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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High-School Journalists Review Recent Houston Releases

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Does a Houston school boast the next William Miller (or Lester Bangs...or Cameron Crowe?)
Last year, my kids' bands teamed up for an idea to attract younger local followers. They sent sampler CDs to the entertainment editors of about two dozen area high schools and asked them to review the music in their school newspapers.

To prove they weren't entirely self-serving, they included a list of nearly 50 local bands the students might seek out on their own. The pitch: it's fine to write about Lady Gaga or Radiohead, but why not be the innovative and daring writer who introduces readers to the best music acts playing here at home? The kinds the cool kids in movies like Almost Famous and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist follow; the musicians they could enjoy regularly at Houston's abundance all-ages shows.

My kids never heard back from any schools last year. But, I thought I'd shamelessly jack their novel idea for my own purposes here with Rocks Off. So I asked several area high schools if they had music-loving students willing to share their thoughts on some recent albums released by local acts.


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Six Metalheads and Punks Who Went Folk

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Photo by Jim Bricker
Conor Oberst performing with Bright Eyes
Hey everyone, here's a thing I've noticed: lots of guys seem to "mature" and quit metal and punk to do other stuff. Yeah, yeah, I've pointed out many times that these are genres for youngsters, and once you reach a certain age maybe it is time to find a different career.

On the other hand, what's so attractive about an acoustic guitar? Maybe it's because their own music typically sounds awesome on it, and they just go from there and start writing in the softer style. Who knows? As a trend, however, I can't fault with it because it's produced some seriously awesome deviations, like these six.


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Justin Timberlake's Top 10 Collaborations

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www.livenation.com
Justin Timberlake, the former *NSYNC member, Mouseketeer, and Mr. Britney Spears, will grace H-Town with this dreamy blue eyes and Jacksonesque dance moves as he hits the Toyota Center stage tomorrow. Although JT has always been a star, shining bright as the de facto leader of the world's most popular boy band of the late '90s and early '00s, which carried him into a successful career as a solo artist, the last year has provided a new direction for the Memphis, Tenn. native.

No longer is he the goofy-haired kid singing happy-go-lucky pop hits for the tweens. His image is all mature, sexy, and naughty, dapper with his suit and tie and grownup blonde coif. Yet Justin is still at his best when paired up with an equally cool rapper, singer, producer, or group. Timberlake has seemingly been featured on more tracks with others than most of his contemporaries, almost keeping pace with OutKast's Andre 3000. We present to you the Timberlake Top 10 List of Collaborations & Duets:


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