VH1′s latest entry in The Greatest series is one that’s sure to stir up plenty of debate! Counting down The 100 Greatest Songs of the ’00s, host Pete Wentz (whose own “Sugar, We’re Going Down” comes in at #40 on the list!) and a murderer’s row of your favorite comedians and musicians provide their expert analysis (and a few jokes along the way) on songs that made the aughts such a memorable decade, musically speaking. Read more…
R.E.M.‘s announcement earlier today that they’re “calling it a day as a band” after 31 years together hit the VH1 offices even harder than that earthquake did a few weeks back. As a means of aiding everyone accelerate through their own personal Kübler-Ross grief cycle, we reached out to a number of VH1 staffers and asked them to share their favorite R.E.M. memories. We sincerely hope that this feature is as instrumental in helping you reach your own personal Acceptance stage as it was for us. And if you have your own memories, please share them below in our comments section; we’d love to hear them!
“BEGIN THE BEGIN” (LIFE’S RICH PAGEANT, 1986) by TOM CALDERONE, PRESIDENT (@tomcalderone)
I was the program director of my college radio station, Buffalo State College’s WBNY, when Murmur came out. “Radio Free Europe” was the single, and R.E.M. was opening for the English Beat and Squeeze; that’s kind of what the pecking order was for them at the time. One day, their label called and said, “Hey, we’re selling a lot of records in Buffalo, and you’re the only radio station playing them, we want to have them come play Buffalo.” We said “Great!” So they played this place called the Lackawanna Sky Room. They told us, “We don’t really have much to play, we could use an opening act.” So we offered to help. At the time, the Goo Goo Dolls were so metal that it wasn’t the right call, but there was this other little band from Jamestown called the 10,000 Maniacs. We suggested them, explaining to them that this Natalie Merchant girl, she’s great, and the band’s really cool, and you guys will get along. That’s how the friendship between the bands began, back at the Lackawanna Sky Room. They were the nicest guys, incredibly giving to the college radio stations all across the country.
My favorite song by R.E.M. is “Strange,” which is actually a Wire cover. Of their originals, “Begin The Begin” is my probably my fave. It had a really cool edge to it, and sounded a little bit different than what they normally had done. It recently came to life to me again, about a year and a half or so ago, when The Decemberists did it live with Peter Buck on stage. I thought to myself, ‘I forgot how good that song was!’, so I revisited it again. Of their later material, “Crush With Eyeliner” was my favorite.
“EVERYBODY HURTS” (AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE, 1992) by SANDY ALOUETE, SVP MUSIC & TALENT RELATIONS
One of my former boyfriends was hellbent on buying the identical neon star from the cover of Automatic For The People, and he finally tracked one down outside of an abandoned motel in upstate NY. I loaned him the money to have it professionally cut down, I housed it for him in my parents? garage until he could clear out enough space in his Greenpoint apartment/recording studio, and then not long after he got the star, we broke up. Did I ever get the money back? Nope. Shouldn?t I by rights take the neon star for my very own? Yep. EVERYBODY HURTS.
R.E.M.‘s first single “Radio Free Europe” came out less than a month before MTV’s first broadcast, and since then their videos have been by turns innovative, fun, and artistic, in ways that were often uncommon at the time but totally normalized as the band (and MTV and VH1) grew old together. Their decision to call it quits is, for people of a certain age, the end of an era. To commemorate the band’s long and successful run, we went back through their music video catalog and selected their five best.
5. “Electrolite” (1996)
R.E.M. worked with basically every major music video director in the 1990s?most notably for the singles from Monster and New Adventures in Hi-Fi. (In the case of “Electrolite” it was Spike Jonze.) It’s easy to think of this as the band catching up after a decade of making music videos on their own or with Athens friends like Jim Herbert, but in retrospect what’s most striking about any of the videos from this period is how much they still feel like R.E.M. videos. The voice of a director like Jonze (or Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who gave their 1970s nostalgia a dry run in R.E.M.’s underrated “Tongue” video a year before perfecting it with the Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979″) can easily overpower an artist’s own visual aesthetic, but despite R.E.M.’s seemingly gentle touch, that never happened. The inflatable deer inhabiting “Electrolite” should make clear, though, that this was not due to too much reverence for the band. Bonus points for Mike Mills plays an accordion and a keytar.
For the last 14 weeks, we’ve been tracking the race to see which track would become this year’s Song Of The Summer. Since people consume music in so many different ways these days, our goal was to put together a democratic formula that compared how a group of over 70 songs performed across five of the primary channels that people frequently use to listen to their favorite jams: the Billboard Hot 100 (radio play & sales), the iTunes charts (pure sales), Last.fm scrobbles (listening on computer and mobile devices), the YouTube music charts (streams) and, of course, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. Each week, we tracked how our group of competitors fared in each of these different platforms, and then added up the results.
So, without any further ado, we are psyched to announce that Katy Perry has taken home the first place prize in VH1′s first annual Song Of The Summer competition! When the summer began, it looked like Adele‘s “Rolling In The Deep” was going to be an unstoppable force, but as soon as Katy dropped her 80s-tastic “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” video during the week of June 27th, she dominated the countdown from there on out. Katy was gracious enough to film an quick speech for us while she accepted our totally awesome Song Of The Summer trophy, which we’ve got for you above.
For you completists, here is our final Song Of The Summer countdown chart (that is, until Memorial Day 2012 rolls around!). And you’re on Spotify, you can subscribe to our VH1 Song Of The Summer 2011 playlist and re-live the summer whenever you want.
[Click here for a larger image]
Beyoncé is, without a question, a once-in-a-generation talent. Blessed with a wonderful singing voice, incredible athleticism, striking beauty and, most importantly, an unrivaled competitive spirit, she has established herself as a star of both stage and screen. In honor of her 30th birthday today, we decided to take a look back at the thirty most important moments in Beyoncé’s life that made her the person she is today. Enjoy!
DATE: September 4, 1981
EVENT: Thirty years ago today, Houston resident and aspiring music manager Matthew Knowles and his costume designer wife Tina welcomed a bouncing baby girl into the world, one they named Beyoncé Giselle Knowles. If this had never happened, well, you wouldn’t be reading this list, that’s for sure!
EVENT: At the tender age of 7, Beyoncé competed in her very first talent show. She sang a stirring rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which earned her a standing ovation, a first place prize, and the seething jealousy of the 15- and 16-year-olds she competed against.
EVENT: Gaining confidence after her talent show victory, Beyoncé and five other girls were recruited to join a Houston-based group called Girl’s Tyme. It was during this time that she met her future Destiny’s Child group members Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, and LeToya Luckett (who joined in 1993). After gaining local acclaim, things turned sour after the group unsuccessfully tried out for Star Search. This would mark the first of many times that personality clashes would lead to fractures in Beyoncé’s personal and professional life.
As the Red Hot Chili Peppers release their tenth studio album this week, we can’t help but
daydream ruminate about how much of a sex symbol frontman Anthony Kiedis was—who could forget the sock?!—and still is. Time has been kind to Mr. Suck My Kiss, and he is definitely not alone in that regard; there’s an entire legion of men in music whose good looks and sex appeal have fermented in the manner of a perfectly-mature wine.
Whether you grew up with one of their faces taped to your Trapper Keeper or you’re old enough to be their mom, there’s a hunk on this list for you. From rock to hip hop, songwriters to bass players, we’ve got Arena Gods, men who are Good With Their Hands, Smooth Operators, International Flavors, and like the Chili Peppers’ singer, Spicy Sex Symbols. Keeping it simple, we’re celebrating the 45 to 70-year-old vintages by exhibiting their physical evolution through their respective careers. You’ll be taking in images from when they got their start, their “middle years,” and how they look in the present. Take a moment to step into the wine cellar and relish in each man’s beauty of the past and, at the end,?toast to their continued maturing in the future by weighing in on who you think has aged best. Apologies in advance for the ladyboners!
If you were anywhere on the Eastern seaboard in the last hour or so, you no doubt felt the effect of an earthquake that registered 5.9 on the Richter Scale. Here in Times Square at VH1 HQ, we felt the building sway and bounce uncomfortably for a good five or six seconds. Everyone seems to be okay, if a bit freaked out.
In order to help you (and us!) calm down on this hectic afternoon, we just created the following playlist of earthquake-themed songs for all you Spotify users out there:
Quakin’ – Songs To Help You Cope With The 2011 New York City Earthquake
(If you’re not on Spotify, this room on Turntable.fm also just cropped up: Earthquake 2K11.)
Full playlist for you after the jump:
The down home diva Kelly Clarkson announced a release date (October 25) and a title (Stronger) for her fifth LP yesterday. Clarkson’s fans have been foaming at the mouth for months wondering when this album would officially come out, especially since a few songs (including “Dark Side” and “Let Me Down”) leaked last month and were well-received by her acolytes.
That said, when we first heard that she’d be titling her record Stronger, we couldn’t help but feel like, well, it had been done before. After all, it was only March of this year when country artist Sara Evans released an album bearing the same name. A little bit more research revealed that a handful of other well-known musicians have recorded tracks called “Stronger” in recent years, artists running the gamut from Kanye West to Britney Spears to Mary J. Blige to Faith Hill (the latter two of whom are, like Clarkson, former VH1 Divas). While it is still unclear if Clarkson’s new LP will have a title track of the same name, here’s a look at Kelly’s competition for becoming the strongest of the “Stronger” pack.
Artist: Mary J. Blige, “Stronger” (Listen to the song)
Album: More Than A Game (2009)
Refrain: “I’m stronger, stronger, stronger / I’m stronger, stronger, stronger”
Analysis: This song has very impressive DNA; it was written by Esther Dean, produced by Polow da Don, and sung by one of the best singers in the biz. However, it suffers retroactively because it’s so closely tied to the disappointing career arc of Miami Heat supervillain/choke artist LeBron James. The song first appeared on the soundtrack to the documentary about James’ high school years, More Than A Game, and feels overwhelmingly melodramatic and stripped of its potential anthemic power because of that association.
The Beatles‘ last public performance, on the roof of 3 Savile Row on January 30, 1969, has become iconic since being included in the Let It Be film, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are the latest to pay homage to the Beatles’ performance, in the Marc Klasfeld-helmed video for “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” It takes more than just a rooftop and a PA to make a truly iconic rooftop performance, and five have stood above the rest; we’ve listed them chronologically. Check them out, and let us know in the comments if you think Kiedis and co. measure up!
1987: U2, “Where The Streets Have No Name”
U2 were deep in Beatle-appreciation mode when they shot the video for “Where The Streets Have No Name” on a roof in Los Angeles, at the corner of Seventh and Main, which a radio announcer in the video describes as “not one of your more fun neighborhoods.” (Oh, 1987.) The video is a pretty direct homage, down to the shots of police trying to shut the performance down, though Bono looks less like a Lennon and more like an Eddie Vedder style icon. On U2′s tour that same year, the band covered “Helter Skelter,” which Bono introduced, (as heard on live album Rattle and Hum,) “This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We’re stealing it back.”
We’d like to extend our fond birthday wishes to a true American icon, one Madonna Louise Ciccone, who was born 53 years ago today in the small town of Bay City, Michigan. In the space we have here, it would be impossible to adequately communicate the full extent of the impact that Madonna has had on popular culture, but suffice to say, there’s never been anyone quite like her before or since.
Just like I did for Bob Dylan on his 70th birthday, I put together the following list of my 53 favorite Madonna songs as a way for us all to celebrate the birthday of this music pioneer. These are not her “best” songs, or even her “most popular” songs, but simply, my favorites. Unlike the Song Of The Summer Countdown, this list is not pegged to any quantitative data; rather, it was generated based on conversations with my co-workers, an exhaustive deep dive into Madonna’s catalog over the past few weeks (both her songs and videos), and my own (sometimes hazy) recollection of each of these song’s influence on the culture-at-large.
We’ve got the full list for you below, but if you’re signed up for Spotify, you can also listen to the full compilation here:
My 53 Favorite Madonna Songs (On Her 53rd Birthday)
53) “Sorry” (Confessions On A Dance Floor, 2005)
52) “Everybody” (Madonna, 1983)
51) “Hanky Panky” (I’m Breathless, 1990)
50) “4 Minutes” (featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland)” (Hard Candy, 2008)
49) “Spotlight” (You Can Dance, 1987)
48) “Oh Father” (Like A Prayer, 1989)
47) “Amazing” ( Music, 2000)
46) “Hollywood” (American Life, 2003)
45) “Angel” (Like A Virgin, 1984)
44) “Bad Girl” (Erotica, 1992)
43) “Keep It Together” (Like A Prayer, 1989)
42) “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” (Evita, 1996)
41) “Fever” (Erotica, 1992)
For the Top 40 Madonna songs, follow along!