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5 best and worst music side projects

- July 30th, 2013

Artists have a myriad of reasons why they delve into side projects, whether it be inspiration, or they just simply need a break from their respective bands that bring home the big dough.

We’ve seen our share of successful ones over the years, however, we’ve also been witness to plenty of disasters.

With that in mind, let’s run through our five best and five worst side projects in recent years.

NOTE: If you disagree or have your own pick for best and worst, put them in the comments section below.

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5. Foxboro Hot Tubs

Originating band: Green Day
Formed: 2007
Albums: 1, “Stop Drop and Roll!!!” (2008)

Green Day were at a career crossroads following the release of their mammoth 2004 comeback album, “American Idiot.” Following up an album that put the California punk trio back on the map would be no easy task. Instead, the threesome, with help from a few friends, decided to go left field, and put out a fantastic garage rock album with clever hooks and simple beats. Ironically, it’s better than anything Green Day has put out since “AI.”

4. Mad Season

Originating band: Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees
Formed: 1994
Albums: 1, “Above” (1995)

The band — consisting of Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley, Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin, and Walkabouts bassist John Baker Saunders (and guest vocals by the Trees’ Mark Lanegan) — was made up of musicians who were battling substance abuse issues at the time . Staley was easily the worst, but when he did manage to show up to the studio, he unleashed dark and powerful vocals which essentially documented the struggle with heroin he was going through at the time.

3. City and Colour

Originating band: Alexisonfire
Formed: 2005
Albums: 4, “Sometimes” (1995), “Bring Me Your Love” (2008), “Little Hell” (2011), “The Hurry and the Harm” (2013)

When frontman Dallas Green decided to go the polar opposite of post-hardcore fivesome Alexisonfire and record a solo album of acoustic rock tracks, we don’t even think he knew how popular it would become.
Four studio and slew of live albums later, and with Alexisonfire now disbanded, it looks as if Green’s side project is now a full-time gig. As it should be.

2. Dead Weather

Originating band: White Stripes, the Kills, Queens of the Stone Age, the Greenhornes.
Formed: 2009
Albums: 2, “Horehound” (2009), Sea of Cowards (2010)

It seems everything Jack White touches turns to gold. Dead Weather is no different. The band — comprised of White, the Kills’ singer Alison Mosshart, QOTSA guitarist Dean Fertida, and Greenhornes/City and Colour bassist Jack Lawrence — came to fruition after Mosshart subbed in on vocals one night for White’s other side project, the Raconteurs. It was a musical match made in heaven.

1. Gorillaz

Originating band: Blur
Formed: 1998
Albums: 4, “Gorillaz” (2001), “Demon Days” (2005), “Plastic Beach” (2010), “The Fall” (2011)

Blur frontman Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewitt created a virtual band of cartoon characters comprised of four animated members. Crazy you say? The debut self-titled album sold over seven million copies, while the second effort, “Demon Days,” went five times platinum, nabbed five Grammy noms, winning one of them. Makes you wonder why Albarn went back to Blur.

Honourable mentions: The Postal Service, the Raconteurs (another Jack White gem), Temple of the Dog, Traveling Wilburys, Them Crooked Vultures.

And now, cover your ears — here’s the five worst:

5. Alter Bridge

Originating band: Creed
Formed: 2004
Albums: 4, “One Day Remains” (2004), “Blackbird” (2007), “AB III” (2010), “Fortress” (2013)

Can anything good come out of a Creed side project? That would be an emphatic NO.

4. Methods of Mayhem

Originating band: Motley Crue
Formed: 1999
Albums: 2, “Methods of Mayhem” (1999), “A Public Disservice Announcement” (2010)

With insightful lyrics like “ride the cot until you hit the spot,” Tommy Lee tries his best to fuse rap and rock in the most disastrous way possible. Throw in guest vocals from Fred Durst, and you are in for a ear-cringingly bad time. Lee actually had the nerve to make another MoM album as well.

3. The Honeydrippers

Originating band: Led Zeppelin (ex), Yardbirds (ex), Stray Cats
Formed: 1981
Albums: 1, The Honeydrippers: Volume One (1984)

Robert Plant attempted to get his infatuation and fascination with R&B out of his system. What we got was a horrible Elvis impersonation — too bad you need actual vocal chops to do that.

2. Chickenfoot

Originating band: Van Halen (exes), Red Hot Chili Peppers
Formed: 1989
Albums: 2, “Chickenfoot” (2009), “Chickenfoot III” (2011)

So when is the whole not greater than the sum of its parts? When you are Chickenfoot. You would think that a band made up of vocalist Sammy Hagar (ex-Van Halen), bassist Michael Anthony (also ex-VH), Chad Smith (Chilis) and quitar virtuoso Joe Satriani would sound at least half decent. What it amounts to a failed attempt to make big, beefy arena-sized rock songs — which should have stayed between the four of them. This Chicken(foot) laid a serious egg.

1. Dee Dee King

Originating band: The Ramones
Formed: 1989
Albums: 1, “Standing in the Spotlight” (1989)

Ramones founding member and bassist Dee Dee Ramone had the not-so-brilliant idea of releasing a rap album under the alias “Dee Dee King.” Eminem he was not. Listen, if you dare.

NOTE: If you disagree or have your own pick for best and worst, put them in the comments section below.

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The most memorable Grammy performances

- February 7th, 2013

Rihanna. Frank Ocean. Taylor Swift. Alicia Keys. Jack White. These are just a few of stars that are set to potentially shine on stage for the 55th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night.

So what better way to prep for the biggest night in music than by running down some of the most notable performances ever on the big awards show.

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As you will see, not all of the infamous ones on this list were because the artist killed it. Some lip-synched. Some (soy) bombed. Some were jaw-droppers. And some just plain awesome.

Here’s ten that made the grade for differing reasons:

Madonna/Gorillaz/De La Soul, “Feel Good Inc.”/”Hung Up,” 1996

If anyone asks what the first ever hologram band was, you can tell them it was Gorillaz. The cartoon group teamed up with De La Soul (who aren’t even mentioned) and Madonna for a mish-mash of musical samplings which culminated in an unforgettable Grammy showing.

Radiohead, “15 Step,” 2009

Thom Yorke and co. pulled out all the stops by bringing along the USC Trojan Marching Band for the 2009 Grammy Awards. With all the people on stage, it could have been a disaster but turned out to be a match made in heaven.

Bob Dylan, “Love Sick,” 1998

Bob Dylan was in his glory after taking home the 1998 Grammy for Album of the Year for “Time Out of Mind,” but it was an attention seeker that will always be remembered during his performance. A shirtless man with the words “Soy Bomb” painted on his chest began gyrating around the stage in a bizarre dance, while an unfazed Dylan played on. The man, later known as Michael Portnoy, was escorted away by security after about a minute. It was later revealed that he was hired to dance behind Dylan during the performance, but changed the plan. So what does “Soy Bomb” mean? “Soy represents dense nutritional life,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Bomb is, obviously, an explosive destructive force. So, soy bomb is what I think art should be: dense, transformational, explosive life.”

Alrighty then…

Marvin Gaye, “Sexual Healing,” 1983

It was the year and moment that soul legend Marvin Gaye’s comeback was complete. After being hitless for years, Gaye turned up the heat on this night, putting in a stellar performance of “Sexual Healing” (despite some feedback), and taking home two Grammys to boot. Sadly, a year later, he was shot and killed by his own father after an argument at the family home.

Milli Vanilli, “Girl You Know It’s True,” 1990

They’ll always have their night in the Grammy sun. They “sung” in front of millions and right after, took home the award for Best New Artist. You know the rest.

Trust me, watching the video is worth the effort once you see the priceless reaction on Ozzy Osbourne’s face after it’s over.

Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror,” 1988

Michael Jackson was known for his over-the-top performances, but on this night, it was a stripped down and moving rendition of his hit song had the audience on their feet.

Eminem/Elton John, “Stan,” 2001

This much-hyped (and gripping) duet had tongues wagging at the time. Slim Shady was being targeted by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation due to his homophobic lyrics, and had actually protested outside the Grammy Awards in 2001 because of his participation. What’s the best way of thumbing your nose at the protests? Get Elton John to help you out.

Tina Turner/Beyonce, “Proud Mary,” 2008

Tina Turner and Beyonce teamed up for a blistering rendition of the Creedance Clearwater Revival song, blending two different generations of soulfulness. No Ike needed.

Pink, “Glitter in the Air,” (2010)

Pink gets her Cirque on by getting wrapped up in a sheet, getting soaked in water, and getting high in the sky.

Kanye West/Jamie Foxx, “Gold Digger,” 2006

The twosome get the usually conservative star-studded audience out of their seats for this high-energy version of a tune that usually gets the party hoppin’.

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