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Monday, Jul 21, 2014
"There goes a narwhal!" is one of the B-52's most memorable lines. It's also what got John Lennon back into songwriting.

Lots of trouble! Lots of bubble! This is the song that made John Lennon want to make music again.


No, really.


“Rock Lobster” is a landmark song on several fronts. For one, it was the B-52’s first-ever single, released in 1978, and the song that gained them a cult following prior to landing their record deal. Even more than that, “Rock Lobster” has endured the test of time better than more seriously-minded fare from the same era, getting somewhat of a revival during its use in a 2005 episode of Family Guy, and Yoko Ono has even joined the band onstage to make creature noises more than a few times. Between this and “Love Shack”, “Rock Lobster” is one of the B-52’s most iconic songs, bar none.


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Friday, Jul 18, 2014
We are the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx. Our great computers fill the hallowed halls. And it's time to talk about Rush, and their 1976 concept piece. Also, attention all Planets of the Solar Federation: we have assumed control.

Mendelsohn: There are two types of people in this world, Klinger — people who love Rush and people who don’t. Rush was the band that introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll, specifically their 1976 dystopian concept album 2112, so when we started working our way through the Great List, the first thing I did was check to see how long it would be before we got to a Rush album. I was sorely disappointed to find Moving Pictures, the band’s highest-selling and most well-regarded album sitting at number 867. Even worse was finding 2112 at number 1005. It seems the critics were mostly made up of people who didn’t like Rush. I may be a little biased here, but where’s the critical love for Rush? There are only two bands who have more gold and platinum records than Rush, you may have heard of them — the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Rush has sold over 25 million records worldwide, putting them squarely in the top 100 in that category. But yet critical love seems to elude them. The reasons, I suppose, aren’t all that hard to ascertain. They do have a tendency to write complicated suites that regularly top ten minutes and eschew pop constructs for extended jams that are heavy on the riffs but light on the things that the critics love. Honestly, I wasn’t all that surprised to find them languishing on the Great List.


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Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014
Hot on the heels of the iconic metal group's new album Redeemer of Souls, Sound Affects combs through Priest's vast and astounding back catalog to round up its greatest tracks.

With Judas Priest back in the public spotlight, having just released an excellent, PopMatters-approved 17th studio album this past week called Redeemer of Souls, it had a lot of longtime listeners, including yours truly, revisiting the influential British metal band’s vast back catalog for sheer nostalgia’s sake. After a quick search of PopMatters’ many List This music entries, I couldn’t believe the mighty Priest hadn’t been covered yet. And if this is the first Judas Priest list to grace this site, why not start with the most obvious?


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Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014
"The Freshmen" defined them, but their pop songs since were mature and nuanced. With his band's first album in 13 years, Brian Vander Ark tells us what he thinks is the most tear-jerking scene from Frozen and just how long he can sustain a burp ...

Contrary to popular belief, Brian Vander Ark was never much of a rock guy.


Oh sure, he was the guitarist and lead singer for the Verve Pipe, who, in 1996-1997, dominated the airwaves with the inescapable, era-defining modern rock single known as “The Freshmen”, but in truth, Vander Ark was a pop purist at heart. Their 1999 follow-up to their breakthrough album Villains featured memorable pop-rock numbers like “Hero”, but by the time they released 2001’s supremely underrated Underneath, they brought on Fountains of Wayne frontman and noted pop-savant Adam Schlesinger as producer, and were focused on crafting pop songs in the most classical of senses. Their commercial prospects never matched the heights of “The Freshmen”, but while that song somewhat defined the band for some people, their hardcore fans knew that the band was capable of so much more.


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Monday, Jul 14, 2014
When you think of B-52's songs, you think fun, wacky, playful, bizarre. With "Dance This Mess Around", you get raw, emotionally charged, sultry, and ... the best song they ever wrote.

When people think of the B-52’s, they often think of fun, silly, and energetic party-pop songs, and for good reason: a great majority of the hits they’re remembered for fit this bill to a T, filled with call-and-response vocals and rather buoyant melodies. Sometimes they were goofy, sometimes they were a bit more traditional with their themes, but they were always a lot of people’s one-stop-shop for good times and fun rhymes.


However, what may arguably be the single greatest song they’ve ever created retains none of these features. “Dance This Mess Around” is filled with longing, a bit of rage, and a vibe that is downright sultry, the soundtrack to a late-night slowjam in a room lit by nothing but lava lamps. There has never been a B-52’s song quite like it, but, most distressingly, they never attempted to go after this vibe ever again.


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