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The 2012 “Listen Up!” Awards: The Triumphant Return of the Harleys

Time really flies, doesn’t it? It feels like only yesterday that I was writing my year-end Harley Awards post, when in fact it was around 367 days ago. As I write this we have exactly a month left before the end of the Mayan calendar, which everyone has apparently equated with the end of the world. Why doesn’t the human race ever learn that we are incapable of predicting the apocalypse? Every time people have thought doomsday was upon us, absolutely nothing happened and we all carried on with business as usual. So you might not want to quit your job and spend all the money in your savings account on a bomb shelter under the assumption that your life is about to become a Roland Emmerich movie.

Anyway, as 2012 is approaching its conclusion, it’s time once again for me to celebrate achievements in totally arbitrary categories that I made up myself. In other words, it’s just another typical awards show. It’s time to bring on the 2012 Harleys!

As always, the fun begins after the jump.

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POTW #9: I Did Not Promise Anyone Jetpacks

Once again, it’s time to unveil my not-exactly-weekly Picks of the Week! And it’s an extra-special edition this time because today is February 29th, and how often do you get to post things on February 29th? (The answer: Every four years. Duh.) Yeah, I know, that’s the lamest reason anyone has ever given for calling anything a special edition (George Lucas, all is forgiven). This entire introductory paragraph is making me sound like that stupid Batman villain who is driven mad by his obsession with the days of the week. And no, I did not make that up. His name is Calendar Man and he is excruciatingly lame.

Look at this guy. LOOK AT HIM. Someone at DC Comics thought this was a good idea.

You’re probably wondering what’s up with the bizarre title of this post. I usually title my Picks of the Week posts after a lyric from one of the featured songs, but the best I could come up with was something involving promising people jetpacks. That will make sense shortly. But first, allow me to treat you to not one, but two brand-spanking-new songs from Radiohead.

“Identikit”

“Cut A Hole”

The picks of the week are coming up after the jump – but not after any messages from my sponsors, because I don’t have any.

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The Curious Case Of Chris Brown

As anyone who follows the music industry knows, the Grammy Awards were handed out earlier this month. The big winner, as expected, was Adele, who took home half a dozen pieces of old-timey-record-player-shaped hardware and received a standing ovation for her performance of “Rolling In The Deep.” The Foo Fighters were pretty big winners too, getting two performance spots and basically sweeping the entire rock category – they even took home the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance award for “White Limo” over the likes of Megadeth, Mastodon, and Dream Theater. Other highlights of the show included performances from Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and the reunited surviving Beach Boys, along with tributes to Glen Campbell and Whitney Houston.

You know who else was a big winner this year? Chris Brown. He may have only received one Grammy – Best R&B Album for F.A.M.E. – but he also got to perform twice and received a standing ovation at an award show that unofficially blacklisted him a mere three years ago in the wake of that incident. The fact that he was even allowed to appear there at all counts as a pretty huge victory for “Breezy,” since that incident briefly rendered him a pop pariah and possibly this generation’s answer to Ike Turner for all the wrong reasons. You think it’s any coincidence that Rihanna showed up to the Grammys looking like Tina Turner? Maybe it is, but she couldn’t have looked any more like Tina if she was auditioning for a remake of What’s Love Got To Do With It.

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Top 5 Favorite Love Songs

Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s Valentine’s Day, the day when couples across the globe come together in a Hallmark-approved celebration of their love and bitter singles like me feel strangely compelled to remind everyone of the fakeness of the holiday and how if you really love somebody you don’t need a special holiday to make you show it. The central dilemma of Valentine’s Day is the conflict between true love and obligation – if you put on some big romantic display on this day of all days, are you really doing it because you love your partner or because you feel like that’s what you’re supposed to do every February 14th?

I don’t know, maybe I just look at Valentine’s Day this way because I’ve been single for it every year, so I feel like I’ve always been on the outside looking in and don’t know what it’s like to share it with someone. The highlight of my Valentine’s Day every year is getting my Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in the mail, the exception being last year because that’s the day Radiohead announced that The King Of Limbs would be coming out later that week.

Dear Kate Upton: If you’re reading this, I want you to know that you can teach me how to dougie any time. Love always, Wannabe Valentine #239,570,816.

But we’re not here to talk about any of that stuff, are we? Of course not! We’re here to count down my top 5 favorite love songs in honor of Obligatory Love Day. The fun begins as soon as you click “Read the rest of this page”!

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The Birthday-Holiday Haul

Well, now that the holiday season is officially behind us (and gift return season is in full swing), it’s time to show off some of my presents. Time for a Colin’s Collection post!

I haven’t done one of these in a while — not since around the middle of June, actually. And not because I haven’t had my eye on any new music. It’s mainly because my birthday is within three months of Christmas, so I figured I’d hold off on this until after the holidays. (For purposes of this post, or at least based on when it was posted, “holidays” includes New Year’s and birthdays for my mom and my sister.) The result is what could be one of the longest Colin’s Collection lists ever, as I ended up getting eight new albums over the last couple months. The list is coming up after the jump!

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#100: The Album That Started It All

It’s fitting that I write my 100th post on this blog on New Year’s Eve 2011, the third anniversary of its creation. But there’s another reason why the date seems appropriate. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of an album that I credit with kick-starting my lifelong love affair with music. And that love for music was what led to me getting a radio show on WMUC2, starting this blog to promote that show, taking up multiple instruments, and even writing and recording my own music as a personal hobby.

That album was released at a time when soft rock was all over the charts (Kenny G has a song on the ’87 year-end Hot 100 – seriously). Hair metal had transitioned from its hard-rocking virtuoso beginnings (think Van Halen) to cheesy party rock stuffed with aimless shredding and mandatory power ballads (think Poison). Bruce Willis scored a hit single back when he was probably better known as a singer than an actor (he hadn’t even made Look Who’s Talking yet, let alone Die Hard). A teenage singer from Hawaii won a local talent contest and got a nationwide hit single basically via word of mouth (Glenn Medeiros, “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”). An Australian new wave band became a one-hit wonder by covering a one-hit wonder (Pseudo Echo, “Funkytown”). And yes, I got all of that from Wikipedia and Todd In The Shadows. Still, it was an odd time for music and the alternative rock boom of the early ‘90s was a few years away.

But none of that stuff really mattered to me. I was about six months old when the album in question was released. And by the time I was around five years old, I was listening to this record so much I practically had it memorized. So what was that album? The Joshua Tree by U2.

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The 2011 “Listen Up!” Awards: Handing Out The Harleys

So here we are, entering the home stretch of the year 2011. And if you actually believe that whole stupid Mayan apocalypse theory, we’re entering the home stretch of the human race. On that happy note, we’re going to be seeing some year-end lists popping up some time in the next couple of weeks. I figure I might as well submit my own, but just as I did last time I’ll be looking at unconventional categories (read: totally arbitrary distinctions that I made up myself). It’s time for the 2011 Harleys!

Who's a good little award statuette? YOU ARE! Come here and let me scratch you!

The fun begins, as always, after the jump. Bring on the first award!

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The 15 Most Disturbing Illustrations From “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark”

Oh man. I am going to hate myself so much for doing this. But not right away. I’m going to hate myself while I’m lying in bed tonight trying and failing to fall asleep.

You see, Halloween is just around the corner so I figured I would do some kind of Halloween special, or at least the Internet blog equivalent of one. The question was what I was actually going to do. I’ve already done a post about the scariest songs in my collection, and since I’m doing my Top 5 lists in the same order in which they appeared on my show, the Top 5 Songs To Scare Trick-Or-Treaters Away From Your House is still a long way off.

And then it hit me: Do a post about the Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark series.

helquist

 

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Watch That First Step, Mac – It’s A Lulu

I’m not entirely sure how eager people were to hear the results of a collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica. To just about anyone outside the studio in which Lulu, the fruit of this collaboration, was conceived, this seemed like a mismatch of epic proportions. Reed is a long-tenured experimental art-rocker from the Velvet Underground and is also known for solo hits like “Walk On The Wild Side” and “Perfect Day.” And Metallica – well, who isn’t familiar with Metallica on some level? They’re titans of heavy metal who need no introduction. The artists themselves seem pretty excited though – they decided to work together after performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary concert and have been hyping this record as one of the highlights of each of their careers.

I’m not familiar with the work of Lou Reed. I know him as the guy who did “Walk On The Wild Side” and inexplicably thought it was a good idea to release a double album filled with nothing but guitar feedback; I wouldn’t know a Velvet Underground song if it pulled a Mike Tyson and bit my ear off. Meanwhile, I see myself as a casual fan of Metallica. I dig their first five records, I like a few of the Load/ReLoad era singles, I think St. Anger is irredeemably flawed and yet still an honest artistic expression, and Death Magnetic is a step in the right direction. I was only somewhat curious to hear what Reed and Metallica would sound like together. But that curiosity was especially piqued when early reviews proclaimed that Lulu was now officially the worst thing Metallica’s name had ever been attached to – yes, St. Anger had finally been bested (or is that worsted?). I simply had to experience this thing for myself.

Let’s get my verdict out of the way right now: Lulu is an absolutely terrible album. It’s still streaming online as I write this, but please take my word for it. Don’t listen to this.

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BLAST FROM THE PAST #4: Linkin Park

A recent episode of South Park posited that there comes a time in your life when everything you once loved as a kid starts looking like crap once you’re older. While I will certainly admit to growing more critical and cynical as I’ve grown, I’d like to think people don’t change that much. Some things in life never get old – I’ll probably always have a soft spot for U2 and Green Day, for the Three Stooges and Looney Tunes cartoons (and South Park, for that matter), for Super Mario Bros. 3 and Final Fantasy VII. Then there are things that give you little to no sense of pride or nostalgia, things that make you look back and wonder, “Why the hell did I ever like that?” And for me, sometimes I look back to my teenage years and try to figure out why it took me so long to grow out of nu-metal, though I do give that particular phase credit for helping me get into heavier music.

I was never a hardcore fan of that whole late-‘90s, early-double-0s scene, but I did get my feet wet. I liked Korn’s singles back then, but never bought any of their albums. I could never really get into the Deftones (and still haven’t, even though I’ve heard lots of good things about them) or P.O.D. I flat-out didn’t like Disturbed at all (and still don’t). System Of A Down? They were okay, but I never really got into their stuff either. I didn’t hear anything by Slipknot for the first time until long after the nu-metal craze had hit its peak, though I’d seen plenty of their merchandise around school. There was a brief period where I actually considered getting that Crazy Town album with “Butterfly” on it – yes, I once thought the guys who horrifically mutilated “New Noise” by Refused were at least competent musicians. I was totally ready to buy Kid Rock as an “American Bad Ass” until I found out that he took that riff from an old Metallica song (for the record, I’m usually OK with sampling as long as you make interesting alterations or additions to the sample; leaving the sample as it is comes off as lazy, like all you did was make up new lyrics to someone else’s song). And who the hell were Primer 55 and Ill Niño? I certainly didn’t know.

Really, there were (and are) only a handful of albums in my collection that probably qualify as nu-metal at all: the first three Limp Bizkit albums, Infest by Papa Roach, The Lonely Position of Neutral by Trust Company, and of course the required soundtracks for any angsty teenager’s life from 2000 to 2004, Hybrid Theory and Meteora by Linkin Park.

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