Friday, November 17, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 11/17/17

1.  "Shame Shame Shame" by Ratt

2.  "Lipstick and Leather" by Y&T

3.  "Dead Horse" by Guns N' Roses

4.  "Unskinny Bop" by Poison

5.  "Silent Lucidity by Queensrÿche

6.  "Bullets To Spare" by Dokken

7.  "Bad Girl" by Trixter

8.  "Addicted to That Rush" by Mr. Big

9.  "Love Song" by Tesla

10.  "Steeler" by Judas Priest

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Midwestern Eavesdropping

In a crowded elevator, two middle-aged men discuss one of the men's sons, who plays college lacrosse:
Man #1:  "Do they have a concussion protocol?"
Man #2:  "Yeah, although if you talked to my son on a normal day, you wouldn't be able to tell if he had a concussion or not."
--Chicago, Daley Center, 50 W. Washington
Eavesdropper:  GMYH

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley

Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the release of British ginger crooner Rick Astley's debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody.  It was a force to be reckoned with in 1987 and 1988, producing four Top 3 hits in the UK -- "Never Gonna Give You Up" (#1), the title track (#3), "When I Fall in Love" (#2), and "Together Forever" (#2) -- as well as three Top 10 hits in the U.S., "Never Gonna Give You Up" and "Together Forever" both hit #1, with "It Would Take a Strong Man" reaching #10.  The album went to #1 on the UK album charts and #10 on the Billboard album charts.

I have to go with "Never Gonna Give You Up," which was famously the subject of "rickrolling" about a decade ago.  You see, kids, people used to pretend to send their friends a link to a video, and then the link would actually take their friends to the video for "Never Gonna Give You Up."  Hilarious.  YouTube even pulled an April Fool's Day prank on April 1, 2008 by making every video on the site "Never Gonna Give You Up."

While most people believe rickrolling began in 2007, I beg to differ.  In the spring of 2000, during my senior year in college, my roommates and I invented rickrolling, or at the very least, we inspired it.  That semester, my roommates and I all had afternoon classes at the same time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we were out of our room in the fraternity at the same time for several hours each afternoon those days.  One Tuesday or Thursday, we decided that we would blast "Never Gonna Give You Up" on repeat as loud as our speakers could go, and then head to class, locking the door behind us.  I was the first to arrive back to the house after my class, no doubt enjoying Bloomington's magnificent spring weather.  Astley's soulful baritone greeted me as I turned down our hallway.  What a song! I thought to myself.  Then, one of the guys in the room next to ours popped out as I removed my keys to unlock my door.  He informed me in no uncertain terms that if he ever heard that song again, anywhere, he would maim and/or dismember each and every one of us.  You just got rickrolled, Jeff!

Undefeated After Week 11

Last night, the latest College Football Playoff rankings came out, after an epic weekend in college football, where we saw two of the top three teams (Georgia and Notre Dame) get curb stomped, and #2 Alabama squeaked out a late victory at Mississippi State.

Unsurprisingly, Alabama now sits at the top of the rankings.  Clemson is #2, Miami is #3, and Oklahoma is #4, with undefeated Wisconsin lurking at #5.  The selection committee's rankings are released each Tuesday evening, so I'll be taking a look at the remaining undefeated teams for the next few Wednesdays.  I got a little bit of a later start this year than I had in years' past, but better late than never.

There are only four undefeated teams left in the FBS:  Alabama, Miami, Wisconsin, and Central Florida.

If Central Florida remains undefeated, assuming they are the highest-ranked non-Power Five team (which they are as of now), the worst the Golden Knights could do is go to a BCS bowl.

Looking at the remaining games, none of the undefeated teams has a cakewalk, and it's not out of the question that all four will lose before the end of the regular season. 
-While Alabama has its usual late-season FCS matchup (Mercer) this weekend, the Crimson Tide have to travel to #6 Auburn next weekend for the Iron Bowl and, if they win that, they will play #7 Georgia in the SEC Championship game.  Alabama's schedule thus far has been relatively weak, so they haven't been as battle-tested as they might usually be this time of year. 
-Miami has the easiest path of these four teams, as the Hurricanes have two very winnable games against Virginia and Pitt before playing #2 Clemson in the ACC Championship game. 
-Wisconsin has had a pretty light schedule this year, which explains why they are undefeated, but still looking in from the outside of the CFP Top 4.  They play #24 Michigan this week before traveling to Minneapolis to play Minnesota next week for Paul Bunyan's Axe.  The Badgers' opponent in the Big Ten Championship game has not yet been determined, but it will be Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, or Michigan. 
-UCF plays at Temple (last year's AAC champion) this weekend before facing 8-1 South Florida next weekend.  Assuming they win those games, they will have a rematch with #21 Memphis in the AAC Championship game.

Here are the top 4 teams in the CFP ranking, along with each team's best win and worst loss, where applicable:
1.  Alabama (10-0)
Best win:  at #16 Mississippi State (11/11; 31-24)
Worst loss:  N/A
2.  Clemson (9-1)
Best win:  #6 Auburn (9/9; 14-6)
Worst loss:  at Syracuse (10/13; 27-24)
3.  Miami (9-0)
Best win:  #8 Notre Dame (11/11; 41-8)
Worst loss: N/A
4.  Oklahoma (9-1)
Best win:  at #9 Ohio State (9/9; 31-16)
Worst loss:  Iowa State (10/7; 38-31)

Here is a breakdown of the remaining undefeated teams and each team's remaining games (rankings are CFB Playoff Committee rankings):

#1 Alabama 10-0
11/18 – Mercer (FCS) (5-5)
11/25 – at #6 Auburn (8-2)
12/2 – SEC championship game (Atlanta) - #7 Georgia (9-1)

Remaining opponents' combined record:  22-8 (.733)
Best win:  at #16 Mississippi State (11/11; 31-24)

#3 Miami 9-0
11/8 – Virginia (6-4)
11/24 – at Pittsburgh (4-6)
12/2 – ACC championship game (Charlotte) - #2 Clemson (9-1)

Remaining opponents' combined record:  19-11 (.633)
Best win:  #8 Notre Dame (11/11; 41-8)

#5 Wisconsin 10-0
11/18 – #24 Michigan (8-2)
11/25 – at Minnesota (5-5)
12/2 – Big Ten championship game (Indianapolis) - TBD

Remaining opponents' combined record:  13-7 (.650)
Best win:  #23 Northwestern (9/30; 33-24)

#15 Central Florida 9-0
11/18 – at Temple (5-5)
11/24 – South Florida (8-1)
12/2 – AAC championship game (TBD) - TBD

Remaining opponents' combined record:  13-6 (.684)
Best win:  #21 Memphis (9/30; 40-13)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Funksgiving Songs

In little more than a week, the wife and I will be hosting Thanksgiving for the third year in a row.  As someone who rarely has time to make a proper meal for myself -- depending on whether you consider breakfast for dinner a "proper meal," in which case I make myself a "proper meal" several times a week -- I enjoy trussing, stuffing, and cooking the turkey, as well as making some fantastic sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes with an alarming amount of butter.  Of course, I also enjoy having people over, watching football, drinking whiskey, and eating so much food that my body is unable to function.  It's the American way.

You may not know this about me, but I also like music and word combinations.  That's how Funksgiving came about.  I need music to function as a human being, and certainly to help me jam vegetables into a fowl's empty body cavity.  Last year, I decided to make Thanksgiving a little funkier, by including in the playlist a whole lotta funk music.  If nothing else, it will make it more likely that you and your guests tap their feet and do the worm, so as to burn off some of those 5,000 calories we will all be ingesting to honor our nation's long history of coming together for gluttony.

The cool thing about funk is that is has, in one way or another, spanned the last 50 years, from James Brown to Sly & The Family Stone to Curtis Mayfield to Stevie Wonder to Earth, Wind & Fire to Parliament/Funkadelic to Prince to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Bruno Mars, so the Funksgiving playlist includes songs both old and new.  The entire playlist isn't funk music, but a significant portion of it is.  If you're thinking about following my lead -- and you should always consult a licensed physician before doing so -- here are my top ten songs on the Funksgiving playlist, in alphabetical order by artist, along with the year the song was released after the artist.

1.  "Pick Up The Pieces" by Average White Band (1975)
This is a classic funk song that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, performed by six white Scottish guys -- not exactly the typical make-up of a funk band.  It has been featured in tons of movies, including, most memorably for me, Swingers.

2.  "Hot Pants, Part 1" by James Brown (1971)
It was a tough choice between this and "Get Up Offa That Thing" (both of which are on the Funksgiving playlist, along with several other James Brown songs), but I think "Hot Pants" is just a little funkier.  That repeating guitar riff is kind of the essence of funk, isn't it?

3.  "Atomic Dog" by George Clinton (1982)
It would be tough to have Funksgiving without "Atomic Dog."  It has been sampled in countless hip hop songs, including Dr. Dre's "Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')," Ice Cube's "Bop Gun (One Nation)," 2Pac's "Holler If Ya Hear Me," and perhaps most famously, Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Who Am I? (What's My Name?)"

4.  "Backstrokin'" by Fatback (1980)
Fatback's 1980 electrofunk hit "Backstrokin'" rose to #3 on the Billboard R&B charts. I can't listen to this song without at least bobbing my head.  You may be surprised to learn that it's not about swimming.

5.  "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" by The Gap Band (1982)
This is another electrofunk classic.  With its synthesized bomb-dropping effect and upbeat tempo, it reached #2 on the Billboard R&B charts and #31 on the Billboard Hot 100.

6.  "Jungle Boogie" by Kool & The Gang (1973)
Before they were singing about celebrating good times, girls named Joanna, and cherishing things in the '80s, Kool & The Gang was a legit funk band.  "Jungle Boogie" was the band's first Top 10 song on the Billboard Hot 100, climbing all the way up to #4 in 1974.  It's a great song, with that Tarzan-esque yell near the beginning of the song providing the right start for the horns and grunting vocals to follow.  Unless my BAC is at least twice the legal limit, I generally don't dance, but "Jungle Boogie" has always been one of those songs that makes me want to gyrate my hips suggestively, even when I'm sober.  Those of us Gen Xers probably remember this song most for its inclusion on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

7.  "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield (1970)
"Move On Up" is nearly nine minutes of soul and funk jamming bliss.  It's not only a great Funksgiving song, but it's a staple on my everyday party playlists because it's upbeat and a good background song. Just a great song from one of Chicago's best. Of course, Mayfield would go on to write and perform the soundtrack to Super Fly, a delicious amalgamation of gritty funk songs, focusing on the darker side of street life.

8.  "Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" by Parliament (1975)
Parliament/Funkadelic is kind of like The Beatles of funk.  They didn't necessarily invent it, but they took it to another level and are probably the most influential funk band.  Parliament's 1975 song "Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" is one of the quintessential funk songs, going gold as a single and becoming the band's first Top 40 song (hitting #15 on the Billboard Hot 100).

9.  "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" by Sly & The Family Stone (1969)
Sly & The Family Stone was one of the pioneers of funk.  They were not only a blend of genders and skin colors, but they made all sorts of fantastic music.  "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" was one of their earliest forays into funk, and they nailed it.  The song hit #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard R&B charts, becoming one of the first successful funk songs.

10.  "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder (1976)
Stevie Wonder had a pretty solid run of great funk songs in the '70s and very early '80s, including "Superstition," "Higher Ground," "Boogie On Reggae Woman," "You Haven't Done Nothin'," "Sir Duke," and "Masterblaster (Jammin')," among others.  His four-album run from 1972 to 1976 -- Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness' First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life -- might be one of the best four-album runs in music history.  It was tough to pick one song (and all of the songs mentioned above are on my Funksgiving list), but I'm going with "I Wish" is off Songs in the Key of Life.  It's a catchy, brass-and-bass-heavy song that became Wonder's fifth #1 song in the U.S.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 11/10/17

1.  "Love of a Lifetime" by FireHouse

2.  "Breakout" by Vinnie Vincent Invasion

3.  "Animal" by Def Leppard

4.  "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) by Mötley Crüe

5.  "Where Have All The Good Times Gone" by Van Halen

6.  "Get It On" by Kingdom Come

7.  "The Deeper The Love" by Whitesnake

8.  "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison

9.  "I'd Die For You" by Bon Jovi

10.  "I Wanna Be With You" by Pretty Boy Floyd

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Bring The Noise" by Public Enemy

Monday marked the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the soundtrack from the movie Less Than Zero.  The film was an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's debut novel of the same name.  Written and released when he was still a student at Bennington, the novel was released in 1985, when Ellis was only 21.  The novel is a nihilistic look at the superficiality of '80s L.A., full of drug use and vapid, self-centered characters.  The film -- which, admittedly, I haven't seen -- was loosely based on the book, but apparently with some significant changes to lighten the mood a bit and take some of the more hardcore edges from the novel.  It starred Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey, Jr., Jami Gertz, and James Spader, among others.

While the film did okay at the box office, its soundtrack was what many remember. Produced by Rick Rubin, the soundtrack featured a mix of original songs and covers by artists of varied genres:  Aerosmith, Roy Orbison, Slayer, Public Enemy, The Bangles, LL Cool J, Poison, Glenn Danzig, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Alyson Williams and Oran "Juice" Jones, and Black Flames.

I'm going with Public Enemy's "Bring The Noise" because I think it's the best original song on the soundtrack.  It would also be included a year later on the group's seminal album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. And, of course, in 1991, Public Enemy collaborated with thrash metal stalwarts Anthrax for a metal version of the song. But I'm giving you the video for the original version, which has since become recognized as one of the best rap songs of all-time.  Chuck D slays on this song.  The video includes a lead-in and outro from a British video show, which is kind of funny, since I assume there weren't many Brits who were into Public Enemy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Halloween Costumes (2017 Edition)

Last Tuesday was the greatest holiday of the year, Halloween.  But you know I don't celebrate Halloween on just one night.  

The Saturday before Halloween I had my annual Halloween party, but this year, it was hair band themed.  Basically, it was the Halloween party I've always dreamed of.  First, of course, we had to make sure we had all the proper food and drink:  plenty of Jack Daniel's, a fine variety of sliced meats and cheeses, and a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed, just in case Messrs. Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, and Van Halen showed up.  They did not.
The whole family was into it.  I was Slash, Jester was one of my groupies, Daughter was a Def Leppard fan, Lollipop was Lita Ford, and Son was Dee Snider.  If this photo isn't used for our Christmas card this year, I will be sorely disappointed.

I managed to break one of our dinner table chairs by jumping on it with my cowboy boots on when I wanted to crank some Tesla a little louder.  Totally metal.

Here are some shots of the party:

The night ended with a trip to the local dive bar and then a few more beers at my place afterward until about 4:30 in the morning.  How I didn't have a hangover when I woke up for the first time a 40-year-old is beyond me.  One of my birthday presents was left behind by one of my guests the night before.  At some point in the early afternoon, as I was sitting on the couch watching football, I noticed the most adorable little pile of puke on an end table.  Notice the string of regurgitated Jack Daniel's and gouda hanging down.  Rock and fucking roll.

On Halloween proper, I did my usual bit where I dress up like some wraith who bleeds from the eyes and eats children's souls, and I passed out copious amounts of candy to the neighborhood children.

But more to the point, here are the ten best costumes I saw this year, whether in person, on the interwebs, or on Facebook.  These are in no particular order.

1.  A rocker with an actual guitar and amp
Kudos to my buddy Daniel, who went the extra rocker step by making his actual electric guitar a part of his costume, and then bringing a portable amp with which to play it.
2.  Dee Snider
Not to toot my own horn, but I think the Dee Snider costume I made for Son was pretty damn good.  He chose to be Dee Snider because he loves Twisted Sister's videos for "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock."  I happily obliged, buying youth shoulder pads and cutting up some black and pink felt.  The wig wasn't perfect, but it's hard to find the perfect wig for a 3-year-old cross-dresser.

3.  (L to R)  Matthew or Gunnar Nelson, C.C. DeVille, Jani Lane, Lonesome Jubilee era John Cougar Mellencamp, and Zakk Wylde

4.  The Night King
I don't watch Game of Thrones (Jesus, I know I need to, so calm down), but I know a good costume when I see one.

5.  Guns N' Roses (get it?) and Joan Jett

6.  Death and Animal
I assume it was some sort of metaphor for animal cruelty.

7.  Axl Rose (L)

8.  Steven Adler (R)

9.  Jack and Coke

10.  The Grady daughters from The Shining
This is phenomenal.

11.  The "Sweet Child O' Mine" cassette single
With an actual sweet child!  And apparently her Hasidic father.  Oy vey!

12.  Price Is Right Contestants
I think Jeremy might be over, so Steve's going to Acapulco!  Bring your kevlar, buddy.

13.  Joan Jett and Garth Algar (?)

Monday, November 06, 2017

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Thirtysomething female the morning after a rough night:  "I must have used at least one of my seven lives last night."
Eavesdropper:  The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Millennial at a beer festival, to stranger:  "Hey man, what's a plantain?"
--Chicago, Beer Hoptacular, 2565 W. 16th St.
Eavesdropper:  The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men

If you were listening to Top 40 radio 25 years ago, then chances are you heard Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" a few times each day.  Originally released on the Boomerang soundtrack and then as a single after the group had released all of their singles from their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony, "End of the Road" did something no other song in music history had done.  On October 30, 1992, "End of the Road" was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for the 12th consecutive week, breaking Elvis Presley's 36-year-old record for "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel."  

The song would stay at #1 for another week.  However, a few weeks later, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" would start its 14-week run at #1, breaking Boyz II Men's record.  Not to be outdone by a cokehead, Boyz II Men's 1994 hit "I'll Make Love to You" tied Houston's streak, and then their collaboration with Mariah Carey, "One Sweet Day," broke that record by staying at #1 for 16 consecutive weeks between December 1995 and March 1996.  That streak has since been tied this year by "Despacito."

But anyway, "End of the Road" was actually the beginning of Boyz II Men's #1 hits.  All in all, Boyz II Men had five #1 songs (including "One Sweet Day"), which spent nearly an entire year (50 weeks) at #1.  That's on top of their ten other Top 40 hits, including five other Top 10s.  "End of the Road" ended up being the #1 song on Billboard's Year End Hot 100 chart for 1992 and the #6 song on Billboard's End of Decade chart for the '90s.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Rocktober Hair Band Song #22: "Burn In Hell" by Twisted Sister

There will be no Tuesday Top Ten this week, as I will be spending the entire day applying costume latex to my naked, completely shorn body, transforming myself from a newly minted quadragenarian into the satyr my wife has always wanted me to be.  Fear not, my annual Halloween costume Tuesday Top Ten will be posted next week.

Halloween is always bittersweet.  On one hand, the spirit world is as close to the human world as it will get all year.  And, of course, there's the apples with razor blades in the middle given to unsuspecting kids.  On the other hand, it always marks the end of Rocktober.

But we ain't quite done rockin' just yet folks.  This Hair Band Rocktober has been a fun journey, and it ends with some more fun:  Twisted Sister's "Burn In Hell."  "Why is suffering fire-induced injuries for eternity fun, GMYH?"  I'm glad you asked, fair reader.  Setting aside the always jovial philosophical and factual debates regarding the existence of an afterlife or afterworld, "Burn In Hell" was featured in the 1985 cult hit Pee Wee's Big Adventure.  As Pee Wee tried to escape the movie lot security guards after (spoiler alert!) stealing his bike back, he interrupts Twisted Sister as they were shooting the video for this song.  The video -- which I'm pretty sure isn't official -- features scenes from the movie, and may offer several last-minute costume ideas if you're still looking to get out and trick or treat tonight.

With that, Hair Band Rocktober is over. My only regret is that October is not 365 days long.  Stay tuned tomorrow, as we start Frovember, a daily look at baseball's most impressive afros.  First up:  Oscar Gamble.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Rocktober Hair Band Song #21: "Fallen Angel" by Poison

Sandwiched in between the anniversary of my birth and All Hallows' Eve is Devil's Night.  Celebrated in several parts of the U.S. and Canada, Devil's Night -- also known as Mischief Night, Goosey Night, Gate Night, Moving Night, or Cabbage Night, depending on where you're from -- is a hilarious tradition where children (and even some adults) commit pranks and petty criminal offenses, like vandalism, toilet papering, and arson.  "To the devil his due," they chant repeatedly in unison, dressed in black cloaks, as they cover neighbors' lawns with instant mashed potato powder.  When the morning comes, and the dew with it, there will be no more grass -- only mashed potatoes.  For the Morning Star has brought upon thee his wicked starch.

In Christian mythology, the "Devil" is the embodiment of evil -- a cloven-hoofed, horned, winged demon overlord who encourages sin and lives somewhere in southwest Texas.  But he wasn't always such a dick.  Originally, he was just Lucifer -- the Morning Star -- a pretty normal archangel just looking for a little play up in heaven.  He started to organize about a third of the angels, but God does not abide by the National Labor Relations Act, so Lucifer and his minions were banished from heaven, castigated to a life of eternal damnation and unrestricted orgies.  Once he was booted from heaven, Lucifer changed his name to Satan, grew a goatee, sprouted a tail, got some reconstructive surgery to add horns to his head, and eventually settled in Hell, where he quickly obtained a sunburn that has never gone away.  Since then, he has been attempting to seduce humanity -- a fallen angel with nothing to lose except the souls of all chaste mortals and maybe some loose change because he doesn't have any pockets anymore.

Fast forward to 1988.  Sunset Strip glam rockers Poison release "Fallen Angel."  It was the band's second single off of their second album, Open Up and Say . . . Ahh! -- an album considered by many to be first instance of improper use of the ellipsis to represent a pause, which has now permeated the American lexicon.  The song reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band's fourth Top 40 hit.

As any conservative conspiracy theorist will tell you, lyrically, "Fallen Angel" is an allegory for the Devil's journey from small-time angel to ruler of the netherworld, cleverly disguised as a story about a small-town woman who comes to L.A. to find fame and fortune, only to realize that living out your dreams comes at a price:  your friends, your family, your pride, and your soul.  The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.  Nice try, Poison.  Happy Devil's Night.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Rocktober Hair Band Song #20: "Dream Warriors" by Dokken

I would be remiss if I had Halloween week during a Hair Band Rocktober without "Dream Warriors" by Dokken.  You see, kids, back in the 1980s, there was this movie franchise called Nightmare On Elm Street.  The villain was Freddy Krueger, and that motherfucker could enter your dreams and kill you.  Even kids who had never seen any of the movies were terrified of falling asleep.

The third installment of the Nightmare On Elm Street series was released in 1987 and subtitled Dream Warriors.  Dokken was asked to write a song for the movie, and they did.  It's called -- quite appropriately -- "Dream Warriors," and it rose to #22 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart (and was also included on the band's Back For The Attack album).  

The video is great.  It features Patricia Arquette, who starred in the movie, making a little dollhouse covered with Dokken cutouts.  This was pretty standard behavior for '80s teenagers.  But she makes the mistake of falling asleep.  "One two, Freddy's coming for you."  In her dream -- or should I say in my dreams? (that's a Dokken reference, folks) -- she sees a creepy blond toddler riding a tricycle.  "Three four, better lock your door."  Doing what anyone would do, she follows the kid into the basement of a deserted Victorian house.  "Five six, get your crucifix."  She grabs the little girl before the girl burns herself in the boiler, only to realize the kid is now a skeleton.  "Seven eight, gonna stay up late."  And then Freddy shows up and steals George Lynch right after he plays a wicked solo.  "Nine ten, never sleep again."  In the end, though, everything turns out all right because we learn that Freddy Krueger's nightmare is rock and roll.

Hair Band Friday - 10/27/17

1.  "In Groove" by Enuff Z'nuff

2.  "Lay It Down" by Ratt

3.  "The Ballad of Jayne" by L.A. Guns

4.  "Shake Me" by Cinderella

5.  "Wild Child" by W.A.S.P.

6.  "Tears Are Falling" by Kiss

7.  "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (live) by Guns N' Roses

8.  "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard

9.  "When Some Nights" by Don Dokken

10.  "Holy Diver" by Dio

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Rocktober Hair Band Song #19: "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne

You can't have a hair band Rocktober Halloween week without the Prince of Darkness, can you?  No, no you can't.  In 1983, Ozzy Osbourne released his third solo album, Bark at the Moon.  It was the first album to feature lead guitarist Jake E. Lee, who joined Ozzy's band after Randy Rhoads's death the previous year.  Like the prior two albums (Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman), Bark at the Moon went platinum several times over in the U.S. (three, exact), and the cover featured Ozzy in a horror-themed get-up.  Let's take a quick look at the progression.

On the Blizzard of Ozz album cover, he was dressed in a red robe -- likely silk -- kneeling on the floor of what might be a church, holding a cross up, with a black cat to his right and an animal skull and some sort of horned animal skull to his left.  Is it a wild goat or some sort of ibex?  I'm not sure we want to find out.

On the Diary of a Madman cover, we see Ozzy looking like an extra from Scarface Meets Elvira -- a movie that should have been greenlit -- wearing bloody and tattered clothes, including a shirt with tassels on the arms, looking like he's coked out of his mind (which he probably was), smiling like a jackal in a medieval castle.  Behind him, his son reads a book -- presumably one of those "How To Talk To Daddy About His Substance Abuse and Necromancy Addiction" books -- under an upside-down cross.  That black cat is still there, perched in the window and ready to pounce, or perhaps the dead bird on the table was his or her doing.  "I'm ever so hungry, papa.  What's for dinner?" "Dove!" (snort) "But we had that last night."  "Sharon!"

Finally, on the Bark at the Moon album cover, Ozzy is in the throes of lycanthropy, ravenously sexually assaulting a tree limb as a full moon shines overhead.

The title track to Bark at the Moon is a great song with a great riff, about some soulless monster -- likely a ghoul -- who has returned from the grave to seek vengeance upon the very humans who buried him in the first place.  The video features a Jekyll and Hyde theme, wherein Ozzy is an alchemist in Victorian England who drinks a potion that looks an awful lot like a castrated minotaur's urine, which turns him into a werewolf.  I've seen enough True Blood to know that's not quite how it works, but then again, this was probably just a metaphor for his crippling addiction to cocaine and alcohol.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Rocktober Hair Band Song #18: "Kiss Me Deadly" by Lita Ford

Although I have featured Lita Ford's "Kiss Me Deadly" during Rocktober before (in 2015), I can't in good faith have a Rocktober comprised solely of hair band songs without including one of my favorites.  

Lita Ford and Joan Jett were kind of the First Ladies of Glam Metal.  Of course, they had both been members of the pioneering all-female '70s rock band The Runaways.  After the band split up in 1979, both Ford and Jett forged solo careers and became successful in the '80s.

Ford's biggest success came with her 1988 album Lita, which got up to #29 on the Billboard album charts and has been certified platinum by the RIAA.  Her duet with Ozzy Osbourne, "Close My Eyes Forever," rose to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it both her most successful single ever and Ozzy's most successful, as well.  "Kiss Me Deadly" didn't do so bad either, peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In addition to the tight clothes, teased blond hair, and good looks, "Kiss Me Deadly" made my 11-year-old self fall in love with Lita Ford.  It's catchy and it rocks, which, as we've discussed many times this month, could describe most of the hair band genre.  And that opening line is just phenomenal:  "I went to a party last Saturday night / I didn't get laid / I got in a fight / Uh huh, it ain't no big thing."  If you think Lita Ford is just some pretty face -- who gets in fights at parties instead of having sex, but doesn't give a shit -- you're selling her very short.  She can also play a wicked guitar.  In an interview I saw with her, she recounted a story about someone asking her who played the solo on "Kiss Me Deadly," as this guy assumed it was a man.  Lita, rightfully incensed, explained (presumably in flowery language) that she played the solo (which is pretty damn good, too).

As my girls are getting older, they are now discovering -- with a little help from dad -- Lita Ford, Joan Jett, The Runaways, and Heart.  I think it's pretty cool that they're learning women don't just have to be pop stars, but rather they can rock too.  Some of the old Runaways clips with Ford and Jett are pretty cool, even if my kids have no idea what the song "Wasted" is about.

Unfortunately, the official video for "Kiss Me Deadly" is nowhere to be found on YouTube.  There are a couple fake videos, as well as the one below, which features the actual music video behind the backdrop of a Guitar Hero screenshot of someone playing the song.  The guy (or gal) playing got a very respectable 98% on the expert level, but even he (or she) couldn't nail Ford's solo.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Most Successful Hair Band Cover Songs

This hair band-centric Rocktober, we've looked at the Top Ten Hair Band Power Ballads, the Top Ten Hair Band One Hit Wonders, and the Top Ten Noncharting Songs by Successful Hair Bands.  This week, we're going to take a look at the most successful hair band cover songs.  Just as in any genre, hair bands covered, to varying degrees of success, a decent number of songs that were previously performed by other artists.  Some of these songs were released as singles and did quite well, becoming huge hits and even signature songs for the bands.  Other covers were album fillers (I don't mean that negatively) or included on live albums, presumably songs by other groups that the hair band loved and to which they wanted to pay homage.

I scoured hair band Billboard chart records and checked to see if a band or artist's songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 were cover songs, and there were a bunch of songs I had no idea were covers.  Below, I'm going to list the ten most successful cover songs performed by hair bands.  As with past lists, I'm restricting it to the Hair Band Era.  Thus, to be eligible for this list, the song must have been released (either as a single or on an album that was released) between July 25, 1980 to May 23, 1992 (i.e., if it was on an album released before May 23, 1992, but it wasn't released as a single until after, it counts).  Conversely, if it was released as a single after July 25, 1980, it counts even if it was on an album released before then.  And as usual, my definition of a "hair band" is somewhat fluid, so not all of these artists would necessarily be considered hair bands throughout their entire career.

Instead of limiting it to ten, I am going to list all of the songs that made it into the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 -- which makes it eleven songs.  In addition to the top eleven, I'm going to list the other charting hair band cover songs in an honorable mention category.  There may be some I'm missing, but I think this list is pretty exhaustive, based on my own confidence in my researching abilities.  For all of the songs, in parentheses after the song and hair hand artist, I'm going to list the highest chart position on the Billboard Hot 100 for the cover version and then the original artist (or in some cases, both the original artist and then another artist who made the song famous).  For the top eleven, I'm also going to put the You Tube videos of both the original and the cover.

Honorable mention (in reverse order by chart position):  "Whiter Shade of Pale" by HSAS (#94; Procol Harum); "Little Suzi" by Tesla (#91; Ph.D.); "That's Life" by David Lee Roth (#85; Marion Montgomery, Frank Sinatra). "We Will Rock You" by Warrant (#83; Queen); "For The Love of Money" by BulletBoys (#78; The O'Jays); "I Did It For Love" by Night Ranger (#75; Russ Ballard); "Piece of My Heart" by Sammy Hagar (#73; Erma Franklin, Big Brother and The Holding Company (i.e., Janis Joplin)); "Since I Don't Have You" by Guns N' Roses (#69; The Skyliners); "Hide Your Heart" by Kiss (#66; Bonnie Tyler (though it was co-written by Paul Stanley)); "Radar Love" by White Lion (#59; Golden Earring); "Sympathy For The Devil" by Guns N' Roses (#55; The Rolling Stones); "If Looks Could Kill" by Heart (#54; Pamala Stanley); "Leader of the Pack" by Twisted Sister (#53; The Shangri-Las); "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" by Quiet Riot (#51; Slade); "Dancing In the Street" by Van Halen (#38; Martha & The Vandellas); "Live and Let Die" by Guns N' Roses (#33; Wings)

11.  "Smokin' In the Boys Room" by Mötley Crüe (#16; Brownsville Station)
Mötley Crüe's 1985 cover of "Smokin' In the Boys Room" turned Brownsville Station's 1973 hit into a harder rocking song with, more importantly, a memorable video.  The original was a genuine hit, going up to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the Crüe's cover -- which appeared on their Theatre of Pain album -- ended up being the band's first Top 40 hit, topping out at #16.  The video featured horror and sci-fi film legend Michael Berryman as a high school principal, to whom poor Jimmy is sent after a dog literally eats his homework.  Jimmy then escapes to the boys room, where he runs into Vince, Mick, Nikki, and Tommy.  Dystopian hilarity ensues.  Whenever someone would smoke in the boys room at my high school -- which happened more than you might think -- it was impossible not to have this song come into my head.

9 (tie).  "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" by David Lee Roth (#12; Irving Caesar, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima)
David Lee Roth loved old-timey songs (see Van Halen's Diver Down album), and he was not afraid to cover them and release them as singles.  "Just a Gigolo" and "I Ain't Got Nobody" were two unrelated songs from the 1920s and 1910s, respectively, which were eventually put together in a medley by Louis Prima in the '50s.  Roth recorded and released the medley as part of his Crazy From The Heat EP (which contained four cover songs), released in January 1985 while he was still technically the lead singer of Van Halen.  He and the band would part ways a few weeks later.  "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" was the second solo single Roth released, and it hit #12 on the charts.  Perhaps more importantly, it taught a generation of young men that being a male prostitute isn't all fun and games.

9 (tie).  "(Oh) Pretty Woman" by Van Halen (#12; Roy Orbison)
As I alluded to above, Van Halen's 1982 Diver Down album featured several cover songs (five, to be exact).  One of those was Roy Orbison's #1 hit from 1964, "(Oh) Pretty Woman."  The Van Halen version didn't top the charts, but it did hit #12, making it the band's highest-charting song up to that point.  The video for the song was banned by MTV.  Having seen it many times, I'm not sure why, but perhaps MTV didn't think the world was ready for Michael Anthony dressed as a samurai who rescues a drag queen from the clutches of several grabby little people.

7 (tie).  "Your Mama Don't Dance" by Poison (#10; Loggins & Messina)
In 1972, Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina had a #4 hit with "Your Mama Don't Dance," an easy listening rock song about generational gaps.  Poison covered the song on their sophomore album, 1988's Open Up and Say . . . Ahh!  The exclamation mark is part of the album title, although I am generally excited about the album and the band's cover version of this song, which became Poison's fourth Top 10 hit in the U.S.

7 (tie).  "What About Love" by Heart (#10; Toronto)
This one kind of hurt because I had always assumed it was a Heart original.  It is not.  Originally recorded in 1983 by Canadian group Toronto -- which I assume was an attempt to be the Canadian Boston -- the song was not released.  After the band broke up, one of the members played the demo for a music publishing company, who offered it to Heart, who turned it into one of their signature songs on their self-titled 1985 "comeback" album that propelled them back into the mainstream.

6.  "Signs" by Tesla (#8; Five Man Electrical Band)
For better or worse, Tesla is credited by some with starting the "unplugged" movement with their 1990 live acoustic album, Five Man Acoustical Jam.  The album title was a tribute to Five Man Electrical Band, which originally recorded the song "Signs" in 1971 as a song that encouraged everyone not to judge books by their covers -- and not to be so damned beholden to signs.  The original version went to #3 in the U.S. and #4 in the Five Man Electrical Band's native Canada, and Tesla's live acoustic cover also cracked the Top 10 in the U.S., getting up to #8.

4 (tie). "Cum On Feel The Noize" by Quiet Riot (#5; Slade)
Quiet Riot's cover of Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize" was the first song featured during this Rocktober, so I won't repeat what I said in that post.  As this and the next song indicate, '70s glam was a big influence on '80s glam metal.

4 (tie).  "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" by Great White (#5; Ian Hunter)
I had no idea this was a cover until a couple weeks ago.  It makes complete sense, now that I am listening to the song in a whole new light as a '70s glam cover.  Originally released in 1975 by former Mott The Hoople lead singer Ian Hunter, it was a modest hit in the UK, but didn't chart in the U.S.  Of course, Great White's 1989 version was their biggest hit, and this has become their signature song.

3.  "California Girls" by David Lee Roth (#3; The Beach Boys)
How does a lead singer show his soon-to-be-former band members that he can do just fine without them?  He covers a popular Beach Boys song (and gets Carl Wilson and Christopher Cross to sing backing vocals), makes a video featuring plenty of scantily clad ladies, and releases it a few months before the news of the break-up is hitting the world.  As with "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" (discussed above), David Lee Roth's Crazy From The Heat EP featured his now-famous rendition of "California Girls," which did just as well as the Beach Boys' original 1965 version, as both hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. I believe this was the first song I ever sang at karaoke, probably when I was about 9 or 10. I sincerely hope the audio tape of that performance (and yes, there was a tape) has been destroyed.

1 (tie). "Alone" by Heart (#1; I-Ten)
This was another one I was shocked to find out was a cover.  It was written in 1983 by the amazing songwriting duo of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg -- who also wrote Madonna's "Like a Virgin," Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors," The Bangles' "Eternal Flame," and The Devinyls' "I Touch Myself," among others -- perhaps attempting to imitate Jim Steinman (and, if they were, they did a hell of a job).  Originally, it was recorded part of their own project, I-Ten.  Hilariously, it was recorded in 1984 by John Stamos and Valerie Stevenson for the short-lived CBS sitcom Dreams.  Thankfully, Heart got a hold of the song and recorded it for their 1987 album Bad Animals, making it into a #1 in both the U.S. and Canada, and making it into one of their most well-known songs.  I can't imagine this song being sung by anyone other than Ann Wilson, and I'm forever grateful that Uncle Jesse wasn't the last one to record it.

1 (tie). "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (#1; The Arrows)
This song IS Joan Jett.  Except that it's not hers.  Originally, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" was released in 1975 by The Arrows -- written as a response to The Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)."  The song was a b-side for The Arrows, but luckily a young Joan Jett heard it while she was touring England with The Runaways in 1976.  She originally recorded it with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols in 1979, but that version was only a b-side of Jett's single "You Don't Own Me" (a Leslie Gore cover, itself).  Jett re-recorded the song with The Blackhearts and put it on her 1981 album, which she named after this song.  The song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for seven weeks in 1982.  It's unquestionably her signature song, and even though it was released 27-32 years before my kids were born, they all love it and ask to hear it often.  Since I also love rock and roll, I have no choice but to oblige.

Rocktober Hair Band Song #17: "To Hell With The Devil" by Stryper

With Halloween now only one week away, it's time for the Rocktober songs to have themes of evil, deadliness, Satanism, or the macabre.  But hey, not all rockers bow to Baphomet.  Some, for instance, even worship a sky deity called God, and they're not afraid to admit it.  Stryper was one such band.  In a genre dominated by sin and decadence, Stryper was, in fact, a Christian hair band.  Their stages and album covers contained a bunch of black and yellow (because God loves bees?), bible verse numbers, and Christian imagery, including the upside-down upside down cross you see in so many Christian churches.

On this day in 1986, the band released their third and most successful studio album, To Hell With The Devil, and overtly anti-Satanic album title that sent shockwaves through the largely devil-worshiping metal world.  The album went on to gain double platinum status, on the strength of MTV hits like "Honestly" (which would also be the band's highest-charting song, hitting #23 on the Billboard Hot 100), "Free," and "Calling On You."  But it's the title track that we're going with today, a hard-rocking song about the futile act of telling Lucifer to go back to his eternal home.  "Yeah, maybe I will go back to hell.  And I'm going to torture the shit out of people for the next, oh, I don't know, forever.  Thanks for the suggestion, Stryper."  Get your listening in, Christians, for the remainder of days leading up to All Hallows Eve shall be the devil's.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Rocktober Hair Band Song #16: "Panama" by Van Halen

I remember going to my friend Sean's house at some point in 1984, and he had just purchased Van Halen's 1984 album.  We knew "Jump" because it was all over the radio, and it was a popular choice at the local skating rink, where many suburban Houstonian pre-teens gathered for birthday parties -- although jumping in roller skates is not recommended for amateurs.  As was the custom back then, Sean popped the 1984 tape into his light brown Fisher-Price portable tape player, and we listened to the whole tape, front to back, playing some pretty killer air guitar and air drums in the process.

While there are many fantastic songs on the album, "Panama" has always stuck out as my favorite.  I'm not sure there is a song that invokes me to fist pump more than "Panama."  It's energetic from the get-go, with Eddie Van Halen's monster riff backed by brother Alex's pounding drums and Michael Anthony on bass.  When David Lee Roth starts singing, if you're not bobbing your head, you have no head. Despite what the title suggests, the song is about a car, not about the Central American nation that has a canal. During the bridge, you can hear Eddie Van Halen revving his Lamborghini,
although that is not the car that is the subject of the song. Go figure.