May Playlist: Cartoon Themes By Famous Artists

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It’s easy for me to get nostalgic for the 90s. All it takes is a “Remember this?” Buzzfeed list and I’m longing for my childhood. But what hits me hardest in the nostalgia feels is hearing cartoon theme songs from my childhood. Some themes are so fun, so catchy, and just plain good, they’re burned in my memory. Sometimes I liked the theme better than the show itself. And surprisingly, famous musicians are behind many of these songs. So let’s get comfy and take a look back at some cartoon theme songs performed by famous musicians.

“Believe In Yourself” – Arthur theme song by Ziggy Marley

Arthur has always been one of my favorite 90s shows and it’s something I still enjoy watching. It’s so chill and positive thanks in part to its iconic theme song. The upbeat music, Ziggy Marley’s smooth vocals, and the undeniably catchy hook are what makes this theme so great. It’s so simple – the hook is easy to remember and fun to sing and it’s just so damn happy in general. It’s impossible to feel bad after listening to this song. After 23 years, the theme still holds up never sounding dated or cheesy. The song is so good, Chance the Rapper put his own spin on it. The show later remixed it for the end credits of newer episodes, but it doesn’t live up to the simplicity and joy of the original.

“Hey, Buster!” – Postcards from Buster theme by Wyclef Jean 

Postcards from Buster, the Arthur spinoff, was never as good as the original. It focused on Buster traveling the world and showing the lives of different kids. The theme song by Wyclef Jean tried so hard to pull off a similar vibe as Arthur but it doesn’t work. It’s still pretty catchy with a hook of “Hey Buster! Where you off to now?” but it’s not as memorable. I didn’t even remember what it sounded like until I looked it up again. And the rap by wannabe Will Smith is too lame even for Will Smith. You can tell it wants to recapture the wonder and joy of the Arthur theme, but it falls short.

Super Mario World theme by Mark Mothersbaugh

Mark Mothersbaugh is best known for his work in the influential Devo, but I’ll always remember his weird, quirky music for Rugrats. He managed to capture the innocence and odd nature of the show in his score. Mothersbaugh has done music for other cartoons, like Clifford the Big Red Dog, but none are as unique as his Rugrats score. Case in point, his theme for Super Mario World is pretty forgettable. It’s not even charming and fun like The Super Mario Brothers Super Show theme. It’s bland and typical, something you’ll forget as soon as it’s over. It doesn’t feel like a Mothersbaugh score. It’s just standard cheap Saturday morning cartoon music.

“Call Me, Beep Me!” – Kim Possible theme by Christina Milian

I was never a fan of Kim Possible. Aside from Ron’s antics, the show never struck a chord with me. But its theme was so awesome I always stuck around for the opening credits. The song is an irresistible jam with Christina Milian’s sassy attitude and the catchy R&B flow. But the best part was the hook, which is burned into the minds of those who grew up with the show: “Call me, beep me, if you want to reach me.” If there’s one thing you remember about the song, it’s the hook, which is perfect especially with the four beeps that follow. The theme is so popular, it’s been covered by numerous artists. They even remade the theme for the ill-fated live action movie, but the less said about that the better.

Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius theme song by Bowling For Soup

Jimmy Neutron is another show I never got into. The animation was weird and ugly and I found all the characters annoying. But even I admit the theme song is pretty cool. The surf rock inspired riff, the rockabilly groove, and Bowling For Soup’s nonchalant delivery make it the best 30 seconds of the show. It has such a slick unforgettable groove. The band also did the theme song for Phineas and Ferb, but it’s not as good. Maybe it’s because I never watched the show, but I find it annoying. There’s nothing memorable about it and the whiny vocals are grating to listen to. It reminds me why I don’t like Bowling For Soup in the first place.

Rocko’s Modern Life Theme by The B-52’s

A lot of shows from the 90s have memorable themes, but one that’ll always be my favorite is Rocko’s Modern Life. Season one had a simple, unnotable theme full of weird voices and clips of Rocko screaming. It’s not bad, but my favorite will always be the second theme performed by the B-52’s. The band’s quirky vibe, unique sound, and vintage style fit perfectly with the show’s opening. The theme is super catchy even though it just repeats the name of the show over and over. It’s a bonafide jam. When you heard it you knew you were in for a show unlike any other during Nickelodeon’s golden age.

“Ride on the Magic School Bus” – The Magic School Bus Theme by Little Richard

When you’re making a song about the world’s most eccentric teacher, it only makes sense to get one of music’s most eccentric musicians to sing it. Though the show hasn’t aged all that well, the theme performed by Little Richard is timeless. The song is nothing but fun with its upbeat jazzy piano, catchy hook, and Little Richard’s flamboyant delivery. Hearing this always made me excited for the show, which is what a good theme song should do. Unfortunately, Lin-Manuel Miranda theme for the terrible reboot is lackluster. For such a talented guy, the new version is flat and bland. It doesn’t have the same excitement and flair of the original. And the less said about the show itself the better.

“Yahoos and Triangles” – King of the Hill theme by The Refreshments

King of the Hill has always been one of my favorite shows. Who knew the lives of a propane salesman and his family and friends would be so entertaining? Whenever the opening riff of the show’s theme played, I practically ran to the TV. Its theme proves you don’t need lyrics to make a killer theme song. “Yahoos and Triangles” by The Refreshments perfectly captures the setting of Arlen, Texas. With the hooting, hollering, and wild triangle solos it sounds like a rowdy good time. It’s a mini country jam and that’s what makes it so infectious. It’s a good time all around even if Hank and friends look less than thrilled during the title credits.

The Proud Family theme by Solange and Destiny’s Child

I don’t have as much nostalgia for The Proud Family or its theme, but I still remember it from the few times I actually watched the show. It’s a cute, heartwarming song about the strength and bonds of your family, even if they do annoy you. And to drive the message home, Solange performs the track with Destiny’s Child making it a true family affair. It’s a catchy song that still resonates with fans of the show to this day as a 2017 Solange concert showed when she performed the song and a massive sing along.

South Park theme by Primus

South Park’s been on for over 20 years and while the lives of Eric, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny are burned into my memory, I can’t picture the show without its quirky theme. It not only captures the weirdness of the town, it also captures is low budget origins. When the show first started the animation was rough and no-frills. The song feels the same like it was made on the fly for a few bucks. It’s had minor updates over the years adding electric guitars to beef up the sound, but it still has the same vibe of the original. Primus also performs the jangled end credits theme, which is actually the original theme song. According to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, they wanted something faster, but Primus didn’t have time to re-record the theme. They opted to speed up the recording instead.

Which of these is your favorite? What cartoon themes by musicians did I miss? Let me know in the comments!


Playlist: Let’s Get Weird This Christmas

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Holidays have the potential to bring out the best and worst in us. They can also bring out the weird in us. Rather than singing about Santa Claus, spending time with the family, and frosty the snowman, these songs dive into weird territory you wouldn’t expect for Christmas. So if you’ve been listening to “All I Want for Christmas is You” since October and are ready to gouge your eardrums, check out these weird, creepy, and hilarious Christmas songs.

“Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas)” – The Weather Girls

The holidays can be a real drag without someone to cuddle up to as The Weather Girls know. There’s only one thing they have on their list: a man. The girls kick things on a sentimental note talking about having someone to wrap your arms around. But things kick into high gear when the disco music starts and Izora Armstead sings “Bring me a man!” The girls are straight to the point on this funky song and don’t waste time being coy. They even get downright dirty by asking Santa to leave a man under the tree “dim the lights down low/and let it snow.” It’s a weird song to get you in the spirit, but it’s a bonafide jam. Though you may not want to play this one around the family.

“Christmas with Satan” – James Chance

This is what a Christmas song would sound like in Hell, which is probably the point. While Chance wails about why partying with the devil during the holiday is the best, demented renditions of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Jingle Bells,” and other carols screech along with him. The entire thing is a freaking nightmare that gets worse and worse. It sounds like something that would be played at a creepy clown party. Sorry for that image. The uncut ten-minute version is even worse with Chance painfully screaming and slamming the piano keys like he’s five years old. If this is what Christmas sounds like with Satan then count me out.

“Scary Fucked Up Christmas” – Garfunkel and Oates

For some Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with family. For others, it’s a terrible time to spend with family. So what’s the solution? Toke up. Garfunkel and Oates sing about getting high so Christmas won’t seem so bad. But of course, things get worse when you start tripping balls. Now, you’re worried about the snowman at your door, noticing shoes on meatloaf, and trying to bat away incestuous thoughts when you see your cousin. The duo’s quirky lyrics and mention of other famous December 25 birthdays (Happy birthday Karl Rove) make this a funny, but odd holiday song. And remember, no matter if you’re high or not Christmas is always scary and fucked up.

“Santa Claus Has Got the AIDS” – Tiny Tim

Want to instantly kill your holiday spirit? Then listen to this bizarre Christmas song from Tiny Tim. Yes, it’s as bad as the title makes it sound. Tiny Tim sings about Santa missing the holiday because of his condition. No more ho, ho, ho-ing, no more spreading Christmas cheer, no more sleigh rides. If that’s not enough to scar your then images of the nurses and the reindeer crying about Santa surely will. The whole thing is fucked up especially when you consider how AIDS was viewed during the 80s. According to Tiny Tim, the song is actually about the diet supplement Ayds and was written before Rock Hudson’s death from AIDS, becoming the first major celebrity to die from the illness. With lyrics mentioning hospital beds and sad nurses, it seems unlikely. It seems like he just wanted to avoid any backlash.

“Christmas Rhapsody” – Pledge Drive

Do you love Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but wish it had more Christmas flair? Pledge Drive has you covered with this, weird, yet impressive tribute to Queen. The iconic song is entirely rewritten with references to Santa Claus, flying reindeer, and singing carols. It follows the structure and flow of the Queen classic perfectly. While it’s a little hokey, it’s actually pretty good. The references don’t feel clunky or forced and it ends up being as catchy as the original. The highlight is the opera portion with the iconic line “Bismillah! No, we will not let you go/(Let him go!)” replaced with “Kris Kringle! No! Do not give him coal! Give him coal!” It’s a weird, yet, delightful treat for Queen fans. Good luck trying not to sing the actual lyrics though.

“Disco Christmas” – Universal Robot Band

In the 70s disco was like a bad cough you could never get rid of. The genre proved to be so popular, artists like Aretha Franklin and KISS even got on board. Even Christmas songs couldn’t escape disco as this 1977 gem shows. Sounding like “The Hustle” mixed with “Jingle Bells,” most of the “lyrics” is just Santa Claus and Rudolph trading insults with each other. Santa calls Rudolph ugly and in response, he calls Santa a “jive turkey.” They even spend a full verse arguing over each other while the background singers cheerily sing about “hustling around the tree.”  It feels like a weird parody song with references to 70s clichés like platform boots and phrases like “slap me five.” And this is only one of several disco themed Christmas songs. There are plenty of albums filled with disco versions of Christmas classics with the worst of them all being curated by Irwin, the Disco Duck. This must be Christmas in hell.

“R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas” – Christmas in the Stars

This song is so bad on so many levels. You have the interludes with R2-D2 chirping and C3PO being a neurotic fuck. Then there are children saying how much they love R2-D2 and how they want him to spend Christmas with him sounding weirdly ominous the whole time. But the weirdest thing about this song is that it’s Jon Bon Jovi’s first performance. Yes, before he fronted your mom’s favorite rock band, he sang about having a magical Christmas with an android. There are so many questions when listening to this song: why are they singing like R2-D2 is badly injured? Is R2-D2 the equivalent of Santa Claus in space? Why the fuck does Bon Jovi sound like one of The Monkees? And imagine there are eight more terrible songs filled with clunky references to Star Wars on the album, including the equally awful “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)”. You’d think Star Wars would stay far away from Christmas after the infamous wreck Christmas special only two years prior.

“Santa Dog” – The Residents

If this song is anything to go by then Christmas with The Residents is terrifying. The short song has Randy Rose repeating “Santa Dog’s a Jesus Fetus” and “A fleeting and a sleeting scene of snowness and of sleeves” while the rest of the members shout “bing, bing bing, bong, bong, bong.” Things get bleak with the notion of no presents and no presence in the future. Apparently, the song is about a wiener dog in Santa suit. Mostly, it’s an excuse to point out the “Santa/satan” anagram and freak everyone out. The ridiculous lyrics, jaunty music, and creepy singing make it more appropriate for a Tim Burton film than a holiday party.

“Homo Christmas” – Pansy Division

Similar to The Weather Girls, Pansy Division just wants a man for Christmas. This pop-punk tune celebrates being gay at Christmas and lists all the things they want, which include a nice hard cock and lots of boning. Frontman Jon Ginoli gleefully sings about how he wants to spend the holiday, which involves “Licking nipples / Licking nuts / Putting candy canes / Up each other’s butts.” It’s a campy song that’s ridiculous and funny, but it’s also a form of relief. According to Ginoli he wrote the song as a sort of therapy because  “Christmas can be stressful, especially since it’s a ‘family’ time, and I wrote [the song] thinking that it would give certain people hope on a day that sometimes sucks, especially when
the person you really want to be with doesn’t fit into certain definitions of family.” So, in a way, the song is kind of heartfelt, if you look past all the licking of body parts.

“Merry Christmas Santa Claus” – Max Headroom

You know when a fad has gone too far when they invade the music world. And in 1986, Max Headroom did that with this Christmas single. “Why?” is what you’ll keep asking yourself as you listen to Max glitch and stutter about loving Santa perhaps a bit too much. Max’s love for Santa gets creepy as he talks about loving Santa from “the top of your Christmas stocking/to the bottom of your Christmas bottom.” He even talks about bringing a big sack of Santa love. Best to leave this song alone and forget this song ever happened.

“Santa Claus is Watching You” – Ray Stevens

The older you get the more you realize Santa is kind of a creep. He sees when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake. As a kid, this was just part of Santa’s magic, but it sounds more nefarious as an adult. This is the angle Ray Stevens takes for this comedic tune. Stevens warns his lover that she better stay faithful and treat him right because Santa is always watching. As the song goes on, his behavior gets downright obsessive. Phones are being tapped, Rudolph has a constant eye on the house, and Santa’s the head of the CIA. Santa is a looming threat here and it’s pretty offputting. Stevens’ slurring vocals and manic screams of “He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!” will surely make you laugh, but you’ll be looking over your shoulder while you’re doing it.

“Deck My Balls” – Afroman

How many other holiday songs do you know that open with the line “Lick my balls with lots of salvia/fa la la la/la la la la?” This is only one of the many obscene gems you get from this song. You won’t find any mention of holiday cheer, spending time with the family, or giving back on this song. Instead, talks about baby gangstas, selling weed, getting over the on the system, flunking classes, and hooking up with some hot chicks. It’s what you expect from an Afroman song. What’s unexpected is not only was he so popular that he got his own Christmas album, but that he released a second one two years later.

“Christmas Unicorn” – Sufjan Stevens

What is this song even? Is he being extremely philosophical or just stringing together a bunch of nonsense? It probably doesn’t matter because we’re all the Christmas Unicorn after all.

There are a lot more weird Christmas songs out there. Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Michael Jackson Goes Heavy Metal

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Though the world lost Michael Jackson nearly a decade ago, his music is still widely celebrated all over the world. Jackson’s music had a wide impact all across music, including the most unlikely genre, metal. For a pop star, Jackson has a lot of heavy metal fans to his name, which makes sense considering how often he incorporated rock into his music. But most metal covers do nothing more than add in some loud guitars and screaming vocals. Fortunately, there are a good amount of covers that make the song into something else entirely. To celebrate what would’ve been Jackson’s 60th birthday, let’s take a look at these kick ass Michael Jackson metal covers that’ll get your fists pumping in the air.

“Beat It” – John 5

John 5 is a madman on the guitar, whose laid down intricate riffs for Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. Considering his riffs are ferocious, you know his Michael Jackson cover is going to be good. The guitarist included his version of “Beat It” on his 2012 album God Told Me To as a tribute to the late pop star. The instrumental track features John 5 playing everything from the main riff to the core melody on guitar. He even replicates some of Jackson’s vocal flourishes on the guitar. He keeps the badass nature of the song intact while showing off his impressive guitar skills.

“Give In to Me” – Soto

Soto released their version of Jackson’s 1991 hit in 2016. The song was already rock infused with Slash on guitar, but Soto takes the song in a darker direction. The intro sounds more somber than the original; you get an overwhelming sense of sadness hearing it. Jeff Soto’s vocal delivery is powerful and haunting, whereas Jackson’s is more anguished and angry. Even the music more intense; the crunching guitars and pounding drums give the song a heavier, morose vibe. It’s a great metal interpretation of the track, especially since it’s not a one to cover.

“Dirty Diana” – Evanescence

Featuring Steve Stevens on guitar, this song already had roots in rock, which is why it’s a popular choice for rock and metal acts. Yet, none of the covers are as chilling or beautiful as this version. The song begins with gentle keys that gives off this haunting tone. You don’t realize what they’re performing until Amy Lee starts singing. She builds up momentum with thing steadily getting gritty until the explosive chorus when the dirty guitars and pummeling drums kick in. But the highlight of the cover is Lee’s performance. She sings with so much power and ferocity it’s like she’s stabbing every line with a knife. Listening to her sing, it’s enough to give you chills.

“Smooth Criminal” – Leo Moracchioli

Alien Ant Farm blew people’s minds when they showed how well Michael Jackson translated to rock music. Their version is still considered one of the best Jackson covers, but this rendition by Youtuber Leo Moracchioli blows it out of the water. This one-man band cranks everything up and gives us a brutal version of this Bad single. The guttural vocals, crunching guitars, pounding drums turns this pop song into a gritty metal anthem. He even puts his own stamp on it with his own searing guitar solo making it stand out from other covers. Whereas the Alien Ant Farm cover makes you jump around, this version makes you want to mosh. Moracchioli is an absolute powerhouse, who regularly puts a metal spin on pop songs. If you want to hear more, check out his version of “Bad.”

“Speed Demon” – Xerath

This song kicks ass, plain and simple. It’s another Jackson single most people don’t cover. Most Jackson covers are already rock based, so it’s easy to down tune the guitars, throw in a solo, and add some screaming vocals. But Xerath turns this song into an aggressive, in your face anthem. They transform the main melody into a searing riff, yet it still has this undeniable groove to it. As soon as that opening riff kicks in, you can’t help but headbang. The screaming vocals are extreme; it sounds like Richard Thomson is ripping his throat to shreds. You never thought a Michael Jackson song could be this intense. A cover like this makes you realize how versatile Jackson’s music was.

“Thriller” – Koritni

No matter what you think about Michael Jackson it’s hard to dislike “Thriller.” It’s a favorite among metal bands to cover, but most renditions are boring doing nothing more than adding beefed-up guitars and screaming vocals. While Australian rock band Koritni’s version isn’t the greatest; their version “Thriller” is at least exciting. There’s something exhilarating about hearing the iconic opening on an electric guitar. The vocals are a bit exaggerated and hammy, but they give the song a rousing makeover. It’s sure to please metal and Jackson fans alike.

“They Don’t Care About Us” – Saliva

Rock band Saliva covered Jackson’s 1995 single for their tenth album, Loves, Lies, & Therapy. The music is the best part here. The song was already intense, but the added guitars and the fiery solo adds a new heaviness to the track. As for the vocals, they aren’t as powerful as Jackson’s. When Jackson sang it he was tired, angry, and fed up with the way people and the media treated him due to the allegations lobbied against him. Bobby Amaru sounds fine, but there’s no fire in his voice. This version doesn’t have the same feeling coming from Saliva, but in terms of music and performance, they at least do a good job.

“Scream” – Annisokay

In 2016, post-hardcore band Annisokay released an EP of Michael Jackson covers titled Annie Are You Okay? And it’s actually pretty good. Their versions of “Beat It” and “Thriller” are intense, but it’s their cover of “Scream” that stands out. Not only is it a song that’s rarely covered, they take the song’s main riff and turns it on its head. The grinding guitars and pummeling drums give it an abrasive sound while the growling vocals add a new ferocity. With how in your face it is, it pulls you into the song. The vocals are kind of weak, but Christoph Wieczorek and Kiarely Castillo don’t sound terrible. Their vocals just don’t demand the same prowess and command as Michael and Janet. They did leave in Michael’s scream from the original, which is a nice touch.

“Beat It” – Raintime

Imagine if Dream Theater covered Michael Jackson. That’s what this cover is like. Raintime released this cover on their second album, Flies & Lies in 2007. This version sets itself apart from the countless others with its prog-metal influence. While the iconic guitar riff and the spiraling solo are still there, they make sure to incorporate dancing keys throughout. They even put in a keyboard solo before the main solo. Whereas the John 5 version translates the entire song, melody and all, on guitar, this version turns it into a full-blown metal affair. It’s loud, filled with dirty crunchy riffs, and snarling vocals to give it a new flavor.

There are lots of metal Micheal Jackson covers out there, so which ones did I miss? What are you favorite Jackson covers? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Best Songs of 2018 So Far…

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Each year I always look forward to what music has in store. Whether it’s discovering a new band or listening to old favorites, there’s always something to look forward to. 2018 isn’t over yet, but there have already been some great songs I’ve kept on repeat. So before we look forward to music coming out this fall, let’s look back at the stellar songs released so far. Here are my picks for the best songs of 2018 so far.

Marmozets – “Lost in Translation”

Marmozets are one of the best rock bands you’re not listening to. They released their second album, Knowing What You Know Now, earlier this year and it’s on my list of top albums of 2018. It was hard to choose just one song, but “Lost In Translation” shows off their energy, hard driving sound, and their growth as a band. It’s pummeling beat and bouncy riff pumps you up and the underlying groove gets you moving. Everything crashes during the hook hitting right in the chest, but you’re too busy headbanging to notice. There’s a great swagger and cockiness to the song that instantly pulls you in. It also shows why Becca Macintyre is a stellar vocalist. She doesn’t just yell and scream. She plays around with her voice manipulating its range depending on the song’s tone. It’s only one of many great songs from an amazing album. I highly recommend it.

Pale Waves – “The Tide”

I like Pale Waves, but even I don’t understand their rabid fanbase. After listening to their debut EP and seeing them live, I really don’t understand what’s got fans so crazy. They’re not really doing anything new; they sound like 1975, who sound like bands from the 80s like INXS. But when I hear the opening riff of this song, I instantly start dancing. It’s so bouncy and upbeat and the hook of “I’ll be the sea honey/always, always/and you’ll be the tide” will be stuck in your head for days. It’s fun to listen to and makes you feel good even though the lyrics are a bit gloomy. It may not be the best song I’ve heard this year, but it’s one I can’t stop singing.

Night Riots – “Colour Morning”

The first new track from Night Riots since Love Gloom falls very much in tune what they dubbed their “gloom pop” sound. There’s a melancholy air to the song mixed with a hint of pop and alt-rock. From the soft plucks of the opening guitar to Travis Hawley proclaiming “Goddamn what a beautiful world” it sounds pretty and mellow even though it’s seemingly about lost love. It has a dreamy, atmospheric mood similar to “Breaking Free,” another stellar song of theirs. It’s not the upbeat, catchy vibe found on their EP that caught my attention, but the atmospheric music and Hawley’s sensual vocals make it one of their prettier compositions.

Dead Sara – “Unamerican”

If you think rock is dead then you obviously haven’t heard this song. Taken from their new EP, Temporary Things Taking Up Space, this is classic Dead Sara all the way. It’s got a searing riff, a dirty tone, Emily Armstrong’s gritty vocals, and an I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. Armstrong even squeezes a nice “Fuck you, Donald Trump” in there, though she claims it’s nothing political. It’s a hard-hitting, raw song that pumps you and makes you want to rage. Surprisingly, the rest of EP finds them moving towards an alt-rock direction, but this song shows they haven’t abandoned their hard rock roots.

Turnstile – “Generator”

Turnstile’s second album Time & Space is another hard one to choose just one great song from. The album is a blistering 25 minutes of raging hardcore that comes at you fast and hard. All of the tracks are thrilling, but the shifting sounds and moods of “Generator” stand out. Opening with a chugging metal riff, singer Brendan Yates comes out the gate swinging screaming at the top of his lungs “I’m hanging on to what I got left/picking up the pieces in the dark.” Everything is really aggressive up until the bridge where things slow down and soft singing replaces Yates’ screams. The dizzy guitar riff and pulsing beats create a trippy vibe before returning to destructive sound. This is only a sample of what Turnstile does. I highly recommend this album if you want to hear more.

Jack White – “Hypermisophoniac”

When Jack White announced his third solo album, I wasn’t very interested especially after hearing “Connected By Love.” But after giving Boarding House Reach a chance, I found it to be pretty great. It has the classic White sound we’re used to, but he fuses it with so many weird, wonderful elements like on this track. It starts with this hypnotic electronic looping. White keeps adding layers as he shows off his guitar skills and attacks the piano like he wants to hurt it. It’s a fusion of jazz, funk, rock, and blues stamped white White’s swagger that makes it an album highlight.

Franz Ferdinand – “Lazy Boy”

Most Franz Ferdinand songs are cheeky, fun, and have a hook you can’t stop singing. “Lazy Boy” from their latest album, Always Ascending, has all of these, which makes it one of the best from the LP. The music is infused with their new disco dance direction, yet still has killer riffs that they’re known for. The lyrics are straightforward and simple, but the playful way Alex Kapranos sings “I’m a lazy boy/yes a lazy boy/lazy in the morning boy” gets stuck in your head for days. It may not be their greatest song; it’s just a lot of fun to sing and dance to and manages to stand out on an album full of dance influenced jams.

The Struts – “Body Talks”

The Struts are all about having a good time and getting back to the basics of rock n roll: partying, money, and hot women. Their songs always sound like a party and it’s no different with their latest. It has everything you want in a Struts song: high energy, big hooks, and a tongue-in-cheek attitude. There’s also a hint of sexy that makes the song so tantalizing. Frontman Luke Spiller sounds seductive and playful as he sings “Oooh your body talks/your body talks.” It’s another let-the-good-times-roll anthem from The Struts that shows the fun, carefree nature of the band. If this is a taste of the new album, then I can’t wait to hear the rest.

Panic! At the Disco – “Roaring 20s”

Even though I love PATD’s debut album, I never got into their later stuff. I started checking out their recent stuff out of curiosity and was surprised how much I enjoyed Pray for the Wicked. The entire record has this celebratory, party vibe to it that’s perfectly captured on “Roaring 20s.” With its slinky rhythm and an infectious hook Urie is known for, it sounds like nothing but a good time. The lyrics suggest something darker at play, but you can’t help but dance to over the top music. Plus, it takes you back to Urie’s baroque pop days, which pleases longtime fans like me. It’s just fun to listen to, while the entire album makes you feel good. If you need a pick me up, then you should check out Pray for the Wicked.

Hit Bargain – “Tourist II”

Hit Bargain’s Potential Maximizer wasn’t on my radar when it came out in May, but when it was recommended to me I was hooked. A playful, yet poignant hardcore record, it’s one of the most thrilling and exciting releases of the year. All the songs grab you by the throat and start pummeling you, but my favorite is “Tourist II.” Singer Nora Singh sounds cocky and playful as she sings and the bouncy opening riff sucks you in. The intense, hard driving music and Singh’s piercing screams sound like chaos incarnate. The song is bursting with energy and attitude, which is all over their debut album. Be sure to check them out if you want a riveting and exciting good time.

The Cure – “Drowning Man (Bright Birds Mix 2018)”

When The Cure announced a reissue of their 1990 remix album Mixed Up along with a disc of new mixes titled Torn Down, I wasn’t expecting much. I’m not a fan of the original album and didn’t have a lot of faith in the new mixes. Surprisingly, I was impressed with the 2018 remixes with this one standing out. Robert Smith messes with the song enough to put a different spin on it without changing it completely. He managed to make this song sound more bleak and depressing and if you’re familiar with the original you didn’t think it could get any darker. The sweeping music and layered vocals that wail like a spirit makes it more somber. He amps up the melancholy and Gothic tone making a chilling and unforgettable experience.

Con Brio – “Heart Shaped Box”

Nirvana songs aren’t sexy, but Con Brio turned this grunge classic into a slow jam. Instead, they turn the song on its head with a healthy dose of funk and soul. Singer Ziek McCarter sounds sensual as he sings, which is weird for a Nirvana song. It’s almost like Michael Jackson decided to cover this Nirvana classic. You wouldn’t expect the soulful rendition to be any good, yet it’s one of the most unique and top-notch covers I’ve heard. And I’m really picky when it comes to Nirvana cover. It may not be for all fans, but at least Con Brio did something unique with the song and managed to really make it their own.

Gorillaz – “Humility”

Yacht rock is usually reserved for the lite radio station your parents love and Christopher Cross. But when Gorillaz put their own spin on it, it’s a summer jam. The first offering from The Now Now gives us a different, breezy vibe than what we heard on Humanz. The music is mellow and smooth with a hint of jazz flair thanks to guest collaborator George Benson. Damon Albarn’s soothing vocals complete the relaxing mood. It’s so easy going it sounds like it was made for summer. Imagining listening to this chilling on the beach or out on the road. It makes you feel good, which is what we all need right now.

Which songs have you been jamming to this year? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Songs Recorded in a Different Language

Image result for madonna veras

Back when releasing singles meant more than just posting a link, it was common for artists to record their songs in different languages. Most of them were region exclusive, making it a treasure trove for collectors. Plus, it was a nice treat for international fans. The practice isn’t as common today, but once in a while, contemporary artists will flex their language skills. Here are just a handful of artists who recorded songs in another language.

“Todo Mi Amore Ers Tu”/“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” – Michael Jackson

This duet between Michael Jackson and Siedah Garret was the debut single from 1987’s Bad and was the first in a string of five number one singles for the singer. A special edition 12” single featured a Spanish re-recording of the track dubbed “Todo Mi Amore Ers Tu.” The song sounds just as sappy as the English version, but with more cringe inducing pronunciations. While the hook sounds just as pretty as the original, Jackson and Garret sound a bit awkward on the rest of the song. Then again, it’s the first time Jackson recorded a song in Spanish. They also recorded a French version, which sounds much better. The song seems better suited for French than Spanish, but at least these versions aren’t terrible.

“Gone” – Nsync

Nsync fans may remember the Spanish version of “This I Promise You,” but this version of “Gone” flew under the radar. And it sounds just as good, if not better, than the original. While their vocal delivery is a bit stilted, you can tell they’re not comfortable with the language, their harmonies are on point. They actually sound great singing in Spanish. Justin still gives a powerful vocal delivery filled with all the hurt and anguish of the original. The Spanish version of “This I Promise You” is solid, but this version of “Gone” is far better. It’s a shame it wasn’t as popular as the former song. Though it makes you wonder how other Nsync songs would sound in Spanish. How about a Spanish version of “It’s Gonna Be Me?”

“Mickey” – Toni Basil

“Mickey” is one of those baffling one hit wonders. Why was this annoying song ever a hit? And why can’t you stop singing it? It’s one of those songs you hate but will get stuck in your head all day as soon as someone mentions it. For the alternate 12” single, Basil recorded the song in Spanish. And yes, it’s just as annoying. Admittedly, it’s not as aggravating as the English version, but something about it still gets under your skin. Maybe it’s the in-your-face pep rally vibe. Or how Basil keeps repeating Mickey throughout the song. Or because it’s just an awful song no matter what language it’s in.

“Nunca Te Haré Llorar”/“I’ll Never Break Your Heart” – Backstreet Boys

Boy bands recording their big hits in Spanish was a strange phenomenon. But when you think about it, it makes sense. They have fans all over the world, so why not do something special for their non-English followers? BSB added to the trend with a Spanish version of “I’ll Never Break Your Heart.” They actually don’t sound bad; their vocals still sound sweet and smooth. And it’s good to know the song is still sappy and cheesy in another language. They also recorded a Spanish version of “Anywhere for You,” but it’s not as good. Hearing Nick Carter trying so hard to enunciate is painful.

“My Cherie Amour” – Stevie Wonder

“My Cherie Amour” is one of those timeless love songs. It’s sweet, easy going, and has a simple, yet unforgettable hook. When it was released in 1969 it charted at number 4 on the Billboard Pop and R&B singles chart. Now, it’s one of Wonder’s most iconic songs. It was so popular, Wonder re-recorded it in Spanish and Italian. Wonder handles both versions well having a pretty good grasp on each language. Both versions still sound as sweet and beautiful as the original. Considering the title, you’d think he’d do a French version. It’s never too late for him to try.

“Veras”/“You’ll See” – Madonna

Madonna has always flirted with Spanish culture ever since her days of visiting “La Isla Bonita.” So it’s no surprise that she recorded her 1995 single “You’ll See” in Spanish. Translated by Argentine singer/songwriter Paz Martinez her voice sounds beautiful, yet haunting. This version of the song still has the chilling, heartbreaking tone as the original. The Spanish lyrics paired with the swirl of Latin guitars complete the bittersweet mood. It’s kind of romantic, but there’s still something sad about it. Madonna later recorded “What It Feels Like For a Girl” in Spanish along with a collaboration with Ricky Martin entitled “Be Careful with My Heart,” which sounds like a strange duet, but actually works quite well.

“Can’t Change Me” – Chris Cornell

The debut single from Chris Cornell’s solo album, Euphoria Morning, received a French version for Japanese, European, and deluxe versions of the record. While his French is a little spotty, his voice still has the same power, emotion, and drive found in the original. He sounds beautiful in this version and his voice will still give you chills. Though it is a bit weird that part of the bridge is in English. The song was translated by Alexis Lemoine, so maybe it was a style choice. It takes you out of the song for a bit, but overall it’s a fantastic reminder of why Cornell was one of rock’s best singers.

“Do Do Do De Da Da Da” – The Police

For a special 7” edition of this single, The Police recorded this song in both Spanish and Japanese. While the Spanish version isn’t bad, the Japanese recording stands out. Japanese can be a difficult language to learn, so a lot of artists opt for an easier language if they want to re-record their songs. Yet, Sting does a pretty decent job here. Sure, he sounds and a bit unnatural, like he’s a first year Japanese student, but he doesn’t sound terrible. Still, it’s better than his new album with Shaggy.

“Helden”/“Heroes” – David Bowie

David Bowie’s groundbreaking single “Heroes” was recorded in English, French, and German. Every version is fantastic, yet each one has a different feel to it. The original is filled with a sense of melancholy while the French version is beautiful and kind of romantic. The German version is bursting with emotion and finds Bowie practically shouting at the top of his lungs by the song’s end. Each version is exciting and has a timeless quality to it. It really shows off Bowie’s talent and how great his crossover appeal was.

“Mi Refljo”/“My Reflection”– Christina Aguilera

In 2000, Christina Aguilera released her second album and her first Spanish album dubbed Mi Reflejo. The record featured cuts from her debut album, like “I Turn To You” and “Genie in a Bottle” recorded in Spanish. But this single from the Mulan soundtrack is one of the best from the album. Whether it’s in Spanish or English, the song is still beautiful and heartbreaking. The way she hits her notes on this version still gives you chills. Even if you can’t understand Spanish, the power of her voice and the emotion she puts behind every word is enough to make you cry. But if you’re looking for another Spanish Aguilera song that won’t choke you up, “Ven Conmigo (Solamente Tú)” is a good choice.

“Boom Clap” – Charli XCX

For the Japanese edition of her second album, Sucker, Charli XCX re-recorded “Break the Rules” and her hit single “Boom Clap” in Japanese. Surprisingly, both songs translate very well and the former actually sounds like it could be by a J-pop girl group. Of course, her Japanese skills aren’t the strongest, but she does a fine job. The songs keep their upbeat vibe and the hook on “Boom Clap” is still so infectious, you’ll find yourself singing the Japanese version in no time, even if you don’t know what she’s saying. Since recording singles in another language isn’t as popular as it used to be, it’s cool to see an artist like Charli XCX do something like this for her fans, especially those in Japan.

“Llámame”/“Call Me” – Blondie

This iconic track received a Spanish recording for a special 12” single meant for release in Mexico and some South American countries. It was later released in the US and the UK and was featured on the 1993 compilation Blonde and Beyond. For the most part, this version is spot on, even Debbie Harry sounds decent singing in Spanish. But things get clunky around the hook which finds her repeating “call me” in English. It’s like the translators decided “Llámame” didn’t sound as catchy and stuck with the original.

“Héroe”/“Hero” – Mariah Carey

No matter what you think about Mariah Carey, she has a killer voice. Her powerful vocals and those impossible high notes she hits are enough to give you chills. She brings that same talent to the Spanish version of “Hero.” This version was recorded for the international release of her album, Music Box, and was translated by Jorge Luis Piloto. The song is gorgeous and Carey sounds confident while singing in Spanish. This version even charted on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs. She’d later record “Open Arms” and “My All” in Spanish, but after a mistranslation snafu with the latter song, it seems like we won’t be hearing sing in another language for a while.

There are a lot more artists who recorded in another language so which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!