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‘Starry Night’: Music from the wonderful (and criminally overlooked) Chican@ punk band The Brat
08.15.2017
09:21 am
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The influence of Mexican-American musicians on L.A. punk is undeniable thanks to key bands like the Zeros, Plugz, Bags, Stains, Suicidal Tendencies, Los Crudos et al sporting either partly or entirely Chicano/a lineups, but the full story really has yet to be told. That’s partly due to a schism in the L.A. scene—bands from East L.A. really didn’t get to participate much. In a segregated and cliquey city, East L.A. bands weren’t typically prioritized by a scene centered in the more affluent West Side areas where all the clubs were located.

But as ALWAYS happens when a sufficiently motivated creative scene is stifled or confined, a vibrant DIY ethos emerged. In 1980, East L.A. venue The Vex began supplementing a thriving gymnasiums-and-backyards gig circuit, and a creative community grew, a community that included the Boyle Heights band The Brat. Formed in 1979 and fronted by vocalist Teresa Covarrubias, the band purveyed an irresistible catchy, poppy, sound that was underpinned with punk aggression, politically conscious lyrics, and three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust arrangements. They were championed by Plugz/Cruzados main man Tito Larriva, who in 1980 released their 5-song E.P Attitudes on his Fatima label. They also released, on the 1983 Los Angelinos: The Eastside Renaissance compilation, a song called “The Wolf,” which sounds for all the world like an inspiration for Concrete Blonde’s indelible “Still in Hollywood” riff.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.15.2017
09:21 am
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Bikini butt charms are a thing
08.15.2017
08:45 am
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These terribly uncomfortable-looking bikini “butt charms” are apparently now a thing and are made by Japanese merchandiser BoDivas. I haven’t actually seen a single person sporting this butt bling so far this summer, so I’m not sure how much of a “thing” this crotch jewelry really is. To be fair though, it’s been awhile since I’ve visited a swimming pool or a beach. Maybe they’re everywhere?

They’re called “Beachtails” and they range in price from $19.50 to $22.50. The Beachtails also come in lots of colors so you can strategically coordinate them with your swimwear bottoms.

As a side note: I noticed there’s not one review for these on Amazon. Not one.


Get your Beachtail here.
 

Get your Beachtail here.

 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.15.2017
08:45 am
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Click, Clack: Art of Captain Beefheart on display in new gallery show
08.14.2017
05:14 pm
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Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band,1972
 

French radio interviewer in 1972: “In your music—and even if you don’t agree—there are a whole lot of influences from blues and free jazz. Do you listen to people like Albert Ayler or Sun Ra?”

Captain Beefheart: “No. I myself am an artist too, you see. I’ll tell you once again: I have i-ma-gi-na-ti-on…. It isn’t polluted, and believe me, people have always tried to put labels on me…. What’s the story with that? ‘Blues’ and ‘jazz’? The more often people say it, the more difficult it gets for me to come here. It took five years to play here in Europe, because the critics had written I was sort of avant-garde, jazz, blues and such. It’s wrong. I am an artist; just like Albert Ayler is one, like Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker. i know John Lee Hooker and even in my boldest imagination, I can’t see myself using the music of Hooker, Ayler or anyone else. Why should i do that, when I have so much myself? You have heard it tonight—so why all those classifications? Tell it to the Rolling Stones, to the Beatles, the Jefferson Airplane—but not to me!

The late Don Van Vliet, the artist who was formerly known as Captain Beefheart, was always an extremely prolific visual artist from a very early age. By the age of ten he was already being recognized regionally in Southern California for his life-like clay sculptures of animals, and was considered a bit of a child prodigy. He was still creating art throughout his career as a musician, and many of his paintings and sketches have appeared on his album covers. In the early 1980s Van Vliet gave up music entirely and concentrated on making fine art until his death in 2010.

The Michael Werner Gallery in Manhattan has a new exhibition of Van Vliet’s works on paper. The exhibition of smaller work—drawings and paintings on paper from the 1980s through 2000—is the first solo showing of Van Vliet’s art in New York City for a decade.

The artist’s bracingly stark and decidedly naive primitive style of abstract expressionism (as opposed to a more sophisticated abstract primitivism represented by the likes of say, Jean-Michel Basquiat) was highly influenced by the landscape, plants and animals of his home in the California desert. The earliest pieces in the show are abstracts rendered in watercolor and gouache, while work from his later years tends to leave the paintbrush behind for colored pencils

Whereas I’m a huge fan of Van Vliet’s massive paintings—and have seen them in person several times—I’m less sold on these smaller works. His large canvasses are absolutely awe-inspiring and have an oddball power to them. They are huge and they are as weird as they are huge. These works on paper are simply less impressive than their gigantic counterparts, if admittedly I am judging them off a computer screen. If some of these were nine feet tall, and slathered with paint and texture, then I’d say yeah.

Still, some of them are quite interesting, even if, as it would appear, most of the really good Van Vliets have probably already been sold a long, long time ago. The show is open through September 9th at the Michael Werner Gallery.
 

“Untitled”, 1987, India ink, gouache on paper 30 x 22 1/2 inches
 

“Untitled”, 1985, India ink, gouache on paper, 10 x 7 inches
 

“Untitled”, 1985, India ink on paper, 7 x 10 inches
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.14.2017
05:14 pm
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Gloriously pointless trading cards for the awful ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ movie
08.14.2017
10:27 am
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I’ve never seen the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which came out in 1978. The movie was directed by Michael Schultz, whose best-known movies are probably Cooley High and Car Wash, both of which are pretty good. Considering the inescapable Britishness of the Beatles and especially Sgt. Pepper, the cast of Sgt. Pepper’s LHCB is simply an extended head-scratcher, with few Britons (Peter Frampton, comedian Frankie Howerd, Donald Pleasence and Paul Nicholas) to be found among a group that includes, most prominently, the Bee Gees, George Burns, Earth, Wind & Fire, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Steve Martin and of course, Frampton. (How could Billy SHears not be English?) The real problem with this movie seems to be its essential California-ness, as it was clearly conceived poolside at a Hollywood bungalow by some coked-up asshole who had never once pondered the lonely existence of Eleanor Rigby.

Late-era Beatles songs didn’t exactly lack for colorful characters, and the people behind the movie crammed a bunch of them in there, including Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Mr. Kite, Billy Shears, and the eponymous sergeant (all from the album), as well as Maxwell (of “Silver Hammer” fame), Mean Mr. Mustard, and, erm, “Strawberry Fields,” none of whom have anything to do with the album. How they neglected to find someone to embody Lovely Rita, who is just begging to be turned into a mesmerizingly gorgeous movie character, I’ll never know. Rather than recruit Bungalow Bill, Polythene Pam, Desmond and Molly, Sexy Sadie, my dear Martha, or Rocky Raccoon, the movie features several wholly invented characters like B.D. Brockhurst, played by Donald Pleasence, and Billy Shears’ brother, whose name is Dougie Shears. (This is the guy that really gets me. THERE ARE NO “DOUGIES” IN THE BEATLES CANON!!!)

Over the weekend, I spotted a trading card with Steve Martin from early in his career, and the caption read “Dr. Maxwell Edison” and I just couldn’t for the life of me figure out who the fuck that was supposed to be—my best guesses were the protagonist of The Man with Two Brains (actual name: Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr) and the sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors (actual name: Dr. Orin Scrivello). That led me to the usual bout of Internet research, through which process I learned that Donruss released a set of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band trading cards in 1978, the same year the movie came out.

From the vatange point of nearly 40 years after the movie came out, every card really reads as a devastating critique of the movie; in essence the entire set is an extended series of exhibits as to why the movie sucks. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…...

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.14.2017
10:27 am
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Fantastical Hieronymus Bosch piñatas by Roberto Benavidez
08.14.2017
10:01 am
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I’m loving these glorious Hieronymus Bosch-themed piñatas by sculptor, painter and maker of fantastical piñatas, Roberto Benavidez. These are obviously works of art, and I would never consider breaking one with a baseball bat. No way!

From Roberto Benavidez’s website:

Half-breed, South Texan, queer, figurative sculptor specializing in the piñata form; playing on themes of race, sexuality, art, sin, humor and beauty.

There are no prices listed for Benavidez’s piñatas. You can contact him here for more information.


 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.14.2017
10:01 am
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Meet Anita Berber: The ‘Priestess of Debauchery’ who scandalized Weimar Berlin
08.14.2017
09:52 am
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The woman with the shock of dyed red hair, her body wrapped in a fur coat, and a pet monkey grinning and holding tight to her neck was Anita Berber. She danced across the foyer of the Adlon Hotel opened her sable coat and revealed her lustrous naked body underneath. Men leered, goggled-eyed. Women giggled or turned their heads in shock and embarrassment.

Anita Berber didn’t care. She liked to shock. She liked the attention. If she didn’t get it, she would shout and throw empty bottles or glasses on the floor. Smash! Berber was a dancer, an actor, a writer, and a model. She was called the “Goddess of the Night,” the “Priestess of Debauchery,” the very symbol of Weimar decadence, and a drug-addled degenerate. She was all these things and more. And during her brief life, Berber utterly scandalized Berlin during the 1920s. Not an easy task!

The daughter of two musicians, Anita Berber was born in Dresden in 1899. Her parents divorced when she was young, Berber was then raised by her grandmother. By sixteen, she quit the family home for the unpredictable life as a dancer in cabaret shows. The First World War was at its bloodiest height. The daily reports of casualties and death meant people were reckless with their passions. It was then that Berber started a series of relationships and dangerous habits that became her life.

After the War, Berber began her career as a movie actor—starring opposite Conrad Veidt in The Story of Dida Ibsen in 1918 and then in Prostitution and Around the World in Eighty Days the following year. While Veidt went onto become a major movie star with a career in Hollywood, Berber’s career stalled and she became best known for her performances as a dancer, a sultry temptress or a drug-addled prostitute. With her dark bobbed hair and androgynous good looks, Berber created a style that was copied by Marlene Dietrich (who basically stole her act), Leni Riefenstahl who idolized Berber, was her understudy and had a brief intense relationship with her, and Louise Brooks, whose seductive image in Pandora’s Box was a copy of Berber’s. She had relationships with both men and women, seeing no difference in taking pleasures from either sex. Berber married in 1919, then left her husband—a man called Nathusius—for a woman called Susi Wanowski. The couple became a fixture of Berlin’s growing lesbian scene.

Berber enjoyed opium, hashish, heroin, and cocaine—which she kept secreted in a silver locket around her neck. She also had a strong predilection for ether and chloroform mixed together in a small china bowl, into which she scattered white rose petals. Once these were sufficiently marinated in this heady concoction, she ate the petals one by one until she fell into a delicious sleep.

Berber’s louche lifestyle coupled with her fame as a movie star and dancer meant she was the subject of gossip and cafe tittle-tattle. It was said over black sweet coffee she was once kept as a sex slave by a married woman and her fifteen-year-old daughter. It was claimed between mouthfuls of chocolate cake that she wandered through casinos and hotels flashing her naked body. While in the bars, it was overheard that she exhausted her lovers with her insatiable demands for sex. 

Some of these tales were false. Most were true. But all of them kept Anita Berber fixed in the public’s imagination.

In 1921, she met and fell in love with the Sebastian Droste, a bisexual dancer who was known as a performer in Berlin’s gay bars and clubs. They became lovers and married in 1922. They formed a scandalous dance partnership choreographing and performing together in Expressionist “fantasias” like Suicide, Morphium, and Mad House. They also collaborated on a book of poetry and photographs called Die Tänze des Lasters, des Grauens und der Ekstase (Dances of Vice, Horror, and Ecstasy). A typical routine went something like this:

In the dance, “Menschen,” or, “People,” we find,

Only two people

Two naked people

Man

Woman

And both in a cage

Hard stiff horrible cages

The two king’s children sang songs

But with tears

The man smashes his cage

Tradition

Society

Convention he spits out.

Which is the kind of nonsense we nowadays associate with the overly pretentious rather than the naturally gifted…but at the time… You can imagine: shock, horror, and spilled sherry.

Berber’s and Groste’s relationship was intense, passionate, and drug-fueled. Because of her considerable use of cocaine, Berber often hurled champagne bottles at the audience if they failed to appreciate her genius. It was inevitable their marriage would not last long and they separated in 1923.

By the time artist Otto Dix painted his famous portrait of Berber in 1925, the years of drug abuse, frenetic lifestyle, and lack of nutrition was plain to see. The painting looks more like a woman in her fifties than a twenty-five-year-old. The woman who once scandalized Berlin with her androgynous looks, her erotic and seductive dances and her sultry on-screen appearance was no longer so appealing. Berber was out of favor as a younger generation of ingenues took over. She began touring her dance shows. During one such tour in Damascus, Berber became fatally ill with tuberculosis. She returned home to Berlin where she died “surrounded by empty morphine syringes” on November 10th, 1928. Anita Berber was twenty-nine. She was buried in a pauper’s grave and may have been long forgotten had it not been for Dix’s portrait that kept her legend alive.
 
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More photos of the ‘Priestess of Debauchery,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.14.2017
09:52 am
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Mega-post full of rare vinyl picture discs from Russ Meyer, Blondie, Divine, AC/DC & more
08.14.2017
09:44 am
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A limited edition picture disc for Blondie’s 1978 record ‘Parallel Lines.’
 
The first thing I learned while pulling this post together is this—there are entirely TOO many Madonna-related picture discs. The flip side of that dated news flash is the fact that an astonishing number of rare, collectible picture discs exist, many of which I’m sure you will want to get your hands on, if you can. The other thing I learned about picture discs today is that there is a shit-ton of pretty looking vinyl that features nudity. For instance, a few soundtracks from the films of titty-titan Russ Meyer such as Mudhoney, Supervixens and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! have all gotten special, topless picture disc pressings.

The vast majority of picture discs in this post contain interviews with the artist or band, though in some cases they do actually play music like a record should. Now before you remind me that music doesn’t sound all that great on a picture disc, I’m already well aware of this. I do however love collecting vinyl of this nature not just for their novelty appeal but because I also view them as a form of art that is still a vital part of vinyl culture today. When I called this a “mega-post,” I was not kidding as there are over 25 images below for you to check out, many of which are NSFW thanks to Russ Meyer of course. You have been warned!
 

Side A of a picture disc featuring music from the Russ Meyer films, ‘Good Morning…And Goodbye!,’ ‘Cherry, Harry & Raquel,’ and ‘Mondo Topless.’
 

Side A of a picture disc featuring music from the Russ Meyer films, ‘Up!’ ‘Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra Vixens,’ and ‘Supervixens.’
 

Side B of the Russ Meyer album above.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.14.2017
09:44 am
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‘I’m A Cult Hero’: The Cure side project that featured an eccentric postman on lead vocals
08.14.2017
09:37 am
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Cult Hero cover
 
In mid-1979, Robert Smith, the singer-guitarist-leader of the Cure, started hanging out with Simon Gallup, bassist for the Magazine Spies. The pair got together every Saturday night at a pub in the English town of Horley to beer it up. It was during one of those evenings of inebriation that the idea of making a record with “Frank the Postman”—a local mail carrier—came to be.

Full-figured postman Frank Bell was one of Horley’s stranger legends. When not stuffing letter boxes he was often hanging out with the local wrecking crew, decked out in a t-shirt that proclaimed: “I’m a Cult Hero.” Robert Smith had met him and was taken by his bold personality. Smith was convinced that the mailman had all the makings of stardom. When Bell’s name was mentioned in the pub one night, Smith had a brainwave: “I thought, ‘Get him in the studio and write a disco song.’”(from Never Enough: The Story of The Cure)

For the Cult Hero recording session, Smith, Gallup and Bell were joined by the Cure’s drummer, Lol Tolhurst, and Magazine Spies keyboardist, Mattieu Hartley; former and future member of the Cure, Porl Thompson; as well as the pre-teen duo, the Obtainers, who Smith had recently produced. Smith’s two sisters and a selection of Horley residents also took part. The Cure’s bass player, Michael Dempsey, who just happened to be on holiday at the time of the session, later added synth. By this time, Smith had begun to weigh his options regarding Dempsey, as the two had a chilly relationship and Smith couldn’t stand the thought of going on another tour with him.
 
I'm a Cult Hero
 
The Cult Hero 45, “I’m a Cult Hero” b/w “I Dig You,” was released in December 1979 on the Cure’s UK label, Fiction Records. The A-side is post-punk bliss, with Bell essentially talking his way through the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, while the B-side is a playful hybrid of disco and punk, with amusingly vapid words, again coming from the mouth of Bell. The single appeared on different labels in a couple of other countries; the Canadian issue on Modulation Records actually became a hit, selling 35,000 copies in the Great White North.
 
More more after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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08.14.2017
09:37 am
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The story of Keith Haring’s courageous Berlin Wall mural (which is now lost to history)
08.11.2017
10:23 am
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What is the most politically effective thing that a street artist has ever painted on a wall? Was Banksy the person who did it? Did it read “ROMANI ITE DOMUM” (or “ROMANES EUNT DOMUS” for that matter)?

Of street artists to whom we can apply a specific name, you could certainly argue that Keith Haring was the one who takes the prize, for his hundred or so meters of familiar Haring-esque figures that he painted on the Berlin Wall in October of 1986. It was a big enough deal to make the New York Times the next day.

To review: The East German government put up the Berlin Wall in a surprise move in 1961 to keep its citizens from defecting to the West. The Berlin Wall was a very serious business; more than 100 East Germans were killed over the years attempting to escape the dictatorship.

One of the best-known gates through which to pass from East Berlin to West Berlin and vice versa (with the proper documentation, of course) was Checkpoint C, which quickly became known as Checkpoint Charlie, as it became something of a tourist attraction for Westerners to take photographs of the ominous barrier.

The entirety of the Wall lay a couple of meters inside East German territory, which meant that the many West Germans who eventually decorated the Wall with provocative art were technically violating East German sovereignty and in theory were fair game to be shot by the many vigilant East German guards on patrol.

In the mid-1980s, the director of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, a man named Rainer Hildebrandt, extended an invitation to Keith Haring to come to Berlin and use the Wall for his canvas. When Haring received word of the invitation, he was touring Europe and was eager to exercise his agitprop instincts in a world-historical manner by attempting to “destroy the wall by painting it,” which in a way was exactly what ended up happening, not to overstate Haring’s importance to that process.
 

 
In order to prepare for Haring’s visit, employees of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum painted a hundred-meter stretch of the wall yellow according to Haring’s instructions. The next day, October 23, 1986, Haring “completed the mural in somewhere between four and six hours,” which is pretty remarkable when you think about it, even though Haring’s ability to work quickly was surely honed by his years defacing the walls in the New York subway system in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

According to Haring, “I decided on a subject, which is a continuous interlocking chain of human figures, who are connected at their hands and their feet—the chain obviously representing the unity of people as against the idea of the wall. I paint this in the colors of the German flag—black, red and yellow.” Haring called the provocation a “humanistic gesture” as well as ‘‘a political and subversive act—an attempt to psychologically destroy the wall by painting it.’’ As the New York Times reported the next day,
 

Since the first six feet of land on the Western side belong to the East, the artist was not just defacing property of the East German Government—he was entering that country without a visa. A West Berlin policeman used a megaphone to warn him of the fact. But Mr. Haring continued, sporadically leaping back onto Western soil when East German border guards looked as if they were about to arrest him.

 
As soon as East German guards ascertained that Haring was not “defaming” East Germany, they left him alone to proceed with his art, even though he had technically entered East Germany without official authorization.

Haring was asked whether the mural was just a publicity stunt, and he replied, ‘‘The main objective here is that it is not an insignificant act that goes unnoticed. The entire world should know that it happened, reinforcing its political significance.’‘

Hilariously, the New York Times quoted a young citizen of Berlin who scorned Haring’s contribution to the Cold War art, saying ‘‘This is Valium, there’s no provocation in it. In every third toilet in Kreuzberg you can see the same graffiti.’‘

Haring’s mural did not last long at all. According to Jennifer Mundy of the Tate Museum in London,
 

That night or early the next day, however, someone painted large sections of the mural grey, perhaps in political protest against the upbeat message of the American’s work. Quickly, other artists and graffitists painted on the hundred-metre section that Haring had used. Within months there was very little left to see. Paradoxically, it was not censorship by the East German authorities that Haring needed to have feared but other artists.

 
Here is how Haring’s contributions looked just a short while later:
 

 
On February 16, 1990, Haring died of AIDS-related complications, so he was still alive when the Wall finally fell on November 9, 1989. Remarkably, just eleven months earlier, Erich Honecker, the longtime leader of East Germany, who would crucially no longer be in power by the end of October, predicted that the Wall would stand for at least 50 more years. He was only off by about 49 years.
 

 
More after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.11.2017
10:23 am
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We have a new contender for best / worst screamingly funny BAD cover version of a classic rock song!
08.11.2017
08:00 am
Topics:
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OK, so maybe it’s not quite as bad as this butchering of “Sweet Child of Mine” or this total annihilation of “Comfortably Numb,” but this gloriously awful choral rendition of Foreigner’s classic rock radio staple, “Cold As Ice,” surely deserves its own page in the annals of terrible cover song history.

This video, uploaded three years ago, purports to be Fairhope High School Choir’s entry into a competition to play onstage with Foreigner in Mobile, Alabama.

I almost feel bad laughing at this because they’re kids and they’re trying so hard… well, OK, admittedly they’re not trying all that hard.

The bizarro costume choices (what’s up with the white hoodies?), inexplicable makeup (is that green blush?) and choreographed dance moves add an extra layer of WTF to this particularly unrocking arrangement. The kids, at times, look truly embarrassed to be involved in this and you can’t help but feel a little sad for their cruel humiliation. I’m sure it was their greatest unfulfilled dream to play onstage with Foreigner some day!

These poor, poor kids.

Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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08.11.2017
08:00 am
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