Five Contemporary Acts the Houston Symphony Should Take On

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The Houston Symphony performing Handel's Messiah in 2011.
This Saturday at Jones Hall, the Houston Symphony will take on the music of Led Zeppelin, as arranged by conductor Brent Havens. It's sure to be an awesome show, and I personally think it's sort of a brilliant idea. Hard rock and metal have always had elements that gel well with classical and symphonic music.

Deep Purple and Metallica both did it to great effect. But while the orchestra's Zeppelin tribute will surely be fantastic to hear, I can't help but think that this idea could apply equally well to some contemporary acts. Why should classic rock get all the symphonic treatments? Here are five current acts I think would be perfect for the gig.


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Slim Thug REALLY Wants the Rockets to Sign Carmelo Anthony

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Oh, what a funny business the NBA is. And nothing is funnier than the league's free-agency season, when Monopoly money is tossed at players who either a) deserve it; b) probably have photos of your GM doing unimaginable things; or c) happen to have the names Jeremy and Lin.

You see, free agency is where the real NBA season lies. It's how Houston came to determine that Slim Thug is our greatest weapon in luring NBA free agents. You thought Dwight Howard came thanks to Chandler Parsons? Nonsense. Slim gets LOYALTY tattooed on his chest as preparation for these things.

This year's prized recruit is Carmelo Anthony, unless you're of the thought that LeBron James may really leave Miami. Why would the Rockets want him? Because he scores 28 a game, shoots nearly 40 percent from three-point land and is a scoring nightmare. It's like James Harden but, you know, taller and fonder of headbands.


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10 Acts We'd Pay to See Play in a Graveyard

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Photo by Groovehouse
Tom Araya of Slayer
Typically, tour announcements come and go with little fanfare around here, especially when it's a band like Austin natives Spoon. We love Spoon a lot, and frankly would like to see Houston's name on more tour announcements like the one that recently caught our eye, albeit for an entirely different reason.

Spoon's new album, due next month, is titled They Want My Soul; in keeping with the theme, the band will be playing at the Fairbanks Lawn of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. That got us thinking. Again, no offense to Spoon, but there are loads of artists we'd pay to see play in such a spooky locale that might be more setting-appropriate.


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Five Sample-Using Songs That Deserve Grammys Now

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Photo by Marco Torres
Wu-Tang Clan
Recently the Grammy Awards announced changes to the annual music awards' criteria and categories, the most notable being now permitting songs that utilize samples in the songwriting categories, specifically Song of the Year. This is huge news for many electronic artists and rappers, obviously.

But why wasn't this always the case? It seems like the often stodgy judges behind the Grammys have unfairly excluded a lot of amazing works of art from winning awards just because they featured samples or interpolations. Here are some of the best songs which should have won that couldn't before this rule change.


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Nine Bands Named After Songs by Other Bands

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Photo by Mark C. Austin
Radiohead
We here at Rocks Off spend a lot of time thinking about band names. It's one of the most important things about a band, because it's the face of your brand. After all, a metal band is not going to get off the ground if it's named after a My Little Pony character. Once upon a time, you were doomed to failure if your name was too offensive to be sold in stores.

So once again we turn to the inspiration behind band names, and take a look at some who decided to name themselves after their favorite songs by other bands. After all, if it was a badass song, there's no reason it can't be a badass band too.


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The 10 Best '70s Throwback Jamz

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Hey, does anyone feel like gettin' on up like a sex machine? Well, we do, and we think you should join us.

The music that emerged during the '70s is some of the very best, even now. Artists like Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson were taking over the scene, oiled-up Jheri curls were all the rage, and that good ol' break-your-neck-on-the-dancefloor funk reigned supreme.

And while the '70s left us cleaning up a mess of glitter and disco lights, it also left us with a laundry list full of fantastic jamz that are just ripe for Throwback Thursday. Whether the songs are soulful and deep, or funkadelic and fancy-free; it matters not. What matters is that the songs from this era were some of the very best ever, and deserve a nod or two.


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The 8 Best Soundtrack-Exclusive Tracks

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Photo by Marco Torres
R. Kelly, whose biggest hit originally appeared on the Space Jam soundtrack.
Soundtracks were a huge deal in the '90s. It was a chance for us to get all our favorite bands together in one place, like a high class, far more expensive mixtape. They were such an affair that bands would release their best songs and greatest hits on these records, oftentimes sending a soundtrack soaring up the charts far past any one musician's own album.

For that reason, it's hard to look back at them as the cheap marketing ploys that they could be. When real musicians applied themselves to soundtrack appearances, and Hollywood execs allowed them free reign over the product, it often became a must own, even if the movie sucked.

Here are some of those songs which you could only get on a soundtrack that you just had to buy back then.

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5 Rock Bands Made Better by Switching Vocalists

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Photo by Groovehouse
Iron Maiden
Every now and then, switching things up in a band isn't the end of the world. In fact, recruiting a new singer can revitalize and expand the horizons of a band in completely unexpected ways, bringing them out of obscurity or to previously unheard of levels of success.

We've covered this ground before in the realm of metal, but what about rock and pop examples? Here are some of the greatest singer switches of all time in that expanded field, where it much less commonly works but has to great effect in the past.

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A Fond Look Back at 1998's Godzilla: The Album

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The latest installment in the long-running Godzilla series, and the second American-produced version of the monster movie, comes out on Friday. Though I personally don't trust this one to go any better than the one in 1998 went, and the Japanese fanbase is already making fun of our "fat, American" Godzilla, it's shaping up to be the first blockbuster of the summer season, depending on your opinion of Spider-Man.

So it's as good a time as any to look backwards, particularly at the 1998 Godzilla film starring Matthew Broderick. It was a horrible movie, but it did have one thing going for it: an awesome soundtrack. Let's reflect on that a bit, shall we?


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Five Songs Written by People You'd Never Expect

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Photo by Jim Bricker
The Beach Boys
As we continue the transition to digital media in the modern age, one thing we've lost is liner notes. These were usually just credits and weren't really that important in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes they revealed some interesting facts. Specifically, they often listed who wrote certain songs, and could change your perception of a band.

Either that or they'd just shock you. Most of the time, you'd just see the guitarist's name next to the song, but other times you'd see some crazy name you'd never expect. Here are five that jumped out at me the first time I found out about them.


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