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Earlier this week, I discovered a mix CD in my car from eighth grade. I'd convinced my buddy Andrew to burn it for me, and while he got me all my desired tracks, he also added in two random one minute long screaming death metal songs because he's a complete asshole. I remember being really annoyed at the time, but a decade later, I see where he was going with it. There's something hilarious about Bachman Turner Overdrive's “Taking Care Of Business” transitioning into guttural belches over thrash metal riffs.
It's funny how cyclical musical tastes can be. In eighth grade, I loved really loved arena rock songs like the aforementioned “Taking Care Of Business” and Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Sweet Home Alabama”. Then, at some point, I got too cool for school and started listening to the Velvet Underground and John Lennon's angry early solo records. I still listen to Lou Reed talk about “Heroin” as his wife and Lennon scream about bullshit gurus in “I Found Out”, but after high school, I actually fell in love with sappy rock all over again.
Life's too short. I got engaged yesterday. I took my girlfriend to a beautiful inn out in the country, popped the question, sat back and enjoyed every goddamn moment. Somewhere along the line, people started equating sadness and angst with credibility. Maybe there's some truth in that, but with a bottle of wine and a fiancé on my arm, I just want to smile and sing along…
Singles The Beatles' We Can Work It Out
You should see the looks people give me when I tell them “We Can Work It Out” is my favorite Beatles song of all-time. I don't care. Let's work it out, even though I'm pretty sure I'm right perfectly defines my attitude toward quarrelling. I'm no pushover, but if there's a way everyone can get what they want, I'm all for bartering. Sometimes compromise really is the best solution, like when Lennon wanted to release “Day Tripper” as a single and McCartney, Starr and Harrison wanted to release “We Can Work It Out”. They met in the middle and released them both as a special double A side.
Ben E. King's Stand By Me
Played on the radio more than seven million times since its release in 1960, “Stand By Me” was a top ten hit at the time and again in 1986. I really love it just as much today as the first time I heard it. With King's soothing vocals and the brilliant, memorable accompaniment, it still holds up as a true pinnacle in pop song writing and a testament that sometimes the simplest emotions can actually be the most powerful. For the record, yes, I also enjoy the Pretenders' “I'll Stand By You”, but in a heads up battle, there's no comparison. Ben E. King for the win!
Harvey Danger's Flagpole Sitta
The most joyful tribute to mental instability of all-time, Harvey Danger's good-natured, stupid people-bashing massive 90s hit is full of wonderful one liners and frantic energy. It clocks in at a shade over three and a half minutes, but its up tempo enough to never lose its steam. In a lot of ways, it's the embodiment of everything great about mid-90s pop rock. Back when Blind Melon and Weezer were ruling the airwaves, you could always be sure to end up with a smile on your face by the time you reached your destination, provided you were listening to the right radio station.
Albums Twisted Sister's Stay Hungry
There is perhaps no genre more consistently shit upon than 80s metal. The reputation might be somewhat deserved, but the most over-the-top era in the history of music still produced some fun and wonderful albums. First among those fist-pumping endeavors for me will always be Twisted Sister's awesome third album Stay Hungry. Featuring “We're Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”, the LP contains the group's two most memorable songs, as well as a host of other weird, sickening and strange tracks. The pedophilic tribute “Captain Howdy” is positively depraved and as power ballads go, “The Price” isn't half bad. Besides, how can you resist an album cover featuring doing dumbbell exercises with a piece of meat. Fantastic.
Soundtrack From Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
I want the world! I want the whole world! I want to lock it all up in my pocket, it's my bar of chocolate. Give it to me! Ohh Veruca Salt. That bitch might seriously suck at life, but she knows how to belt a gimme-gimme anthem out like few adolescent girls. To be perfectly honest, I could listen to her sing for an entire album, but this soundtrack contains numbers from most of the kids, as well as Willy Wonka. Gene Wilder's signature tune, “Pure Imagination”, is still instantly recognizable decades later, and for good reason. With wonderfully imaginative lyrics and brilliant word emphasis, it's like auditory Prozac. Download it immediately, at least if you feel like spending an afternoon singing.
Straight No Chaser's With A Twist
I went to college at Indiana University. During one of my first weekends as a freshman, I attended an a capella concert by a group called Straight No Chaser. I remember being shocked at how organized and talented they were, but I assumed at the time that every college in the nation had a similar group of dudes belting out pop classics. Most of them do, but it turns out, the majority aren't anywhere close to as good. After posting a YouTube clip that generated more than ten million views, the original Straight No Chaser members recently reformed and released three charting albums. The other ones are Christmasy, but With A Twist sticks very close to loveable, singable pop favorites.
Video Nothing like a first person clip of some dude going to get beer set to a bluegrass cover of Snoop Dogg to get the week started off right. Yee-haw. Seriously though, The Gourds are straight baller…
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