night/ain’t no stopping/til the breaking of the dawn” and “I wanna go/knock knock/our bodies to the beat.” Seems like a very inappropriate song for a televised event that’s supposed to be family friendly.

Baha Men (2002)

There was actually a time when the Baha Men were so popular they were invited to perform at the Thanksgiving parade. And to my disappointment, they don’t even perform “Who Let The Dogs Out?” Yes, the song is stupid and terrible, but it’s the only one people know. You can imagine everyone at home was waiting to hear the song and see them go wild on the float. Instead, we get a lame cover of “Crocodile Rock.” Sadly, this was probably the highlight of their career.

Simple Plan (2003)

Yes, Simple Plan brought their whiny rock to the Thanksgiving Parade in 2003, which was probably the peak of their fame. This is another questionable song choice. The first line of the song features the phrase “I’m a dick,” which the network picked up on and censored. But with all the songs the band had at that point, you’d think they’d ask them to play something else. Also, it’s hard not to cringe while watching Pierre Bouvier trying to be edgy with giant M&Ms looming behind him.

The Lawrence Brothers (1995)

At the peak of his popularity, Joey Lawrence attempted a singing career. And yes, it was bad. This didn’t stop him from roping in his brothers to sing with him at the 1995 Macy’s Day Parade. While Joey looks confident and is putting his heart into lipsynching, the other two couldn’t give a shit. It’s clear on their faces. Matthew looks pained as if he knows he has no business singing. Andrew just looks bored with his chin resting on the float bar. They don’t sound awful; it’s just so unexpected. People must’ve liked because they were invited back multiple times.

Barney (1998)

I included this because I somehow still know all the words to this song even though I haven’t heard it in almost 20 years. This is why I can’t math properly!

New Kids on the Block (1989)

The New Kids or NKOTB if you’re cool, perform this sappy song and don’t do the best job at it. Jordan takes the spotlight, but it’s weird to see him laugh and smile when he sings about kids not having enough to eat. Before that, you can see Donnie say something to him as if they’re not supposed to be performing right now. And at one point Jordan just gives up lipsynching and starts waving. You can barely see the others, though I do like how Joey decided to dress like a 50s mob boss. And for some reason, Donnie starts holding a baseball cap for the rest of the performance. At the end, the music fades out and turns into screams – it was the peak of New Kids mania after all.

Which one of these throwback performances was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Stupid Songs that We All Loved

It’s easy for people to look at music today and claim it was better way back when. But they seem to forget there was a lot of questionable music back then too. Eras like the 80s and 90s were filled with tons of terrible songs, yet at the time, they were hits. Now, we recognize them are bad songs or “guilty pleasure,” but when they were first released they were popular despite how dumb they were. So let’s look back at stupid songs we all loved at one point.

“Achy Breaky Heart” – Billy Ray Cyrus

Though this song is now known as one of the worst songs of all time, it was actually a hit when it came out in 1992. Originally titled “Don’t Tell My Heart” it was first performed by The Marcy Brothers in 1991 but didn’t get much airplay. It wasn’t until Billy Ray Cyrus recorded his own version that the song exploded. It reached the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and peaked at number four on the Hot 100. And yes, I even liked it when I was a kid. It’s one of those song’s that’s terrible but has an earworm hook that burrows its way into your brain. It’s pretty bad with the stupid hook and Cyrus’ faux accent. For the longest time, we thought this was the worst thing Cyrus would give to the world. Boy, were we wrong.

“I’m Too Sexy” – Right Said Fred

Released in 1991, UK duo Right Said Fred earned a number one hit with this ridiculous song about being so sexy “it hurts.” What started as a joke between the two Fairbrass brothers turned into an international chart-topping single. The track makes fun of the superficiality and narcissism of being a supermodel. It’s another one of those songs that’s so stupid you end up liking it. You gotta admit, the opening line of “I’m too sexy for my shirt” is kind of hard to forget. Now considered one of the worst song’s of the 90s, it’s something most of would rather forget was ever a thing.

“Higher” – Creed

Creed is one of those bands no one wants to admit they liked at one point. Sort of like Limp Bizkit. Before becoming of the music’s biggest jokes, they were one of the most successful acts of the late 90s. This song, along with the sappy “With Arms Wide Open” helped their second album, Human Clay, reach platinum status eleven times. Kind of disturbing when you think about it. This pseudo rock song was inescapable when it first came out. It was all over the radio and the lame video received lots of airplay on MTV. Listening to it now, it’s hard to think how anyone took this song seriously. Frontman Scott Stapp sounds like he has a sinus infection while singing and though the band denied their religious connotations, it’s pretty easy to hear all over this song.

“Blue” – Effiel 65

There are some songs whose origin and popularity can’t be explained. Why the hell was Effiel 65’s “Blue” a chart topping hit in 1999? We still have no idea. With a generic dance beat, the most memorable lyric in the mindless “da bee dee da” the singer keeps mumbling over and over. The rest of the lyrics are baffling as the singer goes onto talk about having a blue girlfriend, house, and dog. Why blue? Is he literally blue or is this supposed to be a clumsy metaphor? These are questions we’ll probably never have answers for. Even though the song is terrible, you couldn’t but singing it whenever it played. As a kid, I thought the song was weird, yet would happily sing it in the car whenever it came on.

“Rico Suave” – Gerardo

Everyone talks about how awful today’s music is and how things were better in the 80s and 90s. But then you remember a dark time in 1990 when Gerardo gave us the travesty that is “Rico Suave.” Looking back at it, it seems like a bad joke: the cringy lyrics, the mindless hook, and the questionable mariachi band in the video. While it never hit number one, it did reach as high at number two on Billboard’s Hot Rap Track and number seven on the Hot 100. The song is unbelievably bad making you question who actually bought it when it came out. While it can be a fun song to take the piss out of when hanging out with definitely not something you listen to for pleasure.

“Barbie Girl” – Aqua

This is one of those songs that could only exist in the 90s. In 1997, Danish group Aqua dropped this annoying song on the unsuspecting masses. And it took off. Supposedly a commentary poking fun at the superficiality of the doll, it’s a song you hate to get stuck in your head. The hook manages to be infectious, yet completely annoying. Her voice is too squeaky, while the guy’s faux gruffness comes off as slightly creepy. The single charted number one around the world and even caught the ire of Mattel, who later tried to sue the band. When this song came out, I remember teachers trying to ban us from singing it because it was supposedly dirty. And then someone went and made the Ken song, which all the boys in class loved singing.

“Party All the Time” – Eddie Murphy

Hot off the heels of Beverly Hills Cop, someone convinced Eddie Murphy to get in the recording booth and make this stupid song. The sad thing is as dumb as it is, it’s really catchy. Part of that has to do with the inane repetitive hook and the help of funk master Rick James. Listening to the song and watching Murphy trying so hard in the recording booth, you’d think it was an elaborate joke. That’s probably what people were hoping. Unfortunately, it was all too real and even led Murphy to record an album. And it was a commercial success. Murphy tried to have another hit single in the 90s with “Whaazup with You” with some help from Michael Jackson. While Jackson saves the song a little bit, it’s more atrocious than this. At least it gave us a killer Children of Bodom cover.

“Ice Ice Baby” -Vanilla Ice

Vanilla Ice is a hard phenomenon to explain today. Looking back at his biggest hit, it’s clearly bad. It’s one of those songs hipsters like ironically. But back in 1990, Rob van Winkle was the hottest rapper around. This song, which stole the riff from “Under Pressure” and led to a hilarious Vanilla Ice moment, graced the top of the charts around the world making his international debut To The Extreme, a success. It sold 15 million copies and spent 16 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200. A short time later, people realized the song was dumb and Vanilla Ice was pretty lame. It didn’t help that Jim Carey poked fun at him and his lame dance moves in a great In Living Color sketch.

“Macarena” – Los del Rio

We all knew this was coming, so let’s get it over with it. The Macarena was one of those inexplicable fads of the 90s. What started out as an obscure dance song soon exploded around the world thanks to the stupid dance associated with the song. Soon the dance was being done at proms, weddings, and in your mom’s backyard. The best videos on America’s Funniest Home Videos were Macarena failures. It prompted several parodies, including a memorable one from the Animaniacs. It was so popular my school even made kids in an assembly do it on stage. Soon, the fad died out with slap bracelets, frosted tips, and JNCO Jeans. But with so many 90s trends coming back into fashion, maybe this duo is prime for a comeback. Let’s hope not.

“The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats

Play this song for someone under 20 now and they’d probably wonder if it was a joke. Listening to the song and watching the weird video now, it’s still not all that clear if it is a joke. Written about bouncers trying to stop kids from pogo dancing in clubs, the song is baffling. The lyrics are weird with the odd yet memorable line “we can dance/we can dance/everyone look at your hands” while the music sounds like it was inspired by a Renaissance Fair. It’s one of the weirdest songs from the 80s, yet it was successful. It reached the top spot on Billboard’s Hot Club Play and peaked at number three on the Hot 100. And to think, for years people thought it was a song about safe sex.

“Watch Me” – Silento

Dance crazes are something the world should’ve left behind with the “Cha Cha Slide.” But somehow we all get swept up in them when a new one pops up every few years. When Silento hit the scene with “Watch Me” everyone from your mom to Jimmy Fallon started singing the mindless song. The track is nothing but different hip-hop dances phrases (Stanky Legg, Crank That) mashed together repeatedly throughout. And no matter how hard you try, it’s almost impossible not to “whip” and “nae nae” when you hear it. Even the Nickelodeon remix was catchy. I had to change the channel every time it came on so it wouldn’t get stuck in my head. It’s by no means good, but with a simple chorus and fun music, the song is hard to ignore even if you hate it. The track ended up in the number three spot on the Billboard Hot 100 where it stayed for six consecutive weeks. Thankfully, people seem to have forgotten the dance, but it makes me wary for the next dance craze.

“What the Fox Say” – Ylvis

This is one of those rare instances where an obviously terrible song turns into a big hit. Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis recorded “What the Fox Say” as an “anti-hit” for their comedy show Tonight With Ylvis. It didn’t take long for the video to hit Youtube and explode all over the internet. It was a song designed to be terrible and hilarious, yet it turned out to be successful. It’s reached platinum status in the States and peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is nothing but random noises and generic dance music, proving that the internet gets obsessed with the weirdest things. Since the song was everywhere, I couldn’t find the humor in it and just found it to be another mindless, terrible song. Luckily, the duo said they don’t have plans to make a sequel.

There are more lovably stupid songs out there, so which ones did I miss? Which of these songs is your guilty pleasure? Let me know in the comments!