Wow..."We Are the World" Is 30 Years Old

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Michael Jackson, looking appropriately regal in the "We Are the World" video
If you '80s children need a reason to feel extra-old this week, here's a good one: "We Are the World" is exactly 30 years old. In 1985, the evening of the American Music Awards -- which back then were in late January instead of right after Thanksgiving -- Quincy Jones emptied his Rolodex, partially at Michael Jackson's behest, and stars from Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson to Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis & the News and Bruce Springsteen turned up, among a host of other stars at the time.

Inspired by Band Aid, in which Sir Bob Geldof invited/guilt-tripped a who's who of mid-'80s UK pop stars (Duran Duran, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Sting, Bono) to record the seasonal pop song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and donate the proceeds to help fight famine in East Africa, mainly Ethiopia. The song was an instant hit and one of the biggest media events of the decade, although some critics later argued that those most in need actually received a shamefully low percentage of aid compared to the millions of dollars that were supposed to have been raised.

Nevertheless, to date, Geldof has updated "Do They Know It's Christmas" three times for various causes, including last year with a cast topped by Sam Smith, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Ellie Goulding, etc., and recording as "Band Aid 30." The funds raised were earmarked to fight Ebola this time.

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Phil Collins's No Jacket Required Is Still a Masterpiece

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"Do you like Phil Collins?" To many young fans, Patrick Bateman expounding on the artistic genius of Phil Collins in the film American Psycho is their primary reference point for America's unlikeliest pop star. However, he initially exploded onto the scene about this time 30 years ago with his album No Jacket Required.

To be sure, Collins had been a force up until that point, thanks to his drumming in a mildly popular progressive-rock band you might have heard of called Genesis, his theme song for the Jeff Bridges vehicle Against All Odds and his creepy first hit, "In the Air Tonight."

But No Jacket Required, which was released January 25, 1985, certified Collins as a superstar and a household name with its sleek production, Motown-inspired singing and horn sections, and intensely catchy hooks.


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10 '70s Songs That Will Give You Your Groove Back

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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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10 Songs That Make Us Miss the '90s

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You know, the '90s gets a little screwed when it comes to nostalgia, which is perhaps a bit unfair. Sure, the '80s gave us Scrunchies and ALF, and we got to show off our Lisa Lisa cassette with pride.

But in the '90s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was born, which gave us Carlton and his sweet-ass dance moves. And then there was never-ending saga of Kelly Kapowski and Zack Morris's high-school romance. Even '90s music was pretty sweet; it's just that nobody really remembers because the '80s still steals all the glory.

Luckily, we're here to remedy that with the ten best songs we miss from the '90s. Sorry, Wreckx N Effect didn't make this one, but go on ahead and shake that rump like a rumpshaker if you must. We won't tell.


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10 Songs You'll Like If You're Still Drunk

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Photo by Gina Carteciano via flickr
Note: this article originally appeared in April 2014. Drink up!

Boozy playlists are the very best, better still when they randomly appear on your playlist the day after you've knocked back a few beers. Your drunk brain always knows what kind of music the sober you needs. Or most of the time, anyway.

Unfortunately, sometimes drunken downloading can be just about as beer-goggle dangerous as anything we can think of. For example, we may know a certain writer who has a penchant for downloading Billy Idol songs while inebriated. The "Rebel Yell" singer only released so many songs, and that idiot may own them all. But thanks to that mishap, we've learned our lesson...sort of.


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10 Badass Anti-Holiday Songs For Your Grinchy Side

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Know what's infinitely better than songs about jingle bells and Santa and holly? Songs about hating jingle bells and Santa and holly.

Face it: Christmas music sucks. And no matter how hard you try, it's impossible to keep from being inundated by it. It's impossible to avoid department stores, drugstores, grocery stores, or the friggin' gas station for the entire month of December, and all of those places seem hell-bent on assaulting our eardrums with Mariah Carey's Christmas vibrato.

So should you be suffering from the dreaded Christmas music overload, perhaps you should delve into some of these anti-holiday songs instead. Their utter disdain for holly could be the perfect remedy for what ails ya.


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Retro Musicians Still Make Houston Swing

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Photos by Lynn Lane
Photo courtesy of Bart Maloney
Bart Maloney has a steely gaze to go with his steel guitar.
Louis Armstrong once said, "The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on a hot night or something said long ago."

Bittersweet in its achy nostalgia, the saying is quite fitting for some of Houston's retro musicians. On vintage instruments, these players resurrect the memory of music long gone, bringing new life to the words of Etta James or Bob Wills, paying homage to the old swing and jazz greats.


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The 10 Best Butt-Rock Bands in Recorded History

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Note: this article originally appeared on April 17, 2014. Happy Thanksgiving!

What is butt-rock, you ask? As usual, we've got all your answers, courtesy of Urban Dictionary:

A derogatory term for any hard-rock music.

The term comes from a nationwide advertising campaign on hard-rock radio stations in the 1990s that used the tagline "Rock. Nothing but Rock." Listeners quickly changed that to "Nothing Butt Rock." Though it refers to anything played on hard-rock stations, it commonly is used to refer to 'hair-bands' or used by people to distinguish the 'bad' butt rock from the hard rock that they like.

Example: "He sat around stoned all day listening to butt rock on the 'Wild Hare.'"

Butt-rock is that musical stank on your shoe that you can't get off. It's one part aggro noise, one part self-indulgent and whiny singer, and somehow a whole lot of douche.


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The 10 Most Quintessential Old Jazz Songs

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Library of Congress/Wikipedia
Louis Armstrong was once so popular he had a brand of cigar named after him.
The best thing about old jazz is how just one good song will serve as a reminder of how brilliantly romantic that time period was. The soulful cry of artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong was just made to intertwine with the rat-tat-tat-tat of crisp drums and and the wail of blaring horns. The collaboration between the big band and those big voices was -- and still is -- absolute magic.

And because it was such a magical time, we feel that everyone should spend part of their day dancing around to old jazz songs. While we may not be able to transport you back to the time when Dizzy Gillespie reigned supreme (our flux capacitor has gone missing) we can throw this here list your way to help you out instead.

So just throw on these old jazz standards and dance around like you're on some airy New Orleans veranda instead. We'll never tell.


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Iggy Pop's 10 Best Guest Vocal Appearances

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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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