Toxic Love: Seven Anti-Earth Day Songs

Categories: Lists

Photo by the National Park Service
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Today is Earth Day, and your newsfeed is inundated with calls to protect the environment and uplifting memes involving trees. And if you live in Texas, you need to stop that. Stop it right now.

Clearly we are not the good guys, okay? We're drilling so hard it causes earthquakes; we elected to the office of governor a man who did all he could as attorney general to make sure there were fewer ways to find out if you lived near a hazardous chemical manufacturer; and, even though we're a wind power-generating powerhouse, plenty of folks in the legislature are trying hard to undo that.

In short, Texans are basically like that episode of Captain Planet, when all the villains made rings and summoned the evil Captain Pollution. Let's just embrace it, okay. Come on and screw Earth Day with these seven pro-pollution songs to jam by.

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Could You Hit a Wrestling Move on These Rappers?

Photo by Patrick Hoelck/Atlantic Records
A fan got the best of Plies over the weekend and hit him with the old belly-to-belly.

It's nearing the end of the school year. That means that for some reason, there's going to be a fight-video Vine montage at your high school. People are going to "oooh" and "ahhh" and somebody is going to get one clean punch in and things will be over. Dunzo.

Point is, you shouldn't fight anybody unless you have to. You, by most human standards of decency, should try to talk it out with someone if you have a disagreement. However, if you do have to fight, I suggest that you land the first punch to at least keep your opponent off guard.

You see, Plies got into a scuffle over the weekend. Easter weekend to be precise. The running joke is that he died somewhere in Tallahassee on Friday and rose on Sunday morning to turn back into Kirk Franklin. Plies was valedictorian of his high-school class. Plies also played college football at Miami University as Nod Washington. Plies, for all reasons in the world, should never, ever get into a fight. Yet he did Friday night. A fan of his found the perfect time in the universe to execute a belly-to-belly suplex on Plies before getting stomped out by security.

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Four Types of "Tricks" Rock Stars Use Live

Photo by Jason Rogers
Is that guitar plugged in?
There has been a lot of collective outrage in recent years over the ways that various pop and rock stars are "faking" live performances. I think that's valid to a certain degree, especially in regards to rock bands. Rock is a broad genre, but one where a certain rawness and authenticity has long been valued over glossy perfection, after all.

But some of this outrage toward performers of all types seems misplaced when you look at things a little closer. In today's market, musicians of all types are often making more money from their tours than they are from album sales, a reversal from the days when live shows were primarily a way for popular bands to promote album sales.

And since live concerts are so important these days, there is an added incentive to make them perfect, especially since ticket prices for some of them have risen to ridiculous levels. But pop and rock stars have used various technologies and other tools to make live shows look and sound better for decades; some of these techniques are new, and some have been around for years.

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Houston's 10 Most Merciless Mosh Pits of 2014

Thumbnail image for 0711-Cromags04.jpg
Photo by Jack Gorman
New York's Cro-Mags incited one of the best mosh pits in Houston this year.
2014 was another bruising year for punk and metal fans in Houston, and naturally, most of those bruises were self-inflicted. From the southern outpost of Scout Bar to the northerly slope of the Woodlands Pavilion hill, alcohol-fueled crazy persons made a sport out of slamming into one another, turning the city's clubs, dives and amphitheaters into rock and roll proving grounds. In mosh pit after mosh pit, we watched the adrenalized mayhem turn boys into men and girls into badass chicks who are not to be fucked with.

At times, it was beautiful: Only at a rock show can you see a grown man hug the guy who just violently knocked him off his feet. Other times, the moshing got flat-out scary, sending all but the most indestructible mutants scurrying towards the bar. More than once, the action in the pit proved to be more memorable than the music onstage.

While nobody can claim to have caught every mosh pit in Houston this year, we here at Rocks Off are proud to say we braved quite a few of them to bring you those pictures you like so much. And a few of those pits stood out more than others, forcing us to stand back and simply admire our city's lack of sanity. What better evidence of a great show can there be?

So for all the skankers and the skaters, the bros and the bullies, we present to you now our official accounting of the Top 10 mosh pits of 2014:

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The 10 Funkiest Chicken Songs Ever Recorded

Merle Travis likes his chickens fryin' size when they're hangin' around his pen.
Lonesome Onry and Mean was hanging with some folks the other night when Rufus Thomas' classic Memphis dance tune "Do the Funky Chicken" came on the jukebox. The owner happened to be standing near the volume control and cranked it; the energy level in the place went off the meter, smiles broke out, swaying commenced and two women got up and danced.

While the chicken has been described as funky, that's probably the only cool cred it has going for it. It doesn't have the majesty of the bald eagle, the historical significance or stature of the turkey, the literary significance of the raven, or the fear factor of the falcon, but there sure are a lot of mostly goofy songs about the world's go-to edible bird.

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Iggy Pop's 10 Best Guest Vocal Appearances

Marc Brubaker
Iggy & The Stooges at 2013 Free Press Summer Fest
I'm one of those people who grew up thinking David Bowie was a genius from beyond the realm of human evolution, but the older I get the more I tend to believe that Iggy Pop is the true wizard within the Big Three of Glam. Though he's never going to be accused of having the greatest range in the world, that voice is simply one of a kind and can cut through the air like thunder. There's just something in the way Iggy sings that has such incredible depths and balls to it.

And that's why today we celebrate the times he's lent that incredible set of pipes to other artists.

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Six Must-Play Songs About Halloween

Categories: Lists

Heather Franks via Flickr
It's the time of year when lots of people are putting together a playlist of songs for Halloween and Halloween parties, and plenty of spooky tunes to choose from. But rather than just throw on a bunch of novelty songs like "Monster Mash," it might be more fun to try to find tunes that are played less often.

For some reason, even though Halloween is gaining on Christmas in popularity, there are a ton of Christmas songs, and not so many paying tribute to the darker holiday. Yet we can always hope for more.

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The Top 40 Charting Hard-Rock Songs: Part 1

Sam Howzit via Flickr
Coming at at No. 40 on our countdown, it's the boys from the San Francisco Bay Area, Night Ranger.
Numbers. The applications to which they are used in various fields can yield results ranging from the trivial to the catastrophic if not interpreted properly. If you are involved with numbers at NASA or the military, lives could hang in the balance if something is miscalculated or misrepresented.

The misuse of numbers in the music industry isn't going to cost anyone his or her life. While music has been one of my biggest passions, I do have another guilty obsession: I'm also a baseball junkie, and if there's one field where trivial calculations influence decisions based on overinflated misinterpretations it's baseball. A perfect example of this is the 'W,' the pitcher's win: a pitcher can throw a terrible game and still get the win, and a pitcher can have an excellent game and still get a loss. For those who don't follow the sport, how a pitcher gets the win is not the point here, but the relevance is. Many around baseball (unfairly) still regard that 'W' as what determines a pitcher's worth during a season.

For those not in the know, the music industry had a number that, just like the 'W,' it relied on it for more than 50 years called the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Now, why is this one misleading as opposed to the other Billboard charts? Well, those charts tend to put the participants on an even field. There are charts exclusively for genres, such as country and Christian, and even the Top Albums chart tends to be mostly fair because it's open to all albums being sold.

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Amazon's Funniest One-Star Classic Album Reviews

Photo by Nathan Rupert via Flickr
As a music writer, it can be beneficial to seek out other music reviews to see what people are thinking, aficionados and trolls alike. Let's look at Amazon, a popular site where I admit I've spent a bit of money and time. You can find anything here, down to your most basic grocery-shopping needs.

As with all other comment sections, really, Amazon's consumer reviews can be deafening. These critics have opinions that they absolutely have to defend, or else they just want attention. Others just get really excited sharing their naysaying opinions, and sites like Amazon provide a wide audience. Today we thought we'd help widen some of these reviewers' audiences (hopefully alongside our own) with a top-notch, annotated selection of Amazon's one-star album reviewers.

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What's on the Musical Menu at These New Houston Spots

Categories: Lists, Pop Life

Photo by Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia Commons
Last Chance Saloon at Frontier City, Oklahoma, 1959
Just three months into 2014, Houston already has a fair amount of newly opened restaurants and bars that host live music. Seeing that the Greater Houston area is large, diverse, ever-changing and all kinds of grand, we all could have probably guessed that. It's still early in the year, but here's what's already come along so far.

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