26 Iconic VMA Performances You’ll Remember Forever

Originally posted on BuzzFeed.com

In the midst of one of the craziest award shows of the year, let’s remember the greats.

1. Britney Spears – “I’m A Slave 4 U,” 2001 VMAs

A true goddess walked among us that day, and still walks among us today. We were blessed with this snake performance, and the world WILL NEVER FORGET.

2. Justin Timberlake – Vanguard Award Performance, 2013

In a single moment, the entire world collectively sobbed at the glorious reunion of NSYNC. And JT was serving dance moves for days.

3. Mariah Carey – “Shake It Off” / “We Belong Together,” 2005

Anthems of the year and the century, TBH.

4. Beyoncé – “Ring The Alarm,” 2006

Beyoncé *literally* fights the police in this performance. She gave tooth and nail to serve you desperate housewife realness.

5. Guns N’ Roses featuring Elton John – “November Rain,” 1992

OK honestly just look at this collaboration. HONESTLY.

6. Lady Gaga – “Paparazzi,” 2009

Classic Gaga at her best. The voice, the costumes, the blood dripping from her eyes. EVERYTHING.

7. Shakira – “Hips Don’t Lie,” 2006

The hips that launched a thousand ships and a thousand memes.

8. Britney Spears and NSYNC – “Baby One More Time” / “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” 1999

This changed us all in a matter of minutes. Serving metallic pants, killer hair, and boy band outfits, Britney and the boys destroyed lives with this performance.

9. Drake – “Hold On, We’re Going Home” / “Started From the Bottom,” 2013

Admit it, you cried from enjoyment and sexual frustration. YAAAS, AUBREY.

10. Christina Aguilera – “Come On Over” / “Livin’ It Up,” 2000

The purple tips, the dance break, and Fred Durst? This is so ’00s it hurts. It hurts sooooo good.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songwriters 40-31

rolling stone

 

See Part 1Part 2,Part 3Part 4,Part 5, and Part 6

40- John Fogerty

“In 1968 I always used to say that I wanted to make records they would still play on the radio in ten years,” Creedence Clearwater Revival architect John Fogerty told Rolling Stone in 1993. Try 50 years. CCR were the catchy, hard-driving dance band amidst the psychedelic San Francisco ballroom scene of the late Sixties, scoring 12 Top 40 hits during their run while releasing an incredible five albums between 1968 and 1970. Fogerty’s songwriting process reflected the blue-collar worldview of a guy who wrote his first Top 10 hit (1969’s “Proud Mary”) just two days after being discharged from the Army Reserves: “Just sitting very late at night,” he said. “It was quiet, the lights were low. There was no extra stimulus, no alcohol or drugs or anything. It was purely mental. . .I had discovered what all writers discover, whether they’re told or not, that you could do anything.” Fogerty later admitted to envying the critical adulation received by Bob Dylan and the Band, but he tapped the tenor of his times as well as anyone, whether on the class conscious Vietnam protest anthem “Fortunate Son” or “Bad Moon Rising,” which channeled America’s sense of impending apocalyptic into two-and-a-half choogling minutes.

39- David Bowie

The first time most people heard David Bowie, he was playing an astronaut named Major Tom, floating through space, completely cut off from civilization. Within a couple of years Bowie was channeling that sense of cosmic alienation into albums like 1971’s Hunky Dory and the 1972’s classic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, emerging as one of the most creative (and unpredictable) songwriting forces of the 1970s. Early on, Bowie specialized in offering an indelible vision of the Seventies glam-rock demimonde. Lyrically, his use of William Burroughs-style cut and paste made for fascinating, if at times, baffling flows of image and ideas. “You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects creating a kind of story ingredients-list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections; mix ’em up and reconnect them,” he once said, describing a process that sometimes involves literally pulling phrases out of a hat. “You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this.” Bowie is also one of rock’s great collaborators, whether he’s working with Brian Eno, Mick Ronson or Iggy Pop. On timeless songs like “Life on Mars” or “Changes” or “Heroes,” his ability to combine accessibility and idiosyncrasy makes for music that marries art and pop and transfigures culture itself.

38- Al Green

He didn’t start writing songs in earnest until he’d recorded a few albums, and his songwriting gifts have been overshadowed by his vocal mastery. Still, Al Green’s best original material isn’t just a showcase for his voice. Starting in the early Seventies, Green, working with Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell and guitarist/co-writer Teenie Hodges, created a rich catalog of songs that mixed sacred and profane like no other soul singer of any era. Green sang about romantic ecstasy and failings and deeper longings for divine love (the language of Scripture has never been far from his lyrics, even when he was writing secular material). And you could put together a rock-solid compilation of Green’s songs that became hits in the hands of other artists: Syl Johnson’s (or Talking Heads’) “Take Me to the River,” Tina Turner’s “Let’s Stay Together,” UB40’s “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” Meli’sa Morgan’s “Still in Love With You,” Earnest Jackson’s “Love and Happiness,” and on and on. His songs weren’t as political as Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway,” Justin Timberlake wrote in Rolling Stone, “But if those guys were speaking to you, Al Green was speaking for you.”

37- Jackson Browne

He may sound (and look) like the prototypical SoCal balladeer, but Browne has spent his career pushing the singer-songwriter envelope. He’s written some of rock’s most finely observed songs not just about his journey through life (from the prematurely wise “These Days,” penned when he was 16 years old, through more recent songs like “The Night Inside Me”), but has also ventured into social critiques (“Lawyers in Love”) and political protest (“Lives in the Balance”). Whatever the subject, Browne brings the same probing, thoughtful take on what he called, in “Looking East,” “the search for the truth.” “The nature of my music has to do with dealing with very fundamental things by depicting my own experience,” he told Rolling Stone in 1976. “There’s nothing that isn’t pretty fundamental.” And in “Running on Empty,” “Boulevard” and others, he also knew, far more than most of his peers, the value in rocking out. “I learned through Jackson’s ceiling and my floor how to write songs,” Glenn Frey recalled of a period when he lived in an apartment one floor above Browne, “elbow grease, time, thought, persistence.”

36- Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter

Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia, the writing partners at the center of the Grateful Dead, are the psychedelic Rodgers and Hart. The duo charted deep space — inner and outer—on early collaborations like “Dark Star.” But beginning with 1969’s Aoxomoxoa, and hitting stride with the 1970 doubleheader of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, they uncorked a vividly mythic America full of crooked gamblers, coked-up train engineers, strange sea-captains, story-telling crows, card-playing wolves, and — fittingly— transcendence-seeking musicians. “You’d see Hunter standing over in the corner,” drummer Mickey Hart said of the time Hunter joined up with the Dead. “He had this little dance he’d do. He had one foot off the ground and he’d be writing in his notebooks. He was communing with the music. And all of a sudden, we had songs.” The storytelling was always a delight, but it was Hunter’s way with a homey-cosmic aphorism that made Dead lyrics so tattoo-able, bobbing and bouncing on Garcia’s sweet, sad melody lines like glinting revelations. “Let there be songs to fill the air,” insists the singer on “Ripple,” one of the duo’s most indelible numbers. And voila: there they are.

35- Bono and the Edge

When they first got started in the 1970s, the ambitious lads in U2 made a deal to split all their publishing money evenly. But as important to U2’s sound as Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. may be, Bono and the Edge have been the primary songwriting team in the band from day one. Bono brings the grand vision and uncanny ear for heroic hooks, and the Edge brings his sonic mastery and an eagerness to push boundaries. Working together, the duo have pursued their expansive vision from the adolescent cry of “Out of Control” to political anthems like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to the stadium-shaking roar of “Where the Streets Have No Name” to the funky, danceable “Mysterious Ways” and “Discotheque” all the way through the highly-personable “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” from last year’s Songs of Innocence. As the band’s charismatic frontman, Bono may soak up a lot of the credit, but he’s the first to admit how important the Edge is to their songwriting. “Smart people know what [the Edge] does, and he doesn’t care about the rest of the world,” Bono told Rolling Stone in 2005. “I get annoyed and I say, ‘How do people not know?'”

34- Michael Jackson

Jackson’s innate musical genius could be heard on the earliest Jackson 5 chart-toppers. And he came into his own with the sterling disco pop of 1979’s Off the Wall and the monumental Thriller, where he got sole writing credit on “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.” By Bad in 1987, he was getting a writing credit on nearly every song on the record. Jackson’s collaborators and co-writers marvel at the way his dance-floor classics sprang full-formed from their creator’s head. That, Michael said, was the only way he could write: “If I sat down at a piano, if I sat here and played some chords. . .nothing happens.” Even more remarkably, the singer imagined the full arrangements for these songs as he wrote them, working from the basic rhythmic elements all the way up to the smallest ornamentations. “He would sing us an entire string arrangement, every part,” engineer Rob Hoffman recalls. “Had it all in his head; harmony and everything. Not just little eight-bar loop ideas. He would actually sing the entire arrangement into a micro-cassette recorder complete with stops and fills.”

33- Merle Haggard

“Hag, you’re the guy people think I am,” said Johnny Cash to Merle Haggard, whose life and lyrics intertwined magnificently. Among Haggard’s 38 Number One country hits, signature tunes like “Okie From Muskogee,” “Mama Tried” and “Sing Me Back Home” mixed autobiography and attitude with a honky-tonk spirit in the tradition of Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams. As he told American Songwriter in 2010, “Sometimes the songs got to coming too fast for me to write, and sometimes they still do.” The prolific Haggard, who once released eight albums in a three-year period, is an icon of country conservatism thanks to his hippie-baiting classic “Okie From Muskogee.” Yet, his music directly influenced rock touchstones like the Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead and the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet, and Hag has been influenced right back. “I’m a rock & roller,” he recently told Rolling Stone. “I’m a country guy because of my raisin’, but I’m a Chuck Berry man. I love Fats Domino just as much as I like Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell.”

32- Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Burt Bacharach studied classical composition with French composer Darius Milhaud and was part of avant-garde icon John Cage’s circle. But he chose pop music as a career and started writing songs with lyricist Hal David, who had a knack for matching wistful sentiments to Bacharach’s unconventional jazz chords and constantly shifting time signatures. (“It all counts,” Bacharach said. “There is no filler in a three-and-a-half-minute song.”) Their first hit came in 1957, but their partnership really took off five years later, when they started working with singer Dionne Warwick. Between 1962 and 1971, Warwick charted with dozens of Bacharach/David songs like “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Walk on By” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart.” Their songs were hits for other artists, too: Richard Carpenter of the Carpenters, who went to Number One with “Close to You,” called Bacharach “one of the most gifted composers who ever drew a breath. . .unorthodox never sounded lovelier or more clever.”

31- Dolly Parton

With 3,000 songs to her name — including more than 20 Number One country singles —Dolly Parton has enjoyed one of country’s most impressive songwriting careers. Parton tapped her hardscrabble Tennessee-hills upbringing on songs like “Coat of Many Colors” and “The Bargain Store,” and throughout the Seventies, her songs broke new ground in describing romantic heartache and marital hardship. On “Travelin’ Man,” from her 1971 masterpiece Coat of Many Colors, Parton’s mom runs off with her man, and on the gut-wrenching “If I Lose My Mind,” also on that album, Parton watches while her boyfriend has sex with another woman. Over the years, her songs have been covered by everyone from the White Stripes to LeAnn Rimes to Whitney Houston, who had an enormous hit with her version of Parton’s ballad “I Will Always Love You.” Parton has always had a self-deprecating sense of humor (she once described her voice as “a cross between Tiny Tim and a nanny goat”). But she doesn’t do much joking around when it comes to the art of songwriting. “I’ve always prided myself as a songwriter more than anything else” she once said, adding “nothing is more sacred and more precious to me than when I really can get in that zone where it’s just God and me.”

13 Awesome Eco-Friendly Songs That’ll Help You Celebrate Earth Day

Originally posted on BuzzFeed

1. Bad Religion, “Los Angeles Is Burning”

This song is about the excessive human consumption and media frenzy that has taken over the world with no concern for the well-being of our home and humanity.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “When the hills of Los Angeles are burning, palm trees are candles in the murder wind.”

2. The Beach Boys, “Don’t Go Near the Water”

The Beach Boys were obviously ocean enthusiasts. This song says to show some love to the oceans and to stop polluting our waters.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “Don’t go near the water to do it any wrong, to be cool with the water is the message of this song.”

3. Dead Kennedys, “Cesspools in Eden”

It’s all about how big corporations don’t care about us and that they’re building the factories that are poisoning us and our environment.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “Groundwater’s poisoned, air stings like hell, the lines for doctors grow long.”

4. Devo, “No Place Like Home”

A great tune that makes you want to angry-dance to the fact that mankind is obliviously spoiling the Earth, and soon we won’t even have a home to spoil.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “If we should all just disappear, the skies and waters will clear in a world without us.”

5. Gorillaz, “Superfast Jellyfish”

Typical Gorillaz, hitting you square in the face with how nothing is natural anymore and we’re all puppets to consumerism.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “The sea is radioactive, all hail king Neptune and his water breathers.”

6. Metallica, “Blackened”

This song is based on the apocalypse according to the Bible and relates it to pollution, deforestation, and other social problems we see now.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “Death of Mother Earth, never a rebirth, evolution’s end, never will it mend.”

7. Michael Jackson, “Earth Song”

MJ preaches for everyone to join together to save our planet and bring peace to humanity.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “Did you ever stop to notice, this crying Earth, this weeping shore?”

8. Miley Cyrus, “Wake Up America”

We all know she loves at least one kind of plant. This old-school Miley song is about getting America to stop ignoring Mother Nature’s cry for help.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “We’re all in this together! It’s our home so let’s take care of it.”

9. Mos Def, “New World Water”

A pissed-off Mos Def explains that while human beings are feeding their obsession with money, their home is deteriorating around them and will soon be gone.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “It’s the New World Water, and every drop counts. You can laugh and take it as a joke if you wanna, but it don’t rain for four weeks some summers.”

10. Pixies, “This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven”

This song points it out plain and simple: Humanity is killing the Earth, and we are all going down with it.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “There was a guy, an underwater guy who controlled the sea, got killed by 10 million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey.”

11. Talking Heads, “Nothing but Flowers”

A sarcastic song about a time when Mother Nature takes over and things like highways and 7-Elevens are missed, even though they are now in a “peaceful oasis.”

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “Once there were parking lots, now it’s a peaceful oasis. You got it.”

12. Tegan and Sara, “Our Trees”

From the ladies who sing “Everything Is Awesome” in The Lego Movie (another movie about social injustices), this song is about how we need to stand up for Mother Nature and be her voice.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “If the trees could be lions, would they still fall and be tagged? Would they refuse to surrender, refuse to be gagged?”

13. Will.i.am., “S.O.S. (Mother Nature)”

Will.i.am. explains how we need to open up our eyes and see the pollution humanity is causing that’s killing our planet.

Most Environmentally Friendly Lyric: “And here they come choppering down, chopping down our rain forest, fucking up our air for us, they don’t really care for us.”

So listen up, ‘cause Mother Nature is awesome!

This Day in Music History — December 25

1954 : Annie Lennox is born in Aberdeen, Scotland.

1959 : An apprentice engineer from Liverpool named Richard Starkey, then already eighteen, gets his first real set of drums for Christmas (the young Starkey’s family couldn’t afford a proper set when he was a child). Later, he would become known as Ringo Starr.

1981 : Michael Jackson calls Paul McCartney to wish him Merry Christmas and suggests they write and record together. The result is the hit duet “The Girl Is Mine,” the first single off of the landmark album Thriller.

1982 : David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth,” an unlikely duet broadcast five years earlier on Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas TV special, becomes an even more unlikely hit, reaching #1 in the UK.

1994 : Green Day play Madison Square Garden in New York City. It’s quite a leap for the band, which had been playing small clubs at the beginning of the year. During the show, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong performs wearing only socks and a strategically placed guitar.

1995 : Dean Martin, also suffering from lung cancer, dies from acute respiratory failure due to emphysema at age 78. Las Vegas honors the legend by dimming the lights along the city’s famous Strip.

2008 : Eartha Kitt dies of colon cancer in Weston, Connecticut, at age 81.

This Day in Music History — December 6

1877 : With his new invention, the phonograph, Thomas Edison records “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” what was believed for over a century to be the first known recording of the human voice. In February 2008, an earlier recording of “Au Claire De La Lune” came to light.

1969 : The Rolling Stones headline the Altamont concert at a speedway in California. It’s a free event with Jefferson Airplane and Santana also on the bill, but it turns violent when the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, who were hired by security, kill a crowd member. The concert is documented in The Stones movie Gimme Shelter.

1977 : Jackson Browne releases Running On Empty, a live album compiled from performances at various stops on his summer tour. Live albums typically rely on songs that have already been released, but this one was comprised of all new songs, the first major rock album to do so.

1995 : Coolio wins Single Of The Year for “Gangsta’s Paradise” at the Billboard Music Awards. When he performs the song at the ceremony, he is joined by Stevie Wonder, whose “Pastime Paradise” is the basis for Coolio’s track.

1995 : Michael Jackson collapses in a New York theater during a rehearsal for an upcoming TV special and is hospitalized.

This Day in Music History — November 20

1947 : Eagles’s Joe Walsh; Born Joseph Fidler Walsh on Nov. 20, 1947 in Wichita Kansas.

1966 : The Kander-Ebb musical Cabaret, featuring Joel Grey and Bert Convy, opens on Broadway.

1984 : Michael Jackson is awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame directly in front of Mann’s famous Chinese Theatre, creating the largest-ever crowd for such an unveiling.

2003 : Famed “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector is formally charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of b-movie actress Lana Clarkson at his Los Angeles home. Spector enters a plea of “not guilty.

2013 : Loretta Lynn is honored at the White House with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The singer is awarded as “one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early 1960s, courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men.”

This Day in Music History — November 19

1979 : Loverboy plays their first ever concert, opening for Kiss at The Coliseum in Vancouver.

1979 : Frank Zappa’s one and only rock opera, Joe’s Garage, is released. The second half came out November 19th, the first half was released in the previous September. The opera mixes styles of Blues, Jazz, Doo Wop, Lounge, Orchestral, Rock, Pop and Reggae. While it draws controversy at the time for profane lyrics, it has since been hailed as a cultural milestone and landmark album. The work also looks forward to Zappa’s later crusade against the PMRC with its themes of government censorship, and introduces a few memes into the Zappa lexicon, including “The Central Scrutinizer,” “a little green rosetta,” and of course, the term “roto-plooker.”

1990 : The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences strips the 1989 best new artist Grammy from the group Milli Vanilli because Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan didn’t actually sing on their debut album, Girl You Know It’s True. It is the first time a Grammy has ever been taken back.

2002 : While greeting fans from a fifth-floor hotel balcony in Berlin, Michael Jackson shocks the world by dangling his newborn son Prince Michael II over the side of the railing.

This Day in Music History — November 18

download1975 : Bruce Springsteen begins his first UK tour at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, where he learns that his record company has gone overboard with the hype, distributing posters that say: “At last London is ready for Bruce Springsteen.”

1985 : Seven of Jimi Hendrix’s gold records are stolen from his father’s home during a burglary. A few months later, Warner Bros. Records replaces them in a ceremony with Mo Ostin, who signed Hendrix to the label in 1967.

1994 : The Rolling Stones become the first rock act to stream a live concert on the Internet, webcasting a portion of a show from Dallas, Texas.

2003 : Acting on the sexual abuse allegations of a 12-year-old boy who had visited the home, approximately 70 members of California’s Santa Barbara County sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices raid Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. The singer is in Vegas filming a video at the time.

2006 : With the aid of a private jet, Jay-Z plays seven 30-minute sets across the US in one day to promote his comeback album, Kingdom Come.

This Day in Music History — November 14

1961 : Before a show in Indianapolis, Ray Charles is arrested when marijuana and heroin are found in his hotel room. Charges are dropped on a technicality, but his drug problems were far from over.

1983 : Michael Jackson’s 14-minute film Thriller debuts at the Metro Crest Theater in Los Angeles. Directed by John Landis, the short film will become the most popular video in MTV history when the network begins airing it in December. Many of Jackson’s famous friends show up at the premiere, including Diana Ross, Eddie Murphy and Warren Beatty. The film gets a standing ovation and the crowd demands an encore, which is granted.

1987 : The long-since divorced Sonny and Cher perform “I Got You Babe” on Late Night with David Letterman. Cher flubs it a bit, but she and Sonny become very emotional doing their signature song.

1997 : Though it’s not a sell-out, The Bee Gees’ show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas still manages to gross a stunning $1,681,100. Tickets ranging in price from $50-$300 give the Arena its highest gross of the year.

2004 : Gwen Stefani performs on TV as a solo artist (No Doubt) for the first time when she takes the stage at the American Music Awards, where she sings “What You Waiting For.”

This Day in Music History — November 4

1977 : The Last Waltz, director Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed documentary of The Band’s star-studded last concert, premieres in New York City, featuring Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Joni Mtchell, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, The Staple Singers, Dr. John, and more.

1993 : At a memorial service for the actor River Phoenix, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys has a run in with a videographer and is later charged with battery and grand theft (for stealing his tape). He is sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

1997 : Capitol Records releases the four-disc set The Pet Sounds Sessions, chronicling the creation of The Beach Boys’ classic 1966 LP. It contains, in addition to a remastered version of the original album, as well as outtakes, unreleased tracks, and a capella tracks.

1998 : Michael Jackson announces that wife Debbie Rowe is pregnant with his first child, denying tabloid reports that Rowe was paid to be artificially impregnated and carry the child to term.

2001 : Michael Jackson proves that he’s “Invincible” in the U.K. as his Epic album Invincible goes straight to the top of the country’s album chart, earning him his seventh British No. 1 album as a solo artist.