Metallica

Playlist: Vampires, and Monsters, and Ghosts, Oh My!

It’s my favorite time of year, Halloween! Keep the lights on and don’t look behind you, things are about to get spooky. This is the time that belongs to the creatures of the night that stalk their prey. Or maybe they just want some free candy, you never know. To get you in the mood for All Hallows Eve, here are some songs about our favorite hideous monsters.

“I Was a Teenage Werewolf” – The Cramps

Not all monsters are inherently bad. Some are just misunderstood. This Cramps song, based on the 1957 horror movie of the same name, talks about a young werewolf with his own problems. Like all good monsters, he doesn’t want to kill people, but he can’t help it. Throughout the song, he begs for someone to stop him and even pleads to “stop this pain” by the end of the song. It’s a slow-burning, rockabilly romp that reminds us no matter if you’re human or not, being a teenager sucks.

“Return of the Phantom Stranger” – Rob Zombie

A Halloween playlist isn’t complete without a Rob Zombie song. On this track from Hellbilly Deluxe, Zombie describes the goings-on of a mysterious creature only known as the Phantom Stranger. With Zombie’s low growl delivering the vocals and the lyrics mentioning a “shape-shifting” creature with a “wretched heart” that stalks throughout the night, it perfectly sets up a creepy tone. By the song’s end, you still don’t know what the Phantom Stranger is, but you know you don’t want to run into it. For more spooky times with Rob Zombie, check out “How To Make a Monster.”

“Would You Love a Monster Man?” – Lordi

This track by Finnish rock band Lordi doesn’t deny the horribleness of the monster in question. Instead, they ask is it possible for him to find love? Showing us another side of monsters, this creature just wants someone by his side as he terrorizes those around him. The track rages ahead assuring us that loving said monster isn’t a crime even though he readily admits he’ll kill just for the thrill of it.

“We Bite” – The Misfits

Seminal punk band The Misfits are unapologetic on this violent track. In under two minutes, the band screams about rampaging through the streets looking to rip out throats of the innocent. It’s unknown whether these are starving vampires or horrific creatures out for blood. Even though the song constantly repeats “I rip your throat/I drink your blood” it manages to be gruesome with the ferocity and brutal nature of the track. Then again it’s The Misfits; we wouldn’t expect anything less from them.

“Here Comes the Bride (The Bride of Frankenstein)” – Elvira

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, has been a staple in all things horror since the creation of the character back in 1981. She’s done movies, comics, and even music. And her songs are wonderfully weird and cheesy. On this track from the 1994 collection, Elvira Presents Monster Hits, the Mistress of the Dark “sings” about the Bride of Frankenstein in all her horrible glory. The lyrics are corny with mention of her green pallor, stitched together body parts, and ghoulish nature while a gang cheerfully sings “Here comes the bride!” To make things cringy the song ends with a lame Shaft reference: “The Bride of Frankenstein! DUUUH!!/He’s one bad muther f-/(Shut your mouth)/Well I’m just talkin’ about Frankenstein.” It’s by no means a good song, but it’s hilariously entertaining.

“Bark At the Moon” – Ozzy Osbourne

This classic Ozzy track follows a creature, most likely a werewolf, as it terrorizes through town. The song tells the story of a creature the townspeople thought they got rid of when they buried him. He returns for vengeance and sets about causing chaos. It’s the perfect Halloween track that has a hilariously cheesy video to go with it. The clip depicts Ozzy as Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde drinking a mysterious potion and transforming into a werewolf. Looking at it now it seems silly that anyone would think it’s scary or that Ozzy is actually evil. It looks like a cheap b-horror movie you watch for laughs.

“We Suck Young Blood” – Radiohead

A truly haunting song, it’s not actually about vampires. Apparently, it’s about the exploitation of Hollywood and how they suck the life out of young talent. Still, with the macabre lyrics, chilling music, and shivering vocals it could easily be applied to the creatures of the night. Yorke sounds vulnerable yet creepy as he sings “Are you sweet?/Are you fresh?/Are you strung up by the wrists?/We want the young blood.” And the moody piano melody is ripped from a Gothic film. The song never has to get violent or gruesome to depict the horror of what’s going on.

“Release the Bats” – The Birthday Party

Serving as an influence on the then-emerging Goth scene, this track makes vampires seem cool and sexy. With a rockabilly swing, Nick Cave sings about a lady who doesn’t mind being bitten. She even hopes “those bats would bite.” Cave sounds delirious, yet thrilled as he screams “Release the bats! Release the bats” hoping vampires will come party with him. Cave and co thought vampires were cool long before Stephanie Meyers clumsily cashed in on the trend.

“Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon

This classic rock track is surprisingly upbeat for a song about a werewolf on the loose. The lyrics follow a werewolf through the streets of London where he mutilates an old woman. But he also seems pretty mundane drinking Pina Coladas and searching for some good Chinese food. The song acts more of a warning saying when you hear him howling, you better stay away. And, as you would expect, the chorus features a bunch of howling. It’s one of Warren Zevon”s most well-known hits that started out as a joke.

“Night of the Vampire” – Roky Erickson

With a gloomy demeanor and a slow-burning guitar riff, this song was made for Halloween. There’s nothing creepy or gruesome about the track, but it gives off this sinister vibe. As Erickson sings about slipping in blood and painful vampire bites, you picture dead spooky forests covered in fog and a hooded figure in the distance. In 1997, Swedish death metal band Entombed covered the track for their self-titled EP. They put their gritty, hard edge spin on it, but the original reigns supreme.

“The Thing that Should Not Be” – Metallica

Leave it to Metallica to tackle one of horror’s most terrifying creatures: Cthulhu. In a mass of crunching guitars and intense percussion, James Hetfield describes the beast as lurking beneath the ocean waiting to cause destruction. Just staring at the creature will drive you insane as they point out in the song. The band references H.P. Lovecraft’s story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” specifically. This wouldn’t be the only time Metallica has written about the great beast. They also spoke of the beast in Ride the Lightning‘s “Call of Ktulu.” Clearly, they’re big fans of the monster.

“Black Sabbath” – Black Sabbath

This song has already been featured on other Halloween playlists, but it fits right in. Its tolling church bells, Ozzy’s wailing, and the overall sense of doom make it an eerie song. While it may not be about one ghost, in particular, it’s based on an experience Geezer Butler had during the early days of the band. He woke up in the middle of the night and saw a spirit at the end of his bed. Whether it was real or just drugs, the image makes you shudder just thinking about it.

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

Advertisements

Metallica (The Black Album) – Metallica

Release Year: 1991

Rating: 9.5/10

By the late 80s, Metallica was one of the most successful thrash metal bands on the scene. With Master of Puppets being one of their bestselling albums, no one thought they could top it. Then the Black Album happened. This is the record that launched the band from thrash cult heroes to heavy metal superstars. Not only was it met with critical acclaim, there was also backlash and anger. But whatever your feelings are on the album you can’t deny how it’s changed both the band and heavy metal.

But before we get into what makes the album so different, we have to talk about “Enter Sandman,” still one of Metallica’s best songs. Everything about it is a beast from James Hetfield’s singing to the iconic guitar riff. Thanks to its memorable chorus and more rock oriented sound, the song caught a commercial following, which sparked many to cry “sell outs.” But you can’t deny how fucking awesome the song is. It starts with the sparse riff while the rest of the music builds up around it, leaving listeners anticipating for the big explosion. And when it happens it’s so satisfying. The lyrics are also notable as they take sleep, which is supposed to be comforting, and turn it into a nightmare. Even the sandman, who is supposed to an innocent fairy tale, turns into a monster you don’t want to meet. It’s not only one of the band’s best songs, it’s one of the best heavy metal songs ever.

Prior to this record, the band was known for playing fast and having extended solos. For this release, they slow things down. “Sad But True” is still a ferocious, intense track, but compared to their past efforts it’s pretty slow. The guitars grind along while the rest of the music is sludgy. The same goes for the anthemic “Wherever I May Roam.” It starts what sounds like a sitar setting this ominous air before being taken over by guitars building on top of one another. Things finally speed up only to slow down again when James Hetfield growls”…and the road becomes my bride.” But perhaps the biggest change comes in all the ballads on the album.

The band previously tackled ballads with songs like “One” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” but they’re completely redone here. The somber “The Unforgiven” features soft vocals from Hetfield as if he’s singing from a broken place. And while there are moments where the music gets heavy during the verses, much of it sounds like light classical guitar playing. It’s almost…pretty, which you don’t expect from a Metallica song. But the most genre defying song on the record is the heartbreaking “Nothing Else Matters.” By incorporating stringed instruments and an orchestral sound, Metallica were taking a giant risk with this track. Even the guitars are light sounding like something from a lullaby. With these two unlikely genres successfully coming together, there’s a dramatic vibe that grows as the song continues. It’s a sentimental track about Hetfield missing his girlfriend that he never intended to release publicly. Right from the line “never opened myself this way” you know Hetfield is speaking from somewhere private and personal. Thankfully Lars Ulrich got Hetfield to change his mind about the song; it’s a stand out track on an already stellar album.

Not only is the album notable for its shift in music, it’s also their most personal. For many of the songs, Hetfield and Ulrich turned inward for inspiration. There’s the aforementioned “Nothing Else Matters” about missing a loved one, but there’s also the brutal track “The God That Failed.” The song is already intense and heavy with Hetfield’s vocal delivery and the music, but the song gets even darker when its story is revealed. The song is about Hetfield’s mother dying of cancer and not seeking medical relief due to her Christian Science beliefs. Suddenly, his anger and spitfire venom makes sense. He’s criticizing a religious system and how it wasn’t there for her in the end though she devoted her life to it. This gives the aggressive track a deeper meaning, yet is still depressing giving listeners insight to what the frontman was going through at the time. It’s a powerful track both musically and lyrically.

Even though this album shows Metallica heading in a different musical direction, there are still some elements of thrash metal here. “Through the Never” starts with guitars that race out of the gate and dares listeners to keep up with them. Everything about the song is heart pumping and in your face, which is often when Metallica are at their best. “The Struggle Within” follows a similar route with speeding guitars and lots of energy. It ends the album on a fiery note as if to say the band hasn’t forgotten where they came from.

There’s no question Metallica changed with this album and some would say for the worse looking at their output after this release. Yet, it’s still an amazing record that showed Metallica could do more than just play fast and loud. They may have moved away from their thrash roots, but they expanded both as songwriters and musicians. And they did a damn good job of it. Every song on the record feels like it has a purpose. Even if its a ballad, it still has the intensity and fire that made them so viscous. They were still angry, but they were also vulnerable and wounded something we rarely saw before. They grew as musicians, took risks, and made an album they were happy with. Looking back at it, the changes they made no longer seem drastic. Many metal bands vary their sound and it seems Metallica paved the way for that. No matter your feelings about the album, it’s still one of the best in metal history.

13 Musician Cameos on Cartoon Shows

Musicians have a way of popping up in the most unexpected places. Whether it’s on your favorite TV show, a video game, or even your grocery store. They even invade the world of cartoons. While some artists had their own cartoons, others felt a brief appearance was good enough for them. And as you would expect most of them turned to The Simpsons for their cameos. But others have graced different cartoons both kid and adult oriented. These aren’t necessarily the best or worst cartoon cameos from musicians. Rather these are just 13 interesting or unexpected cartoons celebrities have guest starred in.

13. B2K on Static Shock

Does anyone remember this show? For the fourth episode of the last season, Virgil Hawkins AKA Static Shock, takes his love interest Daisy to the B2K concert. The boys don’t have too much time on stage since rival Eddie uses his powers to kidnap Daisy. The clip is pretty lame. Ten seconds of their song “Pretty Young Thing” plays and it seems none of the animators actually knew what the band looked like since the cartoons don’t resemble them in the slightest. It also has some of the laziest animation for a newer show. Them appearing in the show is pointless and is hardly memorable.

12. Jay-Z on Secret Millionaires Club

Again, has anyone heard of this show? Premiering on the Hub Network and available as a webseries, the Secret Millionaires Club follows Warren Buffet as a secret mentor to a group of kids interested in business. As with any cheesy kids cartoon they learn several life lessons along the way. On the episode “Be Cool to your School” the kids get to meet Jay-Z, who clearly did his lines in one take. His appearance is brief and his delivery is flat out lazy. Sentences run together and he can barely muster any enthusiasm even as he’s congratulating the kids for helping their school. His cameo is just about as lame as the show is.

11. James Hetfield on American Dad

metallica-james-hetfield-american-dad

This was one appearance that many didn’t know about until it happened. On the episode “The Life Aquatic with Steve Smith,” Hetfield makes an appearance as a water polo coach named James Hetfield. The joke of his appearance is even though he looks and sounds like the metal star, he claims he’s not THAT Hetfield from Metallica. He makes several references to the band and clips of their songs play throughout the episode. There’s not much to it, but him constantly denying being in Metallica is pretty funny and it’s cool that Hetfield has a sense of humor to do something like this.

10. Sonny and Cher on The New Scooby-Doo Movies

There were a number of special guests on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, like the Three Stooges and Mama Cass. I actually used to like the series as a kid, even though it’s horribly cheesy. For the episode “The Secret of Shark Island,” Sonny and Cher are on their honeymoon when they run into the Mystery gang at a run down beach resort. Blah blah blah, guys dressed in shark suits, blah blah blah meddling kids. You get the idea. Like most Scooby-Doo cameos, this one is pretty dull. Sonny and Cher don’t sound excited at all to be reading their lines. Cher doesn’t even sound like herself. It’s cheesy as hell, but then again what do you expect from Scooby-Doo? Also, why is Sonny dressed up like Santa Claus?

9. Eminem on Family Guy

Family Guy has poked fun at Eminem a few times, but the rapper actually made an appearance in 2009 to promote his then new album Relapse. Though he wasn’t in an episode, he appeared alongside Stewie Griffin during Fox’s Animation Domination block between commercial breaks. There’s one point where the rapper asks Stewie “Are you a gay baby?” to which he replies “We’re just trying to have fun here.” This isn’t the first time the rapper has been animated. Back in 2001, a webseries starring an animated Eminem popped up called The Slim Shady Show. It was actually produced by the rapper and after making waves online all episodes were released on DVD. It’s a weird show starring Slim Shady featuring the infamous Ken Kaniff. It’s like a weird South Park spoof. If you want to experience the weirdness for yourself check out episodes on Youtube.

8. Snoop Dogg on Sanjay and Craig

Remember the days of gangsta rap when Snoop Dogg was considered threatening? Now, Snoop’s more lighthearted and pokes fun at himself. He’s made several absurd cameo appearances on shows and commercials, but the oddest has to be him guest starring on an episode of Sanjay and Craig. Even though he plays a character named Street Dogg, he’s pretty much playing himself. Street Dogg moves to Sanjay’s block to escape from the celebrity lifestyle. And yes, Snoop does rap in the episode. The rest of the episode is focused on Samjay and Craig trying to reunite Street Dogg with his group Remington Tufflips. It’s kind of weird, but seems pretty normal for the rapper these days. I mean he’s narrating clips of wildlife footage now. He can pretty much do anything.

7. Andrew WK on Uncle Grandpa

Uncle Grandpa is one of those weird shows that tries to capitalize on the success of Regular Show and Adventure Time. It’s pretty strange, but did you ever expect Mr. Party himself Andrew WK to make an appearance? After Pizza Steve declares he’s bored out of his mind, an electrical surge turns on the TV with an ad from WK himself talking about his party line. It’s a pretty cute cameo since it looks just like him equipped with long hair and white t-shirt. Though you have to wonder how many kids actually know who Andrew WK is.

6. Milli Vanilli on The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3

Apparently Milli Vanilli were so popular they felt it was necessary to appear on the excellent show The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3. The episode “Kootie Pie Rocks” revolves around the Koopa King kidnapping the band and forcing them to play for Kootie Pie. The entire thing is bonkers. Milli Vanilli sound stilted and unsure of every line they’re saying. They somehow manage to sound like a dub of themselves. And Milli Vanilli? Seriously? Their two biggest singles are featured throughout the cartoon. But what’s funny is when Kootie Pie demands they play for her, the two claim they can’t without a band. Art imitating life, right? The whole thing is just bizarre and something that can only happen in the 90s. It’s almost as bad as giving New Kids on the Block their own cartoon series. Oh wait…

5. “Weird Al” on Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Okay, pay attention because things are going to get confusing. “Weird Al” Yankovic made an appearance on the 25th episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold titled “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!” The second segment is based on the original Scooby-Doo and Batman crossovers seen on The New Scooby-Doo movies. Still following? Bat-Mite sets up the story and then we see Scooby and the gang attending a “Weird Al” gig. Things are cut short by the Joker and Penguin. Batman and Robin step in to save the crew. Wackiness ensues and things get campy as you would expect. Once the two are defeated “Weird Al” comes back and decides to celebrate with “a polka.” It’s one of those things you watch and wonder “what the hell just happened?” It’s a cute way to poke fun at the campy Scooby-Doo cartoons loaded with guests stars, but it’s still really strange.

4. Backstreet Boys on Arthur

During its now 20 year run, Arthur has had an impressive number of celebrity cameos for a kid’s show. But one of the biggest episodes occurred when the Backstreet Boys made an appearance. The story revolves around Muffy preparing to see the boys in concert while Francine starts her own band since BSB are “sell outs.” The band then gets popular and Francine doesn’t know how to handle the new found fame. The boys pop up several times in the episode most notably in a fantasy sequence when Muffy creepily dreams about being with Nick Carter. She even traps him in an elevator before their big concert. Sure, the premise is weird, but it’s cute to see BSB transformed into rabbits and bears. Plus, they even re-did the theme song for the show. If you want another cool boyband cartoon appearance, check out Nsync on The Simpsons.

3. Marilyn Manson on Clone High

Does anyone remember Clone High? Before this clip I’ve never heard of the show, but it was an animated show about a gang of high school students who are actually clones of famous historians, like Joan of Arc and JFK. It premiered on MTV in 2003, but was eventually removed due to poor ratings. In the second episode titled “Episode Two: Election Blu-Galoo” Marilyn Manson makes an appearance as a rock star and “licensed doctor.” He takes a moment to sing a song about the importance of the food pyramid. It sounds like something you’d expect to hear on kids programs like Arthur until Manson shouts “Die!” and turns into a hellspawn. It’s a hilarious clip that captures Manson in a different, cuddly persona.

2. Robert Smith on South Park

Matt Stone and Trey Parker aren’t shy about poking fun at celebrities, usually ones they don’t like. But for this season one episode they actually scored a cameo appearance from Robert Smith, who they’re huge fans of. Smith comes in to help defeat Mecha-Streisand from destroying South Park. How does he do this? He turns into Mothra, complete with wild hair and white gym shoes, unleashes an ear shattering screech, and punches her in the nose. With Streisand successfully defeated Stan says “Robert Smith is the greatest person that ever lived” and Jesus calls him a “savior.” It’s bizarre that Smith actually agreed to the cameo. He said he was sent the script and recorded his lines knowing nothing about the plot. It’s one of the most absurd and awesome moments from South Park.

1. The Ramones and Michael Jackson on The Simpsons

The Simpsons have had so many guests stars there are entire lists dedicated to them. Over the years, numerous bands have visited Springfield, such as REM, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, The White Stripes, and Judas Priest to name a few. It’s really hard to choose which one is best of them all, but the two that are the most memorable are The Ramones and Michael Jackson. Both artists seem unlikely to make cameo appearances on a popular show, yet it happened. The Ramones played at Mr. Burns birthday party on the episode “Rosebud.” They end their song with “Go to Hell you old bastard” leaving Mr. burns visibly shaken. Backstage, Tommy Ramone remarks, “Hey I think they liked us” while Mr. Burns says “Have the Rolling Stones killed.”

The episode “Stark Raving Dad” features Michael Jackson as a mental patient who believes he’s Michael Jackson. It’s confusing, especially since Jackson was not credited at the end and hired a impersonator to take over any singing duties. It’s a weird clip, but it’s one of the most memorable Simpson’s episodes of all time.

Which cameo is your favorite? There’s gotta be some I missed, so let me know which ones in the comments!

Playlist: Best Grammy Award Performances

It’s almost time for the Grammys again, which means lots of snubs, disappointments, questionable moments, and Adele. That’s why everyone is going to watch, right? The award ceremony has been panned for the past couple of years for being bland and boring, but along with its low moments are tons of high moments. It’s still known for some of the most iconic and memorable performances in music. So before we start predicting when exactly Kanye is going to crash the stage, lets look back on some of the best performances from the Grammys.

“Stan” – Eminem & Elton John (2001)

Though Eminem made a joke about the Grammys in his song “The Real Slim Shady,” he’s been no stranger to them since his massive album The Marshall Mathers LP. This is the time when the rapper was most controversial garnering the anger of groups like GLAAD, who claimed he was homophobic. To shut up his critics once and for all, Eminem delivered a powerful performance of “Stan” with Elton John singing the chorus. At the song’s end, the two embraced and held hands in a victory pose. It’s not only one of the best Grammy moments of all time, but one of the best Eminem moments ever.

“American Idiot” – Green Day (2005)

Eyeliner, creepers, red ties, and lots of pyro. American Idiot era Green Day was on the rise thanks to their massive concept album. Not only was it a big winner at the 2005 Grammys, they also delivered a performance of the title track that was unforgettable. Instead of being cut and dry, the band brought their snotty attitude, slaying guitars, and their love of fire with them. As usual the band sounded great and wowed the crowd with fire shooting up at all the right moments. The band made sure to light a fire under the asses of the stiff academy. This is just one of a number of amazing performances from the year of American Idiot.

“The Way You Make Me Feel/Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson (1988)

Michael Jackson didn’t grace award show stages that much during his life, but whenever he did it brought the fucking house down. This 1988 performance starts out pretty standard: Jackson blows away the crowd with his dancing and singing. But it’s not until we get to “Man in the Mirror” where the show really starts. As he continues to sing, he gets more into the song until he’s falling on his knees, near tears, demanding everyone to “make that change.” The best part are the last five minutes where he seems to go off the record and just feels the music and gets everyone to stand up. He’s possessed by the song as he spins and collapses while a choir backs him up. It’s one of those moments that’s so stunning you remain quiet during the whole thing.  It shows why there will never be another performer with the fire, passion, and moves like Jackson.

“Where It’s At” – Beck (1997)

There’s always one year where Beck sweeps the award shows and makes some people question “Who the hell is Beck?” During the 1997 Grammys, he performed his hit single “Where It’s At” from Odeley, which was up for several awards that night. The thing that makes the performance so great is Beck’s unbridled energy. He has all the moves and swagger of a rapper and even pulls some awkward, yet entertaining dance moves at the end. His monotone vocals matched with his wild movements makes Beck hypnotizing to watch on stage. It ends on a high note, literally with Beck pulling off some scratchy falsetto. After the performance he won a Grammy for Best Rock Male Vocal. And similar to last year’s ceremony, many were left wondering who the hell this guy was.

“Runaway” – Bruno Mars (2012)

I wouldn’t call myself a huge Bruno Mars fan, but his performance from the 2012 Grammys blew me away. Is it his upbeat energy? Yes. Is it his style? Yes. Is it him commanding people to get off their “rich asses?” Yes. He sounds great and pulls off some awesome dance moves, but what makes this performance so memorable is the set up. It looks like an old school soul performance complete with matching gold suits, Temptation style dance moves, and Bruno’s pompadour with some added James Brown for flavor. He’s such a charismatic performer that he makes any award shows, or Super Bowl, exciting.

“I Put a Spell on You” – Annie Lennox & Hozier (2015)

What started out as a performance from Hozier featuring Annie Lennox turned into the Eurythmics singer taking over the stage. She came out to join Hozier on “Take Me to Church,” but as soon as she started “I Put A Spell on You” everyone forgot he was on stage. Her soulful delivery is powerful and she commands the stage while singing and swinging her hips. All Hozier could do and stand back and nervously smile. The way she belted out those notes gave you chills. It was so amazing it’s all people could talk about the next day. Sorry, Hozier. Good try, though.

“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston (1994)

At the 36th Grammys Whitney Houston blew everyone away this performance of her hit single “I Will Always Love You.” She starts out by performing the first verse acapella, which is enough to stir you. She really gets in her element when the music starts up and she continues singing in her elegant white gown. The best is when the drum pounds and she holds the note while she sings the chorus one more time. Watching it again over 20 years later, it still gives you goosebumps when she hits that note. It’s a reminder of what a wonderful performer Houston was and a sad reminder of what we’ve lost.

“One” – Metallica (1989)

Everyone knows the story of Metallica losing the Best Heavy Metal album to Jethro Tull in 1989. Though they didn’t win, and yeah they should’ve of, they delivered a blazing performance of “One” from their …And Justice for All album. Things start out kind of shaky with the vocals, once the band gets in the groove of things, they take over the stage and set fire to the Grammys. The performance is intense, brutal, and heavy as if reminding the committee why they should’ve won in the first place. Luckily, the academy realized they were wrong and gave the band best Metal Performance for the same song the following year. The band revisited the song at the 2014 ceremony with pianist Land Lang accompanying them.

“Feel Good Inc/Hung Up” – Madonna & Gorillaz (2006)

Madonna and Gorillaz seems like a collaboration that would never happen, but oddly enough it works. This performance features the animated band as 3D holograms singing, gyrating, and looking bored in general. When De La Soul comes out 2-D checks his phone while leaning on the mic. Then Madonna pops up on screen, also a hologram, and teases the band. After that she appears on stage in the purple leotard first seen in the “Hung Up” video. The entire performance is fun, innovative, creative, and unforgettable. Though Madonna’s rendition of “Living for Love” was also good, this one is more memorable and creative.

“Rolling in the Deep” – Adele (2012)

You knew she was going to pop up here sooner or later. The performance is simple; no fancy effects, tricks, or collaborations. Just Adele, her singers, and her band. Her voice is so powerful and beautiful, you can close your eyes and let it wash over you. Even if you don’t play her heartbreaking songs on repeat after seeing this performance you had to acknowledge that she’s one of the best modern singers. There are plenty of people who can’t wait to see what the singer will do at this year’s ceremony. Actually, it’s probably the only reason anyone will tune in.

“Glitter in the Air” – Pink (2010)

When Pink came out on stage to perform “Glitter in the Air” no one at home or in the crowd expected to see her twirling through the air. She comes out in a hooded shroud, looking beautiful and elegant. Just when you think she’s going to stand there and sing, she reveals a nude leotard and joins a group of aerial acrobats that lift her in the air. She strikes various poses and even pulls off an impressive spin and she’s still singing. She never misses a beat. By the end everyone was stunned and in awe. It’s a trick she’s pulled off a few more times for later Grammy performances, but no one will ever forget the first time she did it here.

“Seven Nation Army/Death Letter” – The White Stripes (2004)

The White Stripes managed to make a lot of noise at the 2004 ceremony. The performance starts out with the popular “Seven Nation Army,” but ends with a chaotic seizure educing rendition of “Death Letter.” It’s here where Jack White lets loose and plays with fire and fury. He stumbles around the stage, motion towards Meg White, and ends the song with a unchained solo. The performance is also great due to the weird introduction by Beck who references “Children of God” before introducing the duo. Well, it is Beck after all.

“La Copa de la Vida (Cup of Life)” – Ricky Martin (1999)

This performance will forever be burned in my memory. Why? Because my mom and I were glued to the screen, wondering who this hot new guy was and how fast could we get his album. Ricky Martin was at the forefront of the Latin explosion of the late 90s. He cemented his popularity at the time with this performance at the 41st Grammy Awards. After this performance aired, Martin was a household name and everyone wanted to live “la vida loca.” Sorry, I had to.

“Lady Marmalade” – Pink, Christina Aguilera, Mya, Lil’ Kim ft. Missy Elliot & Patti LaBelle (2002)

It was hard to escape this song in the early 2000s and though the group of ladies performed the song at various award shows throughout the year, this one is the best. All of the singers sound on point and Aguilera finally shed the gigantic poodle wig she was obsessed with. What made this performance so memorable from the others, is the original Lady Marmalade, Patti LaBelle, joined the group on stage. While she didn’t get to sing much she did enough to show she still had the chops and even though this cover was pretty good, nothing could outshine the original.

Which Grammy performance is your favorite? Is there one that I missed? Let me know in the comments.

 

Mini Music Movie Review: Downloaded (2013)

By now most people know the Napster story: people shared music for free, Metallica whined about it, and it got shut down. But this documentary goes deeper into the story of the infamous company, how it got started, and what lead to its downfall. And what you learn is how the media only provided the surface of the tale. There were so many more details and arguments most of the public didn’t get to see. They were concerned with setting up a villain and a hero. Of course, Napster was the villain. This film provides information from the creator, Shawn Fanning, people who were part of the company and lawsuit. What’s great about it is it presents all sides of the story and never feels like it’s trying to convince you Napster good, record companies bad.

Whether you think Napster’s instincts were good or bad the documentary gives the back story about how it started and what its original intentions were. While so many who were against the company felt it was all about getting music for free, the creators felt it was about creating a sense of community and sharing cool music with others who were passionate about it, similar to the views about pirating today. It was just two college kids who were savvy enough to create the program.

Not only are the main players in the rise and fall of Napster interviewed, there’s tons of news footage from the late 90s talking about the controversy. The best clips feature Trent Reznor, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Spice Girls sharing their thoughts about Napster. The best part of course when Metallica comes into the story. It’s interesting to hear the different opinions on the software. Some thought it meant the death of music industry (though it wasn’t) while others thought it was a great way to get their music spreading. Depending on your stance on file sharing some of the arguments made against Napster are fucking hilarious and make it clear a lot of it was a generation of people not understanding the technology. There is also courtroom footage from the initial hearings where you can hear the final nail in the coffin.

Throughout you actually feel pretty bad for Fanning. Just imagine the amount of stress he was under when the RIAA started knocking and at only 19 years old. And you thought worrying about final term papers was a nightmare. A bit of this felt a bit manipulated since there was a random section providing Fanning’s not so perfect family background. It didn’t really fit into the story of Napster. This is more about the company, not a bio about those who created it. It’s even a bit more perplexing since none of the others involved received any of the same treatment. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that you feel pretty bad for him in the end.

It’s a captivating look at one of the most controversial moments of the 90s. For some viewers it’ll be a nostalgia ride. For others it’ll be at music history. One thing you will come away with is how Napster made way for pirating, which is facing similar backlash. Funny, how some things never change.