Weird Al's 10 Best Forgotten Parodies

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Photo by Jason Wolter
It's hard to remember sometimes that "Weird Al" Yankovic has been honing his craft for more than 30 years now, bringing us masterful parodies of pop music for so long that he's outlived many of his onetime subjects. He has a new album called Mandatory Fun due today and is in the midst of releasing eight music videos in eight days on YouTube.

Since we're in the middle of another Weird Al year, it seems appropriate to look back on his massive back catalog and remember some of the best parodies that may not have stuck in the public's consciousness in the way "Eat It" or "Amish Paradise" did.


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Dolly Parton's 10 Best Songs of All Time

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We really couldn't adore Dolly more. As a songwriter, performer and even an actor, she's proven herself worthy time and again. She holds a number of career milestones -- 25 gold, platinum, and multiplatinum awards, 41 career Top 10 country albums, and eight Grammys, just to name a few -- but more than that, she holds the hearts of country-music lovers everywhere.

So with so many accolades, it would be unjust to make Dolly share a Throwback Thursday list with other artists. She just kills the competition, so we compiled a list of her hits all her own to salute to the country-music legend.

After all, in Dolly's own words, "Its hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world." And we'd just hate to hurt anyone's feelings.


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The Five Best Bands That Started as Solo Projects

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Photo by Jim Bricker
Wavves
The conventional wisdom about playing music is that you learn an instrument and then you recruit a band to play with you, or you join one that already exists. Not so these days, when it's easier than ever with the use of computer programs to record a full album of music by yourself, without even needing to know how to play any instruments.

Of course, you can't pull that off live, so at some point you do need to find a band. Cloudkicker, who made their live debut in Houston last month, have been a solo metal act for years and only now recruited a band to tour. In their honor, here are a few more notable projects that began with just one guy playing all the music.


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The Five Weirdest Artists Ever to Go Mainstream

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Photo by Groovehouse
Les Claypool of Primus
One thing most intense music fans agree on nowadays is that the mainstream sucks. That's probably a sentiment that's always been true among the underground, but you even hear it among casual listeners today. "I don't buy albums because only one or two songs are going to be good" is a common refrain.

One of the reasons for this is that most pop music is highly manufactured and highly generic. Pop stars are rarely famous by accident, and few of them today are the kinds of artists who dabble in experimental or avant-garde music. That's all well and good, but there's a reason popular music was once so innovative: musicians like this used to occasionally break into the pop world. Here's five who did it successfully.


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The Five Most Difficult Song Lyrics to Understand

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If the reference in this photo eludes you, read on to the end, friend.
Most bands want their vocals to sound crisp and clear for maximum singalong purposes. How the hell are you going to lead a stadium of people to sing your lyrics at you if they don't know what you're saying?

But there are exceptions, and it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that for whatever reasons bands have recorded songs, intentionally or not, that continue to befuddle karaoke singers around the world. Some have even sparked controversy, because if you can't understand what they're saying, they could be saying anything! Even something dirty! Here's five of the most ridiculously hard-to-understand songs.


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The Five Most Difficult Song Lyrics to Understand

AnimalHouse.jpg
If the reference in this photo eludes you, read on to the end, friend.
Most bands want their vocals to sound crisp and clear for maximum singalong purposes. How the hell are you going to lead a stadium of people to sing your lyrics at you if they don't know what you're saying?

But there are exceptions, and it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that for whatever reasons bands have recorded songs, intentionally or not, that continue to befuddle karaoke singers around the world. Some have even sparked controversy, because if you can't understand what they're saying, they could be saying anything! Even something dirty! Here's five of the most ridiculously hard-to-understand songs.


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10 Cold Songs for Houston's Endless Winter

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"It's a cold town" about sums up Houston right now. Thanks, Arnie.
Will this winter ever end? All signs point to no. While Houston endures the harshest winter on record in a very long time, many of us will be stuck inside our homes, mindlessly playing music to entertain ourselves through the intense boredom.

You may want to forget all the ice, sleet and finger-numbing cold, but personally I like to embrace the hell of my situations. If you're like me, fellow traveler, I've assembled the perfect playlist of wintery cold songs to remind you that, thanks to climate change, this is what we have to look forward to for the rest of our miserable, frozen lives.


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cold, ice, winter

Five Great Rock/Country Crossovers

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Photo by Mark C. Austin
Colin Meloy of The Decemberists
It's strange, but unless you're a musician, it seems like there's hardly any crossover between fans of country and rock. In fact, if you ask people what kind of music they like, especially if they're mostly rock fans, a lot of the time their answer will be "anything but country."

But the musicians know where it's at. Just a cursory look at indie-rock will show you how much country, Americana, and related genres have worked their way into our modern definition of rock music. Not to mention every now and then you get some awesome crossovers between the genres. Here are five songs even "anything but country" will probably love.


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10 Perfect Cover Songs for 10 Houston Bands

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Photo by Meagan Merta Photography/Courtesy of Lion Among Men
Lion Among Men
Every one of the acts listed here writes fine, original music. They're too busy creating Houston's sound to be bothered with cover songs. That's a good thing.

Still, a man can dream, right? In fact, this whole exercise began when I fell asleep listening to a song and dreamed a local band performing it. In the light of day, I wondered which songs might fit other area bands.

Here are my choices. If even one of these happens, prepare to read about it here again later.


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covers

Eight Albums to Look Forward to in 2014

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The cover of Warpaint's upcoming self-titled record
I know we're still all digesting the musical releases of 2013, but it's officially a new year and time to start talking about 2014's offerings. With the early part of the year's release schedule set in stone, we know we have a lot to look forward to, and it won't stop there. With albums expected to be released, we're looking at a hell of a year.

So to get you an early start, here's a guide to what I'm looking forward to and what you should be anticipating going into the new year. It's an eclectic bunch.


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