Rock Music

Playlist: Awesome MadTv Performances You Forgot About

Anyone remember MadTv? Back in the 90s and 2000s, if Saturday Night Live wasn’t your style, chances are you turned to this show for laughs. It gave us iconic and hilarious characters like Miss Swan and Stuart. After In Living Color, it’s still one of my favorite sketch shows of the 90s, even though I probably shouldn’t have been watching. It also gave us some killer performances. Since the last few seasons of the show and the shoddy revival weren’t that great, it’s easy to forget the big names MadTv pulled in. Featuring new acts and legends helped the show stand out from its competition. So, let’s take a look back at some awesome MadTv performances you probably don’t remember.

The Cure – “Maybe Someday” (2000)

How MadTv managed to get The Cure to perform on the show is a mystery. Robert Smith can get picky about where he plays and a lewd comedy show featuring a grown man in his underwear doesn’t seem like one he’d be a part of. However they did it, the show got The freaking Cure to play “Maybe Sunday” in 2000. It’s a solid performance with Smith and the band sounding amazing as usual. Sadly, it’s a condensed version of the song with Smith not singing the first verse and going straight into the breakdown after the hook, but he’s Robert Smith. He can do that if he wants. I actually remember seeing this right as I was getting into the band. Smith and his wiry black hair captivated me just as much then as he does now. This is still one of my favorite MadTv moments.

The Strokes – “Is This It?/NYC Cops” (2002)

MadTv album Bobby Lee introduces The Strokes as his favorite band and they kick off their two-song set with “Is This It?” As always, frontman Julian Casablancas looks disinterested being on stage. Things get more lively for “NYC Cops” as fans get out of their seats and rush the stage. The scene never gets chaotic; everyone just wiggles and dances in the background while Casablancas looks distraught. The weird part comes at the end when we see Frank Caliente and Mo Collins as George and Babara Bush complaining about MadTv being over and trying to find something else to watch. The scene would be more enjoyable if they actually let The Strokes finish performing.

Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows” (2003)

This was around the time QOTSA hit the mainstream, despite releasing two albums prior to Songs of the Deaf. Both this and “Go With the Flow” are a blast to watch. Josh Homme and co go at it hard like they’re playing one of their own shows. The crowd kind of just sits there and politely nods, which is strange. With our current image of Homme being clad in leather, covered in tattoos, and looking slightly haggard, it’s funny to see a young, fresh-faced Homme. Though I can’t get over his creeper mustache. Luckily, he doesn’t revisit that too often.

Sum 41 – “Still Waiting” (2002)

Sum 41 absolutely kills it with this performance. Not only do they sound great, they’re energetic and go it hard bringing some aggression to the MadTv stage. It’s short, sweet, and straight to the point. No weird sketches or tricks here. It’s just the band doing what they do best. But you can’t help noticing the crowd just sitting there nodding their heads to the music. With the hard driving nature of the song, you’d expect people jumping around or least dancing in their seats. It’s kind of weird.

Creed – “Higher”(2000)

Okay, so this performance isn’t that awesome; it’s just funny to look back on. Believe it or not, there was a time when Creed wasn’t a stain on music. Even though the show made funny Creed parodies, even they couldn’t deny how successful the band was. Listening to the performance now, it makes you wonder how people sat there and took Scott Stapp’s vocals seriously. It sounds like he’s doing a bad Eddie Vedder impression throughout the entire song. And seeing him give “sexy” faces to the camera makes you cringe. Still, it’s better than the time Stapp forgot all the words to his songs, so that’s a plus.

Green Day – “Blood, Sex, and Booze” (2001)

After a weird joke from Will Sasso, Green Day takes the stage to perform “Blood, Sex, and Booze,” something they rarely play live. They play with the same passion, fire, and fervor they do in their massive stadium gigs. It’s a pretty cut and dry performance for the band that’s still a blast to watch. While I didn’t like the band at the time this aired, I remember rushing home after school around the peak of American Idiot to catch a rerun featuring this performance. They also played “Warning,” which is a solid performance, it’s not as fun as the previous one.

Ja Rule featuring Ashanti – “Always on Time” (2002)

Remember when Ja Rule and Ashanti ruled the airwaves? These two had a number of hit singles on their own, but they seemed to work best when singing with each other. Regardless of how you feel about Ja Rule and his antics now, you can’t deny he was one of the most popular rappers ten years ago. And while Ja Rule’s gravely vocals can be laughable, the two actually sound really good here. As someone who loved singing this song on weekend drives, this throwback is a blast to watch.

Alien Ant Farm – “Smooth Criminal” (2001)

This performance not only features Alien Ant Farm playing their one smash hit, it also has Aries Spears (remember him?!) doing his best Michael Jackson impression. Donned in a suit, fedora, and white makeup making him look like really creepy, Spears teases MJ’s then comeback, pulls off a couple of kicks, and gets carried off by two young boys. Afterward, the band launches into the song while the crowd dances and waves their arms from the comfort of their seats. Seriously, did the show have a no standing rule or something? The energetic performance and Spears’ impression makes this a memorable MadTv moment. Too bad AAF couldn’t manage to score another hit.

Marilyn Manson – “Personal Jesus” (2004)

MadTv really tried to make this performance “edgy” and “cool” with the twisted camera angles and dark lighting. Unfortunately, things are so dark you can barely see Manson and the rest of the band. Compared to his other TV appearances this one is quite tame and he seems a little bored. John 5 and Tim Skold exude more energy than Manson. Being the newly minted Manson fan I was, I ate up every minute of this performance. It’s still better than his recent concert appearances.

Blondie – “Call Me” (1999)

Since the show has been off the air for almost 10 years, (we won’t count the “revival”) it’s easy to forget how many iconic musicians have played the show. Bon Jovi, Wu-Tang, and Ice-T have all made appearances, but Blondie’s is one of the best. While the performance is great even though it’s cut short, it’s the skit with Miss Swan that stands out. Miss Swan fronts the band singing her own incomprehensible version of the song prompting Debbie Harry to come out and ask what the hell she’s doing. Miss Swan then insists she wrote the song on tuba but allows Harry to sing only if she plays nice. It’s a weird bit you’d never imagine the singer being a part, but it happened. But hey, this was when Miss Swan was at hear peak. Who wouldn’t want to be in one of her sketches?

No Doubt – “Bathwater” (2000)

For anyone to remember No Doubt during their peak, this is how they picture Gwen Stefani. The weird, alt girl with her own style and sound. Stefani is slinky and cool as she sings, while the rest of the band ham it up for the camera, especially a topless Adrian Young. It’s a fun, energetic performance that reminds you how awesome both No Doubt and Stefani were. While I don’t mind her current work, it’s just not the same.

Tenacious D – “Tribute” (2002)

You’re never sure what kind of performance you’re going to get from Tenacious D, but you know it’s gonna be weird and it’s gonna rock. The duo didn’t disappoint with this MadTv appearance. Featuring Dave Grohl on drums, Jack Black recounts a tale of singing the greatest song in the world for a beast. The thing is, they can’t remember it. Black gives his usual hammy rockstar performance that’s fun to watch. The best part comes when he gently sets down his guitar, rips off his shirt to show off his flame painted gut, and “breathes fire” out of his mouth. Clearly, they’re a perfect fit for the show. Too bad they didn’t have them on more often.

There are so many performances I wanted to include, but couldn’t find like Outkast and Wu-Tang Clan. So which MadTv performance is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!


10 Bizarre Musical Projects You Didn’t Know About

Sometimes when you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, you want to try something different. Our favorite artists and bands go through the same things. You often hear about artists wanting to break free from their established sound and do something new and out of the box. Sometimes it can produce successful projects that show another side of an artist you thought you knew. And other times it’s a spectacular failure. So let’s look at ten weird musical projects you may not have known about. Not all of them are failures, but they’ll make you see these artists in a different light.

10. Damon Albarn Writes an Opera

Considering how many projects Damon Albarn has created, him writing an opera doesn’t sound that shocking. In 2011, he teamed up with theatre director Rufus Norris for the production Dr Dee: An English Opera. The opera is based on the life of John Dee, who was a medical and scientific advisor to Elizabeth I. Originally, the production was meant to be a collaboration between Albarn, Jamie Hewlett, and graphic novelist Alan Moore. It played at the Palace Theatre in Manchester in July 2011 and was received relatively well. The soundtrack to the opera was later released in 2012 and honestly, it doesn’t sound too different from his other material. While the release features traditional operatic tracks, other songs sound like they’re from his solo album. They’re spacey, kind of weird, yet beautiful. Maybe he’ll work on a Gorillaz opera next. Actually, that would be pretty awesome.

9. Beastie Boys Go Country

Unlike the other entries on this list, this album was made completely in jest. In 1999, the Beastie Boys recorded a full country album dubbed Mike D’s Greatest Country Hits. They never intended it for a wide release. Rather it was a weird gift for their family and friends. In the liner notes to The Sounds of Science, Adam Yauch explained the origin of the album as Mike D losing his memory due to being hit in the head and believing he was a country singer. “The psychologists told us that if we didn’t play along with Mike’s fantasy, he could be in grave danger. Finally, he came back to his senses. This song (“Railroad Blues”) is one of the many that we made during that tragic period of time.” It has a classic good ‘ol country vibe ala Conway Twitty, heavy twangs and all. Even though the songs are clearly jokes (“Sloppy Drunk”, “Don’t Let the Air Out My Tire”) a lot of country songs are strange, so in a way, they fit right in. You can listen to the entire LP on Youtube. And whatever happened to Country Mike? According to Mike D, he’s homeless.

8. Aretha Franklin Gets Disco Fever

Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul who can do no wrong…expect she did by going Disco with La Diva. In the 70s many artists went disco for a spell from Paul McCartney to KISS. So it’s not exactly weird for Franklin to jump on the bandwagon. But since it was around the time Disco died out, it wasn’t her finest output and ended being a commercial flop. Selling under 75,000 units, it’s still her lowest selling album in her entire Atlantic Records career. Yet, the album isn’t terrible. It’s filled with sappy and generic disco songs prevalent during the era. It seems this record was released at the wrong time. Perhaps if it came out during disco’s peak it would’ve been better received. But seeing as disco was dying out, the album seems like a sad attempt to cash in on a dying trend.

7. Serj Tankian Gets Jazzy with Jazz Is Christ


Whenever you think of Serj Tankian the first thing that comes to mind is the heavy, intense music of System of a Down. And while he’s experimented a bit with his solo releases, jazz is the last thing you’d expect to hear from him. But that’s exactly where he went. In 2013 he released the album Jazz-iZ Christ with a group of the same name. Featuring pianist Tigran Hamasyan, flautist Valeri Tolstov, and trumpet player Tom Duprey, the largely instrumental album finds the rocker mixing jazz with elements of rock, electronic, and world music. It’s definitely a weird experience, but it doesn’t sound that bad. It does have the mellow flow of Jazz, but thanks to the blend of other genres it keeps you on your toes. It was a pretty successful release and shows the wide range Tankian has as a musician. Though I’m sure people would prefer a new SOAD record at this point.

6. Garth Brooks Confuses the World with Chris Gaines

Garth Brooks is one of country’s biggest superstars, if not the biggest. Even if you don’t like country music chances are you know one of his songs. He had a slew of hits and multi-platinum albums during his peak in the 90s. But not everything he touched went gold – remember Chris Gaines? Back in 1999, Brooks introduced this “edgy” alter ego to the world and released his only album The Life of Chris Gaines. Featuring Brooks doing his best Savage Garden impression, the album spawned one hit “Lost In You.” As you can guess, the project was a flop yet it wasn’t terrible. It was just weird. Not only did the album receive mixed reviews, fans were confused as hell. Was it a joke? Was it really Garth Brooks? Has he gone crazy? They even made a Behind the Music episode for the persona. Just listen to Brooks explain Gaines’ origins and try not to be confused. Turns out, Brooks planned the persona for a movie he was meant to star in called The Lamb. It didn’t happen. After the fiasco he back to country music. He’s good at it, so he should stick with it.

5. Paul Banks Release a Weird, Hip Hop Infused Mixtape

Paul Banks is better known as the monotone, Ian Curtis-eqsue frontman for Interpol. Banks has picked up various side projects, including a solo career, but his strangest is the 2013 mixtape Everybody On My Dick Like They Supposed to Be. There’s so much weirdness packed into this release you’re not sure where to start. Banks handles production and the actual music, which sounds generic and low quality. As for vocals, rappers like Mike G, Talib Kweli, and High Prizm handle the actual rapping – a smart move on Banks’ part. Though, admittedly, having Banks rap on these tracks may have made the mixtape worthwhile. The release was meant to be a pre-release bonus for his second solo album Banks, but it was released a year later. It seems like Banks is genuinely interested in rap as he teamed up with RZA for the project Banks & Steelz, which surprisingly, was received pretty well.

4. Snoop Dogg Becomes Snoop Lion

People weren’t sure what to make of Snoop Dogg’s reincarnation in 2013. After a documentary dubbed Reincarnated, Snoop introduced his new persona Snoop Lion along with his new Rastafarian lifestyle. The album Reincarnated came out the same year and features Snoop doing his best Reggae impression while singing about smoking weed. Well, at least some things never change. To be fair, Snoop Lion isn’t terrible, but it’s still not great. The album was met with mixed reviews, yet oddly enough was nominated for a Grammy for Best Reggae Album. What a slap in the face for actual reggae artists. Seeing as Snoop released his latest album, Neva Left, under Snoop Dogg, it’s safe to say things are back to normal.

3. Tommy Lee Attempts Nu-Metal

Since hair metal died out in the 90s with the onslaught of grunge, Motley Crue wasn’t at their peak during the era. After some less than stellar albums, drummer Tommy Lee left the band in 1999 and formed Methods of Mayhem his attempt at a rap/rock band. The band released their self-titled album, which went gold and actually received decent reviews. Lead single “Get Naked” received moderate airplay on MTV, which is hard to believe since it’s terrible. Lee shouldn’t be allowed to rap because it’s a mess. And the band as a whole is just generic “hardcore” music and lame lyrics trying to cash in on the “nu-metal” trend at the time. Now, people realize just how bad the band was. Everyone except Tommy Lee. In 2009, he reformed the band with a new lineup and released the album A Public Disservice Announcement. Luckily, he doesn’t rap as much and sticks with something that’s supposed to be singing.

2. Pat Boone Goes Metal…Kind Of

Pat Boone makes the kind of music that gets finger snapping and toes tapping….if you’re over 65. Back in the day, Boone was a Renaissance man appearing in movies, TV shows, being a spokesman, a motivational speaker, and a singer. His music is safe and non-threatening, but in 1997 Boone made the bold decision to go metal in the lamest way possible. In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy features the singer covering metal hits like “You Got Another Thing Coming” and “Crazy Train” in a jazz/big band style, which makes the album even weirder. The covers aren’t necessarily terrible, just confusing as all hell. He sounds like a grandfather when singing “Enter Sandman” and “Holy Diver.” It’s like he wanted to make non-threatening metal for people who don’t actually like metal. If that wasn’t bad enough, the album art shows the then 63-year old wearing a vest and chain. Instead of looking metal he looks like a real-life version of that Ken doll that definitely wasn’t gay.

1. Dee Dee Ramone Reinvents himself as Dee Dee King

Dee Dee Ramone will always be remembered for The Ramones, one of the most influential punk rock bands. But his stint as a rapper will forever haunt him. It sounds like a bad joke but the punk rocker took up rapping in 1989. What started as showing up to Ramones rehearsals in hip-hop gear turned into a weird side project. Under the name Dee Dee King, he released the LP Standing in the Spotlight. It’s almost too painful to listen to. Songs like “Funky Man” and “German Kid” sound like your dad rapping because it’s “hip” and “cool” with the kids. The songs are laughably bad talking about how he’s half German or singing about how the Mash Potato will make your “body move.” He even proclaims he’s a master at hip-hop. At the time Dee Dee said he felt a connection with the underdog spirit of the genre. Later, an older, wiser Dee Dee realized it probably wasn’t the best career move. After the album flopped he went back to the Ramones and all was right with the world.

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

Playlist: I Will Survive

Image result for destiny's child survivor

2017 was a tough year for a lot of people and it seemed like the negativity and bad news was never going to end, but we made through to another year. We survived and that’s something to celebrate. During tough times it’s too easy to focus on everything that’s going wrong in your life. We often forget that the bad times aren’t going to last forever. And when we make it through those hard times, we’ve survived and are hopefully stronger for it. So this month’s playlist is all about survival. Hopefully, it’ll give you some solace if you’re going through something difficult.

“The Middle” – Jimmy Eat World

We’re all filled with some sort of self-doubt. Whether you messed up at work, a video idea isn’t coming together, or are stuck on a writing assignment it’s easy to write yourself off. You start to wonder if you’re even good enough at your job. During these moments, we need to take a cue from Jim Adkins and remember “Everything will be alright.” What is arguably Jimmy Eat World’s biggest hit reminds us that as long as we’re trying our best, we’re doing just fine. It’s one of those songs that reminds me whatever you’re going through isn’t going to last forever. It’s best to ride it out and try to keep your head up. And it doesn’t hurt that song is so irresistibly catch, it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re singing along.

“Fighter” – Christina Aguilera

This is an anthem for anyone who’s had their heartbroken, been lied to, been cheated on, the list goes on. Aguilera uses her personal experiences from the start of her career and channels her anger into a message that says “I survived.” She proclaims she can’t be stopped and instead of letting her regrets and her past mistakes haunt her, she uses them to make her stronger and make her a fighter. We’ve all had those moments where it seems like nothing is going to get better. But once the storm passes and we make it out, we’re stronger and we learn from our experience ready for any future battles that may come our way.

“I’m Still Standing” – Elton John

Not only does this Elton John hit make you feel good, it’s a testament to one’s strength and will after a bad experience, in this case, a bad breakup. Life may get you down at times and you may even face great challenges you’re not sure how to overcome, but in the end, you’ll make it. You’ll still be standing and you’ll be stronger for it. This is another anthem for the heartbroken, the cheated, and the deceived reminding you to pick up the pieces and don’t let life get you down. Fun fact: Bruno Tonioli from Dancing With the Stars is the scantily clad man in the black speedo. Scandalous!

“Happy” – Pharrell

Okay, so this song was pretty annoying after it dropped in 2014 and became the anthem for any and every get-together. But you can’t deny it’s the ultimate feel-good anthem. Pharrell reminds us to keep smiling and be happy even when people are trying to bring on bad news. And it’s hard to focus on the negative with this infectious song. It’s hard to be grumpy with the uplifting hook and the upbeat hand claps. If you need a song to unwind and shake off the bad with some dancing, then this song is the one to play.

“The Fight Song” – Marilyn Manson

2017 tried the patience of people all over. A lot of them decided to stand up and fight rather than do nothing. Sometimes you need a song to pump you up and prepare you for battle. This Marilyn Manson song will do just that. A song criticizing American violence, the energy, the hard-hitting music, and Manson repeating “Fight! Fight!” gets your heart racing. It’s a mean, raging track that gets you in the fighting mood, no matter what you’re fighting for.

“I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor

This is the ultimate breakup anthem. Gaynor admits to crying after her lover leaves, but it doesn’t last long. She picks herself up, finds a new love, and tells her ex to hit the road when they come crawling back. Not only is it a timeless dance song, it’s a song about empowerment. Whether you’ve been through a nasty breakup or are just experiencing a low point in your life, the song pushes you to be strong, get better, and move on. It’s easy to curl up and be defeated when life gets you down. During times like this, we have to remember what Gaynor preaches: “I will survive.”

“Float On” – Modest Mouse

Not only does this song have an iconic guitar riff, it also has a great positive message. In the song, Isaac Brock lists off a series of bad incidents you’d normally sweat over, but everything works out in the end. This is a song about letting mistakes, bad news, and accidents wash off of you. No matter how tough things get, it’ll be better. Brock says even though things look bleak now, they won’t always be, which is hard to remember when you’re going through hard times. Life’s not always a shitshow and sometimes you have to let things go instead of worrying about them. As he says “sometimes life’s okay.”

“Still Breathing” – Green Day

The song that inspired this playlist, this is one of Green Day’s finest. Similar to other songs on the playlist, it’s a reminder to not let past dark times get you down. Rather than focusing on the bad, it’s a celebration of making it through the storm. You may have gone through dark times, but you made it in the end. So, let’s celebrate the fact you’re still here and hopefully, you’re better for it. The song itself is emotional and one of Billie Joe Armstrong’s most personal with references to his childhood and past addictions. But it’s also a song that many people can relate to, which is why it’s such a highlight at Green Day concerts.

“I Choose to Live” – Creeper

This beautiful, Queen-esque song is a counterpart to Creeper’s “Misery.” With the tagline “misery never goes out of style” the song addresses feelings of depression and giving up hope. “I Choose to Live” is a message to fight against those feelings. Don’t give up hope and know life isn’t always bleak. Frontman Will Gould stated he wrote the song as a message to the fans. Instead of ending their album, Eternity in Your Arms, with a message of hopelessness, they wanted to close on a positive note. It’s a message to keep fighting and try not to let your demons get the best of you.

“The Show Must Go On” – Queen

Life’s too short to focus on the negative. That’s essentially what this song is about. Though the track has an uplifting message of making the most out of life and continuing in the face of adversary, it has a sad backstory. The song was written while Freddie Mercury was struggling with AIDS. When it was time to record the song, Brian May didn’t think Mercury was strong enough to perform. Mercury proved him wrong and delivered a top notch, powerful performance; the kind we’re used to. Listening to the song, you can’t even tell Mercury was near the end of his life. It goes to show you need to make the most out of life even if things aren’t looking good.

“Survivor” – Destiny Child

This is like “I Will Survive” for the next generation. The girls of Destiny’s Child have no problem moving on after a bad breakup and similar to so many other songs on this list, the experience has made them stronger. They even take the high road saying they won’t resort to talking trash about their ex, even if it would feel good at the time. It’s another song about overcoming hard times and pushing away negativity from your life. It’s an empowering anthem for anyone.

Which song gets you through tough times? Let me know in the comments!

Notable Releases of 2017

2017 is almost over and it’s time to look back at the music, both good and bad. Before we get to best and worst, I wanted to look back at some albums that left the biggest impressions on me. This is based on what I sought out and listened to this year, so my list will most likely be different from yours.

Album I Enjoyed Way More Than I Thought I Would:

Dreamcar – Dreamcar

When it was revealed that the members of No Doubt who aren’t Gwen Stefani and Davey Havock were working together I was intrigued and confused. What kind of music would they make together? Turns out 80s new wave. While I wasn’t impressed with the first single, when I listened to Dreamcar it took me by surprise how much fun it was. It’s not a great album and it doesn’t give us anything we haven’t heard before, but some of the songs are irresistible. Tracks like “After I Confessed,” “All the Dead Girls,” and “Do Nothing” are so catchy you can’t help but sing and dance along. The album is a blatant homage to the 80s, but at least the band had fun with it. The energy and spirit are so infectious. It seems like Havok put more effort into recording this LP than he did for AFI. Dreamcar doesn’t do anything new, but it’s great for letting loose and having fun.

Album I Had Low Expectations For But Fucking Loved:

Heaven Upside Down – Marilyn Manson

When Marilyn Manson announced Say10 last year, I was ecstatic. His last two efforts were solid and I couldn’t wait to hear what he had in store for us next. But with a big delay and a lead single that left me unimpressed, my expectations began to shrink. Every time he mentioned how the album goes back to the days of Antichrist Superstar I rolled my eyes. We heard this before with High End of Low and that album is pretty bad. I didn’t think I’d like Heaven Upside Down, but man, I fucking love it.

This is hardcore, aggressive, brutal Manson that scared us back in 1996. The songs are violent and dark in the best ways possible. And for once, he was actually right. The album does have traces of Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, but it never feels like he’s ripping himself off. He just manages to recapture the feeling of those albums.

After hearing the single “We Know Where You Fucking Live” I was worried he was trying too hard to be edgy. Luckily, this isn’t the case (at least not with every song). Instead, he sounds genuine, like he has a fire lit under him once again. This is classic Manson and the music grabs you by the throat waiting to rip out your lungs until it’s over. Heaven Upside Down is a stellar album that reminds me why I became a fan in the first place. This is the finest album Manson’s later career and proves he’s still has a lot to say.

Disappointing Album of 2017:

AFI (The Blood Album) – AFI

AFI was one of the few releases I was pumped for when the year kicked off. Not only did their cryptic teasing get me excited, but I loved what I heard with singles like “White Offerings” and “Snow Cats.” These songs felt like a return to form and I couldn’t wait to hear the new album. But once I finally got my hands on it, it was a letdown. Most of the songs aren’t exciting or memorable. Tracks like “Still a Stranger,” “Hidden Knives,” and “So Beneath You” aren’t awful. But there’s very little about them that grabs you like great AFI songs are supposed to do. Everything I love about AFI, like their charm, melancholy, and their in your face nature are missing from this album. Even almost a year later I struggle to remember these songs aside from the singles.

For me, it has nothing to do with their new, lighter sound. I actually don’t mind it. While I do miss the days of Sing the Sorrow, I like that they constantly evolve and experiment with new sounds. But this album just didn’t do it for me. Rather than being something that sticks with you, it’s a pretty unremarkable experience. These are just decent generic rock songs and we expect better from AFI at this point. Unfortunately, it’s some of their weakest material in years making for an album that’s tolerable, yet kind of dull. While I don’t mind listening to the album, it’s just overwhelmingly okay and since I was so excited to hear what AFI had in store after Burials, it was the album that disappointed me the most this year.

Underrated Release of 2017:

<shutdown.exe> – 3Teeth

This is the result if Ministry and Nine Inch Nails had a baby. 3Teeth take you back to the old days of industrial metal that’s brutal, violent, and just a bit scary. Not for the faint of heart.

If you want to know which album is on my shit list this year, check back later this week when I reveal what my worst album of 2017 is.

Rank the Videos: HIM 2005 – 2013

With only a month away from seeing the band live for the final time, it’s time to wrap up the series and take a look at HIM’s final videos. Continuing with Dark Light and moving towards the Tears on Tape era, the videos aren’t as awkward or cheesy as their early ones. Unfortunately, their videos steadily become predictable. Most of these clips look similar to their other ones or is just yet another performance clip with the only difference being the setting. While not terrible, they aren’t as memorable as their other clips. That being said, here are HIM’s videos 2005 – 2013 from best to worst. Check out the first parts here and here.

“Killing Loneliness” Version 1 (2005)

For one of HIM’s biggest singles, the band filmed two videos: one for the European the release, the other for the US. The European version, directed by Noble Jones, finds the band fulfilling various sexual desires. Starting with a dreary, grey setting, we follow a woman walking to a seedy club emblazoned with the Heartagram symbol. Once inside, she gets her coin, also featuring the symbol, and enters a nudie booth. After paying the fee, the band is revealed to be inside the booth performing. The rest of the clip follows different people as they watch HIM perform and begin to enjoy themselves a bit too much. One woman even comes prepared in her lingerie and doesn’t hesitate to start rubbing herself. Ville Valo takes full advantage of his sex symbol status as he chooses one lucky lady and sings in her ear. It’s a slightly naughty clip that goes beyond the average performance video. Though there isn’t any nudity, the sexual situations are somehow still too steamy for American shores.

“Heartkiller” (2010)

This video by James Copeland actually has some clever image trickery at play. Taxidermy figures of tigers, owls, ravens, and boars are carefully layered over each member of the band and one fierce looking lady. Sometimes the image overlying doesn’t exactly work, but when it does, it leaves some head-turning visuals. The most notable moment is opening where flashes of a skull synch up perfectly with Ville. Upon release, I wasn’t impressed with the video and only remembered a shirtless Ville bathed in red light. Revisiting it, I find it to be one of their most creative videos. The imagery is awesome and really sticks with you once the video is over.

“Into the Night” (2013)

What is now HIM’s final video shows them playing the song while mysterious robed figures gather bricks and lay them out in a pattern. The people range from old to young carrying bricks to the middle of a sandy area. At one point Ville has his own brick and tosses it to one of the figures. By the end, we see the result: a Heartagram, what a surprise. The video is nothing amazing, but the robed figures add a sense of mystery, at least the first time you see it. And if you’ve ever spent time in class scribbling out Heartagrams, it brings on a pleasing sense of nostalgia. It’s weird thinking this is HIM’s last video (as of now). It wasn’t meant to be a goodbye and it doesn’t feel like one. There’s no sense of finality to it, which is actually kind of nice. Watching it now, I don’t feel any sadness even though the band is ending. Rather, it makes me remember how much joy they’ve brought me with their music, unlike something like Blink-182’s “Not Now,” which I still associate with frustration due to their break up.

“Killing Loneliness” Version 2 (2006)

Sadly, the US version of this video is quite lame and predictable. Directed by Nathan Cox, the majority of the clip features the band performing in the middle of a club. Other shots include Ville walking through the crowd and a cameo by Kat Von D, seemingly looking for the singer. When the two finally meet, she brands him with a new tattoo of Edgar Allen Poe’s eyes. Not really sure what this random exchange has to do with the rest of the video, but it’s in there. It’s another straightforward performance clip and ends up being dull compared to the previous version.

“Tears on Tape” (2013)

HIM delivers a cryptic video for this single. Beginning with shots of the band members playing in front of a projector, we see Ville scribble out mysterious symbols. Soon, the symbols are replicated everywhere by different people. They serve as tattoos, graffiti, secret notes, an eerie flag, and even some sort of decoration for a horse. This scene is just confusing. Why paint a horse in the first place? The symbol widely spreads similar to the Heartagram, which has been adopted by people who don’t even know the band. It’s a decent video that shows how these weird symbols take on different meanings for people and even bring them together. The only laughable thing is Burton. What the hell is up with that shot of Burton sitting on the floor tapping the keyboard so unenthusiastically? Seeing him tap on his keyboard giving unsure looks at the camera breaks the serious mood the video is trying to set up.

“All Lips Go Blue” (2013)

Directed by Eugene Riecansky, this video collects a bunch of cool imagery and puts it all together with no clear concept. We see giant chess pieces that crumble, violent crashing waves, gnarled trees stolen from a Tim Burton set, and the tumbling of a giant house of cards. Meanwhile, the band is superimposed over these scenes watching the madness unfold, though they look kind of bored by the whole thing. The video is beautifully shot and the graphics are cool to look at, but the unclear focus and the dull look of the band don’t make it the most exciting clip.

“Kiss of Dawn” (2007)

For this clip, director Meiert Avis relies on some of the band’s old video tropes: shirtless Ville and questionable effects. We see HIM recording the track along with shots of Ville looking pensive while writing. The rest of the video finds the singer shirtless, wandering through a Gothic setting while a beautiful apparition passes by him. What this has to do with the story or the song? No clue and unlike Avis’ work on “Wings of a Butterfly” the Gothic scenes look cheesy. Not a terrible video, but like many other HIM clips, nothing notable – just an excuse to stare at Ville for four minutes.

“Scared to Death” (2010)

Directed by Eugene Riecansky, this one has a somewhat similar vibe as “Gone With the Sin:” Ville walking through eye-catching landscapes. This time he’s walking through the eerily empty city streets with his trusty guitar. He gives the camera the typical brooding looks throughout his journey. We then see the other members walking the streets as if trying to meet up for band rehearsal. Out of nowhere weird 3D triangles begin raining from the sky. In one of the cheesiest moments we see one close up and it shows a promo photo of the band as it passes. While the video may be interesting to watch at first, it’s not all that memorable, but hey, at least Ville looks handsome.

“Bleed Well” (2007)

Meiret Avis returns one last time to direct this performance clip. Taking the same grainy effect he used on “Wings of a Butterfly” the band performs the song with gusto and joy. That’s about it. It’s another boring performance clip from the band. At least it looks like they’re having fun; the video opens with Ville laughing and the smile he breaks into while singing is infectious. It’s the one thing about the video I actually remember. Other than that, it plays out like their other performance videos.

“Strange World” (2012)

A rather scruffy looking Ville and crew plow through this Ke cover in this video. Directed by Eugene Riecansky, the clip is nothing but HIM performing the track in the studio. Aside from the band pulling some questionable “rocking out” faces, nothing happens. It’s your typical “we had no ideas, so let’s just perform” video. The most distracting thing is Ville’s lip-synching. Something about it seems off as if he’s trying too hard or not hard enough. Maybe he knew the video would be a bore and decided it wasn’t worth putting in the effort.

And with that, we’ve covered all of HIM’s videos. Some are now iconic and ones that I will gladly watch on repeat. Others are tough to sit through with corny visuals and awkward performances. And rest are just predictable. Still, it was a blast revisiting all of HIM’s videos and seeing their evolution from a small Finnish rock band to global superstars. Doing this series brought back a lot of fond memories when I first got into the band and a lot of them were just fun to watch again. Though the band is breaking up, they at least left us with great music we can still rock out to.