Playlist

Playlist: Remembering Prince

April 21, 2016, the world lost one of music’s iconic and talented musicians, Prince. He was truly a legend who left a huge impression on music with his style, songs, and vision. He was a versatile artist who constantly pushed boundaries and challenged perceived notions of music. Since he was bigger than life, even though he only stood 5’3, you don’t picture him working with a lot of other artists or even performing covers. His music is so good, why should he play other people’s songs? But, surprisingly, Prince extended himself to various musicians and created memorable, yet underrated duets. At the same time, he also put his funky, sexy spin on songs you’d never guess he’d play. So let’s remember the late Prince by looking back at some of his most notable duets and covers.

“Love Song” – Madonna + Prince

When listening to Madonna’s landmark album Like a Prayer it’s easy to gloss over this smoldering track. The sexy ballad features the two music icons being seductive with one another. It’s a smooth, sexy track meant to put you in the loving mood. So how did the two end up working together? “We were friends and talked about working together, so I went to Minneapolis to write some stuff with him, but the only thing I really dug was ‘Love Song’ […]” With its funky groove and steamy lyrics, it’s more of a Prince song. It sounds like something that belongs on one of his albums and doesn’t mesh well with the pure pop of the rest of the album. You would think a song featuring two of the biggest acts of the 80s would get more attention. But the track couldn’t really compete with massive singles “Like a Prayer” and “Dear Jessie.”

“Creep” – Radiohead

You don’t expect someone like Prince to do too many covers, especially considering how many hits he has in his catalog. But during his headlining set at 2008 Coachella, he pulled out a number of them. He played The Beatles’ “Come Together,” Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice,” The B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” But the most talked about moment was his blazing cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Though the elements of the original are there, he turns the track into something completely his own. When he pulls out the extended solos and falsetto vocals, it doesn’t even sound like the same song. It’s amazing to listen to especially since he never played any of the band’s songs before. But of course, Prince wasn’t happy when footage of the cover went live online. He ordered the video to be taken down, which Radiohead reverted since it’s their own song.

“Waiting Room” – No Doubt + Prince

This is another unexpected Prince collaboration. Found on No Doubt’s Rock Steady, it’s got a bit of groove, it’s kind of soulful with a dash of synth and pop. Thanks to Prince’s work on the track, it sounds nothing like the band’s previous or later material. Apparently, Prince agreed to work on the track as a favor to the band since Gwen Stefani appeared on his track “So Far, So Pleased.” They sent him the track and he completely rewrote it. His influence can be heard all over the song. If it wasn’t for Stefani’s lead vocals, you would swear it’s a Prince song. It’s one of the weirder, yet satisfying options from No Doubt’s 2001 album.

“Best of You” – Foo Fighters

Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl Half-Time performance was the first time I realized just how versatile and insanely talented he was. We know how hard Prince rock’s his own material, but not too many other songs. That changed when he busted out renditions of “Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watch Tower,” and Foo Fighter‘s “Best of You.” You wouldn’t expect to hear falsetto shrills in a Foo Fighters song, but Prince truly made that track along with the others he featured all his own. He infused them with his attitude, flair, and a healthy dose of soul like no one else ever could. Though some people didn’t think he was worthy of handling the show, his performance is still hailed as one of the best in Superbowl history. Watching it now, it still gives you chills, especially when he busts out “Purple Rain” during an epic downpour.

“A Love Bizzare” – Shelia E + Prince

Prince was so unique and had a style unlike any other that his essence pours out of every song he writes. This duet with his protégé Shelia E, features the Purple One on background vocals and on bass. But even though Shelia E is the focus of the song, it’s undeniably a Prince song. With its upbeat funky groove, irresistible hook, and sultry lyrics it could’ve come from any of his albums. Though his contribution is kind of downplayed on the studio version, the live version has his flamboyance all over it. Like so many of his tracks, this one is fun, energetic, and sexy. Then again, what Prince song isn’t sexy?

“Every Day is a Winding Road” Sheryl Crow + Prince

Any artist collaborating with Prince should know once he makes an appearance, he steals the show. That’s what happened during this live collaboration with Sheryl Crow. The two performed a hard-edge version of her hit “Every Day is a Winding Road.” Prince does backup vocals and shreds away on his iconic guitar. Shortly after this performance, Prince recorded his own version of the track for this 1999 album Rav Un2 The Joy Fantastic. If you’re lucky enough to find this version, you’ll find a completely different song. It’s funky, slinky, and downright sexy, which you don’t expect from a Crow song. It’s soulful and makes you want to dance. The cover is so good, Crow should hand it over to Prince to be rightfully his. On the same album, the two collaborate on the track “Baby Knows,” which has this cool rock, funk swing to it. If you want to hear it, you better pick up the record; they’re impossible to find online.

“Why Should I Love You?” – Kate Bush + Prince

Kate Bush is an iconic figure in alt rock. Her music is often dreamy, otherworldly, and elegant. So it’s a bit unexpected to learn she worked with Prince. The song, which appeared on her comeback album The Red Shoes, starts out with an air of whimsy and airy and quickly turns into a Prince jam. Seems to be the usual pattern with Prince collaborations. Apparently, Bush sent him the track back in 1991 so he could add background vocals. He not only added vocals but a lot of instrumentation. Since it sounded so different, Bush wasn’t sure what to do with it. They worked on it for two years trying to make it fit Bush’s sound. Clearly, it didn’t work.

“A Case of You” – Joni Mitchell

Prince is known for his sexy, funky style, but on this Joni Mitchell, we get to hear a different side. While it still has an air of sensuality, the track is absolutely gorgeous. It’s an intimate moment with Prince and a piano that’s unforgettable. Hearing his soaring falsetto vocals and the classy tinkling piano keys leave you in awe. We all know Prince was such an amazing guitar player, it’s often easy to forget what a versatile musician he was. This cover shows the beauty and elegance he could add to songs, whether they were his or not. This version is a stark difference from Mitchell’s original folk stylings.

“Love is a Losing Game” – Amy Winehouse + Prince

This haunting and somber track from Amy Winehouse’s final album Back to Black, received the Prince treatment several times live. Footage of this is difficult to find, but luckily, the two eventually teamed up for a powerful rendition of the song. Winehouse joined Prince onstage in 2007 during his final show at London’s O2 Arena. He leaves her to take care of the vocals while he tears it up on guitar. In case you forgot what a badass he is on guitar, you’re quickly reminded on this track. It’s an unforgettable collaboration, though you can’t help but feel a little sad since both musicians passed on unexpectedly.

“Honky Tonk Woman” – Rolling Stones

Prince started performing this song live in 1993, but his version was never officially released. Previously, it could only be found on the Japanese version of The Undertaker. The cover received a wider release when Warner Bros. shared rehearsal footage of Prince performing the track shortly after his death. He turns the song into a scorching number with meaty guitars and a bad ass solo. If you needed more proof of what a genius Prince was at playing guitar, just watch this video where he shreds away with an “I make this look good” look on his face.

“Give Em What they Love” – Janelle Monae + Prince

Prince doesn’t easily hand out compliments and didn’t hide it when he didn’t like someone. But he did admire Janelle Monae, who looked up to him. Luckily, the two worked together for this track from Monae’s second album, The Electric Lady. Not only does Prince play guitar, he also provides co-lead vocals on the track. The song is already is already hot with Monae’s passionate vocals and seductive demeanor. But having Prince sing his signature falsetto makes the track even sexier. Plus, it’s funny to hear Prince utter the term “chicken head.” It’s funky, has a healthy dose of attitude, and makes you feel sexy as hell.

“One of Us” – Joan Osbourne

Prince covered Osbourne’s sole hit for his 1996 album, Emancipation and played it live in concert. With this track, he takes you to church. His soulful delivery, cries for the crowd to join him, and his passionate singing makes it feel like you’re in the middle of a sermon. You want to close your eyes, sway your arm in the air, and shout “preach!” as he’s singing. While there’s nothing wrong with the original, Prince’s version is superior especially with the fiery guitar solo that gives it an extra edge. He even uses the track to take a dig at his former label, Warner Bros. by changing the line “Just a slob like one of us” to “Just a slave like one of us.” This shows if Prince had a problem with you, he’d let you know it in the sassiest way.

“Shhh” – Tevin Campbell

There’s no question about it; Prince was a sexy mother. Just about everything he did dripped with sex. He does the impossible on this Tevin Campbell cover; inject a song that’s about getting in on and make it 100 times dirtier. No, he doesn’t change any lyrics or anything like that. It’s all in his over the top delivery. Hearing his falsetto cries of pleasure you’d swear he was having sex while recording the song. If that wasn’t enough to get you hot and bothered, the blazing guitar solo will do the trick. He takes a typical 90s slow jam and turns it into a sex romp. Only Prince could somehow make a sexy song even sexier.

“Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells 

If you thought Joan Jett made this song rock, you haven’t heard Prince’s version. For the most part, it’s a straightforward cover with Prince being playfully coy during the breakdown of “I think I love you” and blowing kisses into the mic. It’s not until the solo where he makes this song sizzle. In case you needed a reminder what an awesome guitar player he was, Prince make sure you remember with this performance. He makes the guitar burn and blaze like he’s Jimi Hendrix. It leaves you stunned the way he makes the guitar whine, scream, and trill. The cover appeared on his album LOtUSFLOW3R, but it’s his performance of the track on Ellen that gets a nod here.

Which ones of these Prince covers/duets is your favorite? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

 

Playlist: Fads That Spawned Novelty Songs

The novelty song is a strange, unexpected, and oftentimes, horrible thing. They seem to come out of nowhere, become popular for a spell, and die out quicker than they came. It’s the type of music that makes you wonder if anyone listens to those songs once the joke is over. But what’s weirder than the typical novelty song is one about a fad. These artists took a popular trend and wrote songs about them. Some of them are an homage to the thing, others are poking fun at the trends. All of them are freaking weird. Trends come and go, but these novelty songs will always be with us, for better or worst.

“Teletubbies say Eh Oh!” – The Teletubbies

Remember when weird alien baby creatures took over children’s television in the late 90s? Teletubbies is a show we’ve all seen at least once and none of us can explain why it was so popular. Frankly, it looks downright creepy. Believe it or not, the show spawned a hit single. You read that right. “Teletubbies Say Eh Oh” is a remixed version of the theme song where they say their name. To shake things up they randomly throw in “Ba Ba Black Sheep” and “Mary Mary Quite Contrary.” The song actually took the top spot on the charts in the UK. I shit you not, this actually happened. After it fell from number one, it still remained on the charts for 79 weeks. Why? What in God’s name is so good about this song that it stayed in rotation for so long? Who was listening to this? What’s really freaky is there were probably more adults listening to this than kids.

“Tamagotchi” – Squeezer

People loved virtual pets and Euro dance music in the 90s, so of course, there would be an official Tamagotchi club song. If it wasn’t for the constant repetition of “Tamagotchi,” it could easily be about a lover instead of a freaking toy. The video shows the singer looking sad that she can’t find her Tamagotchi, which is represented by the toy’s weird, but cute, mascot. The song is kind of upbeat and catchy and it’s cute how they incorporate the blipping sounds from the toy. Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard European club song, just a really weird one. Wanting to get in on the trend, Eurodance group Daze released the song “Together Forever,” which has several references to the popular toy. This one is downright creepy with lyrics like “I’m your Tamagotchi/so happy that you love me” and “I see you as my new mom and daddy.” To make things worse, the clip features a bunch of little kids. Yeah… let’s move on.

“Where’s the Beef?” – Coyote McCloud and Clara Peller

We’ve all seen the iconic ad where a flustered woman lifts up her hamburger bun, scoffs at the pitiful size and says…well, you know the rest. Similar to “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” in the 90s, the phrase took on a life of its own spawning merchandise and more ads. It also gave life to this song. Peller’s infamous phrase is used as the chorus, while McCloud tells the story of this woman, just in case the commercial wasn’t clear enough. With the cheesy lyrics and disco-inspired music, it sounds like something Gene from Bob’s Burgers would write. Here’s just a sampling of the on point lyrics:

“WHERE’S THE BEEF?
(Young man, can’t you hear her call
She don’t see no beef at all)
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
(Call a cop and catch the thief
the one who stole this lady’s beef)
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
(Eeny meeny miney mo
tell us where did our beef go?)
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
(Won’t somebody end her grief
And tell her where’s the beef?)”

“We Know Who Done It (Who Shot JR)” – The Barron Knights

“Who shot JR?” It was the mystery everyone wanted to solve in 1980. The tagline comes from the insanely popular drama Dallas wherein the third season finale the character JR Ewing is shot by a shadowy figure. Similar to “Where’s the beef?” this phrase also spawned its own line of merchandise. Comedy pop group The Barron Knights, think of them as British Weird Al, took the opportunity to poke fun at the event. Sung to the tune of Gary Newman’s “Cars,” the group sings about the events teasing listeners that they actually have the answer. Just when you think the mystery is going to be solved, the record skips (intentionally). By the way, it was JR’s sister-in-law Kristen Shepard.

“Pac-Man Fever” – Buckner & Garcia

Videos games are common place now. Hell, your mom probably plays some mobile games throughout the day. But back in the 80s, the medium was still new, fresh, and exciting. The arcades were packed with kids looking to spend a lot of quarters and waste the day away. One of the hottest games of the time was Pac-Man. So of course, people wanted to capitalize on the trend any way they could. In comes novelty duo Bucker & Garcia with what is perhaps the most famous novelty song of all time. The upbeat rock/pop infused track highlights the 80s video game craze and points out the player’s obsession with the game, even noting he has to get away from Speedy. Unlike many of the songs on the list, this one is surprisingly fun. It’s silly, but it’s something you can actually stand to listen to once the joke has worn off. Others thought so too as the song peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. Bucker & Garcia tried to make magic again with “Do Donkey Kong,” but failed to be a hit.

“#Selfie” – The Chainsmokers

On the internet, it’s easy for anything to get insanely popular without any rhyme or reason. That’s the only explanation why people started talking about selfies as if they haven’t been around for hundreds of years. It got to the point where everyone cracked jokes at those stupid enough to take selfies daily or at inappropriate moments. Electronic duo The Chainsmokers wanted to poke fun at the trend too and released the annoying song “#Selfie” in 2014. The song is nothing but a club girl blabbing about the most asinine “problems” in between taking more selfies. Surprisingly, the song actually charted around the world and reach the top spot on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs. What helped it get so popular were celebrity cameos by David Hasselhoff, Snoop Dogg, and Steve Aoki. Some may not agree with it being classified as a novelty song, but it’s about fucking selfies with a generic beat. Can’t really imagine anyone listening to this track now, which why it’s hard to believe The Chainsmokers now having other chart-topping songs that aren’t one tiresome joke.

“Hula Hoop” – Maureen Evans

Though you’re more likely going to see someone hula hooping at Coachella, back in the 50s these simple toys spawned a craze. Popularized by toy company Whammo, the hula hoop sold two million units in just two years. It was so popular Carlton Products Corporation had to make 50,000 hoops a day just to keep up with demand. At the height of the craze, pop singer Maureen Evans released “Hula Hoop Song” in 1958. Making the act sound like a dance fad, the song talks about not getting enough of the toy and hooping at all hours of the day. It’s pretty catchy and actually sounds like something that would’ve been popular in dance halls at the time. It’s simple and gets the point across: hula hoops are awesome. Now, they’re the mark of someone trying way too hard at a festival usually wearing a flower crown.

“The Streak” – Ray Stevens

Aside from disco, flared pants, and The Brady Bunch, the 70s gave birth to a streaking craze. Streakers started running through residence halls and even outdoor games for a cheap thrill. People still do it now, with major consequences, but it’s nowhere near as popular as it was in the 70s. Ray Stevens highlights the craze in his 1974 track “The Streak.” The song pokes fun at the trend by reporting fake streaking incidents spotted around town. You can tell it’s supposed to be wacky with the prominent slide whistle and laugh track. Though the song is silly, it was a hit earning Stevens his second number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. It remains one of his most notable songs. I guess the current equivalent would be a song about the mannequin challenge.

“Doctorin’ the Tardis” – The Timelords

It seems Doctor Who only recently gained a huge following in the States, but it’s been a hit overseas for years, which is the only way to explain this song. Made by Bill Drummord and Jimmy Caughty (aka KLF), the song is nothing but the hook of “Doctor Who” sung to the tune of Gary Glitter’s “Rock n Roll Part 2.” You’ll occasionally hear a Dalek screech “EXTERMINATE!” but there’s nothing else to the song. This is another strange case of a novelty song scoring the top spot on the charts. While it only reached number 66 in the states, it peaked at number one in both the UK and New Zealand. In 2005, Party Ben and Team9 re-released the song set to Green Day’s “Holiday” as part of their American Edit project. It’s pretty bad; better stick to the original.

“A Nightmare on My Street” – Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff

Technically, this isn’t a novelty song, but it’s corny enough to be considered one. In case you forgot, Will Smith was a rapper at one point and Jazz was his DJ before he became a running joke on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The two cash in on the slasher move trend of the 80s with this song. The duo’s third single talks about Freddy Kruger and how he’s all too real for Smith. It starts with Smith claiming he’s not real and not even that scary. Of course, Freddy comes after him to prove him wrong. The rap is kind of lame and silly, but there’s still something charming about it. Smith makes references to Kruger’s iconic outfit, there’s music that sounds awfully a lot like the film’s score, and “Freddy” even drops a verse. It was originally considered for the Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master soundtrack, but the producers decided against it. Instead, New Line Cinema sued the duo’s record label for copyright infringement. The two later settled out of court.

“The Curly Shuffle” – Peter Quinn

The Three Stooges are proof that slapstick comedy never gets old. Everyone’s seen at least one Stooges short and probably laughed way too much. They’re bonafide comedy legends and in 1983 they received a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. At the same time, Peter Quinn released this novelty song as an homage to the comedy troupe. The song is simple; just Quinn expressing his love for the group, especially Curly and his trademark shuffle. Classic Stooges sounds like “Nyuk nyuk” can be heard throughout. Oddly enough, it’s an infectious song that’ll put you in the mood for some Stooges shorts. It’s surprising how hard they still make me laugh.

“Space Invaders” – Player One

While “Pac-Man Fever” was a hit in the States, another video game related song was taking over Australia. Written by Russell Dunlop and Bruce Brown, the song is about the popular arcade game of the same name. It attempts to give the game a story talking about how it’s up to the hero to save the world from ruthless aliens. The song is cheesy complete with generic disco music and some sweet falsetto crooning during the delivery of “space invaderrrs!” It’s actually the best part of the song. It ended up being a hit in Australia and reached number three on the Kent Charts. The duo released the single internationally, but it wasn’t received as well. It seems people wouldn’t be ready for video game inspired songs until 1982, the year “Pac-Man Fever” released.

“Mr. Rubik” – The Barron Knights

The Barron Knights return again poking fun at another 80s fad: the Rubik’s cube. This song tells the story of a guy who goes crazy trying to solve the damn thing. He even resorts to cheating by taking it apart and coloring in the squares to try to get some peace. He seemingly dies from the insanity only to learn the afterlife is full of the maddening puzzle. Similar to their other entry on the list, this one is silly, yet takes the piss out of the odd trend. Still, the song is better than the dreaded Rubik’s cube cartoon. *shudders*

Which novelty song did I miss? Are any of these your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Lovin’ the Dead

If your local stores are being taken over by red and pink teddy bears and lots of chocolates, then you know Valentine’s Day is on the way. Some see it as a romantic day to remind that special someone you love them. Others see it as corporate made up bullshit to sell more greeting cards and candy no one will finish. So instead of recapping sappy love songs that every playlist on the internet will be talking, let’s look at the dark side of love no one wants to talk about: necrophilia. For reasons that remain unknown for the majority of the population, some people really get off on the dead. It’s a taboo subject, making it perfect for rock and heavy metal stars to talk about. There are a disturbing amount of songs about necrophilia out there, so let’s check out a small sampling. Just remember when you’re listening to songs about caressing dead flesh and breathing in rotten smells, have a happy Valentine’s Day.

“Night Shift” – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Siouxsie and the Banshees have never shied away from the Gothic and the macabre, but here they get downright disturbing. This track from their 1981 album Juju, paints a graphic picture of a madman who kills women and then has their way with them. Siouxsie sings “The cold marble slab submits at my feet/With a neat dissection/Looking so sweet to me /please come to me/With your cold flesh/my cold love.” Her haunting delivery and the dark lyrics are enough to give you chills. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the song is based on the crimes of Peter Sutcliffe aka The Yorkshire Ripper. The English killer murdered 13 women between 1975 – 1980. He was finally convicted in 1981. So yeah, this song is kind of terrifying.

“I Want You…Dead” – Wednesday 13

Wednesday 13 has made a career out of singing about the dead. Writing songs about loving the dead is kind of his thing and it’s no different on this track from his solo debut album. Here, he makes it clear how he likes his women, no longer breathing: “Give ’em to me decayed, give ’em to me anyway/I don’t care ’cause you know I only want you/Dead, dead, dead.” He doesn’t even care if his dead lady decides to come back to life, kill him slowly or butcher, he just wants them dead. Thankfully, 13 spares us of the details of what he wants to do with the dead. But it’s not hard to put two and two together.

“I Love the Dead” – Alice Cooper

Is there any surprise Alice Cooper has a song about necrophilia? Coming from the album Billion Dollar Babies, an album exploring the dark, sick perversions in humans, Cooper sings about how much he loves the dead. It’s pretty straight forward as he sings about how he likes the dead “before they’re cold” and how he has “other uses” for them. If it wasn’t clear enough what plans he has for them, the bridge of the song features Cooper moaning and groaning in the throes of what I can only assume is pleasure. It may be one of the tamer songs about necrophilia sparing gory details, but for 1973 it was beyond scandalous. It remains one of Cooper’s most beloved songs and one that puts the talents of the band on display.

“I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy” – Antony and the Johnsons

This is probably the most beautiful song about the dead on this playlist. The haunting, yet beautiful voice of Anohni is enough to bring you to tears as she sings about a dead boy she found. Though the person is clearly dead and the protagonist even wonders if she should call a doctor, she lays with him anyway. Slowly, she falls in love with him though no one else understands the relationship. Oddly enough, it’s very sweet and sentimental. It’s haunting and downright gorgeous, which you don’t expect from a song about the dead.

“Corpse in my Bed” – Creature Feature

With psychedelic music made for The Munsters, this horror rock duo actually questions how wrong it is to have a corpse in your bed. They don’t go into disgusting detail, but like other songs on the playlist, they find comfort in their dead love. The singer here doesn’t care if his love is just skin and bone. The only thing he seems to mind is the smell, which is a mix of “rancid milk and moldy pears.” He later admits he’s just alone and doesn’t want to be by himself. Why he just doesn’t meet someone online is beyond me. At least he seems to just be lying next to the corpse in this song.

“Last Kiss Goodbye” – Lordi

It makes sense that a Finnish metal band that frequently dresses as demons occasionally sing about loving the dead. In this track, frontman Mr. Lordi sings about finding a lovely dead woman under the trees, wrapped in leaves, yet knowing he can share his desire with no one else. He vows to keep it a secret as he gives her one last kiss. The song takes a somewhat comical approach to the subject with the line “It’s been years since we last met/Now it’s fall and the leaves are wet/I think you must have lost some weight/but you’re still lovely.” For a song about necrophilia, it’s surprisingly upbeat. You’ll find yourself singing along before realizing what it’s actually about.

“Heirate Mich” – Rammstein

This track, which means “Marry Me” in German, finds a widowed man so desperate to be with his loved one again he goes to extreme lengths to be with her. The song details him digging into the earth, pulling her up, and caressing her cold skin. The lyrics get a tad disgusting when Till Lindemann sings about her skin feeling like paper and pieces of her falling away. The man is tortured as she has slipped away from him once again. Rather than talking about screwing dead corpses, this is a tragic tale of not getting over losing a loved one. The song doesn’t seem as shocking, disturbing, or nasty as the others on the playlist. It’s quite sad, making you feel bad for the guy. Of course with its boot-stomping rhythm and intense vocals, Rammstein still finds a way to make the song brutal.

“Dead Girls” – Voltaire

Voltaire deals with all things dark, Gothic, and macabre, so it makes sense to find one of his songs on the list. But this one differs from most here. Rather than being about not getting over a lost love or just having a weird fetish, Voltaire tells the story of a man who prefers his women dead because he has rotten luck with living women. This man loves the dead because they don’t hurt him, fully accept him, and are kind in a way no other woman has been. Looking at it this way, you feel bad for the guy. He only feels comfortable around the dead, even though he knows it’s pretty strange. Thinking about it that way it’s not as creepy, but still creepy.

“Chrissy Kiss the Corpse” – Of Montreal

You wouldn’t expect this jaunty tune to be about a girl with a disturbing habit. Sounding like an upbeat vintage beach party tune, the band sings about finding a corpse at the bus stop and having fun with it. But drawing on it and putting a match between its toes is nothing compared to what Chrissy does with it. Granted it’s only a kiss, nothing too graphic, but the song suggests this isn’t the first time Chrissy has exhibited such behavior. Even the cops that come by wanting to check out the action. Is doing the actual kissing of the corpse more disturbing than watching it happen? Eh, this song is weird either way.

“Die My Bride” – Murderdolls

Wednesday 13 pops up again with another song about loving the dead with his former horrorpunk outfit the Murderdolls. Here 13 gets a bit more graphic as he details all the blood and gore. He’s not just digging up girls to get busy with. He goes for a fresh kill before he says “I do.” There’s talk of pulling off fingers and bashing in heads in this gruesome song. It sounds like a plot of a shlocky b-horror movie, which makes sense coming from 13 and crew.

“Fuck the Dead” – GG Allin

When you’re known for cutting and shitting yourself on stage, threating to commit suicide live, and fighting with the crowd, a song about necrophilia doesn’t seem so shocking. So of course, it would be a topic GG Allin would cover. Allin isn’t subtle about desires in the least. The hook is nothing but him shouting “fuck the dead/fuck the dead.” And he goes for distasteful as he describes eating maggots, rotten smells, and screwing every cold orifice. It’s disgusting and lewd, much like Allin himself.

“Necrophiliac” – Slayer

This song isn’t just about screwing the dead; it’s about breeding the spawn of Satan. This is the type of song that scared the shit out of parents in the 80s. It’s full of bloated corpses, lewd imagery, sex, and of course, the devil. After doing the deed with the corpse, a demon bursts out of the body and takes revenge against the one who took advantage of the dead body. Now, the necrophiliac has to spend the rest of his life in hell burning in the fiery depths. So, I guess it’s teaching a lesson about not fucking dead bodies?

“Born in a Casket” – Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse is known for shocking and disgusting people with their album artwork alone. So, a song detailing necrophilia is par for the course. This song pulls no punches and maps out every nasty, gruesome detail about the deed: the rotten smell, oozing goo, and green pus. Just when things couldn’t get nastier, the breeding produces an unholy spawn, which proceeds to feast on the dead flesh. And of course, there’s mention of “devouring the afterbirth.” This song isn’t for the faint of heart, that is if you can understand what they’re saying. Maybe it’s best to have the lyrics handy when listening to this one.

Which song about necrophilia got under your skin the most? Which ones did I forget? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Worst Grammy Performances

Let’s face it, the Grammys aren’t as good as they used to be. Ratings show this and people all across the internet proclaim it. Though the ceremony may not be what it used to be, it’s still responsible for some of music’s biggest and weirdest moments. Performances from Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Adele, Celine Dion, and Shania Twain are considered the best in Grammy history. But the Grammys don’t always get it right. Sometimes they have some real stinkers. With the Grammys a month away, let’s take a break from remembering the awesome performances and look at some of the worst Grammy performances instead.

“Pants on the Ground” – General Larry Platt (2010)

Remember in 2010 when one man stumbled on the American Idol stage and sang “Pants on the Ground?” It was funny for about a week. But E! and the Grammys thought the odd song was so funny, they invited General Larry Platt to perform on the red carpet. And it’s…something. I don’t know what’s worse seeing General Platt struggling to come up with more lyrics on the spot or the random Rock Band drumset in the background. Watching him hop on one foot while holding a handful of belts, you realize this is the end of the weird phenomenon. Even the people on the red carpet look confused, not knowing what to make of the performance. It’s like watching someone make “Chocolate Rain” jokes in 2017. Hopefully, he didn’t spend all his earnings on more belts.

“Same Love”  – Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, and Madonna (2014)

The Grammys are constantly struggling to stay relevant. They’re still getting off on the unexpected collaborations idea, which leads to great and questionable performances. In 2014, they decided to invite Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to perform “Same Love,” which has a well meaning message of tolerance. But instead of just letting Roger Klotz rap, they decided to wed 33 couples live on stage with Queen Latifah leading the service. There are so many questions with the biggest one being why? When did Queen Latifah get ordained to wed people? Why is Madonna lazily singing “Open Your Heart?” Why the fuck did 33 people just get married at the Grammys? The spectacle is strange, bizarre, and seems more like a ploy for high ratings rather than taking a stand. But I guess the Grammys got what they wanted; it’s something you won’t ever forget.

“Synthesizer Showdown” – Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Howard Jones, and Thomas Dolby (1985)

Back in the 80s, music made entirely with synthesizers was a wild crazy trend. Since it was new at the time the 1985 Grammys dedicated a performance to it. But rather than invite one of the many pioneers of synth music to perform, they threw a bunch of them together for a massive, puzzling performance. Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder perform bits and pieces of songs you recognize while the rest of it is hard to make it. It starts okay at first with groovy synth beats with an odd robotic voice asking everyone to introduce themselves. But when the track transitions to the upbeat, pop-infused “Go Home” things fall apart. Everything starts to clash and sound sour and Dolby awkwardly moves on stage wondering if he’s even plugged in. He then starts playing the part of wacky conductor as the group finishes, oddly, with “America the Beautiful.” The entire thing is so cringy to sit through. It’s great that the Grammys wanted to recognize synth musicians at a time when no else wanted to, but making them all play together was clearly a bad idea.

“Girl You Know It’s True” – Milli Vanilli (1990)

Milli Vanilli is one of those groups you can’t believe is real. They look like some bad creation from a comedy show. And, yes, they won a Grammy showing that the award show hasn’t known what good music for over 20 years. Though this isn’t the duo’s infamous performance when they were outed for lip synching, this one is pretty terrible. The two do nothing but hop around stage and shuffle their feet in what’s supposed to be dance moves. And if you watch carefully, it’s clear they’re not actually singing. Plus, the song is fucking terrible. As everyone knows, shortly after their questionable Grammy win, they had to give it back when the world found out they were lying. What’s funny about this incident is everyone thinks they got in trouble for lip synching, which is an accepted practice today. But what really got them in hot water was the fact it wasn’t their voices at all. The two could barely speak English, so the record company enlisted Charles Shaw to handle vocals. The duo never recovered from the incident and in 1998 Rob Pilatus died of an accidental drug overdose. A pretty sad end to a pretty terrible band.

“Numb, Encore, & Yesterday” – Jay -Z, Linkin Park, and Paul McCartney (2006)

When Linkin Park and Jay-Z reminded the world that rock and rap mashup to create some pretty kick ass music, everyone flipped. Their collaborative effort, Collision Course, has sold 2 million copies to date. So of course, the Grammys wanted to show them some love. What’s sad about this performance is it’s actually pretty good. Jay-Z and Linkin Park surprisingly sound great together and their performance is strong. It’s when they decide to include the Beatles when things go wrong. Chester Bennington starts singing “Yesterday” and prompts Paul McCartney to step out and join him. And man, does it fucking suck. The two are completely off key and end up clashing notes. It’s almost enough to make your ears bleed. Jay-Z even seems to take a jab at the collab ending the performance by saying “Doesn’t it sound like beautiful music?” No, no it doesn’t.

“Across The Universe” – Slash, Bono, Billie Joe Armstrong, Norah Jones, Brian Wilson, Tim McGraw, Alicia Keys, and Steven Tyler (2005)

Allstar collaborations seem to only work on a massive scale. Look at “We Are the World” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for successful examples. But it rarely works when it’s ten different artists from various genres for a sloppy tribute. Look at this 2005 performance for reference. As a tribute to John Lennon, a bunch of A-list musicians get together and perform “Across the Universe.” And it’s hard to tolerate. Individually they sound pretty good, when they’re not flubbing the lyrics. But once they start “harmonizing” together, it all goes to shit. Everyone starts singing in different keys while obviously looking at a teleprompter for reference. While Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, and Steven Tyler are off in their own world, Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones look downright uncomfortable. They probably knew what a shit show this would be.

“Forget You” – Cee-Lo and Gwenyth Paltrow (2011)

Remember in 2011 when America’s most hated actor Gwyneth Paltrow tried to be a singer for a bit? Everyone realized how horrible it was, except for the Grammys. As if Cee Lo performing the smash hit “Forget You” in a peacock outfit surrounded by muppets wasn’t weird enough, he invites Paltrow on stage. Not only does she have zero singing talent, she awkwardly delivers out of place lines like “I’m tired of yo ass.” It’s hard to sit through the entire thing without cringing. It turned into one of the most talked about moments just because of how awful it was. The Grammys may be all about unimaginable collaborations, but this is one they should’ve passed on.

“The Exorcism of Roman” – Nicki Minaj (2012)

Nicki Minaj has a reputation for being a bit strange, but no one could predict what she would do at the 2012 Grammys. Debuting the new song “Roman Holiday” Minaj went full on exorcist for the performance. It starts with her growling at a priest and ends with her levitating in the air. In between is a bizarre short film where Minaj skitters up the wall in attempts to be scary. Instead, she looks like a raving maniac on stage. Sure, this may have been the point, but rather than being fun, campy, and theatrical the performance comes off as awkward and bad, like a painful b-horror movie. And since it featured religious themes, you know it pissed off the Catholic church. Even the producer of the Grammys hated the performance. Maybe if Minaj didn’t take the performance so seriously it could’ve worked. Otherwise, it’s painful to watch.

“Whaddup” – LL Cool J, Chuck D, Travis Barker, and Tom Morello (2013)

Hey, why don’t we get LL Cool J to perform at the Grammys? If this was the 80s or 90s then it wouldn’t sound so bad. But having LL Cool J rap on the 2013 ceremony isn’t desirable in the least. They even paired him with Chuck D, Travis Barker, and Tom Morlleo and the performance still sucked. The rapper struts across the stage, trying to own the place when clearly, the rap world has moved on without him. They even slapped on a lazy tribute to late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, which was just as lame as the rest of the performance. Cool J is a lame host, why did they think he’d bring an A-game performance?

“Hey Ya” – Outkast (2004)

Remember when “Hey Ya” was so popular even Andrew 3000 got sick of it? So of course the Grammys wanted 3000 to perform the track during the 2004 ceremony. The performance would’ve been another ordinary moments in Grammy history if it wasn’t for one thing: the fucking costumes. For some reason Andre 3000 saw no issue with dressing himself and everyone on stage in stereotypical Native American gear. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they turn the “hey ya” hook into a pseudo Native American chant while the dancers creep out of the smoke filled hut. Everything about this performance is cringy. You just shake your head throughout the entire thing. Rightly so, 3000 didn’t get away with getup forcing CBS to apologize. Somehow this still  hasn’t  taught  celebrities  that  this   isn’t  a  good  idea.

Lemmy Tribute – Hollywood Vampires (2016)

A supergroup featuring Duff Mckagan, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry sounds rad as all hell. Having Johnny Depp in the band? Eh, that could be cool. So how did they manage to deliver one of the dullest Grammy performances? They took the stage last year and it was one of the low points of the ceremony. Playing “As Bad As I Am” and “Ace of Spades” in tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, they didn’t sound all that bad. But watching them shamble across the stage and hearing Cooper growl the lyrics with little enthusiasm, it seemed like they didn’t want to be there. It’s actually kind of sad to watch. They look like a bunch of old guys trying desperately to hang on to their youth. And what the hell is up with Depp’s mumbling spoken word part? It left plenty of people confused, including Bruno Mars in the crowd, who didn’t seem to understand what was going on. It was a stinker of a television debut and reminds us why supergroups are rarely a good idea.

David Bowie Tribute – Lady Gaga (2016)

Never has a tribute performance drawn as much ire as Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Many felt the performance was underwhelming or just downright cheesy. Gaga, dressed as what’s supposed to be Bowie but looks more like ginger Elvis, performs a medley of the late singer’s hits. While things start out okay, it eventually turns into a terrible impression of Bowie. She hops around stage trying to sound like him in the most awkward way possible. It’s still baffling why Gaga was chosen to provide the tribute. Bowie has tons of peers that would’ve been more than happy to come together with a tribute. Instead, Lady Gaga carries the torch. It doesn’t make any sense. The performance was so bad even Bowie’s son and former drummer hated it. Let’s hope they do something more tasteful for the Prince tribute.

Which Grammy performances do you think are the worst? Let me know which ones I missed in the comments!

Playlist: Dig Those Crazy Toons

Sometimes the best songs come from cartoons. And I’m not talking about theme songs. I mean songs sung by the characters in the show. Sometimes they’re so catchy and memorable, you find yourself singing them randomly. They’re so fun, upbeat, hilarious, and always put a smile on your face. After the election, it seems we all need a bit of a smile, so strap yourself in and get ready to sing-along. Here are some of the best original cartoon songs.

“Toon Out, Toon In” – Tiny Toon Adventures

Back in the 90s, rap was so popular it made its way into everything. There was even a rapping Barbie. Usually, this is cause for hilarious disaster, but this rap song from Tiny Toon Adventures is surprisingly good. Sung by Vanilla Lice (get it?) the song introduces the main characters of the series to phat, but generic, rap beats. The best part is the ear worm hook of “Toon out, toon in, toon about, toons are in.” Plucky Duck, Elmyra, and Go-Go even drop their own rap verses. Years later, it’s still a ridiculously fun, catchy song about our favorite toon cast. Too bad Vanilla Lice wouldn’t make another appearance on the show.

“Happy Happy, Joy Joy” – Ren & Stimpy

If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you drove your parents nuts singing this mindless song. After deciding Ren isn’t happy enough, Stimpy invents a Happy Helmet and plays this song, much to Ren’s dismay. It’s one of those songs you love, but secretly find annoying. It’s repetitive and after the 20 seconds, it gets kind of old. But the real gem of the track is the random ramblings of Stinky Wizzleteats that make you wonder why kids were listening to this. Some remarkable lines include “little critters of nature, they don’t know they’re ugly,” “I’ll teach your grandmother to suck eggs,” and my favorite “I told you I’d shoot, but you didn’t believe me/why didn’t you believe me?!” When you think about, that whole episode is disturbing.

“Library Card” – Arthur

“Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival” is the best episode of the Arthur series. All of the segments are great, with another strong contender being the vintage inspired “Homework,” but this is the song everyone remembers. Somehow Arthur and his friends made the library seem like the coolest place to be. They list the different activities, various authors, and of course, free books at your disposal. You only need to hear the hook once for it get to lodge into your head forever. Suddenly, you’ll be singing it at random intervals and if you’re around the right people, someone else will jump in. Another highlight is Ms. Turner mentioning how great the dewy decimal system is, prompting DW to ask several “Who is Dewey?” No joke, whenever this episode comes on, I stop what I’m doing to watch and sing along.

“Beaver Fever” – The Angry Beavers

The best episode of The Angry Beavers gave us one of the most undeniably catchy Nickelodeon songs. Daggit and Norbit turn into music superstars with this disco influenced hit. Everything about it is silly as the two brothers talk about chopping down wood, but damn if it isn’t catchy. The funky groove is hard to resist, the hook makes you want to sing, and it’s hard to feel bad when you hear it. 18 years later and I can still sing every part of this song. Barry’s”Oh Baby” song is also fun, but nothing beats “Beaver Fever,” which I’m sure the writers are still chuckling about.

“Banging on a Trash Can” – Doug

Doug gave us a lot of great songs thanks to Doug Funny’s favorite band, The Beets, but we’ll get to them later. When Doug started a garage band he gave birth to the greatest Nicktoons song: “Banging on a Trashcan.” Only over a minute long, the song is insanely catchy and memorable. Doug somehow comes up with the genius hook of “calling me, calling me, calling/One little voice is calling me.” Though Bebe tries to ruin the song with her “Think big” segments it somehow makes the song better. It’s like rock and pop coming together to make what has got to be the best Nicktoons song ever.  This song is so good, 90s kids are still singing it years later. And can we talk about the video? It’s pretty much an homage to Michael Jackson with a Madonna mention. Too bad Doug’s band didn’t even last one gig.

“Macadamia Nut” – Animaniacs

Though “Yakko’s World” is another great gem from the show and probably the best way to teach geography, this has always been my favorite Animaniacs song. This was a time when you couldn’t get away from “The Macarena.” First, it was a cute novelty song, then it became a nightmare. People thought it was a good idea to pull out at every party. The Warner Bros and Dot take the piss out of it by turning it into a song about how cute Dot is. It’s interjected with random groans, noises, and burps from the various characters. My favorite line has always been “Don’t touch me/Or I’ll have you arrested/Do you hear me?” For some reason, that line has always stuck with me, probably because it was out of place in a “kid’s” show.

“F.U.N.” – Spongebob Squarepants

During its 17 year run, Spongebob has spawned so many songs there are several soundtracks associated with the show. Though “Sweet Victory” is a fan favorite and one of my favorites is “Sweater Song,” “F.U.N.” is one of the most catchy songs from the series. Spongebob teaches Plankton about fun in the only way he knows – singing. As Spongebob sings about frolicking through the flowers, playing the ukulele, cherry picking, it’s hard not to smile at how cheerful he sounds. Everything about the song is upbeat and puts you in a good mood, which we seriously need right now. Though Spongebob is annoying and can get really creepy, he at least knows to keep smiling.

“Spring Cleaning” – Rocko’s Modern Life

If done poorly, the musical episode can be the worst 20 minutes of your life, but if done right it ends up being one of the best moments of the series. Rocko’s Modern Life’s “Zanzibar” is the latter. The entire episode is focused on cleaning up your house and the Earth complete with insanely catchy songs. Never has separating plastic from paper sounded like so much fun. The “Recycle Song” is great with its spelling section that seems hard to get right the first few times you sing it, but “Spring Cleaning” is the highlight. Done in true musical style, the citizens of O-Town get together to sing about the “sick disgusting job” that’s got to done, except Rocko; he missed rehearsals. Thanks to the show, whenever you’re cleaning in spring, this song pops in your head.

“USA! USA!” – Regular Show

There’s so much music in Regular Show they can make several albums full of it. Not only do you have songs like “Party Time,” Aw Snap!,” and “Summertime Lovin’,” but you also have all the random raps Mordecai and Rigby come up with in practically every episode. Though my current favorite is “Clock Song” the “USA! USA!” rap is just plain awesome. Similar to “Yakko’s World” the duo raps about the different countries in the world and what makes them great. Hint: most of them are the beaches. With the music and the duo’s flow, it has the vibe of an old school rap song, think Fresh Prince. It’s fun, upbeat, and sick as hell. What’s up with cartoons making geography so damn catchy?

“Rugrats Rap” – Rugrats

Who knew a rap song about a 90s cartoon could be so damn good? Featuring Chris Kelly from Kriss Kross (RIP), the song is all about the babies and the trouble they get into. It’s surprising just how awesome the song is with the lyrical flow, cool beats, and catchy hook. It’s a 90s rap song all the way, but it’s put a big smile on your face, especially if you remember hearing this as a kid. Rugrats had other songs like “Rugrats Rock” and “Cynthia Dance Work Out,” but neither are as memorable as this song. Plus, it’s better than just about all the songs on the Rugrats Movie Soundtrack. Mic. Dropped.

“Killer Tofu” – Doug/The Beets

Any Nicktoons fan will tell you The Beets are one of the best animated bands of all time. All of their songs are oddly catchy and still have you singing them today: “I Need Mo’ Allowance,” “Where’s My Socks,” and “Shout Your Lungs Out” can hold their own against classic rock songs. But the one song that will always be their best is “Killer Tofu,” which is probably the only rock song that promotes going vegetarian. Listen to the entire track and you’ll see it fucking rocks. Awesome hook, ripping guitars, and blazing solos. How is this song still so good 20 years later? The song is so popular rap group OverDoz even named one of their songs after it as a shout out to Doug. It makes you wish The Beets actually put out an album. Luckily, you can find all their songs on Youtube and relive the good times.

“We Put the Spring in Springfield” – The Simpsons

There are several memorable songs from the long-running Simpsons series. It seems like every other episode a character breaks out in song. Notable numbers include “See My Vest,” “Monorail Song,” and “Lisa, It’s Your Birthday” to name a few. But my favorite has always been this song from the episode “Bart After Dark.” Homer convinces the citizens of Springfield to not tear down the burlesque house by breaking into song. The ladies then proceed to sing about how they keep the excitement going in town. Not only is it catchy, but there are classic jokes like Mayor Quimby’s wife being a previous employee, Revard Lovejoy’s father being a customer, and the bullies’ solo about just learning about the place. It’s a classic song, one that actually won an Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics in 1997. If you’re feigning for more Simpsons music, there are various albums filled with songs from the series.

“Kyle’s Mom” – South Park

Though this classic South Park song got an extended version in the movie, it first graced Cartman’s lips in the episode “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.” Kyle’s mom is outraged that her son is forced to take part in a Christian play and therefore no one can sing classic Christmas carols. Cartman comes up with a new song on the spot about what a major bitch Kyle’s mom is. Set to upbeat, jaunty polka music, the song is hilarious and catchy. You’ll be singing and clapping along with the rest of the classmates, while Kyle stares in horror. Never has calling someone a major bitch been so much fun, at least in a cartoon. But the best past is when Mr. Hankey is so outraged at the song he throws himself at Cartman. Whether it’s a cartoon or not, the thought of getting shit thrown at your face is terrifying.

Which cartoon song is your favorite? There are lots more out there, so let me know which ones I missed in the comments.