Megadeth

Playlist: Rock Duets

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

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

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

“Love Interruption” – Jack White and Ruby Amanfu

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

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

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

“State of Shock” – Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger

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

“Good Times” – INXS and Jimmy Barnes

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

“Hunger Strike” – Temple of the Dog

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

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

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

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

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

“A Tout Le Monde” – Megadeth and Christina Scabbia

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

“Walk This Way” – Run DMC and Aerosmith

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

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

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

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

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

“Under Pressure” – Queen and David Bowie

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

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

Playlist: This is the End of the World

Even though Donald Trump is running for president, we made it another year without the world imploding. It wasn’t that long ago when people didn’t think we’d make it to 2016. Whether it was nuclear war, Y2K, the Mayaen calendar, or Judgement Day, people felt the world was going to come to an end sometime soon. Still, it remains a topic of interest, especially for musicians. Several of artists envision what the end of the world will actually look like and it’s usually pretty scary. Here are a handful of songs about the apocalypse to remind you that not everyone thought we’d make it this far.

“Apocalypse Please” – Muse

Muse are no strangers when dealing with the end of the world. Many of their songs and videos reference it, but this track from Absolution does it best. The music comes marching in and sounds like it’s crashing down on you. Everything sounds like damnation before anything has started. As always, Matt Bellamy sounds sweet as he sings such fateful lines like “And this is the end/the end/this is the end/of the world.” As the music swells and Bellamy keeps pounding on the keys, the vibe gets steadily dramatic counting down to the moment where everything disappears. If there was a soundtrack for the apocalypse, this would be the first track.

“London Calling” – The Clash

Perhaps their most popular song, The Clash maps out the nuclear apocalypse on this single where they reference hiding in cupboards, the ice age, an enclosing sun, and “nuclear error.” The title itself is a reference to the BBC World Services identification during World World II. According to Joe Strummer the song came about from the events of Three Mile Island, which left him concerned about the state of the future. The track is also about the disintegration of the band. During this time they struggled with high debt, no management, and inner band disagreements. This is where the line about “phony Beatlemaina” comes in; they felt the punk rock bubble would burst at the end of the 70s. Unfortunately, they were right.

“Last Day on Earth” – Marilyn Manson

Like most of Manson’s songs, this one probably isn’t as cut and dry as we think, but it does have a lot of references to the apocalypse. In the track Manson finally finds his love, yet realizes it’s too late since the world is about to end. Featured on the excellent Mechanical Animals, the song is one of his most somber, depressing, and sentimental. Listening to the slow, echoing guitar riff and the swelling music gives you this sense of hopelessness. It also makes you think how would you spend the last day on earth with your lover. Though it is one of his best songs in his catalog, it does leave you shaken and isolated.

“The Final Countdown” – Europe

Whether you love it or hate it this song is one of the most ridiculous and overblown of the 80s. And it’s so much fucking fun to listen to. That iconic synth riff you sing out loud, shouting “it’s the final countdown!,” and the simple hook all make for an unforgettable song. Even though it has a party vibe, it’s actually about leaving behind an Earth that’s spent and finding life on another planet. Frontman Joey Tempest described the song as being both optimistic and apocalyptic. It’s exciting to be starting life on a new planet, but also sad to leave Earth behind, especially if loved ones were still there. This is one song that won’t ever die and has now found new life in a hilarious Gieco commercial. Thanks for that, Europe.

“Babylon’s Burning” – W.A.S.P.

Frontman Blackie Lawless was heavily inspired by the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the book of revelations for the band’s fourteenth album. This imagery pops up all over this song with references to clopping hooves, the number of the beast, and pale riders making the vision of the end clear in your head. Lawless said he was inspired to write the song and the album during the 2008 financial meltdown. He says this song is “an overview of what we allow ourselves to become and the consequences that befall us for the poor choices we make.” Also note that Lawless is a born-again Christian, which have a lot to do with this song’s themes. Why is it that most shock rock artists get religious as they get older? Alice Cooper, anyone?

“It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – R.E.M.

This is probably the first song you thought of for this apocalyptic playlist. Sung in a rapid style where everything starts blending together, Michael Stipe claims everything is going pretty well even though he knows the world is ending. He offers a speedy rant on everything from Leonard Bernstein to overflow of the population. Inspiration for the song came from various sources, including Stipe’s dreams and what he saw while channel flipping. Despite it’s bleak title, the song is upbeat, energetic, and really catchy, which is why people love it so much. Even if you don’t like R.E.M. you at least know this song and probably even like trying to sing all the lyrics, even though it can be challenging.

“Fuck Armageddon…This is Hell” – Bad Religion

This punk band takes a different approach when it comes to the apocalypse. The lyrics reference the devout scorning others for being bad and hoping they can plead with God once the end finally comes. The band retort they don’t need to wait for Armageddon because the world they currently live in is hell alone. Violence, pollution, and hypocrisy are some of the reasons that make life so shitty according to Bad Religion. They end the song by proclaiming “Life is such a curse!” Bad Religion seem like they’ll be able to just shrug off the end of everything.

“Electric Funeral” – Black Sabbath

Apocalyptic themes can be found all over the band’s second album, but they come out strongest on this track. Ozzy sings about the destruction of homes, cities, and people all brought on by nuclear warefare. The images get pretty gruesome, especially during the bridge when the Prince of Darkness sings “Buildings crashing down to a cracking ground/Rivers turn to wood, ice melting to flood/Earth lies in death bed, clouds cry water dead/Tearing life away, here’s the burning pay.” If that wasn’t enough doom for you, the wavering wah-wah guitar riff itself sounds like it’s bringing on damnation. It may be bleak as hell, but it’s still one of Sabbath’s best songs.

“The Four Horsemen” – Metallica

If you couldn’t tell by now heavy metal and the apocalypse go together like spikes and leather. This track, originally written by former member Dave Mustaine, is all about the damnation, death, and misery that the four horsemen of apocalypse bring. Not only does it talk about the oncoming end of the world, it also deals a lot with the passage of time and how “you have been dying since the day you were born.” The origin of the song has an interesting history. Mustaine brought up the song to Hetfield under the original title “Mechanix.” Once he was fired, Metallica released the track under its current name. Mustaine also released the song under the original name and with different lyrics, but the music is very similar. Screw Guns N Roses. Anyone think Mustaine and Metallica should have a reunion?

“Countdown to Extinction” – Megadeth

Though this one doesn’t have strong apocalyptic themes, it still deals with the world coming to an end and it’s all our fault. The song was inspired by Mustaine’s concerns about the planet and environment. The title itself was ripped from a Time article speaking about the same issue. In the song, humans are referred to as an endangered species that is not only killing the planet, but also killing itself. The only thing left is to countdown how little time we have. What’s eerie about the song is it can still be applied today even more so than when it was written in 1992.

“2 Minutes to Midnight” – Iron Maiden

Is it a surprise Iron Maiden has a song dealing with impending doom? This popular Maiden track is more about the beginnings of nuclear war rather than Armageddon, but it’s still closely related. The title itself is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to countdown global catastrophe. The lyrics actually talk about how war is often romanticized. Even though we find it repulsive and awful, a part of us are fascinated by it as well. Since its release in 1984, it has become a fan favorite and a staple at their live shows. Maybe it’s because Bruce Dickinson makes the most awful topics sound kick ass with his soaring vocals.

“Gimme Shelter” – The Rolling Stones

This Rolling Stones classic is pretty bleak and grim. Written during the time of the Vietnam War, the song is about the chaos, violence, and destruction war brings about. Though it does have overarching themes related to war, Jagger himself says it’s an end of the world situation and looking at the lyrics shows you why.  Trying find shelter away from the murders and rape is closely tied to trying to find protection during the end. During the time of these events many people did feel like the world was coming to an end, so it makes sense. This song is a haunting reminder of the violence and destruction that divided the nation not long ago.

“The Sky is Fallin'” – Queens of the Stone Age

While there are some interpretations of the song out there that suggest the song is about something deeper and personal to frontman Josh Homme, you can’t deny the references to doomsday in the lyrics. The opening verse alone sounds like it’s about the sun crashing into the Earth and realizing how much of your life has been wasted: “The sky is falling, human race that we run/It left me crawling, staring straight at the sun/Only a moment I notice, every dog has his day/I paid attention, cost me so much to today.” Also, the phrase “the sky is falling” usually has apocalyptic notions attached to it. It’s a hypnotizing track full of swirling guitars and Homme’s sweet cooing vocals. That man can make any disaster sound good.

There are a ton of apocalyptic songs I didn’t include, so which ones are your favorite? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? – Megadeth

Release Year: 1986

Rating: 9/10

When they first started, Dave Mustaine wanted to make a band that was bigger and badder than Metallica. They got a hell of a good start with their fiery debut, but for their second effort they came out swinging. Everything sounds more sinister, more rotten, and more bad ass than before. This release is also responsible for one of their biggest hits that got them noticed by mainstream media. It’s still considered one of their best albums for good reason: it kicks so much ass.

When reviewing their debut, I noted how the band can take topics like love and turn them into something gruesome and heavy. They return to this topic on the opening track “Wake Up Dead.” The song doesn’t even give you time to get settled as the music comes rushing at you and Mustaine begins singing about not wanting to wake up his lover; he knows he’ll wake up dead. From there a blazing guitar solo takes over while Mustaine continues to sound sinister as he confesses to an affair. Then comes the shuffling beat during the bridge, but by the end things shift gears with the music being heavier and harsher than before. It’s a great track that takes a topic like cheating and shows how it can be deadly.

The Conjuring” launches straight into the supernatural side the LP with a riff that sounds like it’s bewitching the listener. There are several references to the occult, the devil, and black magic, but would you expect anything else when a song is about selling your soul to Lucifer and his advocate? This is another track with kick ass music that keeps building and eventually spirals out of control. No doubt about it “Peace Sells” is a stellar track from the album. The intense bass line pulls you in while the guitar riff flailing down the neck leaves you in awe. Even the chugging rhythm during the verses is enough to get your devil horns in the air. Meanwhile, Mustaine snarls and growls about his disapproval of the “American way” and is ready for a new type of society. By the end, the riff goes ballistic and starts bouncing all over the place until Mustaine lets out one final growl. It’s the band’s first foray into political themes, something they would continue well into their career.

Good Morning/Black Friday” opens with a somber instrumental making you feel like all hope is gone. After toying with your emotions, the music grows more intense and aggressive with guitar solos flying everywhere. As it keeps going the music and the energy speeds up and gets your heart racing to get your fists pumping in the air. The lyrics themselves are insane and violent with gruesome images of a mad man going on a killing spree, which actually reminds me of comic book character Evil Ernie. It’s another awesome song that shows the sheer power of Dave Mustaine.

The entire album sounds nearly flawless with every song bringing something else to the table. All the songs have kick ass music, the type that gets you head banging no matter where you are and the lyrics, along with Mustaine’s delivery, makes everything they talk about, whether it’s a trapped prisoner on “Devil’s Island” or exploring occult life like on “Bad Omen,” sound so deliciously evil. They even make covers sound good. Similar to their debut, the band presents their rendition of “I Ain’t Superstitious,” which fits in nicely with the other themes found on the album. While you can still hear the foundations of the original, the band really add their own thrash metal style to it, especially at the end when the music loses control.

Just as with their blazing debut, this album is kick ass. Not only is the music intense, aggressive, and what fans have come to know as classic Megadeth all the way, but it’s an important album for the thrash metal genre. It’s one of the best and most important albums in heavy metal in general. They not only set themselves from other thrash bands of the time, Mustaine proved they weren’t just another Metallica rip off.

Killing is My Business…and Business is Good! – Megadeth

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Release Year: 1985

Rating: 8/10

Over the years it’s been proven that Megadeth is an enduring band. They have since become one of the Big Four when it comes to metal. They have countless hits that new generations of metal fans are discovering for themselves. And to think it all began as a response to Dave Mustaine getting kicked out of Metallica. They have lots of notable albums, but their debut is still one of their strongest. Fueled by Dave’s fire and guitar skills, the record still sounds exciting and fresh today.

Things start out on the right foot with “Last Rites/Loved to Deth.” It opens with a striking, haunting classical piece that gives it a Gothic setting. The mood is very ominous until the shredding guitars take over. From there, the music grows frantic and chaotic as Mustaine shreds so hard you’d think his hands are on fire. What really stands out in this song were the lyrics. It seems to talk about the death of a loved one, which you don’t find much in metal. Of course the topic grows darker as Mustaine implies he was responsible for her death: “If I can’t have you/Than no one will/And since I won’t/I’ll have to kill.” He continues to sound vicious up until the subtle ending where we find out his lover didn’t make it to heaven after all. It’s a great track that has a cool dynamic between the music and the lyrics.

Another notable song from the album is “Killing is My Business…and Business is Good!” Like most of the music here, it begins with a heavy, chugging rhythm that suddenly gets frantic at a paranoid pace. Mustaine shows off his sinister, conniving side as he talks about being a hitman and loving what he does. The best part comes when he reveals his plans to take the money and kill the employer too. It’s another unique topic the band wasn’t afraid to tackle. “The Skull Beneath the Skin” has a darker tone to the music made downright unsettling thanks to Dave’s howl during the intro. He also shows off his shredding skills as the guitars sound vicious and full of venom. Again, the lyrics are worth looking at because they are so gruesome: “Help me/Prepare the patients scalp/To peel away/Metal caps his ears/He’ll hear not what we say/Solid steel visor/Riveted cross his eyes/Iron staples close his jaws.” Lines like these provide eerie vivid images of the bloody event.

Interestingly enough, the album includes a thrash cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking.” Though the original songwriter didn’t care for it, the band actually does a pretty good job with the song, especially since they know how to make it their own. They give the song some new life and excitement making it more appealing for different generations. A decent song, but the least inspired one is “Rattle Head.” The music here is standard thrash all the way, unlike their later material. This one is about simply banging your head to some kick ass metal, specially to Megadeth. It’s not a bad song, but the least interesting one of the album. The same issue plagues “The Chosen Ones,” which has impressive guitar playing, but little else.

Things take a slightly different turn on “Looking Down the Cross.” A slow, menacing riff introduces the song. This riff gets stronger as it slowly builds up. The music isn’t as crazy here, rather it sounds like someone’s unfortunate damnation. This another track with brutal, violent images in the lyrics, but this time they seem to be describing the crucifixion of Christ: “Down the walkways/Through the blood stained town/Looking down the cross/Bleeding from the crown/Led to stay/To die besides the thieves.” Everything from the dark music to the vivid lyrics paints a bleak and hopeless mood for the listener. On this track, music and lyrics come together perfectly to create the dark, despairing setting to put the listener on edge.

Overall, the album gets 8/10. Almost 30 years later and this debut sounds as vicious as ever. Though not every song is notable, they’re still filled with Mustaine’s guitar skills and knack for songwriting. The gruesome visuals, blazing riffs, and anguished howls all come together to make one brutal album. Megadeth was willing to go where other metal bands didn’t dare to at the time, which made their songs unique. It’s a heavy metal classic that all fans should check out.