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Pharrell Williams tops the ‘Happy’ playlist

- February 25th, 2014

Pharrell Williams has got to be feeling pretty happy with himself these days.

He took home four Grammy Awards last month, he’s about to release his second album, G I R L, next week, and the lead single off of it, Happy, is the No. 1 song on the planet and is nominated for an Oscar for Best original Song (the tune is featured on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack).

happy2

But unlike Pharrell’s infectious tune, not all happy songs are filled with joy. And some of the ones that are, run the gamut between enthralling and enraging.

Here’s a few well known happy tracks out there — we’ll leave it up to you to cover your ears or crank it up:

Shiny Happy People, R.E.M.

Those sticks in the mud over at Q magazine added it to their list of “Ten Terrible Records by Great Artists,” while other publications called it 1991′s song of the summer. The video may be extremely bad, but there’s no denying it’s a solid track — especially with the solid vocals from B-52′s singer Kate Pierson.

My Happy Ending, Avril Lavigne

What happens when a pop star gets turfed by a boyfriend? Well, they write a hit song. We don’t want to hear what happens if she becomes the ex-Mrs. Chad Kroeger.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin

The world may have been addicted to Mcferrin’s 1988 happy-go-lucky track, but Public Enemy were less than thrilled, as noted in their hip-hop classic Fight the Power as Chuck D raps, “Don’t Worry Be Happy was a number one jam, damn if I say it you can slap me right here.” Still, we’ll go out on a limb and nominate this as Rob Ford campaign theme song as he hits the re-election trail.

Only Happy When It Rains, Garbage

The ominous 1995 tune, in which Shirley Manson states that “she’s riding high on a deep depression,” is strangely upbeat in a self-loathing kind of way. And hey, misery loves company.

Happy, Rolling Stones

This classic from 1972′s Exile on Main Street features Keith Richards on lead vocals, and has become on of his signature songs live. The track reportedly took only four hours to create and record, from start to finish.

If it Makes You Happy, Sheryl Crow

Sheryl reveals some factual nuggets in her Grammy-winning 1996 tune such as her penchant to still get stoned and she’s not the kind of girl you’d take home.

Happy Together, The Turtles

The Turtles were Beatles killers back in 1967 when the song ousted Penny Lane from the top of the charts.

Happy Jack, The Who

The 1966 song is apparently about a man who slept on a beach, while kids made fun of him and buried him in the sand, all the while, smiling away. He’s a better man than we are.

The Happy Song (Dum Dum), Otis Redding

Any excuse to have Otis on a playlist, we will do it.

Happy Trails, Van Halen

The cover song (originally written by Dale Evans Rogers in the 1940s) is the final track on VH’s 1982 album Diver Down, and they frequently end their concerts (when David Lee Roth is on vocals) with it.

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The Polar Vortex music playlist

- January 8th, 2014

Are you getting tired of hearing about frost quakes? Want to stick winter up someone’s polar vortex?

Here are some chilly tunes that will act as an extra layer as you walk through the bitter, unrelenting cold, feeling like a freezer-burnt popsicle:

polarvortex

Funky Cold Medina, Tone-Loc

And we go a little somethin’ like this… hit it: What better way to kick off the anti-freeze list and get the blood flowin’ through the lower extremities than this 1989 hip-hop staple about a love potion gone bad?

Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla ice

Listening to this may add some temporary relief from the elements for some, but for others, it may be like hot box torture. But hey, he still claims to rock a mic like a vandal and light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle.

She’s So Cold, The Rolling Stones

This smokin’ hot 1980 tune from Mick Jagger and the boys is as necessary as long johns in frigid temperatures. And when Sir Mick implores the female in the song to “put your hand on the heat, put your hand on the heat,” we don’t think he’s referring to his radiator. Or maybe he is.

Snow (Hey Oh), Red Hot Chili Peppers

There’s nothing like a serving of Hot Chilis to spice up the ol’ musical constitution. Did we mention we miss John Frusciante’s guitar work? We digress.

Cold As Ice, Foreigner

The British-American rockers’ 1977 signature hit is chilly in more ways than one: You’re digging for gold/Yet throwing away/A fortune in feelings/But someday you’ll pay. Bitterly good.

Cold Shot, Stevie Ray Vaughan

Need a warm blanket after a nasty cold shot? Try this slow blues burner from one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived.



Baby, It’s Cold Outside, Cee Lo (featuring Christina Aguilera)

The 1944 Christmas classic, which has been covered by hundreds of artists, may have some questionable lyrics (Say, what’s in this drink?), but Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera do their best to turn up the temperature with their rendition.

Cold Sweat, James Brown

You didn’t think we’d forget this 1967 No. 1 hit from the Godfather of Soul did you? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Against the Wind, Bob Seger

When you’re searching for shelter against the wind, we recommend this 1980 tune and his Silver Bullet Band, which features Eagles star Glenn Frey on backing vocals, for added protection.

Hot n Cold, Katy Perry

Katy can’t figure out whether she should have boots or flip flops on in this track, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this pop hit.

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Listen to John Lennon slam the Rolling Stones

- October 10th, 2013

Unbeknownst to quite a few classic rock fans out there was the fact that John Lennon loathed Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones.

No, this was no friendly rivalry, and the Beatles legend wasn’t ready to give peace a chance.

And as part of our weekly #ThrowbackThursday, here’s a little proof, packed in with a few F-bombs, that the same guy who wrote “All You Need is Love” definitely had no love for Sir Mick. He even went as far as calling him “a joke with all that f*g dancing.”

lennon

The candid interview comes from a sit-down that Rolling Stone magazine boss Jann Wenner did with the Beatles legend back in 1970.

“They are (the Stones) not in the same class music-wise or power-wise. (They) never were and Mick always resented it,” Lennon said.

Listen to him go off for two minutes and forty three seconds:

What do you think of his comments? Agree? Disagree? Tell us below in the comments section.

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Happy 70th birthday, Mick Jagger

- July 26th, 2013

Rolling Stones’ legendary frontman Mick Jagger may have turned the big 7-0 today, but he’s still got better moves than most.

Here’s a few numbers to wrap your mind around:

Mick has had five solo albums, with 1985′s She’s the Boss hitting platinum status in the U.S., 29 albums with the Stones, two Grammys (Stones), 17 live albums, three box sets, 30 compilations, and over 2,000 live shows. Oh — and he’s had two marriages with seven children in total.

And he’s still going strong — and probably will for a few more decades.

In honour of Sir Mick’s big day, here’s a recast of my top 10 Rolling Stones moments (and don’t forget to send your birthday greetings in the comments section below):

10. First No. 1 hit, 1964

The Stones made their first mark on the music scene when they shot to the top of the charts in July of 1964. Their cover version of Bobby and Shirley Womack’s “It’s All Over Now” hit No. 1 in the U.K., a year prior to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” hitting No. 1 internationally in September of 1965.

9. First No. 1 album in U.S., 1965

Riding the wave of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’s” success, “Out of Our Heads” became The Rolling Stones’ first No. 1 album in the U.S., eventually going platinum.

8. The Ed Sullivan Show, 1967

“Let’s Spend the Night Together” caused quite a fuss in ’67 with its “suggestive” lyrics, with radio stations even banning the track from the airwaves, and the ones that did play it, bleeped out the word “night.” When the band played it on the “Ed Sullivan Show” that year, they were asked by Sullivan to sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” instead. The Stones agreed, but Jagger sarcastically exaggerates the altered lyrics and rolls his eyes as he blurts it out.

7. Dirty Work, 1986

You just have to go as far as the album cover to know that this one was going to be a stinker. The band are seen decked out in blinding multi-coloured clothes, as if they got sucked into the WHAM! craze that permeated the mid-’80s. The music is just as bad. With Keith and Mick reportedly at extreme odds and drummer Charlie Watts struggling with heroin and booze (session drummers had to fill in for him), this was a disaster from beginning to end. With no big hits and a vomit-inducing cover of “Harlem Shuffle,” it will go down as the worst album in their history. Even the band looks embarrassed watching Mick “shake his tail” in the video for “Harlem” (below).

6. Jimmy Miller at the controls

He was the band’s go-to producer in their formidable years of 1968-1973, with classic albums such as Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), “Exile on Main Street” (1972) and Goat’s Head Soap (1973) all under his careful ear. He even pitched in drum licks as well on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Happy,” and “Tumbling Dice” (listen below), and is noted for coming up with the unmistakable cowbell at the beginning of “Honky Tonk Woman.”

4. Bill Wyman exits, 1989

The long-serving bassist decided to pull the plug on the band after the recording sessions and tour behind 1989′s “Steel Wheels” album. He simply had enough of touring. However, Wyman will be back sharing bass duties for their upcoming five dates with Daryl Jones, who has filled in for him since.

3. Keith Richards arrested in T.O., 1977

On February 27, 1977 Keith Richards was busted by the RCMP for possession of 22 grams of heroin at Harbour Castle Hotel. According to Keith it took police two hours to wake him up out of a stoned stupor. He was originally charged with “possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking”. Richards had his passport confiscated, and he and his family were forced to stay in Toronto until April. In April he was allowed to leave on a medical visa to begin rehab for heroin addiction. A month later, billed as “The Cockroaches,” they played two shows at the famous El Mocambo club, and after, were spotted partying hard with Prime Minister Trudeau’s wife Margaret, which created tons of tabloid fodder.

2. Brian Jones’s death

On July 3, 1969, Jones was found motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool in the U.K. by his girlfriend Anna Wohlin, and it set off a wide array of conspiracy theories, not the least of which was that he was murdered. Only two of the remaining members of the Stones, Wyman and Watts, attended his funeral. Jones had left the band under acrimonious circumstances a month earlier.

1. Altamont death, 1969

It was dubbed as the official end to the “Peace & Love” generation. In what was supposed to be the Stones version of Woodstock, the vibe of this free concert turned dark when, earlier on in the day-long rock festival, Jefferson Airplane’s lead singer Marty Balin was punched and knocked out by a member of the Hell’s Angels, who were inexplicably acting as security for the event (for a reported $500 worth of beer). As the Stones hit the stage, the tension increased, and during “Under My Thumb,” a scuffle broke out which resulted in the stabbing death of a 18-year-old boy.

Watch a clip of the incident below:

Have a favourite Rolling Stones moment/memory/song you’d like to share or want to post a birthday greeting? Let us know below in the comments section.

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Top 10 rock festival performances of all time

- April 10th, 2013

INDIO, California — Music festivals can be a make or break proposition for an up-and-coming band, or a big attention grabber for those who are already filling big venues.

We all remember last year’s edition of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival when hip-hop heavyweights Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg made headlines around the world when they rapped with a hologram of late rapper Tupac Shakur (see below).

fests

There’s been a myriad of performances over the years that are still talked about by music fans.

With the desert sun ready to rise at Coachella this year, here’s our list of the most memorable festival concerts at various music events:

10. Oasis, Toronto Virgin Music Festival, 2009

After putting on a solid early showing, festival closers Oasis were the victim of a party crasher four songs in. A Pickering, Ont. man, who apparently hid underneath the girders of the stage for most of the day, came out and pushed guitarist Noel Gallagher into his own monitor, resulting in a separated shoulder. He soldiered on, however, playing a few more songs before having to bow out.

9. Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg, Coachella 2012

Tupac rose from the dead in hologram form and performs “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” It has now become fodder for the fest, with everyone wondering who the next deceased star will be to get the projection treatment.

8. Green Day, Woodstock 1994

The punk trio was already causing a bit of a stink with their debut “Dookie,” but it was a mud fight in Saugerties, N.Y., that made them a household name. With cheap hair dye jobs and a defiant attitude, the band playfully incites the folks in attendance with quips like “how are you doing you rich mother***ers?” and “I hope it rains so hard you all get stuck!” When an audience member chucks a chunk of grass at frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, he in turn sticks it in his mouth, and eventually throws it back into the crowd. Cue the mayhem and a long career.

7. The Who, Woodstock 1969

The Who didn’t exactly embrace the hippie counterculture movement at the time, however, they showed up to the now legendary festival and gave a dark, high-intensity performance that was in stark comparison to most of the acoustic-playing artists on the bill. And as an early indication of Pete Townshend’s no-guff demeanour, political activist Abbie Hoffman attempted to address the masses during their set, and he promptly booted him. “Get off my f***in stage!,” he said. Good ol’ Pete.

6. Radiohead, Glastonbury 1997

With their now classic 1997 album “OK Computer” just in stores, Thom Yorke and the gang break out the early hits and mix up tracks from the well-received disc. The crowd feeds off their energy, and the usually straight-faced frontman is all smiles, as if he knew that this was a key moment in the band’s career.

5. Janis Joplin, Monterey Pop Festival 1967

It will be forever known as her coming out party. Joplin, a relative unknown, appeared as a member of Big Brother and The Holding Company, blew everyone away with her intense set, topped by a snarly version of “Ball & Chain.” The set ends and the camera pans to Mamas & the Papas star Mama Cass mouthing, “wow, that’s really heavy.” The band were immediately signed to a contract after the show.

4. U2, Live Aid 1985

The eager Irish foursome were on the cusp of superstardom, and already had a arena-sized following after the release of 1984′s “Unforgettable Fire.” The powerful showing at Bob Geldof’s Ethiopian famine relief benefit put them over the top. Frontman Bono, during an extended version of “Bad,” pulled a woman out of the crowd and danced with her briefly. The incident caused a frenzy at the front of the stage, but connected with the millions watching. It also caused the band to skip the third scheduled song, “Pride (In the Name of Love),” because they went over their allotted time.

3. Stones, Altamont, 1969

This is memorable for all the wrong reasons. It was dubbed as the official end to the “Peace & Love” generation. In what was supposed to be the Stones version of Woodstock, the vibe of this free concert turned dark when, earlier on in the day-long rock festival, Jefferson Airplane’s lead singer Marty Balin was punched and knocked out by a member of the Hell’s Angels, who were inexplicably acting as security for the event (for a reported $500 worth of beer). As the Stones hit the stage, the tension increased, and during “Under My Thumb,” a scuffle broke out which resulted in the stabbing death of a 18-year-old man.



2. Jimi Hendrix, Monterey Pop Festival 1967

We all know him now as one of the most influential guitarists of all time. But in June of 1967, a clearly stoned axeman played to a large — and also very stoned — U.S. crowd for the first time. The reaction on the faces in attendance is priceless – some with their mouths wide open, and some just tripping at the set they’re taking in. It all culminates in Hendrix’s now-infamous guitar burning finale.



1. Queen, Live Aid 1985

There’s no better example of a frontman having the crowd in the palm of his hand than Freddie Mercury at London’s Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985. In what will go down as one of the greatest live performances in rock history, the English rockers breeze through a six-song greatest hits set in rapid fire succession. Mercury, acting as a choirmaster, leads the 72,000 in attendance in an unforgettable sing-along.

Do you have your own favourites? Add them in the comment section below!

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