Madonna

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!

 

Top 10 Videos that Scared Me as a Kid

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Let’s face it, as a kid the silliest things can scare us. Anything from trees to weird looking food could scare our pants off. Like most kids of the 90s, I watched a lot of television. There was a point where I ventured away from Nickelodeon to MTV. Most of the videos had no effect on me. Some of them I even liked (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”), but then there were the “scary” ones. Videos I had no business watching, yet kept my eyes glues to the screen until it scared me. Looking back at these ten clips now, none of them are scary in the least, not even disturbing. Then again, I was only a dumb kid then. So let’s take a look at the top ten videos that scared my pants off as a kid.

10. “Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor

There’s a subtle beauty to this video that makes it timeless. The concept is simple: O’Connor lets her haunting vocals carry the video mixed with gothic imagery of her walking through a cemetery. Pretty tame. But the one part that I still remember freaking me out comes at the very end. It’s a brief flash of what looks like a skeleton. Looking at it now, I think it’s an intricate headstone, but the face still looks like a skull. Being so young and not able to grasp the thought of death, this scene horrified me. Keep in mind, at the same time I thought the Crypt Keeper was pretty cool. Yeah, I was a weird kid. Now, I wouldn’t call the image scary at all. It just has a morbid beauty to it I can fully appreciate.

9. “Role Model” – Eminem

Similar to the “My Name Is” video, this one is a barrage of various images and situations featuring the rapper meant to shock viewers. Nothing about this video is scary or even disturbing in the least aside from how much of the song is missing when watching the clean version. So why did I cringe when I watched it as a kid? The damn ending where Eminem, after attempting a Houdini-like escape attempt, fails. The video ends with his lifeless body swinging in the water as the crowd looks on in disgust. This mixed with the sepia silent movie effects (some of those still creep me out) was enough to make me skip this video. I can’t really explain it. I just remember hating this part of the video whenever I saw it and I did my best to change the channel before it ended.

8. “Nookie” – Limp Bizkit

I didn’t really know what to think of Limp Bizkit when they invaded my daily TRL watching in the late 90s. I remember thinking how dumb this song was and wondering what the fuck cookies had to do with the nookie anyway. But the one thing I will always take away from this Limp Bizkit song is the video. The majority of the clip is pretty tame and predictable. It’s Wes Borland that freaked me out. When he cocked his head to the side and stared into the camera with those soulless eyes, I shivered. I’ve never seen someone with pure black eyes and no pupils. Of course, now I know it was just contact lenses. Still, it shook me enough to where I closed my eyes whenever the video came on. Why didn’t I just change? Well, I didn’t want to miss my daily dose of Nsync and BSB.

7. “Waterfalls” – TLC

I was a huge fan of TLC when I was younger and seeing as this was one of the best videos of the 90s, it was always on MTV. Sure, some of the graphics are outdated now, but it’s still an iconic clip. Yet, I hated watching it. Why? Because of how fucking depressing it is. First, we see a young boy killed in blood and his mother a ghostly figure crying over him. Then, we see a man fade from existence through an unknown case of AIDS. By the end of the video the boy tries to reunite with his mother and the woman who infected her lover, is gone as well. I get it, the video is supposed to leave impact with its message. But I was five at the time. And yeah, I probably shouldn’t have watched it. But those two scenes scared me even if I didn’t fully understand what they meant. Sometimes TLC were a little too good at getting their messages across as this isn’t the last time they spooked me out.

6. “The Way I Am” – Eminem

I probably shouldn’t have been listening to or watching Eminem at 12 years old, but I did and yes, my mom thought it was fine. Very little about this video is scary; it’s kind of disturbing, but there’s nothing outright horrifying about it. I remember actually enjoying it and being confused by Marilyn Manson in the background. Was it really him or not? After all, Em did previously portray the rocker in “My Name Is.” The thing that freaked me out was the end when the rapper is about to make contact with the concrete. It was at that second that I realized what he was doing. I flinched and closed my eyes not wanting to see the awful splatter. And the ground turns to rubber. Eminem is okay. I let out a sigh of relief. The fact that two Eminem videos scared when I was young was probably a punishment for listening to his music in the first place.

5. “Gimme Some More” – Busta Rhymes

The weird thing about this video is at the time I only saw about five seconds of it. It was some sort of countdown on MTV or maybe it was the VMAs, doing a recap of videos. It flashed to a clip of this song where it focused on the blue, yellowed eyed creature that terrifies the woman in the video. It’s actually not a surprise this one scared me as a kid; the monster is still freaky looking today. Still, it’s something I’ll always remember as shaking me to my core. From then on I associated Busta Rhymes with scary videos. Now….not so much.

4. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson

This video has scared all of us at some point in our lives. Though it’s a timeless clip and still outstanding by today’s standards, it’s not exactly scary. I wasn’t even that afraid of it when I first saw it at 5 years old. Despite this, there were still bits that creeped me out. One thing that always unnerved me was the heavy breathing during the title card. I always found it weird and knew it signaled bad things to come. The part where Jackson transforms into the werecat looks a bit dated, especially the parts featuring a static dummy head. But the part that always made me jump was him screaming “Go away!” with the sharp teeth sticking out of his mouth. Though I always expect it now, when I was little I somehow forgot it was coming and it always scared me. The zombies for the most part I thought were cool, except for two specific ones. First, the one that comes strolling out of mausoleum door, whites of his eyes showing. Then the one with blood spilling of its mouth. Both of these zombies freaked me out. And the way the latter one smiles after the blood spills, just makes it all the more creepy. It still freaks me out a bit now.

3. “Unpretty” – TLC

Similar to “Waterfalls,” TLC aims to promote a positive message of loving yourself and not letting anyone else make you feel ugly. Sounds good, so what about the video is terrifying? The part where a woman gets her silicone implants removed. When I first saw the doctor remove the silicone and the pained expression of the girl, it gave me chills. Every other time I saw the video I shut my eyes right as Chili steps into the hospital. TLC spares no one and shows the painful removal up close trying to teach young girls a lesson. And at least for me, it fucking worked. Even watching it now after not seeing the video in years it made me cringe. I forgot how graphic the scene was and it’s disturbing as hell. I never thought a TLC video would leave me scarred for life.

2. “Tourniquet” – Marilyn Manson

As much as I love Marilyn Manson now, I thought he was the creepiest dude when I was ten. I still remember finding my brother’s copy of Mechanical Animals and being utterly confused by the cover. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I accidentally saw this video while watching Celebrity Deathmatch. After Manson won against Charles Manson, they decided to show this clip. And man did it give me nightmares. Though it’s now one of my favorite videos, I still don’t know what the hell is going on. Manson’s movements along with black eyed semi-human/semi-mannequin creatures scared the piss out of me. But it still intrigued me; I’d never seen anything like it before. When I saw the video again, I watched while covering my eyes and peeking out every now and then. Years later, I turned into a dedicated fan. Gotta admit I didn’t see that one coming.

1. “Oh Father” – Madonna

I’ve talked about how accidentally terrifying this video is in the past, so I’ll be brief about it here. I saw this video at a very young age and when it reached the part where the little girl, who is supposed to be Madonna, reaches her mother in the casket terrified me. Not because she was dead, but because of the fucking close up of her lips sewn shut. It’s not grotesque and it doesn’t even stay on the screen that long. But it was enough to disturb me and haunt me ever since. Because of that scene, I rarely revisit the video. It still gives me the chills today. The rest of the video is beautiful and timeless. Yet, that one scene has stayed with me for years. For that reason along it gets the top spot.

Did any of these videos scare you as a kid? What videos made gave you chills? 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: Going to the Movies

It’s the last month of summer, so it’s time to get in as much chill time on the beach or in the A/C as you can. Summer doesn’t only mean hot sun, parties, and swimming. It’s also the season for blockbuster movies. This got me thinking about movie themes, which aren’t a big trend in movies anymore. Some are powerful others are cheesy making the point to tell you the plot of the movie in three minutes. It seems the 80s had the best and biggest movie themes out there, but there are too many to keep track of. So, let’s look at some notable movie themes and make summer last a little longer.

“Lose Yourself” theme from 8 Mile (Eminem)

Eminem was already an international superstar by the time 8 Mile dropped, but this song put him over the top. It was the hottest song of 2002 and one you couldn’t escape from. It even earned Eminem an Oscar win to the surprise of everyone including the rapper himself. Em has a lot of hit songs, but the drive, aggression, and persevering message of this single connected with fans all over the world. The song was so overplayed it grew sickening whenever you heard it. But now that it’s not blasting on the radio every five minutes, it’s easier to sit back and appreciate the track. Over ten years later, it remains one of Em’s strongest and successful singles. Didn’t hurt that the movie was actually good either.

“Ghostbusters” theme from Ghostbusters (Ray Parker Jr.)

Movie theme songs have the tendency to be cheesy with this being the ultimate example. It may be full of 80s cheese, but that’s what makes the song so lovable. From the wonky synth to Parker Jr.’s smug “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” it’s a track that’s a lot of fun, which is why it fits perfectly with the movie. Everything about it is memorable, especially the tagline “Who ya gonna call?/Ghostbusters!” It may be corny, but at least it isn’t the hellish spawn that is the rebooted theme song. Believe it or not, Huey Lewis sued Parker Jr. and claimed he stole the melody from his track “I Want a New Drug.” The two are surprisingly similar; the matter was later settled out of court.

“Stayin Alive” theme from Saturday Night Fever (Bees Gees)

If you were asked to pick one song to represent the disco fever days of the 70s, it would be this Bee Gees hit. It has an unmistakable riff and Barry Gibb’s unique falsetto vocals. Whether you genuinely like the song or think it’s beyond corny, you have to admit there’s so much swagger in the opening riff. You can’t help but feel like a boss when strutting to this tune. The Bee Gees actually had several hit songs from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, including “Night Fever,” “How Deep is Your Love,” and “Jive Talking,” but it’s this track that’s their most notable. Now, if you could only get the image of John Travolta dancing out of your head whenever it plays.

“I Will Always Love You” theme from The Bodyguard (Whitney Houston)

This song was originally written by Dolly Parton in 1974 but didn’t gain massive notoriety until Whitney Houston performed the song for The Bodyguard soundtrack. The song turned out to be a perfect match for Houston’s haunting, beautiful vocals. And the part when the beat drops and she belts out that one note near the end still gives you chills. The single is still considered the singer’s signature song and many have forgotten Parton as the originator. Sure, the movie was shit, but it at least gave us this timeless song.

“Footloose” theme from Footloose (Kenny Loggins)

This is another song filled with 80s cheese, but it has a hook that’s hard to resist. The song, from the cheesy 80s film of the same name, ended up being Kenny Loggins’ most recognizable song, which is tough considering he released the equally popular “Danger Zone” for Top Gun. With its stark synth and memorable guitar riff it’s a track that’ll get you dancing even if you don’t want to. Guess that’s why it was a perfect fit for the movie. The tune was later covered by Blake Shelton for the laughable 2011 remake. Footloose may be a corny movie, but I’ll watch Kevin Bacon herkin’ and jerkin’ any day rather than the unnecessary remake.

“9 to 5” theme from 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton)

This song is from the successful film of the same name, which stars Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lilly Tomlin as three women sick of their dead-end jobs and getting even with their boss. The song follows a similar suit; it’s about someone getting ready for a job they hate and barely making it on minimum wage. It’s one of those songs everyone can relate to, especially women with the line about not getting a raise. It speaks to people forced to work at jobs they hate with people they can’t stand on a wage that’s barely keeping them afloat. It’s hard to stay down about your job when you hear Parton’s jolly vocals on this upbeat country pop tune.

Pet Semetary from Pet Sematary (The Ramones)

Who would’ve thought The Ramones recorded a movie theme? Stephen King is a big Ramones fan and he asked the band to be a part of the soundtrack. Story goes, he handed a copy of the Pet Semetary book to Dee Ramone, who took it and came back with lyrics an hour later. The song has several references to the movie, particularly the hook of “I don’t wanna be buried/in a pet sematary/I don’t want to live my life/again.” It’s a fun, somewhat spooky song, but not everyone was a fan. It received a Razzie nomination for Worst Original song in 1989. Despite this, the single turned out to be one of The Ramones’ biggest radio hits and help cement their crowns as punk rock kings.

“The Power of Love” theme from Back to the Future (Huey Lewis & The News)

Huey Lewis & The News actually recorded two songs for the Back to the Future soundtrack, but this one is the most memorable. It’s not one of those songs that describe the events of the movie. Rather it’s about how love is a powerful and awesome force that makes people do different things. Written specifically for the movie, it appears near the beginning when Marty skateboards to school. It’s a bright, upbeat track with an unmistakable synth riff you still can’t get out of your head. The song turned into another hit single for the band and even earned them an Oscar nomination. They lost of Lionel Riche’s “Say You, Say Me.” “Back in Time,” the second song the band wrote for the movie, is more related to the film but isn’t as catchy or memorable.

“Who’s That Girl?” theme from Who’s That Girl? (Madonna)

Madonna has given us terrible movies over the years, but they’ve at least produced hit singles. Though what is arguably the best Madonna song, “Get into the Groove” can be considered the theme for Desperately Seeking Susan, it wasn’t featured on the film’s soundtrack. This song was recorded for Madonna’s 1987 film of the same name. And yes, it’s fucking terrible. But the song is another party anthem for the singer. Using latin influences, she creates an irresistible groove. She even lays down the hook in decent Spanish, a culture she’s always admired. The reviews on the song were mixed, but it ended up being her sixth single to top the Billboard charts. It’s not her best so, but it’s fun and puts you in a good mood.

“Eye of the Tiger” theme from Rocky III (Survivor)

One of the most bad ass movie theme songs, “Eye of the Tiger” is made to pump you up and make you feel like you can do anything. It has that iconic shuffling riff and the hook that’s somehow stayed relevant for the past 34 years. Rocky himself Sylvester Stallone approached the band to write a theme for the movie after Queen denied use of “Another One Bites the Dust.” I love that song, but seriously? The disco groove doesn’t fit the story of a boxer trying to keep his glory. Since its release, this song can be found in training montages everywhere. It’s almost as popular as the Rocky theme. The next time you need a pep, put on this song and achieve greatness. Or at least try to get off the couch.

“My Heart Will Go On” theme from Titanic (Celine Dion)

I’m sorry, I had to do it! Yes, it’s that song no one could escape in the late 90s. Titanic was a huge movie upon release and this song overshadowed everything. Every time those opening notes fluttered people either turned up the volume or rolled their eyes. It hit number one across the world and subsequently became a hit for Celine Dion. It’s still regarded as one of her most successful songs. This song was everywhere and by the end of 1997, everyone was sick of it. Revisiting the track, it’s actually quite beautiful. Sure, it’s sappy as hell, but Dion’s voice is what makes it powerful and alive. Now that it’s not playing on the radio every single second, it’s not that bad. Though it does bring up questions about the whole Titanic phenomenon, like why turned a tragic event into a love story?

“Weird Science” theme from Weird Science (Oingo Boingo)

They just don’t make movie themes like this anymore. Performed by Oingo Boingo, featuring Danny Elfman, it’s one of the best and oddest themes from the 80s. Nothing in the film made sense and neither does this song, which is why it’s perfect. The music is blaring, a mix of rock, synth, and dance and Elfman’s vocals make him sound like a mad scientist. The lyrics recall using “voodoo dolls” and “electricity” to make the creation come alive like the boys did in the movie. It’s a fun, offbeat theme that brings on flashbacks of the movie. The song was also used as the theme for the Weird Science TV show. Wait, there was a show? Oh no.

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” theme from The Breakfast Club (Simple Minds)

Arguably Simple Minds’ biggest hit, this song earned its place in movie and music history by being the opening and closing theme for the iconic film The Breakfast Club. As soon as you hear the refrain of “Hey, hey, hey, hey!” an image of John Bender pumping his fist in the air springs to mind. It’s impossible to hear this song and not think of the John Hughes movie. The song was written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff and Simple Minds weren’t their first choice for singers. They offered the song to Annie Lennox, The Fixx, and The Pretenders who all turned it down. They eventually settled on Simple Minds, who needed some convincing since they didn’t want to perform songs they didn’t write. While the song is now considered a classic, the band still aren’t too keen on it. Vocalist Jim Kerr previously said he wanted to vomit every time he played it. Ouch.

“Maniac” theme from Flashdance (Michael Sembello)

Okay, so technically “What a Feeling…Flashdance” by Irene Cara is the theme for this 80s flick, but this song is more memorable. The song is best remembered for the montage sequence from the movie where Alex (Jennifer Beals) is training in the warehouse. The song has a simple, yet unforgettable hook along with an opening synth that’s so satisfying and memorable. The song was included on the Flashdance soundtrack accidentally. Sembello’s wife accidentally included it on a tape sent to executives at Paramount Pictures, who were looking for music at the time. The song also lives on in infamy since many believed it was originally written for the 1980 horror flick Maniac and Sembello changed the lyrics for its inclusion on Flashdance. Unfortunately, this is nothing but a myth.

There are way too many movie themes to include here, so which ones did I miss? What is your favorite movie theme? Let me know in the comments!

12 Creepy Moments from Non-horror Videos

Ever since the music video was born, there have been artists making clips that set out to get under your skin. These videos are often creepy, disturbing, and sometimes down right scary. But then there’s that group of videos that start out tame, making you think you’re in the safe zone. Out nowhere there’s one image or scene where things take an ugly turn whether it’d be scary or chilling. These videos aren’t horrific, but there’s one instance where things get batshit crazy. Here are 12 seemingly safe videos with creepy moments. Not all of the scenes are scary, but they’re weird, unsettling, or just unexpected.

12. “Heart & Soul” – Huey Lewis and the News

This Huey Lewis video starts out like any other from the 80s; in a club with ridiculous fashion choices. Lewis strides in talking about a woman who has caught his attention, along with the attention of everyone else in the club. Everyone’s dancing, Lewis is singing, and then without warning there’s a shot of a vampire waiter. No explanation. He makes an appearance and is gone again. He makes another brief return near the end when he’s sucking blood out of one of his victims. Okay, so the vampire isn’t scary, more like baffling. What was the point of having him there? It just doesn’t make any sense. It feels so random in this seemingly generic video.

11. “Rockit” – Herbie Hancock

There’s a lot going on that’s unsettling in this video, but I never considered any of it as intentional. It more seemed like one of those 80s videos taking advantage of new technology. Watching it again, there are a lot of scarring images from this video: disembodied legs walking around, faceless robots making jerky movements, and a weird bird snapping at the window. But the thing that’s worse than all of these are the mechanical bots with weird, fleshy like skin over their faces. They don’t do much in the video aside from slowly rotating their heads. It’s like they’re trying to disguise themselves as human and it’s disturbing. When that’s the most horrific thing in a weird video featuring creepy robots, you know something is wrong.

10. “Sweet Dream (Are Made of This)” – Eurythmics

This video already has some weird stuff going on, but the concept seems simple: Annie Lennox looks like a dictator as she points to a screen where a missile heads toward the earth. It seems as normal as a Eurythmics video could be until midway through. Lennox and Stewart appear in weird costumes and masks “playing” a cello outside and being generally creepy. Out of nowhere comes a close up of a cow, a cow that roams around for the rest of the video. The clip ends with them in a cow pasture for some reason. It may not be scary, but there’s something creepy and unexpected of seeing a cow close up wandering aimlessly. There’s something unsettling and weird about it, especially in a video that’s already strange.

9. “InBetween Days” – The Cure

Oh look, it’s The Cure being kind of goofing and actually looking happy. They all look like they’re having a good time with the upbeat music and – what the fuck is that?! With some clever glow in the dark make-up The Cure turns this lighthearted video into a nightmare. As Robert Smith is singing the second verse, his image is slowly replaced with another image of him in eerie green and blue make up. What we’re left with is a monstrous looking version of the singer. It’s so simple, but it’s made all the more terrifying with his head movements and his glowing red eyes. Then the video returns to normal as if nothing happened, making you question if it really happened. The Cure pulled a similar move in their video for “Boys Don’t Cry.” You gotta love a band that wants to creep out their fans.

8. “Oh Father” – Madonna

This beautiful black and white video is semi-autobiographical for the singer. It follows a little girl dealing with the death of her mother, while surviving her father’s rage. It’s somber as Madonna walks through a snowy cemetery and the little girl is constantly yelled at by her father. But the image that has stayed in my mind since I first saw the video at the tender age of 6 is the little girl’s mother in the coffin. When she steps up to give her a kiss, she see’s her mother’s lips sewn together. The image isn’t gruesome in any way, but it’s unsettling especially for someone who didn’t understand death or funerals. Madonna provided another unsettling image in her “Bedtime Story” video where she has mouths for eyes. Thanks for the nightmares, Madonna.

7. “Land of Confusion” – Genesis

Do I really need to explain what makes this one terrifying? The fucking puppets. It’s supposed to be a parody of current events of the 80’s along with the hot celebrities, but they all look like the result of an experiment gone horribly wrong. The keyboard player looks like a dehydrated Mick Jagger and Phil Collins looks like a giant potato. Everything about the video is horrible from how the puppets move to a scene where Puppet Regan drowns in his bed. The result is even worse when they put puppet heads on human bodies. And the scene with Regan slowly emerging from the water is nightmare material. I guess Genesis wanted to make their feelings clear about the president, but couldn’t they have done it in a less terrifying way?

6. “Puttin on the Ritz” – Taco

This one of those moments from the 80’s that makes you question people’s taste. The song was quite popular and the video is weird. The concept isn’t that bad; it’s Taco strolling through alleyways and downtown singing. But the video loses its mind near the end. There close ups of living mannequins singing and people in creepy old men masks. All the while Taco robotically sings and makes strained faces making him look like someone you shouldn’t trust. To make things worse the uncensored version has backup dancers tap dancing with Taco in blackface. It’s one of those moments that makes you question “did I just see that?” The video was horrible enough on its own. Why is this bit in there? It’s unsettling and baffling especially for a clip in the 80’s.

5. “Plug in Baby” – Muse

Videos from the 80’s aren’t the only ones that lure into a false sense of safety. Muse’s clip for “Plug in Baby” seems standard: the band performs the song mixed with footage of dead-eyed models. Classic rock star stuff. It’s until a brief shot of a pair of disembodied legs that you begin to question things. Eventually it’s revealed all the models aren’t human and have what look like tentacles or wires sticking out from their bodies. The pulsing effects on the tentacles are kind of cheesy, but it still gives you shivers when you see legs with only tentacles attached thrusting in the air. What the fuck, Muse.

4. “Self-Control” – Laura Branigan

Laura Branigan talks about the pleasures of the night in this weird clip. It starts out pretty sane with the singer walking through the streets and hitting up a night club. Along the way she spots a guy in a Phantom of the Opera mask, but that’s not what makes this video unsettling. He eventually takes her to a weird basement party where everyone is rubbing against each other wearing masquerade masks. Even that isn’t why the video is on the list. It’s when Branigan finds herself at home with these same people rubbing, caressing, and stroking her that it reaches uncomfortable levels. No matter how many times I see this video it always creeps me out. And yeah, it’s not particularly scary or anything like that, but something about their unnatural movements with those still, eerie masks makes this video horrid. Who thought this was a good idea?

3. “Wild Wild West” – Escape Club

This INXS wannabe video starts off with each of the members playing the song while faux Michael Hutchence gyrates in the corner. Seems like a standard bad 80’s video until the camera pans out shows disembodied legs and arms playing the tambourine. What makes it even worse is they’re connected making it look like one long body limb. It’s just fucking creepy looking. All they’re doing is clapping their hands and tapping their feet, but it looks obscene not attached to a body. It gets even worse when a pair of the legs tries to be scintillating by first rubbing on the singer and then rubbing on its own legs. Who let this monstrosity happen? It’s a video made to give you nightmares.

3. “Jeopardy” – Greg Kihn Band

A wedding day is the focus of this clip. We see Greg Kihn getting ready to get married and trying to get over his cold feet. Sounds pretty standard so far until Kihn looks around him and sees other couples literally joined together. One couple’s arms are fused together while another couple are like odd Siamese twins with a pulsing organ between them. Kihn tries to shake it off and is relieved to see his bride his normal. Until her face changes into a rotting skeleton and her jaw falls off. The rest of the video goes batshit crazy where the entire church turns into zombies and a disembodied tentacle tries to devour Kihn. It all turns out to be a dream and Kihn returns to reality. What is up with videos from the 80’s starting out sane and going nuts at the end? It’s like the director got high in the middle of filming and changed the script.

2. “Shock to the System” – Billy Idol

It’s hard to imagine anything scarier looking in this video aside from Billy Idol’s hairstyle but there is. After Idol gets beaten by the cops in a dystopian future, his body starts absorbing the electronic debris surrounding him. As if the image of wires being sucked into his hand wasn’t creepy enough, we then get a close up of Idol’s contorted face. He grimaces in pain as one eye steadily bulges out further and further from his face. Finally, it pops revealing itself to be a camera lens. Then Idol is transformed into a literal mechanical man full of gears and wires sticking out of him. The video itself may be confusing and laughable but the way Idol jerks and shakes with all those buts sticking out is disturbing. Who greenlit this idea?

1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

So, this may be cheating a little bit, but this video is too insane to not include. Every moment of this clip is batshit crazy. In the span of five minutes, you see ninjas, Cirque du Soleil dancers, football players, fencers, swimmers being splashed with water, rejects from Grease, and Bonnie Tyler fighting a wind machine. So much is happening in this video you think you’re prepared for anything. That is until Tyler runs into the possessed children’s choir with glowing eyes. The effects are pretty cheap by today’s standards, but that moment when a single boy flies towards the singer will make your heart jump. Why is this happening? This video makes absolutely no sense. It’s like they had a huge budget with no concept and said “Fuck it, it’ll look good in the end.” If I had to pick one video to represent the excess of the 80’s this would be it.

Honorable Mention:

“Talking In Your Sleep” – The Romantics

This video didn’t make the list because nothing really happens: the band walks around singing in what looks like a factory full of women sleeping upright. It’s weird, but nothing that creeps you out. But it gets an honorable mention because of singer Wally Palmer. Something about the way he attempts to dance to the music while having the same dead expression on his face is unsettling. It’s like he’s a robot pretending to be human and decided this is the way humans move and dance. It weirds me out every time, especially when he tries to make sensual (?) expressions.

Which one of these videos gives you nightmares? Is there a video I missed? Let me know in the comments!