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‘I’m Down’: Beastie Boys boil B-Boy bouillabaisse of Beatles classic
12:56 pm


The Beatles
Michael Jackson
The Beastie Boys

In 1986 the Beastie Boys released Licensed to Ill, and the world of whiteboy rap was changed irrevocably. Licensed to Ill was the first rap album to hit #1 on the Billboard charts, and for two years you could hardly go anywhere without hearing the double-parenthetical “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and “Girls.” But mainly “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”

But the album that sold in CD shops everywhere was quite different from the album that almost came out. Two tracks, “Scenario” and a cover of the Beatles’ 1965 track “I’m Down,” were cut at the last minute. 

For years Beastie Boys diehards have circulated an alternate sequencing of Licensed to Ill called Original Ill in which “I’m Down” and its deleted partner “Scenario” are part of the tracklist. (In case you’re wondering, “I’m Down” occupies the 4th slot on side 1, after “She’s Crafty” and before ”Posse In Effect,” whereas “Scenario” is the last track on the album.) The phrase that is invariably used to describe those two songs is “deleted at last minute,” which definitely suggests a possible legal problem or some similar final-hour issue. In the case of “I’m Down” it does seem as if Def Jam or someone in a position to get sued might have been worried about Michael Jackson’s attorneys, whereas for “Scenario” the red flag was quite different—the mere mention of the popular smokable cocaine variant known as crack. (Michael Jackson had recently purchased the entire Beatles catalog; for his part Greil Marcus—see below—apparently understood worries about Michael Jackson to be the central problem at the time.)

On the crack tip, here’s the (oft-repeated) lyric from “Scenario”:

Well chillin’ on the corner this one time (time)
Coolin’ at the fuckin’ party and runnin’ that line (line)
Smokin’ my crack sayin’ them rhymes (rhymes)
Countin’ my bank just to pass the time

This thread from a Beastie Boys message board supplies the supposed original track listing of Licensed to Ill as well as this quotation about the crack lyrics:

It almost seems as if the Beastie’s mentioning Crack was a bad thing because not only was Scenario completely removed from the album, which mentions crack all through out the song, but the original version of Rhymin’ & Stealin’ was edited to take out just two small phrases, “Most crackin-est B-Boy!!” “I Smoke My Crack!” The phrase is left intact on this release though so you can hear how it originally sounded. I do find it weird that they can mention dust, and being dusted out, over and over, but when they mention crack, songs and phrases get deleted.

It’s interesting that the line “And I’m never dusting out cause I torch that crack” still lingers on in “Hold It Now—Hit It,” however.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Trick or treat? The best/worst ‘Thriller’ dance routine will give you nightmares forever
05:00 am


Michael Jackson
Stairway to Stardom

Here’s a Halloween treat for our readers. Or maybe a trick?

It all depends on your tolerance for inept dance moves and tacky ‘80s public access production values.

Stairway to Stardom was a New York City public access variety show that aired from 1979 to the early 1990s. Many of the guests had questionable talent and clips from the show were circulating even pre-Internet among VHS tape-traders looking for the next weirdest thing. The appeal of many of the show’s “stars” had more to do with the effects of schadenfreude rather than distinguishable talent. The show’s producers were gloriously non-discerning.

The advent of YouTube has brought a lot of gems from Stairway to Stardom to light. Personally I’ll always recommend Lucille Cataldo’s “Hairdresser” and Precious Taft’s dramatic monologue, but today we’re going to take a look at Lola Perazzo who does an unbelievably stiff, awkward, herky-jerky interpretive dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in a tragically ill-fitting body-suit—capped off with a classic “is it over yet?” finale.
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Michael Jackson battles Michael Jackson in this dance-off video game
01:52 pm


Michael Jackson
video games

For the video game design competition Duplicade, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Fire Dance with Me, an enjoyable video game about Twin Peaks, Aaron Meyers came up with an infectious game called Michael E Michael, in which Michael Jackson has a Tekken-style dance-off against Michael Jackson. As I noted yesterday, the game “must tread dangerously into the intellectual property of an existing game or game franchise, but be cleverly altered and culturally mangled enough to not be worth the effort to sue,” which Michael E Michael clearly does.

The rules of Duplicade require games to be head-to-head games in which the WASD and arrow keys control movement for Player A and Player B, and also that the game declare a winner within the first 30 seconds. In the game, the two players control identical versions of The Gloved One from the video “Smooth Criminal” while that selfsame infectious song pulsates away.

Using various moves you can kick your opponent, execute a spin (which spawns a bunch of tiny Michaels to scatter away from the main avatar), and so forth until the loser is identified and the winning Jackson (of course) transforms into an awesome jet and flies away.

The original “Smooth Criminal” video after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Adam Ant meets Native Americans and gets a late night phone call from Michael Jackson
09:08 am


Michael Jackson
Adam Ant

I recently stumbled upon the fascinating Stand & Deliver: The Documentary on You Tube and found myself enthralled as the extremely well-read Adam Ant revealed influences and historical roots behind his music, wardrobe, and various stage and video set pieces. Some fascinating stories are divulged, many of which I, as a more-than-casual-but-less-than-rabid Adam Ant fan, had never heard before. The most intriguing of these stories was the tale of how he got called out by Native Americans for cultural appropriation… and then got a free pass.

In the film, Ant discusses his use of feathers and Native American war paint as part of his early costuming. According to Ant, “I always wore a few feathers to project an Apache image on stage,” and “the Apache war line [painted across his face]... was a declaration of war on the music business.” Apparently this appropriation did not sit well with some Native American groups, who reputedly wrote in to Ant’s record label to express dismay.

Sally James, presenter for the British program, Tiswas:

Someone had written to him that he had upset the Native American Indian community because they had felt that the line across his face [was problematic]... Instead of ignoring it, he went to their headquarters to see them. He said ‘please come and see my act,’ and they all went along and then they wrote to the record company: ‘this guy is fantastic, we won’t have a word said against him.

Writer Karen Krizanovich adds:

He met up with ten leaders of the Native American nations and he said ‘the dancing that I’m doing on stage, the way I’m looking with feathers and the paint… if you find that disrespectful to your people I will stop it immediately.’ Actually, he cared enough to see if he was offending anyone with what he was doing.


According to the story revealed in Stand & Deliver: The Documentary, Ant’s invitation to the tribal leaders led to his being given the “A-OK” vis-à-vis the war paint and feathers.  Ant seems to corroborate the story in an interview with

I already had the Native American Indians on my back about the look but when I met them I said I’m a Romany and that’s a tribal culture and I’m very serious about this and I’ve studied it and we have also had lots of our people knocked off as well.

The genocide in America of the Native Americans affected me, and the songs that touched on that like “Kings Of The Wild Frontier,” “Human Beings,” and even “Catholic Days” singing about Kennedy had been banned. Now I know I was right singing about that stuff.

Anyway, at the time, this good looking six foot plus Indian comes in to see me and says that they were suspicious that some white boy was singing about them, so I went there and spoke to the people at their centre. They showed me their system and their history and I basically said to to them come to the show and if you don’t like what I’m doing or if you think that I’m taking the piss I will fucking take the stripe off and not wear it again.

Fortunately they liked the gig but I had to go to them to speak to them. It’s their country and you have to go to them. I was very passionate about it, and I still am. I don’t do politics, but this is beyond politics. It’s about justice, but nobody is innocent. I mean look at our empire. I’m a musician not a politician, but there was stuff that I was singing about like I was suffering years of taming and the kids like me were inspired about this wildness, and they got it and when they came down to the gig they got it.



Now, the ‘80s were a much less, shall we say, culturally sensitive time, and a what got a “pass” then might not fly today—and giving concert tickets to a handful of tribal leaders—who may or may not speak for the Native population at large—doesn’t necessarily make Ant’s costuming choices less “problematic” by today’s standards; however, the fact that Ant met with these leaders and offered to drop his iconic look, upon their say-so, speaks to his integrity, respect for Native culture, and his desire to do the right thing. 

Ant has more recently been accused of cultural appropriation by Cap’n Crunch.

There are other incredible stories in Stand & Deliver: The Documentary. One reveals a late-night phone call from Michael Jackson asking Ant where he got his military jacket (note - Jackson soon showed up in public wearing a very similar outfit), and how he got his drum sounds. Jackson subsequently got Adam Ant a gig on the infamous Motown 25 TV special, by actually refusing to appear himself unless Ant was allowed to go on after him!

Ant recounts this same story in his autobiography Stand and Deliver

The ringing of a telephone cut sharply through my sleep. I fumbled for the receiver.

‘Hello?’ A soft, highpitched voice echoed down the line to me.

‘Hello,’ it repeated. ‘Is that Adam Ant?’

The voice had an American accent and sounded vaguely familiar, but my fuzzy brain reacted angrily.

‘Terry,’ I said, thinking it was one of the Ants’ drummers playing a prank. ‘Stop pissing about. It’s 4am and I’m trying to sleep.’
‘No, it’s not Terry,’ said the voice. ‘It’s Michael. Is that Adam Ant?’ ‘Very funny, Terry, now fuck off.’ I slammed the phone down, rolled over and tried to get back to sleep.

The phone went again. ‘Hello,’ I barked into the receiver. ‘Hi, no, really, it is me, Michael Jackson,’ said the funny voice, ‘and I just want to ask you…’ ‘Terry, if you don’t stop this I’m going to come over there and fucking thump you.’ Bang. Again the phone went down.

Again I rolled over. Again the phone rang. I grabbed the receiver and shouted: ‘Terry! That’s IT!’ ‘Er, hi, is that Adam Ant?’ This time the voice was deep, sonorous, American and calm. It didn’t sound anything like Terry. ‘Oh, oh,’ I stammered.

‘Yes, this is Adam. Who are you?’ ‘I’m Quincy Jones, calling from LA. Sorry, we probably woke you, but I’m here with Michael Jackson and he’d like to speak with you. Is that OK?’ A pause, and then that same soft voice. ‘Hi, Adam, it’s Michael. Sorry if we woke you.’

‘Oh, no, sorry to have been so rude,’ I apologized. He said he had just seen the video for our song “Kings Of The Wild Frontier.” ‘It’s great,’ he said. ‘How did you get the tom-tom sound?’ ‘Oh, thanks. Well, we use two drum kits and then add loads of other percussion on top…’

‘That’s great, Adam,’ Michael interrupted. ‘I really like your jacket. Where’d you get it?’
‘Huh? My jacket?’ I tried to think. ‘Berman’s and Nathan’s in London’s Covent Garden. They supply costumes for movies.’

‘Wow. That’s great,’ he replied. ‘How do you spell that? Bowman’s and who?’ ‘No, B-E-R-M-A-N-apostrophe-S and N-A-T-H-A-N-apostrophe-S.’

‘Great, thanks. Let’s meet up next time you’re in America, huh? Bye.’

The line went dead.

I got invited over to LA and I went to his family home, because he was still living with his mum and dad. All his brothers and sisters were there and I just spent the day walking round the house with all the snakes and llamas. I actually followed him onstage right after he did the moonwalk for the first time.


Watch the Adam Ant documentary after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, and Rod Stewart compete in ABC’s ‘Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic,’ 1978

Those of us who lived through the seventies won’t soon forget the various ABC celebrity sports extravaganzas, especially the Battle of the Network Stars of various years. I didn’t remember, however, the Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic from 1978. Aside from a few genuine immortals (Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Joan Jett), the panoply of athletes is mostly reminiscent of a Columbia Records Club advertisement or the $1 bin at your local LP store (Boston, Leif Garrett, Anne Murray, Seals & Crofts, Tanya Tucker, Kenny Loggins, etc.).

Events include cycling, basketball, swimming, track and field. The main takeaway is that the Runaways kick ass, with both Joan Jett and Sandy West winning events. Michael Jackson appears in the 60-yard dash, but his brother Jackie wins that event. In soccer, Rod Stewart defeats ELO bassist Richard Tandy in a penalty-kick competition.

The roster of announcers is nearly as long and impressive as the list of performer-athletes: Ed McMahon, Sandy Duncan, Phyllis Diller, Kristy McNichol, Barbi Benton, and Alex Karras. Fred Travalena is also on hand to do a few timely impressions, such as Richard Nixon, who had resigned as president four years earlier.

At the 22:00 mark there’s a weird moment involving Alex Karras. Karras, who died in 2012, was a remarkable fellow by any definition, being an All-Pro defensive tackle for the Lions, Blazing Saddles bit player, and the adult lead for the ABC sitcom Webster for many years. But he was also one of a bare handful of athletes ever to suffer a league sanction for gambling, being forced by the NFL to sit out the 1963 season because of his involvement in gambling activities. So it’s especially weird when, after introducing Marlon Jackson before a race, he adopts the mock desperation of a gambling addict: “Marlon, you gotta win this one, I don’t care about you guys making money, but I need it!”

Indeed, the very existence of the Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic brings to mind the recent issue of drug testing in pro sports—one wonders what results the drug tests for this event would have yielded. Some of the events are actually edited out of this video, but most of them are there, but a judicious assessment of the video’s contents would still conclude that it mainly consists of introductions: “In Lane number two, William King of the Commodores!” It’s still a prime example of the dread nexus of music and television that only the seventies can supply, and well worth watching for connoisseurs of televised weirdness.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Ghost of Michael Jackson photobombs tribute act’s autograph signing
10:12 am


Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s “ghost” was snapped by 14-year-old Reeva Saava at a theater in Bromley, Enland, last week.

Saava was attending the “Michael Jackson Live” tribute show at the Churchill Theater, where he photographed the spectral singer photobombing an autograph-signing session. But it was not until two days after the show that Reece noticed the ghostly singer in the picture, as Reece told News Shopper:

“I was looking through the photos with my friends that I saw it. My friend was like: ‘what is that in the corner, were there balloons?’ When I looked at it I was genuinely quite shocked, it was very distinct, not like other photos of you see of that sort of thing. I cannot say I believe in ghosts but it is very spooky.”

Reece’s mother Angela, who accompanied her son to the show, added:

“It is certainly very spooky to say the least. The image is so clear. Sometimes you can see these things in photos, it is an image of something but you are almost willing it to be something else. But you look at that and it is clearly a face and it does look like Michael Jackson. And the fact it was a Michael Jackson event and there he was makes it all the more eerie.”

Or more easily explained?

Michael Jackson’s ghost seems to be making quite a career for himself, as there have been several alleged sightings of his spectral figure since reportedly “appearing” in the background during an episode of Larry King Live! in July 2009. This turned out to be the shadow of a crew member passing in front of a light, however, this has not stopped the singer’s “ghost” appearing at his own memorial service; on a the hood of a car; on a tree stump; and even giving testimony in court.

These seemingly eerie events could all be a case of the afterlife copying art, as back in 1996, the singer starred in a short film co-written with Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston called Michael Jackson’s Ghosts, which is also a timely reminder that Jackson has a new single out.

Via News Shopper, H/T Arbroath

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll: The Michael Jackson, Aleister Crowley, Liberace connection

They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll is a mildly notorious 2004 Christian indoctrination video series meant to scare kids away from Satanic rock music, and even apparently some easy listening and country and western as well. (Young people have eclectic iTunes playlists and the devil’s minions know this.)

With an awful lot of screen time to fill, the producers of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll didn’t just go for the more obvious targets—KISS (aka “Kids in Satan’s Service”). Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, Judas Priest, etc—they dug deeper into the Satanic morass, managing to pull Garth Brooks, Billy Joel and even Liberace into their rambling and logically spurious “thesis” which is spread out over either four or ten volumes (there are two versions):

Is it true that Satan is the master musician working behind the popular music scene and influencing our youth?

Fasten your seat belts as you go on an eye-popping ride upon the roller coaster of Rock, and find out how Rock’s most popular artists have Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll. In this mind-blowing exposé Pastor Joe Schimmel reveals just how Satan has been effectively using popular music to undermine God’s plan for the family and ultimately heralding the coming of the Antichrist and his kingdom on earth.

This full-length video series contains 10 hours of eye-popping, rare, and some never before seen footage that will leave you picking your jaw up off the ground, as you see hundreds of artists (most of whom are not covered in the abbreviated 3-hour version) being used by Satan to destroy many lives. Come behind the scenes with us as we expose the deceptive agendas of many of yesterday and today’s secular artists, such as: Elvis, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, U2, Creed, Madonna, Britney Spears, DMX, Tupac, Tori Amos, and many more.

It’s time to remove the blinders - guard yourself and those you love from one of Satan’s most powerful tools!

Ooh, talk about earnest. Naturally Marilyn Manson gets blamed for a lot of this devilish devilry and figures prominently, but ascribing all that infernal power to a dude who spends two hours doing his make-up before he leaves the house never seems to strike the producers as even the teensiest bit silly…

Pastor Joseph Schimmel is not actually the host of the series, as stated on the box cover—it’s actor Grant Goodeve who you might recall from The Love Boat, Eight is Enough or Northern Exposure. But if that is Schimmel breathlessly reciting the voice over—you can hear his saliva hitting the mic throughout the entire thing, as he repeatedly trips over his words—he should have paid Goodeve the extra bucks to narrate as well as host. It sounds like he’s amped up on crank and drooling the entire time. Say it, don’t spray it, Reverend…

Here’s one particularly good short sample of the, er… charms, I guess, of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll that explains how Michael Jackson used an Aleister Crowley-style ritual to contact the spirit of Liberace! Crowley gets blamed for everything here, don’t you know? Scroll in to about 2:20 to start.

Part one of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll. Should you wish to torture yourself with more, it’s easy enough to find the rest. I recommend the Amazon reviews.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Michael Jackson’s ‘The Way You Make Feel’ video minus the music is some serious psycho stalker shit
10:24 am


Michael Jackson

Totally tweaked! Once you take away the music from Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” video you realize how utterly batshit it actually is. He looks like an unhinged serial stalker on methamphetamines.

Via Tastefully Offensive

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
From beyond the grave, Michael Jackson is pissed off that he’s not buried next to Marilyn Monroe
09:36 am

Current Events
Pop Culture

Michael Jackson

I’ve had jury duty all last week and I’m returning again today. It sucks, but at least I’m not a juror in the really BIG trial currently ongoing in Los Angeles, the Jackson family vs. AIG. Last Monday when I reported to the court, there were dozens of news vans equipped with satellite dishes lining Grand Ave. My first thought was “Oh shit” and my second had to do with praying to a god I don’t even believe in to please, please please don’t let me get picked for that fucking Michael Jackson jury! I needn’t have worried as the jurors had already been selected. I saw singer Mark Lanegan on Grand Ave. yesterday. I wonder if he’s got jury duty, too? Hopefully he dodged the Jackson/AIG bullet himself.

One witness who will probably NOT be called to the stand in that high profile trial is Derek Acorah, a celebrity “medium” well-known to British TV viewers, Acorah held a televised seance on the Sky 1 network in 2009 during which he alleged that he was able to make contact with Michael Jackson from beyond the grave. With four teary-eyed Jackson mega-fans in attendance, Acorah was able to, um, “divine,” I guess, that Jackson was adjusting well to his spiritual life and spending time with his grandparents. However, Acorah did pass on MJ’s annoyance that he was not laid to rest beside his idol, actress Marilyn Monroe: “I wished to lie alongside her. I suppose it’s of no consequence.”

One of the Jackson fans who participated in the hysterically funny televised seance told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, “I looked into Derek’s eyes, and it was him.” [Emphasis added]

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
1985 Ebony article predicts what Michael Jackson will look like in the year 2000
01:04 pm


Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson:

At 40 he will have aged gracefully and will have a handsome, more mature look.

Man, did they get this one wrong.

Via Retronaut

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Rock ‘n’ roll’s alternate realities: Michael Jackson in a Joy Division T-shirt
04:20 pm


Joy Division
Michael Jackson

The other day I wrote “Photoshop is the new surrealism.” It was one of those things that just popped into my head and sounded right at the time. But the more I thought about it the more it seemed to hold some truth. I try to imagine the fun Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp might have had with Adobe software. With all of the imagery available on the Internet, a dada collagist like Hannah Hoch would have thrived in the era of Google Images. The permutations and juxtapositions are infinite. The idea: take what’s there and create what’s not there.

Needless to say, not all Photoshop is art. But some of it, like art, lies to get at a bigger truth. Like the above picture of Michael Jackson wearing a Joy Division T-shirt. It’s fake but some of us wish it weren’t. The idea that Jackson was a Joy Division fan (even before Joy Division existed) is a thought that brings all kinds of groovy things to the fore—like the fact that pop culture is inherently a mash-up, that radio, iTunes and deejay mixes have made us grow accustomed to a world where everything collides, bounces off each other and often melds into a somewhat messy wholeness (This started for me a long time ago when I was 12 years old listening to a transistor radio transmitting a seamless stream of songs from artists whose only commonality was a good beat and a good hook. The Supremes melding into The Animals melding into Blue Cheer melding into Tom Jones).

In the collective consciousness of rock ‘n’ roll, the playlist that endures is immense, eternal, and like Michael Jackson wearing a Joy Division T-shirt, inclusive. The picture may be a lie, but the idea of it, what it suggests, is true. Rock music succeeds better than any other art form in the shattering of barriers, in bringing people together and in re-inventing reality. My world changed radically in 1963 when I first heard The Beatles on a jukebox in a pinball parlor in Southern France. I had no idea who they were, but for a moment time froze and I sensed a different future ahead of me than the one I thought I had been heading for.

When I initially discovered the photo of Jackson wearing Joy Division, I didn’t wonder “why?” I thought “why not?” It was a lie worth believing. I never came to rock ‘n’ roll for the facts. I came for the fantasy.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
King of Plop: Michael Jackson seen in car windshield bird poop
02:17 pm


Michael Jackson
Bird poop

Brandon Tudor of Oswego, Illinois, spotted a bird dropping on his 1996 Cadillac Seville car windshield last Wednesday which resembled Michael Jackson.

Tudor said:

“It was a likeness that became more obvious “after it hardened.” Everybody loves it. There’s not one person who’s seen it that doesn’t agree it looks like Michael Jackson.”

Mr. Tudor was trying to sell the Michael Jackson bird poop image complete with the windshield on eBay for $500. Unfortunately, the sale has ended with zero bids.

Via Arbroath

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Michael Jackson drinking a bottle of vodka with two midgets’
07:08 pm


Michael Jackson

Click here to see larger image. 

Update: Redditor BreadyMcBread says “I see your picture of Michael Jackson drinking vodka with midgets and raise you a picture of Michael Jackson holding a huge pair of underwear with doves on his wrists.”

Via reddit

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Mask of Michael Jackson
04:18 pm

Pop Culture

Michael Jackson

Whether you love or hate Michael Jackson, this painting of a young, innocent Michael holding a mask of his unrecognizable older visage speaks volumes. I don’t know who is responsible for it. If anyone knows, I’d love to credit the artist.

Update: “Boy Behind the Mask” is by Santa Cruz-based artist Sarah Weaver. Thanks, Siobhan Stofka!


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
New crazy headline ‘Jacko Chimp Fingers Killer Doc’

The UK’s Daily Sport tabloid is on a roll - only a few weeks after delivering the now legendary leader “Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf Eaten By Badger” comes this beauty. But what I want to know is - did it hurt?

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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