Sunday, 22 May 2011

10 Great Hair Metal Songs

Perhaps one of the most mocked and shunned genres at the moment is the lost genre of Hair Metal. Once on the top of the mountain reveling in it's glory and fame, it came crashing down to Earth faster than any other genre before or since. Where did it go wrong? Was it the image? The style over content? Maybe it was the big hair associated with "glam rock" bands of the 80's. Some say the emmergance of Grunge in the early 90's was the perverbial nail in the coffin, but whatever the case, most people never looked back with fond eyes on hair metal again. There was a reason why it was everywhere in the 80's though, people did like it, they weren't making it up. If you looked hard enough it produced some very good songs, and these are the songs I salute today.

1. Slade - "Run Runaway"

Slade were Britain's pride, and were way ahead of the curve even for the Hair Metal scene. They began a trend in music that saw them intentionally misspelling their song titles and had their most popular songs covered , horribly. "Cum On Feel The Noize" by Quiet Riot and this one, "Run Runaway" by Canada's Great Big Sea. Neither version captured the mood and youthful energy of Slade's compositions. Slade's popularity grew in the early 80's but as predicted, they never recaptured their early successes, especially in America.

2. Skid Row - "Sweet Little Sister"

Probably most known for their ballad-y tune "18 and Life", Skid Row were among the most well known bands in the 80's. 'Sweet Little Sister' exemplifies their song craft and abilities as musicians. Also lead man Sebastian Bach's excellent vocals are center stage here, it's no wonder he later found success on Broadway.

3. Krokus - "Stayed Awake All Night"

Krokus were a band from Switzerland who unfortunately were really only known in North America due to their covers of already popular songs, namely "American Woman", "Ballroom Blitz" and "School's Out". Their song "Stayed Awake All Night" never garnered them much attention, which is unfortunate because it's great. It has almost a "Whole Lotta Love" vibe to it and some great heavy power chord chugging. Nothing wrong with that.

4. Y&T - "Don't Stop Runnin'"

I Really don't understand how this song never made it bigger than it did. I think it still stands up even to today's standards, oh well. Originally named Yesterday and Today, Y&T were a part of the California music scene in the late 70's but saw their longest reign of fame in the 80's when glam rock really became a juggernaut. Very enjoyable and typically hilarious 80's style video to go with it as well.

5. Motley Crue - "Dr. Feelgood"

Motley Crue embody glam rock to a tee. Not much to their songs, all about partying and drinking instead of creating art. This is typically why I don't like much glam rock, especially Motley Crue, that and because most of their songs are terrible. Yeah I said it. When they picked Canadian producer Bob Rock to produce their next album however, he got the best songs out of them he could. "Dr. Feelgood" sounds unlike anything the Crue has done before or since. This actually lives up to being called Heavy Metal. Rock would go on to produce albums for Bon Jovi, Metallica and Our Lady Peace to name a few.

6. Harlequin - "Innocence"

Speaking of Canadians, here's Harlequin from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I'm not sure how well they did outside of their native land, but here in Canada this song is still played on Rock radio stations. It's got a nice vibe to it, not trying to shove anything to forcefully down your throat and not trying to be anything they're not. Harlequin lasted until around 1987 before calling it quits.

7. Sweet - "Block Buster!"

Britain's Sweet had a unique sound and vocal styling that has never really ever been duplicated since. "Block Buster!" was one of many hits from the group in the 70's and 80's but like most rock bands of their day they faded to obscurity, thankfully leaving behind a great song or 2.

8. Mr. Big - "To Be With You"

Much like Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and Extreme's "More Than Words" i'm predicting this song to be making a resurgence soon! You read it here first. Mr. Big came about just as the 80's were winding down and their first hit "To Be With You" was actually released in 1991. They were soon forgotten about amongst the grunge bands of the time, but as I said, I have a feeling we'll hear more from them soon.

9. Zebra - "Tell Me What You Want"

Who is Zebra? A band from Louisiana. This is "Tell Me What You Want". That is all

10. Twisted Sister - "I Wanna Rock"

I can't have a list about hair metal groups without including the mighty Sister. Yeah the song is not very deep and Dee Snider and the boys look like cross dressing mannequins from hell, but fuck it! This is what the genre was all about, sadly most bands that tried to capture this vibe missed the point by being conceited assholes. Dee Snider famously stood beside his music and once even delivered a well written defense to Al Gore who was accusing his band of being too indecent for the poor American public. Deep down we all want to rock, admit it.

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Sunday, 15 May 2011

10 Great Sad Songs

Another one of music's champion emotional themes is sorrow. Most people have stories that can tug your heart strings and if you have musical ability you can put that story into a song. Sometimes when you're depressed it's good to know other people have had it rough as well and endured, so sad songs can soothe as well as make you morose. Thats a powerful ability.

1. Bruce Springsteen - "The River"

The Boss is the king of weaving tales from middle class America. Here he tells the story of a young couple forced into a life of mediocrity and routine, a far cry from their childhood hopes and dreams. I think I could listen to the opening harmonica sting on repeat forever. From start to finish "The River" takes you on a sob story, and by the end of it you're surprised to find yourself looking at your own life by comparison.

2. Beck - "Lost Cause"

Beck has an ability to craft songs of many styles and by doing so has had many successful albums. "Lost Cause" is a song I think most people can relate too. Holding on to a relationship that has lost its meaning; too many couples get caught up in obligation. Beck's slow drawl here encapsulates the feeling of that kind of enviroment.

3. Ben Folds Five - "Brick"

A very under appreciated talent, Ben Folds consistently releases wonderful albums with many solid tracks on them. "Brick" was an early hit for his band. According to Ben it's the story of bringing his girlfriend at the time to get an abortion. Don't think much else needs to be said.

4. Stabilo - "Beautiful Madness"

My first exposures to Stabilo did not result in a good impression. I didn't enjoy their singles and thought I was done with them. One day a friend of mine put on their CD Happiness and Disaster and I was floored. Honest, heart wrenching songs with wonderful music was happily received, made me wonder why they chose the singles they did. "Beautiful Madness" is another song about a crumbling relationship, many beers have been consumed while listening to the chords of this track.

5. Leona Naess - "Ballerina"

I love it when a woman can sing and play piano, thats always a plus one in my books. "Ballerina" is immediately a tear jerker. Upon first listening I was hoping it was about giving up a child for adoption, but it became painfully aware that she is singing about an abortion. Whether its an autobiographical story is unknown.

6. Carly Simon - "That's The Way I Always Heard It Should Be"

Carly Simon crafts a sombre tune about a girl realizing her parents are no longer in love and just in the relationship because, y'know, that's how it is. She then realizes it's happening to her. A wonderful song that never got the recognition it deserved.

7. Blink 182 - "Adam's Song"

Sophmoric and college-humour punk heroes Blink 182 turned the world on it's ear when they released "Adam's Song" in 2000. It was a fresh sound and theme from the typically light hearted California trio. While it's subject matter is controversial, at it's core it's an anti-suicide song. One of the survivors of the Columbine Massacre was found dead in his home from an apparent suicide, on a nearby stereo "Adam's Song" was playing on repeat.

8.  A Fine Frenzy - "Almost Lover"

Allison Sudol, a.k.a A Fine Frenzy, creates a lovely yet desperate plea for the one who got away. It's got a certain stillness of old photographs and crumpled up letters. I love the intensity in her voice as she sings "And so you're gone and I'm haunted; and i'm sure you're just fine". Great line.

9. Amy Winehouse - "Back To Black"

Maybe not the most conventional choice here, but it's a very well crafted song. Love or hate Amy Winehouse's media antics, she's got one hell of a voice, and it fits perfectly for this type of broke down, smokey night club lament.

10. Slipknot - "Snuff"

Slipknot's Corey Taylor has a real gift for writing lyrics and has a wonderful voice behind that mask. "Snuff" comes from their 2008 record All Hope Is Gone, not sure which is sadder the tone of the song, the lyrics about desertion and loss, or even the emmaculate riff during the gets better the second time it appears. The video is a masterpiece and tells an equally depressing tale, it was directed by the band's percussionist Shawn Crahan a.k.a #6 or Clown.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

10 Great Sex Songs

Music is pretty good, but not as good as sex. Combining the two can make both explode with a different kind of energy, but one must be careful. Not just any music will do within the throes of passion. It can be fast or slow, light or dark, loving and passionate or wild and uninhibited. Here's 10 songs that work well for the business between the sheets. Tried, tested and true.

1. Philosopher Kings - "Charms"

Every track off of their 1997 album Famous, Rich & Beautiful could have been included here, but the Philosopher Kings' best lusty track is found on their 1996 debut. "Charms" just has an ebb and flow that you can almost feel with the tips of your fingers as you rub them over the contours of a woman's body. It's there when you feel her hair in your hands....i'm getting ahead of myself here. It's just the first song...

2. Lenny Kravitz - "If You Can't Say No"

This song has an isolation to it; A feeling of being cut off from the one person you need yet can't have..which of course makes you want them all the more. Most Lenny Kravitz songs have that certain quality that gets women in the mood, "If You Can't Say No" is no exception.

3. Chemical Brothers - "Hey Boy, Hey Girl"

As her body moves faster and faster with the constant beat, the blood courses through her body, through her veins to her extremities. Her eyes see someone she's never seen before and she wants him. The animalistic urges are too much for her to control and before he knows it he's hers. Where they are the music has ceased, but the pounding beat remains in their minds and their bodies relive those infectious grooves together. The whole time, no words between them were spoken.

4. Jakalope - "Feel It"

This song is your girlfriend whispering naughty desires in your ear at a crowded party. It's a glint in the eye of an attractive co-worker who passes you in the hall with obvious devilish intentions. It's coming home from a hard day's work and finding your wife in the bedroom wearing that little black number with boots up past her knees. That's Jakalope - "Feel It".

5. Jeff Buckley - "Everybody Here Wants You"

Jeff Buckley was a master, under-appreciated in his time, his songs are still unparalleled.  This song feels more like a foreplay song, instead of the actual act of sex. Like the anticipation is building and still having the will power to hold off until that perfect moment.

6. Alicia Keys - "This Bed"

This is songs sounds like it's bubblegum pop and so themed. However, it's about a bed being too big for one person, especially for it's other purposes. It would make a great soundtrack for any number of trysts, no matter their durations.

7. Live - "Hold Me Up"

1994's Throwing Copper was a great album, so great in fact that the tracks that were cut from album even kicked ass. "Hold Me Up" is one of those songs, it lacks the production of some of these other songs, but it has the intensity and energy that matches sex's ultimate passion. Kevin Smith must've realized this too as he used it in a pivotal scene in Zack and Miri Make A Porno.

8. Cold - "Just Got Wicked"

I'm not 100% sure why this song gets my motors going in the way it does, but I like it! I think it must have to do with a past instance where this song was playing and some lovely lady was crawling up from the end of the bed towards my naked body. Yeah......there it is.

9. Tanya Stephens - "Boom Wuk"

This is just a flat out, honest, to the point song about sex. She wants this guy because he gives it to her good, and i'm sure she returns the favour. Not much else to say here.

10. Buck Cherry - "Crazy Bitch"

 How many strippers use this as their show stopper I wonder? Not that i'd experience with those enviroments is minimal. Sure let's go with that. Guys, if you have a bump n' grind mix for those 'girl in my room' times, this one has to be on it. Trust me. I know it doesn't sound like a song a lady would be in to, but you'll thank me later.

Thanks again for checking this out! Leave a comment!! - JZ