top ten

Top 10 Songs About Other Musicians

Even though musicians are famous, have tons of fans, and perform across the world it doesn’t mean they can’t fan out from time to time. Musicians aren’t afraid to address each other in song. Sometimes it comes from a place of love or an homage to someone they admire. Other times, it can be kind of ugly, a snarky tune dedicated to someone they don’t care for. The songs can be obvious and other times the dedication is well hidden. There are too many songs about other musicians to name, so here are ten of the most notable songs about other musicians.

10. “Obsessed” – Mariah Carey

Ever since his third album, The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem claimed that he and Mariah Carey were once an item. But aside from dropping her name in a few songs, neither one have commented further on the supposed relationship. When her name appeared again on “Bagpipes from Baghdad” with the rapper calling out her then-husband, Nick Cannon,Carey decided she had enough. She wrote this song in responsive to the rapper’s claims calling them false, saying he’s obsessed with her, and that he’s delusional. And to make things even clearer, Carey plays an unnamed rapper in the video chasing after…herself. Of course, Eminem didn’t take this lightly and released his own response titled “The Warning.” What’s even more strange than the situation is thought of Eminem and Mariah Carey dating in the first place.

9. “Michael, You’ve Got a Lot to Answer For” – Duran Duran

The Michael in question here is INXS’ Michael Hutchence. The song kinds sound of somber, especially with the singer’s death, but it didn’t start out that way. The song is actually about Simon LeBon’s friendship with Hutchence. In an interview with Q Magazine, LeBon says the song is about Hutchence being “a naughty boy” in France and London. He apparently did so many substances LeBon couldn’t keep up. The song was released a month before Hutchence died on November 22, 1997. It’s sad that an ode to friendship took on a sad meaning not shortly after it was released.

8. “Tunic (A Song for Karen)” – Sonic Youth

Karen Carpenter, singer, and drummer for The Carpenters, tragically died in 1983 due to complications from anorexia nervosa. Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon wrote this song years later trying to put herself in the late singer’s shoes. The frenetic guitars and the memorable hook of “You are never going anywhere” don’t exactly mask the dark connotations of this song. There are references to Karen’s eating disorder and lines about losing who you are. There’s even a verse where Gordon imagines the singer up in heaven, happy, and playing drums again. When asked about the song 20 years later, Gordon said “I was trying to put myself into Karen’s body. It was like she had so little control over her life, like a teenager – they have so little control over what’s happening to them that one way they can get it is through what they eat or don’t. Also, I think she lost her identity, it got smaller and smaller. And there have been times when I feel I’ve lost mine.” It’s a tribute to the singer that catches you off guard since it’s not sappy or sad.

7. “Dude Looks Like a Lady” – Aerosmith

Probably best remembered for its use in Mrs. Doubtfire, this song talks about an androgynous guy who is mistaken for a woman. Looking at the lyrics it doesn’t seem Steven Tyler minds all that much saying “you may be wrong/but you know it’s alright” and he even does a little cross-dressing of his own in the video. The origin story for the song changes depending on the source: Tyler says the song came from hearing Motley Crue saying “Dude!” all the time. Vince Neil says the song was inspired by a New York bar where the waiters dress in women’s clothing. But Nikki Sixx says the song is actually about Tyler mistaking Vince Neil for a woman in a bar. It’s wasn’t hard to do; did you see the way he dressed in the 80’s? It doesn’t really matter how the song came about because it’s an Aerosmith classic. Though I prefer to believe it’s about Vince Neil; it’s funnier that way.

6. “Tearjerker” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Many songs were written about Kurt Cobain after his shocking death. The Chili Peppers added their contribution with this track from their sixth album One Hot Minute. It’s a ballad where Anthony Kiedis sings about his reaction to Kurt’s death and what he liked so much about the singer. With lines like “I liked your whiskers/I liked the dimple in your chin/your pale blue eyes” and “you never knew this/but I wanted badly for you to/requite my love” it’s more like a love song to Cobain. Though the two worked together on an MTV special, they weren’t all that close. But Kiedis explains Kurt was someone everyone felt close to. “I don’t know why everyone on earth felt so close to that guy; he was beloved and endearing and inoffensive in some weird way. For all of his screaming and all of his darkness, he was just lovable.” It’s a sweet song that’ll make Nirvana fans smile.

5. “Cry Me a River” – Justin Timberlake

Though Timberlake has denied it since the song’s release, we all know this song is about his ex-Britney Spears. The basis of the song is a bad break up and pretty much not giving a shit about the person. It also makes several references to infidelity, which is what apparently ended the pair’s relationship. And to top things off, Timberlake’s lover in the video looks like Spears. Anyone who saw the video pretty much knew who he was talking about. The singer finally admitted in 2011 that he wrote the song after the two had an argument. So even if the song isn’t a direct attack on Britney Spears, she was still an inspiration. The break up was nasty, but maybe now he can thank her since it gave him one of his biggest songs to date.

4. “Suicide Blonde” – INXS

INXS frontman Michael Hutchence was known as a playboy in the 80s, but his most infamous relationship was with Kylie Minogue, you know the one responsible for that song. Rumor has it the Aussie singer inspired Hutchence to write the song since she dyed her hair blonde for a role in the film The Delinquents. Neither one ever confirmed the song’s origin, but with lyrics about a red hot lover who has men landing at her feet, it makes a lot of sense. Only Hutchence knows the true significance. Either way, it ended up being an INXS classic and has that sexy flair only Michael Hutchence could pull off so flawlessly.

3. “I’ll Stick Around” – Foo Fighters

Though Dave Grohl wrote a beautiful and touching song about Kurt Cobain called “Friend of a Friend” that deserves to be mentioned, his song attacking Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, gets him on the list. It’s a fan favorite and many picked up that Grohl was attacking someone. With lines like “I don’t owe you anything” there was speculation it was about Cobain. Grohl finally admitted in 2009 it was actually about Courtney Love, which you can see in lines like “how could it be/I’m the only one who sees/your rehearsed insanity.” He sings about how he regrets letting her and Cobain hook up and that he can see through her deceptiveness. It’s a hate filled song of the best kind, but it seems Grohl has forgiven Love in later years. The two made amends at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Grohl wouldn’t be the only artist to blast Love on a track; Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” is about the Hole singer as well.

2. “Ms. Jackson” – Outkast

“Ms. Jackson” is the best song by Outkast with sick flows and a memorable hook you’re still singing to this day. The duo sings about “Ms. Jackson” who doesn’t approve of her daughter’s relationship with a guy and when they end up having a baby, it only makes things worse. Turns out, the song is based on true events. Andre 3000 dated Erykah Badu and the two ended up having a child out of wedlock to the disapproval of her mother. 3000 said he felt he never got to explain his side of the story and didn’t like being kept out of his kid’s life on purpose. As a way of reaching out to her mother, he wrote this song to apologize and say how much he wanted to be a part of his kid’s life. Badu’s mother loved it and hopefully it patched up their relationship. Hearing so much truth put into this song makes it even more appealing and it’s still a hit 16 years after its release. Wait, really? Now I feel old.

1. “Say Hello 2 Heaven” – Temple of the Dog

In March 1990, Andrew Wood, frontman of Mulfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, died of a drug overdose. Chris Cornell, Wood’s friend, and roommate took the news hard. Soundgarden were touring Europe at the time of his death and feeling like he had no one to talk to, wrote two songs: “Reach Down” and “Say Hello 2 Heaven.” Instead of putting it on a Soundgarden album, Cornell teamed up with most of Pearl Jam and formed Temple of the Dog in his honor. “Say Hello 2 Heaven” is a tribute to Wood where Cornell deals with his grief and even makes a reference to not knowing the demons his friend was dealing with. It’s a powerful song where Cornell let’s his insane vocal range fly near the song’s end. Wood’s death didn’t only affect Cornell. It also had an effect on Alice in Chains, who wrote the song “Would?” about him along with others in the grunge scene that tragically passed. It’s sad to think Layne Staley would meet a similar fate 10 years later.

Honorable Mention:

“Starfuckers Inc.” – Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor hates celebrities and pop culture. He makes this clear in this single from The Fragile. Being one of Reznor’s heaviest and aggressive songs, it takes the piss out the vanity and shallow commercialization of fame. It even makes a reference to Carly Simon’s famous song “You’re So Vain.” But rumor has it the song is actually about Marilyn Manson. Reznor had a falling out with Manson twice, though Manson does appear in the song’s video. Others say it’s about Courtney Love. Reznor hasn’t confirmed or denied the rumors, so the track ends up getting an honorable mention. It’s just too biting and sassy to leave off.

There are more than ten songs about musicians, so which ones did I miss? Which ones are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 10 Michael Jackson Covers

This Sunday would’ve been Michael Jackson’s 57th birthday. Instead of dwelling over the fact he’s no longer with us, it’s a time to celebrate his wonderful music. No matter what you thought of him it’s clear his music has inspired artists across a span of genres from R&B to rock. Some artists have even taken it upon themselves to cover their favorite Jackson song. Of course no one does it better than Michael, but some artists have come close. There are a ton of terrible ones out there, but here are ten of the best Michael Jackson covers.

10. “The Girl is Mine” – Richard Cheese

Richard Cheese is known for making lounge style covers out of popular songs. He previously covered Jackson’s “Beat It,” but it’s his version of “The Girl is Mine” that’s unique and hilarious. The song starts out like a standard lounge tune and Cheese sounds smooth and silky. Just imagine him snapping his fingers to the beat while listening to it. After the first verse he introduces a special guest, which is supposed to be Stephen Hawking. Yeah, you read that right. Of course it’s not actually him, but hearing an automated voice singing this Jackson duet is weird, but is sure to put a smile on your face. It’s a bit silly, but you gotta admit Jackson’s tunes sound pretty good in lounge style.

9. “Billie Jean” – Nonpoint

This song has been speed up to be a punk rock anthem and tuned down to be a metal nightmare, but Nonpoint puts a different spin on it. They slow things down to make a brooding, melancholy song. Singer Ellias Soriano sounds vulnerable, broken, and hurt as he wails “but the kid is not my son.” Any ounce of happiness or fun is completely stripped away from the track. We’re left with the underlying angst and anger that was masked by the catchy beats. It’s not until you hear the song in this style that you realize how somber it can be.

8. “Dirty Diana” – Bruno Mars/Christina Aguilera

Both of these artists covered the sexy song during live performances and they’re both excellent. Mars’ version is very faithful to the original. In the clip, he plays the dirty riff while the synth soars behind him. He didn’t go too far from the source material, but he at least sounds really good while singing it. I’m sure he could release this as a single and it would sell well. The same goes for Aguilera’s version, which she sang at a Jackson tribute concert. But her impressive vocals matched with the steamy lyrics will give you chills.

7. “Speed Demon” – Xerath

It may come as a surprise to learn how many metal bands love covering Michael Jackson songs. “Beat It” seems to be the favorite track, but this British band went for one of the underrated tracks from Bad. Everything about this version kicks ass from the riff given a dirty make over to the intense vocals screaming “Speed demon!” that sounds like singer Richard Thomson is ripping his vocal cords. This track captures the dangerous and edginess Jackson tried to give off on the original. This track has the same spirit of the original, yet has its own flavor that makes it unique.

6. “P.Y.T.” – The Wood Brothers

There’s a good chance you may not have heard of this Americana blues band, but they know what makes a good cover song. As part of the A.V. Club’s project where artists choose a song to cover from a list, these guys choose this tune from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It starts out a little wonky with the jarring vocals and silly music, but it all falls into place by the time they reach the hook. They turn the song from an R&B dance track to a smooth, folksy tune that sounds just as silky as the original. The coolest part is during the refrain where instead of singing “Pretty young things/repeat after me” they freestyle riffs instead, but that doesn’t stop a chorus of people from responding with “Na-na-na-na.”

5. “D.D.” – The Weeknd

With comparisons to the late pop star, it’s no surprise that The Weeknd covered this sultry track from Bad. It starts out pretty faithful to the original, but once it gets to the chorus hard electronic beats take over creating a lush soundscape of pulsating rhythm. This version takes the grittiness and edge out of the song, but turns it into more of an atmospheric track that ends up sounding more sad than angry. It’s a subtle tweak to the song, but it’s effective at giving it a completely different vibe.

4. “Billie Jean” – The Bates

This German punk band, known for their cover tunes oddly enough, turns the R&B filled track into a raucous punk anthem made for moshing. Their version is pretty faithful to the original except when it comes to the music. Their gritty guitars and energetic vibe punches up the song and brings it into the rock realm. The best part is the chorus where you can picture them pogo dancing while singing “Billie Jean is not my lover.” Something about it is fun, upbeat, vibrant, and just really inviting. Whether you like Michael Jackson or not this song is sure to get you in the pit. They’re cover songs are pretty spectacular. Check out their version of The Cure’s “Wailing Wall.”

3. “I’ll Be There” – Mariah Carey

This Jackson 5 track was always kind of mushy and definitely got the feels going, especially when Michael performed it in concert. Carey does a very faithful rendition of the song that doesn’t hold back on the emotions. Her soft soaring vocals that made her a household name in the 90s, work perfectly with this slow track and turns it into something beautiful. She did such an amazing job with it that it became a regular in her catalog and many believe it surpasses the original. She was even nominated for a Grammy for the song in 1993. Of course it took on new meaning when she performed it at Jackson’s memorial service in 2009. Say what you want about Mariah now, but back in the day her voice was something out of this world.

2. “Smooth Criminal” – Alien Ant Farm

These guys proved it was possible to make a kick ass MJ cover without royally fucking it up. Jackson has always incorporated rock influences into his music and this proves how well his songs work when you replace the synth with gritty guitars. It turns this classic Jackson jam into a headbanger. What’s even better is the video filled with references to the singer’s videos from Bubbles to the “Thriller” ending. How many can you spot? Alien Ant Farm may not be remembered for anything else, but at least they gave us this awesome cover that shows how universal Jackson’s music is.

1. “Thriller” – Imogen Heap

Ever think the creep-tacular filled “Thriller” would work as a soft ballad? Somehow Imogen Heap makes it work. With a stark, beautiful piano accompanying her she sounds haunting, yet beautiful as she sings Jackson’s iconic tune. She sounds breathy and airy as she whispers “Cause this is thriller/thriller night.” It really catches you by surprise with how awesome it is. Who would’ve thought the song would work well at a slower speed and without Vincent Price’s eerie laugh? This is everything a good cover is supposed to be: a hint of the original, but different enough to grab your attention.

Which Michael Jackson cover is your favorite? Is there another great one I missed? Let me know in the comments!

14 Alternate Videos

Sometimes bands aren’t happy with their music videos. Other times it causes such a stir that a different version has to be made. Whatever the reason some artist will release several different versions of their videos. And I’m not talking about different edits, extended, or censored versions. These are clips that they completely different from their original concepts. Sometimes the alternate video is better, sometimes worse. Either way, here are 14 videos with alternate versions.

14. “Disposable Teens” – Marilyn Manson

It’s not surprising to find shocking and controversial content in Manson’s videos and this one is no different. In the first version, there are several references to the Bible, including a reenactment of the Last Supper featuring a monkey, and Manson dressed up as the Pope. It’s actually one of his better videos full of gruesome and awesome imagery. The same can’t be said for the second version. This one is comprised only of performance footage. Some of it was included in the original, but this one features the entire band miming the song. It’s still interesting to watch and Manson kills it as usual, but it can’t compare to the eerie original.

13. “Strangelove” – Depeche Mode

The original Anton Corbijn directed clip features many iconic images of the band and is one of their best videos. So it’s odd that they would decide to re-release the single in the U.S. a year later with a brand new video. Whereas the first version is cool and even a little mysterious, this one is just cheesy. It features a big corny set of sky scrapers to some nameless city while various symbols and the song title scrolls across the set and even the member’s faces. There’s one not-so-subtle shot of a heart moving across Dave Gahan’s crotch. All of the guys look uncomfortable as they mime the song while trying to avoid looking into the bright lights. Not even Gahan’s epic dance moves and spinning could save this one. There’s no question about which version is the best here.

12. “Gave Up” – Nine Inch Nails

The original clip for this NIN single features the band in the Le Pig house (AKA the Tate House) recording the song. There’s even a cameo appearance from a young, gaunt Marilyn Manson who helps out on guitar. It’s not the most exciting NIN video, but it’s entertaining. The second version is actually the conclusion to the infamous Broken movie, where the film’s killer chops up his victim while the song plays over the footage. Made to look like a snuff film, it’s gritty, gruesome, and at times difficult to watch. After one viewing it’ll stick in your head whether you want it to or not. If you can’t handle this then you may want to avoid this entire movie.

11. “Hot in the City” – Billy Idol

The original clip to this Idol single is pretty tame and kind of dull. It’s the singer in front of a green screen dancing while images of New York and explosions pop up behind him. Being a product of the 80s, let’s just say it hasn’t aged very well. Idol redid the video in 1987 with a more “intricate” concept. It begins with Idol dancing in a decrepit apartment followed by him peeping in on some weird S&M club/sex party via a hole he made in the wall for no reason. Lots of grinding, thrusting, and fist pumping comes after that, but during this time it was just standard Idol fare. This version ended up being banned by MTV for the closing scene that feature Idol’s then girlfriend Perri Lister strung up on a cross. Even though this one has the bigger budget, I’ve always liked the first version. Sometimes simple is all you need.

10. “In One Ear” – Cage the Elephant

The original clip, which also marks their first music video, features the band performing in a padded cell while singer Matt Shutlz does what he’s known for: flail around the room spastically. The single was then re-released in 2010 with a new video directed by Issac Rentz. This version has more of a wild, house party vibe as the band perform, run around, destroy a school bus, and have what looks to be a kick ass time. Just like the previous clip, this one also shows off Shultz’s wild dance moves and his love of crowd surfing, which he does during the bridge. Both of the videos are fun and do a great job showing off the band’s style. The first version is a little more humorous since Matt is jumping around in a hospital, scaring the shit out of the other members, and making funny faces, but both do the song justice.

9. “Killing Loneliness” – HIM

For this track from their 2005 effort Dark Light, HIM released a UK and a US version of the video. The more well known US version features the band performing in a club and has an appearance by Kat Von D. The more interesting, yet slightly weirder UK version finds the band working in a coin operated peep show while various patrons get their HIM fix. It only gets weird when some of the people get hot and bothered by the performance and begin taking off their clothes or are clearly on the verge of an orgasm. Maybe they thought it would be too much for the States to handle and released the more tame version. But no matter which video you watch you’ll still get your fill of Ville Valo close ups, which is what most HIM fans want.

8. “My Friends” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

What’s interesting about the two videos made for this song is most people are actually familiar with alternate version, so much so I always thought it was the original. The video that’s considered the official one, and is the second version, features shots of the band in the studio playing the song. Nothing more than that, but the first one shot was actually more interesting. The band is on a canoe in the river in various costumes. It starts out pretty simple, but then it gets weirder as they don strange outfits and make up. There’s even a shot with Anthony Keidis where his long hair is standing straight up. It’s a bit weird and may not be easy to figure out what the hell is going on, but it’s definitely more appealing since something is actually happening in the video. Rumor is they felt the video was too artsy and may alienate their fans, which is funny because going by the video comments many prefer the first version.

7. “Viva La Vida” – Coldplay

The original clip for Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” is pretty standard video fair: the band performs the track against a blurry and distorted background. Not super amazing, but not terrible either. Alongside this version, the band released another video for the single directed by Anton Corbijn. What makes this one so special is it pays homage to Depeche Mode’s clip for “Enjoy the Silence.” There’s the same fuzzy quality and Chris Martin walks around in a similar king getup as Dave Gahan. It’s a faithful reenactment and a cool way to honor a timeless video.

6. “They Don’t Care About Us” – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson ran into some controversy with the release of the fourth single from HIStory. First it was the lyrics, which you can read all about the offending line here. Then there was the original music video directed by Spike Lee featuring Jackson dancing and singing in Rio de Janerio. The state tried to ban Jackson from filming there because they feared images of the poverty stricken areas would affect tourism. Jackson was even accused of exploiting the poor people there. A judge banned all filming from taking place but this was overturned by an injunction. 1,500 policemen stood surrounding Jackson along with residents who were singing and dancing with the artist. Since it stirred up so much controversy, Jackson filmed a second version that found him in prison with other inmates while disturbing footage of riots, war, the KKK, and police attacks were shown. Considering the harsh, difficult content found in this version, it’s surprising that the original was the troublemaker.

5. “You Only Live Once” – The Strokes

No matter which version you get, both clips for this Strokes single are pretty awesome. The original, directed by Samuel Bayer, features the band in a small space performing the song while the room fills with tobacco tar. The band keeps playing even when they’re completely submerged under the goo. It’s a simple concept, but it works. The second video is a little more elaborate. Footage of the band performing is mixed with shots of a space ship clearly patterned after 2001: Space Odyssey. This one was directed by Warren Fu and premiered a year after the original. Unlike the stylish first version, this one is seen as a protest against war, hunger, and consumerism.

4. “In Bloom” – Nirvana

Back when they were on Sub Pop, Nirvana released “In Bloom” as a single along with making a music video for the Sub Pop Video Network Program. It’s pretty simple clip featuring the band walking about Manhattan being silly. The song got the video treatment again when it was re-released for their 1991 album. This time around, the band takes the piss out of 1950’s variety programs where artists were praised for being clean cut. Shot entirely in black and white, the guys look straight laced and strange in stiff suits and slicked back hair. Cobain even sports some black rimmed glasses. This is mixed with footage of them destroying their set while wearing dresses. It ends with them back in the suits standing on top of the broken set while the announcer praises them for being nice young men. There were actually three different edits of the latter vid: this one, one with only footage of the band in dresses, and one with all suits.

3. “Stockholm Syndrome” – Muse

Similar to HIM, this single received two videos for the UK and the US. Shot entirely with thermal cameras, the first version is the creepiest video Muse has to offer. Since the camera displays the varying temperatures on everything, much of what’s going on in the video is distorted making them even just performing seem disturbing. It doesn’t help that they keep splashing water around which looks like blood being spilled thanks to the camera. Matt Bellamy look like a foreign being as he sings. The alternate version for the States features the band performing on a cheesy late night show when the sky goes red and an intense wind comes in and destroys the set taking the show’s guests with it. Both vids are intense and do a great job capturing the vibe of the song, but the original is unnerving, no doubt about it.

2. “Sick, Sick, Sick” – Queens of the Stone Age

If you thought the original video for this QOTSA single, which featured a lady stuffing all sorts of food and human parts, into her face without any shame, then the alternate version is even worse. Filmed outside of the band’s label and later made the official video for Germany, this version features Wendy Rae Fowler and Josh Homme “dancing” in front of a green screen with flashing colors and weird images glaring behind them. It has similar animation the band previously used for the “Go With the Flow” video. This one is like a bad drug trip: one minute you’re looking at a hot topless chick, the next eyeballs, multicolored pills, and Homme’s distorted face invades the screen. It has to be their most bizarre video. It’s a bit weird, but worth it if you want to see Homme flail around like a drunken frat boy.

1. “Wait and Bleed” – Slipknot

Slipknot’s breakout hit got the double video treatment back in 1999. While the original and most well known clip features live footage of the band at Ozzfest, the alternate version is more unique and slightly creepy. Each of the members are depicted as little dolls that come to life and gang up on a man trying to catch them. It ends with mini-clown, who is the creepiest of them all, setting fire to the screen. Because of its stop motion style, it stands out among the band’s videos. The dolls are both kind of cute, like you’d want a set for yourself, but also disturbing. Out of the two clips, this one is definitely the coolest and gets right under your skin.

Which alternate video is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Cure B-sides

I’ve already talked about how b-sides are a wonderful thing that are on the verge of dying out. Sometimes they’re weird and sometimes they’re even better than what made it on the album. But of course not every artist is a master at the b-side. One band that does it best is The Cure. It was really hard to pick only ten b-sides to highlight because they have so many awesome ones. If you haven’t gotten Join the Dots: B-side Collection get it as soon as you can. It’s four discs full of odd and wonderful songs by the band. Plus, you get a cool booklet with facts, some of which I’ve included here. Anyway, here are ten of the best Cure b-sides.

  1. Another Journey By Train- A Forest Single

This instrumental shows off the musical talents of the band, something that is often overlooked. The name of the track really fits the song because when listening to it you can picture trains moving along at top speed in time to the rapid music. The song is interesting because it’s a remake of their single “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” Though you can’t hear it at first when you put the two songs side by side you can easily hear the similarities. If anything this b-side comes off as the darker side to the single. It’s one of the bands finer instrumental numbers.

  1. Fear of Ghosts- Lovesong 12” Single

This is one of more haunting and creepy Cure tracks out there. It has a hypnotizing guitar riff that’s slightly on the exotic side with silent ambient noises playing throughout the intro. Then Smith comes in singing in a whisper sounding like a disturbed spirit himself. He gets even darker and creepier towards the end when he’s singing so quietly you can barely hear him. And just like with some of the band’s greatest material, it’s a moody track that has an overall ominous sound and feeling to it. This would’ve found a perfect fit on Disintegration, but unfortunately it was left off. Still, it’s an amazing song that shows off both their creativity and their abilities as musicians.

  1. The Dream- The Walk 7” Single

Recorded during the strange era of the band when The Cure consisted of two members who then decided to leave behind the gloom for mindless poppy tracks, this upbeat, odd sounding song is catchy even if it is weird. Something about the heavy synth riff and the way Smith repeats “dancing, dancing” makes the song stick in your head. Even though it’s not their best b-side or even their most profound, it’s really fun and shows that even the quirky side of the band is still really damn good. Maybe what makes it so charming is that Smith actually sounds like he’s having fun on this song and that feeling is infectious. As soon as it comes on you want to start dancing and have some fun yourself.

  1. New Day- Half an Octopus EP

This is another creepy, ominous Cure track that begins with Robert Smith whispering “Shout.” From there the ethereal music which features chant like noises, random moaning, and wailing takes over sending the listener on a weird, psychedelic journey with the band. As if this wasn’t enough to get under your skin, the b-side ends with an anguish scream like someone in pain. It’s actually a weird vocal take for the singer, but when you learn that he later went to the hospital the night it was recorded for exhaustion it’s no surprised the track came out sounding so tortured. Again, this shows one of the many sides of the band and how they were never afraid to change up their sound.

  1. Just One Kiss- Let’s Go To Bed Single

What’s funny about this track is even though it comes from the Japanese Whispers era when the band were doing pop inspired hits, it sounds like it was made much later and due to the title it feels perfect for the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me era. This low key song has tribal like drums and wavering, dreamy vocals from Smith himself to put the listener in a trance. The intro music actually sounds similar to their previous single “The Hanging Garden;” it has that same slow rumbling vibe to it. Here, we also see the darkness hasn’t completely left the band as Smith sings “Somebody died for this/Somebody died/ For just one kiss.” With the unique music showing off how they can vary their sound and Smith’s ominous lyrics, it’s easy to see why this is one of his favorite b-sides.

  1. This Twilight Garden- High Single

This is one of the softer, prettier numbers from The Cure. Here, Smith sounds genuine and even loving as he sings “I lift my lips from kissing you/to kiss the sky, cold soft and blue.” Smith doesn’t shy away from expressing feelings of love, but here he does it best. He just sounds so sincere. It’s one of those songs where you close your eyes and let the soft ambient, tropical, kind of trippy music take you away. This is also one of those songs that show the band isn’t all doom and gloom. They have their soft, pretty moments and when they do, it’s something quite breathtaking.

  1. The Big Hand- Letter to Elise Single

I first heard this song on the VHS tape Play Out. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but I instantly fell in love. The hushed, dreamy music and Smith’s other worldly vocals fit so well together. It turns out it’s actually one of his least favorite songs and I can’t figure out why. Even though the music is really soft and relaxing, it’s still a pretty bleak song with such depressing lyrics like “The big hand makes all of your favorite things/like all your days run out and all your hopes disappear.” It’s a lovely song and it sounds so good you don’t even realize it’s about drug addiction, as Smith revealed on the b-side box set booklet.

  1. Lament- The Walk 12” Single

This b-side, which can also be found on the compilation disc Japanese Whispers, is another one I quickly fell in love with. The high pitched synth music that sounds like angels wailing quickly grabbed my attention. This is one of those tricky Cure songs where you don’t know how dark it is until you get a hold of the lyrics. As if the weird, moody music and the title weren’t enough, the lyrics paint a depressing picture. The track actually talks about a man throwing himself in the river and how his body flows “underneath the bridge.” Dark as it may be, it’s still one of their strongest songs and one that gets better with every listen.

  1. The Exploding Boy- Inbetween Days Single

If you can believe it, this is the happiest sounding song by the Cure. It’s a burst of energy filled with upbeat frantic guitar playing with some odd saxophone tossed in. It’s a pretty fast number that’s filled with so much excitement you can practically hear it pouring out of Smith when he sings “Not this way, not today.” He shouts it at the top of his lungs! It makes since that the song sounds so happy and uplifting because during this time Smith states he was happy with the new line up of the band and couldn’t wait to perform the new songs. For something so upbeat, it has the most curious title that makes you think it’s about something much darker.

  1. A Chain of Flowers- Catch 12” Single

Everything about this song is perfect. The beautiful, yet somber music takes you away, while Smith wails on. It’s one of those tracks that shows how wonderful their mesh of beauty and darkness can be. Here, Robert Smith longs for his lover to stay with him, so that he can never lose her. The lyrics are simple; there aren’t any gloomy images popping in your head, but something about it is special. It really comes out in Smith’s voice, especially during the last verse. You can hear his heart and soul bleeding through this b-side and it’s the most wonderful thing for any Cure fan to hear. If someone were to ask me why people love The Cure so much, I would make them listen to this song.

What are your favorite Cure b-sides? Did they make the list? Let me know in the comments. Really, The Cure have so many great b-sides, but I couldn’t cover them all here. Who knows maybe there’ll have to be a part two to this list. Let me know what you think.

Top 10 Unconventional Christmas Songs

Christmas is almost upon us and that means going through a third straight month of Christmas songs. They’re playing in the malls, they’re playing on the radio, they’re playing on TV. You can’t escape them! But there is a way to escape the monotony. While there are some great Christmas classics out there by this point you may be dying to hear something new. Luckily for you, there are funny, cynical, catchy, and just plain weird Christmas songs out there for everyone. Here are 10 of the best unconventional Christmas songs to get you back in the spirit of the season.

  1. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”- Julian Casablancas

The sleepy eyed front man for The Strokes took one of the best SNL holiday sketches and turned it into a full length track. While nothing beats the original skits, this version does the jingle justice. It’s fun, catchy, and will quickly become your new holiday classic. It’s something everyone can enjoy and sing along with. And something about Casablanca’s deep, monotone voice feels perfect for the track. If anything it’ll make you look up those classic skits once the song ends.

  1. “X-M@$”- Corey Taylor

This is a song for anyone who hates the holidays. Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor sings about why the holidays suck and that the only way to get through them is to be stinking drunk. It’s a hilarious song whether you love or hate Christmas. Taylor’s snarl and cynicism makes him perfect for the track. Even if you do love the season, you have to admit there are some moments that you hate, like carolers, mall crowds, and commercialization, all of which Taylor pokes fun at in this song. Put on this song when you need a moment to vent about the holidays.

  1. “Sock It To Me Santa”- Bob Seger and The Last Heard

This odd song from Bob Seger puts a little funk in your holiday. It takes both the classic riff and line from the James Brown song “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” It’s got such a great soul funk infused sound that it’ll get you dancing around the Christmas tree. Who knew Seger could rock this hard. My only question is what does he mean when he says “Sock it to me Santa?” Is he trying to proposition him or does he want St. Nick to punch him in the jaw. You know what, don’t focus on that. Dance your ass off instead.

  1. “The Night Santa Went Crazy”- Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al is the king of parody and humorous songs, so it’s only natural that he would have a hilarious Christmas track. It’s a ditty about a night when Santa just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to murder everyone, including his beloved reindeer. He pops in on his elves rifle in hand with “cheap whiskey on his breath.” He continues on his killing rampage until the authorities capture Santa and put him in the slammer. After this song you’ll never picture St. Nick the same way again. Maybe it’s best to not play this one if you have children around.

  1. “Merry Something to You”- Devo

This short, but sweet holiday tune from the always weird Devo reaches out to everyone. Rather than focus solely on Christmas, the band wishes everyone a happy holiday, whether you’re Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. The song is classic Devo all the way as it has the weird synth, electronic based music that they’re known for. The best part comes at the end where they sing “dee-dee-dee-lit-do.” Even though it’s on the weird side it still has a positive message of wishing everyone a happy holiday.

  1. “Things I Want”- Tenacious D & Sum 41

Tenacious D wants you to have a very metal Christmas with this song. This track has the 80’s metal feel to it with the blazing guitar riff and the Rob Halford-esque vocals provided by Jack Black. Sum 41 only provides the music, but since they are old school metal fans themselves they do a pretty good job of making this sound like a song from Judas Priest. The song itself is really funny with Black listing a bunch of improbable “cool shit” he wants from Santa, like “A solid gold Harley with machine guns on the front,” “All the Beatles copyrights,” and “Florida off the map.” A rocking song for a rocking Christmas.

  1. “Just Another Christmas Song”- Stephen Colbert

This is probably the funniest and most honest song about Christmas all provided by funny man Stephen Colbert. Though not a singer himself Colbert sounds pretty good with his own lounge singer like style. This track mainly pokes fun at the consumerism of the season and how he made the song in the first place to earn more money in royalties. Oddly enough, it sounds like something Seth McFarlene would do; don’t be surprised if he does a cover of it in the future (duet with Colbert would be better). This fun song is a great way to spice up your Christmas play list.

  1. “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas”- Blink-182

Here’s yet another cynical song about what a pain the holidays are. This track has the classic Blink sound and attitude with the opening line declaring “Outside the carolers sing/I can’t describe the joy they bring/cause joy is something they don’t bring me.” Mark Hoppus even makes a reference to the elves calling them “Satan’s Helpers.” It’s a great song that shows no matter how fun the holidays are there are always those moments that just annoy the piss out of us. Another anti-holiday track to check out by the boys is “Happy Holidays, You Bastard.” This one doesn’t solely focus on Christmas, but the first verse is dedicated to it. Overall, it shows why you only meet with your family once a year.

  1. “Thank God It’s Christmas”- Queen

Yes, Queen made a Christmas song and it’s as epic as you think it is. This holiday tune has the big sound and dramatic feel of the band’s biggest hits, so it’s odd how this is rarely played on the Christmas stations. Mercury’s amazing and powerful voice gives the song some weight and for some reason, it seems to exemplify what the season is supposed to be about: being together with loved ones and enjoying the beauty of the holiday. For some reason, I picture streets lined with decorated houses for Christmas whenever I hear this song. It’s an underrated holiday song that really deserves some more love.

  1. “Christmas in Hollis”- Run DMC

Ever since I was little this has been my favorite Christmas song. It’s original, memorable, and fun as hell to sing along to. Not only is it a classic, but you can’t overlook that it was groundbreaking for its time. This showed rap fans they had something to jam to during the holidays. There are so many fun and attention-grabbing moments, with my personal favorite being “It’s Christmas time in Hollis queens/mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens.” It could be because it made me think of my mom’s own home cooking, but either way, the song is awesome and still sounds great today. This is one song you have to hear at least once during Christmas.

Bonus: “Homo Christmas”- Pansy Division

Though this didn’t make the top ten, this song is too hilarious and unique to not be mentioned. In case you don’t know, Pansy Division is a queer punk band that’s been going strong since the early 90’s. They’re notable because their songs deal with gay themes. They even covered Nirvana’s hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” under the guise “Smells Like Queer Spirit.” Just by looking at the title you know this isn’t a Christmas song to enjoy with the family. If you can’t guess what it’s about, here it is summed up for you in the opening line: “You’ll probably get sweaters/Underwear and socks/But what you’d really like for Christmas/Is a nice hard cock.” This is perfect for those who wants some sexy in their season instead of yule tide carols and fruit cake.

Do you know anymore weird or crazy Christmas songs? Let me know in the comments  and enjoy the holidays!