Before They Were Stars, They Were...Awful

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YouTube
Let's talk about genre-jumpers, shall we? A number of successful artists have made the leap from one genre to another at some point in their careers. but it doesn't always pay off.

Take Darius Rucker, for example. The onetime Hootie and the Blowfish front man made the right choice by taking a leap of faith into country music, which pushed his previously stalled career into musical overdrive. Others didn't quite as well, like Snoop Dogg's attempted transition into the rasta version of himself, Snoop Lion. Fans just weren't ready to let go of "Lodi Dodi," even if it meant some sweet Rastafari influences.

However, the musicians below were smart enough to jump genres before breaking into the big leagues. Punk rockers morphed into hip-hop callers, and headbangers musicians into ballad crooners. These folks earned their big names by changing their tunes -- literally. And no, Katy Perry is not on this list, because it's about musicians.


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'90s Music Trends That Should Stay Dead

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By Angelica Leicht and Selena Dieringer

It turns out some musical trends that emerged in the '90s are not quite the fine wine you remember them to be. While that post-grunge or SoCal pop music a la Sugar Ray may have once seemed palatable, but you were young and your taste was, well, terrible.

But you should know better now. The Collective Souls of the world have been sitting up there on that shelf for too long now, and they've festered. They're ripe, the musical equivalent of Boone's Farm, and do not age well. These trends -- from post-grunge to anti-girl-power pop -- are bottles of rancid wine from the '90s, and you should resist dredging them up, even for nostalgia's sake.

It's been decades, and surely your taste buds have matured. Throw 'em out before you're tempted to sneak a taste, or it will be all vinegar.


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Casting Martin Scorsese's New Ramones Movie


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Good fellas: Ramones get the Scorsese treatment
Last weekend, word got out that an upcoming Ramones biopic would be helmed by one of America's greatest living filmmakers, Martin Scorsese. The movie would be one of several band-related projects slated for 2016, the 40th anniversary of the bruddas' debut album, Ramones.

Scorsese isn't that odd a choice to direct a film about the groundbreaking punk band. He's a New Yorker who loves music, and directed The Last Waltz and Shine a Light. He also knows what to do with a good story. Like The Wolf of Wall Street or Raging Bull, the tale of the Ramones is a fascinating one, filled with underdogs, victors, losers, users, lovers, betrayers and a litany of insecure gods.

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Seth Walker's 10 Favorite Texas Blues Tunes

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Photo by Zack Smith
Seth Walker should be no stranger to Houston audiences from his many years as one of Austin's hardest-gigging musicians, whose relaxed but precise take on white-man's blues has built an impressive following in this part of the world. (The similarities between him and John Mayer are undeniable, but Walker is much better behaved.)

Last year he relocated to New Orleans after a spell in Nashville and, with Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers producing, cut Sky Still Blue, a stylish collection of new songs that seamlessly weaves the Crescent City's innate funkiness into Walker's well-appointed cocktail-lounge R&B. We were looking for a different way to give his gig at the Mucky Duck tonight some love, so we convinced Walker to send us his ten favorite Lone Star blues songs for a Texas twist on Throwback Thursday.

Pay attention -- this guy knows his stuff.


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Five Insult Songs That Predate Getting "Dissed"

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Photo by K Rupp/Flickr Commons
Some people find insults coarse, base and a sorry excuse for invective from the intellectually feeble. I call those people "bloggers who read the comments section."

But seriously, a good insult is a work of art. If you don't believe me, well, "I do desire we be better strangers," (Shakespeare). You're clearly "one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animated abortions..." (Dostoevsky). Apparently, "If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn't be enough to blow your hat off" (Vonnegut).

In music, no one has mastered the insult better than the cunning linguists of rap. They've elevated the barb beyond art and into an all-new Webster's-approved synonym -- "diss." I'd pit today's best rap artists against Billy Shakes or MC Fyodor any day in an insult battle. If you disagree, well, go do something "with no Vaseline, just a match and a little bit of gasoline," (Ice Cube).


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Day of Joy: Remembering Houston's First Outdoor Music Fest

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Photos courtesy of Vicki Welch Ayo
Day of Joy band Ginger Valley
"It was definitely a labor of love. It cost me $5,000, I'll put it that way; and, looking back on it, I'm not sure I didn't get my money's worth." -- Jim Tucker

We're living in the festival era of popular music. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 200 major music festivals annually. Some, like Bonnaroo and Coachella, have transcended from mere concerts to cogs in the modern zeitgeist.

In Houston, we're doing our part, with Free Press Summer Fest and new additions like last weekend's Whatever Fest. Our grassroots music community doesn't need benevolent corporate sponsors to do its thing, either. Practically every weekend, some group is resourcefully staging a festival, like last month's Grace Note, this month's Melt Fest or next month's Untapped Festival.

Does Houston have a good fest history? The short answer is yes. And, if you're the right age, you might think back -- way back -- to a time before the long-running Westheimer Street Festival and the Houston International Festival to recall a singular offering dubbed Day of Joy. The ambitious event was held at the long-gone Almeda Speedway and brought local and national acts together to perform for gathered masses under Houston's blistering summer sun.


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The '70s' Seven Sexiest Soft-Rock Songs

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Photo by Travis Hornung/Flickr Commons
Let's get physical.
This list is not just for the couples who perk up anytime the Cialis commercial airs. It's not only for the cubs who do their homework and will try to impress the cougars with their 1970s music knowledge.

Oh, the list is for them; but not only for them. It's for everyone. Everyone that thinks their partner could use a musical nudge towards the boudoir.

Sure, there are more recent songs to choose from, tunes by acts known for the panty-drop, but where's the ingenuity in that? Besides, how far removed from Bread and America are Coldplay and Ed Sheeran? Same thing, really.


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The 10 Best Country Songs of the '90s

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Remember when there was no such thing as "bro-country" or "hick-hop?" We do, and it was a little time called the '90s. That was basically the best decade ever for country music. Garth Brooks was at his best, and artists like George Strait and Clint Black were killing it with every single move.

Oh, and let's not forget the ladies. Shania Twain, anybody? How about Martina McBride or the Dixie Chicks? And good ol' Faith Hill was just getting geared up. Basically, we'd pay some serious dolla-dolla bills, y'all, if it meant we could get the big names of the '90s country scene to start being awesome again. But since we're not magicians, or billionaires even, we'll have to settle for a Top 10 list of their best songs instead.


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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 10 Best Summer Songs of the '90s

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Let's play a game. Anyone know "Never Have We Ever?" Good. We'll go first.

Never have we ever found ourselves saying the words, "But there were so many good Will Smith songs!"

Well, until this blog, that is.

Apparently there are an abundance of epic summery songs by the '90s version of Will Smith, and we're a bit puzzled by that fact. Go figure.

And while we're a bit embarrassed of our Will Smith prowess, what we're not afraid to admit that we love ourselves some summer jamz. We love them enough to put together a list, in fact, of the best '90s summer songs for your enjoyment.

Unfortunately, they can't all be Will Smith songs -- although there are indeed enough to fill this blog -- because really, what '90s artist can compete with DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince himself.

Now get jiggy with it.

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