• The Upbeat Protest Song That Taught A Generation About Nelson Mandela

    In 1983, Jerry Dammers, principal songwriter and keyboardist for 2 Tone ska band The Specials, attended an anti-apartheid concert in London. Until that time, he knew very little about South African politics and the country’s most famous political prisoner, Nelson Mandela. Dammers was was inspired by the concert to write a song about Mandela but he never imagined the hit the song would become. In 1984, Dammers went into the studio with his new band The Special AKA and recorded “Nelson Mandela,” with Elvis Costello producing the track. Unlike most protest songs, “Nelson Mandela” was upbeat with much of the music inspired by tradiotional South African musical styles. The song was an immediate hit across the world and peaked at number 9 on the UK Singles Charts. That year, the students’ union at Wadham College, Oxford passed a motion to end every dance with the song, a practice which remains to this day. In June 2008, a concert was held in London’s Hyde Park for Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday. For the show’s big finale, Amy Winehouse led an all-star band, featuring Jerry Dammers, Annie Lennox, Queen and Paul Rodgers in an incredible performance of “Nelson Mandela.” Nelson Mandela passed away more »

  • Notable Haircuts In Popular Music [Infographic]

    People love to blame music videos for emphasis on the looks of a performer rather than the music. But most of those people are bitter uggos. The fact is, image has been an important part of pop music for years, way before the advent of MTV. From the overly-Brylcreemed ‘do that helped Bill Hailey “Rock Around the Clock” to the ever changing outrageous wigs of Lady Gaga, hair is a big part of pop music. Try to see how many of these you can identify before looking at the names and maybe find yourself a new coif in the process. I wonder if I could pull off the Barry Gibb…

  • Iconic Concert: The Specials Usher In Ska’s Second Wave [Video]

    In 1977, The Specials formed in Coventry, England. Angry with the depressed economy and political strife that fueled the burgeoning punk rock movement, The Specials opted to channel their frustration into a more danceable ska beat. Ska, the calypso-meets-R&B music style that ruled Jamaica in the 50s, had made its way to England via immigrants from the West Indies but it wasn’t a nationwide craze until The Specials combined the music with punk’s anger and energy. Soon the second wave of ska had begun. Jerry Dammers, the songwriter and keyboardist for The Specials, formed 2Tone records, which released the first singles from Madness and Elvis Costello along with early records from The Beat (known as The English Beat in the US). In 1979 The Specials recorded their eponymous debut LP, produced by Elvis Costello. The album, a mix of ska classics like Dandy Livingstone’s “A Message to You, Rudy” and originals from Dammers, was a hit and the band was invited to play on the BBC-produced “Rock Goes to College.” The performance, broadcast live from the Colchester Institute in Essex, finds the band in top form. Along with songs from their first album, they incorporate other ska classics like The more »

  • Weird Al Spoofs Pharrell With “Tacky”

    Weird Al’s 14th album, “Mandatory Fun,” comes out this month and the master of parody songs has declared it his final album. Don’t worry, Weird Al isn’t retiring. He just realized that digitally self-releasing songs works best for his medium, which tends to be topical. Most of the pop hits he parodies on the new album have already been tackled by YouTube users, such as Pharrell’s “Happy,” rewritten by Al as “Tacky.” But even if others are getting in on the parody game, no one has the talent of Weird Al and his band when it comes to reproducing the music so perfectly. Check out the video for “Tacky” below, featuring comedians Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal, and Jack Black and be sure to pick up “Mandatory Fun” when it’s released.

  • Beatallica Is The Greatest Cover Band You Never Knew You Wanted To Hear

    Almost no one has ever sat around wondering how the pop ballads of The Beatles would sound like if played by Metallica. We say almost no one because 4 guys did think just that and formed Beatallica in order to find out the answer. Formed in 2001, Beatallica takes the songs of The Beatles and plays them in Metallica’s distinctive heavy metal style. Sometimes the songs are even mashups of hits from the two distinctly different bands. Covering two of the most litigious bands can be troublesome, though. Sony/ATV Publishing, who owns most of The Beatles’ catalog, tried to shut down the band in 2005. Surprisingly enough, legal help came from Metallica’s own Lars Ulrich, who totally supported Beatallica. With help from Ulrich’s attorney, a settlement was reached with The Beatles’ publishers and the band has been able to tour and release albums without any further legal troubles. Listen to their full album, “Abbey Load,” below, featuring a great Lars Ulrich-esque drum solo in place of Ringo’s iconic solo on “The End.” Keep up with Beatallica on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Iconic Concert: Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii

    Just days ago the English legendary rock group Pink Floyd announced they’ll be releasing a new album this October. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the last release of an album from the English rockers, when “The Division Bell” debuted in 1994. Their lastest creation will be called “The Endless River”, but not much else is known at this time. To get all geared up for their latest installment, here’s one of the most iconic sets the band ever played. Mostly because it was a live set in front of a crowdless amphitheater. Pink Floyd’s 1972 documentary “Live at Pompeii” featured the band playing in the ancient Roman amphitheatre in Pompeii, Italy, directed by Adrian Maben. 0:00 Intro song 3:34 Echoes Part I 15:30 Careful With That Axe Eugene 22:20 A Saucerful Of Secrets 32:37 One Of These Days I’m Going To Cut You Into Little Pieces 38:33 Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun 49:04 Mademoiselle Nobs 51:01 Echoes Part II 1:04:20 Supper 1:08:12 On The Run 1:10:12 Director Interview 1:11:00 Oysters 1:13:00 Eclipse 1:14:37 Rick Wright Piano 1:15:47 Us And Them 1:20:18 Band Interviews 1:25:54 Brain Damage 1:32:48 Echoes Vocals

  • Hysterical Japanese Politician Becomes Free Jazz Masterpiece [Video]

    Last week, a Japanese politician gained worldwide infamy when a video of him crying while trying to explain his flagrant use of public funds became a YouTube sensation. Just a few days later, a very talented composer and pianist was able to harmonize the hysterical outburst, resulting in this free jazz masterpiece. You know how Italian sounds like a beautiful, lilting melody? Well distraught Japanese is pretty much the opposite. Also, the lead sheet is included below so those of you that are musically inclined can follow along. Good luck…

  • 149 Bob Dylan Acetates Discovered In NYC Closet

    3 months ago, the music collectible treasure hunters at Record Mecca uncovered 149 Bob Dylan acetates in a closet in New York City. The acetates, records cut in real-time to give performers and producers an idea of how their work-in-progress sounds, were cut during sessions for Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait, and New Morning. But what’s on them? Record Mecca’s Jeff Gold explains: We discovered many of the acetates were unreleased versions of songs, in some cases with different overdubs, sometimes without any overdubs, many with different mixes, different edits and in a few cases completely unreleased and unknown versions. There are outtakes too, including electric versions of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues” recorded during the Self Portrait sessions, and a gospel tinged version of “Tomorrow is Such a Long Time” recorded during the New Morning sessions. It’s an amazing find, and Gold was sure to provide Dyaln’s office with transfers of all the music found. Although Gold is keeping many of the discs for his private collection, a few are for sale at Record Mecca, including an alternate Nashville Skyline for $7000.

  • This Epic Infographic Connects 727 Musicians

    Sure, everyone knows the connection between Nirvana and the Foo Fighters via Dave Grohl or Cream and the Yardbirds via Eric Clapton but this incredibly detailed infographic goes much, much deeper. With over 500 bands connecting over 700 artists, this is the ultimate chart for music trivia enthusiasts. Best of all, you can order the masterpiece as a 39″ x 39″ print on 100 lb archival from Pop Chart Lab for $60. Click on the image below to see the full-size version.

  • Percussive Guitar Cover Of “Wake Me Up” Is Most Impressive [Video]

    By now every single person in the world is familiar with Swedish DJ Avicii thanks to his immense hit “Wake Me Up.” It’s the most played song on Spotify, with over 250 million plays and about 850,000 each day. Although we are all sick of it now, there’s no denying how catchy it was when we first heard it. Now Sam Meador, frontman and keyboardist for black metal band Xanthocroid has breathed new life into the song with this percussive guitar cover. If you like what you hear, be sure to download the track at CDBaby and help Sam raise money to record his solo album.

  • 25 Album Covers Recreated…With Socks?

    We’ve seen album covers recreated using Legos or the photographers’ children but these are truly unique. London-based photographer Thom Moore uses his socks, of which he apparently has an incredible amount of, to recreate some of the most iconic album covers. What’s most impressive is that Moore insists the socks all come from his sock drawer, no hunting down the perfect sock for a shot. Take a look at 25 of his best below and see the rest at Tumblr. You can’t help but say “Darn!”

  • This Is How We Do it [Infographic]

    Reddit user Wopsle was a man with a dream: find a flowchart to aid one in doing it in the way the great Montell Jordan described in the 1995 masterpiece “This Is How We Do It.” Unfortunately, no such thing existed. So Wopsle spent 10 hours creating this graphic so when Friday rolls around, we can all make sure we’re doin’ it and doin’ it right. Wait, that’s the wrong song.

  • Bootleg Soviet Records Made From Old X-Rays [5 Photos]

    The leaders of the Soviet Union may have liked to think that their citizens were above listening to bourgeois Western rock’n’roll and jazz records, but the fact is, people can only listen to so much Yan Frenkel before they want to overdose on krokodil. But vinyl was scarce in the Soviet Union of the 1950s, so bootleggers had to look elsewhere for their records. Salvation was found in salvaged X-rays from hospital dumpsters. The thick radiographs were perfect for imprinting records. After carefully cutting them out with manicure scissors and adding a hole using a lit cigarette, citizens yearning for Elvis Presley were free to listen to their heart’s content. As long as the politburo didn’t find out, of course.

  • Musicians Imagined As Architectural Works

    We’ve shared the incredible work of artist Federico Babina before, such as his Archist series earlier this year, which imagined what buildings designed by famous artists would look like. With his latest series, Archimusic, Babina uses musicians as inspiration for his architectural drawings. Using either the band members (The Beatles), instruments associated with the artist (Chet Baker), or album covers (Joy Division) as inspiration, Babina draws these whimsical buildings that all look better than the Frank Gehry-designed, hemorrhoid-esque Experience Music Project in Seattle. The best part of the drawings is the riff included at the bottom of each one. For extra fun, keep the Virtual Keyboard open in another window and play along with each drawing. And for more great artwork, check out Federico Babina.

  • Today Marks the 20th Anniversary of Weezer’s Sweater Song

    You know the song, you love the song. It’s the song of a time where things were much simpler, a time where a simple song about pulling the thread on a sweater could become one of the most groundbreaking song of a rock movement. Weezer’s “Undone- the Sweater Song” was the first song the band had ever written and 20 years later is still just as relevant as any song in it’s genre from a critical era of rock and roll, but did you know front man Rivers Cuomo once told Rolling Stone Magazine the song was “almost a complete rip-off” of Metallica’s 1986 classic “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).” Strange, but take a listen and see if you can hear the similarities with this amazing type sequence of Weezer’s most celebrated song. Weezer – Undone – The Sweater Song with Lyrics from jtle24 on Vimeo.

  • The English Beat Look To Crowdfunding For Latest Album

    In 1980, The Beat, known as The English Beat in the US, released their first album, “I Just Can’t Stop It.” Songs like “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Hands Off…She’s Mine” became huge hits and the band found themselves one of the biggest bands of the 2-Tone ska revival. By 1983, after just 3 albums, the band broke up, with some members forming General Public, who would have a hit with “Tenderness,” and others forming Fine Young Cannibals, best known for “She Drives Me Crazy.” A few years ago, frontman Dave Wakeling put together a new version of The English Beat with all new members (aside from himself). Now Wakeling is looking to raise money for the band’s new album through crowdfunding site PledgeMusic. With more and more bands eschewing the big labels and the big percentages they take for their services, crowdfunding seems to be a no-brainer solution. With little need for the physical distribution channels of major labels and the Internet making it easier than ever to contact fans and promoters directly, many musicians are thriving despite whining from the RIAA about the death of their business. Hopefully this will work out for Wakeling and more bands will more »

  • Iconic Concert: Black Sabbath Introduce The World To Heavy Metal in 1970

    It was December 1970, The Beatles were barely broken up and heavy metal wasn’t even a blip on the music radar yet. That is what makes this crystal clear video of a 22-year-old Ozzy Osborne performing songs from Black Sabbath’s debut album Paranoid for a regional television network so amazing. As one rock blog describes, “It’s the best footage, bar none, that you will ever see of the band in their evil prime.” You might only know Ozzy as a mumbling ex-reality star but this guy used to shred like no one else before him.

  • Iconic Concert: Elton John At The Royal Opera House in 2002

    Sir Elton John is one of the most prolific and successful singer-songwriters in the history of music. Back in 2002 he performed at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London along with a 90-piece orchestra, a five-piece electric band, and a choir of Royal Academy students conducted by acclaimed film score composer James Newton Howard. The 11 song set is one of the finest moments of his career and it was all captured on film. If you have an hour this iconic concert is about as “must-see” as it gets.

  • David Bowie And Mick Jagger Musicless Music Video

    In 1985, David Bowie and Mick Jagger teamed up for a cover of the 1964 Martha and the Vandellas hit, “Dancing in the Street.” It was a terrible version of a great song and the only thing worse was the video—3 minutes of the duo wearing 80s pastels and dancing like a couple of white, middle-age dads. But we all put up with it because the proceeds went to charity. This video, through the removal of the song, has actually improved upon the original. Now we can finally hear all the weird dad noises a 42-year-old Mick Jagger was probably making while attempting to “dance.”

  • OK GO Have Gone and Done It Again With Yet Another Visually Stunning Video

    OK GO has been synonymous with making incredible videos ever since their infamous treadmill dancing escapade in “Here we go”, since then they’e used a rally car as an instrument to a complex Rube Goldberg machine to use the lost art of music videos to their advantage. In their latest video for “The Writing’s On the Wall” from their October 2014 release “Hungry Ghosts” album the band uses complex and trippy visuals to create stunning illusions in this one take shoot. In a gigantic warehouse, the team assembled a Mouse-Trap-esqe series of activations that create seemingly impossible tricks of the eye. Jumping through a series of cubes and giant sentenced warping at the slightest angle change are a couple of mind boggling visuals we’ve come to expect from OK GO.

  • Long Lost Aphex Twin Album Available To Stream

    Aphex Twin fans rejoice! Although it has been a decade since the electronic music genius also known as Richard D James has released an album, an unreleased LP from 1994 is now available to stream for the first time. A test pressing of the album, “Caustic Window,” recently appeared for sale online for $13,500. A Kickstarter campaign, led by an electronic music forum known as we Are The Music Makers, allowed fans to donate to the cause to buy the album and release it digitally. The next plan is to sell the pressing, with one third of the proceeds going to James and his label Rephlex Records, one third to the Kickstarter donors, and one third to a charity of James’ choosing. You can stream all of “Caustic Window” on YouTube. The album serves as a bridge between the more laid back “Selected Ambient Works 85-92″ and the heavier, frenetic sound of the “Richard D James Album.”

  • The Beatles In Mono Gets Vinyl Release

    In September of 2009, “The Beatles in Mono,” a 13-CD set featuring mono remasters of the band’s albums through 1968, was released to critical acclaim. Although their albums were released as both mono and stereo LPs in the 60s, the band and their fans consider the mono editions to be definitive. Now 5 years later, the set will be released as a 14-LP box set this fall. Each 180-gram vinyl record will also be sold separately. This new set was made without the use of any digital technology. Engineers used the original master tapes and transferred the music directly to vinyl using a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe. Look for the set, complete with a 108-page hardcover book, on September 9 in the US.

  • Diplo Releases Hour-Long World Cup Mix

    In honor of the World Cup, genius music producer and DJ Diplo released an hour-long mix on BBC Radio1Xtra’s MistaJam show. The mix features lots of Latin rhythms, which is nothing new for Diplo, who has worked with Brazil’s very own carioca funk electropop superstars Bonde do Role in the past. You’ll hear remixes of Beyonce, Kanye West, and the Black Keys in the mix along with Diplo’s project Major Lazer. Stream the mix from BBC below, fix yourself a caipirinha, and, if you’re feeling real adventurous, try to watch a match.

  • Ray & Remora’s Catchy Take On Pavement’s “Gold Soundz” [Video]

    In 1994, Pavement released their second album, “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain,” featuring their biggest hit, “Cut Your Hair.” The second single from the album, “Gold Soundz,” did not perform as well on the charts but was a critical success. In 2010, Pitchfork honored it with the number one slot in their 200 Greatest Songs of the 90s. To celebrate the incredible year in music that was 1994, synthpop duo Ray & Remora have released a 6-song EP titled “1994” that features covers from that year. Check out their video for “Gold Soundz,” featuring appearances from Sonic youth’s Kim Gordon, actor Jeff Goldblum, and Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, then watch the original Pavement video below.

  • Incredible Music Video Animated With Embroidery

    Earlier this year, London-based animators Nicos Livesey and Tom Bunker took to Kickstarter to raise money for a unique video idea: an animated music video where each frame was embroidered. They easily surpassed their goal and recently delivered the finished video. With music by Livesey’s band Throne, the video finds the band members traveling to Mars and making the planet hospitable for human life by nuking everything. The plan goes awry, and the band’s ghosts end up haunting the planet. Livesey came up with the idea from the patches of all of his favorite metal bands that he’d purchase growing up. Even if you’re not into the music, there’s no denying that it’s one of the greatest videos ever imagined.

  • 8 “Ex’pression Session” Performances Every Live Music Fan Will Enjoy

    Ex’pression Arts College, a small university in Emeryville, CA, teaches their students the art of digital audio and video production in the most bawwwsseee way possible. Several of the biggest names in music have stopped by their campus to perform intimate shows, “Ex’pression Session,” that are recorded, mixed and posted to their YouTube page. Crisp audio, colorful HD video… educational. These must-see live performances give way to unfiltered voices and bare instrumental essentials, revealing the incredible musical talent behind some of your favorite bands.

  • Psy And Snoop Team Up For “Hangover” [Video]

    Korean superstar Psy first gained worldwide attention a couple summers ago with his bizarre hit “Gangnam Style.” In less than 2 years, the video has become the most watched on YouTube, with over 2 billion views. Let that sink in for a moment. 2 billion. His latest video, “Hangover,” features the smooth rhymes of Snoop and lots of frenetic editing to ensure a seizure while viewing. Only time will tell if it will be as big a hit as “Gangnam Style,” but with over 6 million views a day after its release, it’s on the right path.

  • 50 Hip Hop Album Covers We Love To Hate

    If you bought a hip hop album in the 90s, especially anything No Limit and Cash Money, then you are familiar with the amazing graphic work of Pen & Pixel Graphics. The Houston-based company churned out album covers for hundreds of artists. If you were looking for more lens flares than a JJ Abrams film, more explosions than a Michael Bay blockbuster, and more fonts than a diner menu, Pen & Pixel were the designers you were looking for. The best news? They’re still in business! If you’re lookin for that nostalgic touch for your latest project, head over to Pen & Pixel for a quote. They even do website design!

  • Behind The Scenes Look At Beatlemania As It Swept Through America 50 Years Ago [42 HQ Photos]

    In the early part of 1964 The Beatles were the hottest band on the other side of the Atlantic and with a strong push on radio saw record sales and a massive new following seemingly overnight. John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison announced a series of tours for the spring of 1964 and fans were determined to get a glimpse of the emerging superstars. 73 million viewers or 34 percent of the American population tuned in to watch them perform on the Ed Sullivan Show and this marked the break out moment of Beatlemania. We have 42 pictures that show how it all went down.

  • Iconic Concert: Hall & Oates Live at Liberty State Park

    Hall & Oates are the top selling duo in music history. These guys crush with “Rich Girl”, “Kiss on My List”, “Private Eyes”, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”, “Maneater”, and “Out of Touch”, and many other songs. On July 4, 1985, just days before they were to headline the now legendary Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, the duo played a benefit concert to restore the Statue of Liberty in front of 60,000 people at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. The state police had to shut down the New Jersey Turnpike because everyone within 100 miles was trying to get into the show so the band had to fly into the show via helicopter. Despite being a really hot July day the weather was perfect and in the video you’ll get to see amazing views of the New York City skyline that includes the World Trade Center. If you’re looking live Hall & Oates action in 1985 HD glory this is it!

  • Chris Martin Joins Kings of Leon on Stage to Sing “Fans”

    The BBC’s Radio One’s 1 Big Weekend in Glasgow on Saturday is annually one of the biggest festivals to take place in the U.K. After Coldplay took the stage Kings of Leon was set to perform, but what the fans didn’t expect was for Chris Martin to return the following day to assist Kings of Leon on a rendition of Because of the Times’ “Fans.” Caleb Followill, lead singer for KoL was joined by Martin with an acoustic guitar and then exclaimed “We finally have someone famous in our band”. Coldplay recently released their sixth album, Ghost Stories, which heavily highlights the frontman’s decedent relationship with wife Gwyneth Paltrow.

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